In some previous posts, such as last month’s about Dean Leete, I’ve written about “dead end” lines of the family, those branches where the family members died out and there are no living descendants. Here is another case of one of those ended lines. (What I call “lost family” lines are another matter – in those cases there are likely descendants but I’ve yet to identify and find them.)
Charles Oscar Robbins was born in Iowa in 1859 and was about six years of age when his parents Samuel and Eliza Robbins brought him across the Oregon Trail. The family lived initially in Yamhill County, where they appear in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. Their property was near the Yamhill-Polk county line in Amity precinct. Charles, the oldest son, was living in 1880 in the household of his cousin Emma (Robbins) Reese, daughter of John Hudson Robbins, where he worked as a farm laborer.
In 1882 Charles Robbins was married to Florinda (“Flora”) Hubbard in Polk County. Did Charles realize that his third cousin Fannie Keizer (granddaughter of Dosha (Robbins) Herren) was married to Flora’s brother Thomas Henry Hubbard? or were the cousins too distant to each other to know about the relationship?
Charles and Flora had their first child, Ipha Elizabeth Robbins, while still living in Polk County in 1885. The young couple and daughter then moved north to Clatsop County, taking out a 160-acre homestead near the tiny community of Jewell. There, in 1887, son John Downing Robbins was born. Could the name “Downing” come from Charles’ uncle Moses Downing back in Iowa, married to Martha Robbins? The name doesn’t seem to appear in the Hubbard family.
We don’t know much about the life of Charles and Flora, and Ipha and John, up until 1888, but that year tragedy struck the family when Charles was mortally wounded in a work-related accident leaving behind his widow Flora, 3-year-old daughter Ipha, and 9-month-old son John.
I have been unable to locate where exactly F. W. Smith’s logging camp was, though Smith was a prominent logger and pioneer of the lower Columbia river. He seems to have made his home on the Washington side of that river. Also unknown is where Charles Robbins was buried. No cemetery listing for Clatsop county includes his name. Could he have been buried near other family members in Polk County or elsewhere?
His widow Flora remarried in 1892 to William Lewis but was later divorced after having three or four more children. In 1900 she is listed in the census with her children, and as being married but with no husband in the household.
The next tragedy in this family was the death of Ipha Robbins in 1904 of typhoid fever. The 19-year-old was living in Yamhill County at the time, working as a housekeeper, and is buried in Brookside Cemetery in Dayton. Could her father Charles been buried there, unmarked?
John Downing Robbins appears in the 1910 census living in Humboldt County, California, working as chain tender in a logging operation. In 1917, John was married to Ruby Manna in Vancouver on June 6; the following day, June 7, he registered for the World War I draft in Portland, as a married man. The couple later divorced.
In 1920, John was listed in the census as being married but living and working with his partner Herman Knudson as a “head brakeman” in rural Columbia County, Oregon. It appears that he was married again, around 1920, to a Grace Driskell. The couple lived in Portland where John worked as a conductor for the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway Co.
The year 1928 saw the third and fourth tragedies in this family’s story. John and Grace had a daughter Wanda Jean who was born in March of that year and sadly died in September, barely five months old. (The daughter listed in John’s obituary appears to be Grace’s child).
Several weeks later, just like his father, John Downing Robbins suffered an accident at work. He fell beneath the trucks (wheelsets) of a railroad car and suffered crushing injuries to his abdomen, fracture of his left femur, and shock. He died soon after at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland.
Grace Robbins, John’s widow, died in 1968, never having remarried. John’s mother, Flora (Hubbard) Robbins lived until 1945. With John’s death in 1928, the biological family line of Charles Oscar Robbins was at an end.
(Jacob Robbins-Absalom Robbins-John Robbins-Samuel Robbins-Charles Oscar Robbins)