John Knapp Robison
Mary (Melugin) Robison
Lee County IL

John Knapp Robison and Mary Melugin
Married 10 September 1935 in Ottawa, LaSalle Co IL
Contributed by Joan Glasgow
Source: Amelia Genet Robison McFarland (Daughter of John & Mary)


When there was a call for troops for the Black Hawk War, Zachariah Melugin, then living near Springfield, Sangamon county, Illinois, enlisted at Rock Island. At the close of the war, he returned to Sangamon County. In the fall of 1833,he went to Dixon.

Father Dixon, John K. Robison, and others persuaded him to go to the Grove, now known as Melugin's Grove, to establish a stage station on the stage and mail route between Chicago and Galena via Dixuii's Ferry. The stages commenced running January 1,1834.

He was the first settler and kept the house alone the first winter. There were many Indians about. They were always friendly and thought highly of him; they used to go and spend the evenings with him when he was alone.

The following spring, his siater Mary (my mother) came from Sangamon County and stayed with him until he and Mary Ross were married at Ottawa, Illinois on October 12th, 1834. The summer of 1834, mother was the only white woman at the Grove, and there were no white women between the Grove and Dixon, twenty-miles distant. A great many bands of Indian tribes passed through the Grove, sometimes stopping for a few days; they complimented mother by calling her a "brave squaw." During that summer she carried water from a spring eighty rods from the stage station,going by a mere path. They had a cow, but no churn; she would put the cream in a coffeepot, set the water pail on her head, take the coffeepot in her hands and shake it as fast as she could all the way to the spring, and carry a pail of water in one hand and coffeepot in the other going back; in that way she could soon finish the churning. Once during that summer she visited Mrs. Dixon at Dixon's Ferry, and there, on the first evening of her visit, she first met my father, John K. Robison. He had served in the Black Hawk War, enlisted at Rock Island from Hancock County, Illinois. At the close of the war he remained at Dixon's Ferry.

Fatherand mother were married at the home of her brother, Zachariah Melugin, by the Rev. Harris on September 10, 1835.

They had decided to be married when the circuit rider (the pioneer Methodist preacher) should next visit the Grove. When he came, he found within less than a mile of the stage station a small company of men helping John K. Robison, the expectant bridegroom, build a log house. At father's invitation the men left the work and went to the station, where their wives were, and there the marriage took place. That was the first wedding at Melugin's Grove.

About one-half mile from Zachariah Melugin's house, my father built his house (of one room) of unhewed logs, as did all the settlers, then plastered it over with mortar made of clay. The roof and floor boards were obtained by splitting trees. Shelves for dishes,etc., were made by boring holes in the logs, driving in long pins, and laying a board across the pins.

The fireplace warmed the room where the cooking was done. Cooking utensils were very scarce, The bread was baked in iron kettles having iron covers, the kettle being placed in one side of the fireplace and completely covered with live coals and hot ashes; potatoes were also roasted in the ashes.

Gourds were used for baskets, basins, cups, dippers, soap dishes, etc. Hollow trees cut in suitable lengths were used for well curbs, beehives, and for storing the vegetables and grain. Large trees were hollowed out into troughs and placed under the eaves to catch the rain water. They were also used in sugar making to hold the sap. Small troughs were used to knead the bread in, and some of time babies slept in cradles made of troughs. Father made a butter bowl, ladle, rolling pin, broom, and other articles of wood for use in the house. All this was done by hand with crude implements.

He also mended his harness and was cobbler for his own family, keeping their shoes in repair. Some families had no timepiece. They told the time during the day by the sun had a ``noon mark" in a door or window, and at night by the position of the stars in the Great Dipper in the north. For want of looking glasses, when they wished to see how their hair was dressed, they looked in time well or watertrough. Some of the early settlers were very destitute. The children had but one dress apiece made of unbleached muslin colored with butternut hark; the mother washed and ironed their clothing while they were in bed.

Father's first house was one story and had only one room, with a fireplace in one end, a door in the other, and windows on opposite sides of the room. The windows were small, having but one sash each, containing six panes of glass. The fireplace was made of clay; the chimney was built from the ground up, on the outside of the house, with sticks filled in and plastered over with mortar. The door was made of such boards as they could split from the trees, and was hung on wooden hinges, and had wooden latches - the hinges and latches were made with the pocket knife. The latch had at one end a string (I presume of buckskin) attached to it; the other end passed through a hole in the door over the latch. When they wished to secure their house at night, they pulled in the latchstring.

Father had a compass, and when he built his house he placed it with the points of the compass, then at noon the sun shone straight in the door or window. In that way they obtained the `noon mark." Mother had several marks in the first house, to mark the different hours.

They made their own brooms by taking straight young hickory trees, perhaps three inches through, peeling off the bark, and then with their pocket knives, on the end of the stick they intended for the brush part, peeling the stick in narrow strips or splints about one-sixteenth of an inch thick, and fifteen to eighteen inches long. The heart of the stick would not peel and that was cut off, leaving a stick about three inches long in the center of these splints. The splints were dropped back nver this stick. When the other end of the stick was stripped small enough for the handle, the splints were all tied together around the stick left in the center of the splints.

They guarded their fire carefully for they had no matches, and if their fire went out, they had to kindle with flint and steel or go to a neighbor and borrow fire.

Mother was better fitted for pioneer life than some of the settlers. She knew all about spinning, weaving, knitting, coloring, making sugar, butter, candles, and soap, and the use of a fireplace for cooking, all of which were new to some of them. She spun, colored, wove, cut, and made our woolen clothing and blankets, also her own linen for house use and garments for the family. She also, soun her linen thread for sewing. She often spoke of the hardships of others, but very seldom of her own.

The early settlers were self-sacrificing and helpful. In sickness and sorrow they would do all in their power for each other. They were also hospitable, often inconveniencing themselves greatly to accommodate travelers and new neighbors. When they only had one room, they would take in an entire family to stay until the new family could cut logs and build a house for themselves.

Their nearest market was Chicago, eighty miles distant, taking from five to seven days to make the journey. Often when the father was away, the Indians would look through the windows at the family, but they never harmed any of the settlers at the Grove.

They had no fruit except the wild fruit in the Grove. Father carried the first currant bushes to the Grove on horseback from Nauvoo.

The nearest flour mill was Green's mill near Ottawa, Illinois. Also located there was a woolen mill where the wool was made into rolls ready for spinning.

Father and mother used to go to meeting on the same horse father in the saddle with mother sitting behind him.

Zachariah Melugin and Abraham Lincoln were warm friends during the Black Hawk War. After the war Linci visited him, spending a day and night with him at grandfather's home in Sangamon County.

Father was the first justice of the peace, and also the first school teacher, teaching in his own house until the first school house was built in 1837.

Religious services were held in private houses until the first school house was built. The first church organized was the Methodist Episcopal. The first Sunday School was organized by Rev. Haney of the Methodist Episcopal in 1847 or 1848. Cornelius Christiance was the first white child born at the Grove, John Melugin the second, and W. Gilmore the third, all were born in 1835.

A. V. Christiance was the first postmaster, Charles Morgan and son were the first merchants and kept millinery. Dr. Bissel was the first doctor to locate there. Henry Vroman was the first tailor.


Mary Melguin Robison, the daughter of Jonathan & Sarah (Mitchell) Melugin was born 23 October 1810 near Clarksville, Montgomery Co TN. She died 15 April 1879 in Mendota, LaSalle Co Illinois.

John Knapp Robison, the son of Charles & Jerusha Rebecca (Kellogg) Robison, was born 2 October 1808 in Indiana, he died 27 January 1889 in Mendota, LaSalle Co IL.

Mary and John were true pioneers of Lee County Il, settling in Melugins Grove, founded by her brother Zachariah Melugin.

They became the parents of seven children, all born in Melugins Grove.

1. Jerusha Eliza Robison b 10 January 1838 m David Carnahan 30 Jun 1860. He was the son of Samuel Carnahan. David was born 18 April 1835 in Danville PA, died 23 April 1922 Clarence Iowa. David was a farmer, he was in the Civil War - Co K 8th Regiment. IL Cavalry. He joined 10 October 1864 from Dixon IL and was discharged July 17, 1865, Benton Barracks, MO. They lived in Franklin Grove, Lee Co IL until 1868 - then moved to Marshall Co Iowa until 1879 and finally to Clarence IA. David and Jerusha had one son - John Clair Carnahan born August 9, 1870.

2. Martin R. Robison b 19 Dec 1839 died 28 Jan 1841 Melugins Grove.

3. Sarah E. Robison b 19 Dec 1840 died young

4. Amelia Genet Robison b 6 Apr 1842 died 25 Feb. 1939 Ludington MI, is buried in Mendota Cemetery, Mendota IL. Amelia married Abel Witherspoon McFarland 22 February 1863. He was born 21 August 1834 and died 22 January 1903 in Mendota and is buried in the Mendota Cemetery. Abel was the son of John W. and Jane Buckingham McFarland. He was a farmer in Lee County, later moving to Ludington MI. Amelia and Abel were th parents of one child - John Albert McFarland born 6 October 1880 in Mendota, died 29 July 1952 in Ludington MI. John was a Chemist and Publisher, married Paula Siegel in ChampaignIL September 1, 1903.

5. Clarissa Maria Robison b 18 Jan 1844 died 31 July 1928 Grand Rapids MI, buried at Mendota Cemetery. Clarissa married William F. Corbus 18 January 1870 in MEndota. He was born 28 April 1840 Millersburg OH, the son of Godfrey & Sarah (Clark) Corbus. William died September 19, 1917 in Grand Rapids MI and is buried at the Mendota Cemetery in Mendota IL. William was a Druggist by trade, he served in the Civil War, 75th Reg. IL Infantry, September 18, 1862 to June 12, 1865, discharged at Camp Harker TN. They were blessed with one son - Burton Robison Corbus born 30 December 1875 in Mendota IL died 23 October 1969 Santa Monica CA, married to Harriet Cooper.

6. Mary Elizabeth Robison b 3 Jul 1846 d 12 Jun 1874 in Mendota and is buried there. Mary marrie Alexander S. McNaughton 9 April 1873 in LaSalle County. They had no children.

7. Lewis Seth Robison b 24 Feb 1849 died 23 May 1917 Pleasant Grove Utah married Mary Melissa Driggs. Mary and Lewis had 7 children, Mary Amelia, John Lewis, Roscoe Conklin, Rhoda May, Ella Geneve, Lynne Spencer and Harold Driggs..


By John K. Robison 1880


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