Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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ROBISON, JOEL WALTER -- According to the Robison family Bible, Mr. Robison was born in Washington County, Georgia, October 5, 1815. This conflicts with documents in the Certificate of Character files in the Spanish Archives of the General Land Office. He is shown in one document as having been born in Virginia and in another he signed his name very distinctly "Robeson". Later, however, he spelled his name Robison. Following are copies of the Documents referred to:

"Department of Nacogdoches
Octr. the 8th, 1834
District of Bevil

I certify that Joel Robison is a Native of the State of Virginia in the U S of the North is a Single Man of Good Moral habits and friendly to the Laws and Religion of the Country Given at the Request of the Party interested.

John Bevil, Alcalde."

"Mr. George A. Nixon, Commissioner

Sir you will please deliver to George W. Smith my title to property on his paying the fees of office and oblige yours.

Joel Robeson."

April 27th 1835

Mr. Robison was a son of John G Robison who came to Texas with his family. Joel Robison received title to one-fourth of a league of land in Zavala's Colony situated in Jasper County, May 6, 1835. This was the amount of land a single man was entitled to receive at that time. On November 20, 1837 he was married and on January 18, 1838 he was issued Headright Certificate No. 24 for three-fourths of one league and one labor of land by the Fayette County Board of Land Commissioners. This added to the one-fourth league he had previously received made a total of a league and labor of land, the amount given to married men by the Republic of Texas. In the Headright Certificate, it is stated that he arrived in Texas in December, 1831. He landed at Velasco and for a time made the present County of Brazoria his home. On February 12, 1836, his father received title to a league of land in Austin's Fifth Colony on the west side of Cummin's Creek, in Fayette County and the family moved there and settled on it.

In Vol. 1, Page ___ of the Lamar Papers, both Joel W. and his father are shown as having participated in the Battle of Velasco in June, 1832.

Joel W. Robison participated in the Siege of Bexar in 1835 and took part in the Grass Fight. At San Jacinto, he was a member of Captain William J. E. Heard's Company of "Citizen Soldiers" and, on January 19, 1850, he was issued Donation Certificate No. 194 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle. On January 4, 1838, he received Bounty Certificate No. 1575 for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from February 1 to May 1, 1836

On April 22, 1836, Mr. Robison was one of the small group of men who captured General Santa Anna. The others in the group were James A. Sylvester, Alfred H. Miles and Joseph D. Vermillion.

Mr. John G. Robison, father of Joel W., was a member of the House of Representatives in the first Congress of the Republic. On November 26, 1836, he rode with his brother to the house of a Mr. Stevens.

As they were returning, they were met by a party of Indians and both were killed. Joel W. continued to live on his father's Headright league. He was appointed First Lieutenant of a company of Mounted Riflemen for duty in Gonzales County, December 7, 1836. He was elected from Fayette County to a seat in the Texas Legislature in 1860 and in 1862, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1874. In 1850, he was Master of Florida (Masonic) Lodge No. 46 at Round Top.

On November 20, 1837, Mr. Robison was married to Emily Anna Alexander, daughter of Samuel Alexander and sister of Jerome B. Alexander, who participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. Mrs. Robison was born in Kentucky and died November 23, 1886. Mr. Robison died Sunday, August 4, 1889, and was buried beside his wife in the Florida Chapel Cemetery near Round Top, Fayette County. At the time of his death, he was Second Vice-President of the Texas Veterans Association. In 1932, the State of Texas had the remains of Mr. and Mrs. Robison moved to the State Cemetery at Austin and had a joint monument erected at their new grave.

Children of Mr. and Mrs. Robison were Almeida, who married Thomas A. Ledbetter; Samuel A.; James; Fannie, who married Dr. J. W. Smith; Lucy, who married J. F. McClatchey; Neal W., who married Hallie P. Carter; and J. G. Robison, who died young.

Some of the grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Robison were Mrs. Bettie Davis; Mrs. S C. Olive; Mrs. Horwell; John B. and F. C. Robison; W. A. Ledbetter; Mrs. R. E. Darch; K. C. Ledbetter; Annie o., Lena J., Seth I. S., Guy T., Hugh A., Anna and Alberta Ledbetter.

Robison, Joel W. Page 166, Texas Almanac for 1859 Round Top, August 5th, 1858

The following letter from Mr. Robison was published in the Texas Almanac of 1859:

"Round Top, August 5th, 1858

Eds. Texas Almanac -- Gentlemen: -- I have received a letter from my friend, Dr. J. R. Robson, requesting me to give you the particulars of the capture of Santa Anna, in 1836. It was as follows: On the morning of the 22nd, the day after the battle, a party was detailed and sent out under command of Gen. Burleson. This party proceeded in the direction of the bridge on Vince's Bayou. Our object was to pick up any Mexicans we could find who had fled from the battle the evening before, and particularly to search for Santa Anna and Cos. When we reached the Bayou, we divided into squads of five or six persons in each, and went in different directions. The party I was with consisted of six, all privates, so far as I know. Their names are as follows: Miles, Sylvester, Thompson, Vermillion, another name I do not recollect, and myself. From the bridge we started down the Bayou. After travelling about two miles, we saw a man standing on the bank of the ravine, some five or six hundred yards from us. He, no doubt, saw us first for, when we started towards him, he sat down on a high place, and waited till we came up. It proved to be Santa Anna. I was the only one of the party that spoke the Mexican language. I asked him if he knew where Santa Anna and Cos were. He stated he thought they had gone to the Brazos. I asked him if he knew of any other Mexicans that had made their escape from the battle. He said he thought there were some up the ravine in a thicket. I told him we would take him to the American Camp. He was very willing to go, but complained of being very tired. I asked him if he was an officer. No, he said, he belonged to the cavalry, and was not accustomed to being on foot -- that he was run very close to our cavalry the day before, and was compelled to leave his horse. When we started with him, one of our party dismounted and went up the ravine to look for the Mexicans spoken of by Santa Anna, and Santa Anna rode his horse some two miles up to the road. The man that went up the ravine, finding no Mexicans, then came back up and told Santa Anna to dismount. He refused to do it, and the man then leveled his gun at him, when he dismounted and asked me how far it was to camp. I told him eight or nine miles. He said he could not walk so far. The young man then wanted to kill him, and I told him so. He then said he would try and walk, but would have to go slow; and so we started for camp, and the man got behind him, and would prick him in the back with his spear, and make him trot for some two or three miles. Santa Anna then stopped and, appealing to me, said that if we wanted to kill him, to do so, but he could not walk any farther. I then took him up behind me end carried him to camp, some five or six miles further. After he got up behind, we entered into a general conversation. He asked me if Gen. Houston commanded in person at the battle; how many we killed, and how many prisoners we had taken, and when they would be shot. I told him I did not think they would be shot -- that I have never known Americans to kill prisoners of war. He said the Americans were a brave and generous people, and asked me what I thought would be done with the prisoners. I told him I did not know, but that the Americans would like the younger ones for servants. He said that would be very kind. He asked me how many were in our army at the battle. I said some six or seven hundred. He said he thought I was mistaken -- that there must be more. I said no, and that two hundred Americans could whip the whole Mexican Army. "Yes, said he, the Americans are great soldier's." I asked him if he was not sorry he had come to fight the Americans. Yes, he said, but he belonged to the army, and was compelled to obey his officers. I asked him, if he was back in Mexico, would he come to Texas any more? He said no, he would desert first. This brought us to camp, when the Mexicans immediately announced his name. He asked to be taken to Gen. Houston, and was then taken to him.

Dr. Robson writed to me that you want these facts for the information for your Almanac readers. If you think them of sufficient interest, you can put them in such shape as you think best.

I am, yours &

Very respectfully


The following letter appeared in the Texas Almanac of _____. Preceding the letter was the following statement by the editor of the Almanac:

[The statements in the following letter appear to present some discrepancies with the more generally received account of the capture of Santa Anna, or that given by Dr. Labadie in his narrative, in another part of this work. We, however, give Mr. Robison's account, believing that it will serve to elicit other testimony of living witnesses, by which any error may hereafter be corrected.]

"Round Top -- March 15 1859

Col. John Forbes

Sir, I received your two letters and should have answered you sooner but have not been at home for some time, for I am glad to hear from or correspond with any of the old Texians who took part in the early struggles of the country. I recollect you as well as any officer that was in the army and knew you during the whole campaign of 1836 as Commissary General of the army, and was astonished at the personal attack made by Dr. Labadie on your character, published in the Texas Almanac of 1859. I think you and every officer that belonged to the army on the day of the battle acted Bravely and galantly and am sorry to hear any thing said derogatory to the character of any of them for there is but few now living who took part in that Memorable Struggle and all that is living deserved honorable mention and the gratitude and respect of the country. I never knew Dr. Labadie in 1836 or indeed never knew there was such man until I saw his statement Published in the almanac for 1859 though I have no doubt he was in the army for he mentions some circumstances as detailed by him of the delivery or Santa ana by Silvester is not correct Silvester was in company but left us before we got in to camp. The circumstances detailed by you of the delivery Santa ana is correct you were the first officer I met when got in to camp. -- and to you I delivered him and soon after you was joined by Col. Hickly.

I was member of Capt. Herds company and not Bakers as you suposed.

I am Respectfully yours

Joel W Robison"


Died -- At his home near Warrenton, Sunday, 4, 1889.


The friends and acquaintances of the family are requested to attend his funeral from his lake residence, at 10 o'clock A. M., August 5, 1889. He will be buried at Old Florida Chapel Cemetery near Round Top.

La Grange, August 4th, 1889."

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. William J. E. Heard
  • Battle Account: Account of capture of Santa Anna published in Texas Almanac of 1859.

Personal Statistics

  • Alternate Names: Robeson, Robinson
  • Date of Birth: 1815 Oct 5
  • Birthplace: Georgia, Washington County
  • Origin: Georgia
  • Came to Texas: 1831 Dec
  • Date of Death: 1889 Aug 4
  • Burial Place: Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
  • Other Battles: Velasco, Bexar, Grass Fight,
  • Comments: One of group that captured Santa Anna.
  • Bounty Certificate: 1575
  • Donation Certificate: 194
  • Wife: Emily Anna Alexander
  • Children: Almeida Robison Ledbetter; Samuel A. Robison; James Robison; Fannie Robison Smith; Lucy Robison McClatchey; Neal W. Robison; J. G. Robison
  • Family at San Jacinto: Future brother-in-law Jerome B. Alexander at San Jacinto; brother-in-law Stephen Townsend at Harrisburg.