Sterling Clack Robertson, the empresario of Robertson's colony in Texas, was born on October 2, 1785, in Nashville, Tennessee, a son of Elijah and Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. He was given a liberal education under the direction of Judge John McNairy. From November 13, 1814, to May 13, 1815, he served as deputy quartermaster general under Maj. Gen. William Carroll, who went down to fight the British in the battle of New Orleans. After the battle Robertson purchased supplies and equipment for the sick and wounded on their return to Nashville over the Natchez Trace. By 1816 he was living in Giles County, Tennessee, where he owned a plantation. He had two sons: James Maclin Robertson with Rachael Smith, and Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson with Frances King. On March 2, 1822, he was one of the seventy stockholders of the Texas Association who signed a memorial to the Mexican government, asking for permission to settle in Texas. On November 21, 1825, he was one of thirty-two members of Dr. Felix Robertson's party that set out from Nashville, Tennessee, bound for Texas, to explore and survey Robert Leftwich's grant. Robertson remained in Texas until August 1826, when he returned to Tennessee, filled with enthusiasm for the colonization of Texas. He toured Tennessee and Kentucky in an attempt to recruit settlers. In the spring of 1830 he signed a subcontract with the Texas Association to introduce 200 families, and on May 9, 1830, he took in Alexander Thomson as his partner. They brought families to Texas, but they were prevented from settling in the colony because of the Law of April 6, 1830. In 1831 that area was transferred to Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams, but Robertson obtained a contract in his own name in 1834 and served as empresario of Robertson's colony in 1834 and 1835. On January 17, 1836, he became captain of a company of Texas Rangers. Then he was elected as a delegate from the Municipality of Milam to the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos (March 1–17, 1836), where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. He was stationed at Harrisburg to guard army equipment during the battle of San Jacinto. Robertson served as senator from the District of Milam in the First and Second congresses of the Republic of Texas (October 3, 1836-May 24, 1838), after which he retired to his home in Robertson County, where he became the earliest known breeder of Arabian horses in Texas. He died there on March 4, 1842. His remains were removed to Austin and reinterred in the State Cemetery on December 29, 1935. Robertson was responsible for settling more than 600 families in Texas.
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J. W. Baker, History of Robertson County, Texas (Franklin, Texas: Robertson County Historical Survey Committee, 1970). Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1974–93). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Malcolm D. McLean,
“Robertson, Sterling Clack,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 20, 2017
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