Saturday, June 15, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Lizzie Jane Robinson Clarkson

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson was my gg-grandmother.  She was born on the 11th of January 1848 in Washington county Missouri.  She was the first born child of Preston McGready Robinson and Sarah Nugent Edmonston, and she was the first of a family of five daughters.  In fairly quick succession would arrive her younger sisters, Mary, Martha, Julia and finally Joeannah in 1862. 

I don’t know much of my gg-grandmother’s childhood, but it appears that she grew up on a family farm near the communities of Caledonia and Irondale in Washington county Missouri.  I can only speculate on the schooling of Elizabeth Robinson and her sisters, but it is clear that they received a worthwhile education.  Whether it was at home, in a local schoolroom, or at a boarding school is not known.

“Lizzie” Jane Robinson married Richard Albert “RA” Clarkson on the 3rd of September 1868.  He hailed from Essex county Virginia, had been orphaned as a young boy, and came west with his uncle a year or two after the Civil War.  He must have married Lizzie Jane not long after his arrival.  They appear with their infant daughter Camilla Clarkson in the 1870 Census of Washington county Missouri, in Harmony/Osage township.  RA Clarkson is noted as a Retail Dry Goods Merchant, a business he carried on through most of his life.  The town of Annapolis, in neighboring Iron county Missouri, was established in 1872, and RA Clarkson is listed among the first residents.  Lizzie Robinson and RA Clarkson lived in Annapolis for fifteen years.  Their four children were born there.

Our family is most fortunate to have a large collection of letters exchanged by our Clarkson family.  The largest portion of the letters is written between RA Clarkson and two of his children, Henrietta Clarkson and Samuel Edwin Clarkson, between 1903 and 1913.  But, there are a few earlier letters, and several letters written by Lizzie Jane Robinson Clarkson.   In May of 1886, Henrietta Clarkson writes to her two older sisters, Cammie and Annie, who are likely away at boarding school.  She mentions the chicken and dumplings they had for dinner, and the “train wreck” Papa met up with when he was returning from Ironton.  Also enclosed in the envelope is a letter from Mama (Lizzie Jane) to her daughter Cammie.  It’s an odd and hurried letter, discussing dresses that the girls are in need of.  Lizzie offers to purchase fabric in St Louis to send on to their dressmaker, if the girls will make clear what they need.  She closes the missive:

I do hope you are not just wanting these things to make a show, but if necessary then I will try and get. Now don’t go to crying and fretting over it just write on receipt of this a few lines telling me what you know, what color of silk and fingered or not. I do hope the Good Lord will forgive me for spending my Sabbath evening thinking about dress.

Just after this 1886 letter, the Clarkson family moved to Fort Smith Arkansas.  This would be Lizzie Robinson Clarkson’s home for the next forty-five years.  She became involved in many ministries of the Presbyterian Church.  She worked with a group of women to establish the Rosalie Tilles Orphan’s Home in Fort Smith. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson was described by her granddaughter Elizabeth Boyd Reynolds in a letter to Charles Ninian Edmonston. She called her a colorful person who for many years supervised, from her home, a Ft. Smith orphanage, much to the dismay of her family.   She always drove a black horse hitched to a phaeton, wore sweeping skirts and a little bonnet on her head long after hats were in vogue.  She would stop her horse anywhere in the middle of the street to visit, much to the despair of the merchants, who finally wrote to the family to please keep her off the street before she was run over.  She was a large, strong woman both physically and mentally . Elizabeth claimed to be "scared to death of her" but said her younger sister Henrietta constantly chided her for not "kidding her along" as she did. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson Clarkson died in 1930, at the age of eighty-two.  She had faced the death of her husband and two of her daughters, and a young grandson.  She is buried with her family in the Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith Arkansas.   

Children of Elizabeth Jane Robinson and Richard Albert Clarkson:
Camilla Hall Clarkson; married William Henry Vick of Fort Smith in 1898; removed to Oklahoma City.
Annie Preston Clarkson; married Alfred Waller Boyd in 1893; removed to Oklahoma City.
Henrietta  Jeffries Clarkson; unmarried; predeceased her parents in 1910 at age thirty-seven.
Samuel Edwin Clarkson; married Aubin Mildred Fry of Fort Smith in 1899; removed to Oklahoma City.

For more details on Elizabeth Jane Robinson, visit her page at Family Stories,  You will find several of her letters to her son, Samuel Edwin Clarkson, among the Clarkson Family Letters at Family Stories,

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