Commentary

Lawman-turned-outlaw came from fine family

MILAM HISTORY
Joy Graham

This is the first in a series on the saga of a lawman turned outlaw Ben Wheeler. T he fugitive known as Ben

Wheeler was born William

Sherod Robinson. He served as a lawman in Milam County in the 1870’s and gained the trust of people in this area while serving as deputy sheriff.

William’s parents, Lafayette and Mary Elizabeth Robinson, came from well-to-do parents. Their families descended from pioneer stock.

William, one of five children, was born in the 1850’s in Marshall Count y, Mississippi. His family moved to Texas when he was an infant.

By 1850 Lafayette Robinson was prosperous in Mississippi, owning owned land and 10 slaves. Looking for a new start, he left that area in 1852.

Heading west, he came to Milam County. The family first settled in the San Andres area between the San Gabriel River and Brushy Creek.

William and his siblings attended school in San Andres school.

Lafayette Robinson was a successful businessman, acquiring a small empire of land and cattle. He was well known in the area, moved into local politics and and was elected justice of the peace.

In 1862, William’s father was elected chief justice of Milam County. After his election, the family moved to Bryant Station about 10 miles from Cameron. .

Lafayette only served in this office a short time, before he resigned his position as chief justice and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives.

In the summer of 1860, Lafayette and Mary Robinson sold their San Andres farm and moved south near East Yegua Creek.

Before the Civil War the Lafayette Robinson family had been one of the wealthiest families in Milam County.

His wife, Mary Elizabeth died sometime between 1861 and 1865 leaving Lafayette to mourn her early death.

He too died early, at age 49 at his home in Milam County.

On his deathbed, Lafayette made a will and before he died named his oldest son Charles as executor of the estate.

The land was equally divided between the six children, presumably after they all reached the age of 21.

William, Penelope and brother Bud were left orphans. William is thought to have completed his schooling at about age 16.

He continued to live w ith his brother Charles in the San Andres Community working as a laborer to help manage their father’s estate. maryjoygraham99@yahoo.com


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2011-11-24 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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