Edward Robinson, Sr.
About 1840, during Edward's railroad career there came a knocking on his door by strangers. They were strangers to him but not to the Great God on high. Their personalities, the tracts of literature, with the spirit of God, in due time convinced Edward Robinson and his wife Mary that they were on the right track and two more souls were added to the fold. The next undertaking for this couple with their six children, after realizing the principle of gathering, was to make arrangements for their transportaion to America. After bidding farewell to all their kin and friends and leaving a lovely home, they lifted their feet from the black soil of England never to be seen by them again. They crossed the ocean in 1842 in the ship "Henry." It was a long and tiresom voyage from Liverpool to New York. When in Americ they joined hands and hearts with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. The mother (Mary) gave birth to another child. Her health was poor and the poverty and persecution they were suffering was more than she could endure. She passed away Sept. 1, 1844 in Nauvoo, leaving this tiny baby and family of seven. Her heart's desire, which was to reach Utah, 3 was never realized.
Later Grandfather married again to a widow of John Wootton by the name of Ann Turner Wootton, who had two children, Attewell and John. Living in the same household with her was Ann Wootton, probably a sister of (her husband) John Wootton, and her (Ann's) daughter Elizabeth who went to live with Grandfather. Edward and Ann Turner Wootton Robinson had two sons born to them, George Heber and Alfred, this making a very large family, 14 in all, to immigrate to Utah. My father Edward Robinson, Jr., was but 10 years of age but had to drive an ox team across the plains. He was handed a stick with a strap tied to the end which he used to whack the oxen toward the valley of the mountains.
After their slow and tiresome journey across the barren wastes, in order that they may worship as they pleased, they arrived in Salt Lake Valley Oct. 28, 1849. Edward (Sr.) was sent to American Fork and here he took up farming on a big scale. He built and lived in a log cabin on the farm for a few years, later building a home of adobes on the property that is now known as Robinson Park. He was a landscape gardener; his lawns, flower beds, shrubs and beautiful trees, which are still there, were the show place of the town. He had three wives, eleven children, and four stepchildren. He was not a polygamist. Son Alfred Robinson died and was buried in American Fork's Old Cemetery.
His third wife, Margaret Grovener, was an English cook. Half the children in town would call at their door on Christmas morning for a treat. She later lost her sight and he his hearing. They would go arm in arm, he was the eyes for her and she was the ears for him.
He was kind and loving father. His stepchildren thought as much of him as his own did and his property was divided equally among them. He died April 18, 1896, in his 89th year, a true Latter-day Saint.
by Myrtle Seastrand33
Edward Robinson was the son of Joseph Robinson of Little Sutton, England, and was born in Cheshire, England, October 16, 1807. We know at this time in English history the children of the middle class had very little chance of attending school, as there were no free public schools and only the wealthy could employ private tutors or send their children to pay schools. Then, too, children had to help earn a few pence per day to help out the father's scanty income of a few schillings per week.
While very young Edward chose to train as footman to the gentry of one of the Royal families. He took great delight in driving and caring for the stately pedigree horses of the lords and ladies and in taking charge of the blood hounds and race horses ready for the fox hunts. As their fooman, he had to dress exceedingly trim to be in the presence of these distinguished people, as he rode about with them in their fine carriages behing two spans of immaculate white horses. He kept his fine English boots shined to perfection. He developed a fine appreciation of nature, spencing much time among the rustic flower gardens on the different manors. He later became a fine landscape gardener himself, having a great appreciation of art. Several of his grandchildren have done splendid work in the technical art of portrait painting. Edward and William, grandsons, won recognition while attending Brigham Young University by painting their mother's and father's portraits. These portraits are still cherished by the family.
This early training as footman schooled Edward in obedience, proptness, efficiency, courteousness, and neatness; all of which helped equip him for his future life. He grew up into noble manhood, somewhat heavy set, round features of face, very pleasant appearance and obtimistic spirit. His eyes were deep blue and he had a mob of brown curly hair and a fine set of teeth. His son, William, 5 has thick snowwhite, curly hair which is the admiration of everyone. In fact he has been distinguished form other William Robinson's by the nickname of "Curly Bill."
Edward, at the age of 21, in 1828, married a lovely, spiritual-minded English girl named Mary Smith, who was born December 2, 1810, in Manchester, England. Their courtship began while they were working at the same manor. Her picture reveals a rather delicate little face surrounded by a mop of thick curls. During the 16 years of their short life together, nine children were born to them. These children were: Richard 6 --born 1829, John-- born 1831, Mary and Martha died in infancy, Elizabeth -- born 1837, Edward -- born 1839, William -- born 1840, Mary Jane -- born March 6, 1842, (just prior to sailing to America in August) and Joseph -- born 1844 and was buried in Nauvoo beside his mother.
Edward Robinson came into manhood at the beginning of the most inventive and important century of the world's history. In 1828, the English Parliament offered a prize for the best model steam engine to run on rails from Manchester to Liverpool. Several men in different parts of the world were experimenting with steam power, but the prize was awared to George and Robert Stevenson of England, for their prize steam engine--"The Rocket." A charter was granted and this engine was to make its initial run from Manchester to Liver pool in the year 1830, the same year as the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This date marked the beginning of great things -- a new era of science and religion.
Edward Robinson had the distinction of being the first conductor or guard on this train. The English nobleman for whom Edward acted as footman owned a big block of stock in this new entrprise and he gave Edward this position because of the deep trust he had in him.
Edward used to tell of that first run and how they sprinkled sand on the rails to keep the cars from slipping when they got going so fast (20 miles an hour). On Edward Robinson's tombstone in the American Fork Cemetery is carved a picture of the the engine--"The Rocket." Under this is engraved, "Edward Robinson, first railroad conductor in the world."
With a good salary and a thrifty wife, Edward and his little family were very happy. They welcomed each child as it came into their lives to bless their home and name; but the grim reaper of death came and robbed them of two of the children, Mary and Martha.
In 1840, the same year that Mormonism was first preached in England, little William, who was one year old, became seriously ill, and Mary, a very religious woman with great interest in this new religion, sent for the Mormon missionaries. Brigham Young was then in Manchester and came to their home, anointed the sick child, and laid his hands upon his head and promised the parents that he should be made well and live to a ripe old age. William has been a living testimony of this healing and always speaks ot if with appreciative reverence. Soon after this, Edward also joined the church, following his good wife's example, and he often let the missionaries ride fee on the cars. He would say, "Sit still and say nothing." More than once he took them to his tailor and ordered a suit of clothes for them.
It took a year or so for Mary Smith to persuade her husband to quit his fine position as conductor and leave their native land to join the Mormon Saints, who were then in Illinois. However, the prayers of this little woman prevailed and in 1842, Edward and Mary with six children, left their native land for America. Upon leaving, the railroad company prsented Edward with a silver watch in which was engraved: "To Edward Robinson, in token of regard from the directors of the Manchester-Liverpool Railroad, 1842."
They were indeed happy to set foot on ground after many days on the ocean, but, almost as soon as they landed, they changed ships for the steam-propelled flat river boat which sailed up the enchanting Mississippi for Nauvoo. The Saints had built this beautiful city on swamp lands thought worthless to others, in Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi. Edward, believing this to be their permanent home, took their savings and immediately built them a lovely little red brick home. This was the happiest year of their lives. They were living and learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith and others.
In the newly built Nauvoo, they visisoned only happiness ahead, but, as the poet Burns said, "The best laid schemes of mice and men can ost agree and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy." Within the next year, 1844, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum wer martyred. This tragedy brought horror and unrest among the people. Grief came with even more froce into the home of Edward Robinson for three months later in September, 1844, his wife, then 35, was taken in death during the birth of her ninth child. The baby was named Joseph after the prophet. He was taken care of by the Kirkwood family. Later he died and was buried beside his mother in Nauvoo.
(NOTE: Joseph was born Sept. 1, 1844, died after Feb. 25, 1846, and before July 29, 1847, at Burlington, Iowa. E.B.J.)
Without a mother in his home, life was discouraging for Edward. He employed Ann Turner Wootton, a widow with two children of her own (Attewell and John), and Ann Wootton and her daughter Elizabeth to care for his household. Ann Turner Wootton was born in Tunstall, Staffordshite, England, on November 4, 1810. She made such a good housekeeper that Edward proposed marriage to her and these two plucky parents decided to rear their families together. She made a good stepmother to Edward's children although a mixed family of ten children was a big job for one woman.
Unrest and mobbing in Nauvoo again became rampant and Edward, taking the advice of authorities to seek homes in nearby towns, and hoping to get employment, traded his little dream home for a team of horses and moved his family to Burlington, Iowa. Here for four years they struggled, trying to save enough to make their journey with the Saints to Utah. Here two boys were born, Heber and Alfred. Heber was born in 1847. At this time Edward and the biggest children would go to the mills and ge roughings for ten cents a bushel. From this Ann would make sack after sack of bread which was dried, in order to take it with them on their journey across the plains.
They reaveled in the Ezra T. Benson company, leaving there in the spring of 1849. By that time over 5,000 Saints had gone ahead of them, and the paths first made by the light tread of the moccasined Indian were trampled into a dusty road by the clumsy hoof of the oxen and the rawhite boots of the men. At one time, Edward, still retaining his joyful and jolly humor, said as he held up his coarse boot, "This old clod cruncher doesn't look much like the fine, polished English boots I wore in the gentry, but such is the price of a pioneer life."
Edward drove two good yoke of oxen to pull th two wagons and had two good cows, Paddy and Lilly. Lilly was a hard looker, as she had her tail bitten off by a coyote when she was a calf. But the cows gave plenty of milk to soak up the dried bread the family had taken, and with an occasional egg from the hens they took with them they seemed to have a mighty healthy diet. They also had buffalo meat or a flapjack now and then. There were plenty of dangerous looking buffaloes on the plains. At a distance they looked like a patch of cedar trees. The Indians claimed the buffalo and deer, and they didn't like to see so many white men coming on to their hunting ground. The whites took away the deer from the redmen and robbed them of their food, clothing, needles and thread and other essentials.
When Edward and his family finally started downgrade into the valley, they were indeed thankful. ‘Tis true, the land with its purple sage appeared dry and deserted looking, compared with the green plains they had left behind, but the steams and the beauty of the lake made up for the land's dryness. The majestic mountains stood like sentinels guarding the people as they proceeded to build their homes once more with the happy thought that they would never be driven on again.
They came to Utah int he Ezra T. Benson 8 company in 1849--the exact date of arrival in Salt Lake is not given but on October 3 three companies of Saints were exposed to a tremendous snowstorm near South Pass. Sixty head of cattle perished.
The first thing Edward Robinson did when he arrived in Salt Lake Valley in October 1849, was to secure land. He rented the John Taylor famr and immediately commenced fall plowing, using the faithful oxen that had brought them across the plains. The boys helped split logs to make walls to keep the wolves out of the milk. They cleared the land and broke the sage, grease wood, and skunk brush up for fuel, drove the oxen into the canyons to bring back cottonwood, wild game and berries. Deer and game were plentiful and helped out a lot when breadstuff was so scarce. Most of the grain had to be saved for spring planting, as was the case the year before--in 1848--the year the crickets got away with a big part of the crop. Much grain as well as flour was needed in 1849, for that was when the Gold Rushers came through. They were glad to trade tired animals for foodstuff. That is how the pioneers obtained horses, sheep, and cattle.
Let us vision Edward Robinson's pioneer home that first winter. A family of eleven children, three sets of half-brothers and sisters, ranging in ages from one to nineteen years living in one big room with its quaint fireplace and black smoky kettles and primitive oven. This oven must have been kept full to supply food for so many growing, and hungry youngsters. There was a spinning wheel, straw ticks made from the canvasses from the covered wagons, a crude box or chest made of native lumber which contained their Sunday clothes and two or three home made chairs with buckskin bottoms.
This was a home quite different than what might have been theirs had they remained in old England. This was almost as humble as that of the Christ Child. Yet there was far less murmuring than today in more expensive homes. Is was a home which called for all perserverance, thrift, patience that individuals could cultivate; an abode where every member of the family on an evening bowed his head in reverence and knelt upon his knees in thankfulness for the preservation of his life, for the daily sunshine and the soil and the strength to bring about the things they envisioned ahead; where there were scanty meals shared willingly; kind services rendered unbegrudgingly; where a high standard of English culture was manitained in spite of the rough western setting. It was a place where they were happy because each day meant improvement and progression. Content and happy as they were, this was as yet, not their premanent home. A call came from the authorities asking the Saints to go to other valleys and make homes, since so many were coming with each company into the Salt Lake Valley. Once more Edward Robinson answered the call and loaded his scanty belongings into his one remanining wagon. One of his oxen had died, but he yoked a cow in its place and again they all started out for what proved to be their final destined home.
Their worldly possessions at this time were the scantiest they had ever owned. but that didn't daunt their determination to work and plan toward future growth. They journeyed south toward beautiful Utah County, then called Provo Valley. Arza Adams and Stephen Chipman and their sons, Nathan and Henry Chipman, had already passed through here the fall before on their way to the fort of Provo. They were so impressed with its prospects they built the first two log homes there in 1850. They brought back the report of their find: vast green pasture lands around the fresh water Utah Lake, abundance of fish, fertile bench lands covered with bunch grass, lovely streams carrying water through virgin soil, and much wild game, including antelope and deer, with snow capped mountains protecting the lovely valley. Picture Edward Robinson's fine English family of 13 members, father and sons walking as they drove the oxen and the cows, with the women and children riding along over the rugged grade around the Point of the Mountain and first beheld the beautiful Utah Lake and its surrroundings in Utah County, which valley proved to be their permanent home.
It was now the fall of 1851. They purchased a one room log house from Sel Thomas who wanted to join the Gold Rushers. This lot is the present site of the American Fork City Park where three generations of Robinsons reared their families; no other persons ever owned the corner. Here William S. lived 86 years. Part of the lot and Edward's adobe house were sold to the city upon the death of my father, William Edward. The other part was sold to the city upon the death of William S. They had wished to buy it all at the same time but Grandfather said, "This spot--my home--is too dear to me to be sold for money." He also said, "I want to live here as I live, after my death, you can have it."
The old fort wall just enclosed this property and I remembered playing on it where it was worn down to a long mound of earth. Granfather says we didn't need that fort as the Indians were better peacemakers than the whites if you knew how to treat them. Of course they became hostile when they saw the white man taking up all their streams and hunting grounds.
After spending the first winter in the one-room log house which sufficed a few years of pioneer environment they added another log room. In Grandfather's word, "We were so many grownups that Ned, Richard and myself had to sleep out in the straw with a bit of shed over it; but it wasn't bad, it made us tough. Our stemother fashioned us some warm bedding from homemade worsted and buckskin tops and that was warm, I'll tell you. She also made me a fine buckskin coat with a beaver collar on it. I caught the beaver on Provo River. This suit lasted my brothers and me for years. It was just the kind of garb to wear when you had to break the ice on the basin outside the door to wash your face or go to the city creek for water. You've got it pretty slick nowadays; just turn a tap and out comes hot or cold water, but you've got your troubles paying for these luxuries."
Edward Robinson and Ann Wootton proved worthy parents, equal to the task of training and rearing this large mixed family. Edward was the steady plodding type with an unusual kind and humorous manner. Yet he was a very good disciplinarian, quite forceful and strict, believing in the use of Solomon's rule when necessary. Ann was more aggressive, the bustling kind and an exceptional seamstress. You could often find her sitting up into the late hours of the night sewing suits for her growing sons and dresses for the girls and knitting all day while the children did the best at the housework. With such a thrifty wife, this family soon improved things around them. They took up a large section of land along the state highway 91, halfway to Pleasant Grove. Homes included here were Edward's, Nate Robinson's, Maggie Robinson's, and Wallace Heislet's. This large tract of land meant endless clearing and cultivating.
The larger boys and girls worked in the fields with their father. Grandfather recalls, "We were certainly children of the soil and could go to William Greenwood's school for only a short time in the winter months when the ground was too frozen to be worked. We traded vegetables from the farm for our schooling, being a native looking bunch of pupils. We did more fooling than learning as we sat on our log benches. We had a bit of a slate and a speller but our man textbook was our Bible. We felt more at home out in the fields than in a schoolroom, for we loved to work in the clear air and sunshine which gave us good appitites. We were a thankful bunch that we were finally settled in such a peacful land."
As Edward Robinson tilled the soil with his boys around him, he must have thanked his Heavenly Father that he was now a land owner himself insted of a footman to royalty in Old England, and best of all in a free country of religious liberty where his family would be driven no more.
It wasn't long until Edward and Ann built themselves a comfortable six room home. It was made of adobe--colonial style--quite like the red brick house Edward and Mary had built in Nauvoo, with four rooms downstairs and two big rooms upstairs.
Repeating Grandfather again, "We boys went to the canyons and hewed our own native timber. We dried our own adobes and I can see my stepmother now, throwing the adobes up to the masons as they put up the walls. We were surely proud of our lovely home. It stood some distance back from Main Street on the corner lot, leaving a large front lawn, and flower beds. Father Edward could be found continually at work."
Edward landscaped and planted trees, lawn, shrubs from as far away as the east, Salt Lake, and also some from the neighbors. These had to be brought by ox team. Some later emigrants brought him his lilac bushes from Old England which were planted on each side of the east gate to bid you welcome. From the rith front entrance were rows of all kinds of roses which out linded the long path of gravel that curbed to the door of the house. Next to the path beneat the rose trees were beds of violets, rows of white narcissus, tulips with hyacinths back of these and a great profusion of purple and yellow iris which filled the corner curves at the lawn and bordered the walk to the back gardens. Here there were roses of every shade, from wild pink and yellow single roses which were in the backgroung against trellises of fragrant honeysuckle to his choicest deep red Prince Henry. These roses he had to show to everyone who came into the lot and remind them it was named after one of England's kings, and a symbol of his great love for his mother country. In fact, his roses were the admiration of everyone. The towns people called his place, "Robinson's Rose Corner." Some of the trees now growing on the city park were planted by this great lover of nature.
Richard was the first to leave this lovely home; his romance budded in their own family when he wooed Elizabeth Wootton, daughter of Ann Wootton.
This couple was called by the authorities to help settle southern Utah. John married Ann Clements of Grantsville, Elizabeth Robinson married Morgan Phelps of California, while Edward married Sarah Harrington and built a home on part of the Robinson land. Heber married Maggie Della Smith. Later Margaret Crystal and husband also built down on the farm. William married Orpha Adams and built a red brick house west of his father's home which he later sold, also to the city park. Mary Jane married oscar woods of Castle Gate.
Most of the children were married when another great loss came to Edward. Ann Wootton's life had been too strenuous and she was taken from this existence at the age of 54, on April 8, 1864, and was buried in American Fork Cemetery. Edward found much solace cultivating his lovely flower beds and mowing his lawns, trying to keep house himself until two or three years later when another lovely little English woman came to bless his old age. He married Margaret Grovener, an old maid, who had accepted the gospel in England and had come to American Fork with the Kelley family. She was born Oct. 11, 1811, in Hertfordshire, England.
Margret Grovner was quite advance in years, an old maid some called her, when she became Edward's wife. There were no children born to this union; but as grandfather often said, "Margaret made a fine wife and helpmate." She took here place admirably as grandmother or Auntie to Edward's large posterity, which included Mary Smith's six children, Ann Wootton's four children. Since Margaret bore no children for Edward, she seemed to make up for it in other ways. She took extra good care of her husband, catering to him with her fine cooking which she did in English style. This pleased Edward as he had been practically reared among wealthier people, when he was a footman in England.
Margaret was renowned for her unusually fine plum pudding. Meats taasted different when she cooked them her spicy English way, especially wheh accompanied by yorkshire pudding. Her cookies were a drawing card for all the neighbor's children, especially Edward's many grandchildren who thought Auntie Margaret "tops" because she was so liberal with her cookies. Christmas Eve always found children at her door calling, "Merry Christmas," as they waited for their homemade baskets of goodies. She cherished her fine linen and china which she had brought with her from old England. Included among these were delicate tea and cream sets, colored glass sherbet dishes of purple and violet hues which were kept in the family for a long time. Margaret always used her best china tea cups for their four o'clock tea, and Edward would always stop his work in the garden when this time came and right proptly on the dot. By this period in their lives, the farm land had been turned over to the sons, Heber, Edward, and William S.
Margaret and Edward spent much time beautifying their gardens around their nice little English cottage. The couple kept their premises immaculately in order, and thus they lived happily for a few years, until, as old age crept in, Margaret became blind and Edward later became deaf. As if providence were kind to them, they were thankful that they were not both blind or both deaf.
As it was, Margaret could be as ears for Edward, and Edward was eyes for Margaret. She had a certain way of making him hear by repeating in his ear what was being said. He would lead her out into the garden and about the premises. Fine ropes were tied to the outer buildings to lead Margaret on her way there. In spite of this blindness, she still loved to arrange her dishes in the cupboard herself, and felt bad when she became bedfast with dropsy. 9
It was at this time that Edward's son William and his wife Orpha meant much to their father and stepmother. They both came in each day to help through Margaret's sickness.
This patient little wife was taken from her suffering and called to the great beyond on June 18, 1889, just when their roses were at their fullest bloom. She was buried by the side of Ann Wootton Robinson in the American Fork City Cemetery. Life was so very awkward and droll now for Edward, that he decided to see if he could sell his home, where the city park now is, to his grandson William E. Robinson, who had just married Jane Chipman. Edward stayed a while with them in one room of the house still finding much comfort in caring for the trees and flowers. Here he stayed until Jane's first baby, Myrtle, was born and as they need the room, Great-grandfather was taken to live with his sons. He first stayed with William Smith Robinson, who lived next to him on the other side of the present park. Finally his son Edward Jr. took him to live with them in their fine farm home. Here in these lovely surroundings on the land which he had farmed in earlier days, Edward Robinson remained with his son and grandchildren. He loved to hold the little ones on his lap and let them listen to the precious watch which was kept running from the year 1842 until April 18, 1896, the time of his death. He was buried in the American Fork Cemetery beneath a nice monument which reads, "The first railroad conductor in the world." A picture of the first train engine, "The Rocket," upon which he had served in England, is also carved there with Edward Robinson's name and date of birth and death and that of his three wives: Mary Smith, Ann Turner Wootton, and Margaret Grovener.
The Robinson lot was sold to American Fork City and is now a city park. There is a plaque ther to honor Colleene Robinson, Edward's great, great granddaughter, who was selected because of her beauty as Utah's Centennial Queen, July 1947, one hundred years after the first company of pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley. There is also a monument to the first free school in Utah, having been started in American Fork, in 1869.