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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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RICHARD ALEXANDER ROBINSON, eldest son of Lyles Robert and Catherine (Worthington) Robinson, was born on his father’s farm, called “Spring Hill,” near Winchester, Frederick County, Va., October 23, 1817. His father was a native of the same county, and was born in 1790, and was the eldest child of Alexander and Priscilla Robinson, of Baltimore, Md. Alexander Robinson was a successful merchant of Baltimore, and lived to the advanced age of ninety-five years. His wife died soon after the birth of her son Lyles, leaving him to the care of her mother’s sister, Mrs. Archibald Magill, of Winchester, where he remained during his boyhood, and then resided in Baltimore with his father, where he acquired a mercantile education. In November, 1813, he married Catherine W., the daughter of Dr. Richard and Achsah W. Goldsborough, of Cambridge, Md., and soon after settled on his farmer an Winchester, where he continued to reside until his death, September 21, 1834. His wife died December 10, 1828. She was a devoted Christian, an active member of the Episcopal Church, and exerted a marked influence on her family and friends. Her children, who were old enough, were early impressed with the importance of their religious duties, and were regular attendants of the Sunday-school and the church. The subject of this sketch received the advantage of an English education, mainly at the Winchester Academy, a school of some note in that region. But having expressed a desire to become a merchant at the early age of fourteen (in March, 1832,) his father obtained for him a situation with Baker Tapscott, a leading merchant of Shepherdstown, Va., in an adjoining county. In this establishment he formed the basis of a business education which proved of great value to him in his subsequent career. The death of his father (in 1834) had caused the dispersion of his brothers and sisters among their relations in Maryland and Virginia. The eldest brother especially felt the responsibility of his position, which resulted in the determination to seek some favorable point in the West as a rallying point for the family, in the hope that they all might again be reunited. With this object in view he began, soon after his father’s death, by more diligent application to business, to prepare himself for a larger field of labor. After careful observation he selected Louisville as the most eligible point. He had several friends in Louisville, from Virginia. Among them was Mr. Arthur Lee, with whom he had been on intimate terms of friendship in Virginia. In March, 1837, he arrived in Louisville, and succeeded through the aid of Mr. Lee in securing a position as bookkeeper in a wholesale grocery house, which he retained for about twelve months, the house in which he was employed being forced into liquidation by the severe panic of 1837. He then obtained a position as bookkeeper with Casseday & Ranney, which he retained for a period of three years, until January, 1841, then resigned to embark in business on his own account. In the meantime he had succeeded in obtaining situations for his brothers, Goldsborough and Archibald Magill, and formed a partnership with them and his friend Arthur Lee under the firm name of Robinson, Lee & Co., and engaged in a small retail dry goods business on Market street. In August, 1841, Mr. Lee died, which was felt to be as great an affliction as the loss of a brother. He left a bright example of Christian character, and had endeared himself to a large circle of friends. He was the grandson of Richard Henry Lee, and a grand-nephew of Francis Lightfoot and Arthur Lee of Revolutionary fame. After the death of Mr. Lee the firm was Robinson & Brothers. Of the five brothers who moved to this city, Goldsborough died in August, 1844, from the effects of a railroad accident near Baltimore, Md., and William Meade died in November, 1858. Archibald M. is now at the head of a large cotton and flour-mill at Grahamton, Ky., and John M. at the head of the large dry goods house of J. M. Robinson & Co. In June, 1842, Mr. Robinson married Miss Eliza D., daughter of William F. and Mary S. Pettet, of this city. Mr. Pettet was a prominent citizen and successful merchant. Soon after his marriage Mr. Robinson had the satisfaction to see all the living members of the family reunited in the same city, with the single exception of his eldest sister, who had married and settled in Maryland. The hopes of his youth and the efforts of his early manhood were thus happily realized. In 1842 he retired from the dry goods firm, transferring his interests to his brothers, and engaged in the retail drug business on Market street with James, George and Arthur Peter. In 1846 he removed to Main street and engaged in the wholesale drug business which was successful, and resulted in the establishment, in 1855, of the present house of R. A. Robinson & Co., one of the largest in that branch of business in the Southwest. With the view of giving his sons ample scope for their talents and energies, in 1878, he established the wholesale hardware house of Robinson Brothers & Co., which has been remarkably successful. More recently he established a joint stock company, capital $200,000, for the manufacture of woolen goods, styled the Louisville, Kentucky Woolen Mills. With characteristic prudence Mr. Robinson has thus provided for his sons, all of whom have won the entire confidence of the community, and are treading closely in the footsteps of their honored father. By precept and example he has made them what they are. During the various monetary panics which have occurred within the last fifty years he has never failed to meet every obligation promptly, and during the disasters of the late civil war, when his losses in the South were very heavy, every obligation was paid in full. It is needless to say that Mr. Robinson’s success has been the result of his indefatigable industry, prudent economy, sound judgment and strict business principles. He has always declined political office, as being incompatible with his other duties. He has, however, held various public trusts, the duties of which have always been faithfully discharged. He was one of the directors of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company for six years; of the Elizabethtown & Paducah Railroad for five years, and of the Louisville Bridge Company from its incipiency until its completion. He was for some years a director and vice-president of the Falls City Bank, but was compelled to retire from these trusts by the pressure of his other duties. He has been a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church since its establishment in 1839, filling the various positions of Sunday-school teacher, vestry man, and warden the greater part of the time. He has frequently represented that parish in the diocesan councils, and for three sessions represented in part the diocese of Kentucky in the general conventions of the church. It is strictly true to say of him that no man has been more liberal in the support of the church and all its charities, or has responded more promptly or liberally to the calls upon him for the promotion of the general interests of the community. He is modest and unassuming in his intercourse with his fellow-men, charitable in his judgment of others, and true to his own convictions of right and duty. In his life and conduct he exemplifies the highest type of the Christian gentleman. It is not strange that his character should have been fully appreciated by an intelligent community. That character was fully understood by the representative business men of Louisville. The Board of Trade, in which every business is represented and the high qualities of the merchant are understood and recognized, by a unanimous vote, bestowed upon him the high distinction of honorary life member of that organization. This was the first time that this honor was conferred on any citizen of Louisville. It was unsought, and was voluntarily bestowed by those who knew how to appreciate his exalted worth.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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