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William R. Robinson
Born November 26, 1836


William R. Robinson, one of the prosperous farmers of Greenfield township, is also one of the early settlers of Jones county and can relate many stirring tales of the bandits and Indians, whose bloody deeds imperiled the lives of the men and women brave enough to endure the hardships of the pioneer life, He was born in Champaign county, Ohio, November 26, 1836, and was about four years of age when his parents, Asa and Hannah (Stratton) Robinson, in the vanguard of the early settlers, came to Fairview township, this county. For two years the family remained there and then removed to Cedar county, where William R. Robinson grew to manhood. It was in the period just preceding the Civil war that the cruelty of the Indians reached its highest pitch, and the family, together with the other inhabitants, resorted to a common camp at night for greater safety. Thieves and robbers, too, were at large and pillaged the little communities without fear of apprehension. One noteworthy instance was the murder of Mr. Gowdy of Linn Grove, whose life was held of no value as compared with the three hundred dollars the robbers knew be carried. In spite of the hardships and the risk to life and property William Robinson and other children of the family grew up. He had two brothers, Charles, who had helped to build the first mill in Jones county and died in Shelby county, Iowa, at the age of sixty-six, and Herman, who died at the age of fifteen. There were also three sisters, Mrs. Lavina Comstock, Mrs. Rebecca Lindsay and Mrs. Eva Platner, all now deceased. Mr. Robinson also had three half-brothers: one who died in infancy; Jacob, who died in Colorado at the age of forty-five; and Alva, who resided in Cedar county to within a few years ago when he went to Garden City, Kansas, his present home; and five half-sisters: Mrs. Hannah Melton, deceased; Mrs. Amanda Franklin, who resides in Story county, Iowa; Mrs. Cynthia Ann Osborne, of the state of Washington; Isabelle, who lives in Hastings, Nebraska; and Mrs. Torre Cole, who lives in Hall county, Nebraska.
The fact that he was but sixteen years of age at the outbreak of the Civil war did not deter Mr. Robinson from offering his services in defense of his country. On the 10th of August, 1862, he enlisted in Company H, Thirty-fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and took part in every engagement, about eighteen in all, and all the skirmishes in which his regiment shared. One of the most notable battles was that before Vicksburg, in which Grant and Sherman were his commanders, and Colonel Hill had the charge of the regiment. Though he was a little more than three years in the service, he received no wound and was never in the hospital and his bravery was unquestioned. About the 1st of September, 1865, Mr. Robinson was honorably discharged and returned to civil pursuits, taking up his residence in Greenfield township. In 1870 he married and settled upon what is now his homestead. It consists of two hundred and sixty acres, and through his efforts and toil has been placed under a fine state of cultivation and exhibits many improvements which are the result of his progressive ideas. He also owns thirty-one acres of timber land.
On the 10th of March, 1870, Mr. Robinson wedded Miss Lizetta Piper. She was born September 28, 1850, near Fort Wayne, Indiana, a daughter of William and Minnie (Reese) Piper. The other children— four sons and four daughters that were born to her parents were: Henry, of Lisbon, Iowa; William, of Rome township, Jones county; Lewis, also of Rome township; Augustus, of Mechanicsville, Iowa; Mrs. Minnie Jackson, also of Mechanicsville; Mrs. Johanna Kohl, of Clinton, Iowa; Mrs. Elvina Floyd, of Lisbon; and Mrs. Augusta Krohm, of Springville, Iowa. To Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have been born eleven children, seven daughters and four sons: Frank Walter, of Greenfield township; Mrs. Anna Maley, of Mechanicsville; Mrs. Alice Viola Mershon, of Sac City, Iowa; Lewis F., deceased; William, who lives at home; Mrs. Ida May Miller, of Morley, Iowa; Asa, of Greenfield township, this county; Mrs. Bertha Vanderbilt, of Greenfield township; Mrs. Bessie Fisher, of Mechanicsville; Mrs. Minnie S. Parks, who is living in Cedar county, Iowa; and Ishmael Murfield, of Grandfield, South Dakota. This large family was reared in the most harmonious home surroundings and in the faith of the United Brethren church. By their own efforts have Mr. and Mrs. Robinson attained to their present position of comfort. Hardships they have both known, especially Mr. Robinson from his boyhood's days, when nature seemed to conspire against man, as in 1860, when the great Comanche cyclone swept the country and destroyed his home and when man knew no limit to greed and debauchery. In the changed condition of the times, these things have been all but forgotten and the man that survived them can only be grateful that the severity of those days taught the lessons that made possible the advance of today. In his political sympathies Mr. Robinson is a republican.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 196.

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