ORRIN W. ROBINSON
Honorable ORRIN W. ROBINSON, whose portrait is shown on
the opposite page, is prominently known throughout the state of Michigan, of which he has
served two terms as Lieutenant Governor. He resides at Chassell, Houghton County, where
lie has large and varied interests. He was born in Claremont, New Hampshire, August 14,
1834, and is a son of Dean Williams and Zillpah (Clement) Robinson, both natives of New
Hampshire. The Robinsons come of an old New England family. David Robinson,
great-grandfather of our subject, was a soldier in the Continental Army during the
Revolution and was a captain when lie retired from service. His wife was a daughter of
Lieutenant Williams, who was in the marine service during the Revolutionary War. Everett
Robinson, grandfather of our subject, served with credit throughout the War of 1812.
The parents of Orrin W. Robinson are now deceased, the
father dying at Lowell, Massachusetts, at the age of 48 years, and his mother at Jamaica
Plain, aged 92 years. They raised a large family of children, six of whom are now living.
Orrin W. Robinson received his early education in the public schools of New Hampshire and Vermont, his parents living near the line which
divided the two States. At the age of 10 years he left home and went to
work on a farm and never lived at home thereafter. He followed farming
in the summer and attended school during the winter months until he was
17 years old, when he went to work in a gun factory at Windsor, Vermont.
He continued at this work for one year, then followed farming again for
two years, in the meantime attending school during the winter seasons.
In 1854, when 19 years old, he borrowed $50 of an uncle who lived in
Michigan, and came to the Northern Peninsula of Michigan, locating at Ontonagon, Ontonagon County, a year before the Sault Ste. Marie Canal
was completed. He was employed at the mines on outside work, at which
he continued for two years. When he first came, the country was very
wild, and there were many Indians who at times were unfriendly to the
white man. In February, 1856, when mining became dull, he started out
with a partner and walked to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the trip consuming
two weeks' time; thence he proceeded to Chicago and Galena, Illinois, and
Dubuque, 10wa, looking for work. They then walked to Kossuth County.
10wa, where Mr. Robinson worked as engineer in a saw-mill. After the
financial crash and hard times of 1857, he followed various occupations
and taught school in Kossuth County, 10wa, for six months. He remained
in 10wa until 1862, then returned to Portage Lake, Michigan, and served
as shipping clerk at the Quincy mine until 1872.
In the meantime having
acquired about 2,000 acres of pine timber land, in 1873 he organized the
Sturgeon River Lumber Company, which built mills at Hancock. In 1887
they moved the mills to Chassell and greatly enlarged the plant. There
was no town there when the mills were built, and it was named by Mr.
Robinson in honor of Mr. Chassell, of New York City, who was connected
with one of the Houghton banks for many years and maintained a summer
residence at that point. The company continued for 30 years and then its
business was sold to the C. H. Wooster Lumber Company, our subject
serving as general manager throughout that period and after 1885 as a
director of the company. For some years he was also interested in orange
groves in Florida, which proved a very successful venture.
Mr. Robinson cast his first presidential vote for John C. Fremont, and has been a Republican ever since, often
being called upon by his party to serve in an official capacity. He was deputy collector
of customs from 1865 to 1873, and superintendent of the poor for many years. In 1894, he
was elected to the State Legislature, of which he was a member two years, and in 1896 was
elected to the State Senate, where he also served two years. In the fall of 1898, he was
nominated and elected Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, to which office he was re-elected
in 1900, receiving the nomination by acclamation. He was one of the five delegates from
Michigan that stood for Benjamin Harrison when he received his second nomination for
president in the Republican National Convention.
In 1865, Orrin W. Robinson was joined in marriage with
Cornelia L. Lombard, who was born in Vermont and comes of good old New England stock, the
family originally coming from England. They have two children: MI. Ethel, a graduate of
Mary's Institute at St. Louis, Missouri, and the Boston Conservatory of Music, who is an
accomplished musician and is living at home with her parents; and Dean L., a lawyer of
New York City, who is a graduate of Harvard University and the Cambridge Law School. Mr.
Robinson is not a member of any church, but has always been a liberal contributor to the
support of church organizations and charitable institutions.
Source: Biographical Record, Houghton,
Baraga and Marquette Counties. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company, 1903.