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from Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Iowa

Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago, 1887, Pp. 386-87


Francis Smith ROBINSON, one of Ringgold County's pioneer men, setted on section 7, Union Township, where he now lives, in the spring of 1857; his family consisting of his wife and five children. Mr. ROBINSON was born in Melbourne, Derbyshire, England, July 30, 1810, and came to the United States with his father and family in 1821, landing at Philadelphia [September 3, 1821 when Francis was eleven-years-old]. The following winter they spent in Pittsburg, and in 1922 the family established their residence in Richland County, Ohio. There the father, Francis ROBINSON, followed agricultural pursuits the rest of his life, dying at his homestead many years ago. His first wife, Mary TOMLINSON, died in England, in 1818. His second wife was Jane DICKENS, to whom he was married in Pittsburg, in 1822.

Our subject had two brothers - James, died at Philadelphia a few months after landing, and the other, Samuel, died many years later. By his father's second marriage our subject has two half-brothers, William and James S. The latter is Secretary of State in Ohio.

The subject of our sketch, up to eighteen years of age, was reared to a farm life, and then spent four years in a cooper's shop. His educational advantages were limited to sixty-six days of schooling, but he availed himself of all means for self-culture. His spare moments were applied to study during the day, often working with an open grammar in sight; his nights were spent in the same indefatigable study. No obstacle could daunt or hinder him in his resolve to become possessed of the power brought only to the cultured. In his twenty-second year he commenced teaching school and taught twenty-one terms.

He married Miss Joanna M[Merrill]. WATSON, in Richland County, Ohio, November 21, 1833. This union was a happy one. Nearly one-half a century they trod life's pathway together through hardships of pioneer life, the toil, trials and deprivations necessarily attendant upon making a home in a new country. The enjoyment of hopes realized, and in all things harmony and love, was their every-day life. She died February 21, 1882, in her sixty-ninth year. She had been a member of either the Methodist or United Brethren church from the age of twenty-one years.

To Mr. and Mrs. ROBINSON were born seven children - Anna Sophia, wife of John CLARK, died at Santa Cruz, Colorado, and her two children, Wilbur and Maggie, were reared by their grandparents. Melvin, lives at Los Angeles, Califronia; William W., enlisted in the Fourth Iowa, and died from fever and wounds received at the battle of Pea Ridge; Oliva J., wife of H. D. CRAWFORD, lives at Ottumwa; Amelia I., wife of George BAYLES, of Seward, Nebraska; Allie Mary, wife of W. H. CRITCHFIELD; Amandus, died at Shelby, Ohio, in infancy.

Mr. ROBINSON is a member of the United Brethren church, and the author of the "Triune Theology," a work published in 1881, and is also preparing additional material for publication under the same title.

Civil War Flags.jpg James Sidney ROBINSON, Francis' half-brother, was born October 14, 1827 near Mansfield, Ohio, and as a youth attended the common schools. As a young man, he acquired the art of printing. He moved to Kenton, Ohio, on December 31, 1845. Entering the newspaper business, he edited and published the Kenton Republican. He was the Chief Clerk of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1856.

At the beginning of the Civil War, James enlisted in the 4th Ohio Infantry on April 17, 1861, and was soon made a Captain. He took part in the operations at Rich Mountain in western Virginia and then was promoted to the rank of Major in October 1861. He served under Maj. Gen. John C. FREMONT in the Shenandoah Valley, and became a Lieutenant Colonel in April and Colonel of the 82nd Ohio Infantry in August 1862. He was engaged at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Cedar Mountain, and Chancellorsville. Francis was severely wounded in his chest at Gettysburg while leading his retreating troops into the borough on the first day of fighting. After a lengthy recuperation period, he commanded a brigade under Maj. Gen. Joseph HOOKER and then under Maj. Gen. Alpheus S. WILLIAMS in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign and later participated in SHERMANS's March to the Sea. He was commissioned Brigadier General of Volunteers on January 12, 1865, and received the brevet rank of Major General on March 13. Francis was mustered out of the army on August 31, 1865.

After the war, Francis returned to Ohio and resumed his civilian career. He served as chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee of Ohio 1877-79. In January 1880, he was appointed as a commissioner of railroads and telegraphs for the State of Ohio. Francis was elected as a Republican to the Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth Congresses and served from March 4, 1881, to January 12, 1885, when he resigned. He then served as the Secretary of State of Ohio from 1885-89.

NOTE: William ROBINSON, Francis' brother, enlisted from Mount Ayr, Iowa, on July 4, 1861, as a Corporal with Company G of the 4th Iowa Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Pea Ridge, also known as the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, which was fought on March 7th and 8th, 1862, and died June 5th, 1862.

Joanna Merrill (WATSON) ROBINSON was born in New York State on September 5, 1813, the daughter of Titus (1775/76-1858) and Sarah "Sallie" (Van DORN) WATSON (1783-1819). Joanna died at the age of 68 years on April 21, 1882. Joanna and Francis first resided in Plymouth Township, Richland County, Ohio, the arrived in Ringgold County, Iowa, by 1860. Francis and Joanna were enumerated as residing in Union Township of Ringgold County, Iowa, in the 1880 Federal Census. Joanna and Francis were the parents of six children:

1) Anna Sophia ROBINSON, born circa 1834, Richland Co. OH; died Santa Cruz CA;     married John CLARK; children Wilbur and Maggie CLARK

2) Melvin ROBINSON, born circa 1835, Richland Co. OH; residence Los Angeles CA

Civil War Flags.jpg 3) William W. ROBINSON, born circa 1838, Richland Co. OH; died 05 Jun 1862
William ROBINSON enlisted from Mount Ayr, Iowa, on July 4, 1861, as a Corporal with Company G of the 4th Iowa Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Missouri, also known as the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, which was fought on March 7th and 8th, 1862, and died from fever and wounds on June 5th, 1862.

4) Olivia J. "Liva" ROBINSON, born circa 1844, Richland Co. OH
    married H. D. CRAWFORD, residence Ottumwa, Wapello Co. IA

5) Amelia Isabella ROBINSON, born 27 Aug 1847, Richland Co. OH
    married 1877, Ringgold Co. IA Joseph George BAYLES, farmer, born 05 May 1846, OH
    residence in 1900: Seward, Seward Co. NE

6) Amandus ROBINSON, died in infancy, Shelby Co. OH

7) Allie Mary ROBINSON, born Apr 1852, Richland Co. OH
    married 1876, Ringgold Co. IA to William H. CRITCHFIELD, born 1849, OH; died 1902
    William interred Ellston Cemetery, Ringgold Co. IA     residence in 1900: Tingley, Ringgold Co. IA
    residence in 1920: Corning Township of Tehama Co. CA
      child: Pearl R. CRITCHFIELD, born Feb 1877, Ringgold Co. IA
      Child: Verna L. CRITCHFIELD, born Oct 1879, Ringgold Co. IA
      Child: Wilber G. CRITCHFIELD, born circa 1884, Ringgold Co. IA
      Child: Hazel Bell CRITCHFIELD, born 04 Oct 1885; died 07 Mar 1896, Ringgold Co. IA
              interment Ellston Cemetery, Ringgold Co. IA

Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Pp. 386-87, 1887.

1880 Federal Census, Ringgold Co. IA

American Civil War Soldier Database,

WPA Graves Survey

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2009

Biographical Sketches Pages Index: A - F,   G - L,   M - R,  S - Z

To submit your Ringgold County biographies, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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