Robinson descendent became leader in county

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today’s column will be a continuation of the review of the Robinson family of Conecuh and Covington Counties. Last week’s column was ended with a look at the history and family of Edwin Robinson who is the one who settled and named the Town of Brooklyn in Conecuh County. He chose to do this in honor of his hometown, Brooklyn, Connecticut.

Edwin and his first wife, Amelia Frances Hart, had the following children before her death in 1831 in Mobile:  Julius Gurdon, b. 1821, d. 1876, m. Margaret Matilda Bradley; Eugenia Marcella, b. 1824, d. 1828; Rufus Houghton, b. 1827, d. 1830; and Harriett Margaret, b.&d. 1830.

After Amelia Frances’s death and his return to Connecticut, Edwin was married circa 1836 to Sarah Weld Palmer (1809-1843). It appears that they did not have any children. Then in 1844, Edwin was married the third time to Sarah Trumbull Williams. Records indicate they had at least the following three children: Ellen, b. 1845, d. 1939, m. Robert White; Alice Hart, b. 1848, d. 1922, m. William H. Danielson; and William Edwin, b. 1852, d. 1926, m. Alice Drake. There might also have been sons named Rufus Palmer, b. 1827, d. 1830; and Walter Thomas.

Edwin’s oldest son, Julian Gurdon Robinson, was by his first wife. He will be the primary subject of today’s writing. Born in Clariborne in 1821, the year Covington County was formed. Julian Gordon was the first and only child of Edwin and Amelia (Hart) Robinson at that time. He was a young man of around 18 years of age when his father took him with him on his return to his home place in Brooklyn, Connecticut. After a year or so, Julian Gurdon had a desire to return to his native home of Brooklyn, Alabama. His Hart grandparents and relatives were there, and it was near there that he lost his mother and young siblings.

All that is known of Julius’s youth is that he endured a demanding lifestyle in mostly unsettled country. Obviously, he would have received training from his father and grandparents as they labored to build a home and new community in Brooklyn. He must have had some formal schooling, which was most likely continued after he and his father returned to Brooklyn, Connecticut.

Julius made his return trip to the South in the winter of 1841-42. He was reunited with his Grandfather Hart and Uncle James Hart who helped him open a drygoods store in Brooklyn in 1842. That year the post office was located in his store, and he was appointed Post Master of the Brooklyn Post Office, a position he filled for several years.

The next year in 1843, Julius was married to Margaret Matilda Bradley who was born at the Bradley Plantation in the Loango community of Covington County. Her mother died soon after Margaret’s birth, so she was reared by her mother’s sister, Rebecca Adaline (Bradley) Devereux, wife of Julian Devereux. This means she was heir to much of the Bradley estate and was considered one of the wealthiest women in the county at the time of her marriage to Julius Robinson. It has been reported that she owned around 15 acres of land and as many as 35 slaves.

The couple resided in Brooklyn for several years, and Julius managed the farming operations on Margaret’s property in Covington County.

During the early 1850s, Julius became interested in establishing a tannery and shoe factory.

After securing advice from his father in Connecticut and his uncle, Thomas Strang, in Mobile, he purchased 200 acres of land in 1856 in an unsettled area in the present Mobley Creek community in Covington County.

He and his family had moved there by 1860, and he had the manufacturing business in operation. He employed 25 to 50 persons and used about 25 of the Robinson slaves.

Some of the men functioned as traveling salesmen somewhat like a “rolling store” from which they purchased leather hides and taking orders for leather products.

The site of the business was given the name of Iris. This location was on a small creek near a Mrs. Feagin’s home and in the Feagin community.

Business was going well, and during the War Between the States, there was a contract with the Confederate Government for leather boots, shoes and saddles.

Of course, production waned during the war, and afterwards Julius was unable to maintain production for very long due to having lost everything except the land.

During this period of time, relations with his father were essentially broken due to their different beliefs regarding the purpose of the war.

However, they renewed communication during 1866, the year following the war.

During the war years and afterward, Julius served the county in political offices.

From 1861 to 1863, he served as a Representative for Covington County in the State Legislature. In 1865, he was selected to be a delegate to the state constitution committee.

In November 1871, he was elected to serve as a Justice of the Peace in Beat Number Six. He died in 1876 and was buried in the Robinson Family Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Julius and Margaret Robinson reared the following children: Edwin Hart, b. 1845, d. 1932, m. Mary Florence Snowden; Margaret Adaline, b. 1848, d. 1877, m. Wilson A McCreary; Rufus Harvey, b. 1850, d. 1852; Julius Gurdon Jr., b. 1853, d. 1935; James Frank, b. 1855, d. 1944; Dudley Hubbard, b. 1858, d. 1860; Minnie Amelia, b. 1861, d. 1938, m. Henderson Still; William Augustus, b. 1864, d. 1951, m. Mary Ann “Mollie” Foshee (1874-1960); Thomas Walter, b. 1866, d. 1957, m. Fannie Lou Cumbie; and Alabama “Alba,” b. 1870, d. 1937, m. Cameron Parker.

Julius had at least two half brothers, William Edwin and Thomas Walter Robinson. William Edwin was born in 1852 in Connecticut, so he would have been the son of the third wife, Sarah Trumbull Williams.

The Gus and Ruby Bryan history names these two brothers and them being associated with their half-brother, Julius Gurdon.

However, their records show a William A. Robinson rather than the William E., which is a likely clerical error.

These three brothers purchased a sawmill from William H. Rose, which was located on Gin Creek and Amos Mill Creeks.

The mill had been owned and operated by a Mr. Amos, thus the name for the creeks. The Robinson brothers operated a sawmill and gristmill.

The location was on the road running from Brooklyn to Red Level and at a site directly across the road from Walter Thomas Robinson’s home. The mills were also located near a site that was known as Pryor, and there was a Pryor Post Office with William H. Rose serving as postmaster.

The area was later known as Robinsonville, and there was a Robinson School. During the 1950s, the area became known as Mt. Horeb, which came from the local Presbyterian Church and school, which the church operated.

Information is being sought on Julius Gurdon Robinson’s children and any other Robinsons who lived in the area. It is hoped there will be enough genealogy to warrant a third column on this family.

The sources for this writing were Wyley D. Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871 and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976.

Anyone who might have any corrections to the above or additional genealogy on the Robinson family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email: