Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Preston McGready Robinson, Washington County Missouri

Preston McGready Robinson, son of Archibald Robinson and Jane VanLear, was born on a farm near Caledonia, Washington county Missouri on 8 July 1820.  His older siblings were John Robinson and Sarah Robinson who came with their parents to Caledonia the very year Preston Robinson was born.  Later three more daughters, Mary Robinson, Jane Robinson and Elizabeth Robinson, were born to Archibald Robinson and Jane VanLear. 

The Robinson’s migration followed a few years after a group of mostly Scots – Irish families left Kentucky to settle the Bellevue Valley of Missouri and establish the little town of Caledonia.  The first lots were auctioned in Caledonia in 1819.  It isn’t clear whether the Robinsons set up housekeeping in the new town, or on a farm outside of town.  But, they must have played a role in the growth of a brand new community.  Today Caledonia is a small village in Washington county Missouri, but it is noted for its Nineteenth century charm, with thirty-three homes and buildings on the National Historic Register. 

Preston McGready Robinson, was married on 2 November 1847 in Washington county Missouri to Sarah Nugent Edmonston, daughter of William Edmonston and Elizabeth Royse of adjoining Reynolds county Missouri.  She was born 12 November 1831 in McComb, Illinois.  Preston was twenty-six years old and Sarah sixteen!  They were married by John Thomas, preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The witnesses to their marriage included Sarah’s brother, John Edmons(t)on, and Preston’s sister, Elizabeth Robinson. 

The 1850 Census of Washington county Missouri, Belleview township, page 109, consecutively lists three young families – Richard and Elizabeth (Robinson) Terrill, Preston and Sarah Robinson, and Samuel and Jane (Robinson) Reyburn.  The father of these siblings, Archibald Robinson, is also in Belleview township, on page 117.  It would be interesting to know the location of this "family" homestead. 

Minimal record searching does not yet tell us much about what Preston Robinson did for a living, but in census records he is shown as farmer and planter.  The few deeds I have read show him selling parcels of land, probably inherited from his father Archibald Robinson, though there are some buying and selling transactions he may have initiated himself. 

Preston Robinson and Sarah Edmondston were the parents of five daughters.  Birthdates and marriage information were found on a hand-written record in some Robinson – Edmonston family papers: 
Elizabeth Jane Robinson;  born  11 Jan 1848; married Richard Albert Clarkson on 3 Sept 1868
Mary A Robinson; born  11 Dec 1850; married Robert Beebe on 24 Feb 1874
Martha Thomas Robinson; born 13 Nov 1852; married Newton Jasper Thompson on 3 Sep 1872
Julia Parkhurst Robinson; born 17 Jan  1855; married James P Ward on 12 July 1876
Joanna Robinson; born 24 Oct 1862; married Ezra Elmo Mason on 8 Jan  1878

Probably Sarah Edmondston Robinson was responsible for the education received by these five daughters.  Eldest daughter Elizabeth Jane Robinson was obviously intelligent, and a good business-woman in her later years. 

Southeast Missouri was not a major player in the action of the Civil War, but it did see both Union and Confederate troops moving through.  There was probably more fear stirred, and more property damaged by the Northern Jayhawkers and Southern Bushwhackers, local outlaws with personal grudges.  In 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price drove his men across Missouri in an event known as Price’s Raid.  The Battle of Pilot Knob occurred on 27 September 1864, when Price’s 12,000 troops faced a small garrison at Fort Davidson.  If our Robinson family was “at home”, they may have been aroused by this battle in the neighborhood. 

One final postscript to the seemingly admirable life of Preston McGready Robinson is a 1902 letter written by Richard Albert Clarkson, Preston Robinson's son-in-law, to his cousin Richard Mundie, which says:

Mr. Robinson, my wife's father has a tumor on his hand which they fear is a cancer.  The poor man cannot live much longer and the unfortunate part of it all is he is unprepared as we fear, for death.  The drink habit fastened itself upon him years ago and it has sapped his manhood.  Poor fellow, how I pity him.   

Preston Robinson died on 1 July 1903, at the age of eighty-three, and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery at Irondale in Washington county Missouri.  His obituary tell us, “About two months ago, he accepted Christ as his Saviour, and gave every evidence of being ready and waiting, simply trusting and with patience he calmly awaited the summons 'come up higher’. “ It credits him with twenty-six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

For more details on Preston McGready Robinson, visit his page at Family Stories, pamgarrett.com.

More Reading:
There is an article available on the internet, written by Thomas Flanders, published in the Spring 1992 issue of Ozarks Watch, and titled Kith and Kin of Caledonia.  It doesn’t include any mention of our Robinson family, but it gives a nice flavor to the community in which they lived. 

History of Caledonia Missouri, by Muriel Akers   

History of Irondale [Missouri], by Joy Scott

Photo:  Tombstone of Preston McGready Robinson and his wife Sarah Nugent Edmonston Robinson in Hopewell Cemetery, Irondale, Washington county Missouri.  Photo courtesy of Esther Ziock Carroll, at carrollscorner.net.  This is a fabulous website for learning more about Washington county Missouri!

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Preston McGready Robinson  1820.

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