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With help from a cousin

He was for so long a name without a face.

Dying young — at only 41 years old — he left behind four children, the oldest of whom was not even 14 at the time.

And because of various moves and financial squeezes and more, there were no photographs for those children to show their children.

So Jasper Carlton Robertson was always the grandfather his grandchildren never knew.

Born 149 years ago today, on 18 April 1871, In Honey Grove, Texas, on the border of Lamar and Fannin Counties,1 Jasper — called “Jap” — was The Legal Genealogist‘s maternal great grandfather — my mother’s mother’s father.

He was the youngest of 11 children, and first appears in the records as a nine-year-old in his parents’ household in Delta County, Texas, in 1880.2

There are plenty of records for this great grandfather in the years that follow. He married my great grandmother Eula in Bexar County in 1896,3 served as a guard in the Texas state prison system in Colorado County,4 had a daughter — my grandmother Opal — and a son, Fred, in Texas, then moved his family to what was then Oklahoma Territory just after the turn of the century.5

Two more boys — Harvey and Ray — were born in Oklahoma before Jasper acquired land as a successful bidder in the opening of the Big Pasture in 1906.6 You can find them all there in Hollister, in the brand new state of Oklahoma, in 1910.7

And then he was gone. Taken by what his death certificate says was a liver abscess complicated by cholescistitis (gallbladder disease). Dead at 41 on 15 March 1912.8

We get a glimpse of the man himself from his flowery obituary in the Frederick, Oklahoma, Press:

Brother Robertson was a true man, in his business, in the church as well as in his home. He was loved by everybody and had no enemies. He was converted in a meeting held in Hollister about a year and a half ago and joined the Baptist Church. He lived a true and consistent Christian life, always being willing to make a sacrifice for the cause of the church beyond his means.

The church has lost a true Christian man, as well as a good teacher, His place will be vacant there as well as in his home where he was a true father. ….

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what he did here.9

But what we hadn’t glimpsed — what his grandchildren and great grandchildren had never seen — was what Jasper Carlton Robertson looked like.

Until the day a cousin offered a gift.

This gift.

Mary Ann Thurmond is the granddaughter of Mary Isabella (Robertson) Hendrix. Jasper’s older sister. She’s also the genealogist for her branch of the family. We first made contact many years ago and traded information which has greatly advanced both branches’ understanding of the family.

And Mary Ann is the keeper of the family photographs passed down in her branch. And because of what was written at the bottom of this image, she thought perhaps my branch of the family might want to see it. The inscription:

Putting a face to a name.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Putting a face to the name,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 18 Apr 2020).


  1. Oklahoma State Board of Health, death certificate 3065 (1912), Jasper C. Robertson; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City. And see interview with Opal Robertson Cottrell (Kents Store, VA), by Bobette Richardson, 1980s; copy of notes privately held by the author. Opal Cottrell was the grandmother of Bobette Richardson and the author.
  2. 1880 U.S. census, Delta County, Texas, Precinct 3, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 502(D) (stamped), dwelling 117, family 118, Jasper “Robetson”; digital image, ( : accessed 18 Apr 2020); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1300.
  3. Bexar County, Texas, marriage license no. 14298 and return, J C Robertson-Eula Beard (1896), County Clerk’s Office, San Antonio.
  4. 1900 U.S. census, Colorado County, Texas, Justice Precinct 8, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 26, p. 224(A) (stamped), dwelling 81, family 83, Jasper C Robinson, “Guard Convicts”; digital image, ( : accessed 18 Apr 2020); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1622.
  5. The move had to have occurred by 1903. A letter dated 1 October 1, 1903, from Jasper’s father to Jasper’s sister stated that “Jap’s post office is Perkins, OK Territory”. Letter, Gustavus B. Robertson to Mary Isabella Robertson Hendrix, 1 Oct 1903 (original in the possession of Mary Ann Hendrix Thurmond).
  6. Jasper C. Robertson (Tillman County, Oklahoma), cash sale entry, certificate no. 246, Lawton, Oklahoma, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; Record Group 49, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  7. 1910 U.S. census, Tillman County, Oklahoma, Stephens Township, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 256, p. 216(B)(stamped), dwelling 197, family 199, Jasper C Robertson household; digital image, ( : accessed 18 Apr 2020); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1275.
  8. Oklahoma State Board of Health, Certificate of Death No. 3065, Jasper C. Robertson, Tillman County, 15 Mar 1912; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City.
  9. “J.C. Robertson Passes Away,” Frederick (OK) Press, 22 Mar 1912.
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