James C. Robison.Throughout Kansas the name Robison is indissolubly linked with her great Percheron breeding establishmentWhitewater Falls stock farm, which from a small beginning in 1884 has grown to be the most important enterprise of its kind in America, and of which the subject of this review has been since 1895 an interested principal, for many years the managing executive, and since 1909 the sole owner. James C. Robison was born in Pekin, Ill., July 24, 1872, a son of the late Hon. J. W. Robison, a sketch of whose life precedes this article and his wife, Sarah A. (Woodrow) Robison. His early education was acquired in the public schools of Tazewell county, Illinois, and Butler county, Kansas. This was supplemented by a one-year course in the agricultural department of the University of Illinois, of Champaign, and later he attended the Wichita Business College at Wichita, Kan., receiving the first diploma issued by that institution on his graduation. On completion of his education he returned to Butler county and was in the employ of his father on his stock farm near Towanda. In 1895 he became the junior member of the firm of J. W. and J. C. Robison, a business partnership which remained unbroken until a year previous to the death of the senior member, in 1909. The history of the growth and development of the business of this firm covers to a large extent the identification of Mr. Robison with the commercial affairs of this section of the state. In 1879, the late Hon. J. W. Robison secured the land now included in Whitewater Falls farm. In 1884 his first investments in Percherons were made. In 1895 James C. Robinson became a partner in the enterprise as above stated. The farm proper, consisting of 1,920 acres, devoted chiefly to Percherons, while still permitting of extensive feeding operations, lies along the Whitewater river. The hill slopes contain an abundance of limestone, which gives added strength to the native grasses, and the fertile bottom lands, are not surpassed elsewhere. Five hundred acres of bottom lands produce alfalfa, and doubtless much of the success in the development of the Percherons is due to the limestone grasses and the alfalfa. Five imported stallions have successfully headed the stud. The first, Norval, half brother to the famous Brilliant, was used for ten years, Social, a son of Sultan, was in service eight years; Laschine, a French gold medal winner, died after two years' service; Fantone was used a similar period; Casino, the greatest of them all and winner of 115 firsts, has been the head of the stud since 1902. Since 1884, when the first investments in Percheron were made, the business has been gradually and substantially extended and the character of the stock improved until at the present time, it is rated, by those who should know, as the leading Percheron breeding establishment of America. Robison Percherons have been awarded prizes at the World's Fair at St. Louis in 1904, International, American Royal, at the state fairs of Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma and at Toronto, Canada. At the World's Fair at St. Louis the Robison exhibits won a greater number of prizes than any other Percheron breeder and their show entries were, all but two, foaled at Whitewater Falls farm. The famous six horse team of the Kansas State Experimental Station at Manhattan is from this farm and the experimental stations of Oklahoma, Washington, Arkansas, Colorado and Texas have drawn upon the farm for mares, a recognition of the superiority of this stud. The records of the eleven public sales of this farm furnish the most decisive evidence of the public's confidence in the stock offered. In 1902, twenty-three head brought an average price of $472.23; in 1903, thirty-five head, $463.00; in 1904, forty head, $495.00; in 1905, forty-four head, $468.98; in 1906, forty-two head, $638.70; in 1907, sixty-one head, $598.71; in 1908, fifty-four head, $661.11; in 1909, fifty-nine head, $684.10; in 1910, fifty-eight head, $671.00; and in 1911, fifty-six head $674.50.
To the intelligent and persevering effort of "Jim" Robison this successful accomplishment is due. For more than a decade he has been the active force, and since 1909 the sole owner of the farm and stud. He has builded on a brood basis and his handiwork has more favorable recognition of the best informed in his line wherever Percherons are grown in numbers in America. Probably no establishment of its kind in this country represents as large an investment in lands and improvements, over $40,000 having been expended in suitable buildings for the proper carrying on of the enterprise, and in the essentials of sanitation, light, water and character of construction, nothing which money could procure has been overlooked. The Whitewater is a beautiful stream bordered by a generous growth of elm, walnut, hackberry and sycamore. Located within two hundred feet of the farm residence is a delightful waterfall that runs its course by day and by night as the years pass. It is from this beautiful fall that the farm takes its name. Within the home are numerous silver trophies which bear witness to victories won in many exhibitors' contests. On the library walls hangs a fine study in oil of a group of Percherons with Casino in the foreground. The farm has been the scene of many charming hospitalities and here the visitor ever receives a warm welcome. The dedication of the great central barn occurred on June 5, 1909. Two thousand invited guests were transported by special train from nearby towns and cities and made merry at the largest barn dance ever held in Kansas. Mr. Robison is a Republican in politics and, while essentially a man of business, is active and influential in party affairs. In 1909, he was appointed by Governor Stubbs a member of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture to fill the unexpired term of his father, Hon. J. W. Robison. He was elected to membership on this board in January, 1911, and is a director. He is a member, has served one term as president and is a director in the Percheron Society of America; has also served as a director of the American Royal Live Stock Show; has gained the Scottish Rite degrees in Masonry, and is affiliated with Midian Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Wichita.
Mr. Robison married on Feb. 2, 1897, Miss Bertha Ellet, daughter of William H. Ellet, of Eldorado, and granddaughter of Gen. Alfred W. Ellet, one of the first settlers of Butler county. They are the parents of four children, viz: William Ellet, born Nov. 8, 1897; Ruth, born June 27, 1903; Alfred Ellet, born May 13, 1905; and Amy, born March 19, 1900, who died Aug. 3, 1900. Mr. Robison is a man of strong character and powerful individuality, gifted with keen intuition, has constructive and executive ability of high order and is admirably fortified in knowledge of the questions and issues of the hour. He has ever been a loyal and progressive citizen of Kansas and a firm believer in her future advancement, as in the past he has been an active worker in her development. Mrs. Robison is a woman of broad culture and extensive travel, a charming hostess and prominent in the social life of Butler county.Pages 850-852 from volume III, part 2 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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