Adams Cemetery, Molalla, Oregon

About half way between the city of Molalla and Feyrer Park where the 2023 Robbins Reunion will be held, is Adams Cemetery Road, which runs past some farms and up a hill to the large Adams Cemetery.  That cemetery is where Jacob and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins and many of their descendants rest.

Being only a 5-minute drive from Feyrer Park it would make a great stop, coming or going, to the reunion. 

According to the Oregon Historic Sites Database ( the Adams Cemetery was established in 1865 and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins was said to be the first person buried there.  From family stories we know that Jacob moved the bodies of his young sons who died in 1852 at the end of the Oregon Trail to the Adams Cemetery once it was established and their graves are marked today.  The property was deeded to the Adams Cemetery Association in 1921 by William Adams and Lloyd Shaver.  Other portions of the property was deeded to the Association in 1938 by Alfred Shaver (the Shavers were Robbins descendants).

Among the children of Jacob and Sarah in the Adams Cemetery are:  Harvey Robbins (1833-1925), Levi Robbins (1835-1921), Thomas Robbins (1836-1913), Martin Robbins (1838-1921), Oliver Robbins (1840-1933), Theodore Robbins (1844-1952), and Aaron Robbins (1847-1852).

To find the graves of Jacob and Sarah and some of the older Robbins burials, enter the cemetery through the gate, drive straight ahead towards the flag pole, then turn right and drive through the grove of trees.  Many of the oldest family graves are on the east side of the road, though there are many other relations throughout the cemetery.  Here is rough map from FindAGrave:

And here are several photos from the Adams Cemetery:

Levi, son of Jacob and Sarah Robbins

Jacob and Sarah Robbins with their two sons who died at the end of the Oregon Trail in 1852; son Martin Robbins in background

Portraits of Jacob Robbins (1809-1896)

Of all the grandchildren of Jacob and Mary Robbins of Kentucky, the third generation, the one individual who seems to have had the most photographs taken, is Jacob Robbins (1809-1896).  This was the Jacob who married Sarah Spilman and emigrated with his family to Oregon in 1852 along with his cousin Nathaniel Robbins and his family.

That multiple photographs of Jacob were taken is a testament to his long life as he lived until 1896, long after photography became common place.  His wife Sarah, on the other hand, died in 1865 and only one known photograph of her exists, as also occurs with his cousin Nathaniel Robbins, who died in 1863.

Here is a summary of the six photos or drawings I have of Jacob and Sarah Robbins and who originally shared the photos with me (all three contributors have since passed on).

Jacob and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins (Margaret Davis, Yakima, WA)
Jacob Robbins (Margaret Davis, Yakima, WA)
Jacob Robbins (Patrick Masterson, Port Orford, OR)
Jacob Robbins (Lloyd Robbins, Vancouver, WA)
Jacob Robbins (Lloyd Robbins, Vancouver, WA)
Jacob Robbins (Patrick Masterson, Port Orford, WA)

If anyone has additional photos of Jacob and Sarah Robbins, or of anyone from that generation – children of William Sr., Absalom, James, Jacob Jr., Mary Chastain, Martha Chastain, and Margaret Robbins, I’m always happy to get a scanned copy!

[Jacob Robbins-Jacob Robbins-Jacob Robbins]

An Eddyville (Oregon) Family

As I do periodically, I recently returned to a family group that I had not looked at in some time to see if I could find any new information.  In this case I looked at Richard N. Robbins, a son of Stephen Robbins (c1831-1874), in turn a son of Micajah Robbins, all of Decatur County, Indiana.

According to loose family history notes, coming down from W. F. Robbins, Marvin Robbins Davis, and others, Stephen Robbins and wife Mary Jane Scripture lived in the community known as Scripture Bridge along Sand Creek.  From those notes and from census records I knew that Stephen and Mary Jane Robbins had three children:  sons Richard and Francis and daughter Gloria (Lora) Ann (Robbins) Monroe.  Of these three families, other than one marriage record for Richard, it was only Gloria for whom I had any kind of information and had identified descendants.

The above history notes provided only this when it came to eldest son Richard N. Robbins:

I did have the marriage record for Richard and Melissa E. Luckey from 1877:

After that, other than the 1880 census, I had been unable to find them in any other records.  And then, when I took a fresh look at some of Ancestry’s leaf hints for Richard last month these were the two that made me sit up and take notice:

Wow.  Those opened up a whole new avenue (and geographic area) of research.  Other than Melissa E. Luckey being called Emmaline E. Luckey, I knew I had two children of Richard and Melissa (aka Malissa, Emmaline, Elizabeth, etc.).  Building on those hints about two children of the couple I was able to answer some questions, though others remained. 

The most amazing discovery was that Melissa and her two children ended up in a wide-spot in the road known as Eddyville, about an hour north of me, just inland from the Oregon coast.  The biggest question, still unresolved, is why did this family move from Decatur County, Indiana, to Eddyville, Oregon, of all places?

Eddyville – between Newport and Corvallis, Oregon

This is what I now know:  Richard and Melissa had two children:  Estella A. and LeRoy (“Roy”) Finley Robbins, both born in Decatur County, Indiana.  Estella Robbins was married to Harvey Bowler Huntington in 1898 in Lincoln County, Oregon (the county in which Eddyville is located).  Also, about 1898, Melissa (Luckey) Robbins married Moran Weltin.  Finally, in 1909, LeRoy Finley Robbins was married to Mamie Wakefield.

I was able to find occasional mentions of the Robbins, Weltins, and Wakefields, in the local newspaper, of which these articles are an example.

Identifying Estella and LeRoy allowed me to follow their lives and work their family lines down to the present day.  Estella (Robbins) Huntington died in 1960 in Tacoma, Washington, her husband Harvey having died in 1947.  Their oldest child, Agnes Melissa, was born in Eddyville while the rest of their children (Lola Myrtle, Herbert Harvey, and Clyde Samuel) were born in Portland.  There are quite a few descendants of this family.

LeRoy Finley Robbins died in Lincoln County (probably Eddyville) in 1949, his wife Mamie having predeceased him in 1938.  The couple had a daughter Myrtle Ruth who married and had one child. LeRoy and Mamie also appear to have had an unnamed baby for whom there is a gravestone in the cemetery. There are only a couple of descendants of LeRoy.

Melissa (Luckey) (Robbins) Weltin, Richard N. Robbins’ wife, died in 1946, while her second husband Moran Weltin died in 1926.

The Weltins, along with LeRoy Finley Robbins and his wife, are buried in the Eddyville Cemetery.  Being only about 90-minutes away, it was time for a road trip!  The small cemetery is up a steep drive, beginning right next to a house, barely off Highway 20.  Through the gate and up the hill I found Melissa and her Oregon family.

The question is:  what happened to Richard N. Robbins?  We have no records between the birth of LeRoy in Decatur County, Indiana, 1883, and the marriages of Melissa and Estella in Eddyville, Oregon in 1898.  Or do we?  There is a record of a Richard N. Robbins marrying in Kentucky in 1893 (that would jibe with the history of W. F. Robbins, et al, mentioned above), but I don’t know if it is the same man.  Is it possible that Richard and Melissa were divorced?  Does that explain why Melissa and her two children went from Indiana to Oregon?  and why there is no mention of their father in the records of Estella and LeRoy?  But why Eddyville?  I have found no connection in either family with that small settlement.

Perhaps one day these questions will be answered.

[Jacob Robbins-Absalom Robbins-Micajah Robbins-Stephen Robbins-Richard N. Robbins]

The Deweese Family

There are a number of families that married into the Robbins line several times.  One of those was the Deweese family.

There are three main connections between the Deweeses and the Robbins of which I am aware: Mary Margaret Deweese married John Robbins, Beverly Deweese married Mary Helen Robbins, and Jacob Deweese married Mary Ellen (“Polly”) Robbins.  Note:  the names Mary Helen, Mary Ellen, Mary, and Polly have been used for these two women almost interchangeably in records though I refer to Beverly’s wife as Mary and Jacob’s wife as Polly.

Also, I am going to discuss the two male Deweese families here, only briefly touching on Mary Margaret’s family.  I have not done research on the ancestry of the Deweese family and have relied on others work that has been shared with me in the past or is currently online, primarily Ancestry’s trees that look most well documented.  Also be aware research is still ongoing.

The proposed relationship outline is as follows:

Mary Margaret Deweese

Mary Margaret Deweese married John Robbins in 1826 in Decatur County, Indiana.  John was the son of James and Hannah (Jarrett) Robbins of nearby Jennings County.  The couple had five children that I’m aware of:  James Deweese Robbins, Isaiah Wilson Robbins, Mary Robbins, Hannah Robbins, and William Riley Robbins.  They lived in a variety of locations in Indiana, including Jennings, Clinton, and Fulton counties.  I will not add more here, as this post will focus on the two male Deweese connections.

Beverly Deweese

Beverly Deweese, born about 1813 reportedly in Pendleton Co., Kentucky, was married to Mary Helen Robbins in 1833 in Decatur County, Indiana, by Justice of the Peace, Nathaniel Robbins.  Polly was the daughter of Micajah Robbins, Nathaniel’s wife Nancy’s eldest brother.

They owned 80 acres in Decatur County, received from federal land patents in 1837 and 1843, generally between Letts and Gaynorsville.  About 1856 the Deweeses left Indiana and moved to Atchison County, Kansas, purchasing 160 acres of land in 1858 about seven miles west of the city of Atchison (it wasn’t officially patented until 1863 after Beverly’s death).  While Beverly died in 1862, Mary lived here until her death in 1905. 

Beverly and Mary Deweese had ten children:  Emily, Hardin, Rhoda, Nancy, John, Martha, Benjamin, Daniel, Lewis, and Hiram – many names which appear in Robbins family groups close to Mary.

Son John H. Deweese enlisted in Company D of the 7th Kansas Cavalry (Volunteers) in November of 1861 for three years.  Sadly he died of measles only two months later in January of 1862.  However, his death resulted in a pension application by his mother which provides a small snapshot into the lives of this Kansas family.

Mary Helen (Robbins) Deweese – “mark” on pension application

Among the information provided in the pension papers include that Beverly Deweese had been an invalid for five years prior to his death (so from about 1857 to 1862), and totally disabled since 1860 to his death.  Oldest son Hardin was also an invalid and he suffered from epilepsy.  Sadly, in the 1880 census 43-year-old Hardin, living at home, is listed as “insane”, a not-uncommon view of epileptics at the time.

The quarter section of land they owned (160 acres, being the SW¼ of Sec. 4 of Township 5 South, Range 19 East) was described as being “rough and unimproved” with only a small part being under cultivation.  The crops all across Kansas were said to be a failure in 1860 (reported in the pension application).  The farm was located about three miles east of the tiny hamlet of Huron, which wasn’t established until 1882. 

The Deweese quarter section was the area between the two marked corners – the small community of Huron is to the left

Young John Deweese hired out by day or month to neighbors to help support his parents and siblings from the age of 15 until his enlistment (he was only 18 or 20 at the time of enlistment and death).  He was the family’s sole source of support.  Upon his death, with an invalid husband (soon to follow him to the grave), an invalid son, and other, mostly younger, children, Mary had to run the farm, which resulted in approximately $50 income each year.  Tax assessments by the county placed the value of the land anywhere from $550 to $920 in the years 1862 to 1883, when Mary filed her application for a pension.

John was buried in the Old Huron Cemetery but his mother Mary was buried in the Anderson Cemetery, located just across the county line to the north in Doniphan County.  We don’t know where Beverly was buried – Old Huron? or Anderson?

Several of the children remained in Kansas for the rest of their lives, including Emily (who was married to Thomas Stone), Daniel, and Lewis Franklin (“Frank”).  Frank was an interesting case as he traveled back to Breckinridge County, Kentucky, where many of his Robbins cousins were living, to marry one of them, Mary Elizabeth Robbins (daughter of Micajah Robbins Jr.), in 1888.  Two of Beverly and Mary’s children, Rhoda (who married Matthew Dorland) and Benjamin (who seems to have never married), ended up in Burlington, Skagit County, Washington.  What happened to several of the children remains unknown:  did Nancy or Martha marry?  Did Hiram survive to adulthood and marry?  Hopefully further research will give us answers.

Jacob Frederick Deweese

Jacob Deweese was born in 1819 in Grant County, Kentucky, and married Mary Ellen (“Polly”) Robbins in 1845 in Decatur County, Indiana, by Justice of the Peace, Nathaniel Robbins, Mary Ellen’s uncle.  Mary was the daughter of Nathaniel’s older brother, Marmaduke (see previous relationship chart).

This Deweese family lived in Decatur County, Indiana, until about 1866, when a deed is recorded for 180 acres of land in Clay County, Illinois.  They weren’t the only family members living in Clay County, as Polly’s sister Docia (Robbins) Travis had also moved there after Polly did.  The Deweeses lived in Illinois into the 1870s (until 1875 according to one of the children’s obituary) when they packed up and moved to Marion County, Kansas.

Jacob and Polly had at least eight children:  William, Abraham (“Abram” or “Abe”), Gerusia (or Jerusia or Jenny or Ellen?), Hortensia, Cyrus Holman, Laura, Mary Jane, and Jacob Jr.  One of the daughters, listed as Ellen, remained in Illinois where she married Franklin Henthorn.  Age-wise I believe it was probably Gerusia or Hortensia – both are listed in the 1850 and 1860 censuses in the Deweese family and both would have been old enough to marry in 1871 – and both might have wanted a simpler name like Ellen.  The only other unaccounted for daughter, Laura, would have been too young to marry in that year.

Back in the early 1980s I was given a copy of the research done by Robbins researchers Margaret Davis of Yakima, Washington, and Mary Kate Horner, of Kokomo, Indiana.  The two had collaborated for many years but by the time I started researching genealogy they had pretty much moved on to other things.  I was lucky to visit both of them several times over the years and they were pleased that I was continuing with their foundational research.  Mary Kate was also a descendant of Marmaduke Robbins so she had more access to other descendants and family records down that line of the family.  Included in the records of Davis and Horner were two transcribed letters written by Jacob and Polly to two of her siblings.  I do not know if the originals have survived, but I’ll include some excerpts here, with the exact spelling as was transcribed but with some fuller names in brackets.  As the originals are unavailable to me I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the transcription.

Letter from Jacob Deweese and family to Permelia (Robbins) Hopkins – Polly’s sister

Peabody, Marion County, Kansas

Jan 21, 1881

“My dear ould sister  it is with pleasure that I take this opertunity to answere your welcom letter that you give me great counfor to her from you but was sorry to her that William [probably son William M. Hopkins] was cripled but I hop he can make a living at and brother Founts boy [Dan Robbins, the two women’s nephew] has got his arms shot off and he is a criple and we have good health and that is a great blessing for us at this time……yo sister Polly Ellen is stout and harty and she hant any help now a twal the girls is all married and we have two children single with us now that is Holman and Jacob and Ellen lives in Illanoys and the last time I heard from her she had 3 children and Abram lives in Kansas and he has two children and Viney she has one child and the rest haven’t got any yet and sister Dotia [Travis] lives in Illanoys, Clay County….and Caroline [Robbins Hopkins] post office is Miami County New Lancaster Kansas…I want you to excuse me for my bad writing for I cant see any more without specks…”

Letter from Jacob Deweese and family to William C. Robbins – Polly’s brother

Peabody, Marion County, Kansas

December 14, 1881

“Mr. W. C. Robbins

It is with pleasure that I take this opertunity to drop you a fu lions to inquire after you for I haven’t heard a word from you since you left my house….we hav plenty of wheat to do us and we hav corn nuff to get along with and hope that you hav the same so William I have bin very uneasy about you and have bin wating with patience to here from you…I wa[n]t you to give me history of your travil and evry thing in general and how long was away from home and whether you ever low to come to Kansas…”

“…we hav five head of milk cows and four head of calves and 18 head of hogs…Cyrus has got 3 good horses and I hav two horses so William we are plowing and discing for a crop and we havt had any cold weather her yet and wheat looks well and I have got 47 acres of wheat this year so William I will have to close my bad writing and spelling. This and from Jacob Deweese and Polly E. Deweese and family to William C. Robbins and family writ in haste.”

All of the children of Marmaduke Robbins seem to have dispersed widely over the years.  At the time of writing these letters Polly was in Kansas (Marion County), sister Caroline (Robbins) Hopkins was also in Kansas (Miami County); sister Docia (Robbins) Travis was in Clay County, Illinois; brother William Corydon Robbins was in Benton County, Iowa; sister Permelia (Robbins) Hopkins was in Wapello County, Iowa; while brothers Jacob F. and Fountain Robbins were back in Decatur County, Indiana.

And Jacob and Polly didn’t stay in Kansas either.  Sometime in the 1890s they made the move to the Pacific Northwest – settling near the town of Palouse in the very southeastern corner of Washington State.  At least three of the Deweese children also moved to Washington:  Abraham, Mary Jane, and Jacob Jr.

And so it was that Polly passed away near Palouse in 1899 and Jacob in 1901.  Both are buried in the Eden Cemetery, surrounded by the rolling Palouse wheat fields on all sides.  Note that Polly’s gravestone indicates her name as “P. E. Deweese” – Polly Ellen Deweese.


Oregon Robbins Reunion

There will be a Robbins Reunion on July 22nd, 2023, at Feyrer County Park just outside of Molalla, Oregon.  This is a one-off event, not part of a resumption of the previous yearly reunions, but will give those of us who attended the bicentennial reunion in Decatur County, Indiana, last year a chance to report on that reunion and allow Northwest family members – as well as any others who happen to be in the area – to come and visit and share family history.

Feyrer Park was the location of many of the Jacob Robbins descendants reunions over the years.  Jacob and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins, Oregon Trail pioneers of 1852, settled in Molalla, as did some of their children and further descendants.  It will be nice to return for a brief visit to the community where so many of our ancestors and relatives lived.

2023 Robbins Reunion site east of Molalla, Oregon

The park is located about 3 miles east of Molalla on S. Feyrer Park Road.  From downtown Molalla take E. Main Street to E. Mathias Road, travel south on that road a couple of blocks, and then turn left, east, on S. Feyrer.  That road takes you to the park.  Picnic area #2 is where the reunion will be held.  Be aware that there is an $8 parking fee.

Molalla is about 15 miles east of I-5 at Woodburn or 16 miles south of 99E at Oregon City.

1922 Oregon Robbins Reunion

Molalla is also the site of the Adams Cemetery, where Jacob and Sarah, many of their children, and other relatives are buried.  Located between Molalla and Feyrer Park it will make an easy side trip.  From S. Feyrer Park Road, almost halfway between Molalla and the park, turn right, south, on S. Adams Cemetery Road and follow that road south to the cemetery.  I’ll have a post about Adams Cemetery and some of the prominent family burials there in the future.

For more information about the reunion feel free to email me at “mittge @” or contact me through the comments on this blog.

The Importance of DNA to our Family History

Attendees at the Robbins Bicentennial Reunion in Indiana this summer had a great overview of the importance of DNA to Robbins family history by Greg Robbins of Florida.  I thought I’d provide a very brief recap to the discussion here along with my own thoughts.  Keep in mind: I’m no expert in this so others are welcome to share additional information or corrections in the comments.

It is that time of year when companies like Ancestry, 23AndMe, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA have sales on their DNA testing kits.  This usually happens around the family holiday season, as well as around Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and DNA Day (April 23th this coming year).  If you are interested in testing your DNA this the time to get a kit at a greatly reduced price.

Why test your DNA?  The advertising from these companies is primarily focused on the ethnicity reports, that is discovering what region or country your ancestors came from.  This might be a disappointment to some as DNA is most accurate only to the continent level:  Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.  The testing companies constantly update their ethnicity results based on changes (updates to) their reference populations.  That is, they compare your DNA to others in specific areas (British Isles, Scandinavia, Southern Europe, etc.) to determine who you most match with.  The problem is that populations have not remained in one location over history.  The companies also change their groupings – Scandinavia gets divided into Sweden & Denmark as one category and Norway as another.  The results are interesting but I don’t find them particularly helpful for the type of genealogy I do.

The strength of DNA, as far as I am concerned, are with the matches identified between you and other testers.  Having a match with a distant cousin who claims descent from your probable ancestor helps cement that relationship and helps to prove out the paper trail that we were previously dependent on.

There are three kinds of DNA tests commonly available.  Autosomal (provided by Ancestry, 23AndMe, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA), and Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial (only tested by FamilyTreeDNA.  The Y-Chromosome is passed down from father to son, so is useful with surname projects (i.e. Robbins surnames).  Mitochondrial is passed down from mother to children (regardless of gender) and can be useful similarly.  Autosomal is the DNA you inherit from both parents and is primarily that type that I have worked with.

As Greg mentioned in July there is a Robins/Robbins DNA Project based on FamilyTreeDNA.  This is most important for Robbins surnamed males – the idea being that they are descended, generation by generation, from other Robbins surnamed males and a compilation of the data will help sort out all the various s Robbins/Robins family lines.  I am not a Robbins surnamed male (my surname being Mittge) so a Y-Chromosome DNA test will not help me.  It is my understanding that the project can accept autosomal results but it’s much less refined, and thus less useful, than the Y-Chromosome testing, but I may try it one day.  I would encourage any Robbins surnamed males to test with FamilyTreeDNA and join the Robins/Robbins DNA Project.

I have worked almost exclusively with autosomal DNA results and primarily results through Ancestry.  I have also tested with 23AndMe and MyHeritage (as well as FamilyTreeDNA and a couple of others) but the data available through Ancestry is so large I’ve barely had time to move beyond that company.

You receive 50% of your DNA from your father and 50% from your mother, 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent, and so on.  Autosomal DNA is quite useful for a broad view of your genetic relatives but becomes less useful as you move back through the generations.  There is a point where you do not carry the DNA of particular ancestors because each child receives a random split of their parents DNA.  That being said, I have DNA matches with relatives who are fifth or sixth cousins, so obviously we each received some small amount of DNA from the same far distant ancestor.

Here is a chart from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy showing the likelihood of not sharing DNA with cousins as their relationship moves further away from you.  You will definitely match with a biological 1st cousin, while you have a nearly 70% chance of not matching with a 4th cousin (which still leaves a 30% chance that you will!).

The 50% autosomal DNA you receive from each parent can be somewhat different than the 50% that your sibling inherits.  That’s why it is important and very useful to test as many people as possible in your family.  Your sibling may inherit more of a particular ancestors’ DNA, while you may inherit more of another one.  You may match with a distant cousin while your sibling may not – it doesn’t mean they aren’t related, just that the bit of DNA from the common ancestor didn’t get passed to you or them. 

This chart shows four siblings with colored squares representing the DNA they have received from the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.  Each sibling is slightly different so testing each sibling is very useful for genealogy.

An example:  my brother shares much larger chunks of DNA with many of our Robbins cousins than I do.  He shares something like 147 cM (centimorgans, a unit of measurement of DNA) with one of our third cousins (another Robbins descendant), while I share 22 cM with the same person.  One of my brother’s matches, which I don’t share, is with a Robbins cousin who I believe comes down through the Chastain family – many, many generations away.  This is wonderful for sorting out and proving family lines.

I hope all of you consider DNA testing at some point.  It’s fun and extremely useful for family history research.  But –it’s up to you to test or not – you need to be comfortable with your decision – reasons not to test can include concerns about privacy, concerns about “surprises” you may not be comfortable with, not wanting to connect with strangers (albeit “biological” ones), and other reasons.  For me the decision to test was fairly easy, but we should all respect the choices of testers and non-testers alike.

And with that I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a wonderful 2023!

Oliver and Mary Robbins

Oliver Robbins, the fifth child of Jacob and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins, was born in Decatur County, Indiana, in 1840.  He turned 12 years old on the Oregon Trail as the family came west in 1852.

After arriving in Oregon, Jacob’s family initially settled near Salem in Marion County, but soon enough moved north to take up land around Molalla in Clackamas County, about half way between Salem and Portland.

Molalla – between Portland and Salem

In 1865 Oliver Robbins, then about twenty-five years of age, purchased 1008 acres about a mile south of Molalla.  That same year he was married to Mary Jane Thompson, the daughter of a pioneer from nearby Marquam, Oregon.  Mary had attended school in Oregon City and always remembered being drive back to Marquam by a freight hauler.  It took the hauler’s ox teams three days to make the trip because of the poor roads.  A clipping from an unknown newspaper later recounted Mary’s story:

“…when a wheel dropped into one of those chuck holes, the man would get a fence rail, or a limb to pry it loose so the oxen could draw the wagon on.  Sometimes I was sitting on the rail or limb to help pry the wheel up, and sometimes I was whipping and hawing at the oxen.  And sometimes the man, he was such a big fellow, was doing the sitting and I was driving and making all the noise I could.  If we had met anyone I don’t know how they could have passed us, the road was so narrow.  We would bounce over a big root, and down into a big chuck hole would go the wheel, then our work would begin all over again.  The oxen were poor and weak and the road was worse than bad.  I have forgotten a great many things, but I’ll never forget that trip from Oregon City.”

Oliver Robbins

The year following their marriage, Oliver and Mary moved to Umatilla Meadows in eastern Oregon.  where they remained until 1871, when they returned to Molalla.  Oliver’s father Jacob and older brothers Harvey, Martin, and Thomas, were engaged in freight hauling and other activities in eastern Oregon during this time.  In 1871 Oliver and Mary Robbins returned to Molalla, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Mary Jane (Thompson) Robbins

In 1880 their farm was described in the U.S. census as comprising 200 tilled acres, 400 acres of pasture or orchard, and 40 acres of woodland.  Their farm produced 50 tons of hay, 600 pounds of butter, 350 bushels of Indian corn, 1200 bushels of oats, 900 bushels of wheat, 180 bushels of Irish potatoes, 400 bushels of apples, 40 pounds of honey, 10 pounds of wax, and 45 cords of wood.  Overall cash value of the farm was estimated at $11,000, making it a very large, profitable operation in Clackamas County.

An article at the time of their 65th wedding anniversary (in 1930) reported that:

“Uncle Ol and Aunt Mary have been identified with business interests in the county in a large way and have always been progressive.  They have contributed their share to the progress and development of the Molalla valley.  It was by putting $10,000 into the Willamette Valley Southern railroad at a critical time in its construction that it was built.

They now live on a fifteen acre farm three blocks from the Molalla four corners.  They do all their own work and raise ducks, chickens and hogs, and milk three cows which they raised from calves.”

Mary Robbins was a noted lover of flowers and gardens and was instrumental in helping organize the local Women’s Civic club.  During its first years when she was President the club helped the city purchase the city park and set out maple trees and shrubs.  The article about their wedding anniversary also noted that Mary “has not submitted to the modern style either.  She has beautiful long hair that has never been cut.”  

Oliver Robbins

Oliver and Mary were very active until the end of their long lives.  Oliver was a noted hunter late into life and his wife Mary, at age 90, once routed a burglar out of their home.  A scrap of an undated newspaper clipping reports:

Mary Jane (Thompson) Robbins

“A burglar failed to ruffle “Aunt Mary” Robbins, 90, when he entered her home.  “Aunt Mary” heard a noise in the dining room, and thinking it was her daughter, she arose, but was surprised to find a man.  Undaunted she demanded: “What are you doing here?”  “I want something to eat,” the man said.  “Now you get right out of here and come around and ask for it right. Git!”

Oliver and Mary were the parents of two daughters, Kate and Orla.  Kate was married to George Adams and they lived in Molalla on Lay Road.  The nearby Adams cemetery (where many members of the Robbins family are buried) are named for the family.  Orla Robbins attended the Oregon Agricultural College (later Oregon State University) where she met her future husband Austin T. Buxton and they courted by horse and buggy.  There are many descendants of Oliver and Mary today.

Oliver Robbins died in 1933, while Mary died in 1940.  Both are buried in the nearby Adams Cemetery.

Photos are courtesy of Oliver and Mary Jane’s descendant Betty Guild.

[Jacob Robbins-Jacob Robbins-Jacob Robbins-Oliver Robbins]

A Mystery in the Woods by Thomas K. Robbins

A Mystery in the Woods: Ye Old Robbins Burial Place Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey.  By Thomas K. Robbins. Havre de Grace, Maryland: self-published, 2022.  152 pages; illustrations, index, and appendices.  $25 plus $5 P&H.

I have posted in the past about how my family history focus is on the descendants of Jacob and Mary Robbins, who we last have record of in Shelby County, Kentucky, but whose children moved on to Indiana, especially Decatur County.  That is not because I don’t have an interest in earlier generations but I’ve had to make choices in where to spend my limited research time.  Others have focused on the earlier generations and I greatly appreciate their research and am always happy to promote their efforts.

A newly published book (2022) by Thomas K. Robbins of Havre de Grace, Maryland is titled A Mystery in the Woods: Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place, Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey.  In this nice piece of writing, Tom describes his purpose as “to document the forgotten souls buried here and my journey to find the owner(s) of the property.”

He begins with some background of Daniel Robins, our common ancestor.  DNA evidence does conclude that we are his descendants (basically, Robbins family members descended from Jacob Robbins match with proven, documented, descendants of Daniel Robins – ergo, we share a common ancestor).   Some feel there is a clear, documented descent from Daniel, and while I’m not so convinced of the paper trail (but remember I haven’t spent much time on the connections back in the 1700s), DNA proves the case.

Tom Robbins tells the story of how Daniel Robinson came to the American shores in 1651 as a prisoner of war, served as an indentured servant in Wethersfield, Connecticut, before moving on to Woodbridge, New Jersey, and shortening his name to Robins.  He finally came to Allentown, New Jersey, in the Upper Freehold Township. 

Daniel’s children and descendants were buried in a cemetery on property owned by Daniel Robins.  The cemetery is so old that burials may have pre-dated European settlers.  Called Ye Old Robbins Burial Place, along with several other names, this cemetery’s earliest marked grave is that of “Deborah Lincon”, a great-grandaunt of Abraham Lincoln, of all people.  The cemetery has survived over the years, probably because of its Lincoln connection.

The cemetery has also been lost, and then found, a number of times over the years.  Tom tells the story of the overgrown cemetery being “rediscovered”, cleaned up, only to fall into obscurity once again.  The cemetery is located on property belonging (at least originally thought) to the state of New Jersey’s Assunpink Wildlife Management Area and Tom describes his research in identifying and locating the cemetery’s real owners.  Tom admits that there are still unsolved mysteries in the story of the old cemetery.

Overall this is an enjoyable story of an ancient cemetery, how it has been lost, found, and reclaimed.  The book concludes with a listing of all inscribed headstones.

The book A Mystery in the Woods is available for $25, plus $5 for shipping and handling, directly from Thomas K. Robbins, 312 Woodduck Court, Havre de Grace, MD, 21078.  His order form provides several ways to pay for the book and you can always email him with questions at

Daily News Reports on Reunion

Greensburg (Indiana) local columnist Pat Smith, headlined an article in the Daily News:  “Robbins Reunion Was a Success.”  Pat had contacted me for a report about the reunion.

“Months ago (or maybe even a year ago) I wrote about a Robbins reunion that took place in 1922 and wondered if anyone would be interested in one this year, 100 years later.  It did take place, and Kevin Mittge wrote to me about it saying it was a great success and that local attorney William (“Bill”) Hunter Robbins welcomed families to Decatur County.”

She goes to mention some of the Robbins history in Decatur County and then writes “I visited his [William Robbins Sr.} grave in 1975 when writing a series about Revolutionary War veterans buried in Decatur County with the help of the Daughters of the American Revolution.”

Pat also describes how reunion attendees came from all over Indiana and all over the United States, using some of the statistics that I provided in a previous post.

And finally she credits the generous reunion attendees for, not only covering the expense of the room rental and photographer fee, but providing much more that was donated in the name of the Robbins reunion to the Decatur County Historical Society (which organization, by the way, sent me a nice acknowledgment of the reunion’s donation).

Many thanks to Melissa Robbins of Greensburg for forwarding a copy of the newspaper to me!

Robbins Reunion – Group Photo and More

Group Photo

Christina Newby of Milestones Photography has uploaded the group photo taken at the 2022 Robbins Reunion.  The direct link to the photos is:

The “download PIN” is:  2563

The gallery will expire Oct. 6, 2022.

I will include her email message here: 

Hello Robbins Extended Family,

Thank you again for allowing me to capture your family. I always hope these will be treasured for years to come!

Here are your images. These are the high res files that you can download. You can download them individually by clicking on each image, or all together at the same time, by clicking the down arrow button at the very top of the gallery. You can also select the resolution at download – I suggest downloading both the full resolution, and a second set at a lower web resolution, which makes it great for social sharing. Feel free to share this gallery with family and friends. Please note the gallery expiration date [Oct. 6, 2022].

Save time by ordering prints directly from this gallery. When you make a purchase, it is shipped directly to you. Please let me know if you have any questions, or need assistance with ordering.


Christina Newby []

I have downloaded both the large and small resolution sets and that was very easy.  I have also ordered a copy from Christina Newby (Milestones Photography) as well as Costco (where I usually have photos printed) to compare price and quality.  Though I’m sure Milestones archival quality will far surpass Costco many of us may just want a good affordable copy of the photo.  Ordering from Milestones was a little more complicated as it leads you to Paypal – I was able to pay with a credit card and not Paypal – but it took a few extra steps even though I also have a Paypal account.  Be patient with that process.

Feel free to share this post or send copies of the photos to anyone you think might be interested.  I sent out an email to all the attendees and all went through except for one that bounced.

It has been suggested that we identify everyone who appears in the photo.  I’m not sure the best way to do that – perhaps in the comments here – or you can email me at and I’ll compile a list. Identify by row (there are four) – and the number from either the right or left.

Reunion Demographics

I thought it would be interesting to share where everyone who attended the reunion came from.  This is taken from the reunion sign-in sheets and while I don’t believe everyone signed in we’re pretty close to the total.  The breakdown by state is as follows:

California                    1

Colorado                     2

Florida                         1

Indiana                      37

Michigan                     2

Oregon                       4

Pennsylvania               2

Texas                           1

The specific Indiana locations (where given) included:  Connersville (3), Decatur County (5), Fishers (1), Greenfield (1), Greensburg (10), Indianapolis (4), Morgantown (1), Poland (1), Spencer (2), Westport (3), Winchester (1), and Zionsville (2).