Friday, October 28, 2011

Charlotte Reeves Robertson


Pioneer woman extraordinaire and future heroine of Fort Nashborough, Charlotte Reeves was born in Northampton, North Carolina in 1751 and moved with her family to Johnston (now Wake) County North Carolina by about 1763. There, she married James Robertson in 1768. In 1771, Charlotte and James along with several other families left Wake County for the Watauga Settlements in what is now eastern Tennessee. It is believed that Charlotte’s parents and siblings (including my ancestor Jordan Reeves), some of James Robertson’s siblings, and his uncle Charles Robertson either accompanied Charlotte and James or followed them very quickly.

The Watauga villages where James and Charlotte Robertson settled rested on lands leased from the Cherokee. A truce with the Cherokee was short-lived and land agreements were revoked. Life was difficult and dangerous. By 1779, James Robertson was ready to move west. While James Robertson led some of the men to the Cumberland settlements, where Nashville is now located, John Donelson led the so-called Donelson flotilla to the same location via the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. The women and children (including Charlotte and four of her children) and some of the men were aboard the flatboats that made the nearly 1000 mile journey in winter. During the perilous voyage Charlotte Reeves distinguished herself by fighting off Indian attackers and working the oars with the men.

Once in the Cumberland settlements, Charlotte, James, and their children lived in Fort Nashborough, which was one of several forts housing settlers for protection from Indian attacks.

Charlotte Robertson is celebrated as the heroine of the Battle of the Bluffs which was fought at Fort Nashborough in 1781. When Indians attacked the fort, she realized that they were positioned between the fort’s men, who were out in the woods, and the fort. She unleashed the hounds, creating great confusion among the Indian attackers. This diversion allowed time for the men to return safely to the fort. One of Charlotte’s sons was killed by Indians during this battle. In all, two of her sons were killed by Indians while another was scalped but recovered.

The city of Charlotte, Tennessee, and Charlotte Pike in Nashville are named for Charlotte Robertson, who lived in Middle Tennessee until her death in 1843 at the age of ninety-two. She is buried in Nashville's City Cemetery.

For more information see TN Encyclopedia and other sources.

Charlotte Reeves was the daughter of George Reeves, born 1716, and his wife Mary Jordan. She is of the Rives line documented in Reliques of the Rives James Rives Childs. Descendants of this line have tested as DNA Group 8 in the Reeves DNA Project.

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