Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I miss you.
Until we meet again!
- author unknown
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Robbins (5.2) and A E Folsom (5.3)

This story is of my great-great grandparents on my father's side, Aaron Robbins (5.2) and Alice Eugenia Folsom (5.3). Wisconsin and Ohio is where their journey began. When Aaron was in his early 30's and Alice in her early 20's the two relocated to Kansas where they lived for almost 30 years. Finally the family headed for warmer weather in Central Florida where they lived for the remainder of their lives.

(see Calhoun Pedigree Chart #5)

On the last day of December, 1841, Aaron Robbins was born in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio. According to his obituary, Aaron "served in the Union Army during the War Between the States and was severly wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro [31 Dec 1862], after having served almost continuously on the battle front for three years." He was a Union soldier in the Company F of the 24th Ohio Infantry. Also known as the Battle of Stones River or the 2nd Battle of Murfreesboro, the battle began on the last day of December 1862, which would have been Aaron's 21st birthday. It is characterized as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Civil War with no real results; both armies were forced to withdraw. 47,000 Union troops led by Gen. W. Rosecrans attacked 38,000 Confederate troops led by Gen. B. Bragg with 12,000 each, Union & Confederate casualties.

Battle of Stones River

Aaron Robbins

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1867, at age 26, Aaron married Alice Euginia Folsom (5.3) in Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin. Alice was the first born child to Levi Gilman Folsom (5.6) and Cordelia Elizabeth Jones (5.7) on September 10, 1849 in Rio, Columbia County, Wisconsin. In Sept of 1868 Aaron and Alice had their first child, a son named William R, in Ohio.

After the Civil War there were several groups migrating to the Saline County area, situated at the center of the state of Kansas. A colony from Ohio was among these to move and it was in 1869 that the Robbins family decided to join the crowd in search for a new home. It appeared to be a popular decision for many families, which caused the population for this particular county to increase by 5,284 in eight years bringing the 1878 total population count to 9,530. The Township of Pleasant Valley located in the upper west section of the county, provided homes to 478 of the Saline County population.

Map of Saline County, Kansas 1878

According to the March 1, 1875 Kansas State Census Collection, at age 33, Aaron lived in Pleasant Valley, Saline County, Kansas with his wife, Alice and his son, William, now five years old. Aaron supported his family as a farmer and had a real estate value of $1,000 and property value of $160. Her obituary states that in Saline County, Alice "was the first white teacher in the public schools." She was also a "charter member of the Order of the Eastern Star."

1875 Kansas State Census Collection (March 1) - Pleasant Valley, Saline County, Kansas

By 1880 the Township of Plesantville had split and the west portion was called Glendale. It was here that the Robbins are reported to have lived on June 5, 1880 according to the United States Census. The record also indicates that the family had a 17 year old laborer living with them. By this time, William was 11 years old.

Map of Saline County, Kansas

1880 United States Census (June 5) - Glendale, Saline County, Kansas

On March 1, 1885, the Kansas State Census Collection shows 43 year old Aaron as a hotel keeper, now in Salina Ward 3, Saline County, Kansas. Wife Alice E was now 36 and son William R was almost ready to move out on his own.

1885 Kansas State Census Collection (March 1) - Salina Ward 3, Saline County, Kansas

In 1889 the family made a permanent move south to Florida where they bought a grove near Paola. Aaron and Alice introduced their first daughter, Alice Frances Robbins(1.11), my great grandmother, on June 22, 1889. This was 21 years after their first son and at ages 47 and 40 I am guessing was not a planned pregnancy. Wonder if they had doubts of anxieties with having another baby in their 40's? If it weren't for that little surprise, I would not be here today.

At 5 years old, young Alice and her family endured the brutally cold weather of 1894 and 1895, known as the Great Freeze. There were actually twin freezes in Florida during this momentous season, the first in December 1894 and the second in February 1895. The citrus industry received a serious blow when freezing temperatures destroyed the year’s entire crop. Many citizens faced economic ruin and left the area. Farmers were compelled to try their hand at growing other crops and by the first decade of the 20th century, Sanford was one of the largest vegetable shipping centers in the United States, and received the nickname "Celery City" for it's most successful crop.

I got this picture from the City of Sanford Museum. Check out the label on the crate:

Following this event, the Robbins family made their final move to Sanford where they took over the management of the old Sanford House, later named Robbins Nest on 402 West First Street. I have been told that the hotel was well known for the bear that was kept chained to a stake in the yard.

1900 United States Census (June 15) - Sanford, Orange County, Florida

Vintage Post Card of Robins Nest Hotel

In addition to running a hotel, both Aaron and Alice were an active part in the life of the community. While Aaron was affiliated with the Masonic Lodge, Alice was the Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Florida and a member of the D.A.R. (Daughter's of the American Revolution).

Young Alice Frances continued to live with her parents in 1910, probably assisting in the daily operations of running the hotel. On February 7, 1912, at age 23, Alice Frances (1.11) married William Lee Harvey (1.10), an Arkansas native.

Alice Frances and her parents, Aaron and Alice Eugenia Robbins

Together William Lee and Alice Francis Harvey had three children: William Lee born about 1913, Alice Virginia, my grandmother, born February 28, 1914 in Sanford, Florida and Hazel Folsom born about 1916.

Hazel Folsom, William Lee and Alice Virginia

In 1920 Aaron, age 78 and his wife Alice E, age 70 continued to live in Sanford, Florida. Their son William R lived in Palm Beach, Florida with his second wife Ida E. Their daughter Alice Frances lived in Jacksonville, Florida and her three children were 4, 6 and 7 years old.

Alice and Aaron celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving in 1925. The following year, Alice Eugenia Folsom Robbins died of paralysis of the throat on August 28, 1926. She had enjoyed good health until about 18 months prior to her death, but her illness necessitated her removal to Hollywood for about four months. It was at the home of her son, William, that she passed away.

For several years before his death on June 6, 1928, Aaron Robbins lived quietly at his home on West First Street. Both Alice and Aaron are buried at the Evergreen Municipal Cemetery. (Section G, Lot 47, Spaces 3 & 4).

Special thanks to the staff at the City of Sanford Museum who went out of their way to gather and provide obituaries, cemetery information and even pictures!!!

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