1827 – 1881

by D. D. Segar

Joseph “Fighting Joe” Robinson
Photo Contributed by Virginia Lisa Wells, Great-Great Granddaughter

During the early days, the community of Comanche Peak Post Office (later to become Acton) was found to be the center of the largest established settlement in this area of the State, or was it the Republic? Among the citizens of Acton were found to be folk of various denominational beliefs. However, the majority were listed as Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist. After a time, these folk united their efforts and constructed a “Union” church building or Meeting House. In this building services were held each month by the various denominations taking turns in conducting the services.

Into this area, during the 1850’s, came a rugged pioneer Baptist preacher by the name of Joseph Robinson. Some materials give his name as “Robertson” and others as “Robinson.” The headstone that marks his grave spells the name “Robinson.” It is this spelling we use. There need be no fear of talking about two different men as the nickname “Fighting Joe” generally always precedes his name regardless of which way it is spelled.

Fighting Joe’s ministerial life was characterized by his unyielding and adamant pronouncements, “… the Baptist church was organized by Jesus on the banks of the Jordan River and was named after John the Baptist. John baptized Jesus in the Jordan, thus the New Testament church was a Baptist church. Since Jesus was a Baptist, he would not have organized any other church but a Baptist church. Jesus said, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ … thus, if Jesus spoke the truth, (who would dare say he didn’t) then his church is in the world today, has been since the first century and will be until He comes again. Anyone who does not believe this does not believe the Bible, all who are not members of a Baptist church are not members of any church at all.”

Needless to say, anyone preaching such a message in a “Union” church building, it is easy to understand how people would violently disagree and hang the nickname “Fighting Joe” on the messenger. But, other denominations were not all Fighting Joe vented his wrath against. He was a member of the Vigilants and active in fighting Indians, rustlers, all types of criminals, and evil in every form.

Someone has said that when Joe Robinson arrived for his preaching appointment, he would hitch his horse to a nearby tree, stand his rifle against the pulpit, and under the shade of a tree in the summer time, he would thunder out his wrath against the Devil, sin, criminals, and other denominations. On one such occasion, he was interrupted by a group of men on horseback who rode up to announce “some Indians have just driven off a bunch of horses from a farm on Fall Creek.” Joe dismissed the service, grabbed his gun and joined the men on horseback, as they took off after the horse thieves.

The following month, when Joe came to keep his preaching appointment, he was interrogated about the thieves who had driven off the horses the month before. The reply he gave was to the effect, the thieves were apprehended, the horses recovered and returned, and the thieves were dealt with in such a way they will never again drive off another man’s horse.

Joseph Robinson was born March 8, 1827 and died January 1, 1881. He led in the organization of the Acton Baptist Church August 25, 1855, and served as its first pastor. His grave is to be found in the east part, of the old section, of the Acton Cemetery near where he used to preach. On the west side of a large cedar tree, just under the outer edge of the branches is a footstone marking the grave, placed there by the Acton Baptist Church a few years ago. On this stone, more legible information concerning this man can be found than that given by the old headstone which, although legible, is more difficult to read, due to the elements of time. One cannot help but notice that the two stones that mark this grave are not in line with other stones in the vicinity of this grave. These two stones are at about “two o’clock” as compared to others. One might wonder if this, in any way, symbolizes the life of the one whose grave they mark.

Hood County was created in 1866. Among the first members of the commissioners court was Fighting Joe Robinson. It is said that he ran unsuccessfully for election to the State legislature for more than 20 years. He was always defeated because he ran on a platform to do away with most of the State laws, condense those that were not done away with, and put all the laws in a language everyone could read and understand.

Paluxy Baptist Association Centennial Story
1880 – 1980