Robertson County




County Coordinator is Jane Keppler.

County Co-Coordinator is Jean Huot Smoorenburg

If you have any questions or would like to submit information for Robertson County, please email one of the above.

We do not live in Robertson County so we cannot do research but might steer you in the right direction.

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TXGenWeb Robertson County Books & Master's Theses

G H O S T   T O W N S   O F   R O B E R T S O N   C O U N T Y


See also Ghostly Haunts Collection

"Ghost Towns Of Robertson County" is a collection of interesting facts concerning the earliest settlements in Robertson County.  Although all traces of these early towns no longer exist, their memory is honored and preserved with Texas Historical Markers.  This booklet is published as a special edition for the 1975 Robertson County Springtime Pilgrimage and in celebration of the bicentennial year.

-- Mrs. Katherine Galloway

Old Franklin

The town of Old Franklin was the first county seat of Robertson County.  It was on the headwaters of Mud Creek about 1 1/2 miles southwest of the present town of Franklin, on land belonging to Edward McMillan.  McMillan was a San Jacinto veteran who was born in Ireland in 1814, died in 1865, and is buried in Camp Creek cemetery eight miles east of the present town of Franklin.  On July 25, 1841, McMillan gave a power of attorney to Thomas Jefferson Chambers for receipt of land belonging to him.  The land was described as "being part of the town of Franklin."  The first town of Franklin was named for Francis Slauter, Chief Justice of the county, who was the original grantee of the land upon which the present town of Franklin is located.  Old Franklin was in the days of early Robertson County an outpost on the frontier constantly exposed to Indian depredation.  J. M. Tidwell was killed by Indians while plowing in his field, his wife and children were taken into captivity and were later found and purchased from the Indians by traders.

On December 14, 1837, the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas created Robertson County out of Bexar, Milam, and Nacogdoches Counties.  The new county was named for Sterling Clack Robertson.  The Chief Justice chosen by Congress was directed to give ten days public notice of an election for a county seat.  First officers chosen by popular election were Alanson Hardy and Robert Henry, Justices of the Peace; Harrison Owen, County Clerk & Recorder; John D. Smith, High Sheriff; William C. Watson, District Judge.  The following officers had earlier been chosen by Congress:  Francis Slauter, Chief Justice; A. W. Cook, County Surveyor; Thomas Dillard, President of the Board of Land Commissioner; Alanson Hardy, first Postmaster; and John R. Henry, first Tax Assessor of the county in 1838.

The first records of Robertson County show the county as a part of Milam County, all probate proceedings and other courts were held at Old Nashville in Milam County.  Then, in 1838, at a site about 1 1/2 miles southwest of the present town of Franklin, and now referred to as Old Franklin.  A house belonging to William Love was used as a temporary courthouse.  On June 8, 1838, a contract to build a courthouse was awarded to Leander Harl.  Harl died before the building was completed and George W. Cox completed the building, which was accepted by the county on August 17, 1839.

During the days of its most active life, Old Franklin had a population of several hundred people.  It was a frontier outpost of a primitive civilization where men lived by their wits, determination, endurance, and strength.  This Franklin was close to the El Camino Real, along which much of the travel of central and southwest Texas moved.  This area was home to adventurous and enterprising young men, stalwart and unafraid.  Along the old road to the south slowly moved the ox-wagon caravans of the strong men and the unfailing and unflinching women whose progeny made Texas great.  Along this way traveled Sam Houston, who often stopped for the night at Wheelock.

At Old Franklin, the records of land surveys were kept and here lived the locators, who were surveyors, and the most daring class of men on the frontier.  Land scrip and certificates were usually owned by persons who did not care to risk their scalps to the Indians in obtaining good locations.  So, the paper was turned over to the locaters who located land, surveyed it, and received for their services one-third of the total acreage.

These surveyors blazed the way for the settlers to follow, assuming without hesitation but with caution the hazards of weather, frontier hardship, and Indians.  Among these intrepid men who were in the ranks of the trail blazers were John Henry, John Karner, and P. P. Philpott, who settled in Limestone County, R. M. Tyne, later of Freestone County, and William M. Love.  One of the bravest, Love lost his life to an assassin's bullet in Navarro County as the result of a feud growing out of a conflicting land location made thirty years before.  Among those who came a little later, but before 1838, were Volney and Josephus Cavitt, David Cobb, Newton Duncan, and S. R. Moss.

One of the first schools in Robertson County was Franklin Academy located at Old Franklin in 1838.

Francies Slauter, an educated man, came to Texas with his family from Monroe County, Tennessee.  He organized the first school at Old Franklin.  He and his wife Katherine had seven children at the time of his death in 1842.  The five older children were sent back to Tennessee for their education and to be with Katherine's people.  In 1847, Katherine married George W. Hill, also from Tennessee and the first doctor to come to Texas.  Hill was Secretary of War under the Republic of Texas.  They raised the two younger children, Robert F. & Rosa Slauter.  G. W. Hill's land had been located in the northern part of Robertson's Colony, now Hill County, which was named for G. W. Hill.  He and Katherine left Robertson County and moved to Dawson.  In his last will dated in 1860, he left one-half of his property to Robert F. Slauter, together with his best horse, saddle, gun, and gold watch.  Speaking of Robert in his will as his "dutiful stepson," he leaves the other half to Katherine, reserving two acres as a perpetual burying ground.

Harrison Owen was the first County Clerk and Recorder of Robertson County.  He served from 1837 until 1851 and died at the age of 72.

In 1839, a frontier company of minute men was organized to guard the outlying settlements between the Brazos and Navasota Rivers.  Captain Eli Chandler commanded the organization whose headquarters were at Franklin.

The old probate records show that many were killed by the Indians.  Hugh Henry and William Fullerton, who came from Alabama with the Cavitts and Dunns, were killed in 1839 at Morgan's Point by the Indians.  Probate proceedings were taken out on both Hugh Henry and William Fullerton.  Hugh Henry left his wife Elizabeth and three small children; William Fullerton left his wife, Margaret, and six small children.  John Adams was also killed by Indians in 1839 while in service.

A. W. Cooke, first surveyor of Robertson County, married Elizabeth Jane Harlan from Old Nashville.  Quite wealthy, she took her money and along with August Cooke opened a general merchandise store in Old Franklin.  A list of their merchandise included: mole skins, pantaloons, candle snuffers, tobacco, nails, calico, linen, suspenders, thread, candlesticks, knives, bridles, saddles, hymn books, testaments, and Mitchell's Map of Texas.  Mr. Cooke was also the undertaker; the undertaker's fee being listed at $10.00.

Those owning or operating saloons in Old Franklin were:  George W. Cox, Leroy Boggus, Thomas Eaton, Alfred Eaton, Samuel W. White, and A. Henderson.

The first District Court was held on December 22, 1836 at Old Franklin.  Officers were:  R. M. Williams, Judge of the Third Judicial District; H. C. Hudson, District Attorney; John D. Smith and George W. Hill, Deputy County Clerk.  The first grand jury called included:  Isiah Harlan, Henry Fullerton, H. Reed, R. Wheelock, William Henry, John Chamblee, Joseph Webb, William Fullerton, A. F. Moss, Edward McMillan, and Jesse Webb.  The first indictments returned by the grand jury were for excessive drinking, assault and battery, and several murder charges.

The old town of Franklin still has some land marks and has been located on our county map used today by Gus. T. Bogan, Abstractor.  In 1850, by two-thirds vote of the people, the county seat was moved from Old Franklin to Wheelock.



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State Coordinator: Shirley Cullum
Assistant State Coordinators: Carla Clifton, Jane Keppler

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Page Modified: 18 September 2017

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