My 2 great-grandfather, William Robbins, was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania on 24 June 1834 to William Robbins and Mary Agnes (Nancy) Sloan. He traveled across the United States as a young man. According to family history, he signed on, herded cattle across the plains to California and then sailed back to Pennsylvania. During this trip to California, as the story goes, Will was so taken by Linn County, Missouri that he vowed to settle there and raise his family.
Martha Cowan Christy was born in McKeesport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on 17 June 1836 to Andrew Christy and Eliza Elizabeth Ekin . When Martha first heard of the idea to move to Missouri, she said she would not move west until the railroad was built.
Will Robbins married Martha Christy on 4 February 1858 in McKeesport, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
Will and Martha took off for Missouri shortly after their wedding. They traveled by barge down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi to St. Louis. They then traveled by wagon to Linn County, Missouri. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born 17 November 1858 near Meadville, Linn County, Missouri. Will and Martha had eight children – Elizabeth E., Nancy, Charles Francis, a son who died shortly after birth, Margaret Christy, William Christy, Ida M. (Bird), and Willetta.
When war broke out Will signed on to serve with the Union forces. William Robbins served as a 2nd Lt. in Company F, 62nd Regt. E.M.M. from 28 July 1862 to 7 November 1862 under Captain Forman. He served again from 25 August 1864 to 1 October 1864 under Captain E.J. Crandall. On 6 October 1864, he again served in Captain Forman’s company. During Will’s absence, Martha ran the farm while raising four infant children. Upon his release from duty on 20 December 1864, Will returned home.
In October 1868 he was tending to a horse when the horse kicked him in the head. On 31 October 1868 He died from this injury. He was buried in the Meadville Cemetery. Their daughter, Willetta, was born barely six weeks later on 11 December 1868. Willetta died three months shy of her fifth birthday. The headstone now reflects William, his wife Martha, and their daughter Willetta.
Following Will’s death, Martha’s parents encouraged her to sell the farm and move back to Pennsylvania with them. Martha chose to stay in Missouri. Martha C. Robbins was the administratrix of William Robbins estate. She saw six of her children grow to adults, marry, and raise their own families.
Martha Cowan Christy Robbins never remarried. She suffered the loss of two children, one when she was a recent widow. William Christy Robbins, her youngest son, died in April of 1914.
Martha enjoyed her family of six children and over a dozen grandchildren. During her life, the nation grew from 13 states in 1838 to 48 states and several territories. Horse and buggy transportation had given way to the automobile and aircraft. Telephones, tractors, and mechanical machinery had made life much easier. She witnessed and experienced, The War Between the States, the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and World War I. With the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Martha was able to vote for presidential candidates in 1920 and 1924.
Martha Cowan Christy Robbins died 20 October 1926 at the age of 90 years, 4 months and 3 days.
The farm that Will and Martha started, grew and remained in the family. The farm passed from their son William Christy to their granddaughter’s (Martha Christy Robbins Taylor) family and on to their great-grandson Jay Robert Taylor. The Taylors were working and residing on the homestead as late as June 1976.
1) The History of Linn County, Missouri: An Encyclopedia of Useful Information http://books.google.com/books?id=B30UAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA734&lpg=PA734&dq=John+Smiley+and+Nancy+Cornelius&source=bl&ots=ezxec4v, pg 732.
2)Headstone, Meadville Cemetery, Meadville, Linn, Missouri
3) “The Robbins Came by Barge,” Brookfield, Missouri Daily News-Bulletin, 17 June 1976, story on pages 1 & 3. history of Will and Martha Christy Cowan Robbins.
4) 1850 Federal Census, PA, Allegheny County, Versailles Twnshp, Pg 223.
5) History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : Including its early settlement and progress to the present time…also, portr Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, Inc., 1993, Volume II, Part Two, pages 700-701 – Bio of John R. Christy
6) 1860 Federal Census, MO, Linn County, pg 132, family #874
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, Tuesday, November 16, 1948, page 1
7) Kenneth E. Weant, Civil War Records – Missouri State Officers: Enrolled Missouri Militia, Home Guard, Provisional, Volunteer, Etc. (Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives, 2013), Vol. 1, pg 148.
8) Kenneth E. Weant, compiler, Civil War Records – Union Troops: Enrolled Missouri Militia (6951 Names), 8 Volumes (Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives, 2007), volume 2, page 83.
9) Linn County, Missouri State Archives, Certificate of War Service, file: “Crandall’s E. M.M., Co.,” , Robbins, William, 2nd Lt., Comd’g Capt. E. J. Crandall, 1 October 1864; Union Army Militia, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.
10) Find-A-Grave.com http://www.find-a-grave.com, 42802014.
11) Judy Jacobson, History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), pages 14 & 180.
12) Death Certificate, Missouri, 13101.
13) Death Certificate, Missouri, 32145.