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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   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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WILLIAM N. ROBBINS, coal-operator, McKeesport, was born in North Huntingdon township, Westmoreland county, Pa., June 30, 1828, a son of Moses and Rebecca (Woods) Robbins. His paternal grandfather was Brintnell Robbins, a native of Connecticut, who served as lieutenant and commander of a company throughout the Revolution, and afterward engaged in commerce between New London, Conn., and the West Indies and Cuba. After being engaged in that business several years he lost his vessel and cargo off Cape Hatteras, and to retrieve his fortunes emigrated with an ox-team and cart over the mountains to Connellsville, Westmoreland county, Pa., in 1790, where for a time he worked for the first furnace west of the mountains, on Jacob’s creek, as a digger of ore, and later as a teamster. The furnace company failed, owing him considerable money, and he took his pay in pots and kettles, which he afterward exchanged as part payment for a farm near Port Royal. From there he removed to Long run, Allegheny county, where he operated a mill on the property now known as Sampson’s mills, where he remained one year. In 1793 he purchased a farm of 290 acres in Westmoreland county, and moved to it; with the assistance of his neighbors, cut the timber, erected a house, and danced in it the same night. He increased his farm to 700 acres by purchasing adjoining lands.

He moved to Pittsburgh in 1803 or 1804, and purchased a large tract of land on Plum creek, where he built two ships, one of which he loaded with flour and whisky and sent to New Orleans. She sailed for Cuba under the Spanish flag, and was never heard of afterward; the other was stranded on Wheeling island, and was sold. He built the boats for carrying Gen. Scott’s troops across the Niagara into Canada during the war of 1812, and failed to recover payment for his services. He was an active business man, pushing and enterprising, and a slave owner. In later life he returned to his farm in Westmoreland county, which he afterward disposed of to his sons, and died near Greensburg, Pa., in 1837. His children were Archibald, Hezekiah, Moses, David, William, Polly, Keziah, Rachel and Elizabeth. Of these Moses always lived in Westmoreland county, engaged in farming, milling and distilling, and was one of the early pioneers in running coal on flatboats from the coal-region to Louisville. His wife was a daughter of James Woods, a pioneer of Westmoreland county, by whom he had six children: Mary J., Rachel, Loren, James, William and Elizabeth. Our subject was reared on the old homestead in Westmoreland county, and engaged in business as a coal-operator in 1856, which he has since followed. He has been a resident of McKeesport since 1883. His wife (now deceased) was Flavia Clara, a daughter of Rev. Leroy Woods, of Tennessee, and of Puritan stock. Mr. Robbins has four children: Elizabeth Mosetta, William, Loren and Lutullus.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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