1791–1803 Notebook kept by frontiersman David Robinson in the Northwest Territory and Western Virginia; with later family additions.
“As I slept on my bed in the Night Dreamt that I died a natural Death and was Buried…”
Frontiersman David Campbell Robinson’s notebook, spanning 1791-1803, documents land ownership and transactions in Western Virginia, religious observations, and an extraordinarily vivid recounting of a dream Robinson had of his own death. In all, there are 40 pages in manuscript, the remaining leaves are blank.
Of these pages, 22 were used by Robinson, including his remarkable, 4½ page “Memorandum of a Dream June 26th 1803.” This remarkable essay sheds light on his struggles with faith and his religious beliefs concerning salvation. Just over a month later, on August 1, 1803 Robinson wrote out a 17¼ page Biblical proof of redemption. The proof transitions deftly to a series of doctrinal questions, questions that Robinson both poses and answers. This may have been his response to the revelation received in his dream as transcribed above: “the Scriptures were God’s own word and not to Doubt any part of them.”
Additionally, there are 18 pages of genealogical notes, some in Robinson’s hand, and some added by family members up until the 1850s. A cursory review suggests that there is substantial information here that is yet unknown by present-day genealogists and researchers.
Born, by one account, in Saint Peters Parish, Talbot County, Maryland, David Campbell Robinson (July 16, 1733 – March 18, 1806) was an explorer, surveyor, land agent, and Freemason. He lived for a number of years in Gallipolis [Ohio] in the Northwest Territories.¹ In 1805, David Robinson wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson, providing an account of his personal explorations of the Missouri River, the Louisiana Territory, and sharing autobiographical information. (Founders Online) He died in Kentucky. Robinson’s son, John Hamilton Robinson (1782-1819), would become a spy, map publisher, doctor, and explorer explorer with Zebulon M. Pike.³
Description: 1791–1803 Notebook kept by frontiersman David Robinson in the Northwest Territory and Western Virginia; with later family additions.
[Gallipolis, [Ohio] Northwest Territory and Peter’s Creek, Elk River, Coal River, Kanawah [Kanawha], Virginia (now West Virginia), 1791–1803, 1804–1864]. Approx. [40pp], leaves excised Bound in vellum, 6¾ x 4½ inches. Housed in a custom archival box.
Ref. 1. The journal bears this ownership inscription: “David Robinson Bought this Book at Mr Armound’s Vendue in Gallipolis Decr. 7th 1791 Price 2 York Currency or 18 pence Virginia.” Gallipolis had just been settled in 1790 by recently arrived French settlers escaping the turmoil of the French Revolution. The book was possibly purchased from the estate of Benjamin Armand—an early settler there—and may have been bound in France and brought to America by the Frenchman to be sold or traded for necessities. 2. Portions of this genealogical data taken directly from this manuscript. 3. See Crease, Craig. “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: Dr. John Hamilton Robinson—Secret Agent, Filibuster, Mexican Revolutionary, and Pathfinder on the Santa Fe Trail.” [within:] Wagon Tracks. November 2007. Volume 22, Number 1. pp8–19. David Robinson wrote to Thomas Jefferson, in part: “They all have the advantage of knowing the French Tongue from my Living at Gallipolis Some years.” (Founders Online)