While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Thomas W. Cutrer

ROBERTSON, JOSEPH WILLIAM (1809–1870). Joseph William Robertson, physician, public official, and Texas Ranger, was born in South Carolina on February 9, 1809, and attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He then practiced medicine for a year in Alabama, where he married Ann Philips; they had two children. He moved to Texas alone in 1836 and settled in Bastrop County before returning for his family the following year. He is said to have been the first physician in Bastrop County. From February 1 until May 10, 1838, he served in the Texas Rangers. In 1839–40 he represented Bastrop County in the House of Representatives of the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas. At the end of his term Robertson moved to Austin, where he established a medical practice and a pharmaceutical business on Congress Avenue. He supplied the Texan Santa Fe expedition with its medical supplies. His wife died in June 1841, followed shortly thereafter by her daughter. On September 7, 1842, Robertson married Lydia Lee, who was born in Cincinnati in 1820. She and her sister and two brothers had moved to Austin in 1840, and she is said to have provided inspiration for of one of Mirabeau B. Lamar's poems. She and Robertson had ten children. During the military build-up after the invasions of Rafael Vásquez and Adrián Woll in 1842, Robertson volunteered as a surgeon in Col. Henry Jones's regiment. He was elected the fifth mayor of Austin in 1843 and served for one year. On September 27, 1846, during the Mexican War, he was appointed acting assistant surgeon for Capt. John J. Grumbles's company of Maj. Thomas I. Smith's battalion, Texas Mounted Volunteers. In 1848 Robertson purchased the old French Legation building, the former home of Dubois de Saligny, and that area of Austin has since been known as Robertson Hill. Robertson died on August 15, 1870, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.


Kenneth Hafertepe, A History of the French Legation (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1989). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946). Joseph W. Robertson Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "ROBERTSON, JOSEPH WILLIAM," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fro30.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 25, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...