Callaway County, Missouri Genealogy Trails
Theodore L. Robinson; The years of his life which were most fruitful in accomplishment and in broad and effective service to himself and his fellow men, the late Theodore L. Robinson passed at Maryville, in Nodaway County. There his memory is likely to endure long, and the inspiration of his career and its example are effective lessons that may be read with profit by all. After many years spent in battle against adversity, he lived to accomplish those things which are considered most worth while by ambitious men—honorable activity in business with satisfying material rewards, the esteem of his fellow men and a public spirited share in the social and civic life of his community. Theodore L. Robinson was a native Missourian, born in Callaway County February 8, 1833. Three years later his mother died, and he was left in the care of his paternal grandparents by his father, who went to Texas and whom he never afterwards saw. When eleven years of age his grandparents moved to the vicinity of St. Joseph, and at the age of twelve he began work in a hotel in that city. He made himself useful, and soon attracted the attention of a St. Joseph merchant, in whose employ he remained for five years.
The agreement as to salary world he was sixteen years of age, and at once caught the "gold fever," and went West. His employer furnished him with goods, mostly cheap clothing, to sell in the West, and in company with another young man he crossed the plains with a wagon drawn by oxen. His mercantile venture was ill-starred, since everyone seemed to have supplied himself with clothing and other needed supplies, and all the stock he carried across the plains was disposed of at a sacrifice. However, by hard work in mining and otherwise he earned enough to pay his old employer for all the goods and for the team furnished for transportation. Six years were spent on the Pacific Coast in varied experience and hardships, and in 1855 he returned to Missouri, without money, and with his constitution impaired by exposure and the rough existence of the West. On his return to Missouri he received news that his father had recently died in Texas, leaving his second wife a widow with three little children. His elder brother had also died in the same state, while a younger brother had died in 1844. Mr. Robinson at once reentered the employ of his merchant friend at St. Joseph, and remained until he could equip himself with a wagon and team for the long journey to Houston, Texas. He went to that state and brought back his father's widow and her three small children, in order the better to provide for them. This was only an incident of his long career, but it illustrates remarkably well the general character of his mind and heart. Soon after returning from Texas Mr. Robinson was furnished a stock of goods by his old and always friendly employer, and in August, 1857, established a store in Maryville, Missouri. That little city remained his home the rest of his days, where he was honored not only as one of the early merchants, but as one of the finest citizens. He prospered in mercantile trade and also as a lumberman. In 1873 Mr. Robinson became actively connected with the Nodaway Valley Bank of Maryville, as a partner with James B. Prather, Mr. Robinson having active charge of the business. On the death of Mr. Prather in 1892, Mr. Robinson made his son, James B. Robinson, cashier of the bank, the latter having previously been bookkeeper and assistant cashier. The bank was incorporated April 7, 1894, and Mr. Robinson remained its president until his death a few weeks later, on May 28, 1894.
This brief outline of facts only suggests the remarkable struggle of a poor boy against adverse circumstances and emphasizes his later success. He acquired a considerable fortune and died both wealthy and respected. Personally he was a plain and unassuming gentleman, wide awake in his attitude of affairs, and even tempered and well poised. His progressiveness and public spirit were as marked as his business ability. While he himself had succeeded in life without an education, he was none the less a stanch friend of schools and learning, and for twenty years was a member and treasurer of the Maryville School Board. Politically he was a democrat, had fraternal affiliations with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and died a member of the Christian Church.
On October 9, 1859, Mr. Robinson married Rebecca J. Ray. She was born in Bardstown, in Nelson County, Kentucky, and when a child was brought to Nodaway County by her father, James Ray, a pioneer welfare and in the pleasures of home and in his many friendships was a strong characteristic.
Source: A History of Northwest Missouri Volume III; publ. 1915 in III Volumes; Edited by Walter Williams; Submitted to Genealogy Trails and transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack
Callaway County, Missouri Genealogy Trails
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