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1 B 1.275,628
HISTORI ^ si ^H
—A SOI - - —
GENERAL LIBRA RY of the
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
, >. v3 ...
I 1 .
A HISTORICAL SKETCH
OF THE LINE OF
A Soldier of the Rettolution.
Born at Lexington, Mass., Feb., 14th, 1765.
Died at South Reading, Vt., Oct. 31, 1857.
JANE BANCROFT ROBINSON, Ph. D.
Member oj American Historical Society.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Sketch of the life of Ebenezer Robinson — Witnessed the British
retreat from Lexington — Entered the Naval Privateer Ser-
vice — Taken prisoner — Long imprisonment in "Old Prison
Ship Jersey" — Exchange — Enlistment in the Continental
Army — His service — His discharge after two years' service —
Settlement in Vermont — His long, useful life and citizen-
ship — His death — His children 5-16
William Robinson, of Newton, or of Watertown — Earliest
known Robinson ancestor — Organizations of towns of Water-
town, Cambridge and Newton — His probable emigration
from the north of England — Married, about 1665-68, Eliza-
beth Cutter, daughter of Robert Williams, the ancestor of
the founder of Williams College — His death and will 17-23
The children of William Robinson — William Robinson, Jr., who
owned a large farm where Auburndale is now located — Map
of part of Newton of 1700 — Samuel Robinson, Ancestor of
Bennington, Vt., branch of Robinsons 24-30
Jonathan Robinson, ancestor of the Reading, Vt., branch of
Robinsons — Purchased the Robinson farm in Lexington,
Oct. 11, 1706, still held in the family of his descendants —
Reminiscences of the old farm house — View of the site of its
ruins — Descendants of Jonathan Robinson — Sketch of the late
Governor Geo. D. Robinson, a descendant — Children of
James and Margaret Robinscn — Four sons in the Revolu-
tionary War, Joseph, Asa, James and Ebenezer — Family of
James Robinson, Jr 31-41
vi TABLE OF CONTENTS— Continued.
Sketch of life of Lewis Robinson, eldest son of Ebenezer — An
extensive publisher of copper plate maps — Successful business
career — Picture of his Vermont home — Sketch of lives of
children — Caroline and Alden Speare — Of Calvin L., of Eliza
Ann, of George O., and other children 42-53
Sketch of life of Marvin Robinson — Man of great energy and
strength — His career — Of his children, Franklin M., Wa'.lace
R, and Elmer D. — Successful, capable business men and good
citizens — Other children 54-58
Sketch of Ebenezer Robinson, Jr. — Of his sons, Stillman W., a
professor and inventor, Elna A. and Albert A., who built,
as chief engineer, nearly the whole Santa Fe Railroad Sys-
tem, President of Mexican Central Railway — Also sketch of
Eliza, the youngest daughter of Ebenezer Robinson, who
married Washington Keyes — Sketch of their descendants.... 59-63
Origin of the Robinson name — Study of genealogy — Surnames —
Derivations from name — Robinson mottoes — Conclusion.... 64-68
It is with some degree of pleasure and satisfaction that
the undersigned present this "Historical Sketch of the Rob-
inson Family" to the descendants of Ebenezer Robinson,
whose life is herein described.
While on a visit to Boston last August, we had the
pleasure of attending the biennial meeting of the "Robinson
Family Association" at Gloucester, Mass., of visiting the
birthplace of Ebenezer Robinson at historic Lexington, and
of viewing the lane where young Robinson, hearing the
noise of the battle, ran down and witnessed the retreat of
the British troops along the turn-pike to Boston.
It was an eventful summer day to us when with our
kodaks, we inspected the patriotic scenes about Lexington,
and the interest awakened there and at the "Robinson Fam-
ily" gathering at Gloucester is the responsible cause of this
If the descendants of Ebenezer Robinson take anything
like the pleasure in reading and tracing this family history
that has been enjoyed in its preparation, we shall be amply
repaid for the time and effort expended.
In preparing this sketch there were many facts as to per-
sons and families much to be desired, which we were unable
or found difficult to obtain. This will account for any lack
of uniformity in the facts given of the several families. We
regret that we were not able to obtain pictures of the home
of Ebenezer Robinson in South Reading and of other home-
steads of Robinson families.
We are indebted to Mr. Charles E. Robinson, of Yon-
kers, N. Y., the Historiographer of the "Robinson Family
Association" for the "Robinson Family Crest," as given
herein, and for many facts and suggestions relative to
this history; also to Rev. S. L. B. Speare, of Newton,
Mass. ; to Mr. George A. Gordon, of Boston, Recording
Secretary of the New England Historic Genealogical Soci-
ety; to Mr. Arthur H. Keyes, of Rutland, Vt., and several
other members of the Robinson Family for valuable infor-
mation contained herein.
With the best wishes of the undersigned, this historical
sketch is respectfully submitted to the numerous descend-
ants of our Revolutionary Hero.
George O. Robinson,
Jane B. Robinson.
425 Cass Avenue,
Detroit, Mich., June 1, 1903.
Note. — Any person desiring one or more copies of this Historical Sketch of the
Robinson Family, can obtain such by addressing Miss Bertha M. Gates, 21 Adams Ave.
East. Detroit, Mich., and remitting 50 cents for each copy in paper cover and $1.00
for each copy in cloth board cover.
The State of Massachusetts has furnished many "good
men and true" to the upbuilding of the great Republic of the
New World. Among these are statesmen and leaders far out
of proportion to her population. The subject of this sketch,
however, is one of the rank and file, one of the many up-
right, substantial men, who have made New England what
it is in influence and in history.
New England has developed through its religion. Love
of church privileges led the people to settle near one another,
so that they could build meeting houses. They desired to
educate their children to become not only good citizens but
intelligent, exemplary citizens, and so they built school-
houses. These conveniences gave rise to their town organ-
izations, and to the town-meeting which did more to improve
and elevate the people than any other political institution.
The town-meeting assembled all the freemen on a level,
public questions were openly discussed, and every freeman
understood his civil and political rights, and to maintain
them was ready to fight. Hence the citizens of New England
kept up a military organization, selecting their wisest and
most reliable men as officers, and often the same man held
the office of both captain and deacon. The religious idea
was the foundation stone of their civilization.
We may call the Puritans of New England stern and
austere, but their conceptions of life tended to elevate and
ennoble. Their climate was cold and rigorous; their land
infertile; their privations many. They were trained in the
school of adversity. Yet it remains true as has been said:
"In wealth, in learning, in social order, in everything which
make a people truly great, the Colonies settled by the Puri-
tans are decidedly in advance of any others. "
6 HISTORICAL SKETCH
It was to such an environment that Ebenezer Robinson
was born Feb. 14, 1765. His father, grandfather and great-
grandfather had all lived their lives in similar surroundings.
His mother died when he was a little boy of nearly three
years, and his father when he was nine years of age. He con-
tinued to live on in the old homestead, with his step-mother
and four younger children to play with, and to care for.
Meanwhile the clouds on the political sky were gathering,
and the young men of the family shared in the indignant,
resentful feeling of the colonists. Three of his older broth-
ers were Revolutionary soldiers, and his oldest brother, Jo-
seph, took part in the battle of Lexington, the first outbreak
of the war of the Revolution.
In view of these facts it is not strange that as a boy of
sixteen, Ebenezer entered the service, becoming one of the
defenders of his country. We have the story of his life
from his own lips, as told to his grandson, George O. Robin-
son, who had completed his college course at the University
of Vermont and was over twenty-five years of age when his
"One of the most remarkable of the early settlers of
Reading, Vt., was Ebenezer Robinson, a soldier of the Rev-
olutionary war, who was born on the 14th day of February,
1765, in Lexington, Mass., near the place where afterwards
occurred the battle of Lexington. He was the sixth son
of James and Margaret Robinson; who lived at this time
on the old homestead farm, which Jonathan Robinson, the
father of James, purchased of Isaac Powers in 1706, and
on which James was born August 30th, 171 5.
Ebenezer Robinson settled in South Reading, Vt., in the
Spring of 1788, with his elder brother, James Robinson,
who was then married. They located on the farm near South
Reading recently owned and for a long time held by Wash-
ington Keyes, which was then a wilderness. They built here
a log cabin, and, immediately after, was born a son of James
Robinson, Ebenezer Robinson, 26. (named after the subject
*This narrative was prepared for and mainly taken from the "Hist, of Read-
ing, Vt, G. A. Davis, Bellows Falls, Vt., 1874."
of this sketch), who subsequently was a resident of Felch-
ville, a village which sprung up in the southeast part of
Reading. He was familiarly known as Capt. Eb. In this
log house the two brothers lived for several years, Ebenezer
clearing and settling his farm adjoining, afterward so long
owned and occupied by himself, till the summer of 1792,
when he built a frame house, which is still standing as the
wing or kitchen part of the present house, and to which in
November, 1792, having married Miss Hannah Ackley, he
took his bride and established his own happy home. Pre-
vious to this, the Ackley family had migrated from the vi-
cinity of Haddam, Connecticut, and settled above South
Reading. In this frame house this devoted couple reared
a large, intelligent, prosperous family and spent a happy
life of sixty-six years together. In 1824 he built on a large
two-story frame mansion as an addition in front, which in
those times was considered an unusually fine residence, and
still stands as a respectable edifice.
The hardships of clearing this hardwood wilderness farm
were great, but he was always undaunted, and nothing baf-
fled him. During this early period he successfully dealt in
the real estate of this vicinity and secured many permanent
settlers for the town.
In his ninety-first year, while he was in the full vigor of
intellect, he gave his grandson, Frank M. Robinson, of
Dubuque, Iowa, the following account of his early life,
which was taken down in his own words :
'I was born in Lexington, Mass., on the 14th day of Feb-
ruary, 1765. I was, therefore, only a lad of about ten years
when the great struggle which gave freedom to the Ameri-
can people began, when injured rights were to be vindi-
cated, when I heard the report of musketry, in the opening
scene of this conflict for freedom of conscience and freedom
of country, in the streets and upon the Green of my own
Well do I remember the roll of the musketry and the noise
of this battle of Lexington, and the excitement consequent
upon the retreat of the British soldiers down the valley
8 HISTORICAL SKETCH
past my home to Boston, and of the subsequent severer con-r
flict at Bunker's Hill, but a few miles distant.
Thus early in life did I begin to cherish a warm love of
country, amounting even to patriotism, and to be moved
by a true sense of the dangers that seemed to threaten, not
only the peace and quietude of the family and town, but
the ruin of the whole colonial fabric.
The engagements at Lexington, at Concord and upon
Bunker's Height warmed my bosom with more than a child-
ish ardor to join the contest against British insolence and
what savored of perpetual thralldom. Early in the spring
of 1 78 1 I entered the service, accompanied by my brothers,
Asa and James Robinson, on board the ship Belisarius,
carrying 20 guns. The number on board, including officers,
sailors, and soldiers, was 125. We set sail from Boston
under the command of Capt. James Munroe.
We cruised off south, along the coast of Pennsylvania,
and about the mouth of the Susquehanna River, thence still
southerly till we were in the region of the Equator, where
one day we discovered at early dawn what appeared in the
dim distance to be a ship. We gave chase, and after the
lapse of many hours so neared the stranger that we were
within cannon range of her.
It was a much larger ship than our own and carried
many more guns. We supposed her a heavy man-of-war of
the British line, and began to prepare our noble vessel for
an engagement. As is the custom in such instances, or in
naval contests, all the sails were furled, except the top-sails
and some of the stay-sails, which were just sufficient to
govern the ship and change her position when necessary.
Our cannon were charged and our torches burning, and we
waited for a change of position before we should salute her
with a broadside.
Meanwhile our enemy had eased her flight, furled sail,
cleared deck, prepared for fight, and was the first to dis-
charge her cannon. This assault was unexpected by us, as
it was not attended by the usual formalities of naval warfare
on the part of the stranger. In view of this cowardly act
ROBINSON FAMILY. 9
our commander at once ordered us to draw alongside the
unknown ship, to grapple and board her as quickly as pos-
sible, but no sooner was this movement commenced than, to
our surprise, not to say our chagrin, the vessel, which we
had regarded all along as an English man-of-war, hoisted
Spanish colors, and thereby took away all pretext of war-
fare, except the ill-treatment we had received. Capt. Mun-
roe was at first inclined to resent this indignity, this violation
of the usages of allied nations in their intercourse on the
high seas in time of war. He however, gave vent to his
irritation and anger by adressing the Spanish commander in
the most pre-emptory and decisive manner and terms, in
relation to his cowardly, dastardly conduct.
The Spanish Captain very coolly submitted, and offered
to accompany us and do us service when he could. The
reply of Capt. Munroe was in these laconic words : "Go
your way. I prefer rather to be alone than attended by
such a d d coward as you have shown yourself," and
so we separated.
From the equatorial regions, after capturing one or two
smaller prizes, we cruised northward off the West India
Islands. We shifted about here for several days, until early
one morning we discovered a fleet composed of several ships,
yet at the distance they were from us, we could not discern
their number. They were steering directly toward us and
bore every evidence, as they afterwards proved to be, of
being a fleet of the British line. We endeavored to make
our escape by flight. They gave us chase and followed in hot
pursuit until past midday. During their pursuit, when
they had gained upon us so much as to be within cannon
range, they gave us occasional shots from the bow or gun-
wale of the ship, though without much injury to our ship
or crew. One of these shots, however, took off both legs,
close to the body, of a man who stood next to me, on my
left hand, and at the same instant a splinter from the side
of the vessel struck my foot and benumbed my whole leg,
from which I suffered much. The fleet neared us, and it
being satisfactorily determined that it was a British fleet of
10 HISTORICAL SKETCH
fourteen ships, five of which were larger than our own, and
all hope of escape being abandoned, we concluded to sur-
render. We were divided among the ships of the enemy,
being about twenty persons to each. We were well treated
while in this situation. The fleet directed its course to New
York City, where we were all put on board the 'Old Jersey/
the notorious British prison ship, then lying up East River,
above the City, and entirely without rigging.
We had been cruising about three months when we were
captured. Our sufferings while confined in this old hull of a
ship were unaccountably severe, and many of our number
perished on account of the stench, the damp, deathly atmos-
phere in which we were confined and the miserable food
which was furnished us to support life.
It may not be uninteresting to know of what our fare
consisted and what humanity is capable of enduring, when
controlled by the force of necessity. The account is brief,
but heart-sickening. Bread was a constant part of our ration
and the chief source of our nutriment. It came to our
hands in any but a palatable condition. The loaves were
badly eaten by insects and then abandoned by them, or
well inhabited by vermin on their reception by us. What
was not in this condition was very full, I had almost said
literally alive, with insects, insomuch that it was impossible
for us to get them all out, and we were obliged to devour
these animated communities, these bee-hives of activity,
or to be reduced to the utmost wretchedness and starvation.
Besides our bread, we had pease twice a week. When the
day came in which we were to have boiled pease, the stew-
ard would put about two bushels into a large kettle with a
quantity of water and boil them. I have stood by the side
of this kettle while its contents were becoming heated, and
have seen yellow worms rise to the surface in large quanti-
ties, and as the water became heated, they would gather in
large clusters, affording the only seasoning or condiment
to our repast.
During the latter part of the time of my imprisonment,
I had the smallpox, but began to recover before arrange-
ROBINSON FAMILY. 11
ments were made for our exchange. I was a prisoner
aboard the 'Old Jersey' about six months. We were ex-
changed, conveyed, and set off, some time in December,
on the coast of Rhode Island. I remember this fact in rela-
tion to time from this circumstance, that it was Thanks-
giving time, and the first of sleighing. I was not well when
I was set off, not having entirely recovered from the small-
pox. I could not walk more than five or six miles per
diem. Occasionally I had an opportunity to ride a few
When coming through the streets of Providence on a
cold, stormy day, with nothing to protect my feet from the
snow, ice and water which then filled them, but some old
scuffs, that were not worthy the name of shoes, a gentleman,
observing my condition, hailed me and inquired the cause
of my destitution, whence I came and whither I was going.
I told him briefly what circumstances had brought me to
this condition. He assured me that my shoes were good for
nothing, and directed me to go into a small grocery of
huckster shop near by, and remain there until he should
return with some shoes for me. I entered as he directed,
and there found six or eight young men lounging or appa-
rently without any business. They gazed upon me some-
what intently, noticed my ragged and tattered garments,
and soon began to manifest no little interest to know what
had subjected me to so forlorn and destitute a condition.
To them also I narrated some of the leading incidents of
my life. Excited by pity at seeing me so ragged, shoeless
and shivering with cold, they gave me a 'bitter/ a little
luncheon and contributed about a dollar in money to pro-
cure me food when I could not beg, or might be turned
away without alms. At this point of my interview with the
young men, the old gentleman before mentioned returned
with a pair of shoes, a pair of socks and some bread and
cheese, all which he presented to me, accompanied by the
most cheering language, and expressing a strong hope that
I might be sustained and prospered in the remainder of my
12 HISTORICAL SKETCH
journey, we parted. I felt encouraged and renewed my
journey with a more elastic step and a lighter heart.
I commonly stopped at houses such as gave evidence of
thrift and wealth, being less likely to be turned away from
such places than from the beggarly, poor appearing homes.
I was obliged to beg my food and shelter nearly the whole of
the way. I recollect calling at one house, a kind of tavern
or 'way house/ at night, for the purpose of getting shelter
for the night. I went into the kitchen and made known my
poverty to the landlady, and asked that she would permit me
to lodge upon the floor by the fire. She told me she thought
I might be thus accommodated, though her husband was
then absent and might on his return be unwilling I should
remain. He came late in the evening, had apparently been
drinking and was very cross. He asked me what I was
there for, and told me he would not have me in his house.
Said he: 'You have the smallpox, you must leave, you can-
not remain here/ I entreated him not to drive me from his
house, leaving me at that hour of the night to the mercy of
the cold, bleak winds of December. But my appeal was in
vain. Finally, however, at my earnest solicitation, he gave
me permission to lie in his horse-barn, and thus I passed the
night. His allusion to my having the smallpox was because
it was plain to be perceived, on account of want and much
exposure to cold, that I recently had had that disease, though
at that time there was no danger to be apprehended from it.
However, it served as a pretext for driving me from his
house. One man carried me several miles on my journey,
and generally I was treated very well.
I remained at home, being in poor health, through the
three winter months, and then entered the military service in
the Revolution, early in the spring of 1782. I enlisted for
the town of Maiden for three years, under Capt. Wait.
Before entering the ranks in the field, I went to Boston and
served as waiter to Lieut. Thomas Robinson, who was clerk
to the muster-master. I remained here three or four weeks,
when I went with twenty-five or thirty others to near West
Point, on the Hudson River, and joined the 10th Massachu-
ROBINSON FAMILY. 13
setts Regiment. The ioth wore British coats and was com-
manded by Col. Tupper. I was in Capt. Dix's company.
We went to Verplank Point, lay there some time, then went
to Morrison, or a place of some such name, and remained
about a month. Soon after the 9th and ioth regiments
broke up, and I entered the 5th regiment, commanded by
Col. Michael Jackson, under Capt. Cogswell. A Grenadier
company was formed of the tallest and stoutest men. I
had the offer to join, but did not, and was obliged to join
another company. The Grenadier company was formed at
Newburgh Huts and remained there until after the news of
When the news of peace came, our huts or camp were
knee deep in snow, but we celebrated the event with raising
of flags and with guns and music. Then all regiments broke
up, and one was formed called the American Regiment of
young men, consisting of six or seven hundred, under Col.
Henry Jackson. I was assigned to Capt. Williams' com-
pany, my term of enlistment not having expired, and we
remained at Newburgh Huts till winter, and was then
ordered to Old Springfield, Mass. Capt. Williams' com-
pany numbered about sixty. I remained at Springfield
till I got my discharge, which was the last of June or first of
July, 1784. The whole company were discharged at the
same time. My discharge was made out in New York, and
was signed by Col. Henry Jackson/
After thus serving over two years in the Revolutionary
army, young Robinson returned, with his brothers, to his
native home in Lexington. Here he remained in honest
toil, till the spring of 1788, when he removed and settled at
South Reading, as above stated.
The hardships of his service during the Revolutionary
war, and the fact that he was early in life left an orphan
and had to labor hard for his own livelihood, schooled him
well for the hardships of his early settlement in this town.
What to most men would seem insurmountable obstacles,
were often easily encountered by him and regarded as trivial.
It was a favorite remark of his that, if you wished to ac-
14 HISTORICAL SKETCH
complish anything difficult or laborious, you should always
say, 'Come, boys/ and not 'Go, boys/ He believed that
success in any calling of life consisted mainly in a good r
vigorous, personal leadership of the persons to be benefited.
Here on his productive, well-tilled farm he spent a long
life of usefulness and activity and reared a large family of
children, and like many of those old revolutionary pension-
ers, he was in his old age healthy and hearty, re-
markably vigorous both in mind and body, even to his last
brief sickness. Long will his grandchildren remember those
grand old Thanksgiving days, and the good cheer and the
jolly times enjoyed around his festive table and cheerful
fireside on these anniversary days. A few years before his
death, after a residence in this town of nearly seventy years,
he again re-visited the scenes of his childhood in Lexington.
It was a visit of sad and lonely interest to him. Of all his
former large circle of early relatives, friends and acquaint-
ances, he found only two survivors and they were much
broken down with age. Yet his visit to those places of
historical and local interest, he seemed to enjoy with peculiar
His death occurred on the 31st day of October, 1857, at
the age of nearly ninety-three years. Less than two weeks
before his death, he related in detail the above history to the
writer of this sketch and recounted, with wonderful memory
and great animation and zeal, the various vicissitudes and
hardships of his long life.
His veneration for Washington, the father of our coun-
try was very great, and it was ever his pride that he was
once a member of a company that temporarily acted as a
body guard to their noble commander.
It was one of his latest remarks, that during the sixty-
six years he had lived with the wife of his choice, in that
house and upon that farm, he had lived in contentment and
happiness, and had never wished to change his lot for that
of any other, nor his home for that which any other country
or clime could afiford. He seemed, happy in the society of
his numerous posterity and had the satisfaction of seeing
ROBINSON FAMILY. 15
them generally prosperous. He had little or no education
in early life except that acquired in the army and by his
later experience, yet in his old age he could cast up the
amount due on promissory notes given at annual interest,
with difficult partial payments endorsed thereon, and make a
written statement of the same, with an accuracy and dis-
patch that might well put to shame many of the liberally edu-
cated young men of the present day. He learned to write
while in the Continental army, by copying the ballads and
camp-songs of the soldiers in copy books, one of which is
now in the possession of, and highly prized by the writer of
As a citizen, he was always upright and exact in all his
dealings, and dignified, though generous and cordial in his
intercourse. He was never an office-seeking politician, but
held many positions of honor and trust, both civil and mili-
tary, and always proved himself worthy of the confidence
reposed in him, and was honored by his townsmen in posi-
tions of trust in many ways. He was public spirited and a
patron of noble enterprise. The bell in the steeple of the
church at South Reading was his gift to the people of that
village. He was ever a stern lover of justice. He remarked
to the writer, at his last interview with him, that he had
made it a principle during his life, 'ever to do right' and to
cause right to be done. He was a devoted patriot and had
personally attended the polls of every Presidential election
up to the time of his death, casting his last ballot for Fre-
mont in 1856.
Thus have passed away these Revolutionary patriots.
None remain to testify of their early hardships and strug-
gles for Freedom. Through their labors and sufferings we
inherit this, our fair land, and these, our free institutions.
Truly do their memory and their courage deserve our
highest veneration and respect, and if thus their memories
are revered by their posterity, they will not, of necessity,
need any lofty monuments or deeply wrought inscription to
tell us of their noble deeds, their devoted patriotism and true
greatness. However lowly may be their resting-place, let
16 HISTORICAL SKETCH
these tributes ever be ascribed to their memories with grate-
ful hearts. May it truly be said of them, 'that : —
With which their children tread the hallowed ground
That holds their venerated bones, the peace
That smiles on all they fought for. and the wealth
That clothes the land they received, — these, though mute
As feeling ever is, when deepest — these
Are monuments more lasting than the tombs
Reared to the kings and demi-gods of old.' "
The wife of Ebenezer Robinson was Hannah Ackley, of
whom not so many facts are known to her descendants. She
was born Dec. 22, 1771, at East Haddam, Ct., and when a
girl of twenty-one, in her father's new home, near South
Reading, on Nov. 18, 1792, she married her young hus-
band, a little over four years older than herself, and went
with him to his hillside farm.
She is remembered by her grand-children as a quiet,
serene, cheery old lady who made an ideal grandmother at
their Thanksgiving, and other festive occasions. Her hus-
band left a fine tribute to her memory, when he said that he
had lived sixty-six years in contentment and happiness with
the wife of his choice and had never wished to change his
lot for that of any other. She died Feb. 10th, 1858, sur-
viving her husband not quite four months.
^Children: Lewis Robinson, b. Aug. 19th, 1793; d. Nov. 16th, 1871.
Calvin Robinson, b. Jan. 10, 1798; d. March 28,
Jonas Robinson, b. Dec. 15th, 1794; d. Dec. 31st, 1794.
Marvin Robinson, b. March 24th, 1800; d. Dec. 22nd,
Ebenezer Robinson, b. Sept. 30th, 1809; d. July 5, 1848.
Rhoda Robinson, b. Feb. 8th, 1796 (never married) ;
d. Oct. 2 1 st, 1873.
Sally Towin Robinson, b. Sept. 19th, 1802; d. Oct. 6,
Hannah Robinson, b. Jan. 20th 1805 (never married) ;
d. April 19th, 1873.
Eliza Robinson, b. May 20th, 1807; d. Dec. 13th, i860;
m. Washington Keyes, Sept. 29, 183 1.
*The dates concerning the immediate family of Ebenezer Robinson are taken
from the old family Bible, inherited by the oldest son of the oldest son, and now
in the possession of Mrs. Calvin L. Robinson, Jacksonville, Florida.
WILLIAM ROBINSON, OF NEWTON.
The Earliest Known Direct Ancestor of Ebenezer
Shrouded in the mists of the far past, it has been diffi-
cult to obtain any certain knowledge of the personality of
"William of Newton/' sometimes called "William of Water-
town/' The few facts here cited have been obtained with
more difficulty than all contained in the remainder of this
little book. There is no record of the birth of William Rob-
inson in Massachusetts Colony. There is one tradition that
he came from Bristol, England, which could easily arise if
he sailed from that port, but the tradition of the family of
Ebenezer Robinson is that he came from the north of Eng-
land. It is probable that he was born about 1640, and mar-
ried in this country about 1667, Elizabeth Cutter (b.
July 15, 1643), a daughter of Richard Cutter, a well
known freeman of Cambridge. In the records William
Robinson is styled sometimes "of Watertown," sometimes
"of Cambridge" and sometimes "of Newton." This con-
fusion is not difficult to understand when the uncertain
boundaries of the early towns are kept in mind.
Watertown is the oldest of these towns. As early as
Sept. 7, 1630, less than ten years after the landing of the
Pilgrims, "The Court ordered that the town upon the Charles
River be called Watertown." It was the fourth town
formed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and next to Dor-
chester was the earliest to keep formal records.f When
Cambridge was formed, part of Watertown was given to it,
and William Robinson lived in that part of Cambridge called
f"Watertown Records, prepared for publication by the Historical Society,
18 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Cambridge Village, which afterward became Newton. His
farm lay along the south bank of the Charles River, separ-
ated by it from the Watertown of his time.
All three towns, Watertown, Cambridge, and Newton,
have records more or less complete of William Robinson
and his family. Evidently he was a freeman of Cambridge
Village, which later became Newton, so we prefer to call
him "William of Newton."*
The inhabitants of Cambridge Village on the south side
of the river, as early as 1654, began a movement to separate
from Cambridge, and for thirty-five years the struggle did
not cease until they obtained what they wanted. Finally
fifty-two freemen of Cambridge Village petitioned the Gen-
eral Court (commencing May 8, 1678) "to grant us our
freedom from Cambridge and that we may be a township
of ourselves without any more dependence upon Cambridge
— and that you would please give the place a name."*
This petition commonly called "The Petition of Seces-
sion," was granted, Cambridge Village was set off from
Cambridge, and later was christened Newtown, taking the
former name of Cambridge. William Robinson was the
eleventh name of the fifty-two sturdy signers of the Peti-
tion. At that time there were sixty-five freemen in Cam-
To become a freeman in those early days was deemed by
the fathers a boon greatly to be desired. If their descend-
ants had guarded the sacred rights of citizenship as carefully
through the years as did they, the present days of the Re-
public would not present so many problems. To procure
this privilege, a man had first to be or to become a member
of the church; then he must obtain permission to become a
fieeman from the General or Quarterly Court, after which
the freeman's oath was taken before a magistrate. A note of
the ceremony was then carefully entered in the town record.
"The Records of the Town of Cambridge, (formerly
^Smith's Hist, of Newton, p. 41, gives the names of the settlers of the town,
previous to 1700, and William Robinson is marked "1679."
•Jackson's History of Newton, p. 60.
♦History of Cambridge, by L. R. Paige, Cambridge, 1877, p. 89.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 19
Newtowne) 1630-1703, printed by order of the City Coun-
cil, I90I, ,, does not once mention William Robinson who,
as we have learned, lived at Cambridge Village away from
the central part of Cambridge. He seems to have been a
•quiet, peaceable, law-abiding citizen, and the signing of the
"Petition of Secession" is the only publicly assertive act of
William Robinson, so far as history can prove.
His father-in-law, Richard Cutter, was of quite another
•stamp. He was admitted freeman June 2, 1641, and was
made a member of the "Ancient and Honorable Artillery
Co." of Boston in 1643. The "Town Records of Cambridge"
mention Richard Cutter thirty-eight times for various rea-
sons. He seems to have been a wheel-wright by trade, as
one of the entries state that the town grants timber to Rich-
ard Cutter for a "payre of wheeles." Again he is granted
permission to fell "foure trees for his trade on the South
side the river." Again a grant of land was divided among
the freemen and Richard Cutter receives eighty acres.
Richard Cutter was also a signer of the petition pre-
sented October 19, 1664, to the honored General Court of
Massachusetts, which while assuming loyalty, manifested the
-same unwillingness to submit to arbitrary government that
was exhibited a hundred years later. Evidently he was an
•active man of affairs. The first wife of Richard Cutter was
Elizabeth Williams, some facts about whom are worthy of
preservation for her descendants. She was the daughter
of Robert Williams and Elizabeth (Stalham) Williams and
was born in England about 1626. Robert Williams was
born about 1607. The record of William Williams of Hat-
field, England, says that the embarkation records reads :
"April 8, 1637, Robert Williams, Cordwyner (Cordwainer
— i. e., shoemaker) of Norwich Co.. Norfolk, England, in
the 'John and Dorothy' of Ipswich, William Andrews, Mas-
ter. For New England to Inhabit."
Robert Williams settled in Roxbury, was admitted free-
man in 1638, and died Sept. 1, 1693, at 86 years of age. He
was the common ancestor of many distinguished men who
"have honored the country. He had a son named Isaac (born
20 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Sept. i, 1638), who owned a farm of 500 acres in the west
part of Newton (now Auburndale), near the farm of Will-
iam Robinson. He also had a son named Stephen, born Nov.
Elizabeth Williams was daughter of Robert Williams,
and great grandmother of Ebenezer Robinson.
She was admitted to the church in Roxbury in 1644 and
married about the same time to Richard Cutter, of Cam-
bridge, and died June 15, 1693. ^ n his will Richard Cutter
asked to be buried by the side of his wife Elizabeth. Their
gravestones are still standing in the graveyard, near Harvard
Square, Cambridge, Mass. Of such good ancestry came
their eldest daughter, Elizabeth Cutter, born July 13, 1645,
who became the wife of William Robinson as early as 1667.*
The Middlesex (Mass.) Probate records give us the only
glimpses we have into the life and character of Wm. Robin-
son. He made a will dated March 22, 1693, the w ^ being
made and witnessed on his death-bed, in which he bequeathes
all his "estate lands, goods and Chatties here in Watertown
to my dafter Elizabeth, " and states that "my two children
David and Jonathan shall have their maintenance and be
carefully brought up by my dafter. ,, In this will Wm. Rob-
inson, twenty-one years of age, Mary Robinson, about
twenty years of age, and Samuel Robinson, about fifteen
years old, were left without mention. David, then seven-
teen years old, was lame and helpless, and Johnathan was
thirteen years of age. This will was presented for probate
June 26, 1693, but was disallowed on account of informality.
The probate records state that it was probated later, Nov.
Evidently Wm. Robinson, Jr., the oldest son was not
*Note — The identity of the wife of William Robinson has occasioned con-
siderable search to verify the fact that she was Elizabeth Cutter. Richard
Cutter was married twice; first as we have seen to Elizabeth Williams. He mar-
ried as his second wife, Frances Perriman, widow of Isaac Amsden, Feb. 14,
1663, who survived him. Each wife was the mother of seven children. We
find by the records in those early days that in case of a second marriage it was not
unusual to have two children by the same name, one by each wife. So Richard
Cutter was the father of Elizabeth Cutter, b. July 15, 1645, who became the
wife of William Robinson, of Newton, and the eleventh child, Elizabeth Cutter,
b. March 1, 1669, who became the wife of Nathaniel Hall, of Medford.
The Middlesex (Mass.) Probate Records make these facts plain.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 21
satisfied with the will, and had himself appointed adminis-
trator Oct. 21, 1695, and he swears to the inventory of the
estate as here given.
"This is an inventory of the whole esteat of william Robeson of
watertwin in the county of midlesex taken this 14 of August 1695
and apprised by us the subscribers
huse and Lands and orchid
for worcking touiles of Iron
for beden and all things argrabell to it
and for ould lumber
and for Jron and brass poute and
and tabels chistes and weeles
and for tobes and braller
and for puter and wooden dishses
and for gunn and armes
and for books
and for one hoge
and for money
43- 17. o.
Apprised the day and yer abouesayed By us
Mickell fflagge and
Samuel Bigelo. ,,
That Wm. Robinson wanted to shield himself from
unjust judgment on the part of his older children and his
friends is shown by the following entry :
"Charlestowne, Nouembr 21: 1698.
Thomas Woolson and Frances Fullam, the two witnesses,
swear, 'which was ommitted by ye scribe being in haste and for-
getting to enter ye same according to his Deced's Direction in
ye will and that then ye said Wm. Robinson when he so did was
of good understanding and of disposing minde, then declaring it
his omission of his other children in sd will was not for want of
affection to ym, but only out of his undue Care for ye providing
for his lame childe and also ye youngest that was not Capable of
help it Selfe and yt Goodwife Sanders, Elizabeth Stimpson & other
women were in and about ye house till said will was makeing and
read to ye deacese and to his full Conteent and Satisfaction
22 HISTORICAL SKETCH
The division of the estate :
"9 May 1698. Isaac Williams Phillip Shattuck and Abraham Brown
Com e appointed by the court return division of the Robinson estate, viz. :
"The housing and fences being now out of repaior and Sum
of ye land worne out and the moueables being worne and sum of
them loste in consideration of the Land being A Small parcel and
not capable of being deuided without ye damnifying: and Spoileing
of ye whole, whereupon the eldest son of the abousesd william
Robeson, deceast, claiming his birth-right which the law of this
province alowes, he haueing alredy taken administration on said
Estate, we order william Robeson eldest son of William Robeson
decease to take the at one mentioned twelue acres of land and
houseing and all that properly belongeth thereto and also all
ye moueables, and after all just debts are paid and necessary
charges alowed the remainder to be divided into seven equal parts,
and that the eldest son pays to each of his brethren and sisters
their propertion. resenting to himself his duble portion, according
to the direction of the law. 22:8:98 considered of, allowed and
As is seen, at the time of William Robinson's death he
possessed only twelve acres of land, but his thrifty son Will-
iam must have added to it, as on the map of Newton for
1700 (see map) the Robinson farm is given as 200 acres.
The above are the sole records that touch directly upon
the life and character of "William of Newton." There are,
however, in the Middlesex (Mass.) Deeds, many identifying
references. Abstracts Vol. XXXIII : MDX (Mass.) Deeds,
p. 113, "William Robinson of Newton, and Jonathan Rob-
inson of Lexington acknowledge all rights, etc., in the estate
of their honored grandfather, Richard Cutter, sometime of
Cambridge, deceased. " "William Robinson engages to dis-
charge the claim of his sister, Elizabeth Gregory, a grand-
daughter and heir to the same. ,, 8 Jan., 1726.
P. 118, "Samuel Robinson of Marlboro, as heir to his
father, William Robinson, dec'd, and his mother, Elizabeth
Robinson, alias Cutter, quitclaims all interest, etc., in the
estate of his grandfather, Richard Cutter, formerly of Cam-
bridge, deceased. 20 Jul. 1728."
Are we not justified in inferring from the above facts
ROBINSON FAMILY. 23
certain qualities of Wm. Robinson ? He evidently must have
had enterprise and courage, as a young man, to seek his for-
tunes in the New World. He must also have had substan-
tial good qualities of character to secure as a wife Elizabeth
Cutter, the granddaughter of Robert Williams, the daughter
of Richard Cutter, and niece of Isaac Williams, all well
known and respected, citizens. He was a good and loving
father, taking especial pains to have his older children under-
stand why he made exclusive provision for the younger
Those early days of the Colony were filled with hard
work and privation. The settlers had to endure the rigors
of a severe climate, work hard to subdue the land and strug-
gle to maintain their local and general political rights.
William Robinson must have died about sixty years of
age, after a life of toil and struggle, leaving a small estate,
but he reared a family of children, who were sensible, able
men and women, and, with the exception of the lame son
David, they were able to take their part in the world's work.
William, who remained in Newton, Samuel, who removed
to Cambridge, and Jonathan, who settled in Lexington,
were all founders of families who have provided good citi-
zens and practical men of affairs, and quite often dis-
tinguished leaders for the community.
WILLIAM ROBINSON'S CHILDREN.
The children of William and Elizabeth Cutter Robinson
were as follows : *
i. Elizabeth, b. 1669; m. Dec. 20, 1693, Daniel Maggrigge of
2. Hannah Ann, b. July 13, 1671 ; d. Oct. 5, 1672.
3. William, b. July 10, 1673.
4. Mercy, b. Aug. 7, 1676.
5. David, b. May 23, 1678. "Lame and helpless."
6. Samuel, b. April 20, 1680.
7. Jonathan, b. April 20, 1682.
All the children except Hannah were living at the
time of William Robinson's death, but evidently his wife
had previously died, as we see from his will, that his sole
reliance for the care of the two helpless children was "my
dafter Elizabeth/' the oldest child, then a young woman of
twenty-six years. Her father died in March, and the records
show that the following December she married "Daniel
Maggrigge of Watertown." The name Maggrigge was
evidently a corruption of McGregor, and later generations
have adopted Gregory.
David, "lame and helpless," a boy of fifteen, continued
to live with his sister for four years, until April 9, 1697,
when from the "Watertown Records," Vol. II, pp. 114 and
121, we learn that he lived for a time with Samuel Begelo,
and then Joseph Lovewels. He remained single. There are
no further records concerning him, and as his brothers be-
came more prosperous, it is probable that they assumed his
*The record of the children of William and Elizabeth Robinson is best
preserved in Hist, of Cambridge, L. R. Paige, p. 644.
-fl. /''AtiUMf <»»•»' *******
"'-"'**** \9**^ /• V*~-j" ^ T>0*'» tt **-
t »•• • * — *-
• • K*»
\%r 6*r* T * w,ii* *\Z** "*.~&z*>*
^ » \
SECTION OF PLAN
TOWN OF NEWTON
Showing Farm of Wiujam Robinson, now a part of Auburndai,e.
Taken from a map in the History of
the Early Settlement of Newton, Mass.,
by Francis Jackson, 1854.
ScaU % jjo Rods to an Inch.
26 HISTORICAL SKETCH
William Robinson, Jr., third child and oldest son of
"William of Newton," evidently remained on his father's
farm, and added to it. We have seen that he applied to have
his father's will set aside and insisted on his right as the
oldest son to have a "duble portion," which was granted him.
The estate was divided May 9, 1698, and the land is men-
tioned as twelve acres. But the Robinson Farm marked on
the plan of the town of Newton in 1700 (see map) gives 200
acres to the Robinson farm. Smith's His. of Newton has
some paragraphs relating to this farm, which we will here
"A survey of the map of 1700 furnishes a good view of the
division of the territory of Newton among the early proprietors,
and of the relative location of their estates." Page 115.
"Southwest of the Fuller farm was Captain Isaac Williams
(1659), five hundred acres. All the names in this trace of land,
in the map of 1700, were on the easterly side. Isaac Williams,
Jr. 1686); John Knapp (1688); Captain Isaac Williams (1861), — suc-
cessors, Colonel Ephraim Williams (1714), (founder of Williams Col-
lege). Page 118.
"Southwest of Captain Isaac Williams was the Robinson farm
about two hundred acres, covering the territory since called Au-
burndale, and extending to Charles River. On this territory stood
Nathaniel Whittemore's tavern (1724), the Bourne House, at the
southeast part; then John Pigeon, Henry Pigeon, Joel Houghton,
north of the tavern; near the middle. William Upham (1740),
Elisha Seaverns. Elisha Ware; near the northeast part. William
Robinson (1678) , successors, William Robinson. Jr. (1705),
John Robinson (1753), Jonathan Williams (1767), Elisha Hall, M.
Collier." Page 118.
Evidently William Robinson, Jr., had the gift of ac-
quisition, and became a man of substance, judged by the
standards of his age.
"Robinson, William (d. 1754) by will, dated Dec. 25th, 1742,
proved March 11, 1754, bequeathed house, barn, and seventy-
nine acres of land in Newton to his son Jeremiah; fifty-eight and
a half acres to his son John; to son Ichabod £660. He had a
large farm at what is now Auburndale, and land in Mendon. One
ROBINSON FAMILY. 27
of his sons lived on the site of the Seaverns house; one in the
Bourne house, once a tavern, and one in the house enlarged for
the former Newton Poor House. His real estate was appraised
at £722i-5sh. Personal, £1014-1 7sh.-6d."t
William Robinson, Jr., was a selectman of Newton for
the year 1735, and that he was a man of consideration in
the community is manifest. His wife died in 1747, and he
died in 1754, at 81 years of age.
Their children are as follows :
Daniel, m. Mercy Seger, 1726.
Jeremiah, b. Oct. 22, 1705; d. 1754.
Elizabeth, b. Sept. 11, 1707, m. Wm. Upham from Maiden, March,
Hannah, b. Sept. 16, 1709.
Josiah, b. Sept. 17, 171 1.
Ichabod, b. Sept. 2, 1713, m. Sarah Mirick, Feb., 1744, went to
Mendon and died 1756.
Thankful, b. Sept. 3, 1715.
John, b. 1722.
Samuel, the sixth child of William Robinson, had a note-
worthy line of descendants. He, himself, must have been a
capable, energetic man, for in 1707, when he was 27 years
of age, he bought a house and three-quarters of an acre at
the S. W. corner of Battle Square and Brattle Street, in
Cambridge, where he kept a tavern until June 13, 1721,
when he sold his estate and moved to Westborough, where
he died. Administration was granted to his wife Elizabeth,
April 24, 1724, and her brother, Jedekiah Brigham, was
appointed guardian to the only son, Samuel, then in his 19th
year, Feb. 25, 1725. The name of Samuel Robinson is
enrolled among the inn-keepers of Cambridge, as having
received a license from 17 14- 1720.*
His son Samuel, the only one who survived him, was
brought up in the busy, bustling life of his father's tavern.
Noting how prominent, and aggressive, and public-spir-
tHist. of Newton Mass. S. F. Smith, D. D., Boston, 1880.
*Hist. of Newton, p. 401. Jackson
28 HISTORICAL SKETCH
ited was Samuel Robinson, Jr., we recognize the broaden-
ing, stimulating effect of his environment, which must have
early made him familiar with the prominent men of his
time and the events that were happening.
Samuel Robinson, son of William Robinson, was twice
married; first m. Mar. 23, 1704, to Sarah Manning (b.
Aug. 26, 1 68 1, d. July 19, 1709), whose father was a man
of means and a Representative.*
Second, m. Oct. 16, 171 1, to Elizabeth Brigham, daugh-
ter of Capt. Samuel Brigham, of Marlborough.
Children: Sarah, bap. July 22, 1705; died young.
Samuel, b. April 4, 1707.
Dorothy, b. April 19, 1709.
Persis b. Sept. 7, 1712.
Edmund, b. June 7, 1714, d. Nov. 25, 1716.
Sarah, b. Oct. 3, 171 7.
At his death in 1724 his only surviving son Samuel was
then in his 19th year. Samuel Robinson, Jr., b. April 4,
1707, m. May, 1732, Mercy Leonard. His children, are
recorded in Hardwick, Mass., and their names are as
Elizabeth, b. Dec. 24, 1733.
Leonard, b. July 16, 1736.
Samuel, b. Aug. 9, 1738.
Moses, b. March 15, 1741, settled in Bennington, and was the
first Colonel of Militia in Vermont, was first Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, Senator in Congress, and second Governor of the
State. Received the honorary degree of A. M. at Yale College, 1789,
and at Dartmouth College in 1790; died May 19, 1813.
Paul, b. Dec. 17, 1743; d. 1754.
Silas, b. March 17, 1746; Revolutionary soldier; d. at an advanced
age at St. Albans, Vt.
Mercy, b. Oct. 8, 1748; m. Colonel J. Safford.
Sarah, b. Nov. 13, 1751 ; m. first Benj. Fay; 2d., Gen. H. Swift.
David, b. Nov. 4, 1754; m. three times, was in the Bennington
Battle, afterward Major-General of Militia and U. S. Marshal for
eight years, and sheriff for 22 years ; d. November, 1843.
Jonathan, b. Aug. 24, 1756; was Chief Justice of the Supreme
*Note. — See the History of the Manning Family, by Wm. H. Manning, Salem
Press, 1902. Page 142.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 29
Court, 1801-1807, and United States Senator. Received honorary degree
of A. M. at Dartmouth College, and d. Nov. 3, 1819.
Anna, b. Oct. 4, 1759; m. Isaac Webster.
Samuel Robinson, the father of this large family, was a
man of marked individuality and left his impress upon the
men and events of his times. He removed to Hardwick in
1735 and remained there until 1761. While there he was
selectman, assessor, town clerk and deacon. He was Captain
of a military company in the old French war, and in 1748
was stationed at Fort George. On his return to Massachu-
setts by the Hoosac River route, he was attracted by the fer-
tility of the country, so that later he induced a company of
his associates to join him in purchasing a former grant of
this territory, made by Governor Benning Wentworth of
New Hampshire in honor of whom Bennington was named.
In October, 1761, he, his family and friends removed to
Bennington, where he became prominent politically and was
appointed first Justice of the Peace.
Mr. Robinson cast in his fortunes with the original set-
tlers of the New Hampshire grants in the famous land grant
controversy between New York and New Hampshire, in
which New York claimed jurisdiction over the territory of
Vermont. He was chosen as a bearer of a petition to King
George, signed by over a thousand settlers asking for relief
against the New York patents. Sailing on Christmas Day,
1766, after a six weeks' passage, he reached London, and
succeeded in obtaining an order from the King, dated July
24, 1767, prohibiting the Governor of New York, "upon
pain of his Majesty's highest displeasure from making any
further grants whatever of the lands in question until his
Majesty's further pleasure should be known, concerning the
same." Later, in October, he was seized with smallpox and
died Oct. 27, 1767, and was buried in London.
The family of Samuel Robinson has been prominent in
the annals of Vermont* and has been described as
follows : "The most remarkable among a number of
Vermont families prolific of public usefulness — a family
*Men of Vermont, Transcript Pub. Co., 1894, p. 54.
30 HISTORICAL SKETCH
that has in the past century furnished two governors, two
United States senators, six judges of one degree and an-
other, the acknowledged leader of the Democratic party in
the state in three different generations, and United States
marshals, generals, colonels, state's attorneys, town clerks,
etc., almost without number/ '
Moses Robinson, second Governor of Vermont, left six
sons, the fourth of whom was Nathan, a lawyer who died at
the age of forty. His son, John S. Robinson, the only Demo-
cratic Governor of Vermont for more than half a century,
was born at Bennington, Nov. 10, 1804. He graduated at
Williams College, became a lawyer and identified himself
with the Democratic party, and was Governor for 1853-1854.
In i860 was Chairman of the Vermont delegation to the
National Democratic Convention at Charleston, S. C, was
stricken with apoplexy and died there the 24th of. the month.
He was a man of a high order of talents.
Jonathan Robinson, the youngest child of "William Robi-
son of Newton," was born April 20, 1682. His father's will,
made upon his death bed, dated March 2.2, 1693, bequeathed
all his estate to "my dafter, Elizabeth Robinson," with the
provision that my two children, David, "fifteen years old,
lame and helpless," and Jonathan, shall have their mainte-
nance and be carefully brought up by my dafter. The father's
heart went out tenderly to his helpless child, and to his dear-
ly-loved youngest boy, left in the world without a parent's
care. Jonathan must have continued to live with his sister
until May 16, 1698, when, according to the record made in
the Middlesex (Mass.) Probate records, "Jonathan Robin-
son, a minor of 16 years, made choice of Nath'll Sparrow-
hawk to be his guardian and he accepted." We find from
the records that Jonathan Robinson was a weaver. We
know also that Isaac Williams, his mother's uncle and a man
of means and influence, lived on the farm adjoining that of
his father and he, by trade, was a weaver. We can infer
that Jonathan learned his trade from his uncle. He must
have been industrious, energetic and saving, for he both
married and purchased his farm in Lexington at the early
age of twenty-four.
The wife of Jonathan Robinson was Ruth Morse, a few
words regarding whom must be of interest to her descend-
ants. She was born April 15, 1684, and was the daughter
of Jonathan Morse, born Nov. 16, 1643, wh° married Oct.
17, 1678, Abigail Shattuck.* Jonathan Morse was the
fourth son of Joseph Morse, who, when he was twenty-four
years of age, embarked at Ipswich, England, April, 1634, in
the ship "Elizabeth," William Andrews master. Joseph
*History of Watertown, Henry Bond, p. 371 (Genealogies).
32 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Morse was one of the original proprietors of Watertown.
His name is on the earliest list of proprietors, and he was ad-
mitted freeman May 6, 1635. His father and mother, Joseph
and Deborah Morse, came to America probably a year or two
later than their son and settled at Watertown. Joseph Morse
died March 4, 1691, and his estate was administered by his
son John. It was from this substantial and respected family
that Jonathan Robinson married his wife of twenty-two
years, June 19, 1706.
Jonathan at once proceeded to make a suitable home for
his young wife and purchased a farm in Cambridge Farms
(now Lexington), which is still in the possession of his de-
scendants. *The deed is dated Oct. 11, 1706. Hudson in his
History of Lexington, p. 203, says : "It appears by a deed in
possession of the family, that Isaac Powers, of Cambridge,
sold to Jonathan Robinson, of Cambridge, weaver, in 1706,
a lot of land at Cambridge Farms, bounded northerly by
Concord road, easterly by land of Joanna Winship, south-
erly by land of John Dickson, and westerly by land of Jona-
than Robinson, bounded by the Winships, Whitmores and
Bowmans, leaves no doubt but that he resided on or near
the place now occupied by Mr. Jonas Gammell, at the ter-
mination of Oak Street. ,,
Cambridge Farms was a portion of Cambridge. Lex-
ington was then included in it, and this part of the town
appears to have been regarded as the wood-lots and hay fields
of Cambridge. Lexington was set aside and was organized
into a town March 31, 17 13, a few years after Jonathan Rob-
inson settled there.
From the reference in Hudson to "other deeds" it is prob-
able that Jonathan Robinson accumulated some property and
it is also probable that the house that Jonathan originally
built had been replaced by the ample, well-built structure that
stood on the hill seventy years later at the time of the Revo-
The present possessor of the old farm homestead at Lex-
ington, Mass., is Mr. Joseph Franklin Gammell, the only
*History of Town of Lexington. Charles Hudson, Boston, 1886.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 33
child of Franklin Gammell, and the grandson of Rhoda Rob-
inson, so that this farm has been in the possession of Jona-
than Robinson's descendants nearly two hundred years. In
h.. and Mrs. Alden Sneart of N
\ugust j, J902. George
August, 1902, the writer, in company with two grandchildren
of Ebenezer Robinson (viz., Mrs. Alden Speare, of Newton
Centre, Mass., and Mr. George O. Robinson, of Detroit,
Mich.), visited the site of the old house. Mrs. Speare said:
"I visited here often in my girlhood days and I well remem-
ber the old place. It must have been a fine house at the time
it was built, and was kept in good repair until it was burned.
The walls of some of the rooms were originally pannelled, so
that one not familiar with the house could not tell where
were the cupboards.
34 HISTORICAL SKETCH
At the time the British soldiers came to Lexington this
house was raided, and a mark or dent was made on one of
these panels where a soldier had struck it with his gun to see
if there was a cupboard behind it. In modernizing the finish
of this room that panel was preserved as a relic."
Mr. George O. Robinson said : "I well remember talking
with my grandfather. Ebenezer Robinson, about the early
The Lane Down Which Young Ebenezer Robinson Ran 1
Watch the British Soldiers Retreat from
days of the Revolutionary war, and his telling me that as a
boy he heard the guns of the Battle of Lexington, and he
used to describe how he ran down the lane leading from the
farm house to Main street, to see the British soldiers retreat-
ing on the turnpike road to Boston."
The Robinson house was located on a hill, reached by a
ROBINSON FAMILY. 35
lane (the lower part of which is now known as Oak street in
East Lexington), climbing upward from Main street. The
site commands a pleasant view of the surrounding country.
The house and all the adjoining buildings were burned in
March, 1886, and the cellar, only partially filled in, marks
its site. Doubtless many records that would have added
much to this sketch perished with the place, as Mr. J. Frank-
lin Gammell, the owner, states that the only valuable paper
he possesses is the old deed of the farm dated Oct. 11, 1706.
Hudson states that Jonathan Robinson filled the honor-
able office of Tythingman in 1735, and in 1744 was on a
committee "to dignify and seat the meeting house." He died
in 1753 and his wife Ruth followed him April 25, 1759. His
will, dated Feb. 2, 1748, was proved Feb. 18, 1758.
The children of Jonathan and Ruth were as follows :
Jonathan, b. July 25, 1707. (See below.)
Ruth, b. June 29, 1709; d. Oct. 23, 1722.
Abigail, b. Feb. 4, 1711; baptized June 24, 1711; m. Nathaniel
Bacon, of Lexington.
James, b. Aug. 30, 1715 ; bap. Sept. 4. (See below.)
Lydia, b. Aug. 29, 1718; bap. Sept. 7; m. Caleb Simonds
Hannah, b. Jan. 8, 1721 ; bap. Jan. 14; d. Oct. 24, 1721.
SONS OF JONATHAN ROBINSON.
In all the histories and books on geneology that I have
consulted, it seems to be the practice to follow the history
of the sons who bear the family name. The history of the
daughters is merged into that of their husbands, so that there
is little to be learned concerning them. Following this pro-
cedure let us learn what we can concerning the two sons of
Jonathan Robinson, Jonathan, Jr., and James. Jonathan, the
elder son, will chiefly be remembered as being the great
grandfather of Gov. George D. Robinson of Massachusetts.
The line of descent is as follows :
Jonathan Robinson, b. July 25, 1707; d. 1748; m. Elizabeth.
Children: Elizabeth, m. June. 20, 1732.
Jacob, b. Feb. 3, 1739.
Jonathan, b. Sept. 29, 1733.
Submit, bap. July 17, 1743.
36 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Of these we will follow the line only of Jacob, the oldest
son, who married Elizabeth Draper. They were added to
the church March 21, 1775.
Children-' Jacob, b. Oct. 28, 1762; d. Sept. 12, 1848.
Elizabeth, b. March 6, 1765; d. Dec. 29, 1767.
Jesse, b. July 14, 1767; m. Rebecca Tidd.
Jonathan, b. June 20, 1769, was twice married.
Betty, b. Feb. 26, 1772; m. White, of Watertown.
Anna, b. June 28, 1774; m. Gardner, of Cambridge.
Nathan, b. Dec. 1, 1776; d. Sept. 22, 1776.
We will again follow the line only of Jacob, the oldest
son, who married Aug. 26, 1790, Hannah (Tufts) Simonds.
Children: Jacob, b. April 24, 1791.
Charles, b. May 5, 1793; d. Sept. 24, 1801.
Hannah, b. April 25, 1795; m. April 8, 1821, Charles
Tufts, founder of Tufts College.
John, b. April 30, 1797; d. Sept. 22, 1891.
George, b. Dec. 2, 1799; d. Sept. 22, 1801.
Charles, b. May 5, 1802; d. May 22, 1886.
John, b. Aug. 19, 1804.
Harriet, b. Nov. 6, 1806.
Mary Ann, b. Feb. 2, 1812.
Of these we will note only the descendants of the seventh
child, Charles, whose second son became the governor of his
Charles married Oct. 16, 1827, Mary Davis [daughter
of Abel and Lavinia (Hosmer) Davis].
Children: Charles, b. Nov. 6, 1829.
George Dexter, b. in Lexington, Jan. 20, 1834; d. Feb.
The early education of George Dexter Robinson was in
Lexington, afterwards in the Hopkins Classical School at
Cambridge. He entered Harvard College in 1852, graduat-
ing in the class of '56 with high rank. He became principal
of the High School at Chicopee, Mass., remaining until 1865,
ROBINSON FAMILY. 37
when he entered the law office of his brother, Hon. Charles
Robinson, Jr., in Charlestown. He was admitted to the bar
at Cambridge in March, 1866, and returned to Chicopee, en-
gaging in the practice of law.
In 1874 he was Representative in the Massachusetts Leg-
islature, in '76 served in the State Senate. In '76 as Repub-
lican candidate he was elected Representative from the
Eleventh Congressional District to serve in the Forty-fifth
Congress, and afterwards to the Forty-sixth and Forty-
seventh. Here he became one of the ablest members as a
presiding officer, and easily came to the front as debater on
the rules and points of order.
At the Republican State Convention, Sept. 19, 1883, Mr.
Robinson was unanimously nominated for Governor, and
entered upon the memorable campaign against Gen. Butler,
which resulted in his election; was re-elected in '84 and '85,
serving three years. At the close of his services as Governor,
and after ten years of public life, he resumed the practice of
his profession in Springfield, with his son, who was after-
wards his partner.
November 24, 1859, he was married to Hannah E.,
daughter of William Stevens, of Lexington ; she died Sept.
July 11, 1867, he married Susan E., daughter of Joseph
F. Simonds, of Lexington.
His son, Walter Stevens Robinson, was born March 22,
1861, graduated at Amherst in '84; married Miss Sarah
Homans, and resides in Springfield. His daughter, Annie
Florence, born October 41, 1869, graduated at Smith College
in '91, and is the wife of Herbert W. Wright, of Springfield.
Mr. Robinson received the degrees — A. B. (Harvard,
'56) ; A. M. (Harvard, '59) ; L. L. D. (Amherst, '84) ; L. L.
D. (Harvard, '86).
He was an eminent Governor, one of the leaders at the
Bar, and was universally esteemed and trusted. He led a
very active and busy life, and in the midst of honorable
work and duties was suddenly stricken with apoplexy, dying
38 HISTORICAL SKETCH
at his home in Chicopee after a short illness, Feb. 22, 1896,
at the age of sixty-two.*
James Robinson (son of Jonathan), as the father of
Ebenezer Robinson, merits a larger notice than we shall be
able to give to his life, for the recorded facts are few, and
there is no other knowledge of him extant which we have
been able to obtain. The farm evidently descended to him
and he must have there lived a quiet life of contentment in
daily duties. He married three times, and had eleven chil-
dren. He was admitted to the Church, March 10, 1765.
James Robinson married May 23, 1751, Anna Trask.
She died, and he married Margaret , by whom he
had eight children. She died Nov. 5, 1767, and he married
third, Elizabeth , by whom he had three children.!
He died Aug. 12, 1774.
CHILDREN OF JAMES AND MARGARET.
Ruth Robinson, b. Jan. 28, 1753.
Joseph Robinson, b. March 1755; Soldier of Revolution; d.
July 5, 1784.
Silas, b. Feb. 20, 1757; m. Lydia.
Asa, b. Jan. 19, 1759; Soldier of Revolution in the campaign to
New York, 1776.
James, b. Nov. 26, 1760; m. May 25, 1787, Judith Reed, of Wo
burn ; Soldier of the Revolution.
Rhoda, b. May 10, 1763; d. young.
Ebenezer, b. Feb. 14, 1765; d. 1857.
Persis, b. Jan. 25, 1767; baptized Feb. 1, 1767.
CHILDREN OF JAMES AND ELIZABETH.
Jonas, b. May 18, 1770; baptized Dec. 5, 1773.
Rhoda. baptized Oct. 20, 1771 ; m. Simeon Snow, May 24, 1781.
Lydia, b. Jan. 2, 1773.
*For the above facts of Governor Robinson's career, acknowledgment is due
to his widow, Mrs. Susan E. Robinson of Chicopee, Mass.
fThe records of early colonial days were generally carefully kept, but as
time passed on, less care was exercised, and the difficulty of obtaining exact names
and dates increases. We have not been able to obtain the family names of the
second and third wives of James Robinson.
Note — The facts concerning the last three children are incorrectly given in
Hudson's Lexington. Cambridge records are here followed.
40 HISTORICAL SKETCH
It will thus be seen that James Robinson had four sons
who served as patriots in the Revolutionary war — Joseph,
Asa, James and Ebenezer. His oldest son, Joseph, was a
member of Capt. Parker's company and participated in the
battle of Lexington, the first act of the Revolutionary
drama.* He married Mrs. Betty Hadley, the widow of his
comrade, Samuel Hadley, who was killed in battle on the
immortal April 19, 1775, at the battle of Lexington. Joseph
Robinson enlisted with the eight months' men in 1775, and
served with the twelve months' men the year following, and
subsequently entered the Continental Army.
Hudson says : "He lived to enjoy the bounty of his coun-
try and to see her prosperous and happy, and died April 14,
1830. His wife died Feb. 9, 183 1."
Children : Rhoda, b. May 17, 1781 ; m. May 17, 1810, John Gam-
mell, of Charlestown, and d. Sept. 11, 1861.
Margaret, b. Feb. 20, 1783.
Nancy, b. Jan. 30, 1785; m. July 20, 1809, Thomas
Cutter, of West Cambridge.
Joseph, b. July 14, 1787; m. Lydia Gair, of Boston; d.
May 18, 1822.
John Gammell, the husband of Rhoda Robinson, born
Nov. 12, 1785, died Oct. 1, 1866, was the son of William
Gammell, a soldier of the Revolution, (b. 1750). They
were married May 17, 18 10.
Their children were :
John, b. Jan. 13, 1812.
Eliza, b. Aug. 21, 1813; d. July 14, 1848.
Franklin, b. May 29, 1815; d. Feb. 22, 1842.
Eben, b. March 7, 181 7; d. May, 1890.
Margaret Ann, b. Nov. 1, 1818; d. Nov. 12, 1850.
Jonas, b. Oct. 10, 1820; d. (1878?).
Lucy, b. Jan. 1, 1822; d. Dec. 22, 1889.
James Robinson, Jr., who was the brother and comrade
of Ebenezer, and settled with him in South Reading, Vt., in
*Note — His name is found on the Roll of the Company in Hudson's History
of Lexington, p. 383.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 41
1788, had a large family of children whose history does not
properly come within the scope of this sketch. He married
Judith Read and their children were as follows :
James Robinson, b. Nov. 26th, 1761, Lexington, Mass.; m. May 25,
1787; d. Nov. 29th 1836.
Judith Reed Robinson, his wife, b. March 6th, 1768, Woburn,
Mass. ; d. Jan. 27th, 1857.
James, Jr., b. March 20th, 1788; d. April 19th, 1847.
Lucy R, b. Dec. 8th, 1879; d. Sept. 4th, 1869.
Ebenezer, b. April 8th, 1791 ; d. March 1st, 1883:
Mary Reed, b. Dec. 17th, 1792; d. May 16th, 1842.
Betsy, b. Oct. 3rd, 1794; d. Dec. 12th, 1842.
Sally, b. May 19th, 1797; d. Sept. nth, 1814.
Nancy, b. Nov. 27th, 1798; d. July 25th, 1893.
Lydia, b. Nov. 23rd, 1800; d. Aug. 31st, 1886.
Ezra and Lois, b. Dec. 8th, 1802; Ezra died June 26th, 1875;
Lois died June 14th, 1888.
Eleanor, b. Jan. 22nd, 1806; d. June 25th, 1900.
Rosilla, b. July 29th, 1809; d. Dec. 17th, 1891.
Allen Reed, b. April 28th, 181 1 ; d. Oct. 6th, 1840.
Noah B., b. July 2nd, 1813; d. Oct. 1st, 1839.
James Robinson and his wife lived and died in Reading
and their large family mostly lived and died in that vicinity.
CHILDREN OF EBENEZER ROBINSON.
The Oldest Son, Lewis Robinson, and Descendants.
Of the children of Ebenezer Robinson we note that
Jonas died in infancy, Sally Town when a girl of fourteen,
and Calvin when a promising young man of twenty-one
years. Two unmarried daughters, Hannah and Rhoda,
continued to live in the old homestead, and both died, ad-
vanced in years, in 1873. The nephews of Rhoda Robinson
speak of her as an ideal maiden aunt, kind, affectionate and
sprightly. Although quite deaf, she was active and indus-
trious and helpful to her many relatives.
Lewis Robinson, the oldest son, became a man of prom-
inence in his native town. The following sketch of his life
was written by his oldest son, Calvin L. Robinson, for "The
History of Reading."
"Lewis Robinson (b. Aug. 19, 1793; d. Nov. 16, 1871),
was the eldest child of Ebenezer and Hannah Ackley Robin-
son. He was raised on the farm cleared by his father, being
employed nine months in the year in tilling the land, and
attending school for three months in the winter. To these
advantages for an education were added one term at the old
Academy at Duttonsville, and another at a High School in
Granville, N. Y.
The sons and daughters of the early settlers of Ver-
mont were content to build their homes around their ances-
tral hearth stones, and the subject of our sketch with his
five brothers and sisters, all settled in or near the village of
South Reading, Vt., lived and died there, and were buried
in the old village graveyard on the hill. Lewis Robinson
proved himself a man of marked ability and energy. Soon
after he came of age he engaged in the business of book
publishing, establishing a printing office at Greenbush. He
ROBINSON FAMILY. 43
published a number of works there, and soon after went
into the copper plate printing and the publication of maps
and Scripture paintings at South Reading. In the map
manufacture he found a large field. He was one of the most
extensive copper plate map publishers. In 1836 with two of
his brothers-in-law, he established a large map publishing
house in Akron, Ohio. In 1839, he opened a store, and
soon after built a starch mill and carried on starch manu-
In 1844, he established a branch of his map business at
Stanstead, Lower Canada, and published there Canadian
maps. In truth Lewis Robinson showed a business capacity
of an uncommon order.
In politics he was a staunch Whig until the organization
of the Republican party, when he found himself in sympathy
with this new movement and voted with the party. For
himself he would never seek nor accept any political office.
He was not a man of many words, but took a serious view
of life, and went about everything with the air of one who
feels he has a mission to perform on earth, and an account
to render for his stewardship here. For many years he
was a faithful member of the Methodist Eoisconal Church.
He lived to the age of seventy-eight years and died at his
residence in South Reading, Nov. 16th, 1871.
Among the sons of Reading who remained in their native
hills none showed greater ability and perseverance than
Lewis Robinson. The former prosperity of South Reading
was mainly due to his efforts, and even yet the marks of
the enterprise of Lewis Robinson stand in his native village
to attest to his vigorous character, rugged and strong, like
the hills of his native state."
Sarah Manning, wife of Lewis Robinson, was born
Aug. 6th, 1803, and was the daughter of Levi Manning, of
Cavendish, Vt. He was born in Townsend, Mass., July
29th, 1766, and was the seventh generation from William
Manning, who came to America about the year 1634 and
settled in Cambridge, Mass., and whose grandson, Samuel,
settled in Billerica, Mass., on the old Manning homestead
ROBINSON FAMILY. 45
which is preserved and remains in the Manning family to
this day. This history of this family, numbering 6,014
persons, is fully given by William H. Manning, of Ayer,
Mass., in a volume entitled, 'The Manning Family/ pub-
lished at Salem, Mass., 1902/' page 292. Sarah Manning
married Lewis Robinson, Oct. 25, 1825.
Mrs. Robinson was a woman of unusual character and
energy, and an excellent wife and mother. She was gifted
in mind and unselfish in disposition, sacrificing her own com-
forts in order that her children should be well educated. She
had the pleasure of seeing them all comfortably situated in
life. She was a great lover of music, and was an able and
influential woman in her village — was an active member
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and always full of good
works. She survived her husband over twenty-one years,
and during much of this time she lived during the winter
with some one of her children and in summer at her old
homestead in South Reading, where she died peacefully
while making preparations for the celebration of her nine-
Lewis and Sarah Robinson had seven children. Their
descendants are recorded as follows :
I. Caroline Malvina, b. April 25th, 1827. She was
educated in the public schools, afterward at the Chester
Academy and at Newbury Seminary, finishing with a
musical course in the Boston Conservatory of Music. Sub-
sequently she was teacher of music at the Springfield (Vt.)
Wesleyan Seminary and taught two or three terms of select
school. She was married March 1st, 1849, to Alden Speare,
of Boston, Mass., and by him was the mother of seven chil-
Alden Speare (b. Oct. 26, 1825, d. Mar. 22, 1902), was
born at Chelsea, Vermont, and was of sterling New England
stock. His father, a physician, was a man of great energy,
business capacity and of staunch Christian character, who
died at the early age of fifty-one, when Alden, the older son,
then attending Newbury Seminary, felt compelled to leave
school to settle his father's estate.
46 HISTORICAL SKETCH
For nearly fifty-eight years he identified himself with
the commercial, educational and religious interests of Bos-
ton. Mr. Speare's success in business is manifested by his
prominent connection with the great enterprises of railroad
building, being director for many years of the Santa Fe &
Mexican Central R. R. Systems. His judgment, energy,
and foresight were potent factors in the establishment of
several important railway lines. He was also the second
mayor of the City of Newton.
Alden Speare was an active member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, was lay delegate to the General Confer-
ence of 1888, and became one of the Board of Managers of
the Missionary Society of that denomination. He also did
much work in connection with the Young Men's Christian
Association, being President of this Association in Boston in
1857, and also of the Boston Wesleyan Association for
many years. Since 1872 Alden Speare has been a Trustee
of Boston University, to which he contributed noble gifts.
His benefactions were large to many other educational and
Alden Speare was a man noted for his business and per-
sonal integrity. But greater than his business capacity and
his tireless service for every good cause, is the unsullied char-
acter he bore through life. He died suddenly at Pasadena,
Cal., Mar. 22d, 1902. The following were the children born
to Mr. and Mrs. Speare :
1. Sarah Jane, born August 22nd, 1851, and died Sept. 14th, 1851.
2. Herbert Alden, born Aug. 27th, 1852. He was married June 14th,
1875, to Rhoda H. Brickett, of Newton Centre, Mass., and became a
business man of much prominence, entering the firm of Alden Speare's
Sons & Co., of Boston. He died Oct. 14th, 1887.
Their children are:
Florence, b. June 6, 1876.
Emma, b. Sept. 28, 1879; m. Feb. 19, 1901, to Frederick Gould
and to them a daughter Lois was born April 5, 1903.
Alden Hebrert, b. May 18, 1883.
3. Emma Caroline, b. Dec. 8th, 1855; m. Oct. 3rd, 1876, to Rev.
William Edwards Huntington, and died March 3rd, 1877.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 47
4. Ella Maria, b. March 28th, 1858; m. May 10th, 1881, Rev. Will-
iam Edwards Huntington.
William Edwards Huntington was born in Hillsborough, Illinois,
July 30th, 1844. He served in two campaigns in the war; in 1864, as
private in the 40th Wisconsin and as First Lieutenant in 1865 in the
49th Wisconsin Regiment.
He was graduated at the University of Wisconsin in 1870, obtain-
ing there his degrees of A. B. and A. M. From the Boston University
he received the degrees of S. T. B. and Ph. D. He preached in
Nahant, Jamaica Plains, Rosindale, Newton, Harvard St. Church,
Cambridge, and in Tremont St. Church, Boston.
He studied in Germany in 1880 for one year. In 1882 he was
made Dean of the College of Liberal Arts of Boston University.
On the resignation of Dr. Warren, he was elected Acting President
of Boston University.
Dr. and Mrs. Huntington have four children as follows :
Raymond Edwards, b. June 28th, 1882.
Emma Caroline, b. Jan. 16th, 1884; died September, 1884.
Genevieve, b. July 29th, 1892.
Miriam, b. Nov. 21st, 1897.
5. Lewis Robinson, b. June 6th, 1861 ; m. Nov. 20th, 1883, to Edith
Burgess Holway, daughter of Rev. Dr. W. O. Holway, a retired chap-
lain in the U. S. Navy. They have one child, Caroline Malvina, b. April
Mr. Lewis Robinson Speare received his education in the Public
and High Schools of Newton. In 1880 he entered the employ of
Speare, Gregory & Co., and in 1882 was admitted as a partner. In
1886 a special partnership of Alden Speare's Sons & Co. was formed,
Mr. Speare was soon made senior partner of the same. The business
has grown to large proportions, being now an incorporated company with
houses in Boston, New York and Chicago. He is at present the
President of this Company. He is also President and Treasurer of
the Ashland Emery & Corundum Co., and President of the Crystal
Springs Manufacturing Co., and Wheat Starch Co. Mr. Speare is a
man of large business interests, and his success is accounted for by the
devotion and ability that he has given to his interests.
6. Minnie Gertrude, b. Oct. 22nd, 1862; m. April 25th, 1894, to
William Ingraham Haven. They have one child, Gladys, b. July 26th,
William Ingraham Haven, D. D., son of Bishop Gilbert Haven
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, b. in Westfield, Mass., Jan. 30, 1856;
graduated from Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass., in 1873;
from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Ct., in 1877, and from
Boston University School of Theology in 1881. Entered the New
England M. E. Conference in 1881, was pastor of Eggleston Square
Church, Saratoga St. Church, Boston, and of the Church in Newton
Centre and Brookline. In 1898 he was elected Secretary of the Ameri-
can Bible Society, which position he still holds.
48 HISTORICAL SKETCH
7. Edward Ray, b. Sept. 21st, 1872; m. Oct. 30th, 1894, to Dorothy
Simmons, b. Feb. 12, 1874. She was graduated from Boston University
with the degree of Ph. B., June, 1804.
Mr. Edward Ray Speare is a graduate of the College of Liberal
Arts, of Boston University. After graduating he became connected
with the business founded by his father in 185 1. He is the Vice-
President and General Manager of the Alden Speare's Sons & Company,
Secretary and Treasurer of the Water Paint Company of America.
He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Boston University ;
is Treasurer of the Blair and Le Larm Veneer Company ; secretary of
the Ashland Emery and Corundum Company, and director in various
other industrial concerns. His children are :
Albert Robinson, b. April 12th, 1896.
Dorothy, b. Dec. 13th, 1897.
Virginia, b. Aug. 7th, 1899.
II. Calvin Lewis, eldest son of Lewis Robinson, was
born June 3rd, 1828. He was educated in the public schools
and at the Newbury and Springfield Seminaries and at the
Norwich University, finishing with a two years' course in
the University of Vermont. He was married March 1st,
J855, to Elizabeth Seymour, born Jan. 28th, 1834, in
Broome, P. Q. With failing health, he entered commercial
business in December, 1857, settling in Jacksonville, Florida.
Here he carried on a large commercial trade, and in the
early part of the War of the Rebellion was, with his family,
driven from home, and his store and dock were burned, to-
gether with much valuable property, by the rebels. He was
succored by the gunboats of the United States navy, which
reinstated the Federal authority in that locality. He was a
member of the National Republican Convention held in Bal-
timore in 1864, that nominated Abraham Lincoln the second
time, and was a delegate to General Conference of the Meth-
odist Episcopal Church, held in Baltimore in 1876. He con-
tinued his residence, as a staunch, loyal citizen of the Gov-
ernment, in that city until the time of his death, which oc-
curred July 4th, 1887. He had the following children :
1. Arthur Seymour, b. Dec. 2nd, 1857; m. Dec. 25th, 1880, to Mag-
gie Mosser, b. Oct. 19th, 1859. Their children are:
Arthur Mosser, b. Oct. 12th, 1881 ; d. Aug. 21st, 1901.
Joseph Albert, b. Feb. 18th, 1890.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 49
2 Edward Irving, b. Nov. 12th, 1859; m. Dec. 16th, 1884, to Alice
Barber. Their children are:
Ralph Howard, b. July 2nd, 1886.
Carl Lewis, b. Jan. 30th, 1889.
Reginald Barber, b. July 20th, 1891.
Edward Irving, m. October, 1894, to Lillian Martin. Their children
Solon, Dec. 5th, 1895.
Lewis Martin, May 9th, 1897.
3. George Lewis, b. Nov. 2nd, 1861 ; d. Nov. 7th, 1861.
4. William Calvin, b. May 7th, 1864; d. Dec. 17th, 1865.
5. Annie, b. Sept. 1st, 1869; m. June 13th, 1889, to Roland Wood-
ward, a civil engineer ; b. Oct. 4th, 1868 at Irvington, 111. Their children
Roland Woodward, Jr., b. March 20th, 1890.
Rose Elizabeth, b. Sept. 3rd, 1892.
Harold Robinson, b. Dec. nth, 1893.
Dorothy Russell, b. July 7th, 1895.
6. Alice Manning, b. July 12th, 1872; m. July 18th, 1896, to David
A. Disbrow, b. Feb. 10th, 1866.
7. Ruby Elizabeth b. June 15th, 1875 ; d. Sept. 9th, 1877.
III. Eliza Ann, second daughter of Lewis Robinson,
born March 29th, 1830. She was educated as were
the other members of the family, and was mar-
ried Sept. 19th, 1849, to John S. Clark, of Lunenburg,
Vt, who was born Sept. 4th, 1822. They settled on the
well-known Judge Clark meadow farm in the oxbow of the
Connecticut River in Lunenburg, Vt. At the breaking out
of the War of the Rebellion, Mr. Clark entered the military
service of the Vermont Volunteers and was appointed cap-
tain of Company K, Eight Vermont Volunteers, Col.
Stephen Thomas, which regiment was ordered to New Or-
leans in the fall of 1862. He performed military service
until the following spring in the expedition of Major Gen-
eral Butler, when he was stricken with dysentery and died
50 HISTORICAL SKETCH
in the hospital March 20th, 1863. The following children
were born to them :
1. Lewis S. Clark, b. Dec. 17th, 1850. He now resides in Seattle,
2. John C. Clark, b. June 3rd, 1852. He was educated in Detroit,
Mich., while living with his uncle, George O. Robinson, and afterwards
returned to Vermont. For several years he was cashier of the Chelsea
(Vt.) National Bank, and subsequently was cashier of the First National
Bank of St. Johnsbury, Vt., and represented the town of St. Johnsbury
in the State Legislature in 1894-5. He is now secretary and treasurer
of Messrs. E. and T. Fairbanks & Co. Scale Works, of St. Johnsbury.
He was married April 14th, 1881, to Lida Puffer, of Grand Isle, Vt.,
who was born March 4th, 1863. Their children are :
Robert Puffer, b. March 20th, 1882. He was educated in St.
Johnsbury Academy and is now connected with the Fair-
banks' Scale Co.
Margaret Robinson, b. May 15th, 1884.
Arthur Dana. b. March 26th. 1889.
Dorothea, b. Nov. 5th, 1898.
3. Flora Ella, b. Dec. 12th, 1853. She was married Nov. 18th, 1875,
to A. D. Rowell, who was born February, 1839, and died June 17th,
1893, in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Mr. Rowell carried on the business of
jewelry, silverware and watchmaking in St. Johnsbury, to which busi-
ness his wife succeeded.
4. George Robinson Clark, b. Sept. 9th, 1859. He was educated at
the St. Johnsbury Academy, and entered the profession of dentistry.
He married Mona Maynard, of Northfield, Vt., and settled in his
profession in Boston, Mass. He has been a member of the celebrated
Ruggle Street Baptist Church choir for twenty years.
Mrs. Eliza Ann Clark re-married Nov. 12th, 1871,
her second husband being Edward F. Brown, a merchant
of St. Johnsbury, Vt., who was born in Berlin, Vt., in 1819.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Brown are still residing in St. Johns-
IV. George O., second son of Lewis Robinson, was
born at South Reading, Vt., June 14th, 1832, enjoyed the
usual advantages of a public school education, as-
sisted his father in various departments of busi-
ness and at the age of seventeen commenced
teaching school and studied to fit himself for college at
ROBINSON FAMILY. 51
Newbury (Vt.) Seminary. He graduated from the Uni-
versity of Vermont in 1857 as salutatorian of his class. He
studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1858. For two
years he practised law in Wisconsin, and in the spring of
1 86 1 removed to Detroit, Michigan, forming a law partner-
ship with David W. Brooks in 1862. The firm made a
specialty of the collection of claims upon the Government
arising out of the Civil War. The partnership was dis-
solved in 1872, when the new firm of Robinson & Flinn was
formed, giving special attention to the title, care and sale
of pine lands and pine land estates. He has con-
ducted large and important business interests, being at the
present time especially interested in iron mines. He has
taken an active interest in the affairs of the city where he
has lived, and for some years was an active member of the
Board of Education.
In charitable and religious work he has always been
active. He was one of the original members of
the Young Men's Christian Association, and has been an
active and influential member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, having been a lay delegate to the General Confer-
ence of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1896, and was
for a time a member of the important Book Committee of
the Church. He was the organizer and principal founder
of the Michigan Christian Advocate, and has been for a
number of years the president of the company which pub-
lishes it. He has traveled extensively both in his own coun-
try and in foreign lands, and has written of his travels as
well as of other subjects.
George O. Robinson married, Sept. 2J, 1859, Helen
Mather, who was a daughter of Atla E. Mather,
the first crockery merchant of Detroit. He was a direct de-
scendant of the Mather family, well known in the eariy his-
tory of Massachusetts. (See history of the Mather family.)
Helen Mather was educated in the schools of Detroit, and
also at the well-known Female Seminary at Burlington, Vt.
Her mother, Lois Yale, was a daughter of Lyman Yale, of
Charlotte, Vt., a descendant of the brother of the founder of
52 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Yale College. She was a woman of fine tastes and manners
and was highly gifted in music. She died Jan. ioth, 1890,
leaving four children, who still survive.
For his second wife, George O. Robinson married, May
7, 1891, Jane M. Bancroft, the daughter of Rev. George
C. Bancroft and Caroline Orton Bancroft. She is a gradu-
ate of the celebrated school of Mrs. Emma Willard at Troy,
N. Y., the State Normal School at Albany, and in 1877 of
Syracuse University. Later she obtained in course, upon
examination, the degree of Master and Doctor of Philoso-
phy. Miss Bancroft was the Dean of the Woman's College
of the Northwestern University, at Evanston, Illinois, from
1877 until 1886. She spent the years 1886 to 1888 at the
Universities of Zurich and Paris, making history a special
study. While in Europe she became greatly interested in
Christian philanthrophy, and later wrote a work entitled,
"Deaconness in Europe and Their Lessons for America. ,,
She is at the present time the First Vice-President and Trus-
tee of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Meth-
odist Episcopal Church and Secretary of its Deaconess Bu-
reau. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robinson are greately interested
in philanthropic work, in the charities of Detroit as also in
many other causes.
The children of George O. and Helen (Mather) Robin-
son are :
1. Frederick Austin, b. July 27, i860, was educated in the
schools of Detroit and at the Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vt. He
graduated from the Literary Department of the University of Michi-
gan in 1882, degree A. B., and from the Law Department of the Univer-
sity of Michigan in 1883, degree LL. B. He was married May 3,
1888, to Clara Louise Hayes, of Detroit, who was born March 17, 1861,
daughter of Josiah D. Hayes, a prominent railroad official, originator of
the system of through bills of lading to foreign countries and an
authority on inter-state commerce. They have two children.
Frederick Hayes, b. Aug. 24, 1898.
Marion Louise, b. Aug. 16, 1901.
Mr. Robinson is a citizen of public spirit, devoted to the interests
of his city. He has served ten years as a member of the Board of Esti-
mates of Detroit, and one term as the President of the Board. He is
ROBINSON FAMILY. 53
Managing Director of the Farrand Organ Company, and has been for
a number of years connected in business with the firm of Robinson &
Flinn, Attorneys, interested in pine and iron lands.
2. Caroline Manning, b. Aug. ioth, 1863, was educated at Profes-
sor Sill's Detroit Female Seminary and at the Painesville, O., Young
Ladies' Institute. She was married to George L. Chesebrough, Dec.
22nd, 1886, and has resided for the last ten years in the city of Duluth,
George L. Chesebrough was born Feb. 26th, 1862, in Sandusky,
O., is the son of Alfred Chesebrough, at one time Controller and
Library Commissioner of the City of Detroit, and largely interested in
vessel transportation. George L. Chesebrough is engaged in the devel-
opment of mining lands.
3. George Alta, b. Jan. nth, 1868, was educated in the Detroit Pub-
lic Schools and graduated from the St. Johnsbury, Vt., Academy.
He afterwards spent three years in civil engineering on the Santa
Fe R. R., under the direction of his cousin, Albert A. Robin-
son, chief engineer of the road. Later he took the engineering
course at the University of Michigan, and has since been chiefly
employed as a civil engineer in the office of the Detroit City Engineer.
He was married Jan. 5th, 1899, to Antoinette Bloom (b. April 6, 1872),
of Detroit, a daughter of Mr. Nelson Bloom. They have one child,
George Mather Robinson, born Nov. 24th, 1901.
4. William Henry, b. Sept. 9th, 1874, and died Dec. ioth, 1878. A
most promising boy.
5. Emma Mabel, b. Nov. 13th, 1876, was educated and graduated
from the Detroit Home and Day School, and was later at Mt. Vernon
Seminary, Washington, D. C.
The following are younger children of Lewis and Sarah
V. Sarah Jane, third daughter of Lewis Robinson,
born May 11, 1834, was educated in select schools and at
Springfield Seminary. She developed a fine talent for paint-
ing water colors and for music, but was prematurely
stricken with disease and died March 7, 1855.
VI. Cornelia Eglantine, born Nov., 1840, died Dec.
VII. Flora Ella, born March, 1845, died Sept., 1845.
Fourth Son of Ebenezer Robinson.
Compiled from a Sketch Written by his Son, Frank M Robinson, Esq.
of Dubuque, Iowa, for the History of Reading.
"Marvin Robinson, the fourth son and fifth child of
Ebenezer Robinson, was born March 24, 1800, on what is
known as the 'Old Esquire Robinson Farm' at South Read-
ing. Until he was twenty-one years of age he assisted his
father in clearing away the forests and carrying on the
farm. Soon after reaching his majority he commenced the
business of tanning in South Reading, and continued it
with such success as to acquire not only what was considered
a competence, but an amount sufficient to number him
among the wealthier men of Reading. Later he abandoned
the tanner and currier's trade altogether and farming was
his principal occupation up to the time of his death.
He filled several offices of trust in his native town, having
been seven times elected one of the selectmen, which position
he was filling at the time of his death. He was chosen lister
one or more years and served his townsmen in other posi-
tions of trust and responsibility. In politics he was a Whig,
but when the issues upon which that party was founded no
longer existed, he gave his vote and his support to the
newly formed Republican party. He was not a politician or
partisan farther than the principles of his party, in his judg-
ment, conduced to the general public welfare.
He was a man of great physical strength and endur-
ance. Whatever he aimed to accomplish he labored for with
a perseverance and energy that distanced many a man of
weaker will and less physical power. A man of good judg-
ment and sound practical sense himself in regard to all the
ROBINSON FAMILY. 55
business and duties that came within the range of his obser-
vation, and measuring everything by a matter of fact test,
he entertained but poor opinion of all theories and schemes
in which he could see no tangible value or practical utility.
His early education was limited to that afforded by the
common schools, and a wider range of scholastic training he
deemed quite unnecessary for the successful business man.
His sons he taught the hard lessons of self-reliance and
economy by making them, from early boyhood, dependent
upon their own resources for all beyond necessary food and
clothing, and when they reached manhood, the same austere
discipline compelled them, unaided, to make their own place
in the world and be the founders as well as architects of
their own fortunes.
His opinions he held firmly and the fear or favor of nc
man ever checked their free expression, while his unswerv-
ing integrity of purpose and character were never called in
question by friend, neighbor or townsman. By nature,
stern and strong himself, his discipline and judgment of
others may have sometimes seemed to be severe, but severity
was never allowed to overbalance what he believed to be the
even scale of justice.
New England, almost from the rocks, has been made the *
Eden she is, through the energy, economy, perseverance and
practical intelligence of men of his type."
Marvin Robinson (b. March 24, 1800; d. Dec. 22, 1866)
was twice married. 1st. On Oct. 11, 1826, to Lucinda Ful-
lam (b. Sept. 13, 1797; d. Nov. 25, 1839). They had seven
children. 2nd. On Sept. 22, 1840, to Charlotte Wood (b.
May 2, 1816, in Hartland, Vermont; d. April 14, 1899, in
Felchville). They had three children.
CHILDREN OF MARVIN AND LUCINDA.
I. Franklin Marvin (b. August 2, 1828; d. March
25, 1885), who married Feb. 3, 1857, Laura Goddard
Spaulding (b. May 6, 1832; d. June 21, 1889). Mr. Robin-
son graduated at Dartmouth College class of 1855. In 1856
he removed to Dubuque, Iowa, and practiced law. In T862
56 HISTORICAL SKETCH
he formed a partnership with Austin Adams, another Dart-
mouth man, the firm becoming later "Adams, Robinson &
Lacey." Mr. Robinson was a sound lawyer, an excellent
business man, and actively interested in the city, where he
lived for over thirty years.
i. May Goddard, b. April 21, i860; m. Oct. 6, 1879, to Judge Ben-
jamin W. Lacey; b. March 12, 1849, in Cayuga County, New York;
son of Dr. Samuel Lacey and Mary Woodbury Lacey. He graduated
from the law department of Columbian College in 1871 ; began the prac-
tice of the law in 1872 in Dubuque; was made a judge of the District
Court in 1878 and held this position for five years. At present is a
member of the law firm of Lacey & Brown, President of the Iowa
Trust and Savings Bank, and a Director of the Gas Company, Street
Railway and other companies. He has been interested in public insti-
tutions, having been President of the Hospital and Library Boards. Of
six children born to them, four are living, as follows :
Frank Robinson, b. Feb. 22, 1881, graduate of Harvard, class
of 1902, Harvard Law School.
Burritt Samuel, b. March 4, 1882, graduate of Harvard, class
Clive Woodbury, b. Feb. 4, 1893.
Margaret, b. April 16, 1899.
2. Belle Fullam, b. Aug. 11, 1862; d. April 5, 1887.
3. Grace, b. March 14, 1871 ; m. June 27, 1893, to Westel Woodbury
Willoughby, Ph. D., b. July 20, 1867 ; Professor at Johns Hopkins
University. Children :
Westel Robinson, b. Nov. 1, 1895.
Laura Robinson, b. March 1, 1897.
II. Edwin Auretus, second son of Marvin Robinson,
was born Oct. 18th, 1829, was educated in the public schools
and after arriving of age he settled in Boston and became
a partner in the wholesale provision house of W. F. Robin-
son & Co., with his two brothers, and died unmarried Nov.
III. Charles Henry., the third son, was born July
18th, 183 1, was educated in Reading, settled in Boston and
entered the firm of W. F. Robinson & Co. with his brothers.
He was successful in business, married in Boston, and died
April 8th, 1902, leaving no children.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 57
IV. Wallace Fullam Robinson, the fourth son of
Marvin, was born Dec. 22, 1832, and educated in Reading,
and when a young man he entered business in the pro-
vision market in Boston. His business grew rapidly when
he added to it the wholesale and packing business and soon
took in partnership his two older brothers under the firm
name of W. F. Robinson & Co. They were all good busi-
ness men and were very successful., Wallace F. Robinson
has accumulated a handsome fortune ; has been President of
the Boston Chamber of Commerce and of the Board of
Trade, and has been honored in many ways. He has now
retired from business with the respect and esteem of his
large circle of acquaintances. He married Aug. 19th, 1858,
Mary Jane Robinson (born Aug. 20th, 1838), who was a
daughter of Ezra Robinson, son of James Robinson, men-
tioned as brother of Ebenezer in this sketch. Their children
are as follows:
Fred Walter, b. Sept. 10, 1859; d. June 7, 1893.
Harry Ezra, b. Oct. 17, 1872.
V. Forrest Alonzo, b. May 29, 1835; d. March 19,
VI. Maria Frances, b. Jan. 2, 1837; m. March 27,
1857, James Orville Whitten.
VII. Elmer Duane, b. July 15, 1838; d. Dec. 4, 1893;
m. Sept. 14, 1862, Lorette C. Hawkins (b. March 11, 1838),
Erwin Elmer, b. Aug. 6, 1865; m. April 30, 1900, to Serena
Sheldon, b. Oct. 24, 1868.
Arthur Hawkins, b. May 1, 1874.
Elmer Duane, when about two years of age, his mother
having died, was adopted by his aunt, Eliza Robinson Keyes,
wife of Washington Keyes, whose surname, "Keyes," was
henceforth his name.
He entered the Civil War as lieutenant, was promoted to
58 HISTORICAL SKETCH
the rank of captain, and his company, with its regiment, took
a prominent part in the battle of Gettysburg. Mr. Keyes
went to Rutland, Vermont, in 1870, and entered in the retail
grocery business, which gradually assumed large proportions,
a wholesale branch being also established. He became the
head of the largest firm in the wholesale grocery business in
the State of Vermont. In June, 1865, Mr. Erwin E. Keyes
was taken into partnership. Mr. Keyes was a man of the
most thorough and painstaking instincts; was prominent in
business affairs, was a director in banks and other financial
institutions, and commanded to an unusual extent the respect
and confidence of all who were in any way associated with
CHILDREN OF MARVIN AND CHARLOTTE.
VIII. Elroy Clement, b. Jan. 30, 1844; d. Oct. 28,
1885. He was a merchant of Weathersfield, Vt., and a
member of the Vermont Legislature.
IX. Delia Ada, b. Jan. 24, 1847; d. Oct. 29, 1851.
X. Addie Lestina, b. Nov. 7, 1852; d. Aug. 9, 1873-
EBENEZER ROBINSON, Jr.
Ebenezer Robinson, Jr., the youngest son of Ebenezer
Robinson, was born in South Reading, Sept. 30, 1809. He
received his education in the public schools, and while a
young man was an active agent in the selling of copper-plate
maps of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont
for his brother, Lewis Robinson, who was then in the map
publishing business. He developed excellent business quali-
ties and good judgment, and married Jan. 4, 1837, Adeline
Williams (b. Dec. 19, 1814; d. July 18, 1894), the daughter
of Samuel Williams and Polly Manning, his wife.* After
marriage he settled on his father's farm, which he carried
on in connection with his father. He became a citizen much
esteemed in his community. He evinced those thorough
sterling qualities of integrity and mechanical and mathemat-
ical accuracy which characterized his father, and which have
since made themselves manifest in his boys, and was holding
office of public trust in the town of Reading when he was
suddenly stricken with congestion of the lungs and died
July 5, 1849, leaving his widow and four childen.
In 1853 Mrs. Adeline Williams Robinson was married
to Mr. Alba Childs, and settled in Wisconsin.
I. Stillman W., b. March 6, 1838, has been twice
married. On Dec. 29, 1863, to Mary Elizabeth Holden
(b. Jan. 30, 1839; d. July 29, 1885). Children:
1. Eckka Mazala, b. Oct. 15, 1869; m. June 23, 1892, Rev.
Geo. E. Rowe. Four children.
2. Erdis Geroska, b. Dec. 20, 1872.
3. Zella, b. Dec. 2, 1877; m. June 4, 1902, to Otto F. Hakes.
*Note. — See History of the Manning Family. Page 292.
60 HISTORICAL SKETCH
Mr. Robinson was married April 12, 1888, to Mary
"From 17 to 21 years, Stillman W. Robinson served an
apprenticeship as machinist; at 25 he graduated from the
University of Michigan with the degree of civil engineer;
from 25 to 28 years, he was assistant on the United States
Lake Survey ; from 28 to 32 he was assistant in engineering,
University of Michigan; from 32 to 40, professor of Me-
chanical Engineering and Physics, University of Illinois ;
from 40 to 57, professor of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio
State University, resigning in 1895 and giving attention to
mechanical and scientific subjects. In 1896 he was given the
degree of D. Sc. ; and in 1899 was made Professor Emeritus
in Mechanical Engineering, Ohio State University.
In 1880-84 he was inspector of railways and bridges for
Ohio ; 1887-90, consulting engineer A. T. & S. Fe R. R. ; and
in 1887 consulting engineer for the Lick telescope and
From 1862 to the present time he has been an inventor,
having secured some 40 patents, a goodly number of which
have proved of value, especially the eight or ten concerned
in shoe manufacture. ,,
Mr. Robinson is a member of the Am. Soc. Mech. Eng. ;
Am. Soc. Civ. Eng. ; of Naval and Marine Engs. ; a Fellow
of the A. A. A. S. ; is author of important articles in soci-
eties and periodicals; of four of Van Nostrand's Science
Series ; and of a college text book on "Principles and Mech-
At the Centennial, three awards were granted on appli-
ances of his invention, and at the Columbian Exposition, two.
II. Elna Alphonse, b. Dec. 15, 1839, was twice mar-
ried. First, April 27, 1861, at Gardner, Mass., to Melora M.
Smith (b. Oct. 15, 1839; d. Aug. 16, 1885). Children:
1. Sarah Ann, b. March 4, 1862; d. March 4, 1862.
2. Addie Eva, b. Oct. 17, 1863; d. Aug. 27, 1865.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 61
3. Gertrude Minnie, b. July 5, 1868; m. Dec. 25, 1887, to
W. L. Troyer, b. ; d. April 8, 1893. Children:
Fannie F., b. Sept. 27, 1888.
Mabel, b. Oct. 26, 1891.
4. Inez Mary, b. Nov. 28, 1872; m. Archibald Boyd, Aug.
30, 1881. Children:
Bert Blaine, b. Jan. 29, 1891.
Geo. Archibald, b. Aug. 26, 1892.
Wilbur Alphonso, b. Feb. 4, 1895.
Neil Dow, b. Dec. 27, 1897.
John Robinson, b. July 14, 1900.
5. Fannie Nettie, b. Aug. 30, 1881.
Elna A. Robinson m. Nov. 30, 1886, Semphrona E.
Stage, (b. Mar. 4, 1844.)
From 17 to 21 Mr. Robinson served an apprenticeship
as a machinist. In 1870-74 he attended the University of
Illinois, graduating with the degree of M. E., when he be-
came assistant in Mechanical Engineering at the same insti-
tution. In 1878 he became partner with Mr. E. M. Burr at
Champaign, 111., for general machine construction, as well
as improving and manufacturing specialties, and still con-
tinues in business in the same city.
III. Albert Alonzo Robinson, third son of Ebenezer
Jr.; b. Oct. 21, 1844; twice married; first, Dec. 6, 1869,
Julia Caroline Burdick; d. Aug. 3, 1880. Second, married
September, 1885, Mrs. Eliza Frances Williams, and now
resides in Topeka, Kan.
Albert Alonzo and Julia Caroline had one chiid :
Metta Burdick Robinson, b. July 17, 1876.
He was born at South Reading, Vt., and was educated
in the public schools, and graduated from the University of
Michigan in 1869, taking the degree of C. E. and B. S., and
in 187 1, M. S. In June, 1900, the honorary degree of LL.
D. was conferred on him by his Alma Mater.
His work on railroads began in 1869, when he entered
the service of the St. Joseph & Denver City Railroad as axe-
man in the engineering corps, and thereafter served succes-
62 HISTORICAL SKETCH.
sively as chainman, levelman, transitman, office engineer, lo-
cating engineer, and as assistant engineer until April i, 1871
Then he became assistant engineer of the A. T. & S. Fe R. R.,
in charge of location and construction, and two years later,
April, 1873, was made Chief Engineer, which position he
held until August, 1890, during which period he had charge
of the entire construction of the Santa Fe Railway System,
including the route through the Grand Canon of the Ark-
From June, 1883, to September 1, 1883, he was Assistant
General Superintendent of the same railroad; from Septem-
ber 1, 1883, to March 1, 1884, he was General Superintend-
ent; from March 1, 1884, to February 1, 1886, he was Gen-
eral Manager; from February 1, 1886, to May, 1888, Second
Vice-President; and Second Vice-President and General
Manager from May, 1888, until May 1, 1893, when he left
this system and accepted the Presidency of the Mexican Cen-
tral Ry. Co., which position he still holds.
During his engineering experience, he has had direct
charge of the construction of over four thousand five hun-
dred miles of railroad in all kinds of country, on plains and
deserts and in mountains and mountain canons. In 1887,
the railroad from Pueblo to Denver was constructed and
opened for traffic, 116 miles in 216 days, and also 360 miles
of the line from Kansas City to Chicago in 276 days.
Mr. Robinson is a member of the American Society of
Civil Engineers. The history of his connection with the
Santa Fe Ry. is of deep interest from the fact of his unusual
success in overcoming obstacles involving difficult railway
problems. His record will now probably show the highest
in railway construction mileage.
IV. Mary Ella, only daughter of Ebenezer Jr.; b.
Sept. 4, 1847; m. April 24, 1870, Asa N. Phelps, of Spring-
field, Wisconsin, where they settled and have since resided,
Mr. Phelps carrying on a grocery and grain business at
that place. Their children are :
Cyrus Alba Phelps, b. Feb. 2, 1871.
Adeline Williams Phelps, b. August 4, 1879.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 63
Eliza Robinson, youngest daughter and ninth child of
Ebenezer Robinson, was born May 20, 1807, and married
Washington Keyes, of a well known family in Reading,
September 29, 183 1, and died December 13, i860. They
settled on the adjoining farm, next northerly of the Eben-
ezer Robinson farm, where formerly James, the brother of
Ebenezer Robinson, had lived, and which he had cleared,
which farm Mr. Keyes greatly improved and enjoyed until
some time after the death of his wife.
They had one child, Laura Malvina Keyes, who was born
Sept. 7, 1832, and afterwards they adopted into their famiHy
Elmer Duane, the sixth son of Marvin and Lucinda Robin-
son, whose mother died in his infancy and who grew up as
their child. Having used the name of Keyes in his child-
hood, he was ever afterward known, by that name. Refer-
ence is made to him under the head of Chapter VI. in giving
the children of Marvin Robinson.
Washington Keyes was an intelligent and prosperous
farmer and was the representative of his town in the Ver-
mont Legislature at the time of the death of his wife.
Laura M. Keyes married William Manning Williams
Sept. 7, 1853. They had four children, Lizzie, Arthur,
Frank and Flora Ella, the first three of whom died in child-
hood. Flora Ella was born Oct. 31, 1865, and was married
to William Wallace White Sept. 2, 1879, who died in New
York Dec. 11, 1887.
William M. Williams was born April 6, 1824, and was
the son of Samuel and Polly (Manning) Williams. (See
Chapter VII. as to his sister, Adeline Williams, who mar-
ried Ebenezer Robinson Jr.) After carrying on a wooden-
ware manufactory in South Reading, he settled in New
York city as cabinetmaker, and died in that city May 19,
1897, survived by his wife, Laura (Keyes) Williams, and
his daughter, Flora Ella White.
THE ROBINSON NAME.*
The person who studies genealogy for the sake of tracing
descent from some distinguished ancestor is to be pitied.
Disillusion is his invariable experience. Such persons should
study Gibbon's sketch of the noble French house of Courte-
nay, and take the lesson home. Rising from a plebian root,
active, vigorous individuals pushed forward the fortunes of
the Courtenay family until it was connected with the royal
line of France. It remained prominent for a century or two
and then it gradually, pitilessly sank until again it was lost
to recognition among the masses of the people. The honors
had passed away, but the family remained, though its rami-
fications were lost among the many. So every family is in-
extricably intermingled with all classes and ranks of social
The study of genealogy in itself, however, is in many
ways interesting. To trace the characteristics of a family
from generation to generation is a psychological investiga-
tion. To note the effect of inter-marriage; to study the
immediate, marked result of a capable, energetic individual
upon all related to him ; to note how environment affects de-
velopment of character ; all of these are questions that must
concern those who are interested in the life about them.
The question of environment is well illustrated in the
descendants of Samuel Robinson. He kept a tavern at
Cambridge, a town of schools, close to Boston, which even
then was one of the most active intellectual and political
centers of the New World. His son Samuel grew up in
this atmosphere of intellectual ferment, and is it surprising
Homes of English Names, H. B. Guppy, 1890. English Surnames, Lower,
1875. English Surnames, Bardsley, London, 1875.
ROBINSON FAMILY. 65
that his branch of the descendants of William Robinson has
produced more statesmen and men of public life than any
Then the study of names, especially of surnames, has a
fascination to a thinker. How did they arise? A little re-
search shows us that surnames are a mark of advanced civi-
lization. Camden, the great antiquary, says that they were
not known in England until the time of the English Con-
quest. Before that time, every existing deed is signed with
a cross and a single name. About the middle of the twelfth
century persons of rank began to have some distinctive
name in addition to the baptismal name, but such names were
hardly known among the middle and lower classes before
the fifteenth century. Then all kinds of designations arose
and in various ways. One person would be named by his
occupation; a mason, a carpenter, a miner; another from
local names, as field, grove, lake; another from the place
where he resided, as Norman, Poland, Scott; others from
the baptismal name of the father.
The English surname of Robinson was derived from the
baptismal name of Robert, itself a Teutonic name. A few
of the derivations are as follows :
Robarts, Robins, Robinson, Roberts, Robertson, Robison,
Robson and Roby. Then we have the nickname of Dob
for Robert, from which has come Dobbs, Dobson, Dobbins.
Dobinson, and Dobynette, and from Hob, another nickname
for Robert, has come Hobbs, Hobson, Hobbins, Hopkins,
and Hopkinson. From the Welsh we have Ap-robert, Ap-
robin, and the contractions, Probert and Probyn.
Robert was a frequent name among the people, and the
following fact may be one of the reasons for its so being :
Salverte says that when the European states were converted
to the Christian faith, pagan names were laid aside and new
names were imposed at the baptism of the converts. Nobles
and men of position were given separate baptism, but the
plebeian candidates were divided into companies, and as the
priest conferred baptism upon a company, he would give the
same name to all the members of the company. Now.
66 HISTORICAL SKETCH
imagine that a whole company were baptised "Robert !" It
certainly would be an impossible task for their descendants
to trace their ancestry to one common beginning.
Then consider the variety of names derived from Robert,
mentioned in the paragraph above, and a little reflection will
convince the most enthusiastic genealogist that the attempt
to trace back all Robinsons to a common ancestor is a pre-
Neither should we envy the heroic task of writing a
history of the Robinson Family, as undertaken by its de-
voted historiographer, Mr. Chas. E. Robinson.
Lower (page 177) gives a curious study of statistics
concerning sixty of the most common surnames of England,
showing the births, deaths and marriages registered for one
year, ending July 1st, 1838. "In- this time, in England
alone, 1,445 Robinsons were born, 1,223 died and 877 were
Truly a historiographer of such a family has no light
The name has figured largely in early English history.
There was "Robin of Redesdale," the leader of fifteen thou-
sand farmers and peasants who, in 1345, at the time of the
peasants' revolt, marched to Bambury and captured the Earl
of Pembroke. The name is also preserved to us in the
legendery exploits of Robin Hood, the bold Archer of
Sherwood Forest, the hero of the common people. His
name is still used every day in proverbial expressions wher-
ever the English language is known. "All around Robin
Hood's barn, ,, indicates an unnecessarily circuitous way.
"Robin Hood's wind," is a name given in Lancaster to a
wind that blows during the thawing of the snow, so named,
it is said, because Robin Hood once stated that he could
stand any wind except a thawing wind.
The great home of the Robinson clan is in the north of
England, its members becoming less as you travel south.
There were located its most influential families.
Mr. Charles E. Robinson, Historiographer of the "Rob-
inson Family Association," in "his book, entitled, "The Rob-
ROBINSON FAMILY. 67
insons and their Kinfolk," has an interesting chapter on
"Heraldry," drawing his facts largely from J. Bernard
Burke in his "General Armory." He tells of the mottoes,
crests, colors, coats-of-arms of different families of Robin-
sons, mostly from the North of England.
Some of these mottos are as follows :
"Robinson of Yorkshire and Robinson of Lancastershire
have the same motto, Virtute, non verbis. (By bravery, not
"Robinson of Tottenham, 'Virtus pretiosior auro!
(Virtue is more precious than gold.)"
"Robinson of Buckinghamshire, Vincam Malum bono.
(I will conquer evil by good.)" Granted in 1731.
"Robinson of Beverly House, Toronto, Canada, Propere
et provide. (Quickly and cautiously.)"
"Robinson of Scotland, Intemerata fides. (Uncorrupted
"Robinson, Earl of Ripon, Qualis ab incepto. (The
same as from the beginning.)"
"Robinson of Rokeby Hall, County of Louth, Sola in
Deo Salus. (Salvation in God alone.)"
"Robinson, Lord Rokeby, Non nobis solum sed toti
mundo nati. (Not born for ourselves alone, but for the
"Robinson of Silksworth Hall, County of Durham, de-
scended from William Robinson of Durham, living in 1502,
Post nubila Phoebus. (Sunshine after clouds.)"
By the kindness of Mr. Charles E. Robinson we here
reproduce the coat-of-arms of "William Robinson of ye
North," confirmed by the Herald of Arms in the visita-
tion of Leicestershire in 1619, and of London in 1633.
(Harleimi publications, pp. 182, 204.)"
This coat-of-arms is simply given as one among the
nineteen that are noted by Mr. Charles E. Robinson as
belonging to different Robinson families, and as a matter of
interest to any one bearing the Robinson name.
We have no proof to adduce that "William of Newton
or Watertown," the most remote direct ancestor of Eben-