Albert Alonzo Robinson, a retired railroad president of Topeka, Kan., was born at South Reading, Windsor county, Vermont, Oct. 21, 1844. He is a son of Ebenezer, Jr., and Adaline (Williams) Robinson, and a descendant of William Robinson, who immigrated to America from Bristol, England, and settled at Watertown, Mass. William Robinson was born about 1640 and was married about 1668, to Elizabeth Cutter, born in Cambridge, Mass., July 16, 1645. She was a daughter of Richard and Elizabeth (Williams) Cutter, of Cambridge, the latter of whom was a daughter of Elizabeth (Stalham) Williams, and was born in England. Jonathan Robinson, son of William and Elizabeth Robinson, had a son James, whose son, Ebenezer, fought as a valiant soldier in the Revolution. He was born at Lexington, Mass., Feb. 14, 1765, and entered the Colonial service when sixteen years of age. He served first as a privateer on a Colonial ship; was captured and confined six months on the British prison ship, Jersey; and after his release served in the Colonial army until the close of the war. Ebenezer Robinson, the Revolutionary patriot, and his son, Ebenezer Robinson, Jr., were the grandfather and father respectively of Albert Alonzo Robinson.
After receiving the usual public school education, Mr. Robinson attended the Milton (Wis.) Academy and later entered the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 1869, receiving the degrees of Civil Engineer and of Bachelor of Science. In 1871 his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of Master of Science and, in 1900, further honored him with the degree of Doctor of Laws. From childhood until he reached his majority he was engaged in farm labor out of school hours, except from 1856 to 1859, when he worked as a clerk in drygoods or grocery stores. While a student at the University of Michigan he was employed, from 1866 to 1868, about five months each year as assistant on the United States lake surveys, in astronomical field work and on triangulation of the Great Lakes. On May 27, 1869, he began his work on railroads, in which line of activity he was engaged for more than thirty-seven years, during which time he rose by successive promotions to the vice-presidency of the Santa Fe railroad and presidency of the Mexican Central railroad, two of the great railway systems of the Southwest. His first service was as axman in the engineering corps of the St. Joseph & Denver City railroad, and thereafter he served successively as chainman, levelman, transit man, office engineer, locating engineer, and assistant engineer, until April 1, 1871. At that time he entered the employ of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company and for the ensuing two years was assistant engineer, in charge of location and construction. On April 1, 1873, he was made chief engineer, which position he held until August, 1890. He also served as division superintendent on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway from Las Vegas to Santa Fe, Deming and El Paso, from September, 1880, until October, 1881, and from the latter date until June 1, 1883, he was superintendent of bridges, buildings, and water service on that railroad. From June 1, to Sept. 1, 1883, he was assistant general superintendent; from Sept. 1, 1883, until March 1, 1884, he was general superintendent; from March 1884, until Feb. 1, 1886, he was general manager; from Feb. 1, 1886, until May, 1888, second vice-president, and he was second vice-president and general manager from May, 1888, until May 3, 1893, when he left the Santa Fe system to accept the presidency of the Mexican Central Railway Company, Limited. He was general manager of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railroad from Aug. 1, 1888, until May 1, 1893. He was also general manager of the Sonora railway of Mexico from 1884 to 1893, except the period from February, 1886, to May, 1888. During his engineering experience he had direct charge of the construction of over 4,500 miles of railroad, including, in 1887, the building of the Pueblo & Denver line, 116 miles in 216 days, and also 360 miles on the line from Kansas City to Chicago, in 276 days, the latter embracing permanent bridges across the Missouri, Mississippi, Des Moines, and Illinois rivers, and the construction of portions of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe system. While president of the Mexican Central he had charge of the general business and financial affairs of the road, with headquarters at Boston, but on Dec. 1, 1906, he retired from the presidency of that road and since then has had no official connection with any railroad, he has maintained his residence in the city of Topeka since 1871 and has lived at No. 900 Tyler street since 1875. There, in 1886, he erected one of the handsomest homes in Topeka.
Mr. Robinson was married Dec. 9, 1869, to Julia Caroline, daughter of Perez C. and Katharine C. (Bardeen) Burdick, of Edgerton, Wis. She died Aug. 3, 1881, leaving a daughter, Metta Burdick. On Sept. 3, 1885, Mr. Robinson was united in marriage to Mrs. Ellen Frances Williams, a sister of his first wife. In politics Mr. Robinson is a Republican. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers; of the Chicago Club, at Chicago; of the Lawyers' Club, of New York; of the Jockey Club and the University Club, of Mexico City; and of the Topeka Club, the Country Club, and the Commercial Club, of Topeka. He is one of Topeka's most respected citizens and has been identified with its interests for over forty years. The fact that he selected Topeka as his home and has retained his residence there these many years, after more than thirty-seven years of railroad activity, in which he visited almost every part of the United States, speaks eloquently as to his faith in the city's future and his high esteem of its citizenship.Pages 88-89 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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