Robinson, Thomas C. (1847–1876)

By: Chuck Parsons

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Thomas C. (Pidge) Robinson, Texas Ranger and journalist, son of Thomas and Harriet B. Robinson, was born near Rustburg, Campbell County, Virginia, on November 27, 1847. He received an above-average education and had the potential for a successful literary career. However, in his early twenties he became involved in a feud with a neighbor, Jesse E. Mitchell, over the affection he felt toward Mitchell's sister, Pidgie. He was forced to flee Virginia and arrived in 1874 in Austin, Texas, where he was known as T. Chanders. He worked briefly as a cowboy, then for the Austin Statesman, where he became acquainted with the editor, John Cardwell. On July 25, 1874, Robinson enlisted under the name Chanders in Capt. Leander H. McNelly's Washington County Volunteer Militia Company A, also called the Special Force. By October 1, he had earned the rank of first lieutenant and was known by his real name. As a Texas Ranger, he served in DeWitt County when McNelly's company was subduing the Sutton-Taylor feud. He later served on the Rio Grande frontier and participated in a battle on the Palo Alto Prairie on June 12, 1875, in which twelve of Juan N. Cortina's raiders were killed. He also was one of the rangers who invaded Mexico to recover cattle stolen from Texas ranchers near Los Cuevos. As a journalist Robinson contributed letters and poems to the Austin Statesman and Gazette, two of the city's leading newspapers. Twenty-three contributions were printed under the name Pidge between April 26, 1874, and March 31, 1876. They describe Austin in the 1870s and provide a rare illustration of ranger service written from the field. Robinson's reports were written in the form of letters within days of the action and describe scouting expeditions, the pursuit of outlaws, and battles with raiders. The writings reveal literary knowledge, intelligence, and wit. In April 1876 Robinson returned to Virginia on leave to settle his feud with Mitchell. In the resulting gunfight he was mortally wounded and died on April 4, 1876. He is buried near Rustburg in the family plot.

Chuck Parsons, "Pidge," A Texas Ranger from Virginia (Wolfe City, Texas: Henington, 1985).


  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Poets

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Chuck Parsons, “Robinson, Thomas C.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 18, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995