William Robinson, Baptist minister, also known as "Choctaw Bill," son of Wallace and Rebecca (Bishop) Robinson, was born on January 11, 1809, at Cedar Island, North Carolina. He married Julia Lucinda Fulford on April 16, 1828. They had eight children. After her death he married Irena Isabella Brent on November 15, 1846. They had six children. Irena was dead by 1880. He and his family migrated to Texas in 1848, after living in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Robinson was licensed as a Baptist minister at Bellview, Rusk County, Texas, organized or served as pastor of at least twenty Baptist churches, including Stephenville, Dublin, Comanche, Robinson Springs, Holly Springs, Antioch, Willow Springs, Paluxy, Green Creek, Noland's River, Cross Timbers, Harmony, Baggett Creek, Board Church, Sipe Springs, Pony Creek, Pleasant Hill, Shiloh, Hazel Dell, and Camp Colorado. He preached the first gospel sermon in Erath County at Stephenville on September 17, 1855, and later was the first to preach in Comanche and Brown counties. While in Rusk County he may have owned two or three slaves. Robinson assisted in organizing the West Fork Baptist Association in Tarrant County on October 12, 1855, and on October 2, 1858, helped organize the Brazos River Baptist Association in Parker County. During 1859 he served as state missionary for the Baptist State Convention, was pastor of four churches in Erath County, engaged in ranching, and served as postmaster at Paluxy. Later he operated a sawmill and a gristmill at Hazel Dell in Comanche County. At one time Hazel Dell was considered one of the toughest settlements in the state. Of the first ten settlers there only Robinson is believed to have escaped a violent death. What became known as the Choctaw Robinson Oak provided a shade where Robinson would preach to the people who came across the road from the saloon, store, and post office. Comanche County was the scene of populist political activity in the late nineteenth century, and Robinson was reportedly active in agrarian politics there. Although he arrived in Texas as a man of considerable wealth, Robinson died a poor man in 1898. At the age of eighty he wrote a letter to the State Baptist paper: "I have preached on the Texas frontier from the Red River to the Rio Grande. Now I am old and feeble with no finances and no home. Help me what you can."
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Willo M. Robinson Bradley and Edith Lucille Robinson, Family Trails: Ancestral and Contemporary (Stephenville, Texas: Stephenville Printing, 1978). Nancy V. Cooley, "Special Deputy to the Almighty," Texas Parade, November 1972. John A. Haislet, ed., Famous Trees of Texas (College Station: Texas Forest Service, 1970; 3d ed. 1984). Sarah Catherine Shivers Lattimore, Incidents in the History of Dublin Gathered from Participants and Eye-Witnesses (Dublin, Texas: Dublin Progress, 1914).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
William L. Cowan,
“Robinson, William [Choctaw Bill],”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 06, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
September 1, 1995