Robinson Genealogical Society.

The Robinsons and their kin folk (Volume 3) online

. (page 5 of 6)
Online LibraryRobinson Genealogical SocietyThe Robinsons and their kin folk (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

loyalh' advocated. He would have scorned (as some of his de-
scendants do) the tender of a nomination and election to the lower
House of Congress, — if the cause-way leading to that goal wound
through the quagmire and corruption of political debauchery
characteristic of so many contests of the present day. The aims
and ambitions of many of those who now clamor for the imagin-
ary honor of being a Congressional representative would be su-
premely obnoxious to him. When some of our so called statesmen
first assume their official positions their minds and hearts seem to
be swayed by four aims, viz:

ist. What can I do to adv-ance my political aspirations, and
how can I enhance my exchequer ?

2nd. How many of my constituents can I procure a pension
for; and how can I increase the amount of those already receiv-
ing a pension ?

3d. How much can I extract from the government's treasury
for the erection of a public building in my district ?

4th. Whenever a member votes for a personal or pet bill of
mine, reciprocate the kindness by supporting any private meas-
ure he may desire enacted.

The diminutive ego — the mortal I ! Inexplicable selfishness
predominates in .so many rational lives that such seem utterly


ignorant of the fact that PubHc business may be essential ;
that many pensions are granted more on account of poHtics than
meritorious service at arms; that legaUzed pilfering from a rich
treasury for local improvement is censurable, or that the sworn
duty of a representative is to guard, promote and maintain the
interests and welfare of all the people, and not merely a few
thousand ' ' constituents ' ' of an isolated Congressional District.

And hence we gather why it was that John W. Robinson,
many years ago, significantly used the well known phrase :
" When vice prevails and imperious men bear swa}^;"
" The post of honor is a private station."
In holding such views he naturally avoided politics. These
precepts were early inculcated in the minds of his children: —
" At all times be honest."
" Exert yourself in earnest."

" Avoid duplicity; deceitfulness is bare falsehood."
" Youth should gather together against time of need."
' ' Six days shalt thou labor, and on the seventh thou shalt

" Those being good rules, the whole Creation will work such
as to Him seemeth best."

That brief code of civil conduct is an epitome exemplifying
his life. He died at Wilkes-Barre, December i6, 1840, leaving
a will that is duly recorded at the proper office in that
place. The inventory shows his personal estate to have been
worth $10,248.38, exclusive of real estate. His wife, Ann Butler,
died Ma}' 11, 1856, in her 69th year; his sons, Charles Miner, April
15, 1S29; John Trumbull, August 28, 1848; Mary Ann Bradley
(Robinson) Wright, September 8, 1871; and Houghton Butler,
December 29, 1892, in his 84th year. The immediate family
of John W. Robinson are now all dead, and are all buried in the
Hollenback Cemetery, at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

This is but an abstract of a more detailed biographical sketch
of the life of John W. Robinson, and I regret to say has consumed
more time than the ten minutes alloted for its deliver^'. As
charity is a Robinson characteristic I hope to be condoned for the
transgres.sion, and sincerely regret not being able to make this
abbreviated sketch more instructive and entertaining.



By Rev. Joseph H. Robinson.

OF the special line of the Robinsons from which the
present writer descends, William Robinson "of
Watertown " is at once the progenitor and the
Melchizdek. For in all the records I can find,
he is without genealogy, having neither father
nor mother. The first notice modern history takes
of him is that he "was living in Watertown, Mass.,
in 1670." The fact of a progenitor having once
actually lived is of course a great deal, — or else how
should his descendants be able to be sure that they are not
themselves mere creatures of the imagination ? But from the point
of view of the technical genealogist, it leaves much to be desired.
It is added indeed that William lived ' ' upon a farm ' ' which
makes it probable, if not to be proven, that there is a legendary
hint in the history here that, as Aphrodite sprang directly
from the waves, so he sprang straight from the soil of Mother
Earth on that farm. Yet further to heighten the historian's
sense of mj^ster}', it is said that his farm was situate "on a
narrow neck of land," — which at once reminds us of the old
verse :

" Lo, on a narrow neck of land,
Twixt two unbounded seas I stand,
Secure ! Insensible ! "

Whether or not he felt himself thus reprehensibly " .secure,"
it is evident that he was quite "insensible" to the trouble he
was to make his descendents in their " efforts after ancestry."

We are also told that Watertown and Concord both claimed
that farm, and it may well have been the angry flood of their
contentions which formed the " narrow neck of land " on which
he stood.


His first real date, as if to indicate that the real beginning
of a man's life only comes when he takes unto himself a better
half, is that of his marriage in 1667, to Elizabeth Cutter, born
1645. I adduce that date as some evidence of the probability of
his birth having occured somewhere about 1640 — if so be that he
ever was born, like ordinar}^ men.

Those of our line who claim for him some connection with
the Rev. John, the Pilgrim Pastor, as the present writer does, —
basing his belief on one of those mere family traditions which are
so wonderfully persistent, — must work back from about that
5'ear of 1640.

I have begun my sketch of his descendant, Capt. Samuel, in
this way, in the hope that some information may possibly be
forthcoming along this line.

We have the following record : — " To William and Elizabeth
was born, 6th, Samuel, in Cambridge, 1680 ; " and to his name
tradition attached the title of " Lieutenant. " He was twice
married ; and by his first wife, Sarah Manning, he had, among
other children, a son, who is the subject of this paper.

Samuel Robinson was born in Cambridge, Mass., April 4th, or
19th, 1707. The next date we know of him, as of his grandfather,
is that of his marriage in 1730 or 1732, to Mary Lenard of
Southboro, Mass. They lived for a year or two at Grafton, but
in the spring of 1735, they went to Hardwick, in the same state,
where was their residence for more than a quarter of a century.

Mr. Robinson became at once active in all the town doings,
and not least in the church life, in which he was long a deacon.
He brought up a large family of children, ten in number, seven
sons and three daughters, in the phrase of that day, " in the fear
of the Lord and the exercise of piety." And there is still pre-
served his copy of Isaac Watts, " Way of Instruction by
Catechism," along which " way," somewhat rough to the feet it
seems, every child of his must go, whatever tears and tiredness
might result; for it seems possible yet to discern on its yellow
pages those traces of many thumbs and blotches which have
always been the children's tribute to knowledge and grace.

But Samuel Robinson was militant not only in the church
and Her doctrine, but also as a member of the State militia, no
position of mere ease and emolument in those days. In the old
French War, " during the years 1755-6, he was a captain in Col.
Ruggles' regiment of Provincials, and served as such on the


frontier;" in 1748, had been " stationed at Fort George," and
was in the battle of Lake George.

What is now the State of Vermont had then long been known
by the uncomplimentary title of "The Wilderness," — possibly for
the reason that, as an Uncle of the writer's was wont to say, " the
State of Vermont is composed of two stones to every dirt," — but
more probabl3% lo3'al Vermonters will claim, because of New York's
sheer ignorance of the subject. Through it " those first colonial
armies were often compelled to march ; and it is complete disproof
of the opprobrious title of "Wilderness," that to the wearied
soldiers it seemed so attractive, in the beauty of its scenery, and
the fertility of its soil, as that many of them planned when peace
should come, to go back thither and dwell. It was on one of his
returns from these military expeditions that Captain Robinson,
mistaking the Walloonsac river for the Hoosac, was led to what
is now Bennington, for a night's encampment.

No one who has ever stood at the summit of that hill where
stands the granite grey of Bennington's monument to her soldiers,
and has looked out over the winding valley and the vast ranges
of encircling hills, till the little summit seems like an island in
the midst of giant waves of green, can wonder that at this first
sight, the returning soldier named it, "The Promised Land,"
and determined to make it some day his home.

Parties from New^ Hampshire had already obtained a grant
of the wide country around, and named it Bennington, in honor
of Governor Benning Wenthworth of that State.

About thirteen years after the grant in 1761, Captain Robin-
son persuaded a company of his associates to join in purchasing the
rights of the original grantees ; his first party of settlers arrived
on June iSth of that year ; others came through the summer, and
himself and family in the next October. The first party is said
to have consisted of the families of Peter and Eleazer Harwood,
and Samuel and Timothy Pratt, who probably came from
Amherst, Mass., and others from neighboring towns followed

There is reason for believing that a predominating motive
for this move lay in what has been always a prolific cause
of the courage for emigration and new settlement, religious

The early majorities of Massachusetts, though themselves
the children of religious oppression, had not learned tolerance


through suffering, and no more than their opponents in England,
could they broke Independency.

Majorities have always known how to make life hard for the
minorit}' ; and therefore the latter, nicknamed in New England,
" the Separates," began to look for some new region where they
could be at peace. Two entire societies of these Independents,
one from Massachusetts, and one from Connecticut, emigrated
together to these New Hampshire "grants" which we have
mentioned. And these families of Robinsons, Deweys, Fays,
Saffords, Wallridges and others were "the principle agency in
establishing the title under New Hampshire Law, and after-
ward of achieving the independent exist ance of Vermont as a

It is clear from the records that no family pride need be
called on to make the claim of our captain's primacy in the
movement and the neighborhood in which it found a home.
He became by common consent the moderator of the first
town meeting there; and it was largely due to his power of leader^
ship and uatiring zeal that the little colony began at once to
flourish. Memories have come down of how his timely aid and firm
wisdom were felt in every house and need of the community, a
man on whom many men and women loved to defend and delighted
to honor. He was the first person to be appointed to judicial
office in the State, being made justice of the peace in 1762.
But it was in his management of the land-sales that his char-
acteristic firmness grew into sheer dogmatism; he must person-
ally be convinced, not only that the purchaser had the necessary
means and character, but was of the proper religious denomina-

It is one of the wonders of human nature that somehow perse-
cution often makes persecutors. One would imagine that they
who had themselves felt the rigors of religious tryanny, would
be the least tyrannical and most broad. It is seldom so; it was
not so with the early settlers of Vermont. Capt. Samuel was a
strict and dogmatic Congregationalist, and one of the first ques-
tions he would put to any would-be purchaser of the neighbor-
hood lands, w^as, " To what religious denomination do you
belong?" If the answer agreed with his own sectarian feeling,
well and good: the purchaser might own land among the finer
portions on the Hill. But should he prove to be a Baptist, or
Methodist, or even Episcopalian, woe be on him, his purchase


must be of the poorer portions in the far valley, if indeed he were
allowed to purchase at all.

lyittle by little the " Wilderness " became a garden of beauty
and desirability: north and south the country was opening to
settlers. Suddenly New York began to realize how valuable
was this region which had been so hitherto unnoticed, and laid
claim to the right of granting all lands therein. The settlers of
Bennington with other townships were ordered to repurchase
their lands under New York ' 'grants, ' ' and at once banded together
in making steady resistance to this injustice. And when under
Governor Colden, sheriffs were sent into the territory to evict
the recalcitrant, there quickly grew up those companies of bold
and fearless men who later became the " Green Mountain Boys "
under the command of Col. Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, able
to make their resistance to force effective with force. Mean-
while a petition to the King was drawni up, signed by more than
a thousand of the grantees asking for relief against the New
York demands, and to have the jurisdiction of the territory
firmly settled upon New^ Hampshire. Such a petition would
hardly be effective at any royal court unless supported bj^ personal
effort. Samuel Robinson for the settlers from Massachusetts, and
Samuel Johnson, a then eminent lawyer, for those from Connect-
icut, were chosen to be the Commissioners and bear the petition
to England, and there lay this and all their grievance before King
George. It was no small matter, and required men of no small
calibre in those days, to embark on such a mission.

It is significant of the wide power and headship which Mr.
Robinson held among his fellow settlers that no other was ever
thought of to undertake the lead in this enterprise over seas.

On this mission they sailed from New York city on Christ-
mas Day, 1766, arriving in Falmouth on the 30th day of January
following. It is evident that the New Hampshire and Yermont
men were but poorly able to provide their Commissioners with
funds, for in his letters to his family from L,ondon, Mr. Robinson
writes of " the great of living " there and of being " in
want of money." It is evident also that he was made to feel the
weight money might have in the hands of the wealthier and better
known New Yorkers, for he writes again that, "it is hard to
make men believe the truth when there is ready money on the
other side." But the mighty determination of character which
had made him master of men in the wilderness now gave him a


power which even money could not defeat; for he obtained an
injunction order from his Majesty, under date of 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, till His Majesty's further
pleasure should be known concerning the same. ' '

Feeling that his business in England was thus far enough
advanced to permit of his leaving it in the hands of his associate,
a decision doubtless based largely on the steadily depleting finan-
cial resources, both of himself and his family's at home, he began
the arrangements for his departure — with what joy one can well
imagine. He had, at his departure six months before, left at the
head of his household, a wife of determination and force of char-
acter as great as his own. She had come from one of the cultivated
homes of eastern Massachusetts; and it is said that she wept as she
thought of going so far to the West and the wilderness. But cour-
age consists, not in having no fears, but in conquering them; and
she braved the hardships of the journey and the later struggle for
existence in the new settlement as only a brave woman can who
loves a brave man. For she not only helped him with manual
labor to keep the wolf of hunger from the door at first, but many
a time after his departure abroad, she literally drove hungry and
howling packs of wolves from the roof of the house. From her
Massachusetts home she carried her high tastes with her, and
was known in all the Bennington neighborhood as one of " the
superior sort" in intellectual power and in cultured manner.
She is said to have been a great reader of history, ancient and
modern alike, and she so instilled these tastes into the minds of
her children that she lived to see her third son, Moses, Governor
of Vermont, and her youngest son, Jonathan, leading lawyer and
jurist of all that southern tier of the State.

In those days when the voyage from the one continent to the
other took more than a month, and letters were few and far be-
tween, one can imagine the anxious thoughts, each of the other,
that had constantly flown between this far-separated husband and
wife, and therefore his great pleasure of having settled the day
of his departure, all the more saddened, therefore, at the blow
that fell just as he was making ready to embark, he was
suddenly taken ill with the dread disease of small pox; and
although, as Mr. Samuel Johnson wrote Mr. Robinson's wife in
a most kindly and appreciative letter, the original of which, I


believe, is still in the Robinson collection in Bennington — " No
attention, care or expense has been spared for his comfort and
healing;" he died in London on the 27th day of October, 1767, and
was interred in the old burying ground belonging to Mr. Whit-
field's Church, where he had attended public worship. "He
was sensible to the last," the letter adds in its quaint style,
" and calmly resigned to the will of Heaven." In the little old
Catechism which the children had struggled and struggled
through years before, we find that the youngest of his children
wrote when just thirteen years of age, these words: " Capt.
Samuel Robinson, His Book, Who now is dead, and gone out of
this world, in exchange for a better we hope. Written by his
son Jonathan, March 14, 1770."

The news would be long in travelling those days ; and one
can feel the shock that letter must have been to the house on the
beautiful Hill, which brought the news of its owner's death, just
as they were thinking of his longed for arrival — but a shock not
alone to that household, rather to the whole little world of the
Bennington settlement and through the near country side, a
calamity to many a friendless life of whom he had become the
kindly, mighty friend, as when in the forest a mighty oak
falls, and bears with it downward a hundred lesser trees. A
father, leader, counsellor, was dead far across the sea, and
the}' might not even view the place of his burial. Only a single
slab of white marble in the old Beimington church-yard stands
for the work and remembrance of the man to whom Vermont
owes so much. And indeed, until very lately, his grave across
the sea had been utterly forgotten of men.

A Mr. Lyons, teacher in a New England school, was travel-
ing not long since through England upon a vacation tour. One
day as he passed a church building newh^ completed, his eye was
caught by a tablet on the wall : " Whitfield Memorial Church."
Knowing something of the story of Capt. Robinson, he entered,
and soon learned that upon that spot the older church had stood.
After some search, he found the old church records well kept for
more than two hundred years. And under date of 1767, he read
the following inscription: "Samuel Robinson, buried or died Octo-
ber 29, 1767, aged 60 years. Brought from the parish of St. Mary
Le Bon." Only so much the world keeps of so many " of whom
the world was not worthy." But though its honors little crown
his life, yet its work, its human meaning for other lives, — these


things abide. It is good to know the life of such a man, good to
bear his name, yet better to strive to put into one's life some-
thing of the determination and deed which were in his.

Two descendents of Judge Jonathan Robinson, his son, have
placed at the close of their chapter of his doings, the lines which
will stand for the man in his manliness and godliness together:

"To justice, freedom, duty, God,
And man forever true,
Strong to the end, a man for men,
From out the strife he passed."


• H





Bennett, William Robinson S03 Hioadway, Chelsea, Mass.

Larned, Charles 1025 Tremont Building, Boston, Mass.

Richards, Mrs. Helen R Maiden, Mass.

Robinson, Albeit O .Sanbornville, N. H.

Robinson, Hon. David I Gloucester, Mass.

Robinson, Hon. Frank Hurd Hornes%ille, N. Y.

Robinson, Geo. W Elburn, 111.

Robinson, H. S. 60 State St., Boston,

Robinson, John Cutler Hampton, Va.

Robinson, Miss Maria L 178 Main St., Orange, N. J.

Robinson, Miss Phebe A iq Shores St., Taunton, Mass.

Robinson, Mrs. R. R. (Jane A. Rogers) Maiden, Mass.

Robinson, Sylvanus Smith Metamora, 111.

Spaulding, Edward 40 Purchase St., Boston, Mass.

Wright, George R., Esq 73 Coal Exchange, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.


Allen, Miss Eleanor West Tisbury, Mass.

Armstrong, Mrs. Frances Morgan Hampton, Va.

Austin, Mrs. C. Downer (Joanna) New York, N. Y.

Bennett, Mrs. Charlotte, Payson Robinson. .. .S03 Broadway, Chelsea, Mass.

Bowie, Mrs. Mary Robinson Uniontown, Pa.

By ram, Joseph Robinson g-ii Essex St., Boston, Mass.

Brainerd, Miss Harriett E 27 Messenger St., St. Albans, Vt.

Chapman, Mrs. James Edwin Evanston, Wyo.

Clark, Mrs. Evelina D 125 Newton St., Marlboro, Mass.

Clarke, Mrs. Mary R 9 St. James Ave., Boston, Mass.

Creighton, Dr. Sarah Robinson 28 West 59th St., New York, N. Y.

Cutts, Mrs. R. A 19 Walden St., Lynn, Mass.

Dean, Mrs. Sarah Daggett 33 Dean St., Attlcboro, Mass.

Dudley, Mrs. Hattie L 119 Antrim St., Cambridge, Mass.

Eastman, Edson C Concord, N. H.

Eastman, Mrs. Edson C. (Mary L. Whittemore) " "

Ford, Mrs. Ella (Everson) So. Hanson, Mass.

Fuller, Mrs. A. B. (Emma L.) 13 Hilliard St., Cambridge, Mass.

Graham, Mrs. Maranda E. (Robinson) Orange City, Fhi.

Hamilton, Mrs. Amanda Wilmarth McCreary,

400 So. Highland Ave., Pittsburg, Pa.

Holbrook, Levi New York Citv, N. Y.

■> i }



Kimball, John E Oxford, Mass.

Lewis, Mrs. F. W. (Celia L.) 28 Albion St., Melrose Highlands, Mass.

McLaren, Mrs. S. R 20 Humboldt Ave., Providence, R. L

Miller, Miss FForence Andyman 64 Orchard St., No. Cambridge, Mass.

Miller, Mrs. Edwin C. (Ida Farr) 18 Lawrence St., Wakefield, Mass.

Monk, Mrs. Lillian, Box 727, Nevada, hi.

Moore, Leonard Dunham Box 33, Pittsburg, Pa.

Nevins, Mrs. Anna Josepha Shiverick Edgartown, Mass.

Norris, James L., Jr 331 C. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.

Packard, Mrs. Lewis S. (Abbie W.) Mansfield, Mass.

Porter, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Robinson Cliftondale, Mass.

Randolph, Mrs. Geo. F. (Annie F.) 1013 No. Charles St., Baltimore, Md.

Raymond, Daniel V 55 Liberty St., New York, N. Y.

Robinson, Rev. A. B Westfield, N. J.

Robinson, Mrs. Albert O. (Clara E.) Sanbornville, N. H.

Robinson, Mrs. Anna B 300 Adams St., Dorchester, Mass.

Robinson, Benjamin S Greenfield Center, N. Y.

Robinson, Mrs. Calvin L. (Elizabeth S.) 420 Post St., Jacksonville, Fla.

Robinson, Carel 19 Congress St., Boston, Mass.

Robinson, Charles Albert Auburn, Me.

Robinson, Charles Floyd 105 Washington St., Somerville, Mass.

Robinson, Charles H 3310 Tulare St., Fresno, Cal.

Robinson, Charles Snelling Denver, Colo.

Robinson, Doane Aberdeen, So. Dak.

Robinson, Dr. Ebenezer T Orange City, Fla.

Robinson, Edward Arthur 6 Rowe St., Auburndale, Mass.

Robinson, Miss Emily M 424 Washington St., Brookline, Mass.

Robinson, Erastus Corning Alexandria, Ind.

Robinson, Eugene M 22 Fifth Ave., Chicago, 111.

Robinson, Frank 88 Cross St., Somerville, Mass.

Robinson, Frank Everett 125 Langley Ave., Detroit, Mich.

Robinson, Rev. Fred. Arthur Milford, Mass\

Robinson, Dr. Frederick Converse Uniontown, Pa.

Robinson, G. C 104 Merrimack St., Haverhill, Mass.

Robinson, George Champlin Wakefield, R. L

Robinson, George Champlin, Jr 170 Hicks St., Brooklyn, N. Y.

1 2 3 5

Online LibraryRobinson Genealogical SocietyThe Robinsons and their kin folk (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 6)