JOSEPH KEMP ROBINSON, proprietor of the Greensburg Steam Laundry, was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, March 11, 1862, the son of William and Maria (Kemp) Robinson.
The American ancestor was Irwin Robinson (1), who was a native of Ennis Killen, county of Fennaugh, Ireland. Being an English subject when the Revolution came on in America, he was drafted into service and sent to this country to take part in that struggle. He was through the whole conflict as a British soldier, including the battle of Yorktown. He carried a Bible in his pocket, and it was struck by a Yankee bullet, cutting quite a good-size hole in the book. At another time he was struck by a bullet in his arm, which ball he carried the remainder of his days. He was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, captured by Washington, and after peace was declared returned to England. He soon found he had been fighting on the wrong side, and although entitled to a pension from the English government, he refused to accept it, and later became one of the most loyal Americans. He studied medicine for three years and practiced is profession, especially in surgery.
His love affair was indeed quite full of romance. At Twenty-five years of age he was a manly fellow, five feet nine inches high ; hair brown and straight. He "fell in love" with Catherine Elliott, a beautiful slender figure. She had dark brown eyes and wore curly ringlets. She was but fifteen years of age, and for this reason they were forbidden to marry. Several times her parents locked her put in her bed-chamber. The house was a cottage of one story. At the time of the elopement her parents had kept her full a month in her room, her bed being pushed against the wall made of stone, but the girl was not to be outwitted, and silently worked her plans to completion. she finally succeeded in getting a hole through the wall large enough to let herself out and on one dark night she crept through (the moon being invisible) and met her lover an they rode away on horseback an were married. They became the parents of George and John Robinson. these three, with the Elliott family, left England for America in 1792. they came in a sailing vessel and were on the ocean from May until September an encountered fearful storms. Mrs. Irwin Robinson brought plenty of flax along, thinking, it is related, that she could not get it "in the woods of America." They located in what is now Blair county, Pennsylvania. They purchased land of a Mr. Holiday, where now stands the city of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. The Elliotts settled in the Ligonier valley, between Fairfield and Ross Furnace. the daughter's love of parents caused them to settle in a less productive country four miles southwest of where Boliver stands to-day. Chambersburg was the nearest place at which supplies could then be procured. They followed a trail across the wild country on packhorses midst numerous tribes of Indians. Land was cheap, four dollars per acre.
Irwin Robinson was a Methodist but Quaker in habits and language. Mrs. Robinson's mother's name was Mary Woods. She had been a member of the Church of England (Episcopalian), but became a Methodist and three of her sons became Methodist preachers. The whole family were zealous in church work. Irwin Robinson and wife, the American founder of this family, had twelve children : George, John, Jane, Hance, Irwin, Thomas, Mary, James, William, Elliott, Christopher and Elizabeth. George was born July 5, 1788, died November 3, 1869. He was the grandfather of Joseph K. Robinson, whose name heads this sketch. He married Susanna Brinker, born May 23, 1795, and died August 7, 1887. They settled about four miles from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on a farm. Methodist services were frequently held at their home. Their children were : William, Susanna, Elizabeth, Margaret, Mary, John, Henry, Jacob, Daniel, and James. The three latter always resided in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
(II) William Robinson, father of Joseph K., of the above named family, was born in Hempfield township, March 19, 1818, and died May 31, 1884. He was a merchant, owning a store in Greensburg for many years. He was a man of much intelligence and a devoted Christian and prominent member of the Methodist church. He was for many years a class leader. Politically he was a hearty supporter of the Republican party , and was an active member of the A. F. and A. M., holding the various offices of the order. He married Maria Margaret Kemp, daughter of Solomon and Mary Magdalena (Wentling) Kemp, March 3, 1847. She was born November 24, 1825. Her father's family were natives of Germany. Their children were : Emma, Homer C., Mary S., Anna M., William , Lydia B., George F., Joseph Kemp of whom further, and Jessie.
(III) Of Joseph Kemp Robinson it may be said that he received his education in the Greensburg schools and learned the stone-cutter's trade, following the same for six years. For five years prior to this, however, he was a news agent at Greensburg. He established himself in the laundry business in Greensburg in 1887, and is now located in a three-story brick building. His business extends to thirty-five towns in Westmoreland county. His plant is fully equipped with all modern laundry machinery. He was a member of Company I, Tenth Regiment Pennsylvania National Guards, for five years, but was never called out for actual service. He is identified with the Woodmen of the World, and is a member of the First Reformed Church at Greensburg. He married, June 5, 1893, near Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Mary Margaret Kunkle, daughter of Amos and Sarah (Kepple) Kunkle, farmers of Westmoreland county, residing in Hempfield township. (See elsewhere in this work for the Kunkle family history). Their children were : Helen D., William H., Joseph J., Sarah Maria and Carl Emery, all born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Robinson's life as a business man has been devoted to three occupations only---five years a new agent, six years a stone-cutter and eighteen years a laundryman. He is an unassuming, thorough-going business man, whom to know is but to admire and respect. He is also the proprietor of the large auditorium building on Maple avenue, a building devoted to general entertainment.
Source Page 33 & 34 History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906
Transcribed June 6, 1999 by Marilynn Wienke for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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