James was born in Virginia possibly in Goochland or Rockbridge County, VA. The first record I can find for him is his marriage to Polly Ann Chittum born in Rockbridge County, Va. The first document is a Virginia Marriage Bond signed by Polly's mother Malinda Chittum and her uncle. Polly's father died in 1824. The signature for James was only his mother Catherine Robinson. James and Polly were married February 12, 1835 in Rockbridge County, VA.
James and Polly owned a small farm and
James worked as a cobbler and records found in my grandmother's papers indicate he was quite good at his trade. James and Polly had 15 children of which my great grandfather was number twelve. James and Polly lived what appears to be a normal uneventful life until early April 1854 James and his brother-in-law, Hezekiah H. Chittum got into an argument over a boundary on their abutting properties. The argument grew into a full out battle and they started shooting at each other. Unluckily Hezekiah was wounded and James was arrested and charged with "Felonious shooting of his brother-in-law over a property line dispute" on April 13, 1854 by the grand jury stated as follows: The Grand jury appeared in court according to their adjournment and having retired, after some time returned in court and presented An Indictment against James Robinson for shooting with intent to kill “A true Bill”
On September 12, 1854 At a circuit court began and held for Rockbridge county at the courthouse on Tuesday the twelfth day of September eighteen hundred and fifty four and in the 79th year of the commonwealth
Present the Honorable Lucas Thomspon Judge of the eleventh Industrial circuit in Virginia
James M. Robinson who stands indicted of felonious shooting appeared in court in discharge of his recognizance and on the motion of the attorney for the commonwealth and for reasons appearing to the court the trial of the said James M. Robinson is continued until the next tomorrow whereupon the said James M. Robinson with William Leach, Isaac Potter and Samuel D. Nelson his securities here in court acknowledge themselves to be indebted to the commonwealth of Virginia the said James M. Robinson in the sum of one hundred dollars and the said William Leach, Isaac Potter and Samuel d. Nelson jointly and security in the sum of one hundred dollars to be levied of their respective good and chattels lands and tenements and to the said commonwealth rendered – Yet upon the condition that if the said James M. Robinson shall make his personal appearance before the Judge of the court at the courthouse on the first day of April term next to answer an Indictment against him for the felonious shooting and shall not depart thence without the leave of the court then this recognizance shall be void.
Hezekiah Chittum, Lucinda C. Chittum, William Henry Fisher, John Alex Fisher and Hugh J. Wilson came into the court and severally acknowledged themselves to be indebted to the commonwealth of Virginia in the sum of one hundred dollars each of them repective goods and chattels lands and tenements and to the said commonwealth rendered. Yet upon this condition that of the land Hezekial Chittum, Lucinda C. Chittum, William H. Fisher, John A. Fisher and Hugh J. Wilson do and each of them shall make their personal appearance before the Judge of this court on the first day of April term next at the courthouse, then and there to give evidence on behalf of the commonwealth against James
James M. Robinson who stands indicted of felonious shooting and shall not depart thence without the leave of the court them this recognizance to be void otherwise to remain in full force.
On April 4, 1855 At a circuit court continued by adjournment and held for Rockbridge county at the courthouse on Saturday the 14th day of April A.D. Eighteen hundred and fifty five and the 79th year of the commonwealth.
(The Honorable Lucas Thomspon Judge of the eleventh Industrial circuit in Virginia)
Present the same Judge as on yesterday.
James Robinson alias James M. Robinson who stands indicted of felonious shooting again appeared in discharge of his cognizance and was set to the bar in custody of this jailor of the county and the jury sworn for his trail were brought into court by the sheriff of this county and upon their oath do say that the said James M. Robinson is not guilty as in the pleading he hath alleged. Therefore it is considered by the court that the said James alias James M. Robinson be acquitted and discharged of said offense and thereof without delay.
This case caused James Moro Robinson to sell all his property and possessions to pay the lawyers representing him in this case. Also two sons indentured themselves to neighboring farms to help pay their father’s debt to the lawyers. It seems the law has not changed in all these years, an individual will go bankrupt just to defend themselves and to pay lawyers.
During the course of this trial James was represented by no less than three lawyers. To pay the lawyers he sold his farm, all of his personal property, even supplies such as corn, wheat, cattle, sheep, hogs and chickens. He also sold all of this equipment used in the making and repairing of shoes which left him very little to support his family. Two of his sons, John C, and James indentured themselves to neighboring farms and pledged all of their earnings for one year to pay their father's debt to the lawyers. After his acquittal there is very little found in any records for James. Of course, he owned no property so he does not appear on any tax schedules at the time.
The next record I could find for James and Polly was the 1860 census in Rockbridge County, VA with 9 of their children still living at home.
In the Census of 1870 taken on July 16, 1870 James, Polly and children are still living in Rockbridge County, VA but in the Census of 1870 taken in Upshur County on August 16, 1870 James, Polly and 6 of their children are listed. In the 1880 census taken in Upshur County, WV James and Polly are living next door to two of their older sons, John and James with their families.
From documents passed down by my grandmother, James worked as a cobbler up to his death on June 8, 1883. Polly had died between the time of the 1880 census and the death of James because James is listed on his death certificate in Upshur County, WV as being a widower as documented by his son Thomas R. Robinson.
Due to the experience I have had in 2013 and 2014 I can understand what lawyers can do to you in fees. My fees were probably much less than my great great grandfather had to pay since he was fighting for his life.
I can not find the graves of James or Polly. Due to expense I doubt very much if their graves are marked and to date I have been ubable to find either of them listed on any cemetery lists in Upshur County. Since they lived in the area near Audra either or both could be buried in Barbour or Upshur Counties. Polly may have died of Diphtheria since she was living very near her son Charles Wesley Robinson and Charles', wife Harriett died of Diphtheria on December 28, 1880. On January 30, 1881 Thomas had a son age 2 die of unknown causes, and another son died on February 2, 1881 age 9 months die of unknown causes believed to have been Diphtheria. The one son was listed living in Barbour County and the other was listed as living in Usphur County. I believe that they lived very close to the county line which is one of the reasons I am having trouble finding the exact location of where they lived. There was a large number of deaths during the winter of 1880/81 diagnosed as Diphtheria and Pneumonia.
Maybe with more work and research I will find James's ancestry and with luck may find his grave.