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Milam County, Texas

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Cameron Herald, Thurs. 13 Aug 1925, p.2, c. 1-3

"Rich History Disclosed in Visit to Old Home Near Rice School House in Milam"

By Mrs. Jeff T. Kemp

Often interesting local history may be gleaned from a visit to the homes of old citizens. In quest of tales of the long ago, a visit was recently made to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Wesley Robison who have lived near Rice School House since 1868. They live in the primitive home bought from Mrs. Wm. Rice, for whose family the community was named. The geographical center of Milam county was established in

Mr. Robison's field in the seventies by George Wresley, a pioneer surveyor who was employed to locate the center of the county during a bitter fight for the location of the court house between Cameron and Rockdale, and Mr. Robison was present when

Mr. Wresley planted his Jacob's Staff upon the exact spot which was marked as the center of Milam County.

Near by Mr. Robison's home a rare old oak tree stands, under which Mr. and Mrs. Robison were told by Mrs. Wm. Rice that the first Cumberland Presbyterian sermon was preached in Milam county by Rev. Killough in 1852. This pioneer preacher was the great uncle of Mr. Robert S. Wiley.

A church at Rice was organized at an early date and Mr. and Mrs. Robison recall that a Presbytery was held under a brush arbor at Rice in 1869 shortly after they moved there. Twelve members received the sacrament. The old school house that was built long before the Civil War was the regular meeting place for this congregation.

Mr. and Mrs. Robison are elderly people. He is eighty six and his wife is eighty years of age. They have ceased hard labor which was the lot of each in younger days and are enjoying the twilight of life in ease and leisure, surrounded by many evidences of material comfort with which they express great content. Mrs. Robison displayed a hand woven counterpane of the famous Honey Comb pattern made in 1860. Their door stone is an old mill stone that was part of a mill once operated by Mr. Robison. He told of a pair of cotton scales that he received as a ginning fee from John Story that had been recently tested and found true. Mr. Robison has for sixty years been a Mason. He is now the oldest member of the Cameron Lodge but he is too feeble to attend the Lodge sessions. Mrs. Robison brought out the family Bible which she said was bought from Dr. T. A. Pope and the following facts were found recorded there or told with motherly pride of her widely scattered family of seven children and ten great grandchildren.

Francis Monroe Robison born in Alabama, January 10, 1867. He married in Oct. 1888, Miss Eva Ford. Their children are Wallace Clarence, Minnie and Feroh. They live four miles from Wheeler in Wheeler county.

Daniel Robison born in Milam county, Feb. 2, 1869, he married Miss Maud Alley. They have seven children all girls, Ester, Allie, Lois, Erma, Vivian, Jewel and Imogene. They live near Hedley in Donley county.

Oyd Leander Robison, born Oct. 15, 1891. He married Miss Alpharette Smithwick. They have had four children but only a daughter survives, Bennie Bell. They live in Los Angeles, California.

Dorsey Lee Kennard Robison born June 10, 1876. He married Miss Effie Allen. They have lost three children but have four living, Willie, Haley, Jimmie D. and Morris Sheppard. They live in Mansfield, Arkansas.

Hariet Ann Robison, the old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Robison was born Oct 10, 1879. She married J. H. Colley. They live in Austin.

Perry B. Robison was born March 10, 1883. He married Miss Bell Williams. They had two children, Bennie and Alice. They live in Memphis, Texas.

Salvin Parnell Robinson, born Feb. 8, 1889. He married Miss Mittie Lowery. They have seven children, Alta Vernon, Nell, twin boys, Rex and Ray, Sybil, Dorothy Dell, Tessie Sue.

When asked for a biographical sketch Mr. Robison was able to trace a long way back-He knows that he is directly descended from an Irish great grand father, Ben Robison, who ran away from Ireland and landed in Charlston, South Carolina where he lived for some years. His son, Nipper Adams Robison married Permelia Burns and lived in Georgia. Their son and the subject of the sketch Mr. Benjamine Wesley Robison was born in Chambers county, Ala. March 18, 1839.

At Elba in Coffey county, Ala., on April 5, 1866, Mr. Robison was married to Miss Nancy Ann Prescott, born March 13, 1846, who was the daughter of Daniel Prescott and his wife Harriet Richbourg Prescott who moved from South Carolina to Alabama in early days.

The ceremony was performed by a Methodist minister, both bride and groom having been brought up in that faith. At the time of his marriage Mr. Robison was a fine specimen of young manhood. He had been during the Confederacy one of Forest's Riders. A member of the 53rd Alabama Cavalry who served under General Nathan Bedford Forrest until discharged at Augusta Ga., on May 4, 1865. Mr. Robison was once wounded but never captured.

Shortly after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Robison decided to try their fortunes in Texas. They came on the train and by boat to Shreveport, La., and there they hired wagon and team and driver who landed them safely on the farm of Mr. Crow on the Trinity River in Kaufman county in the fall of 1867. After making a crop there Mr. Robison sold his watch to pay his doctor bill and for a wagon. Driving a pair of oxen name Duke and Charlie he came with his wife and child to Milam County. His yoke of oxen were trained to gee and haw like horses. Mr. and Mrs. Robison first lived in a small log house that had a stick and dirt chimney.

By thrift the Rice homestead was later bought.

The names of some of the old citizens who were living at Rice when Mr. Robison came there in 1868 or moved there shortly there after are John Story, Milas Story, J.D. Shelton, Malcolm Rennick, Ike Whitely, Lewis Moore, Crawford Brown, the Quillins family, Richard Pratt, Alex Cochran, Bell Smith, Coley Turnham, Capt. Wm. Sewell and others.

When asked about school matters in Rice community Mr. and Mrs. Robison very readily recalled the following facts:

In 1868 Capt. Wm. Sewell had charge of the school when they moved there. He was an excellent gentleman. Rev. George Morrison a Presbyterian preacher, great uncle of Attorney W. A. Morrison of Cameron and now head of the Milam county school board was an excellent teacher of Rice School for several years. Mr. Dukes preached and kept the school for some time. Mesdames S. M. Burns, Sr., Mrs. Edna V. Trigg, Mrs. Olive Todd Walker, Miss Nora Duncum, Miss Annie Thach, Mrs. Tom Evard were recalled as splendid lady teachers in Rice community.

The names of Messrs. Cleveland and A. P May, whose daughter married the present Railroad Commissioner C. V. Terrell taught at Rice in the long ago.

Mr. Robert Wiley, once a well known Rice teacher, met a tragic death en route on horseback from Cameron to Rice when he was drowned near McCown's bridge on Little River during an overflow.

W. C. Taber a Confederate soldier and a teacher of the old regime whose son A. W. Taber has recently been honored by being made the Superintendent of the State Confederate Home, the first son of a Confederate to have that distinction, taught at the Rice School House for several years.

Dr. J. L. Crane, uncle of Will Crane of Cameron lived near and taught at Rice for some time. Henry Cone, G. W. Morgan and I. F. Walker were recalled.

The names of the school trustees for the long period during which the Robisons have lived near Rice would embrace the names of mostly all the very best citizens and those who have ever had the community welfare at heart.

In 1876 the present church long used for a school house was built. It is a white frame building about 26 feet wide by 36 feet long seated with home made benches. An organ for church music occupies an honored place.

Although the school has been moved to more commodious quarters the time honored building is still used as a place of worship and a revival meeting led by Rev. Will Majors and Evangelist E. L. Springer, was carried on with gratifying results last week.

Some of the preachers of differing denominations who have preached in the church are Rev. James Peeler, Dr. J. C. Womack, Rev. Walker Morris, Rev. F. A. McShan, Rev. Lantrip of the Methodist. Rev. George Morrison, Rev. W. E. Copeland, Rev. H. R. McFadyen, Rev. Speegle of the Presbyterian. Rev. John A. Lincoln of the Christian church. Rev. J. D. Shelton and McGee of the Baptist.

Mr. and Mrs. Robison could recall many other names had they considered the mater for some time.

Five years ago a new consolidated school was opened in a well equipped building.

Mr. Frank Clement, for many years Superintendent of Milam county schools, taught in the Hoyte District School into which Rice School District No. 34 had been merged in the consolidation for better school facilities. Mrs. B. Miller was the assistant teacher this year.

Each year in the Rice Community a cemetery working is held. Neighbors meet at the church and spend one day in beautifying the community Cemetery which is located on ground given by Mr. Robison. A barbecue dinner is usually served.

Much petrified wood is found on the cemetery lot and many rude gravestone are fashioned from it.

Mrs. Robison said that the first grave in Rice Cemetery was made for a Civil War refugee who died of fever in the early sixties.

She said the oldest headstone was that erected over Mrs. Scarbrough which bears this epitaph: W. E. Scarbrough, Born Oct 26, 1799, Died Aug. 3, 1872.

The Rice graves seen in the Cemetery bear these legends: Wm. M. Rice, Dec. 11, 1824, June 22, 1864. Sarah Rice 1788 to 1868.

A gravestone marking the oldest citizen reads thus: Our mother Elizabeth Foster, Born Oct. 13, 1817, Died Jan. 27, 1917, Aged 99 years.

Good roads have not yet been built to Rice School House but lateral roads connecting with the Ben Milam Highway on which their school is now located may be built without a great increase of the tax rate.

We must say a special thank you to Marie Hubert of Milano, Texas, for typing the above for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.

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