PETER ROBIDOUX is president of the State Bank of Wallace County. Great herds of cattle with the Robidoux brand and ownership graze over pastures and ranches comprising 30,000 acres of land. But besides the significance given by these material possessions to the name Mr. Robidoux is also an interesting character by reason of his pioneer residence on the western frontier of Kansas. He and his family connections have been identified with Wallace County and the surrounding territory from the time it was first opened to white settlement by reason of the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. Ranching, agriculture, merchandising and banking and all the other important interests of that vicinity have recognized Peter Robidoux as a leader for over forty years.
As his name indicates, he is of French ancestry. The Robidoux family some generations ago left France and settled in Lower Canada, in the Province of Quebec. Peter Robidoux may therefore be called a French Canadian by birth. He was born at St. Remy, Canada, March 23, 1850. His father, Peter, Sr., was born in Quebec in 1825, spent his life in that Province, and died at Henryville, Quebec, October 30, 1897. He married Mary Ann Isabelle, who was born in Quebec in 1825 and died at Henryville May 14, 1896. Peter, Sr., spent his life as a farmer. He was a devout Catholic and reared his family in that faith. His children were: Souphranie, born March 31, 1848, is now living at Iberville, Quebec, the widow of Ed Trambly, who was a blacksmith and died in Massachusetts; Alfred, born in 1849, died in infancy; Peter, Jr., third in the family; Joseph, born April 3, 1853, a general merchant at Benkelman, Nebraska; Dumina, born December 24, 1854, came to Wallace County and was a homesteader and farmer there ten years, after which he returned to Canada and died in 1913; Albert, born May 19, 1859, was for a number of years a rancher in Wallace County, where he located in 1877, and died at Wallace May 19, 1912; Auzilda, born May 6, 1860, married Erienne Meunier and they live at Iberville, Quebec, where he is a farmer; Emma died at the age of twelve years; Arthur, born August 22, 1868, is a barber at Fall River, Massachusetts.
All the successive steps in the career of Mr. Peter Robidoux can not be recounted, but the following facts will indicate that he began life dependent on his own exertions and with not as many advantages as the average high school graduate of today. From the age of six to twelve he attended the parish school in his country district, and his teacher throughout that period was the same man, Edward Lafond. When about twelve years of age he left school on one Friday and on the following Monday walked fifteen miles from home to begin work in a country store. The first year he was paid $1.50 a month, after which his wages were doubled and he got $36 for the second year. Further experience and training in merchandising came by six months' employment in a store at St. John, Canada. In the fall of 1867 he arrived in the United States, locating at Mantino, Illinois, and worked for his board during January and February. March 1, 1868, he hired out to a farmer, and worked steadily until the 10th of August. At that date he went to Chicago, where he invested practically all his savings in a railroad ticket that would take him to the end of the railroad, then the old Kansas Pacific. The railway terminus at that time was Hays City, Kansas. He reached there without a single penny, and during the following year worked as a common laborer with the Kansas Pacific Railway. Following that came an experience of ten months as a barkeeper at Kit Carson, Colorado. Returning to Kansas, he was clerk in the old Kansas Pacific Hotel at Ellis for two years under Hon. John H. Edwards.
In that time Mr. Robidoux came to know much of western ways and men, and had developed his owe self-reliance and enterprise to a point where he could make his experience useful to himself. In 1873 he located as a pioneer at Wallace, and was one of the first merchants at that small railroad town. He continued a merchant until 1893, but in the meantime his interests had expanded to cover a large field. In 1878 he entered the cattle industry, homesteading 160 acres and taking a tree claim of 160 acres. In his cattle operations he used the open range and did not become an individual owner of more land until 1903, since then he has been investing heavily in Kansas lands until he now owns 30,000 acres in Wallace County. He raises and feeds every year great bunches of cattle, hogs and mules, and for forty years his name has figured conspicuously among the cattle men of Western Kansas. In 1911 Mr. Robidoux bought a modern home at Wallace, a residence which was erected by another pioneer citizen in 1882, H. H. Clark.
The State Bank of Wallace County, of which Mr. Robidoux is president, was established under a state charter in 1907. George R. Allman is vice president and Frank Madigan is cashier. This is a solid and substantial institution, with a capital of $10,000 and surplus and profits of $7,500. In politics Mr. Robidoux is a republican.
February 11, 1885, at St. George, Kansas, he married Miss Alice Barry. To their marriage were born four children: Aline Mary, born December 19, 1885, finished her education at Manhattan, being a graduate of the high school and also a student in Manhattan College. She is now the wife of Frank Madigan, cashier of the Wallace County State Bank. Peter James Robidoux, born August 31, 1891, is a graduate of Manhattan High School and attended Manhattan College and is now ranching under his father. Ramona Hortense, born July 27, 1895, is assistant cashier in her father's bank. Louis William, born March 5, 1899, is assisting his father on the ranch and finished his education in the Salina Business College.
James Barry, father of Mrs. Peter Robidoux, also deserves special mention among the prominent pioneers of Western Kansas. He was born January 12, 1828, in Ireland, and when about two years of age was brought to America by his parents, who first located at Covington, New York. He grew up there and married Mary Fitzgerald. In 1859 they moved to the vicinity of Kankakee, Illinois, and in 1862 set up their home in St. George, Kansas, owning a farm between Manhattan and St. George. James Barry was for eighteen years in the employ of the Denver division of the Union Pacific Railway Company as road master. His headquarters from 1870 to 1875 were at Wallace, his supervision of the railway extending west to Denver. During that time Mrs. Barry kept the pioneer hotel at Wallace. After retiring from the railway James Barry returned to St. George, living there until March 1, 1908, at which date he built a residence on North Juliette Avenue in Manhattan, and died there a few months later. His widow is still living in Manhattan.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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