I want to set the stage, so to speak, of the family that my great-grandfather William Bryan ROBBINS, Sr. grew up in, before posting some of the documents, letters, and photos from his World War I service. The photo below is of his parents, Mary May KIMBALL, also known as Lula or Lulu WEAVER, and Angelo Merrick ROBBINS, Sr. Click on the links to read the AnceStories (biographies) of each for more background on this family.
This photo, recently sent to me by my aunt, is the only one I have of my great-great-grandfather, and I know of only one other, which is probably in the possession of my paternal grandmother. In that particular photo--a formal portrait--Lula and Angelo are surrounded by four of their sons, Lloyd (b. 1894), dressed in his World War I uniform; my great-grandfather Bill (b. 1896); Angelo Jr.--"Angie" (b. 1904); and Don, the surprise baby (b. 1914). It was obviously taken right before Lloyd went over to France to fight with the 32nd Division of the U.S. Army, in a machine gun corps, probably in 1917. At that time, their eldest son, Floyd (1893 - 1916), was deceased (the family story says from eating wild mushrooms; his death record states from pneumonia). Their only daughter Reva (b. 1898) was institutionalized at Traverse City State Hospital for mental illness; she committed suicide there in 1926. Lula and Angelo also had a stillborn son in 1906.
Below is a contract of a promise of labor between Bill (Bryan--he went by either) and his eldest brother, Floyd, on March 8, 1915. At this time, Floyd was a married man, having married Flora LIEFERS the previous year. What's interesting to me is all the family signatures on the back page.
March 8, 1915
It is hereby contracted and agreed by and between Bryan Robbins, party of the first part, and Floyd Robbins, party of the second part, that said party of the first part agrees to help said party of the second part, in stumping a portion of land belonging to A. M. Robbins, said party of the first part agreeing also to help said party of the second part in various farm operations as shall be agreed upon between the two. In consideration of which work rendered by said party of the first part, said party of the second part agrees to plow an acre and a half of new land, more or less, for said party of the first part, and to guarantee to said party of the first part all the crops raised upon said land during the year 1915, raised by said party of the first part. And all legal actions arising under this contract are hereby waived by party of the first part, and party of the second part, respectively.
For witness whereof we
arehereby sign our names this eighth day of March, 1915.
Signed Bryan RobbinsParty of the First PartFloyd Robbins.
Party of the Second Part
Witness Lloyd Robbins
Witness Lulu Robbins
This contract doesn't say where this takes place, but I have documents verifying the family's residence in Ensley Township in Newaygo County, Michigan from at least 1906 through 1914, so likely this is still Ensley Township. The fact that the contract mentions farm work backs up my theory that this is a rural area, rather than urban. Floyd died 4 April 1916 in Ensley Center; the family was next found residing in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, Michigan as early as 12 September 1918.
Other posts in this series:
1. A Polar Bear in North Russia
3. Bryan and Marie - A WWI Romance
4. Bryan Gets Drafted
5. Basic Training at Camp Custer
6. Getting "Over There"
7. Bryan and King George V
8. To Russia, With Influenza
9. A Letter from Mother - 25 Sep 1918
10. A Letter from Father - 7 Oct 1918