Friday, July 6, 2018

Robert L. Hobbs, a Revolutionary Patriot

The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “independence” so I’d like to write about a Revolutionary Patriot of which I’m a direct descendant—Robert L. Hobbs. This will only be a partial timeline of Robert’s life though. The paper trail for Robert is quite large and I haven’t taken the time to read, transcribe, and understand all of it yet but I wanted to take advantage of the theme.

Robert L. Hobbs was born on May 30, 1754 in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Many researchers record Robert’s parents as James Hobbs and Abigail Thomas but I haven’t found proof of that so will leave it at that. Whoever they were, they moved the family to Craven County, South Carolina sometime before 1776. If Robert had any siblings, they are unknown to me at this point in my research. Robert is my 5th great grandfather.

About 1776 or 1777, Robert married Mary Marion Caldwell in Cherokee Creek in Craven County, South Carolina. Years later (1843), he would swear under oath that they were married in the year 1777. In 1853, Mary would swear under oath that they were married by a Magistrate by the name of Tait in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina in the year of 1776. At the time of their marriage, Robert would have been about 22 years old and Mary 17 years old. They were blessed with nine children—Curtis Hobbs, Sarah “Sally” Hobbs, James H. Hobbs, Joseph Henry Hobbs, Nancy Hobbs, Nathan Augustus Hobbs, Isham Hobbs, Mary “Polly” Hobbs, and Robert L. Hobbs Jr. I descend through his son Nathan, born in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina on January 8, 1790. Shortly after Nathan’s birth, Robert moved his family to Greene County, Georgia where his last three children were born.

In 1797, Robert lived in Captain Phillip Hunter’s District of Greene County, Georgia.

Ten years after moving to Greene County, Robert was wrapped in controversary. The book History of Greene County by Rice and Williams tells the story of Robert being indicted on a forgery charge in 1800:
p. 454: … When Forgery Was Punishable by Death Without the Benefit of Clergy – On December 14, 1792 the Georgia Legislature passed an act entitled: “An Act for the more effectually preventing and punishing forgery.” This act is recorded in Watkins’ Digest, page 467. And the punishment prescribed upon conviction, was death by hanging and without the benefits of clergy. Forged land-warrants, deeds, notes, orders for goods, etc., seemed to be quite common prior to the year 1800. And any one found guilty of any kind of forgery, was not only hanged but was denied a Christian burial. …
… p. 455: The State vs. John McAdams and Robert Hobbs Indc’t for forgery. Verdict of the jury, Guilty with a recommendation to mercy. Both of these men were sentenced to be hanged on the twenty-sixth day of September also, and the wording of the sentence was exactly the same as that of Stephen and William Heard.
The Judge did not deny the convicted men the benefit of clergy. This was probably due to the fact that the jury recommended mercy. The law as it appeared on the statute books, did not allow the Judge any discretion, as death by hanging, was the only punishment prescribed. 
Although the Court records do not show it, tradition says, that neither of the convicted men were hanged.
Judge Columbus Heard, who was at one time a partner of Governor McDaniel, and one of the ablest lawyers in the State, became interested in the history of this case. And claimed to have unraveled the story. His version was as follows: He became interested on account of one of the defendants being named Stephen Heard, and as he was a descendent of General Stephen Heard of Wilkes county, he wanted to find out if these men who were convicted of forgery, were any kin to him. His investigations revealed the fact, that they were not related to General Stephen Heard. And that the forgery consisted of the changing of land-warrants, or the forgery of deeds to certain lands in Greene county that they wanted. Judge Heard also said, that some prominent people became interested in the case and secured the names of the Jury, Judge, and many citizens to a petition to the Governor to commute the sentence to life imprisonment. And that a number of Greene county citizens went to Louisville to see the Governor and present the petition. And that after much pleading, Governor Josiah Tattnall found that the time was so short, that it would require great haste in order to place the Governor’s order in the hands of the Sheriff in time to prevent the execution. And that it would be necessary to travel both day and night, and get fresh horses along the way, and that had not the Sheriff anticipated favorable action on the part of the Governor, and delayed the handing until the last hour, the order would have reached him too late.
There is no record to show where these men were every pardoned, and it is presumed that they spent the rest of their lives in prison.” …
Of course, records show that Robert did not spend the rest of his life in prison but rather went on to live a long life in Greene County. In fact, in the Rice and Williams’ book, they wrote the following on page 341:
Four men were sentenced to be hanged for forgery in Greene County in the year 1800. They rode on their coffins to the execution grounds, where their funeral sermons were preached by Dr. Cunningham, after which he handed them their pardons.
While the book doesn’t list any names in the above paragraph, since it was the year 1800, I feel certain Robert was one of the four men pardoned.

A slave owner and planter, Robert acknowledged the love he had for his son Nathan via land records recorded on December 1, 1805:
GREENE COUNTY, STATE OF GEORGIA. Robert Hobbs, planter of Greene County, on 2 December 1805, for love and affection I bear toward my loving son, Nathan Hobbs, give a certain negro boy named Isaac, to be delivered to him at my death. Wit.: Henry English and William Greer.
On August 7, 1820, Robert lived in the Captain Greers District of Greene County, Georgia. There were 20 people living in the home, 7 of them slaves. In 1827 and 1828, he lived in the Captain John Southerland District of Greene County.

The 1830 Greene County census record listed 12 people living in the home, 9 of which were slaves.

The 1840 Greene County census record notes that Robert owned 13 slaves. On January 1, 1841, the Post Office at Greensboro, Georgia was holding a letter for Robert. In 1843, Robert appeared before the Greene County Superior Court to declare his service during the Revolutionary War in an attempt to receive benefits. The following sworn declaration is Robert’s own words:

First paragraph of the declaration

State of Georgia, County of Greene
On this sixteenth day of September in the year eighteen hundred and forty-three, personally appeared in open Court, before the Honorable the Superior Court of the County aforesaid now sitting, Robert Hobbs, a resident of Greene County, and state of Georgia, aged eighty-nine years, who being first duly sworn according to Law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress, passed June 7th 1832.
That he was drafted and entered into the service of the United States in the face of the year 1779, which was the year before Charleston, in the state of South Carolina was taken by the British and was residing at the time he was drafted in Craven County, South Carolina, now Chester District in South Carolina. That he commenced his service in the month of November of the same year 1779 under Captain Terrill, 1st Lieutenant John Jones, Orderly Sergant James Mabry, and that our said company was attached to Col. Brannon’s Regiment, and rendezvoused at Col. Brannon’s on Brown’s Creek, and that from thence were marching towards Charleston by the way of the Eutaw Springs, to the 10 Mile House in Charleston Neck and stationed there during our service, which was for three months. And at the end of which time, I received my written discharge, which was signed by the proper officers, but has been lost. The Company to which I belonged had no engagements with the enemy during the tour. I returned home and did no further service until Charleston was evacuated by the British, after which time I volunteered under Captain George Taylor, 1st Lieutenant Daniel McLeary, Ensign Nat Robinson was mustered into the United States service, under General Greene they marched to the fort known as Ninety Six, in the month of June. The fort at that time was occupied by the British under Col. Cruger. The object of General Greene was to storm the fort which was invested at that time by the main army. The siege continued three weeks, and future success appeared certain when intelligence arrived that Lord Rawdon having received a reinforcement was approaching with a large army to the relief of the place. General Greene determined to evacuate his position and break up the siege. General Greene then returned towards North Carolina, our company went with to the North Carolina line where we were discharged and returned to our homes. During this year the inhabitants of the Carolinas endured calamity and distress, the country being ravaged and plundered by both armies.
It was in the fall of the same year (according to the best of my recollection) that I was drafted for a three-month tour under Captain John Thompson, 1st Lieutenant Nicholas Jasper, our company rendezvoused on Browns Creek and joined Col. Brannon’s regiment. We were marched on down Broad River to [Foose?] Ford, and then we crossed and marched down the river to Ancrum’s plantation on the Congaree River, where we were stationed during the term of our service, which was three months. There was a portion of Col. White’s command stationed there with us, also some Dutch under the command of Captain Frazier. A short time before the expiration of our term of service, a Tory scout of light horse commanded either by Cunningham or Gues [William Guest] committed some depredations on the other side of the river where we were stationed, we went up the river in pursuit of the Tories, but were unable to come up with them, their operations were confined to burning and plundering, and after murdering one man immediately departed. We were stationed there for some time for the protection of the settlement, when we were dismissed. 
We continued together until we had passed out of the region where the Tories were in force when we were dismissed. I arrived at home in January, and the succeeding fall, according to the best of my recollection, I volunteered under Captain John Mapp, 1st Lieutenant Nathan Robinson.
Our company marched and crossed Savannah River at the Cherokee Ford, General Pickens, commanding the South Carolina Volunteers, and joined the Georgians under the command of General Elijah Clark on the Buffalo Ford of Long Creek in Wilkes County Georgia. From thence we took the Hightower Trail and marched to the Long Swamp town in the Cherokee Nation, between the Chattahoochee and Hightower Rivers. We had two engagements with the Indians, killing ten and taking eleven of them prisoners; after taking the Long Swamp town, the Indians came in with a flag of truce and had a talk, and at which time ceded the county that comprised Franklin County in the state of Georgia, and Pendleton and Greenville districts in South Carolina, and Buncombe county in North Carolina. We volunteered for a three-month tour, some six weeks in the Nation, but I cannot positively state how long we were on our march, in going to and returning from the Nation, on this expedition, but to the best of my recollection we were on duty about three months, which was the last of my services in the Revolutionary War.
I served in many scouting parties against the Indians and Tories for short periods, these scouts were raised on emergencies whenever the Indians or Tories committed any depredations in the region of country where I was; as many men would be raised as could be in the neighborhood and would then go in pursuit which trips would last from two days to a week. I served as a private in every expedition I was in, I never was wounded nor in any engagement with the exception of those mentioned as having occurred with the Indians. I am of opinion that I was subject to service by draft and otherwise between three and four years and was in actual service for the space of three years. (See Davidson’s certificate appended.) He further states that he never took up arms against, or acted against the welfare of his country, neither avoided any duty that was imposed upon his by his country.
He further states that he has no documentary evidence to establish his claim, that he never received but one written discharge for his services, and that was for the tour to the Ten Mile house on Charleston Neck in South Carolina and which I have previously stated was lost or destroyed many years ago.
But he would most respectfully beg leave to refer to the annexed statement of facts contained in the deposition of John Davidson, the only surviving witness by whom he could introduce any evidence of the facts herein contained, and with whom he served, and was well acquainted during the Revolutionary War, and with whom he bore and suffered many privations during their services in the war. This witness is a pensioner for the services he rendered in the Revolution, and services in the county of Jasper in the state of Georgia.
He further states, that according to his father’s family record, he was born in Queen Ann County in the state of Maryland, on the 30th of May 1754 and removed from thence with his father to originally Craven County South Carolina, but now Chester District South Carolina, that he was married in 1777 on Cherokee Creek a branch of Broad River in said Craven County, now Spartanburg District in South Carolina. That he resided in Spartanburg District South Carolina until he removed from his residence there, to the state of Georgia in the year 1790, and in that year settled in Greene County, where he has resided ever since. That he has lived on the place where he now resides fifty-one years. That he has no record of his age, but has seen that family record of his father, and also from the recollection he has of what his father stated to him with regard to the date of his birth.
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity, except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.
Robert Hobbs (his mark)
Sworn to and subscribed this date and year aforesaid
Francis H. Cone, Judge

Robert was granted a yearly pension by William Wilkins, Secretary of War under President John Tyler, on January 6, 1845 in the amount of $20 for the remainder of his natural life. The record states that the pension would commence on the 4th day of March 1831. Since it was retroactive, Robert’s first payment was $280. Robert was only able to draw seven months on his pension though as he died in Greene County on June 7, 1845. It’s not known where he was buried. I see the city of Greensboro mentioned in his paper trail so perhaps he’s buried in an unmarked grave at Greensboro City Cemetery. But I’ve walked that cemetery many times and have not found a grave for him there. His son Nathan was buried at Penfield Cemetery not far from Greensboro, but you had to be a long-standing member of the village of Penfield to be buried there and I haven’t found Penfield mentioned anywhere in his paper trail.

Motions were quickly set in place to administer Robert’s estate. His son Nathan and John G. Holtzclaw were named administrators. An inventory and appraisement was taken on September 16, 1845 and included 16 slaves—7 men (George, Dick, Henry, John, Nelson, Charles, Cheney) 4 women (Rachel, Ester, Mary, Jane), 3 boys (Hampton, Dave, Lewis), and 2 girls (Harriett, Lucy); a large variety of livestock including oxen, cows and calves, a bull, heifers, sheep, and horses; and normal household goods such as furniture, kitchen items, knives, lots of books, busts, quilts, farming tools and seed, and a spinning wheel. His entire inventory of goods and chattels was valued at $6188.45. On November 18, 1845, the Southern Recorder published this notice:
Will be sold on the first Tuesday in February next, at the Court-house in Greenesboro, Greene county, within the legal hours of sale, all the real estate of Robert Hobbs, Sen., deceased, in said county, (the widows’ dower excepted,) being the tract of land whereon said deceased formerly lived. Also, 17 negroes, viz: George, Dick, Henry, Hampton, John, Nelson, Rachel, Ester, Cheney and child, Dave, Mary, Jane and her three children, Charles a boy, and Lucy a girl. Sold under an order of the honorable Inferior Court of said county, when sitting as a Court of Ordinary—for the benefit of the heirs of said Robert Hobbs, Sr., deceased. Terms on the day of sale.
Nathan Hobbs, John G. Holtzclaw, Adm’rs.
Nov. 18, 1845
The Southern Recorder published a second notice on June 9, 1846:
Will be sold at Marietta, Cobb county, on the first Tuesday in August next, agreeably to an order obtained from the honorable Inferior Court of Greene country [sic], sitting as a Court of Ordinary, one tract of land containing forty acres, being lot No. 54, third district and third section originally Cherokee now Cobb county. Said for the benefit of the heirs of Robert Hobbs, deceased.
Nathan Hobbs, John G. Holtzclaw, Adm’rs.
June 2, 1846.
The Southern Recorder published a third notice on January 31, 1854:
Greene Sheriff’s Sale—Will be sold before the Court-house door in the town of Greenesboro’, Greene county, on the first Tuesday in February next, within sale hours, the following property, viz:
The one-eighth part of two hundred and twenty-four acres of land in said county, whereon Robert Hobbs, sen, deceased, adjoining lands of J. M. Davison and J. G. Holtzclaw—it being Nathan Hobbs interest in said land, and levied on as his property to satisfy two fi fas from the Justice’s Court of the 138th District G.M., one in favor of Beaman & French vs. Nathan Hobbs—one in favor of H. L. French vs Nathan Hobbs. Property pointed out by J. R. Sanders, plaintiff. Levy made and returned to me by Levi Mays, constable. 
H. H. Watts, Sheriff.
January 3, 1854
Each notice ran multiple weeks once published.

Land and personal items were sold, bills were paid, and money was disbursed to Robert’s heirs into the mid-1850s.

Robert, who died at the age of 91, passed good genes on to his descendants. His son Nathan lived to be 99 years. My Daddy, who is Robert’s 4th great grandson, is currently 92. Daddy’s older brother was 91 and his older sister 92 when they passed away. Robert’s wife Mary lived a long life herself—she was 94 when she died.

Mary received a widow’s pension until her death in 1853.


  1. Greene County, Georgia – Land Records: Deeds 1785 – 1810, abstracted by Freda R. Turner, p. 422.
  2. Georgia Tax Index, 1789–1799.
  3. Georgia, Property Tax Digests, 1793–1892.
  4. U.S. Federal Census, 1820, 1830, and 1840.
  5. U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800–1900, sworn statement by Robert Hobbs, September 16, 1843.
  6. Southern Recorder, Milledgeville, Georgia, 1820–1872, September 2, 1845, November 21, 1845, June 9, 1846, and January 31, 1854.
  7. Georgia 1890 Property Tax Digests.
  8. Rice, T. B. and C. W. Williams, History of Greene County, Georgia, 1961.
  9. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment