Monday, April 10, 2023

The Origins of Isham Robbins: One Theory

Isham Robbins was a man of whom I know very little. He is first seen in the 1841 tax listing of the newly minted Stanly County, North Carolina. Isham Robbins was taxed for .40 cents for 100 acres of land owned on Cucumber Creek. Cucumber Creek is located in the western part of Stanly County near Red Cross and runs in a  south/ southwest projectory between Stanfield and Oakboro towards the Rocky River, which forms the southern boundary of Stanly County with Union and Anson below. 

Then there is his Will. 

Probated in November of 1843, Isham's Will does not give us a great deal of information. He quotes the old adage that " it is appointed for all men once to die", commends his body to God, asks for a decent burial, requests that his debts be paid, praises God and pleads for his immortal soul. Lastly, he adds, "all the rest of my estate I Will to my dearly beloved wife Fanny Robins". The document was witnessed by Temple Whitley and David Udy (Eudy). 

In the November Session of the 1843 Court of Pleas and Quarters of the County of Stanly, Frances Robbins and John Honeycutt were appointed Administrators of the Estate of Isham Robins and gave $300 bond. That is all the mentions of Isham Robbins or Robins. 

John Honeycutt is an important key in the discovery of the family of Isham Robbins. He had a close relationship with Isham's widow, Fanny. He paid her taxes when she became insolvent and took care of her, an elderly lady, in multiple ways and manners. 

John Honeycutt was my 4th Great Grandfather.He was born in 1803 and Fanny Robbins was born about 1780. In both the 1850 and 1860 census records, Fanny and her unmarried daugther, Elizabeth "Betsy" Robbins are shown living next to, or below, the family of John Honeycutt. 

Although unmarried, Besty Robbins was the mother of two sons, Lindsey, by Samuel Coley as is reported in a bastardy bond and the younger, Green H. Robbins by John Honeycutt. I am assuming, by virtue of his age,  that  this John was John Timothy Honeycutt, son of John and Sylvia Honeycutt, born in 1832, as John was married and known as a pious man.  But there seems more to this relationship than that connection.

In the 1860 census, in Big Lick Township, we find the family of John Honeycutt listed following that of Charles Cagle. After which is 80 year old Fanny Robbins, with her daughter,  Betsy and Betsy's two sons, Lyndsey and Green. After that is 55 year old Susy Honeycutt, whom I believe was John's sister. In her home is her daughter, Sylvia and a 14 year old Fanny Robbins. They are then followed by John's son Edmund Honeycutt and family. 

Susy, or Susan Honeycutt, never married, but via court records and bastardy bonds, I've determined she was the mother of 4 children by Joshua Christian Burris. Sylvia names him as her father on her marriage certificate. Some have speculated that the young Fanny Robbins was the daughter of Isham and Fanny's son, Solomon Franklin Robbins, but his daughter Frances Caroline, is listed in his home that year at age 11. It's still possible, I guess, but for now, 14 year old Fanny is a bit of a mystery. 

My theory (I'm full of them), is that Fanny was the mother-in-law of John Honeycutt. Truth be told, the parentage of his wife, Sylvia, remains unknown. However, I am not the only one with this theory. Others suspect she was a Cagle, and that's quite possible as well, they are living right beside Charles Cagle. 

To put my theory to the test, some time ago, I entered the Robbins as parents of Sylvia Honeycutt in my Family Tree and let the algorithms of Thru-Lines at work its magic. The results were an impressive number of matches to descendants of Solomon Franklin Robbins, both his children by his first wife, Sarah Hinson Robbins and by his wife in Tennesee, Mary Laton Robbins. The matches to his North Carolina born offspring, I don't take as seriously, as many of them married into the West Stanly mileau, to which I have multiple connections of Burris, Honeycutt, Lambert and others. Several of his children married into these families, so I could have connection to these matches in other ways. It's the matches to descendants of his Mississippi and Tennesee born children that intrigues me the most, as I've not found any connections to his wife or the families these children married into. Of note, Elizabeth Clementine "Lizzie" Robbins, does not show up in my Thru-lines as having any descendant matches to me, despite everyone having her listed as Solomon's daughter. Lizzy was born several years after Solomon left for Mississippi and Tennesee. However, the next child up, son George Washington Robbins, born in 1860, does have many descendants that are related to me. Solomon Robbins bought, yes bought, a tract of land from Needham Whitley in February of 1860, and is counted in Tishomingo County, Mississippi in 1860, where his second wife was living. They were then married the next year in McNairy County, Tennesee. So, Sarah was pregnant with George when Solomon left. 

Elizabeth "Betsy" Robbins doesn't show up as having any descendants who match me either. This is because in the Mortality Schedules of 1870, her oldest son, Lyndsey, is showing as having died of pneumonia in Big Lick Township of at age17. Her younger son, Green H. Robbins, is listed as working as a farm laborer for J. C. Burroughs (Burris) that year and Elizabeth is living with the Davidson Burroughs family. Fanny has obviously died. Betsy and Green show up no more, so its easy to assume both of her sons died young and left no heirs. 

In the 1845 Tax Listing of Stanly County, John Honeycutt is shown as owning 300 acres on Stony Run Creek, Fanny Robbins is listed as owning 100 acres on Bear Creek and her son, Solomon, is shown as owning 125 acres on Stonly Run Creek. Stony Run flows southwest from the larger stream, Big Bear Creek and both lie to the east of the town of Oakboro. 

Cucumber Creek, where Isham owned land, flows to the west of the town of Oakboro and Big Lick. Two entirely different locations. What happened to Isham's property? My guess would be that it was sold for debts and expenses, and Fanny, his only beneficiary, may have purchased the property on Bear to be close to her son and to John Honeycutt. 

The identity of Fanny Robbins is much more clear. She was Frances Caroline Whitley Robbins. 

There are several histories written by descendants, on the George Whitley Family, mostly similar in content. The one I will be quoting is called "George Whitley Family", compiled by Walter Charles Whitley of Little Rock, Arkansas.

"George Whitley was born about 1735. Settled originally on Big Bear Creek in Montgomery County, now Stanly County, North Carolina."

"Given a grant of land by the British Government, 10,00 acres, between Stony Run and Big Bear Creek. He and two of his sons were soldiers in the American Revolution. George Whitley married twice. By the first wife, he had sons George II, born 1760 and Needham, born 1762. By his second wife, he had sons John, born 1772 and William (Uncle Billy), born 1775." 

George Whitley II had a daughter named Fanny Robbins. There was only one Fanny Robbins in the area. So Fanny was likely born in the area of Bear Creek and Stony Run, and probably died there too. 

I'm not discounting the Cagle connection. It too, is quite possible. Fanny's brother, George Whitley III, married a Rebecca Cagle, daughter of  George and Rebecca Kegel. I have a known Cagle ancestor in my family tree, Rebecca Cagle who married Caleb Aldridge II. Many online family trees have merged Rebecca Cagle Aldridge and Rebecca Cagle Whitley into one person. They were not, they were two different women, related, both descendants of German immigrant Leonhardt Kegel (1684-1754). This family seemed to like the name Rebecca for their daughters, from an early matriarch, I bet. 

I may also have another Whitley connection. My ancestor, Rev. John Lambert, arrived to the Bear Creek/ Meadow Creek area of Stanly, then Montgomery County, about 1822. Before then, he had a close association with several Whitleys in Franklin and Johnston Counties, where he was from. He even attended a Conference with a Needham Whitley, who was not the Needham Whitley in Stanly/Montgomery. There were several Needham Whitleys, several generations worth, in both areas, as well as Exodus Whitley, too. While George and John are names one would see anywhere, Needham and Exodus are not. These two branches must be connected. There were plenty of Honeycutts in that area as well, and John Lambert may have arrived here with members of either or both families. He was married and his children grown before they arrived, so his wife Piety (many trees use the transcription error of "Phida"), was probably either a Whitley or a Huneycutt. The more I look into it, the more I believe she was a Whitley and John in the tutelage of his father-in-law as a young man. This is all speculation and a bone-gut feeling delved from the several years I've been digging in the old records of that area when I can.

But I've strayed. We know who Fanny was, but who was Isham?

One of the oddest facts about Isham is that he was in the 1841 Tax List of Stanly County, but just one year earlier, was not in the 1840 census of Montgomery County, it's parent county. He wasn't there, nor were any Robbins. There were plenty of Robbins in Randolph County, but no Ishams. We don't know just how old Isham was, but his wife was born around 1780, and his two definite children were born in the 1820's. I believe they were only his youngest. 1770-1775 is a pretty good guess of the time of his birth. Not only should he have been in the 1840 census, somewhere, but he should have been in several of them, from 1800 to 1840. Where was he hiding? As his wife was born here in all liklihood, where had they concealed Isham?

My theory begins with my own research, not of him, but of a young woman named Mary Whitley. You can read the story in its entirety at the following link. 

Mary Whitley, I met while researching a sad tale from the other side of the Rocky River, just south of the Stanly County border, on the border of Anson and Union Counties was about the murder of Martha "Patsy" Beasley, a tale that had garnered its own Murder Ballad. Patsy had given birth to a little girl by an evil and arrogant young man named Thomas Nash. Thomas was in love with Mary Whitley, who wouldn't marry him because of Patsy Beasley. In anger, he mudered Patsy in the most ghastly and horrific manner, leaving his daughter, Drusilla, alone. Mary Whitley still did not marry him. So what does this have to do with Isham Robbins?

While trying to discover who Mary Whitley was, I examined some land records trying to discover what, if any Whitley's, lived in the area where these families, the Beasleys, Newtons and Nashes all lived.  One of those concerned the previously mentioned Exodus Whitley. 

On March 18, 1809, Exodus Whitley of Montgomery County bought a tract of land from Daniel Hinson of Anson County on Cedar Branch. The property bordered the land of one John Robbins and went to Gurleys corner stake.

There's those three names of Whitley, Hinson and Robbins together again.

Another deed, in Book Y, Page 472, dated October 28, 1833, Exodus Whitley sold the property on Cedar Branch to Walker Nash, father of murderer Tom Nash. It was still bordering the property of John Robbins and the Gurleys and was witnessed by Isham Whitley and Wyatt Nance, Isham supposedly a son of Exodus. 

So, who was John Robbins of Anson and Montgomery County, NC?

First I looked into North Carolina Land Grants. There were none for Isham, but 4 for John Robbinses. Two were in Edgecomb, and because of the years, this must have been a different John. But there was one in Anson and one in Montgomery. I believe these were the same man. 

Montgomery County File number 351 shows that on August 9, John Robbins was granted 150 acres on the South West side of the Yadkin River on Bostons's Branch. This grant was recorded in Book 65, Page 37 as Grant Number 342. The original request was entered on March 28, 1780 as Entry number 140. It took over 6 years for the Grant to be issued. 

It appears that John Robbins lived in Montgomery County before crossing the River into Anson County. This grant gives no more specifics about the location than Bostons' branch and the size of the grant.

The Anson County Grant, Number 5728, was issued on December 14, 1803. It was for 100 acres on the Waters of Rocky River. Recorded in Land Patent Book, Page 118, Page 40 as Grant # 1844. John had originally requested the land on January 24, 1797. It took nearly 7 years to be issued. The Anson County grant doesn't give much more explantion, but does declare that the property was on the banks of the Rocky River, so just across this small river, bordering Stanly County, which was Montgomery at the time. it also states that it begins at his corner white oak, or property he already owned. From what I had found when researching Mary Whitley, I knew that John's property in Anson bordered that of Exodus Whitley and his family, the Gurleys and Daniel Hinson. Also James Gilbert. 

There was another Grant for another Robbins in Montgomery County, and that one was for a Charles Robbins. Further research will show Charles was the son of John, and a very important key. 

Charles Robbins was issued 100 acres of land in Montgomery County on July 10, 1797, on the Southwest side of the PeeDee River. This puts him in "West Pee Dee", which became Stanly County, and the south of it, which would place him near the border, the border consisting of the Rocky River. This grant was in Land Patent Book 94 Page 81 as Grant #1060 and was assigned Entry #1459. He first requested it on October 20, 1794, so it took over 2 years to issue it. 

Charles's grant is a little more informative than those of his father , John.

"No. 1060 State of North Carolina
Know Ye that we have Granted unto Charles Robbins One hundred acres of land in Montgomery County on the Southwest side of the Pee Dee River on the waters of Long Creek beginning at a pine in John Robbins line to a post oak by a pine north one hundred and seventy-nine poles to a red oak by two post oaks east ninety to a red oak by two pines south one hundred and seventy nine poles with said Robbins to the beginning to hold to the said Charles Robbins, his heirs......"

So Charles Robbins land bordered that of his father John Robbins, and was located along Long Creek. That was not the only clue and item of interest. There are three grants recorded on the page with that of Charles.

Charles's grant was in the middle of the page. The one above, No. 1059 was a grant of 25 acres to George Whitley on the waters of Big Bear Creek and the one below, No. 1061, was also to George Whitley for 100 acres on the East side of Big Bear Creek. Just a coincidence? Maybe, but the Robbins/ Whitley connection was strong. 

I've seen members of my Rocky River family tree and associated families, also own land on both sides of the river at the same time, the Davis's, the Winfields, Howells, Lee, Marshalls, Allens, among them. Not to say John Robbins was a member of my family, only to point out that many did cross the Rocky River back and forth. It's a small river. In many places, during certain times of year, they could have just pulled the teams of mules across to plow. 

In deeds, I first find John Robbins on March 2, 1780, with Benjamin Baird issuing 150 acres, warrant 140 for 150 acres on the Southwest side of the Yadkin River on Bostons Branch (the earlier grant), surveyed on April 22, 1785 by Edmund Lilly, "begins at a Red Oak on said Branch near where the path crosses from Parmours towards Robins'. Chain Carriers were William Ramsey and John Robbins, Jr. 

There was a John Jr.! The mention of a William Ramsey also piques my interest as I descend from a Starkey Ramsey who is one of my brickwall ancestors. As Boston Branch was named as being on the southwest side of the Yadkin River, it seems to have been located before the mouth of the Uwharrie River, which is where the Yadkin ends and the Pee Dee begins. 

On January 28, 1782 John Crump sold Henry Mounger 150 acres on the Northeast side of Bear Creek, which included a springhead at the head of Little Creek. Thomas Reynolds and John Robins were chain carriers. Was this the younger John Robins/Robbins? Evidence to be shone shortly that it might have been. This one was definately on the Stanly County side of the river.

On Christmas Eve, 1785, a very interesting transaction occurred. John Crump sold 100 acres to Hezekiah Dollarhide on Boston's Branch of Long Creek, including young John Robbins improvement, surveryed by Edmund Lilly in 1786, on Bostons Branch, waters of Long Creek, includes young John Robbins improvement (yes, they said that twice). John Parmer and Edmund Lilly Jr. were chain carriers. 

A couple of observations, first, Bostons Branch sprang off of Long Creek. Second, the land sold included property that had been improved, or cleared / cultivated by 'young John Robbins'. Can we assume John  Jr.?
John Parmer may have been the "Parmours" mentioned in the previous deed. 

Hezekiah Dollarhide had a 1779 grant in Randolph County as an assignee of John Knight on Little River and another in Montgomery County in 1785 on Long Creek. 

On October 20, 1794 John Crump to Charles Robbins  for 100 acres "taking in an improvement I had joining my father's line where he lives on waters of Long Creek".....on south west side of Pee Dee River and on waters of Long Creek, border beggining at a  a pine in John Robbins line, Hosea Rowland and Thomas Mainard chain carriers. 

The above plot is from the grant of Hezekiah Dollarhide that included young John Robbins improvements. Hezekiah Dollarhide would remove to Wayne County, Indiana and then was in Randolph County, Indiana when it was formed off of Wayne. This fact will come into play as an important piece of the puzzle. 

The above is the plat of John Robbins in Anson County on Rocky River. It is no surprise that John and Stephen Gilbert were chain carriers. 

In the sheath of  Hezekiah Dollarhides grant, there is mention of some work having been done by Hosea Rowland. 

On October 20, 1794, John Crump to "Hose" Rowland 100 acres on both sides of Turkey Creek, beginning on Buzzard's Branch, with Charles Robbins and Thomas Mainanrd as Chain Carriers. 

On December 27, 1796, John Crump warrented  to Lewis Beard 300 acres on the Waters of Curltail Creek that included 'Rocky Ford', and joined the property of Charles Robbins, the description went on to describe a pine in Robbins line and and Stokers line. Barnaba Dunn and John Atkins were chain carriers. We're getting closer to determing about where Charles Robbins lived. 

In September of 1799 John Neal sold 100 acres on Bear Creek to Hamblet Underwood. It joined Whitmill Harringtons old line and Thomas Nearon, located on the SW side of Yadkin River on  Bear Creek and joined Dunn. Charles Robbins and Samson Gilbert were chain carriers. Gilbert being a reoccuring name.

Five years later on  February 1, 1804, Joseph Parsons sold to John Gilbert 50 acres on the NW of Bear Creek, begins near said creek on his own line and joins Charles Robbins. Richard Wenleby and Neehham Smith were chain carriers. Recall there was a John Gilbert who lived near John Robbins the elder in Anson County. 

Charles Robbins would settle in Henry County, Tennesee. 

Besides the Grant, there's only one deed involving John Robbins in Anson County to be found, excluding all of the deeds involving properties that bordered on his. 

Book H Page 321  John Robbins to Charles Harrington  (any relation to Whittmill Harrington?) 

" This Indenture made the 5th day  of April  in the Year of our Lord 1784 between John Robbins of the County of Montgomery in the State of North Carolina and Charles Harrington of Anson County in the state afore mentioned". This shows that John Robbins resided in Montgomery (Stanly) County and was the same man as had recieved both Montgomery and Anson grants. The descriptions met those of the Anson Grant with the exception of a mention of Richardsons Creek. Witnesses were James Hudson, Benjamin Thomas and Jesse Gilbert, all familiar names. 

There is one more document that gives an insight into the life of John Robbins. In the 1782 tax list of Montgomery County, John Robbins is listed as an invalid. 

But John Robbins status as an invalid was a cause of impending death, as one might think.

And then I found this beautiful piece of information.

"State of North Carolina Auditors for the Countys of Anson, Montgomery and Richmond. This May (hole punch) that John Robbins - Exhibited His Claim to us and was allowed Fourteen Pounds Eighteen and six pence specie. Test. Thomas B Wade, John Auld and Stephen Miller, Auditors."

John Robbins, born 1866 in Anson County, served in the Revolutionary War under Major James Crump.

The American Revolution in North Carolina

Capt. James Crump

Known Regiment(s) Associated With:

Known Year(s) as a Captain:

Montgomery County Regiment


Known Lieutenants:

Known Ensigns:

Known Sergeants:

Known Corporals:

William Boyd
Moses Curtis

William Boyd

None Known

None Known

Known Privates, Drummers, Fifers, etc.:

George Adams

Jesse Bean

James Collins

Russell Curtis

Edward Hall

Joshua Hurley

James Kell

Thomas Newman

Joseph Parsons

Kinchen Pennington

Isham Randle

John Robbins

Rowland Ware



John Wilson


Known Battles / Skirmishes:


Colson's Mill


Camden (SC)


Brown Marsh

In his application for a pension for his service during the Revolutionar War, John Robbins revealed that he had been born in Anson County, North Carolina in 1766 and that he had then lived in Montgomery County, NC, when he was 'draughted' into the War, under the leadership of Major John Crump. He then lived in the Sequatchie Valley of Tennesee, and then moved to Indiana and lastly, at 78 in 1846, he was residing in the town of Spadra in Johnson County, Tennesee. 

All of the coincidences were not entirely coincidental, when it came to where he had lived and who he had interacted with. The reason Isham Robbins wasn't in the 1840 census of Montgomery County was that he wasn't in Montgomery County in 1840, although he was likely born there, on the west side of the river. 

My theory is that Isham Robbins was a member of  this Anson/Montgomery family of Robbins and was just returning home. 

The story of John Robbins continues.


  1. I believe the date in this line should be 1766 not 1866>>In his application for a pension for his service during the Revolutionar War, John Robbins revealed that he had been born in Anson County, North Carolina in 1866 and that he had then lived in Montgomery County, NC