|Boyd Tavern or Ordinary in Boydton, Mecklenburg County|
from Land by the Roanoke, McClung Collection,
East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville
Depending on the source Robert C. Land was born in 1777 or about 1782. I tend to believe the latter date because that would make him 31 when he married Sarah – last name unknown. Robert is the son of John Land and Susan Rawlings. The book Some Descendants of Curtis Land by Frank Pickard Jr. says that John and Susan lived in Cumberland County, Virginia in 1780 and this jibes with the place of birth I’ve found for Robert.
I have found very little about Robert’s life as a young boy. In the book Ancestry of the Land Family of Mecklenburg County, Virginia the author Samuel B. Land tells us that Robert’s father John sold a 150 acre tract of land to Samuel Clements for 160 pounds. This suggests that Robert lived in a farming household of relative wealth. Robert’s father died when Robert was 32 and his mother Susan died around the same time.
Robert married Sarah before 1813 in Buckingham County, Virginia. Currently, I have very little information about Robert’s first wife Sarah. I do know that they had three children – two daughters Louisa J. Land born about 1815 and Susan C. Land born about 1816, and one son Robert W. Land born June 18, 1818.
Susan is my third great grandmother. She married James Henry Pattillo in December of 1845 and when she died during a smallpox epidemic James married her older sister Louisa in September of 1849, when he was 35.
|Historic photo of tobacco sales at the Chase City market.|
Robert was a tobacco farmer. From Land by the Roanoke
I found a Robert Land living in Princess County, Virginia on the 1810 census but since very little additional information is shown on that early document I am not certain it refers to my ancestor. The 1820 census is more clear. At that time the census listed Robert C. Land with the characteristic middle initial. Also, this Robert was living in Mecklenburg County, Virginia where other documents indicate he lived until his death in 1844. In 1820 Robert’s household include 13 individuals 6 of whom were slaves. The tick marks on the census jibe with the ages of his three children and his second wife Elizabeth.
Robert married Elizabeth Brame Hutcheson in Mecklenburg County on April 5, 1824. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Hutcheson and his wife Sarah. John Hutcheson was born and died in Mecklenburg County. John descends from William Hutcheson who was most likely English. He immigrated to the United States as a teen in 1618. Elizabeth was named after her paternal grandmother Elizabeth Brame. Elizabeth is my third great “step” grandmother, so while she may have a well-documented lineage she is not related by blood, so I will try to avoid being distracted by chasing her line.
Robert and Elizabeth had five children – three daughters and two sons. Sarah Ann Francis Land was born circa 1826, Helen M. Land circa 1827, and Amelia Land in 1829. I have the same birth date in 1883 for the two sons Alexander Wesley Land and John Braxton Land. This could mean they were twins or it could be an error. Interestingly, Helen married the brother of my great grandfather – Robert A. Pattillo, so between them James William and Robert Pattillo married three of Robert Land’s daughters.
My friend John Caknipe, a Mecklenburg historian found a deed dated June 24, 1821 in which Robert applied for a permit to use his home as an ordinary. In this document Robert had to swear that “he was a good man of moral standing, and not a drunkard nor gambler”. He probably also had to provide witnesses to attest to his upstanding character. A subsequent document dated a year latter granted him the permit. A Google search provides this description of what an ordinary was.
Among the most important businesses in early America was the ordinary, also called a tavern, a public house of entertainment, or an inn. Colonial travel whether by foot, horse, cart, wagon, or riding chair-proved difficult and tedious. An ordinary along the road or in a town offered a welcome sight. It provided rest and refreshment for the traveler but meant much more. For people who lived nearby, the ordinary became a place to gossip, exchange news, transact business such as selling land, hold auctions for livestock, pick up mail, and talk politics. It might even be a place to scheme about independence from England.
The note from Caknipe also said that Robert was the “Keeper of the public ferry in Clarksville". The town of Clarksville is across an arm of Kerr Lake. Today there is a bridge that connects the two sides. Before the bridge the ferry would have made the connection.
|This is a photo I took in Clarksville during|
my visit in 2014
During my first visit to Virginia in 2014 I found a set of records from a court case in the Mecklenburg Chancery Court titled Robert C. Land vs. William Burchette. The case was against William Burchette and Abraham Keene, merchants and partners in the firm Burchette & Keene. It seems the firm was insolvent and owed money to several men including Robert who was owed 15.78 pounds. Today’s equivalent is $2034.91. Robert went to court on the appointed day in 1822 and waited while a criminal case was presented before his. Finally near the end of the day he was advised that his case would not be called so Robert left the court and went home. Unfortunately, the court continued to meet and his case did come up at 8:00 PM – long after Robert had left. Since Robert was not there to present his case the court ruled against him and fined him the amount that Burchette owed Robert.
Robert then filed an appeal and asked to be relieved of the unjust debt. There are several documents in the file about this case that was on-going from 1820 to April 29, 1823 when it appears the case was dismissed without prejudice.
|1830 Census showing Robert C. Land second from the bottom. The numbers in each column indicate the number of|
persons in the household in that age / sex category
In 1830, when Robert 48, he and Elizabeth were living in Mecklenburg County. At that time in addition to his wife his son Robert W., two daughters from his marriage and his two daughters with Elizabeth were living in the household. There were also 4 male slaves and 8 female slaves indicated on the census. Robert and Elizabeth were still living in Mecklenburg County at the time of the 1840 census when they were living with two of their sons and five daughters.
Robert died sometime before April 19, 1847 which is when his estate was settled. His eldest son Robert W. Land served as the administrator of his estate. Robert W. prepared an inventory of his father’s estate that included 17 slaves valued at $4275 – the largest component of the estate. Each was named in the inventory by first name only. The value of everything Robert owned including his slaves came to $5073.
Other assets included 5 cows, 2 oxen, 11 hogs, 14 sheep, 4 horses and feed. He owned several sets of beds and furnishings, a bureau, a walnut desk, two folding tables, 13 chairs, a blue chest and trunk, a China press (china cabinet) and contents, and 3 looking glasses. An assortment of tools were listed including carpenter’s tools, shovels, tongs, irons, saddle irons, grub hoes, hill hoes, axes, wedges, sheep shears, saddles and saddle bags.
|This is a China Press and contents - one of the|
items listed on the inventory of Robert's
The probate packet also included a summary of Robert’s Current Accounts that detailed an itemized list of what he owed and what was owed to him. These records tell us that he dealt with two wagon companies – Branch & Brother and J. Davis Waggonage, he purchased his groceries in Petersburg, he bought hogsheads from Mr. Garner Boyd, paper from Mr. John F. Finch, shoes from Bob Thomas and other items from Green & Jackson and the Rogers Dupree Company. One of the most perplexing things he purchased was 75 cents worth of cow hair from Mr. G. Green. Robert owed small amounts of money to several individuals including E.M. Pattillo, and payments to the Sherriff of Mecklenburg, but it is not clear what these were for. E.M. Pattillo was Edward M. Pattillo – a brother of two of Robert’s sons-in-law.
|The barrel in this photo is a hogshead. These were used to|
store and transport commodeties
After his death Robert’s wife Elizabeth had a survey prepared of the 195 acres she then owned. She inherited one third of his 17 slaves and continued to manage the farm, probably with help from her sons. On the 1850 census her property was valued at $400 plus $50 worth of machinery and $185 of stock. The other slaves were divided equally among her children. Elizabeth died in 1855 – nine years after her husband. Their son Robert W. Land also administered his mother’s estate.
|Robert C. Land's signature|
Sources Include: 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses; the two books referenced in the text; Mecklenburg County court records; and the estate inventory.