WILLIAM ROBISON has been identified with the mercantile affairs of Dodge City for over twenty years, and he and his family are factors in the pioneer experiences of this part of Southwestern Kansas.
Few of the early settlers of Ford County experienced a more abrupt change of conditions than did the Robisons when they exchanged their home in populous Scotland for the sparsely inhabited prairies of the Kansas frontier. William Robison was born in Scotland April 9, 1867, and was the only child of Robert and Isabella (Bower) Robison. William was about eleven years of age when in the month of September, 1878, the family arrived in Ford County. They located on a homestead south of Wright. Although coming from a country of old and established traditions and industrial organization, they had the courage to locate in the short grass locality of Western Kansas. Their first family home was a frame building twelve by sixteen feet and a lean-to against the house furnished room for the four horses. It is a tribute to the pioneer spirit and courage of Robert Robison that on coming to Kansas he knew nothing about farming and had to depend upon advice given him by others as to how to proceed in the country.
The Robisons while living in Scotland had read some of the widely distributed advertisements of the railroads concerning the cheap lands that could be bought from the transportation companies in Western Kansas. Their intention was to buy some of this railroad land. On reaching Larned, then the seat of the land office, they learned that public lands could be taken under the homestead law, and they therefore entered both a homestead and a timber claim on Crooked Creek in Ford County. At Larned they bought team and wagon and were on the road to their claim and had reached Spearville when the Indian raid of 1878 called a change in their plans. Some people living at Spearville persuaded the family from going further and urged them to take up other public lands in that community. Thus they occupied the place south of Wright above mentioned.
There was little to show for the strenuous efforts the Robison family put forth in farming for several years. Fortunately they had brought some surplus capital, and this was nearly all used up before the lands were growing crops. n[sic] the early '80s they began raising wheat, but soon went into the cattle business on a small scale. The first home above mentioned served as the family shelter for about ten years, being succeeded by a more substantial residence and also a good barn. In developing the tree claim they endeavored to comply with the law and raise timber, but had no success in that. Eventually they patented the two claims, and that land was the basis and nucleus of the family fortune. Experience soon showed that stock raising was more reliable than farming, and in the course of time Robert Robison became one of the practical cow men among the settlers. For many years there was range in unlimited quantities, and thus Robert Robison had no need for more land than the half section which he had first taken up.
In 1897 Robert Robison left his farm and gave up agriculture as a vocation. In Scotland he had been a blacksmith and wagon maker, and on moving to Dodge City he set up a blacksmith and wagon shop. Eventually he expanded that into a hardware and harness business, and his store was on the same lot now occupied by his son. In that location he did his last practical work and his death occurred in Dodge City in September, 1912, at the age of eighty-nine. On coming to America Robert Robison took out papers as a citizen and always took an active part in the affairs of the community. He voted the democratic ticket in national affairs, and was always loyal to the church of his upbringing, the Presbyterian. Robert Robison was born at Jedburg, Scotland. His forefathers were natives of that shire, Roxborough, and most of the family seemed to have been mechanics, his own father having been a blacksmith and wagonmaker. Robert was one of three children and the only one to come to the United States. Mrs. Robert Robison died in 1909, at the age of seventy-six.
William Robison acquired a little schooling in Scotland and was never in a school room as a student after coming to Kansas. Quite early in life he joined his father in the hardware business and has continued that on a prosperous scale ever since.
His business house is really a landmark in Dodge City, since it is the first business structure erected there and was used early as a drug store, post office and as the office of the county treasurer until Mr. Robison converted it into a store room. The building was erected by Judge Fringer and the lumber in it is white pine, hauled from Abilene, Kansas.
Mr. Robison has never married. His only official service has been as a councilman of Dodge City. He is a democrat and a member of the Presbyterian Church, and is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an order of which his father was a member in Scotland. After business hours Mr. Robison finds rest and recreation on his little farm adjoining Dodge City.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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