Thursday, January 22, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2 Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847

Dear Grandparents,
I'm currently re-reading James Michner's Texas. I was living in San Pedro, California when I first read Texas and never dreamed that I would some day live in Texas. Michner was famous for his meticulously researched sweeping historical epics that focused on specific areas. His books make reading area histories more enjoyable. Reading the chapters about the war between the United States and Mexico reminded me of my grandchildren's ancestor Robert Milner Echols who took part in that war.

Though many of General Echols' descendants have ended up in Texas, he was a Georgian, born 18 March 1798, about 4 miles outside of the town of Washington, Wilkes County. His parents, Milner and Susan (Sansom) Echols, were Virginians who migrated to Wilkes County about 1782. The family moved on to Walton County shortly after Robert's birth.  He married Mary "Polly" Melton, daughter of Jonathan and Tabitha (Stroud) Melton of neighboring Clarke County 8 February 1816.
Walton County, Georgia is shown in red  on this map from

Robert's long career of service to the state of Georgia began with his election as 2nd sergeant in Captain Abner Bradley's Company of the Clarke County Militia. He went on to serve over 20 years in the General Assembly of Georgia, first in the House 1824 -1829 and then in the Senate 1830-1844 where he spent several terms as President. He sought to take his experience to Washington, D. C. but was defeated by General Howell Cobb by the slim margin of two votes.

Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847
This would not be his last opportunity to serve. When the United States went to war against Mexico in 1846, Echols, a Brigadier in the Georgia Militia was asked to recruit a regiment. He was appointed Colonel in the 13th United States Regiment. After participating in the Battle of Vera Cruz, Robert was thrown from his horse during the victory parade at the National Bridge. He died of his injuries the next day, December 5, 1847.
"Battle between the Mexican and the allied invaders, at the National Bridge, near Vera Cruz
from an illustration in Harper's Weekly 22 February 1863
in the Library of Congress Digital Collection

Robert's  association with Georgia does not end at National Bridge. Though, he is initially interred there, the Georgia State Legislature passed a bill to have his body exhumed and transported home for reburial in Walton County. They followed his reburial with the creation of a new county along the Georgia - Florida border, taking parts of Clinch and Lowndes counties and naming it Echols County.

Robert and wife Polly Melton Echols were the parents of 12 children, all but one of whom lived to adulthood. Robert is my son-in-law's maternal 4th great grandfather.


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