Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Granddad is Back from the West"

In a letter dated 25 and 27 September 1918 to her son, William Bryan ROBBINS, stationed overseas in North Russia near the end of World War One, his mother, Mary May KIMBALL (a.k.a. Lula WEAVER) wrote "granddad is back from the west, but have not seen him."

In all likelihood, this was Lula's father-in-law, Charles H. ROBBINS, a Civil War veteran who had lost his wife, Viola Gertrude PECK, that March. It was very likely that Charles had been visiting his brothers, Benson and Lee (sometimes spelled Lea), out West.

One of the first genealogical misconceptions I had--and later straighted out--was that Charles' brother, Joseph Uzza Benson ROBBINS, who also was a Civil War veteran, lived in Washington, D.C. and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The basis behind this was that I had come across the family history which stated "Benson was also a Civil War veteran who lived in Washington and was buried in Arlington." For the life of me, I can't remember just how I realized my mistake...possibly when a descendant of Benson's step-daughter contacted me. Yes, he had lived in Washington and was buried in Arlington. But, to clarify, he had lived in Washington State and was buried in a cemetery in the city of Arlington, Washington! As a Washington resident, I'm so used to people mistaking my residence for D.C....it gets quite annoying. Yet I made the same error!

Benson wasn't the only one who lived out West. Brother Benjamin Leader ROBBINS--"Lee" or "Lea"--also lived out here. In fact, he lived not far from my own present home, up in Stevens County, where he died in 1929.

I'm still researching Lee's descendants, hoping to find some living ones. When we moved to the area, we noticed a "Robbins Resort" at one of the major lakes in the area, and joked that we were related. That's not so far-fetched, as that lake is located in the same county as Lee's final residence! Benson had step-children, so I haven't pursued those generations too far. It's kind of interesting thinking that my 3rd-great-grandfather Charles probably came through Spokane on a train headed to visit his brothers, although I don't have their definite residences in 1918. Benson was living in Edgecombe Township, Snohomish County in 1910, and was in the Veterans Home in Retsil, Kitsap County in 1920. Lee was in Arlington, Snohomish County in 1910, and near Stengar Mountain in Stevens County in 1920. Either way, the main train routes for the state come through Spokane.

Among the scanned treasures that I received from my aunt was a photograph of Charles and Viola, either an original or a very good print made from the original. What I had before was 2nd- and 3rd-hand photocopies, which can be seen on Charles' AnceStories page on my website here. Compare the quality to the photo below:

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