from The Family Chronicle and Kinship book of Maclin, Clack, Cocke, Carter by Octavia Zollicoffer Bond
General James Robertson, second son of John Randolph Robertson and his wife, Mrs. Mary (Gower) Robertson, was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, in 1742. He married in North Carolina Charlotte Reeves.
He died at the Chickasaw Indian Agency in West Tennessee, Sept. 1, 1814, and was buried there. In 1825 his revered body was exhumed and brought to Nashville, the city of which he was the founder, and buried in the City Cemetery. The title of "Father of Middle Tennessee," conferred on him by a grateful posterity, is too limited to express the indebtedness to him for its existence under which the entire State rests. It was he who founded the first colonies in both Middle and East Tennessee and it was through his wise dealings with the Chickasaws, as United States Indian Agent, that the foundation was laid for peaceable possession of West Tennessee by the white people. Indeed, the entire Southwest is indebted to him, jointly with Daniel Boone, for its earliest awakening to life under AngloSaxon rule. It has been truly said that the settlements at Nashville and Boonesboro saved the Southwest to the Union. In the first settlement on Watauga, in East Tennessee, James Robertson was the one to whom all looked for counsel in government andsafety in time of danger. He was one of the five judges of the community that organized itself into the first democratic government (independent of any higher authority) on the continent. Until their annexation to North Carolina as Washington County in 1777, the Wataugans had pledged no allegiance to any other power.
In the bitter cold winter of 1779-80, six months before the battle of King's Mountain, while Colonel John Donelson was conducting a company of women and children to "The Bluffs" of the lower Cumberland by water (erroneously thought to be the safer route), Captain James Robertson led a band of stouthearted men to the same destination by way of the Wilderness Road, thence westward across the "dark and bloody ground" of Kentucky till turning southward, they reached Cumberland River, opposite the bluffs that were to become the site of Nashville. On the way they had been joined by Captain Rains (afterwards conspicuous as an Indian fighter) who had with him his wife and children. Finding the river frozen over solidly the children were drawn across on improvised sleds of bear skins. It was the 25th day of December when, on the other side, they built huge fires that were the first Christmas illuminations of the future Nashville. Its first Christmas trees were the snow-laden cedars that covered the bluffs and the frowning "knob" (now Capitol Hill) in the background. From that time to the day of his death James Robertson, as Captain, Colonel and General, was the "head man" of the settlement. With the exception of John Sevier, the unsurpassed, James Robertson was the most conspicuous figure in early Tennessee history, and without exception the most universally beloved. Under his auspices the first public work of his people was to build a church of the rough stone found in abundance on the east side of the river. It was he who traveled alone on horseback to North Carolina to lay before the General Assembly the petition, signed by the men, women and children of the Cumberland settlement for a charter for the founding of Davidson Academy in December, 1785, which in succession became Cumberland College, University of Nashville, Peabody College, and finally the magnificent Peabody Normal of today. It was James Robertson who organized the "Government of the Notables," which functioned satisfactorily until the time came for its extensive powers to be delegated to the justices of the Court of Davidson County. He was elected Colonel of the fighting militia of the seven distinct settlements that a little later were established in the Cumberland country. Eventually he was appointed by the President of the United States Brigadier General of Mero District. And at the last, when the country became too thickly populated to suit his taste, he was appointed U. S. Agent to the Chickasaw Indians west of the Tennessee River. Meantime he had served his people in the North Carolina Legislatures between the years 1784 and 1789, together with Elijah Robertson, Ephraim McLean, William Polk, Robert Ewing, Robert Hays, Thomas Hardeman, Joel Rice. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1796, which met in Knoxville, representing Davidson County, with his colleagues, John McNairy, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Hardeman and Joel Lewis. The list of General James Robertson's descendants is far from complete as here offered.