Much of the information I have on the Dobbins family comes from descendant Bobby Dobbins Title. In fact, she has written a wonderful essay about the history of the Dobbins family entitled Four Generations of Dobbinses.
Robert B. Dobbins was born in Virginia on August 23, 1773, to Elizabeth Stephenson and James Dobbins, who would be a foot soldier during the Revolutionary War. In 1775 Elizabeth and James had a second son, John. About 1780 the family moved to South Carolina where five more children were born: Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Jean, and James Jr.
Family history states that Robert B. Dobbins attended college at Princeton, although no records have been found to corroborate this story. Upon graduation, Robert returned to South Carolina where he became a Presbyterian Minister in the 2nd Presbytery. On April 4, 1804, Robert “requested and received dismission (release) from the South Carolina 2nd Presbytery to join the Washington Presbytery of Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.”
September 25, 1804, he married Catherine “Katy” Alexander and moved to a farm two miles from Felicity, Clairmont (Clermont) County, Ohio along the banks of Bullskin Creek. According to the family bible, Katy and Robert would have 7 children over the next 16 years.
- James Alexander was born in 1805.
- Eliza was born in 1807.
- Mary “Polly” was born in 1809.
- John Calvin was born in 1811.
- Robert Newton was born in 1814.
- Amanda Jane was born in 1818.
- William Stevenson was born in 1821.
Reverand Robert B. Dobbins performed the marriage ceremony for James Alexander Dobbins and Elizabeth Perkins on December 14, 1826, in Clermont County, Ohio. Over the next several years, Robert performed the marriage ceremonies for his other children as well.
In 1834, while preaching the gospel along the countryside, Robert purchased some land in Fulton County, Illinois. He offered his married children 80 acres each if they would move to Fulton County as well. By 1836 the Dobbins family settled on their own land in Illinois. That summer “Reverand Robert B. Dobbins was appointed to organize a Church at Bennington, IL [later renamed Ipava.].”
An account of the Dobbins family while they lived in Fulton County, Illinois comes from a neighboring county, “History of McDonough County”.
“A little son of Mr. Dobbins, about eight or nine years old, near Ipava, Fulton County, while a number of Negroes were hid in his father’s barn, was sent regularly to carry them their food. On one occasion his mother had prepared the Negroes’ dinner, and placing it upon a tray, started her little boy with it to the barn. As he opened the door on the porch he observed three or four neighboring women. To either go forward or return would excite their suspicions, and quick as thought he began whistling for the dogs. The mother hearing him, and divining his reason, called out to him, “Don’t throw that out to the dogs. Bring it back here; that’s good.” The boy quickly returned, and the unwelcome visitors never suspected anything wrong.”