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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SMITH, ROBERT W. -- Born in North Carolina, December 19, 1814. In Headright Certificate No. 78 issued to him February 1, 1838 for three-fourths of a league and one labor of land by the Nacogdoches County Board of Land Commissioners it is stated that he came to Texas in March, 1835. He was a surveyor. He was a member of Captain Hayden Arnold's "Nacogdoches Company" at San Jacinto and on January 26, 1839 was issued Donation Certificate No. 785 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle. On December 2, 1837 he received Bounty Certificate No. 1183 for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from March 6 to June 6, 1836. He was captain of a volunteer company in 1838, and commanded a company in 1839 in the campaign against the Cherokees in East Texas. He is given credit for having fired the shot that ended the career of the famous chief, Bowles, July 16, 1839. A marker where Bowles fell, in Cherokee County, will be placed by the Commission of Control for the Texas Centennial. The battlefield was marked years later by Judge A. B. Watkins and Reverend C. A. Tower. The sword used by Chief Bowles was captured by Captain Smith and was used to till Clinton Lodge No. 23 until 1861, when it loaned to Colonel James H. Jones, who wore it during the Civil War. It was returned to the Lodge and was by the lodge presented to the Cherokee nation in 1890. It is now supposed to be the property of the Masonic lodge in Tahleqoyah, Oklahoma.

Captain Smith served under General James Smith when he helped to suppress the Regulator-Moderator War in east Texas in 1842. He was the first sheriff of Rusk County.

Captain Smith was married to Mary Jane Watkins at Nacogdoches in 1837. Mrs. Smith was a daughter of Jesse Watkins of Fairfax County, Virginia. Mr. Watkins came to Texas in 1833. In 1838 he left his home to go to trade with Indians. He never returned, being killed by the Cherokees. Captain Smith died December 15, 1851 and is buried in the old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, seven miles west of the town of Henderson, Rusk County. Mrs. Smith was born in Tennessee on November 25, 1819 and died June 9, 1890. She is buried in the Pleasant Hill cemetery.

Children of Captain and Mrs. Smith were Joseph E. Smith, who was never married; J. Madison Smith, who married to Sallie Spruce who survives her husband and resides in Troupe, Texas; Elizabeth Smith, who was married to Dr. C. P. Eskridge, and Malvina Smith, who was married to Taylor Brown, Jr.

Surviving grandchildren of Captain and Mrs. Smith are Mrs. Carrie Cox; J. Flem Smith, Dallas, Mrs. Gertrude Mock, Troupe; Judge R. T. Brown, Henderson; Mrs. Mary Culp, Henderson; Mrs. Lucy Crane, Kilgore; Joseph Brown, Houston; M. Clinton Brown, Longview, and Mrs. Minnie Brown Redding, Route 2, Henderson, Texas.

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: First Lieutenant
  • Company: Capt. Hayden S. Arnold

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1814 Dec 19? 9?
  • Birthplace: North Carolina
  • Came to Texas: 1835 Mar
  • Date of Death: 1851 Dec 15
  • Burial Place: Pleasant Hill Cemeter, Rusk County, Texas
  • Bounty Certificate: 1183
  • Donation Certificate: 785
  • Wife: Mary Jane Watkins
  • Children: Joseph E. Smith; J. Madison Smith; Elizabeth Smith Eskridge; Malvina Smith Brown