Friday, March 14, 2014

Harry P. Leu Gardens

The Leu Gardens were bequeathed to the City of Orlando in 1961.  In addition to 50 acres of gardens, the site includes the Leu House Museum.  Marjory and I visited during February, 2014.

Harry P. Leu owned a successful industrial supply company.  In 1936, he purchased the property fronting Lake Rowena.  The house on the property was first constructed in the latter part of the 1800s, with Leu later becoming the fourth owner.

Harry and his wife Mary Jane traveled extensively and brought back plants, cuttings, and seeds from all over the world.  This is evidenced by the many tropical and sub-tropical gardens across the acreage.  There are pathways, gazebos, fountains, and rain shelters throughout.

The Leu Garden is particularly well known for its camellias, some of which were in bloom.  The trumpet trees were also flowering.  Perhaps because we were there in mid-winter, the garden beds did not seem particularly well tended.

The house was expanded several times over the years, but the main rooms has been restored to their turn of the century appearance.  Other areas, including the kitchen and bathrooms, have an Art-Deco motif.  While the house is not spectacular in any way, its docent-led tour provides an interesting and accurate glimpse of living in old Florida.  Well worth the 25 minutes.

Overall, our visit to the Harry P. Leu Gardens was a pleasant one – a relaxing morning but with tired legs at the end.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rossetter House Museum

The Historic Rossetter House Museum overlooks the Indian River in Eau Gallie, Brevard County, Florida.  (Resulting from a 1969 city merger, Eau Gallie is now part of the City of Melbourne.)  Eau Gallie was founded in the 1850s around a variety of agricultural ventures including sugar cane, rice, and citrus groves.  In 1877, commercial steamboats began to ply the Indian River, and the area began to grow.  By 1893 it had become the southern end of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway attracting new visitors from the north.

The museum comprises the 1880s / 1904 James Wadsworth Rossetter House and gardens, the 1892 William P. Roesch House, and the 1865 Houston Family Memorial Cemetery.  Marjory and I visited in early 2013 and again in March 2014.

Shaded with live oaks and sea grapes, this property was owned and developed by three different families.  When John Carrol Houston arrived in the area, there were precious few towns.  Purportedly Houston had his slaves build the first structure on the property where the Rossetter House now stands.  He operated a refuge and staging area for blockade runners transporting goods from the Indian River to the St. Johns River during the Civil War.  Later, he served as a hunting and fishing guide for wealthy northerners.  Houston also established Brevard County’s second post office in 1871.  Upon Houston’s death in 1885, the property went to his daughter, Ada Louise Houston.  The back / east portion of what is now the Rossetter House was built after her marriage to William R. Roesch.

Roesch also built a new house across the street, which now serves as the Museum’s visitor center and gift shop.  He went on to become Eau Gallie’s first Mayor and founder of the city’s first newspaper, The Eau Gallie Record.  Sadly, five of the Roesch’s six children died between the years 1887 and 1895. They are buried in the Houston Cemetery nearby, as are John Houston and his wife Mary.

James Wadsworth Rossetter and his family (wife Ella and daughters, Caroline and Ella) arrived in 1902.  The Rossetter House stands on the property Rossetter purchased in 1904, and is restored as it stood in 1908 as shown below. 

The material for the front / west portion of the house is said to have come from another home across the Eau Gallie River.  That house was dissembled and then reassembled here, connected to the back portion by breezeways on two levels. Of particular note in the front are the bead board walls and ceilings, sometimes in elaborate patterns.  This appears to be the work of shipbuilders rather than carpenters.

Rossetter’s fish company was one of the largest consumers of gasoline in Eau Gallie, which is how he came to be the Standard Oil agent for South Brevard County. 

When James W. Rossetter passed away in 1921, Caroline (Carrie), the oldest of the Rossetter children, had been working with her father for a number of years and decided to take over her father's oil agency.  A female oil agent was unheard of at the time, but she persuaded the Standard Oil Company to allow her to do so.  She was a success for 62 years, becoming the longest running Standard Oil agent in the country. 

Carrie built some of the first gasoline stations in South Brevard and was the sole distributor of oil to the Banana River Naval Air Station's civilian air force during the Second World War.  Caroline also continued her father's interests in the areas of both cattle and citrus.

In 1991, Caroline and her sister, Ella, donated their family home and collection of Victorian antiques to the Rossetter House Foundation as a monument to Eau Gallie’s past.  This local house museum is an excellent representation of what life was like on the Florida coast in the early 1900s.  The house’s plain wooden interior paneling held up to the moist climate, and the furniture and fixtures are well preserved.  Ella's Model A Ford remains in the garage.

It is interesting to compare the Rossetter house the Henry Flagler’s home, Whitehall, in Palm Beach, Florida.  Flagler was a founder of the Standard Oil Company while James Rossetter was a Standard Oil dealer.  Both of their homes are linked to the inter-coastal waterway and were completed at about the same time.  Both men have a connection to the Florida East Coast Railway – Flagler built it while Rossetter and Eau Gallie benefited from it.  But there the similarities end.  The Rossetter house would fit inside Whitehall at least 30 times.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Whitehall / Flagler Museum

Marjory and I visited Palm Beach and Whitehall in February, 2014.  This was the second "stop" on our tour of Florida Gilded Age mansions including Vizcaya in Miami and Ca' d'Zan in Sarasota.  Whitehall is by far the largest of the three.  At 100,000 square feet (including the lower floors of its one-time hotel addition), it is three times the size of Vizcaya.  And unlike the others, Whitehall seems to have been constructed solely to impress.

Henry Morrison Flagler was born on January 2, 1830 in Hopewell, New York.  In 1853, he married Mary Harkness. They had three children, Jennie Louise, Carrie, Henry Harkness.  Unfortunately, only Henry Harkness "Harry" Flagler would survive to have children.  His daughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, later establish the Flagler Museum.

Flagler was at first in the salt business, later entering the grain business as a commission merchant in Cleveland, Ohio. There he met John D. Rockefeller, who had decided to leave the grain business to start his own oil refinery. In need of capital for his new venture, Rockefeller approached Henry Flagler, who invested $100,000 and became Rockefeller's 25% partner.  In just two years Standard Oil became the leader in the American oil refining industry.  As secretary / treasurer, it was Flagler who, in effect, invented the modern corporation.  His day-to-day involvement with Standard Oil continued until the mid-1880s.

Flagler first became interested in Florida in 1878, when he wintered in Jacksonville because of his wife Mary's health.  She passed in 1881, and Flagler married her nurse, Ida Alice Shourds, in 1883.  Soon after their wedding, the couple traveled to St. Augustine, Florida, which they found charming but lacking in adequate hotels and transportation. Flagler believed that Florida had the potential to attract large numbers of tourists and began building hotels.  He also purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad that he expanded to became the Florida East Coast Railway.  By 1896, the railroad had reached Palm Beach and Miami, and by 1912, its Over-Sea Railroad extension reached Key West.

Flagler lost his second wife to mental illness. In 1901, Flagler married for the third time, to Mary Lily Kenan.  Whitehall was built as a wedding present to Mary Lily in 1902.  It was described by the New York Herald as, "... more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world."  In 1913, Flagler fell down a flight of stairs at Whitehall, passing from his injuries soon after.  Some say that Henry and Mary Lily are still in residence.

Flagler commissioned Beaux-Arts architects Carrere and Hastings to design Whitehall.  This resulted in a façade much like a temple.  The Grand Hall is entered through large bronze doors.  At 5,000 square feet, this marble-floored entry hall is the largest room in any Gilded Age home – large enough to contain two or three typical suburban dwellings.  Ahead is a double staircase and, behind it, an open courtyard. 

To the left is Flagler’s very masculine library.  He used this room to meet with business associates.  Next is the more-feminine music room that doubles as an art gallery.  Mrs. Flagler used this room for club meetings and bridge parties.  Further to the rear is the billiards room – large enough to make two massive billiards table and other games to appear quite small.

Across the south hall and behind the courtyard is the grand ballroom, nearly as large as the entry hall.  When Whitehall was converted to a hotel in 1925, the lake front marbled terrace adjacent the ballroom was removed and replaced with a ten-story tower.  While the hotel was removed in 1963, its two lower floors remain. As a result, this room no longer has a view of Lake Worth.

To the right of the entry hall is the salon or drawing room.  This room is decorated with aluminum leaf which, at the time of construction, was as expensive and precious as gold.

Behind the drawing room are the dining room and breakfast room.  Further to the rear were the butler’s pantry and kitchen, no longer in existence.

On the second floor are bedroom suites, each with its own bath and closet and each decorated in a different style.  There are also servants quarters including space for the servants of the Flagler’s guests.

A 2005 addition to the property is the Flagler-Kenan Pavilion.  In addition to a restaurant, it houses one of Flagler’s private railroad cars. 

Unlike Florida’s other Gilded Age mansions, this home is not primarily a display of precious art and antiques. Many of the furnishing are reproductions or were created specifically for Whitehall.  Whitehall is all about what money can buy, leaving it devoid of the love and personal affection shown by James Deering at Vizcaya and by the Ringlings at Ca’ d’Zan.

It is also interesting to compare Whitehall to the Rossetter house in Eau Gallie, Florida. Flagler was a founder of the Standard Oil Company while James Rossetter was a Standard Oil dealer. Both of their homes front the inter-coastal waterway and were built at about the same time. Both men have a connection to the Florida East Coast Railway – Flagler built it while Rossetter and Eau Gallie benefited from it. But there the similarities end. Though the Rossetters were somewhat well-to-do, their home would fit inside Whitehall at least 50 times.


The James Deering estate of Vizcaya is from a time when seasonal houses and their gardens were a measure of personal wealth.  Located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, it is owned by Miami-Dade County.  The estate includes one of the grand Gilded Age mansions that I so love to visit, and one of only three in Florida.  Marjory and I have visited all three Florida mansions this winter including also Whitehall (Palm Beach) in February, and Ca’ d’Zan (at The Ringling on Sarasota) in March.  We toured Vizcaya in late January.

James Deering is from the family of farm equipment manufacturers whose company eventually became International Harvester.  From this, the entire family achieved great wealth.  James Deering began planning his winter home in 1910 and purchased the land on Biscayne Bay in 1912.  Deering began to collect art, artifacts, and architectural elements which were later incorporated into both house and gardens.  These collections span the entire period of the European renaissance and include items from Italy, France, Spain, and elsewhere.

Working with designer Paul Chalfin, Deering first imagined a Spanish-style house.  However, the design was later changed to that of an Italian villa (country house).  The house was designed with an open center forming a courtyard.  (The courtyard has been enclosed with a skylight since 1986 to help preserve the house and its treasures.)  Construction of the main house was completed in 1916 and the gardens in 1921.  At its peak, this project employed ten percent of the population of Miami at the time.

The mansion offers a symmetrical view from the east, with Biscayne Bay intended as the main arrival route (see below).  Today, visitors enter through the motor court on the west side.  The north façade includes a swimming pool that emerges from vaulted arches at the lower level of the house. The south façade opens onto the formal gardens with enclosed loggias on the first and second floors.

Perhaps the least that can be said about Vizcaya is that it is stunning.  The interiors of the main house were meant to suggest the passing of time and the layered accumulation of artifacts and memories.  Decorative elements and furnishings include Italian wood paneling, French silk walls and marbled walls, massive furniture pieces from the Napoleonic French empire period, and tapestries and paintings dating from 1300 to 1900. 

The grounds, too, are amazing, including a mound with a casino, a grand allee, a maze, fountains, a secret garden, and many others.  Unique to my knowledge is the “barge,” actually a concrete and stone breakwater that sits between the house and the bay.  This has helped to somewhat protect the house from the water.

Originally a working estate, a dozen farm buildings, called Vizcaya Village, are still in existence across South Miami Avenue.  It is hoped that these will someday be fully restored and open to the public.

Deering, always a bachelor, passed in 1925.  Partly because of the enormous cost of maintenance, Deering’s nieces sold the house to the county for a small fraction of its value in 1955.

There is a very nice one-hour documentary on Vizcaya prepared by the local PBS-member station WPBT2 available online.  It does far more than I possibly could in describing Mr. Deering’s legacy.

Vizcaya is the smallest of Florida's Gilded Age mansions – originally only 30,000 square feet without the courtyard that was enclosed much later.  But because of the blending of so many styles and periods of its furnishings and collections, it remains somewhat overwhelming.  And its grounds were originally the largest.

As always, I'm left with so many questions.  Despite its magnificent water view, did Deering understand the peril of placing his house so close to Biscayne Bay?  (It has been damaged by hurricanes at least four times.)  Why did he feel the need for a working estate?  Did he intend or expect that Vizcaya and its contents would become a museum after his passing?  A single visit is not enough to fully absorb, understand, and appreciate this wonder created my James Deering and designer Paul Chalfin.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ca’ d’Zan / The Ringling

“The Ringling” is the State Art Museum of Florida.  The property includes a historic mansion, art museum, circus museum, and historic theater on sixty-six acres of bay front property in Sarasota.  The mansion and the art museum were constructed by the circus king John and his wife Mable Ringling.

Of course, my greatest interest was in the mansion, Ca’ d’Zan or “House of John.”  It is one of the grand Gilded Age mansions that I so love to visit, and one of only three in Florida.  Marjory and I have visited all three Florida mansions this winter including Vizcaya (Miami) in late January, Whitehall (Palm Beach) in February, and Ca’ d’Zan (Sarasota) on March 4, 2014.  Ca’ d’Zan is the youngest of the three, completed in 1925.  At 36,000 square feet, it is larger than Vizcaya.  But comparing the two houses without their courtyards, Ca’ d’Zan is smaller and far more intimate.

The mansion, shown from the Sarasota Bay above, was inspired by and designed in the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzos (palaces) on Venice canals.  The Ringlings loved Italy, and traveled there nearly every year while looking for new circus acts during the winter hiatus.  They also indulged their love for art, amassing a collection so large that they needed their own museum to hold it.

While there, we visited every square inch of the mansion that could be visited including the Guided Tour (first floor and part of the second floor) and the Private Places Tour.  We were very fortunate to be the only takers for our Private Places Tour, giving us our own docent.  In addition to seeing the balance of the second floor and the third floor game room, we also ascended to the fourth floor tower bedroom and then to the Belvedere on top.  The views from the Belvedere were magnificent.

As with the other Florida mansions, Ca’ d’Zan has a central courtyard.  Differently, this courtyard was always enclosed having a central skylight with five soft colors of English glass.  This was the Ringling’s primary space for entertaining.  It has seven arched doorways that can open to the 1,300 square foot marble terrace adjacent to the bay.

I was the most impressed with Mr. Ringling’s suite.  (As was typical for the wealthy, Mrs. Ringling had her own suite.)  Mr. Ringling had balconies opening to the east, south, and west, a 35-piece gilt mahogany bedroom set made in Paris, a marble bath with a tub made from a solid slab of marble, a private office, and an exercise room.  If I have ever seen a nicer suite of rooms, I do not recall it.

Ca’ d’Zan is clearly an architectural masterpiece.  But is also warm and inviting, the kind of house where we could feel comfortable and at home.

After so much time and effort viewing Ca’ d’Zan, we decided to upgrade our tickets to a multi-day pass and return for the art museum the next day.  While art museums aren’t usually my thing, I’m glad we did.  And Marjory loved the old masters, sometimes finding it difficult to speak.

The museum begins with two galleries of enormous works by Rubens (1577-1640).  The smallest, The Departure of Lot and His Family from Sodom, is 7 by 8 feet.  The largest, at more than 12 by 17, is The Triumph of Divine Love.  It is difficult not to be awe struck.

However, my personal favorite is a much smaller work by Francesco del Cairo (1607-1665) at only 3 by 4 feet.  I was attracted by the contrast – the whiteness of the subject’s skin against the blackness of her gown and the background along with the yellow and blue turban.  It was only later that I understood the scene being depicted by del Cairo, which has also been painted by scores other artists including Roselli, Cesari, Baglione, and even Rubens in hundreds of paintings. 

This work titled Judith with the Head of Holofernes tells the heroic biblical tale of the Jewish widow who seduces and then beheads an Assyrian General to prevent him from ravaging the city of Bethulia.  While I didn’t notice it at first, General Holofernes’ severed head can be seen at the lower left.

Without even considering the circus museum or the theatre, we would gauge The Ringling as the best attraction for art and architecture buffs anywhere in Florida. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Marjory and I visited the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida, on March 5, 2014.  This site includes their winter homes, a laboratory, and a museum.

Thomas Edison first purchased 13 acres of land and a cottage in Fort Myers in March of 1885, almost exactly 129 years before our visit.  The younger Henry Ford first came to Fort Myers in 1914 at the invitation of Mr. Edison.  He bought the house next door in 1916 (at far left in the photo below).  While Edison often stayed the winter in Florida, Ford would visit for only a week or two each year.

The homes are sturdy and well furnished, but clearly intended only as vacation cottages.  Their greatest asset is their frontage on the Caloosahatchee River – the only means of access until the train arrived in 1904.  Visitors are provided with an audio tour of the site.  The homes are not actually entered – they are visible through the doorways and windows facing their extensive porches.  We spent a pleasant two hours strolling the grounds.

The museum has an extensive collection of Edison memorabilia with somewhat less about Mr. Ford.  Although there are several Model T’s and a Model A on site, this is not an automotive museum.

For me, the most interesting bit of history was about the rubber industry.  During the 1870s, rubber tree seeds were smuggled from Brazil and rubber plantations established in East Asia.  During World War I the price of rubber rose dramatically because a cartel of Dutch and English rubber barons controlled these plantations and the majority of the world’s rubber supply.  As a result, Edison, Ford, and their friend Harvey Firestone began looking for solutions.

One possible solution was to find a domestic plant that produced latex (a white milky sap).  To that end, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation was formed in 1927 by Edison, Ford, and Firestone.  Its laboratory was constructed across the road from the estates, completed in 1928.  It was found that Goldenrod was the best domestic source of latex but that production costs were too high.  The project continued for a few years after Edison’s death in 1931.

At the same time, Henry Ford attempted to develop large-scale rubber plantations in Brazil.  His first effort was to purchase nearly 2.5 million acres that he called Fordlandia in 1929.  When the soil at Fordlandia was found to be inadequate, he bought another tract called Belterra in 1934 and shifted his emphasis there.  At both plantations, he built entire towns along with schools, hospitals, and production facilities.   By 1940, about 500 Brazilians worked at Fordlandia and another and 2,500 downstream at Belterra.  However, mass production of latex rubber was never achieved. 

In 1931, the first viable synthetic rubber called Neoprene was developed.  This eventually eliminated the need for Ford’s plantations, and in 1945 he sold both to Brazilian government at a loss of $20 million (over $200 million today).  Synthetic rubber also removed the need for the Edison Botanic Research Corporation, which closed in 1936.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Father of Middle Tennessee

See also Robertson / Robinson Family.

James Robertson, early leader of both the Watauga and Cumberland settlements, has been called the “Father of Middle Tennessee.” Born in 1742 in Brunswick County, Virginia, he was the son of John and Mary Gower Robertson. He was the grandson of Israel Robertson, who was Marjory’s 6th great grandfather.  Thus, James Robertson was her first cousin six times removed.

In 1759, young Robertson accompanied explorer Daniel Boone on his third expedition to lands beyond the Allegheny Mountains. The party discovered the "Old Fields" (lands previously cultivated by Indians) along the Watauga River valley at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee, which Robertson planted with corn while Boone continued on to Kentucky.

Physically, Robertson stood close to six feet tall, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion.  All descriptions of James Robertson point to an individual who was soft spoken and even-tempered, a person who maintained an inner composure regardless of external circumstances. Charlotte Reeves, who married Robertson in 1768, admired these traits. The daughter of a minister, Charlotte later persevered under the harsh frontier conditions and established a reputation for resourcefulness and strength. She and Robertson had thirteen children, two of whom died in infancy.

In late 1769, Robertson grew increasingly frustrated with the provincial rule of North Carolina Governor William Tryon.  He became part of the Regulator Movement, an uprising against corrupt colonial officials.  He remembered his trip to the land west of the Appalachian Mountains and began to consider relocating his family there. They were living in the Watauga Valley by 1772.

Encouraged by his favorable description of the land, several of Robertson's North Carolina cousins and neighbors decided to accompany him to the new frontier. In May 1772, when the Watauga settlers met to establish a government, they selected Robertson as one of the five magistrates to lead the Watauga Association. In addition, he was elected commander of the Watauga Fort.

In 1777 Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Land Company purchased a large tract of land from the Cherokees, including most of what constitutes present-day Middle Tennessee. In the spring of 1779 Robertson and a small party of Wataugans, acting on behalf of Henderson's claim, traveled to a site along the Cumberland River known as French Lick. There they selected a suitable location for a new settlement. Late that same year, Robertson returned with a group of men to prepare temporary shelter for friends and relatives, who planned to join them in a few months. The men arrived on Christmas Day and drove their cattle across the frozen Cumberland River. Crude cabins were erected for immediate winter housing, and a fort was built atop a bluff along the river. The fort was named Fort Nashborough (now Nashville), in honor of Francis Nash, who had fought alongside Robertson at the battle of Alamance in 1771.

The balance of the party, led by John Donelson, arrived by water on April 24, 1780.  A statue erected along the Cumberland riverfront in Nashville shows James Robertson welcoming Donelson and his party to Fort Nashborough.  Donelson’s daughter Rachel, 13 years old at the time their arrival, would become the wife of Andrew Jackson, the future war hero and seventh President of the United States.  Rachel died suddenly just before Jackson’s inauguration, never becoming First Lady.

A faction of Cherokees known as the Chickamaugas opposed the Transylvania Purchase and warned the new settlers that trouble would follow their claim to the land. Attacks on the Cumberland settlement lasted several years and reached a peak between 1789 and 1794. Robertson's brothers, John and Mark, were killed, as were his sons, Peyton and James Jr. Another son, Jonathan, was scalped. Robertson narrowly escaped death on two occasions. Once he was shot in the foot while hoeing corn. Another time he was ambushed along a trail and received gunshot wounds in both wrists.

In 1790 Congress created the Territory South of the River Ohio, and Robertson became lieutenant colonel commandant of the Mero District. The following year, President George Washington appointed him brigadier general of the U.S. Army of the same region. Under Robertson's guidance, the settlers worked together and persevered. Eventually attacks on the community decreased, and the population rose with the arrival of new settlers. As the Cumberland settlement entered a period of prosperity, the Robertsons built a comfortable brick home.

Occasionally, Robertson acted on behalf of the federal government to assist in the treaty negotiations with various Indian tribes. In 1804 he was commissioned U.S. Indian agent to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. His final mission took him to the Chickasaw Agency at Chickasaw Bluff (near Memphis). In his seventies, Robertson made the trip during heavy rains that forced him to swim several swollen creeks along the way. As a result, he became ill and died there on September 1, 1814. His remains were later returned to Nashville, where he received a formal burial in the City Cemetery.

James’ son Felix Robertson served as mayor of Nashville during 1818 and 1819.

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS James Roberton was named in his honor.  She was torpedoed by the German U-boat U-185 and sunk 175 miles east of Brazil on July 7, 1943.

Robinson / Robertson Family

The first of Marjory’s Robinson / Robertson ancestors to come to the new world was her 9th great grandfather Christopher Robinson in 1642.  As you would suspect from his name, Christopher’s ancestors were Scandinavian, migrating first to Scotland and then to England. 

Soon after his arrival in Virginia, Christopher married Frances Marie Burrell, also a settler from England.  The oldest of their four sons, Edward (Marjory’s 8th great grandfather) was born soon thereafter in 1645.  The family remained largely on the middle peninsula of Virginia until Edward’s grandson Israel Robinson (1698-1758, Marjory’s 6th great grandfather) moved inland to Granville County, North Carolina, north of present-day Raleigh.  Many of Israel’s descendants eventually moved west over the mountains becoming settlers in what is now the State of Tennessee.

During these many years, the family name was heard and written in various ways including Robinson, Robertson, and sometimes Robison or Robeson.  They are the same family but, some being illiterate, relied on others to record their names.

Israel’s son Charles B. Robinson (1733-1798, Marjory’s 5th great grandfather) and Israel’s grandson James Robinson/Robertson (1742-1814, Marjory’s 1st cousin six times removed) are among the most known.  Both were commissioners elected by the Watauga Association, the first representative government west of the Allegheny Mountains formed in 1772. 

Charles and his son Julius Caesar Robinson fought with the Overmountain Men at Kings Mountain.  Julius is also famous for his earlier role in the Battle of Point Pleasant.  Later, Charles was a leader in the founding of the failed State of Franklin, being speaker of its senate. 

James traveled even further west, establishing Fort Nashborough, the present-day City of Nashville.  There, he signed the Cumberland Compact establishing a constitutional government for the settlers.  James Robertson is often called the “Father of Middle Tennessee.”

Please enjoy the posts about this family and their accomplishments.