Robinson Family


ROBINSON. The Robinsons of Hovey township are descendants of Elisha Robinson, Sr., who came to this section of Armstrong county in 1814. He and his posterity, in turn, have been associated with the development and history of the region continuously since.

The Robinson family is of old and honored standing in this country, where it has been settled from early Colonial days. The emigrant ancestor, Isaac Robinson, the son of Rev. John Robinson, of Leyden, and Bridget White, his wife, was born about 1610 and came to New England in 1631, first settling at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Lieut. Peter Robinson, son of Isaac by his second wife, Mary, was born between 1653 and 1666-67, probably at Falmouth. He married Experience Manton, daughter of John Manton, of Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard. He afterward removed to Windham, Conn., where he resided until his death, which was some time between Feb. 6, 1739, and April 15, 1740.

Peter Robinson (2), son of Lieut. Peter and his wife Experience Manton, was born about 1697 at Windham, Conn. He maried Ruth Fuller, daughter of Samuel Fuller, of Mansfield, June 30, 1725, and died March 22, 1785.

Experience Robinson, son of Peter (2), was born April 22, 1728, and married Zerviah Palmer, daughter of Eliezer Palmer, Feb. 14, 1748-49. He died Sept. 10, 1807.

Andrew Robinson, son of Experience and his wife Zerviah Palmer, was born Aug. 1, 1762. He was married three times, first on March 10, 1785, to Olive Hovey, daughter of Ebenezer and Dorcas (Corbin) Hovey, and sister of Dr. Simeon Hovey. He died June 10, 1849.

Elisha Robinson, son of Andrew and Olive (Hovey) Robinson, was the owner of the land in Armstrong county, Pa., where oil was first discovered leading to the development of the Parker and Butler county fields. He was one of the best known of the early settlers in his section, where he lived from 1814. Mr. Robinson was a native of Connecticut, born Dec. 4, 1791, in Windham. He learned the trade of tanner with a Mr. Bingham, of his native town, and in 1814 set out for what was then the West, his uncle, Dr. Hovey, having promised to build a tannery for him and make him his heir. In 1814 he located in that part of old Perry township now known as Hovey, in Armstrong county, Pa., upon the land where his son Elisha afterward resided. Here he engaged in shoemaking and had a tannery, undoubtedly the first in the northern part of Armstrong county, and carried on both lines, in which he met with steady success. This industry was continued there for over fifty years, Mr. Robinson following same for over thirty years, until about 1846, when he turned it over to his son Samuel. For the next quarter of a century he devoted himself to farming, which he always followed, having a gristmill also. The log school which he built for his children is still standing. When he arrived in this region he began improving part of the tract belonging to his uncle, Dr. Simeon Hovey (in whose honor Hovey township was named), and his first purchase of land was the "Thom's run" property, a tract of 100 acres which he paid for in shoes and leather, working to acquire his land. "A Revolutionary soldier named Joseph Thom was a pioneer settler on the stream which is still known as Thom's run. He built the first sawmill in this part of the county, and operated it for several years. He sold his tract of land to Elisha Robinson (Sr.) And moved away." With his wife Mr. Robinson inherited the property of his uncle, Dr. Hovey, who was married but left no children, dying in 1837, in his seventy-eighth year.

As Mr. Robinson's receipts after the opening of the oil industry were so large as to place him among those who became very wealthy as a result of that activity, it is only just to him to say that his well-directed industry and good management as a business man and farmer had brought him independence before then. He prospered by dint of enterprise and energy, becoming the owner of 1,100 acres in his home farm, besides acquiring other interests. This farm became one of the most noted properties in the entire oil region, for there were made the first discoveries of oil leading to the development of the Parker and Butler county fields. (The Grant farm in Butler county, which became famous as oil territory and produced from $200,000 to $300,000 worth of petroleum, was sold by Mr. Robinson for $100, and never paid for until its value as oil property was discovered.) In 1865 a portion of the Robinson farm a quarter of a mile north of Parker City was purchased by the Philadelphia Company, and a well was sunk under the superintendency of W. D. Robinson, son of Elisha Robinson. Oil was struck Oct. 10th of that year. This well (the first oil discovered in the county) proved to have a production of about twenty-five barrels a day, which was an important yield at the price of oil which then prevailed -- $8.50 per barrel. This well was controlled by the Clarion and Allegheny River Oil Company, and was known as Clarion No. 1. No important results immediately followed the discovery, though within the next few years the pioneer operators had demonstrated beyond doubt that the territory around Parker's Landing was rich in petroleum. Mr. Robinson began to lease his land to operators for one-eighth to one-fourth royalties, and as a large number of good wells were soon struck he found himself in receipt of a substantial income. It was not until the latter half of the year 1869 that a genuine oil excitement revealed the importance of the oil fields surrounding Parker. About a dozen wells had been put down on the hill near Parker prior to the time mentioned. But these test wells had proclaimed the value of the Butler county oil territory in addition to that of Armstrong, and such an impetus was given to the business that it speedily became known that Parker was to become an important point as a base of operations for producers and operators.

In the fall of 1871 Mr. Robinson placed the oil business under the control of his son Elisha, who succeeded him upon his death, which occured Oct. 17, 1874, after a short illness. His sons Elisha and Samuel succeeded to the ownership of the homestead farm. He was a man of sterling character and high moral standards, scrupulously honorable in all his dealings, benevolent in disposition and highly esteemed by all. Politically he was a lifelong Democrat.

On Jan. 7, 1816, soon after settling in Armstrong county, Mr. Robinson married Elizabeth Rohrer, of Greensburg, a niece of Dr. Simeon Hovey's wife. She survived him, passing away Sept. 21, 1881. Ten children were born to this marriage, namely: Simeon Hovey, born March 20, 1817; Mary Ann, Jan. 14, 1819 (married George Bovard, of Manorville); William D., Oct. 20, 1820 (ran a store at Parker's Landing from 1843 to 1869, not conducting the business personally all the time, however; he subsequently moved to Kittanning); Olive, June 28, 1822 (married Thomas McConnell); Simeon Hovey (2), May 2, 1824 (settled in Hovey township); Frederick Augustus, Ma y 22, 1826; Andrew Jackson, April 17, 1828; Samuel M., March 10, 1830; Elisha, Dec. 4, 1832 (both settled in Hovey township); and Frederick Rohrer, May 29, 1835 -- all deceased.

Samuel Marshall Robinson, son of Elisha, was born March 10, 1830, on the old homestead farm in Hovey township, near Parker's Landing, was reared at that place and had his home there throughout his life, his family still occupying the farm. He received a good common school education and practical training for life with his father, who not only taught him his trade but business principles. Though only a youth when the tanning business was turned over to him, he made a success of conducting it, which he did for twenty years, until he embarked in the oil business, which he followed in Armstrong and adjoining counties. He was one of the operators who produced largely, and he also continued to follow farming, besides dealing to a considerable extent in stock, frequently shipping fat cattle to the Eastern markets. His home place contained 165 to 170 acres, over which he kept personal supervision, and there in 1874 he built the substantial brick dwelling ever since occupied by his family. He also owned a 208-acre tract in Butler county, highly improved and profitable property, now owned by his son and daughter.

In his active years Mr. Robinson was associated with many projects of leading importance in the advancement of his section, and he gave his encouragement to many others which enlisted his interest and in whose value he had faith. As a citizen he was public-spirited, and not only took an interest in the affairs of his communtiy but himself assisted in the administration of local government, holding all the offices in Hovey township. In politics he was a Democrat. He was a prominent member of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Foxburg, and served many years as senior warden. His ability and well-directed energy made him a valuable associate in any cause he chose to support. His death, which occurred April 1, 1908, was regarded as a public loss.

On Sept. 13, 1860, Mr. Robinson married Emma Louisa Prosser, who was born in Butler, Pa., Dec. 21, 1838, daughter of Charles and Eliza (Brinker) Prosser, of Butler County, Pa. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Marshall Robinson: (1) Samuel, born June 18, 1861, died when fourteen years old. (2) Charles, born Oct. 11, 1863, took the collegiate and law courses at Harvard University and is engaged in legal practice at Pittsburgh, Pa. He married Alma Lord, of that city, and they have two children. (3) Emma C., born Jan. 11, 1866, died unmarried at the age of twenty-four years. (4) Elizabeth R., born Nov. 4, 1869, who lives at home, received her higher education in the Pennsylvania College for Women, at Pittsburgh. (5) Paul D., born May 3, 1872, died at the age of twenty-nine years, unmarried. (6) Frederick A., born Sept. 20, 1878, is engaged in farming at the old Robinson homestead near Parker's Landing. He received his education in the schools of Armstrong county. (7) Bertha May, born June 4, 1876, died when two years old.

Elisha Robinson, son of Elisha and Elizabeth (Rohrer) Robinson, was born Dec. 4, 1832, on the home farm in Hovey township. He was one of the foremost residents of that section throughout his active years. Reared on the farm where he continued to reside, he received his early education in the common schools and later attended the academy at Kittanning. In 1861 he engaged in the general merchandise business at the mouth of the Thom's run, and for about five years carried on this store, which was located between his residence and Parker City, in 1866 settling on the home where he resided until his death, April 2, 1912. In 1871 he took charge of his father's oil business and continued to have interests in that line, succeeding his father upon the latter's death. He operated but little himself, however, leasing his land on royalty. Mr. Robinson owned about seven hundred acres of valuable land in Armstrong and Butler counties, all improved, and with up-to-date buildings, and he was always considered one of the most progressive agriculturists in Armstrong county, advocating modern ideas and putting the most approved modern methods into practice on his estate, which is highly improved. He was also a successful stock breeder, making a specialty of blooded stock, and purchasing in Kentucky and Ohio. When the Petroleum Agricultural Association was organized, in 1881, he became one of the first directors, and was considered one of the most valuable members of that organization.

Mr. Robinson was one of the oldest members of the Parker City Methodist Episcopal Church, with which he united in 1857, and which he served as steward and class leader. In 1902 he erected the Robinson Memorial Chapel on his farm as a family memorial, and in 1902 built the parsonage. His wife also belonged to the same church, though she was originally a Presbyterian. In politics he was formerly a Democrat, but later a stanch Prohibitionist. He held the township offices of overseer of the poor, school director and justice of the peace, having been elected to the latter in 1868 and served three years, resigning when he took charge of his father's oil business.

On Nov. 24, 1857, Mr. Robinson was married to Caroline Truby, of Brookville, Jefferson county, Pa., daughter of Samuel and Anna (Sterling) Truby, and ten children were born to this union: (1) Frederick Rohrer died in infancy (2) Elisha M., who died at the age of forty, was a resident of Pittsburgh and engaged in the store business. He married Virginia McClintock, who now lives at Robinson, and three sons also survive him, Philip, Harold, and Richard. (3) Annie T. married Rev. John E. Eggert, a Presbyterian minister formerly located at Kansas, Ill., now of Harrington, Del. They have two living children, Joseph A. and Elizabeth. (4) Samuel T., an oil producer and farmer, resides at Robinson. He married Emma Leonard, of Parker, and has three children, Elisha (married Mary O'Donnell), Helen (married James Berry and resides at Oil City) and Malcolm (at home. (5) Elizabeth R. is the wife of A. Sydney Wightman, president of the State Bank of Parker's Landing, and they have one child, A. Sydney, Jr. (6) Horatio is deceased. (7) Ernest William married Mary Purvis. They have no children. (8) Olive G. married J. Bentley Forker, of Oil City, Pa., and has three sons, Bentley T., Lee T and Truby. (9) Alice M. is the wife of William Truman, of Brookville, Pa., and has seven children, Olive, Henry, Ruth, Caroline, Elisha, William and Joseph Bentley. (10) Chase S. served during the Spanish-American war, enlisting in April, 1908, in Company H, 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and receiving his discharge in January, 1909, on account of disability. He had a severe attack of malarial fever, from which he has never fully recovered. He now resides on the paternal farm, having a tract of 200 acres, which originally formed part of the family estate and to whose care he gives his attention. He married Rachel Collner.

Source: Pages 981-983, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed November 1998 by Joyce Sherry for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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