James Robertson and the Book Horse Shoe Robinson


James (Horse Shoe) Robertson, was the son of David and Frances Burchfield  Robertson, the grandson of Israel and Sarah (Williams ? ) Robertson, and the great grandson of Nicholas and Sarah Marks Robertson.  Sarah Marks Robertson was the daughter of Matthew and Mary Somes Marks.

Israel Robertson received an inheritance from his grandfather, Matthew Marks.

(Internet—The Robertson Genealogy Exchange; Will of Matthew Marks was dated August 15, 1719, and probated at Merchants Hope October 13, 1719; Virginia Historical Archives.)


James’ great grandfather, Nicholas Robertson, and his great-great grandfather, Matthew Marks, were founding members of the first Baptist Church to be established in the state of Virginia in what is now Prince George County.  Robert Norden was pastor of the church.

Matthew Marks and Nicholas Robertson had their homes legally declared “public meeting houses”.  When Matthew Marks died he gave the Reverend Norden the privilege of living in his house for what proved to be the remainder of Norden’s life.

(The Baptists of Virginia by Garnett Ryland, pp. 2-5.)


David’s father, Israel, received a 670 acres grant in Brunswick County (Mecklenburg) on the westside of Smith’s Creek on Roanoak River, September 28, 1728.    He received a grant of 640 acres of land on the eastside of Little Creek in Granville County, N. C., on March 25, 1749.  This land was surveyed on March 10, 1748.

(RootsWeb’s World Connect: Ancestors of Robert Fillmore LaNier Inside Heavens Gate, ID: 111390, Israel Robertson.)


Israel had moved from Mecklenburg County to Granville County, North Carolina, by the early 1750s.  He was an ensign in the Granville County, North Carolina Militia.  Commander of the regiment was Col. William Eaton.  Israel and his sons, Matthew (Sergeant), Israel Jr., John and Nicholas were listed on the General Muster roll on October 8, 1754.  They served in Captain Richard Coleman’s Company.

(North Carolina Colonial and State Records, Vol. 22, p. 372-373.)


According to the records of Bristol Parish, Prince George County, David Robertson was born on August 19, 1728, the fourth son of Israel and Sarah Robertson.

(RootsWeb’s World Connect: Head-Cook, Montgomery, Alabama, ID: 120559, David Robertson.)


He married Frances Burchfield, daughter of Adam and Mary  ? Burchfield.  She was born on March 13, 1724.  The Burchfields were originally from Wales and settled first in Baltimore County, Maryland.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Barker and Bergmark Families, ID: 18047, Frances Burchfield; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Paige / Page Family Ancestry, ID: 19273, Adam Burchfield; Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759, by Robert Barnes, p. 83.)


David received a grant of 392 acres in Lunenburg County (later Mecklenburg County), Virginia, on the north side of Smith’s Reedy Branch from King George II on December 15, 1749.

Before receiving this land, he lived with his father in Lunenburg County (later Mecklenburg).

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Vermont’s Seeds, ID: 147349, David Robertson; Virginia Patent Book 29, 1749-1751, pp. 21-23.)


In his will of December 4, 1758, Israel Robertson bequeathed  “five shillings sterling” to his son, David.  Israel died August 12, 1760. (Internet—The Robertsons of Tennessee: Myth and Reality.)

David and his wife, Frances, sold their Lunenburg County, Virginia, land to William Davis on February 5, 1762.

(Lunenburg County, Virginia, Deed Book 7, pp. 281-282.)


David purchased 128 acres of land from Joseph John Alston in Granville County, North Carolina.  He and his wife, Frances, sold this land to Joseph John Williams on January 13, 1764.

(Granville County, N. C. Deed Book E, pp. 3, 70.)


He received a grant of 400 acres of land on the north side of Broad River and waters of Turkey Creek in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, September 26, 1766, on “both sides of wagon road including (John) Wade’s old store house”.  James Robertson was 7 years old when his father moved the family to what later became South Carolina.

(Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Records; File No. 2167; Gr. No. 226; Bk. 23, p. 121; North Carolina Land Grants in South Carolina, by Brent Holcomb, p. 107.)


He sold the Turkey Creek land to William Glover Bishop in June of 1769, and purchased land and a grist mill from Joab Mitchell on both sides of Mill Creek in Tryon County, North Carolina.  The Turkey Creek and Mill Creek lands became a part of South Carolina in 1772.

(Tryon County, North Carolina, Deed Book 1, pp. 178-179; pp. 52-53; Internet–The Robertson’s of Tennessee: Myth and Reality, p. 6.)


This transaction included a grist mill that had belonged to John Clark, father of General Elijah Clark.  The creek was first called Clark’s Mill Creek. (Tryon County, North Carolina, Deed Book I, pages 518-519; Upper Broad River Basin Pioneers, 1750-1760, Item No. 295-E, Compiled by Miles S. Philbeck; Union County, South Carolina, Deed Abstracts, Vol. I: Deed Books A-F, 1785-1800, Compiled by Brent H. Holcomb, p. 54.)

David purchased a tract of 400 acres of land on both sides of Thicketty Creek from Jacob Widner on October 25, 1770.  It was originally granted to Honas Balm and later joined John Nuckolls’ tract.  John Clark, father of General Elijah Clark, assisted in surveying the Balm grant in 1752.  This land became a part of South Carolina in 1772. (Tryon County, North Carolina, Deed Book I, pp. 306-307.)

He apparently was in process of purchasing this property in 1767.  On August 8, 1767, when John Nuckolls had a survey made for his grant of 400 acres, records state that the tract was bounded by lands of Stephen Jones and David Roberson. (Mecklenburg County, File No. 2375; Gr. No. 135; Bk. 23, p. 205; North Carolina Land Grants in South Carolina, Compiled by Brent Holcomb, p. 100.)

John Nuckolls led a group of neighbors on February 9, 1771, to form a company to protect the settlers from the Cherokee Indians.  He was chosen captain.  A partial list of other neighbors serving were: William Marchbanks (Lieutenant), Patrick Moore (Ensign), Adam Burchfield (Sergeant), Phillip Coleman (Sergeant), Thomas Cole (Corporal), Hugh Moore, Matthew Robinson (James Robertson’s brother), John Goudelock, Samuel Clowney, Hugh Means, George Story and William Coleman. (The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. XIII, by William L. Saunders, p. 517.)

David Robertson operated the grist mill until three days before he made his will. (Tryon County, North Carolina, Deed Book 1, pp. 518-519.)

His will was written on July 8, 1771, (probably composed by Vardry McBee Sr.).  His wife, Frances, his son-in-law, Irby Dewberry, and his neighbor, William Marchbanks, were his executors.  Two of the witnesses to the will were Vardry McBee Sr. and Adam Burchfield.

A part of the will read: “and as touching the Estate of my Brother Charles Robertson that I have obtained by execution I Give to George Robertson the youngest of my Brother Charles that is to say after the said Estate pays to my Wife Seventy Pounds Virginia Money and Discharges the Execution and attachment…that I stand bound for my Brother Charles Robertson then the remainder to return into the hand of the said George Robertson the younger son of my Brother Charles Robertson and if he should die I Give the same to the next Youngest Brother of his to him and his heirs and my will and desire that such Estate Remain the hand of my Brother Charles Robertson till such Son comes of Age…” (It was recorded in Tryon County, North Carolina, Will Book, I, 1774-1779, p. 304.)

“This (part of the will) related to his brother Charles’ legal entanglements with the British authorities due to his regulator activities.  It essentially amounts to the fact that David attempted to use his will to so complicate the handling of his bequest with the financial affairs of his brother Charles that it would delay perhaps forever the Brits’ confiscating Charles’ property.”  The will was rejected and the rule of primogeniture was enforced. (RootsWeb’s WorldConnect: Head-Cook, Montgomery, Alabama, ID: 120559, David Robertson.)

Adam Burchfield witnessed the will of Frances’ husband, David, who died in 1771, when James was 12 years old.  He was possibly a brother of Frances.  According to Dr. Bobby Moss’ Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, p. 122, Burchfield served under Capts. Vardry McBee, John Mapp and Col. Benjamin Roebuck during 1781 and 1782.

Frances later remarried James Terrell, son of James and Margaret  Watkins Terrell, a Patriot and Captain during the Revolutionary War. He served as a lieutenant under Cols. Thomas Sumter, John Purvis and William Bratton and was wounded in 1780.  He also served as a captain in the militia under Col. Thomas Brandon. (RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Our Research, ID: 15826, James Terrell; Spartanburg County Deed Abstracts A-T, 1785-1827, by Albert Bruce Pruitt, p. 333; Deed Book K, pp. 471-473; Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Dr. Bobby Moss, p. 922.)

In his Revolutionary War Pension application (S14341), James Robertson stated that he was born in North Carolina, in October of 1759.  He stated that his parents moved the family from North Carolina to South Carolina and settled in Ninety Six District. (It was later called Union District and is now a part of Cherokee County.  Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas M. Owens; Internet–Pension Statements of the American Revolution by Will Graves.)

According to his pension statement, James Robertson joined with the Patriots in 1776, and was assigned to the 6th South Carolina Continental Regiment of Provincials.  Col. Thomas Sumter was Commander of the Regiment, and William Henderson was Major. Henderson was commissioned major under Lt. Col. Thomas Sumter on February 29, 1776.  He lived within five miles of Robertson and possibly recruited him. Henderson’s plantation was about one mile on the left from the Jerusalem Road toward Gilead Baptist Church.  He sold the land to his brother, John.  There is a large clump of trees that contain the graves of John Henderson, his wife, Sarah Hinton Alston, and their son, William.  They are marked with field stones.

Robertson’s first captain was William McClintock. (Nothing But Blood and Slaughter, Vol. One, 1771-1779, by Patrick O’Kelley; Internet—The American Revolution in South Carolina.)

“Captain Thomas Pinckney wrote his sister on June 8th, 1776, that Colonel Thomas Sumter and his riflemen were guarding the city.  General Charles Lee countered Sir Henry Clinton’s move by sending Thomson’s Rangers, Sumter’s Riflemen and some scattering units of infantry and artillery to repel any crossing from Long Island.

While Sumter and his (160) riflemen watched enviously, the defenders of Fort Sullivan on June 28th, 1776, were killing some two hundred sailors and wounding many others, including Commodore Parker and Lord Cornwallis.

A shot cut away the staff of the Second Regiment’s blue flag with a silver crescent.  ‘Colonel,’ exclaimed Sergeant William Jasper, (James Robertson’s former neighbor) ‘don’t let us fight without our flag!’ He then sprang from the rampart, seized the bunting, and returned unharmed through shot and shell.  Tying the flag to a sponge staff, he hoisted it again above the fort.” (Gamecock by Robert D. Bass, pp. 36-37; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project, From Adam to Me, ID: 108974, John Andrew Jasper.)

He fought under Col. Thomas Sumter against the Cherokees.  This battle was called the Cherokee War of 1776 or the Second Cherokee War. (Internet—Cherokee War of 1776; James Robertson’s Pension statement.)

“On August 12,  (1776), Colonel Sumter drew 1,500 pounds for recruiting and then set the Second Regiment of Riflemen on the long march to the Keowee.  On September 3, Captain Tutt reported that Colonel Sumter was trying to collect thirty beeves and three thousand pounds of flour before advancing to the frontier. Eight days later Sumter reached Fort Prince George with the ammunition, beeves and flour.  But he had only three hundred and thirty men, ‘many of whom, by the fatigue of the march from Charleston rendered incapable to proceed into the nation, were left in the fort.’ With two hundred and seventy effectives on September 12, he marched into General Williamson’s camp at Essenecca.” (Gamecock, Robert D. Bass, pp. 38-39; Internet—Cherokee War of 1776.)

Robertson’s captain, William McClintock, died June 24, 1778.  Captain Alexander Boyce replaced Capt. McClintock.  Col. Thomas Sumter resigned as Lieutenant Colonel of the Sixth Regiment on September 23, 1778, and William Henderson was promoted to Lt. Colonel at that time. (Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Dr. Bobby Moss, pp. 603, 908; Internet–Pension Statements of the American Revolution by Will Graves; Internet–The American Revolution in South Carolina.)

He fought with the Sixth Regiment under Lt. Col. William Henderson at the Battle of Stono Ferry on June 20, 1779.  They had 164 men.  Alexander Boyce was captain at this time. (Nothing But Blood And Slaughter, Vol. One, 1771-1779, by Patrick O’Kelley.) He fought under Lt. Col. William Henderson at the Siege of Savannah on October 9, 1779.  Capt. Alexander Boyce was severely wounded in this battle and died of his wounds in November of 1779.  Capt. Benjamin Brown replaced Boyce.

Robertson’s former neighbor, Sergeant William Jasper, was killed in this battle while attempting to plant the Second Continental flag on the parapet of Spring Hill Redoubt. (Nothing But Blood And Slaughter, Vol. Two, by Patrick O’Kelley; Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Dr. Bobby Moss, pp. 89, 105, 495.)

The 6th Regiment was greatly diminished in numbers and became nearly extinct.  On February 11th, 1780, Robertson was assigned to the 1st South Carolina Continental Regiment, and Col. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney became his commander.  Charles Lining was his captain.

Lt. Col. William Henderson was transferred to the 3rd South Carolina Regiment (Rangers) under Col. William Thomson at this time.

(Internet–The American Revolution in South Carolina.)


The 6th South Carolina Regiment was consolidated with the 2nd South Carolina Regiment in February of 1780.

(Internet—6th South Carolina Regiment—Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia; Internet–Pension Statements of the American Revolution by Will Graves; The Southern Strategy by David K. Wilson.)


At the Siege of Charleston on May 12th, 1780, James Robertson, his commander, Col. Charles Pinckney, and Capt. Charles Lining were captured while fighting the British and incarcerated at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island.  Col. Pinckney had 231 men in this battle.

(Nothing but Blood and Slaughter, Vol. Two, by Patrick O’Kelley.)


Robertson escaped after a month’s confinement.  Capt. Charles Lining was exchanged in June of 1781, and Col. Charles Pinckney was exchanged in February of 1782.

(Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Dr. Bobby Moss, pp. 571, 774, 821.)


The book, Horseshoe Robinson, begins with the Fall of Charleston, S. C., and ends with the Battle of King’s Mountain.  J. P. Kennedy in this book tells of Robertson’s escape from Charleston and states that Horse Shoe had orders from Col. Pinckney to bring Major Butler from Virginia to Georgia.

(Horse Shoe Robinson  by J. P. Kennedy, pp. 19-23.)


James Robertson later joined Col. Thomas Brandon’s Regiment and served under Capt. John Thompson until the end of the war.

 (Internet—American Revolution Pension Statements, James Robertson, Transcribed by Will Graves.)


Dr. Bobby Moss states that he possibly fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain and was in the Battle of Cowpens.  James tells in his pension statement that he participated in the Battle of Cowpens.

The reason Dr. Moss stated that he possibly may been in the Kings Mountain Battle was because he fought under Col. Thomas Brandon, who was in this battle.  J. P. Kennedy states in his book, Horseshoe Robinson, that Robertson fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain (page 587).

(See Dr. Bobby Gilmer Moss, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, page 821, The Patriots at Kings Mountain, page 289, and The Patriots of Cowpens, pp. 202-203.)


His brother, Matthew Robertson, was a blacksmith in the militia and provided corn for the Continental Line.  He lost a wagon and team in service during 1779.  After the Fall of Charleston, S. C., he fought with the militia under Cols. Thomas Brandon, Benjamin Roebuck and Capt. Vardry McBee Sr.

His Brother, Isaac, was enlisted in the First Regiment on November 27, 1775.  He fought under Col. Charles Pinckney at the Battle of Fort Sullivan.  He was discharged on December 1, 1778, and reassigned to the Sixth Continental Regiment under Lt. Col. William Henderson.  He fought with this unit at the Siege of Savannah.  He served as a corporal under Capt. Alexander Boyce.

After the Fall of Charleston, S. C., Isaac served under Cols. Benjamin Roebuck, Thomas Brandon and Capt. Vardry McBee Sr.

His brother, Israel, served in the Light Dragoons under General Thomas Sumter, Col. William Hill and Capt. William McKenzie.  After the Fall of Charleston he served as a private and lieutenant in the militia under Col. Thomas Brandon.

(See Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, pp. 821, 822, 823, 824, by Dr. Bobby Moss.)


James Robertson married Sarah Morris Headen, daughter of William and Jane Beavers Headen, on June 4, 1782.  She was born July 17, 1763, and was the twin sister of Jane Headen who married his brother, David.

(RootsWeb’s World Connect Project: Reineckes / Robertsons and Other Famous People, ID: 103934, Sarah Morris Headen; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: 24505, ID: 1047, Contact Carolyn Henderson, Jane Headen.)


William Headen Sr. was a Patriot soldier in the American Revolutionary War and served eighty-nine days as a horseman in the militia under Capt. Joseph Dickson and Col. Benjamin Roebuck.

His son, William Jr. served at various times under Capts. Vardry McBee Sr., Jeremiah Dixon, John Mapp and Cols. John Thomas, Benjamin Roebuck and William Farr.

His son, John, served as a horseman in the militia under Capt. Anthony Colter and Col. Benjamin Roebuck.

(See Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Bobby Gilmer Moss, p. 431.)


When the Gosher (Goucher) Baptist Church purchased one acre of land in Spartanburg County, S. C., (now in Cherokee County, S. C.)  from Philip Martin on August 6, 1789, John Headen, son of William Headen Sr., was listed as a trustee.  So the Headen family could possibly have been members of this church.

(Spartanburg County / District, South Carolina, Deed Abstracts, Books A-T, 1785-1827, Compiled by Albert Bruce Pruitt, p. 36.)


William Headen Sr. moved his family from Spartanburg, S. C., to Pendleton District, S. C., and then to Jackson County, Georgia, where his will was probated on April 1, 1808.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Keene—Gregory & Related Ancestral Family Trees, ID: 120419, William Headen.)


James’ mother, Frances, gave her son, Matthew, her part of David Robertson’s land (133 1/3 acres).  Matthew sold the land to John Waters on March 10, 1786.

(See Union County, S. C. Deed Abstracts, Book A, pages, 519-522.)


From the book, Settlement of Pendleton District, 1777-1800, p. 30, is found the following: “The General Assembly passed an Act in 1778, reserving certain lands for the soldiers of South Carolina who served in the Revolutionary War.  The territory between the Keowee and Tugaloo rivers was set aside for this purpose.

No grants in this section were legal until after the war and all soldiers had received their portion.  Each soldier was to be granted two hundred acres including the one hundred acres allowed by Congress, and the transfer was to be made free of expense to him.  The grant was a title in fee simple and was a reward for his service.”

The same book indicates that James Robertson took advantage of this law and was granted 200 acres.

James Robertson received a state grant for a tract of 200 acres of land on Chauga Creek, in Pendleton District on January 21, 1785, from Governor Benjamin Guerard and 150 acres in the Thicketty Creek area on June 5, 1786, from Governor William Moultrie.

(See Pendleton District and Anderson County, South Carolina, Wills, Estates, Inventories, Tax Returns and Census Records Complied by Virginia Alexander, Coleen Morse Elliott and Betty Willie p. 196; and Union County, S. C. Deed Abstracts by Brent Holcomb, Vol. I, Book C, pp. 29-30.)


James found himself in legal trouble with the Union District authorities in September of 1790.  Charges mentioned were malicious mischief, larceny and killing a horse.  The writer does not have information on the outcome of the trial or trials.  John Hogan and John Thompson were also charged.

(Union County, South Carolina Minutes of the County Court—1785-1799, Compiled by Brent A. Holcomb, 1790, pp. 272-274; 276-278.)


He sold his Thicketty Creek land to Elizabeth Hogan on October 2, 1790, and moved his family to Pendleton District to the Chauga Creek tract.

(Union County, S. C. Deed Abstracts, Vol. I, p. 98.)


His step-father, James Terrell, and his mother, Frances, sold their last tract of land (496 acres) in the Thicketty Creek area on the South Fork of Gilkie’s Creek to John Leek on January 26, 1792, in what is now Cherokee County, S. C., and moved to Pendleton District.

This land had been granted to James Terrell by the Governor of South Carolina (date not given).

(Spartanburg Deed Abstracts, Books A-T, 1785-1827, by Albert Bruce Pruitt, p. 333, Book K, pp. 471-473.)


The book, Pendleton District, S. C. Deeds, 1790-1806, page 45, indicates that James Robertson and his family were living in Washington County, Georgia, in 1792.  They possibly sold or leased their Chauga Creek lands on the waters of Tugaloo River, to James Terrell, Robertson’s step-father, on December 1, 1792.

James later returned to South Carolina and apparently repurchased or repossessed the tract he had made available to his step-father.

(Pendleton District and Anderson, South Carolina, Wills, Estates, Inventories, Tax Returns and Census Records, p. 196.)


There was a curve on Chauga Creek that ran through Robertson’s land and his neighbors began to call him Horse Shoe.

(Southern Literary Messenger—May 1835—Edgar Allan Poe.)


In the Mills Atlas of Pendleton District, surveyed by Scribling in 1820, James Robertson’s house was listed as the plantation of Horse Shoe Robertson.

James Robertson and his wife, Sarah, were friends and neighbors of John Harrison Sr. and his wife, Naomi, in the Pendleton District.  James son, John, married, Celia Harrison, daughter of John and Naomi, in 1811.

(Internet–John Harrison Sr. Family.)


In the Introduction to the 1852 edition of the book, Horse Shoe Robinson, John P. Kennedy wrote: “In January of 1819, I was riding my horse in Pendleton District.  A lad, apparently not above ten years of age, mounted bare back on a fine horse, suddenly emerged from the wood about fifty paces ahead of me, and galloped along the road in the same direction that I myself resolved to take.

I quickened my speed to overtake him, but from the rapidity of his movement, I found myself, at the end of a mile, not as near him as I was at the beginning.  Some open country in front, however, showed me that I was approaching a settlement.  Almost at the moment of making this discovery, I observed that the lad was lying on the ground by the road-side.

I hastened to him, dismounted, and found him sadly in want of assistance.  His horse had run off with him, thrown him, and dislocated, as it afterwards appeared, his shoulder-joint.  While I was busy in rendering such aid as I could afford, I was joined by a gentleman of venerable aspect, the father of the youth, who came from a dwelling-house near at hand.  We lifted the boy in our arms and bore him into the house.  The gentleman was Colonel T—–.

The boy was laid upon a bed in the room where we sat, suffering great pain, and in want of immediate attention.  The mother of the family happened to be absent that night.  There was an elder son, about my own age, who was playing a fiddle when we came in, and there was a sister younger than he, and brothers and sisters still younger.  But we were all alike incapable.  The poor boy’s case might be critical, and the nearest physician, Dr. Anderson, resided at Pendleton, thirty miles off.

In the difficulty of the juncture, a thought occurred to Colonel T., which was immediately, made available.  ‘I think I will send for Horse Shoe Robinson,’ he said.  ‘Get a horse, my son, and ride over to the old man, and tell him what has happened to your brother; and say, he will oblige me if he will come here directly.  At the same time, a servant was ordered to ride to Pendleton, and to bring over Dr. Anderson. I heard him privately instructing a servant to go for the lady, and to tell her that the boy’s injury was not very severe.”

*Gen. Robert Anderson, a Patriot officer, lived in Pendleton, S. C. and according to John H. Logan’s, A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina, Vol. II, p. 49, “was a good physician, practicing gratis among the poor”.  He died in 1813, but may have taught his son, Robert Jr., some of his medical skills.  There was no medical college in South Carolina at this time.

“In less than an hour there was a sound of hoofs coming through the dark—a halt at the door—a full, round, clear voice heard on the porch—then the entrance into the apartment of a woodland hero.  This was our expected counselor, Horse Shoe Robinson.  What a man I saw.  With near seventy years upon his poll, time seemed to have broken its billows over his front only as the ocean breaks over a rock.   His homely dress, his free stride, as he advanced to the fire; his face radiant with kindness; the natural gracefulness of his motion; all afforded a ready index to his character.  Horseshoe, it was evident, was a man to confide in.

‘I hear your boy’s got flung from his horse, Colonel,’ he said, as he advanced to the bed-side.  ‘Do you think he is much hurt?’  ‘Not so badly as we thought at first, Mr. Robinson,’ was the reply.  ‘I am much obliged to you for coming over tonight.  It is a great comfort to have your advice in such times.’

‘These little shavers are so venturesome—with horses in particular,’ said the visitor; ‘it’s Providence, Colonel, takes care of ‘em.  Let me look at you, my son,’ he continued as he removed the bed-clothes, and began to handle the shoulder of the boy.  ‘He’s got it out of joint,’ he added after a moment.  ‘Get me a basin of hot water and a cloth, Colonel.  I think I can soon set matters right.’

It was not long before the water was placed beside him, and Robinson went to work with the earnestness of a practiced surgeon.  After applying wet cloths for some time to the injured part, he took the shoulder in his broad hand, and with a sudden movement, which was followed by a shriek from the boy, he brought the dislocated bone into its proper position.

Horse Shoe came to the fireside, and took a chair, saying, ‘I larnt that, Colonel, in the campaigns.  A man picks up some good everywhere, if he’s a mind to.’

Horse Shoe determined to remain all night with the family.  We had supper, and after that, formed a little party around the hearth.  Colonel T. took occasion to tell me something about Horse Shoe; and the Colonel’s eldest son gave me my cue, by which he intimated I might draw out the old soldier to relate some stories of the war.

‘Ask him,’ said the young man, ‘how he got away from Charleston after the surrender; and then get him to tell you how he took the five Scotchmen prisoners.’

We were all in good humor.  The boy was quite easy, and everything was going on well, and we had determined to sit up until Mrs. T. should arrive, which could not be before midnight.  Horseshoe was very obliging, and as I expressed a great interest in his adventures, he yielded himself to my leading, and I got out of him a rich stock of adventure, of which his life is full.

The two famous passages to which I had been asked to question him—the escape from Charleston, and the capture of the Scotch soldiers—the reader will find preserved in the narrative.

A more truthful man than he, I am convinced, did not survive the war to tell its story.  Truth was the predominant expression of his face and gesture—the truth that belongs to natural and unconscious bravery, united with a frank and modest spirit.  He seemed to set no especial value upon his own exploits, but to relate them as items of personal history, with as little comment or emphasis as if they concerned any one more than himself.

It was long after midnight before our party broke up; and when I got to my bed it was to dream of Horse Shoe and his adventures.  I made a record of what he told me, whilst the memory of it was still fresh, and often afterwards reverted to it, when accident or intentional research brought into my view events connected with the items and scenes to which his story had reference.

The reader will thus see how I came into possession of the leading incidents upon which this ‘Tale of the Tory Ascendancy’ in South Carolina is founded.

It was first published in 1835.  Horse Shoe Robinson was then, a very old man.  He had removed into Alabama, and lived, I am told, upon the banks of the Tuskaloosa.  (He lived in Tuscaloosa County on the banks of Black Warrior River near Sander’s ferry.)  I commissioned a friend to send him a copy of the book.  The report brought me was that the old man had listened very attentively to the reading of it, and took great interest in it.

‘What do you say to all this?’ was the question addressed to him, after the reading was finished.  His reply is a voucher, which I desire to preserve: ‘It is all true and right—in its right place—excepting about them women, which I disremember.  That mought be true too; but my memory is treacherous—I disremember.’”

Dr. J. B. O. Landrum in his book, History of Spartanburg County, p. 459, wrote:  “In Mr. Kennedy’s famous novel, ‘Horse Shoe Robinson,’ the colonel referred to is Obadiah Trimmier, father of William, who was the father of Colonel T. G. Trimmier.  The absent lady referred to was Lucy Trimmier, wife of Obadiah.  She was a Stribling.  Her grandfather was a Watson.

The violin boy was William Trimmier, mentioned herein; the boy thrown from the horse was Thomas, brother of William.  The two small boys mentioned were Obadiah Watson and Marcus Tullias, sons of Obadiah and Lucy Trimmier, who were living on Toxaway.  Horse Shoe Robinson lived on Chauga in Pickens County.” (Oconee County, S. C.)

James Robertson and Obadiah Trimmier both lived in the Thicketty Creek section of what is now Cherokee County, South Carolina, in the latter 1780s.  Trimmier had been a member of the Louisa County Militia in Virginia, and was appointed an Ensign on February 12, 1781.

(See Historical Record of Virginians in the Revolution by John Gwathmey, 1987, p. 782.)


Obadiah Watson Trimmier was the son of William and Lucy Watson Trimmier and was born in Louisa County, Virginia, November 1, 1759.  He married Lucy Stribling, daughter of Thomas Stribling Jr. and Nancy Ann Kincheloe Stribling, in Spartanburg District on November 24, 1785.

The 1790 U. S. Census of Spartanburg County, S. C., indicated that Trimmier and William Headen lived close to each other.

Trimmier sold 174 acres of land on the North Fork of Thicketty to Joseph Champion on December 4, 1798, and 100 acres of land on the North Fork of Thicketty Creek to John Champion on January 28, 1800.  Obadiah Trimmier moved his family to Pendleton District shortly after this.

(Spartanburg County, S. C. Deed Abstracts, Books A—T, pp. 374-375; 39-40.)


Obadiah Trimmier’s land was shown on Mills Atlas of Pendleton District in 1820.  James Robertson and Obadiah Trimmier’s residences in Pendleton District were only a few miles apart.

Obadiah was referred to as a colonel in the above story and may have joined the South Carolina militia, where he received a commission as colonel.  One record states that he fought in the Battle of Cowpens.

In 1786, he performed marriages in Spartanburg District, South Carolina, as Justice of the Peace.  After moving to the Pendleton District, he served in the legislature.  He died in Pendleton District January 22, 1829, and was buried in the Toxaway Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Chaffin, Contact Lane Chaffin, ID: 1189, Obadiah Trimmier.)


J. B. O. Landrum, in his History of Spartanburg County, page 407, wrote that “James Turner, Sr., was a brother-in-law of Horse Shoe Robinson, the hero of Mr. Kennedy’s famous novel of the same name, both of whom were scouts during the Revolution and a terror to the Tories.

Some time after the close of the Revolution James Turner, accompanied by his little son Samuel, visited Horse Shoe Robinson, who resided in what was then Pendleton District, S. C.  It is stated that they sat up all night discussing their ups and downs, but that Mrs. Robinson made them lie down while she was preparing breakfast.

James Turner, Sr. was a pious and consecrated Christian, and for many years a deacon of Buck Creek Baptist Church.”

In an unpublished manuscript on the life of Joseph Starke Sims: A Nineteenth Century Upcountry Planter, Politician and Business Entrepreneur of South Carolina by Edwin Thomas Sims, he wrote: “When John Pendleton Kennedy was gathering material for His book, Horse Shoe Robinson, he was the guest of Sims.”  The writer’s source was an unpublished History of Grindal Shoals by Carol Fernandez Robertson.

In an article entitled, Old Grindall Shoals, and published in the Piedmont Headlight, Spartanburg, S. C., on October 21, 1898, the writer states: “Those who have read that delightful historic romance, Horse Shoe Robinson by John P. Kennedy, need only visit Grindall to be convinced of the truth of his narrative.

In fact, Miss S. A. Sims, who has written up the history of Grindall Shoals, tells me that Mr. Kennedy, after his interview with HorseShoe Robinson, went himself over the entire route that Major Butler and Horse Shoe traveled from Virginia to Musgrove’s mill, in order to verify his narrative and by interviewing other old Revolutionary soldiers, secure exact data for his book.”

In the 1820s or early 1830s John Pendleton Kennedy returned to South Carolina and retraced the journeys of James (Horse Shoe) Robertson.  Kennedy probably came back to South Carolina after Horse Shoe had moved to Alabama in 1821, to examine the scenes of Robertson’s encounters in the Revolutionary War.

This was probably when Kennedy secured information on “Wat Adair”.  “Wat Adair, I have heard it said in Carolina, died a year after the battle of King’s Mountain, of a horrible distemper, supposed to have been produced by the bite of a rabid wolf.  I would fain believe, for the sake of poetical justice, that this was true.”   (Horse Shoe Robinson by J. P. Kennedy, p. 598.)

In the book, A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina, Vol. II, pp. 59-60, by John H. Logan, was printed the following letter:

“Alexander Shaw writes from Horn Lake, Miss., Sept. 27, 1858: ‘Says he lived near the Indian line of S. C., near Col. Cleveland’s.’  I became acquainted with Horse Shoe Robinson, who lived on the farm called Horse Shoe, on a creek called Changee (Chauga).

I traveled many hundred miles with him about the year 1825 (Shoal Creek/Chauga Baptist Church records state that Sarah Headen Robertson ‘moved away in disorder in 1821’.  (S. C. Baptist Historical Collection at Furman University).  We both moved to Alabama, near Tuscaloosa.  There he died, leaving three (six) sons, who were steady, sober, consistent citizens.

I have heard Robinson relate many things that are now set forth in the novel called, Horse Shoe Robinson, and many others also.  So that work is founded on fact, and is truly characteristic of him.  General Pinckney visited our region, had a farm there, and recognized Robinson as an active soldier at the siege of Charleston and a ready bearer of dispatches.  Pinckney paid great attention to Robinson.”

Alexander Shaw was born May 26, 1774, in Antrim County, Ireland, and died at College Hill, Mississippi, on November 1, 1860.  He and his wife, Susan Hardin, had thirteen children, four sons and nine daughters.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Quick 2011 Revision, ID: 1013755, Alexander Shaw.)


The 1850 Federal Census of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, shows that James Robertson’s grandson, Jesse, son of David, was born there in 1821, so the family was living in Alabama at this time.

In an article copied by Joan Keith from an unknown Alabama Newspaper, circa 1891, is found the following account: “The recent decease of our venerable fellow citizen, Daniel Cribbs, probably breaks the last link which connected our generation directly with the generation that lived during the Revolutionary war.

Mr. Cribbs was well acquainted with Maj. James Robinson, commonly known as ‘Horse Shoe Robinson’, who spent many years of his life, and lies buried in the Robertson cemetery near Sanders’ Ferry in Tuskaloosa County.

Horse Shoe Robinson was a gallant soldier of the Revolution in South Carolina, his native state.  His exploits as a soldier, in the days that tried men’s souls have been woven by John P. Kennedy, of Maryland, into the famous novel ‘Horse Shoe Robinson’.

Mr. Cribbs knew ‘Horse Shoe’ well.  Many a time in the early days of Tuskaloosa, the two hunted deer together, then ‘Horse Shoe’ was a hale old man, and Mr. Cribbs was still in the vigor of early manhood.”

(Article copied by Joan Keith from a story published in an unknown Alabama newspaper circa 1891.)


Daniel C. Cribbs was born in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 1803, and died in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on October 27, 1891.  He and his wife, Amy Lee Lavergy, had three children, two sons and a daughter.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Michael Krebs Family, ID: 1285, Daniel C. Cribbs.)


The following is taken from Flag of the Union, published at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, January 17, 1838.

Alexander Meek, a local reporter wrote: “The old gentleman (James Robertson) gave us a partial history of his Revolutionary adventures, containing many interesting facts respecting the domination of the Tory party in the south during the times of the Revolution, which Mr. Kennedy has not recorded in his Book.

But it will chiefly interest our readers, or to that portion of them at least to whom the history of the old hero’s achievements as recorded by Mr. Kennedy is familiar, to be assured that the principal incidents therein portrayed are strictly true.  In the old veteran’s own language: ‘There is a heap of truth in it, though the writer has mightily furnished it up.’

Before the close of the war, he says, he commanded a troop of horse, so that his military title is that of Captain Horse Shoe, although in infirm health, bears evident marks of having been a man of great personal strength and activity.

He is now afflicted with a troublesome cough, which in the natural course of events must in a few years wear out his aged frame.  Yet, not-withstanding his infirmities and general debility, his eye still sparkles with the fire of youth, as he recounts the stirring and thrilling incidents of the war, and that sly, quiet humor so well described by Kennedy may still be seen playing around his mouth as one calls to his recollection any of the pranks he was wont to play upon any of the ‘tory vagrants’, as he very properly styles them.

The old Gentleman received us with warm cordiality and hospitality; and after partaking of the Bounties of his board and spending a night under his hospitable roof we took leave of him, sincerely wishing him many years of the peaceful enjoyment of that liberty which he fought so long and so bravely to achieve.

It will not be uninteresting, we hope, to remark that the old hero still considers himself a soldier, though the nature of his warfare is changed.  He is now a zealous promoter of the Redeemer’s cause as he once was in securing the independence of his country.”

The word ‘Major’ is on his tombstone and may have come from a later field commission or a title of respect by his neighbors or his children.  He was called, Sergeant, in the book, Horse Shoe Robinson, but Dr. Bobby Moss’ in his book, Roster of South Carolina Patriots, lists him as a private.

Judge A. B. Meek, a fine literary critic, stated that “Mr. Kennedy, the author of Horse Shoe Robinson, has in that inimitable ‘tale of the Tory Ascendancy’ in South Carolina proved the suitableness of American subjects for fictitious composition of the most elevated kind.

Although in his incidents and characters he has done little more than presented a faithful chronicle of facts, using throughout the veritable names of persons and places as they were stated to him by his hero himself, yet such is the trilling interest of the story, the vivid pictures of scenery, manners, customs, and language, the striking contrasts of characters and the pervading beauty and power of style and description through the work, that we think we do not err in saying that it is not inferior in any respect to the best of the Waverly series.”

(Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas M. Owen, p. 105.)


In the Cambridge History of American Literature, Book II, Chapter VII, is recorded the following:

“Kennedy depended, as he had done in Swallow Barn, on fact not invention for almost all his action as well as for his detail of topography and costume.  Indeed, he founded the career of Horse Shoe Robinson upon that of an actual partisan with such care that the man is said later to have approved the record as authentic.  Decidedly Kennedy’s gift was for enriching actual events with a finer grace and culture than many of the rival romancers could command.  His style is clear, his methods always simple and rational.”—Carl Van Doren.

Edgar Allan Poe, in Review of Horse Shoe Robinson, published in Southern Literary Messenger, May 1835, wrote: “Horse Shoe Robinson is a tale, or more properly a succession of stirring incidents relating to the time of the Tory Ascendancy in South Carolina, during the Revolution.

Horse Shoe Robinson, who derives his nick-name of Horse Shoe from the two-fold circumstance of being a blacksmith, and of living in a little nook of land hemmed in by a semi-circular bend of water, is fully entitled to the character of ‘an original’.  He is the life and soul of the drama—the bone and sinew of the book—its very breath—its every thing which gives it strength, substance, and vitality.  Then the ardent, the eager, the simple-minded, the generous and the devoted Mary Musgrove!  Most sincerely did we envy John Ramsay, the treasure of so pure and so exalted an affection!”

Jesse Lewis Orrick, in his article on John Pendleton Kennedy, published in the Library of Southern Literature, 1909, Vol. 7, page 2899, wrote:

“Mr. Kennedy had encountered the prototype of the character Sergeant Galbraith (alias Horse Shoe) Robinson in life, and not only conveyed a portrait of the original to the pages of his novel, but utilized the actual adventures of this rough-and-ready soldier of the Revolution as the web and woof of the plot.”

In the Cyclopedia of American Literature, 1856, written by Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, is found the following statement:

“The story (Horse Shoe Robinson) was founded on the personal recollections of its hero, an old soldier of the Revolution…its leading incidents being transcripts of the old man’s veritable adventures.”

Edward M. Gwathmey in his book, John Pendleton Kennedy, 1931, wrote:

“Kennedy has sacrificed the plot of Horse Shoe for historical accuracy.  He might have made a better story if he had been less attentive to historical detail.  His efforts to establish the authenticity of certain events often led him into tiresome digressions and marred the unity of his plot.”

“Based on John P. Kennedy’s historical romance, Horse Shoe Robinson: a Tale of the Tory Ascendancy, a play was originally adapted by Charles Dance in 1836 and presented in National Theater, New York, on November 23, 1836, and Park Theater, New York, March 2, 1841.

C. W. Tayleure, presented the play at Holliday Street Theater, Baltimore, April, 1856, with James K. Hackett in the title role, and Hackett played the role for several seasons.  Whether Clifton W. Tayleure made his own version (1856) or simply revamped Dance’s is unknown, for Tayleure’s alone survives.  It is a lively piece, filled with colorful characters.  In one form or another, the play remained popular especially at lower-class houses, well beyond the Civil War.”

Edward M. Gwathmey in his book, John Pendleton Kennedy, 1931, mentions an experience of Kennedy:

“On May 5, 1856, I went the other night to see the new drama of Horse Shoe Robinson fabricated by Mr. Tayleure of the Holiday Street Theatre out of my novel.  It was the first performance of it.  A great crowd was there and greeted it with vehement applause.  It is amazingly noisy and full of battles, and amuses the gallery hugely.  Mr. Ford was very kind in giving me a private box in which to witness it.  It has had a most successful run since that night for a week.”

(Encyclopedia.com; Representative Plays by American Dramatists by Montrose J. Moses, 1925, Vol. II, pp. 765-823; John Pendleton Kennedy, 1931, by Edward M. Gwathmey.)


“The principle incidents of the book are true.”  “There is a heap of truth in it though the author has mightly furnished it up.”  “It is all true and right—in its right place—excepting about them women, which I disremember.  That mought be true, too, but my memory is treacherous—I disremember.”   These expressions by Meek and Robertson attest to the truths contained in the book.

The author of the article, Old Grindall Shoals, printed in The Piedmont Headlight stated: “So far as the love scenes and romance of “Horse Shoe Robinson” are concerned, it is pure fiction.  But the historic incidents and even names given, are absolutely true and correct.”

The writings of Kennedy indicate that he had knowledge of the places mentioned in the book and gave a very good description thus indicating that he had visited the scenes himself.

Readers are sometimes puzzled because the author called James Robertson, Galbraith Robinson, and Edward Musgrove, Allen Musgrove.  Some writers state that he was trying to protect his characters that were then living.  This is indicated by his reference to Col. T (Obadiah Trimmier).

This writer believes that Horse Shoe did not always give Kennedy complete names.  Thus Kennedy had to invent first names.   He did not give the author his age or the place where he lived in his younger days so these too are inventions by Kennedy.

The writer of the book took the principal stories that Robertson related to him and “mightly furnished them up”.  Thus the book is called a novel even though it is based upon true accounts of Horse Shoe’s war experiences.

Residents of what is now Cherokee County and then Ninety-Six District were aware over one hundred and seventy years ago that a part of the setting for the story of Horse Shoe Robinson was in their area.

Kennedy indicates that the stories of Horse Shoe’s escape from Charleston and the capture of the Scotch soldiers were given to him the night he spent with Horse Shoe.

Robertson’s pension records state that he was a prisoner in Charleston and escaped in about a month.  Both Kennedy and William Trimmier, son of Obadiah, attest to the truth of the Scotch soldiers capture by Horse Shoe and the Ramsey lad.

Major Butler was with Horse Shoe when he crossed the Broad River.  In the book he is referred to as Arthur.  If Robertson did not give Kennedy, Butler’s first name, then it was probably fictitious.

Dr. Bobby Moss in his Roster of South Carolina Patriots, page 129, lists “a Butler who served as a lieutenant in the militia on horseback from 19 September to 27 October 1779, and a Butler who served as major under Col. Moultrie in 1780.”

According to Kennedy, Butler and Horse Shoe crossed the Broad River at Adair’s Ferry.  During the Revolutionary war, William Tate had two ferry crossings, about one mile apart.  It was a consensus of the early settlers that these men crossed at the lower Tate’s Ferry.  The Adair mentioned as the keeper of the ferry would not have been the owner, but the employee of Tate.  It is doubtful that his first name was Wat or Walter.

William Tate was a patriot soldier at this time.  According to Dr. Moss, he was a lieutenant in the Fourth Regiment in 1779, and was taken prisoner at the Siege of Charleston in 1780.  He was not exchanged until October of 1780, so he was still incarcerated when Butler and Robinson crossed at his ferry.

(South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Dr. Bobby Moss, p. 916.)

J. D. Bailey in his book, History of Grindal Shoals, page 13, states:

“The ferry was about one hundred and fifty yards above where the Southern Railway now crosses the Broad river.  Westward from the ferry, one-fourth of a mile distant, stood a commodious log dwelling with the chimneys running up on the inside.”  Kennedy gives an apt description of the house so he must have seen it.

In Revolutionary War Pension Application No. S16866 of Malcolm Henry is found the following:

“It was understood that Ferguson lay at Tate’s Ferry about 16 miles off.  In the evening Colonel Graham and Colonel Shelby came to me and told me to prepare my company to march that night to Ferguson’s encampment.

Accordingly I with my company and the company commanded by Captain Janus Shelby marched about 10 o’clock in the night with orders to attack Ferguson at Tate’s Ferry and to keep up the engagement with them until the whole Army came up.  On reaching Tate’s Ferry about daylight we discovered that Ferguson had gone.”

In the book, The Barrons of Western York County, South Carolina by Elmer Oris Parker is recorded the following:

“John Barron and wife Margaret and their family moved form Maryland to York County, SC, near Tate’s Ferry and the mouth of Buffalo Creek.  John Barron was a Captain in the Revolution, and his son, James, was a Lieutenant of the Bullock’s Creek Horsemen.  In 1787, they sold out and moved to Tennessee.”

William Tate died in 1792, and willed the lower ferry to his wife and son, James Tate.  He and his wife were living in the house described by the Reverend J. D. Bailey when he died.

(Spartanburg County S. C. Will Abstracts 1787-1840, compiled by Brent Holcomb, p. 102.)


Thomas Dare, son of John and Catherine Thomas Dare, purchased the lower ferry and dwelling house from Elizabeth Hester Tate and James Tate on December 22, 1803.

(Spartanburg S. C. Deed Abstracts A-T, p. 269, by Albert Bruce Pruitt.)


In the book, Statues at Large, 1813, No. 2040, is found the following:

“Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the ferry heretofore established and vested in William Tate, and the term of which is now expired, be re-established, and vested in Thomas Dare, his heirs and assigns, for the term of seven years.”

The Reverend J. D. Bailey thought that Thomas Dare and the Adair mentioned in the book, Horseshoe Robinson, were related.   However, genealogical databases do not show a kinship.  This information indicates that Thomas Dare’s father, John, died in Orange County, Virginia, in 1781.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Hester, Fails, Perry, McDavid Line, ID:15148, John Dare.)


If John Dare was the Adair mentioned in the book, then the databases are wrong.

There were Adairs living in Chester County, S. C., not far from Fish Dam Ford during this time.  Adair’s wife was a Crosby according to Kennedy’s book.

Mary’s mother was Hannah Fincher Musgrove, but she was deceased and her father’s third wife, according to John H. Logan, in his book, A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina, Vol. II, page 79, was Nancy Ann Crosby from Fish Dam Ford.

(See Fincher in the U. S. 1683-1900 by Evelyn Davis Fincher and Ann Wilson Fincher, p. 323; A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina by Logan, p. 79.)


In the book, More Marylanders to Carolina by Henry C. Peden, Jr., page 96, he states that Nancy Ann Crosby of Fish Dam Ford, was Edward Musgrove’s third wife.

Most all Genealogical databases list Nancy Ann Crosby as his third wife.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: The McLaurin – McMahon Family Research Page—ID: 129072—Nancy Ann Crosby.)


Nancy Ann Crosby Musgrove was Mary Musgrove’s step-mother, and in the book, Horse Shoe Robinson, Mary referred to Peggy Crosby Adair as her aunt, thus indicating that she was her step mother’s sister.

(Horse Shoe Robinson by J. P. Pendleton, p. 160.)


Old Mrs. Crosby, mother of Peggy Crosby Adair, was listed in the book as 80 years of age in 1780.  “Peggy” may not have been her daughter’s real first name.

(Horse Shoe Robinson, by J. P. Kennedy, p. 150.)


A database refers to old Mrs. Crosby as the wife of William Crosby.  He was born in 1696.  Mrs. Crosby’s birthdate was listed as circa 1700, in Berkley County, S. C.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Gregg Bonner’s Genealogy Database, Version 22, ID: 1125514, William Crosby.)


Thomas Crosby was listed as an executor of the estate of Edward Musgrove in his will written August 25, 1790.  According to the will, Thomas was from Broad River.

(South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Fall of 1978, No. 4, p. 224; Laurens County, S. C. Estate Book A-1, p. 224.)


Thomas was the son of Dennis and Hannah Revels Crosby.  Like Nancy Ann Crosby Musgrove of Fish Dam Ford, Dennis and his son, Thomas, were also from the same area.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Welcome to My World, ID: 1363, Thomas Crosby.)


It is possible, though not fully proven, that Thomas Crosby was Nancy Ann Musgrove’s nephew.  If he was, then Nancy Ann, Peggy ? , Dennis and possibly William could have been siblings.

According to most databases, Dennis Crosby’s father was William Crosby.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Loessin / Merker / Clark Family Tree, ID: 132209, Dennis Crosby.)


Dr. Bobby Moss, in his book, South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, page 219, lists a William Crosby, married to a Susannah Benton, serving as a patriot soldier from February 1779 to July 1783, and fighting under Gen. Francis Pickens and Capt. William Baskins.  This William was probably a brother of Dennis.

It is possible that the first name of the “old Mrs. Crosby” in the book will never be discovered.

Dennis Crosby was born in the Fishdam Ford section on December 11, 1724, and died there on October 11, 1771.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Loessin / Merker / Clark Family Tree, ID: 132209, Dennis Crosby.)


His wife, Hannah Revels, was born circa 1728, and died August 12, 1785, in the same area.  In 1781, she furnished forage and supplies to the Colonial Militia.

(RootsWeb’s World Connect Project: Hammers, Clements, Thompson and Anderson Families, ID: 125757, Hannah Revels.)


Dennis listed six children in his will: Richard, Thomas, Lydia, William, Mary and John.

(Internet: Antecedents and Descendents of Dennis Crosby.)


One source states that Nancy Ann Crosby Musgrove was Dennis’ daughter, but she is not listed in his will though she was living when Dennis died.

Nancy Ann Crosby Musgrove was probably born in the latter 1730s.  She survived till 1824, “to a very advanced age”.

(A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina, by John H. Logan, p. 79.)


Thomas Crosby, son of Dennis and Hannah, was born in the Fishdam Ford section in 1751, and died there March 4, 1791.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Welcome to My World, ID: 1363, Contact Jacquelyn Kyler, Thomas Crosby.)


His wife, Margaret Davis, was born December 17, 1751, and died February 18, 1825.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project:  Welcome to My World, ID: 1364, Margaret Davis.)


According to Dr. Moss, Thomas was a patriot soldier in the American Revolutionary War and fought under Gen. Andrew Pickens after the fall of Charleston, S.  C.

Dennis died before Edward Musgrove.  Though his son, Thomas, was still living when Edward Musgrove died, he was not able to fulfill his responsibilities as executor of the will.  He died about six months after the will was written.

In the book, Mary Musgrove warned Horse Shoe and Major Butler not to go by way of the Dogwood Spring.

(Horse Shoe Robinson by J. P. Kennedy, p. 172.)


Capt. H. P. Griffith, co-principal of Cooper-Limestone Institute, 1881,  and several years following, in a welcome speech to the South Carolina Baptist Convention that met in Gaffney in 1899, stated: “One mile away is the big Dogwood Spring celebrated in romance and story; nearby beautiful Limestone.”

(See Dr. Bobby Moss book, Climaxing a Century of Service, First Baptist Church, Gaffney, South Carolina, p. 37.)


A Historical Sketch of Limestone College was published on pages 22-24 of the 1920 Calciid and contains this statement:  “Indian legends still cling around the loveliest spot in Cherokee—the site of the beautiful Dogwood Springs of Revolutionary days, the Limestone Springs of Confederate history.”

William Ragland Lipscomb in his A History of Limestone published in the September 28, 1894, issue of The Gaffney Ledger states:

“Just north east of the spring it is said three British soldiers are buried who were wounded at the famous Cowpens battle ground, twelve miles north of the springs.”

The Reverend J. D. Bailey knew many of the ancestors of the old families living around Grindal Shoals at this time.  Two of these families were the Sims and Nott families.  From them he learned where Horseshoe and Butler were captured and where the Tory camp was located.

He included a picture of the camp in his book, History of Grindal Shoals, page 15.  It was the site of the old store building once operated by John Henry Littlejohn and later by Napoleon Eison.  He knew both of these men personally.

Napoleon Eison was the grandfather of Ed Aycock who showed the writer the location of the old store.

In Kennedy’s account of the arrival of Major Butler and Horse Shoe at Grindal Shoals he said:

“It was just at the closing in of night, when a party of ruffianly looking men were assembled beneath a spreading chestnut, that threw forth its aged arms over a small gravelly hillock, in the depths of the forest that skirted the northern bank of the Pacolet within a short distance of Grindall’s ford. The group who now occupied the spot consisted of some ten or twelve men under the command of Hugh Habershaw.  A small fire of brushwood had been kindled near the foot of the chestnut.”

(Horse Shoe Robinson by John P. Kennedy, pp. 192-193.)


John Hodge, son of William and Elizabeth Cook Hodge, was a Patriot soldier and in his Revolutionary War Pension application No. S21825, states that he “entered into the service of the United States as a volunteer in an Indian expedition under Capt. Zachariah Bullock and General Williamson & was stationed about three or four weeks near the Grindal Shoals where he was employed in building & guarding a fort.”

The author of the sketch, Old Grindall Shoals, published in The Piedmont Headlight on October 21, 1898, stated that: “The late Mr. Sims (Joseph Stark Sims) said that he had seen the stump of the old chestnut beneath which these Tories camped.”

Kennedy would not have known about the gravelly hillock if he had not visited the site.  This hill can still be seen today.  It is covered with natural gravel.  The name Hugh Habershaw was probably fictitious.  Robertson may not have given the name of this leader to Kennedy.  Early members of the Habershaw family were found in England, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, but of course one of them could have been in South Carolina.

The site of Christie’s Tavern is still known today.  From Gaffney, S. C., the driver turns right off the Gaffney Highway on to Robinson Farm Road.  After crossing Mill Creek, a left turn is made at Parks Farm Road.  Ruins of the tavern can still be seen through the woods on the right just after turning on Parks Farm Road.

The building was destroyed by fire in the early to mid 1990s.  Kennedy probably visited this site.  The Coleman branch still runs by the side and in front of where the tavern stood.  The old settlers knew Christopher Coleman quite well.  He was both a Patriot and a Loyalist soldier during the Revolutionary War.

In an article on the Coleman’s, published in the Union County Heritage, 1981, edited by Mannie Lee Mabry, page 52, is found the following story:

“In Virginia, a wagon train was formed, their destination, Charleston, S. C.  Things were going well for the train until Christopher’s wagon broke down while crossing a branch on Mill Creek of the Pacolet River.  He decided, then and there, to settle on the spot.

He immediately set about to build a tavern where travelers could get food, drinks and lodging.  The Tavern was known as Christie’s Tavern.  It was said that he would turn no man away, even during the American Revolution.

If the Tories were coming to rest and water their horses, the Whigs would scamper down a ramp built over the creek and hide in the woods.  In 1780, when Hugh Habershaw brought Horse Shoe Robinson to Christie’s Tavern he escaped probably over the ramp.

Christie’s Tavern has been mentioned in the books, The History of Grindal Shoals, Horse Shoe Robinson, Heroes of Kings Mountain and Drapers of Virginia.”

The writer of the above sketch was Margaret C. Gault.

The author of the article, Old Grindall Shoals, included a part of Kennedy’s story of the escape and wrote:

“The Tories made a rush to the rack for their horses, when they discovered that the bridles were tied in hard knots in a manner such as to connect each two or three horses together.  James Curry was the first to mount, and set off in rapid pursuit, followed by two others.  After a half-hour the two privates returned.

In a short time after, Curry came in with one side of his face bleeding from a bruise, his dress disarranged, and his back covered with dirt.  The side of his horse was tainted with the same soil.  Curry stated that he had pursued Robinson until he came in sight of him, when the fugitive slackened his gate, as if on purpose to allow him-self to be taken.

In his haste Curry left his sword behind him, and when he came up with Robinson laid his hand upon his bridle.  But by some sudden slight, which he had taught his steed, ‘Horseshoe’ contrived to upset both Curry and his horse down a bank on the roadside.  ‘Horse Shoe’ then bade Curry good-bye, saying he had an engagement which forbade him to remain any longer in his company.  This is a true story, and the hill where ‘Horseshoe’ overthrew Curry is pointed out by the citizens around Grindall.”

There is a database account of a James Corry Curry who was married to Mary Copeland.  He died in South Carolina in 1780.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: febo5min, ID: 15239, James Corry Curry.)


After escaping from Christie’s Tavern, Horse Shoe fled to Musgrove’s Mill.  Traditional accounts state that Mary hid him in the cavern to the left of the falls of Cedar Shoals Creek, feeding him and furnishing him with information concerning the activities of the Tories.  This may be a fable but one would still have to believe that Mary did hide him and bring him food.

Mary was born circa 1763.  In Kennedy’s book she states that she was seventeen.  This appears to be a correct date.  She also states that she was engaged to John Ramsay.

In Dr. Bobby Moss book, Some South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, p. 799, he lists a John Ramsey who served in the militia two hundred days during 1780.

In the book, Mary sends Horse Shoe to the home of John Ramsey, her fiance, and there he met Mrs. David Ramsey, his mother, who had just had her chickens and ducks stolen by the Scotchmen.  These men were captured by Horse Shoe and Mrs. Ransey’s young son.

This incident was included in the book.  Kennedy indicates that this was a true story.  So the record of the engagement of Mary to John Ramsey was also probably true.  There was a Ramsey family living in Laurens, S. C., during this period.

Other histories state that Edward Musgrove’s house was constantly visited by Tories, and this fact is also mentioned in the book, Horse Shoe Robinson.

It is impossible to know exactly where the line is drawn and where and how Kennedy adds the fictitious to the stories related to him by Robertson.

Two errors have been perpetuated concerning Mary Musgrove.  She did not die as a teenager.  This was probably her sister, Susan, for Susan was not mentioned in Edward Musgrove’s will.  Mary was listed in his will as Mary Berry.

She married George Berry, son of William and Usley ? Berry circa 1788, and would have been about 25 at the time.  She definitely could have been engaged to someone else before this.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: The McLaurin – McMahon Family Research Page, ID: 120898, George Berry.)


George and Mary Musgrove Berry had the following children: Rebecca, Lurana Phillips, Elizabeth, William, Mary and Robert Goodloe Harper Berry.  Mary died circa 1803, following the birth of Robert.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: The McLaurin – McMahon Family Research Page, ID: 129064, George Berry; Abstracts of early Records of Laurens County, 1785-1820, complied by Sarah M. Nash, 1982.)


After the death of Mary, George married Edith Ligon, daughter of Robert and Edith Watkins Ligon.  They had one child, Edith, who was listed as deceased when George died in 1806.  George Hutchinson was administrator of George Berry’s estate.

(Laurens County Will Book A, 1784-1840, p. 56.)


Another error lists Mary’s last two children: Mary (Polly) Berry and Robert Goodloe Harper Berry as children of George and his second wife, Edith Ligon.  The Laurens County Guardian Returns indicate that Edith Berry was appointed guardian for Mary (Polly) M. and Robert G. H. Berry.  Edith filed a return on April 25, 1812, and June 5, 1815, so Mary and Robert were the children of George and Mary Musgrove Berry.

(1810 Equity Petitions of Laurens County, S. C., Package 8, Box 27; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: My Main Tree, ID: 157839, Edith Ligon.)


Edith Ligon Berry, widow of George Berry, next married Andrew Wray.  She and Andrew moved to the Cherokee Springs—Buck Creek area of Spartanburg County.  She retained custodial care of Mary and Robert, children of George and Mary Musgrove Berry, and raised them in this area.

Edith and Andrew had two children of their own: Eliza Wray and Mary Jane Wray.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Our Family and Then Some—ID: 102838, Edith Ligon.)


Mary Musgrove’s granddaughter, Edith Hines, married James Turner Jr., the nephew of James (Horse Shoe) Robertson.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Our Family and Then Some, ID: 102856, Edith Hines.)


“On September 7, 1792, Charles Cotsworth Pinkney of Charleston, late Brigadier General of the Armies of United States, and Mary, his wife, sold a square tract of 60 acres on waters of Brushy Creek, branch of Saluda River (from their Pendleton District tract) to General Andrew Pickens, Col. Robert Anderson, Captain Robert Maxwell, Mr. John Bowen, Major John Ford and Mr. John Hallum of Washington District.”

(Pendleton District and Anderson County, South Carolina Wills, Estates, Inventories, Tax Returns and Census Records compiled by Virginia Alexander, Colleen Morse Elliott and Betty Willie, 1980.)


Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Horse Shoe’s old commander, probably visited him in Pendleton District, South Carolina before 1821.  In the Settlement of Pendleton District, 1777-1800, by Frederick Van Clayton, p. 69, Charles Pinckney is listed as possessing land on Chauga Creek.  The Mills Atlas shows a plantation owned by Col. Pinckney in 1820.  Pinckney died on August 16, 1825.

(Internet: Encyclopedia of World Biography on Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.)


James Robertson moved his family to Alabama in 1821.  The home in South Carolina, where he and his family lived for over twenty years, is still standing in Oconee County a few miles from Westminister.

(Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas M. Owen, page 105; The Seneca Journal, July 22, 1964.)


James applied for a pension for services rendered to his country during the Revolutionary war on October 13, 1832, before Anderson Crenshaw, Judge of the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.  His character witnesses were: Samuel M. Meek, a clergyman, and William Dunlap.

He was enrolled on October 29, 1833, under act of Congress of June 7, 1832.  Payment was to date from March 4, 1831.  Annual allowance was $80.00.

(Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas McAdory, p. 102.)


The author of the article written in the Flag of the Union on January 17, 1838, wrote:

“It is a pleasure to know that this fine old hero was a real personage!  And although his exploits may have been colored in a measure by the pen of the romancer, there still remains a rich stock of adventures, which were undoubtedly true, and the picture of a nature frank, brave, true and yet full of modesty.”

Sarah Morris Headen Robertson died January 7, 1838, and James Horse Shoe Robertson died April 26, 1838.

Horse Shoe  and Sarah were buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery, Romulus Community, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, located on the banks of Black Warrior River near Sanders Ferry.

(See the book, Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama, by Thomas McAdory Owen, p. 102.)


The inscription on his stone reads: “Major James Robertson, a native of S. C., died April 26, 1838, aged 79 years, and was buried here.  Well known as Horse Shoe Robinson, he earned a just fame in the War for Independence, in which he was imminent for courage, patriotism, and suffering.  He lived fifty-six years with his worthy partner, useful and respected, and died in hopes of a blessed immortality.  His children erect this monument as a tribute justly due a good husband, father, neighbor, patriot and soldier.”

(Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas M. Owen, p. 102.)


James Robertson and his wife, Sarah Morris Headen Robertson, were charter members of the Grant’s Creek Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and also members of the first recorded Sunday School Class in Alabama.

(Samford University Baptist Historical Collection.)


Robert J. Stevens in his article, “Horse Shoe Robinson Revisited”, states that John Pendleton Kennedy spent the winter (1818-1819) teaching school in Seneca, South Carolina.

(The Bulletin, Chester District Genealogical Society, Vol. XVII, No. 4, Dec. 1993.)


An article on Gleanings From Horse Shoe Robinson, written by Mary Cherry Doyle of Clemson, S. C., and published in Historic Oconee in South Carolina, 1935, states that John P. Kennedy was staying at the Old Steel place later known as the Phinney place, which is about half-way between Seneca and Walhalla, on the old road .”

In an Internet article entitled, Documenting the American South, Armistead Lemon gives a summary of the book, Horse Shoe Robinson, in which he states:

“Kennedy attempts to counterbalance the novel’s romance with accurate references to battle movements, military outposts, and the geography of the Carolinas, while also offering brief but realistic character sketches of major generals, particularly Frances Marion and Charles Cornwallis.

Thus despite his tendency toward melodrama, Kennedy provides an insightful perspective on the fratricidal nature of the American Revolution, unwittingly foreshadowing in Horse Shoe Robinson the strife that lay ahead in the American Civil War.”

Numerous articles were published in The Gaffney Ledger that related to the book, Horse Shoe Robinson.

“The Ledger was presented, a few days ago, with a wrought iron nail which was imported from England before the Revolution and used in the old residence building at Gaffney’s Ferry, then known as Adair’s Ferry and made famous by J. P. Kennedy in his Horse Shoe Robinson, a story of Revolutionary War times with many of the scenes laid in what is now Cherokee County.  The nail, which is about the size of what is known now as a ten penny, is in a good state of preservation and looks as if it could put in another century of good service.”

(See Cherokee County Calendar, December 17, 1901, by Dr. Bobby Moss, p. 73.)


A history of the old house was published on January 21, 1902, in The Ledger.  It read: “There was until a few days ago a dwelling house in Cherokee County the building of which antidated the knowledge of traditions in the possession of the oldest citizens.

It was situated on the John G. Gaffney farm on Broad River, at Gaffney’s Ferry.   Tradition leaves it plain that it was built before the war of the Revolution and tradition and history prove that it was occupied during the war by a widow lady, Mrs. Tate, who was in good circumstances at which time the ferry was known as Tate’s Ferry.

Mrs. Tate lived in it till several years after the war when she sold it to a Virginian by the name of Thomas O’Deer who owned and lived in the house for a number of years, when the ferry was known as O’Deer’s Ferry, and then traded it to one Abner Benson who afterwards sold the property to Michael Gaffney, who with some of his sons, has owned the property for a little over a hundred years (eighty years).

This old house, unlike most houses of its time, was a framed one made of very heavy timbers, mortised and pioned together and well weather-boarded and ceiled with plank which had been well dressed on one side and hewed on the other.  The nails used were hand made.  The chimney was of first class brick, was made on the inside of the building and had very large fireplaces. This old house was in a good state of preservation and from what we can learn has been occupied all the time of its long existence.

The property was recently sold for partition and Mr. T. G. McCraw bought the ‘old house place’.  He has moved it to another site and will remodel it and use it as a barn.

Because of its antiquity, many regret this disposition of the old house, but the old must give place to the new, and this old Revolutionary relic has been no exception to the rule.”

J. D. Bailey in his History of Grindal Shoals, page 14, stated: “Henry Gaffney, Esq., who lived to an advanced age, told the writer that there was no doubt about this being the original Watt Adair house.”

Other articles from The Gaffney Ledger are given below:

“Much of the action in the American Revolution takes place in Cherokee County and the surrounding area.  Therefore, in an effort to reach the people from this area who had moved westward after the War Between the States, the following ad appeared in The Gaffney Ledger on February 23 1906:

Upon receipt of $1.50 or for that amount deposited in either of the Gaffney banks to my credit, I will deliver (postpaid) a copy of Horse Shoe Robinson by J. P. Kennedy, to any address in the United States.  Signed J. L. Strain, Wilkinsville, S. C.”

(See Cherokee County Calendar by Dr. Bobby Moss, p. 163.)


In the October 26, 1906, issue of The Gaffney Ledger is recorded the following:

“The thrilling historical novel, Horse Shoe Robinson, will run in serial form in the columns of The Ledger beginning next Friday.  This is a story of the Tory ascendancy in South Carolina.  The story should prove of interest to Ledger readers because the setting of the story is in our own midst.

Horse Shoe Robinson is said to have ridden through Limestone Springs—then a crossroads settlement—along the old road that used to run through present day Gaffney just in rear of Mrs. L. V. Gaffney’s residence, across the Southern Railway at Mr. Ollie Kendrick’s, through Dr. J. F. Garrett’s lot at corner of Buford and Limestone Streets and on to Limestone.  Of course there was no railroad here then.”

Another Gaffney Ledger article was published on November 11, 1906, and read:

“The exploits of Horse Shoe Robinson, now being republished by The Ledger, is creating as much interest among its readers as that thrilling story produced seventy years ago while many of the survivors of the Revolutionary War were living to verify the statements made in the book.  Many of the scenes are laid in what is now Cherokee County.  That the famous Dogwood Spring is within the corporate limits of Gaffney, there is not the shadow of a doubt, and other places mentioned are recognizable.”

“The Daniel Morgan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marker on the trail to Dogwood Spring made famous in John P. Kennedy’s book, Horse Shoe Robinson.  It was placed on  a two-ton boulder erected in the parkway of Victoria Avenue (now College Drive).

The boulder was a huge stone taken from Draytonville Mountain (Gilkey Mountain) and was presented to the chapter by D. B. Wood of Gaffney, S. C.  Transportation of the boulder from Draytonville to its resting-place was accomplished through the courtesy and assistance of J. H. Curry and E. Wright Jolly, Cherokee County Supervisor.

Members of the chapter who were active in making arrangements included: Mrs. J. C. Jefferies, the regent; Mrs. W. J. Wilkins, vice regent; miss Mayme Jefferies, historian and chairman of the marking committee; Mrs. Eliza Carson, treasurer; Mrs. Pratt Pierson, registrar; and Mrs. B. R. Brown.

Dr. R. C. Granberry (president of Limestone College) delivered an address in which he said: ‘The book, Horseshoe Robinson, recites a delightful love story based upon historical facts which we have reason to believe are accurate.

In this volume we catch the stalwart spirit of the days of 1780, and we also look upon an accurate picture of life in this general section during that interesting period in the history of our country.’”

(The Gaffney Ledger, October 24 & October 31, 1925.)


The marker was moved several years ago to the side of College Drive (formerly Victoria Avenue) and placed in the Oakland cemetery.

The Gaffney Ledger of October 26, 1925, states: “The Dogwood Springs were a short distance east of Victoria Avenue, in the rear of the residence of R. O. Ballenger.”

There are many critics and few defenders of the book, Horse Shoe Robinson, and that in spite of the fact that Kennedy said: “I have been scrupulous to preserve the utmost historical accuracy in my narrative.”  Many of the book’s critics are James Robertson’s fellow South Carolinians.

One writer speaks of Horse Shoe as a “colorful figure who sprang from the imagination of John Kennedy”.  This writer states that “much of the action is based on actual episodes, Horseshoe and a boy capturing a squad of Scots Regulars by hoodwinking them—a trick actually performed by Samuel Otterson and one other soldier.”

(The Narrative History of Union County, South Carolina by Allan D. Charles, p. 47, first edition.)


In Memoirs of Major Joseph McJunkin, Revolutionary Patriot, by Rev. James Hodge Saye, is found the following story of Major Samuel Otterson on p. 41, (limited editon):

“Major Samuel Otterson being on his way to join Morgan at Cowpens, was followed by a few badly mounted volunteers.  Finding on his approach to the place that the battle was begun he determined to halt his men near a cross road, which he knew the enemy would take on the return, and wait either to make prisoners in case of their defeat or to attempt the rescue of our men who might be prisoners in their hands.

It was not long before a considerable body of the British horsemen were discovered in full speed coming down the road.  They appeared evidently to have been defeated.  Major (then Captain) Otterson now proposed to his men to follow the enemy and attempt to make some prisoners, but found only one man willing to join him.

Toward dusk Capt. Otterson and his companion pushed their horses nearer the enemy and when it was dark dashed in among them with a shout, fired their arms and ordered them to surrender.

The darkness prevented the enemy from knowing the number of those by whom they were surprised and they surrendered at once.  They were required to dismount, come forward and deliver up their arms, which they did.  Being all secured and light struck, nothing could exceed the mortification of the British officer in command when he found that he had surrendered to two men.”

This story is a bit exaggerated in comparison with the story Samuel Otterson related in his Pension Application (No. S25344).  “That he with several others about thirty were sent out as spies some days before the engagement at the Cowpens & from some cause did not arrive until the battle was over but in his attempt with the party under his command to regain Morgan’s army he learned the defeat & retreat of Tarleton & his forces & pursued about a hundred of them in their retreat until night at which period all of his men had fallen off by their horses giving out except ten men when we overtook the enemy & killed one, took twenty two white prisoners & twenty seven negroes, sixty head of horses, 14 swords & 14 braces of pistols.”

Horse Shoe captured four Scotsmen and an ensign with a boy while Samuel Otterson captured twenty-two British with ten soldiers.  This writer does not think that these two stories are comparative.   Kennedy states that the story of Horse Shoe’s capture of the Scots was a true story.

In the book, Kings Mountain And Its Heroes, by Lyman C. Draper he tells the story of Samuel Clowney and a negro, Paul, who captured five Tories at Kelso’s Creek about five miles from Cedar Springs near Spartanburg, S. C. (See page 137).

Samuel Clowney was serving in the Spartan Regiment under Col. John Thomas at this time (before the Siege of Charleston).  James (Horse Shoe) Robertson was serving with the Continental forces in the low country until their defeat at Charleston in 1780, and would not likely have known about Clowney’s capture of the five men.

If Samuel Otterson and Samuel Clowney could use similar tactics to capture British soldiers and Tories, why is it not possible that Horse Shoe used the same tactic?

In an article entitled, Horse Shoe Robinson Revisited, Robert J. Stevens wrote: “It is important to take careful note of the fact that Robertson mentioned nothing remotely connected to any of the facts presented in Horse Shoe Robinson.”  Apparently, he failed to read the first chapter concerning their surrender in Charleston on May 12th, 1780; the story of Horse Shoe’s escape; and information concerning Col. Charles Pinckney.

Stevens wrote: “By his own sworn statement, he was in Charleston during the time of many of the events in which he was named in the book.”  Again, he failed to read the first sentence of the book, “It was about two o’clock in the afternoon of a day towards the end of July, 1780…”

If Horse Shoe was imprisoned May 12th, 1780, his escape would have occurred about June 12th.  “It was a little over two months,” said Robinson, “since I got away from them devils…” This statement would also have placed the time frame at the end of July.  The events in the book would have occurred after his escape and through the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Stevens also wrote: “Logan had actually known Horseshoe Robinson and had accompanied him on a trip to Alabama in 1822.”

There is a quote in Logan’s History of the Upper Country of South Carolina that states: “I became acquainted with Horse Shoe Robinson who lived on a farm called Horse Shoe…I traveled many hundred miles with him about the year 1825.”

This is actually the words of Alexander Shaw who traveled with Horse Shoe to Alabama.  John Henry Logan was born in Abbeville District, S. C., on November 5, 1822, and it would have been impossible for Logan to have traveled with Horse Shoe.

(The Bulletin, Chester District Genealogical Society, Vol. XVII, December 1993, Number 4, “Horse Shoe Robinson” Revisited, by  Robert J. Stevens.)


Thomas W. Christopher, in his article, What Happened to Horseshoe Robinson?, wrote:

“James Robertson called, Horseshoe, was a live person, flesh and bone.  The evidence is beyond question.

His name and memory have been followed with much hard luck and with a flow of unfavorable (and undeserved) articles and reviews and indeed with flawed scholarship.

A virtual campaign has been in progress in the last several decades to demote the character, Horseshoe, in the novel from a leading role as a hero and a dominant figure to that of a faceless walk-on.

There is an assertion that the ex-soldier had little or no input in the novel, a harsh claim that is not justified, for it is clear that James Robertson in person, his war tales and experiences, and his charisma and image made substantial contributions to and was centrally important for the novel.”

John P. Kennedy penned a letter to a friend and fellow novelist, Gilmore Simms, in 1852: “I have given a little personal adventure in the introduction…which is a true history of my acquaintance with the Hero.”

“It seems both reasonable and logical to accept the claim by Mr. Kennedy that he made important use of the tales and war experiences he had heard from or about James Robertson.  The tangible evidence and ordinary reasoning go that way.  To take the other choice is to accuse author Kennedy, poet Alexander Meek, James Robertson, Mr. (Alexander) Shaw, and a multitude of Horseshoe’s neighbors of playing with a web of deceit and untruth.

Mary Musgrove is an important character in the novel, with the feminine lead, so to speak.  And as with Horseshoe, it is now asserted that she is pure fiction, created by the author.  ‘Horseshoe is the constant associate of the fictitious character Mary Musgrove…the author’s creation.’

This assertion that Mary Musgrove was a creation of the novelist is erroneous; the facts are easily available.  There was a miller’s daughter by the name of Mary Musgrove, and she appears to have been a remarkable person, a supporter of the Whigs, and she lived in the middle of the war activities out from Cross Anchor.

Edward Musgrove, Mary’s father, a magistrate and an important person in the community, operated a grist mill, naturally known as Musgrove’s Mill, on the South side of Enoree River, between Cross Anchor and Clinton, South Carolina.  He died at the age of 76 around 1792 (1790).”

(A copy of his last will, dated August 25, 1790, is on record in the Laurens County, S. C. Court House, Will Book A-1, pp. 28-29.)


*See What Happened to Horseshoe Robinson? by Thomas W. Christopher, published in The South Carolina Review, Vol. 28, p. 73, Fall 1955; and Kennedy’s Horse Shoe Robinson: Fact or Fiction?, American Literature,  Vol. IV, pp. 160-166, March 1932—January 1933 by J. R. Moore.

The Reverend J. W. Daniel in an article entitled Horse Shoe Robinson published in Southern Christian Advocate (page and date not given) wrote:  “The book is a classic and ought to be in every home in Piedmont Carolina; yet it may be doubted that fifty copies could be found in all the counties of South Carolina.

A Marylander wrote it, and the facts worked into the plan were confirmed by Thomas P. Clinton, an Alabamian.  The old hero had lived one-third of a century on the soil of Carolina unnoticed except by the legislature which donated to him the tract of land lying close up to the Blue Ridge, as a recognition of his daring deeds in the winning of independence.

Shame on the people who were the beneficiaries of the heritage he helped so heroically to win for them, that they have not cherished the memory of the uncultured old patriot and that some South Carolinian, himself, did not record his thrilling deeds in the histories of our commonwealth.”

James and Sarah Morris Headen Robertson had seven children:

1. David Robertson.  He was born August 20, 1784, while the family lived in the Thicketty Creek area of what is now Cherokee County, S. C.  He married Sarah W. Thomas on July 12, 1810, after the family had moved to Pendleton District, South Carolina.  She was born November 15, 1792, in Franklin County, Georgia.  They had five  sons and one daughter.

He died February 4, 1853, in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, and was buried in the Robertson Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  She died July 21, 1870, in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, and was buried in an unknown Caradine Cemetery, Clay County, Mississippi.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Keller—Lorance—Hardman—Robertson—Aycock, ID: 10849, David Robertson; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: William L. Braziel Family, ID: 1560735928, Sarah (Sallie) W. Thomas.)


2. John Robertson was born in 1788, in the Thicketty Creek area of South Carolina.  He married Celia Harrison, daughter of John and Naomi ? Harrison, circa 1811, while the family lived in Pendleton District, S. C.  She was born in 1794.  They had six sons and three daughters.

He died in 1872, in Romulus, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, and she died in Romulus in 1873.  They were buried at the original site of the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Romulus, Alabama, about 12 miles west of Tuscaloosa.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: CA Love Tree, ID: 1437, John Robertson; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Robertson, ID: 1792, Celia Harrison; A Collection of Upper South Carolina Genealogical & Family Records, Vol. I, Rev. S. Emmett Lucas.)


3. William Robertson was born December 16, 1794, in Pendleton District, S. C.  He married Jane (Jennie) Clemmons on June 3, 1819, in Pendleton District.  She was born in Georgia, on May 26, 1803.  They had four sons and two daughters.

Jane died August 15, 1853, and he was remarried to Sarah Arnett on June 18, 1860. He died November 11, 1861, in Romulus, Alabama.  He and his first wife were buried in the Robertson Cemetery, Romulus, Alabama.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Before Me, ID:112224, William Robertson;  RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Before Me, ID: 112372, Contact Kathy Carroll, Jane (Jennie) Clemmons; Ancestry.com—William Robertson; Family Tree Maker—Descendants of James Robertson–Internet.)


4. Sarah Elizabeth Robertson was born in 1795, in Pendleton District, S. C.  She married William Dunlap in Pendleton District.  He was born in 1795.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: 24505, ID: 11448, Contact: Carolyn Henderson, Sarah Elizabeth Robertson.)


5. Abner Robertson was born in 1797, in Pendleton District, S. C.  He married Sarah ? in Pendleton District.  She was born circa 1800.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Harley Bennett, ID: 1506457151, Abner Robertson;  RootsWeb’s World Connect Project: 24505, ID: 11456, Contact Carolyn Henderson, Sarah.)


6. James Robertson was born December 16, 1799, in Pendleton District, S. C.  He married Mary Louisa Holland on November 14, 1825, after the family had moved to Alabama.  She was born November 29, 1805.  They had three sons and two daughters.

She died in 1868, and he married Sarah A.  He died November 23, 1873.  James and Mary were buried in Greenwood Cemetery, in West Point, Mississippi.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: All the Info Tree, ID: 14421, Contact Michael Cressler, James Robertson; RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: All the Info Tree, ID: 14547, Mary Holland; Family Tree Maker—Descendants of James Robertson—Internet.)


7. Thomas Robertson was born circa 1801, in Pendleton District, S. C.  He died in November of 1850, in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.

(RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project:  William L. Braziel Family, ID: 1560735933, Thomas Robertson.)


David, John, William and Abner Robertson with William Dunlap sold James Robertson’s Tuscaloosa County lands to James Robertson, Jr. on July 7, 1838, for $3,350.00.  There was ½ acre reserved for a cemetery.

(Deed Book O, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.)


James (Horse Shoe) Robertson spent more than fifty years of his life as a resident of South Carolina.  However, there is not one Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and not one Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in this state named for him.

The West Point Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Mississippi and the Sons of the American Revolution in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were named for him.

Thomas Christopher wrote that he had a burning curiosity and a vague urge that kept him searching, looking for an old soldier from the American Revolution and his memory.

This writer has felt the same way as he has spent many hours in research and writing, seeking to give a truer account of the life of James Robertson and the book, Horse Shoe Robinson.

The following tribute to “Horseshoe Robinson” was extracted from a poem, entitled ‘The Day of Freedom,’ by Alexander B. Meek, and delivered as an oration at Tuscaloosa on the 4th of July, 1838:

“Valoriously He bore himself, and with his youthful arms Chivalrous deeds performed, which in a land of legendary lore had placed his name, Embalmed in song, beside the hallowed ones of Douglass and Percy; not unsung Entirely his fame.

Romance has wreathed With flowering fingers, and with wizard art That hangs the votive chaplet on the heart, His story, mid her fictions, and hath given His name and deeds to after times.

When last This trophied anniversary came round And called Columbia’s patriot children out To greet its advent, the old man was here, Serenely smiling as the autumn sun Just dripping down the golden west to seek His evening couch.

Few months agone I saw Him in his quiet home, with all around Its wishes could demand—and by his side ‘The loved companion of his youthful years’—This singing maiden of his boyhood’s time; She had cheered him with her smiles when clouds Were o’er his country’s prospects; who had trod In sun and shade, life’s devious path with him, And whom kind Heaven had still preserved to bless, With all the fullness of material wealth, The mellowing afternoon of his decline.

Where are they now?—the old man and his wife?  Alas! The broadening sun sets in the night, The ripening shock falls on the reaper’s arm; The lingering guest must leave the hall at last; The music ceases when the feast is done; The old man and his wife are gone, From earth, Have passed in peace to heaven; and summer’s flowers, Beneath the light of this triumphant day, Luxurious sweets are shedding o’er The unsculptured grave of ‘Hoseshoe Robinson.’”

(Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama by Thomas M. Owen, pp. 101-102.)