One of the
most famous people to live in early Independence was Jerome B. Robertson (1815-1890) who was a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army, serving eighteen months as commander of the famous Hood’s Texas Brigade.
“…tell capt Krates…to plant me out trees all around my place out & inside the fense I want some of all kinds say cotton wood Mulbery willow wild peach & peach figs &c &c and I will pay him for it well & for him to plant all sorts of vegitables in the garden."
January 28, 1848
J.B. Robertson writing from Austin to
Robertson Colony Collection, University of Texas
at Arlington Libraries.
Now and Then: The Robertson House with the bend in the road, the historic photograph dating March 1880.
Kentucky-born physician Jerome Bonaparte Robertson migrated to Texas from Kentucky in 1836, living first in Washington-on-the-Brazos, then moving to Independence in the 1840s. A deed in the Washington County courthouse records his purchase of this property on November 27, 1846, and states that he “was now building a double (Sawed cidar) log…dwelling house.”
General Robertson took an active political and military role in the Texas Independence movement. He served in both houses of the Texas legislature in Austin in the late 1840s, during which time he maintained this residence in Independence. In the mid-1850s, the family moved to a nearby plantation and most likely rented this house, which was typical of landed property owners in the area.
During the Civil War, Robertson fought with his brigade in the battles at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. Robertson and his son, Felix (1839-1928), are frequently cited as one of two father-son generals in the Civil War—the other is General Robert E. Lee and sons. After the war, Waco became the primary residence for both General Robertsons.
In Independence, “the Robertson Place,” as it was known locally, was bought and sold several times during the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1904, Jessie and Sophie Colbert, an African American family, purchased the property. Their descendants sold it in 1998. The house was renovated in 2003-2004 at which time it was repositioned on the lot and once again, became a private home.
Robertson House, March 10, 1936
Before restoration, 2000
During restoration, 2003
Current view of the Robertson House.
In the foreground is the well that dates from the 1840s.
1880 photo: The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 1936 photo: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, James I. Campbell, photographer. Other photos: Ellen Beasley. Research and content by Ellen Beasley.