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Sawnie Robertson (1850-1892)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1885-1886

Sawnie Robertson was born October 5, 1850 in Chambers County, Alabama. His family relocated to Texas the following year, living in Jefferson and Henderson before settling in Tyler. Sawnie's father, John C. Robertson, was an attorney, fought in the Civil War, and later served as a district judge.

When Oran Roberts opened a law school in Gilmer, approximately thirty-five miles from Tyler, in 1868, Sawnie Robertson was among his students. Roberts graduated from the law school in 1870 and was admitted to the bar in December of that year. Not yet twenty-one years of age, he established a law practice in Dallas.

Following the resignation of associate justice Charles S. West in September 1885, Sawnie Robertson, just thirty-five years of age, was appointed to fill his position. He resigned one year later and returned to private practice. He died in Dallas June 21, 1892 at the age of forty-two.

Robertson's wife, Tyler native Ellen Boren Robertson, is credited with the idea for naming the Texas bluebonnet the state flower of Texas. She reportedly convinced the Texas chapter of the Colonial Dames of America, to which she belonged, to petition the legislature to declare it so and asked Senator Barry Miller of Dallas to present the petition and introduce the resolution. The resolution was passed by both houses of the Twenty-Seventh Legislature in 1901.

Sources

Carroll, H. Bailey. Texas Collection, 48 Southwestern Historical Quarterly 94.

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 168 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Robertson, Sawnie, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/RR/fro33.html

Extended bibliography

Baker, DeWitt Clinton. A Texas Scrap Book Made up of the History, Biography and Miscellany of Texas and Its People 87 (Austin, Texas: Steck Co., 1935).

Bentley, H. L. The Texas Legal Directory 56 (Austin, Texas: Democratic Statesman Office, 1877).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 168 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lindsay, Philip. 1 A History of Greater Dallas and Vicinity 143, 208, 426, 475, 479 (Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1909).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 88 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Texas Bar Association. Proceedings of the Annal Session 53 (Austin, Texas: The Association, 1892).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 48, page 94
Volume 60, page 18