Joseph Samuel Robbins, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Joseph Samuel Robbins


I was born April 30, 1881, at the place where I now reside. Samuel Putnam Robbins was my grandfather. Grandfather came to Porter County in 1833, before the government land sale, and settled on Squirrel Creek, Portage Township. He bought government land for $1.25 acre, and built a log cabin on it. Later he went back to Ohio, and married Caroline Coe, and brought her back to Indiana. They were the parents of 7 sons and 1 daughter. Five sons grew to manhood; Amos, who settled on what is now the corner of Robbins Road and State Road 149; Levi, who moved to Kansas; James, who also settled on what is now known as Robbins Road east of the homestead in Portage Township; my father, Lewis Henry, who always remained on the old homestead; and Joseph, who moved to Iowa. My father went back to the old homestead in Ohio, and married Mary Adelaide Stacy. Of that union I was the oldest, followed by my sisters, Grace Moran and Edith Strong, and my brother, Glen. Grace and Glen are both deceased.

The first graduating class in Portage Township was in 1895, consisting of 3 graduates, Henry Robbins and Bertha Robbins, my cousins, and myself. There were no higher schools than the 8th grade in Portage Township at that time. I then went to the Normal School at Valparaiso, took the Commercial Course the first year, and went back to the Normal School the second year, taking the Teacher's Course, graduating from both courses. I then went to Morgan Park Military Academy at Morgan Park, Illinois, for one year, which was then the preparatory school for Chicago University. I then registered at Purdue in the 4 year Agricultural Course, where I went for 2 years, and graduated from the 2 year Agricultural Course. I was very active in the athletic work of basketball and wrestling. My reputation was the greatest strength for my weight of any student in Purdue.

After coming home from two years at Purdue I joined my father in farming and also operating a general store, elevator and implement business at the Village of McCool. The Post Office of McCool was located in the general store, and I was postmaster for several years. The McCool Post Office was robbed one night during the time I was postmaster. I located the robbers in Chicago, both of whom were ex-convicts. There was a trial in Indianapolis, and the robbers were sentenced to the federal penitentiary in Illinois.

On June 18th, 1907, Gertrude Lenburg and I were married, after she had taught 2 years at the Heaton School in Portage Township.

I had one of the first automobile agencies in Porter County. The first agency was for the Reo automobile, and my first car was a one cylinder Reo. I later had agencies for the White Steamer, and the Stanley Steamer; and the little wooden frame, one cylinder automobile, known as the Brush.

I was the first business man ever in the city of Gary, which at that time was nothing more than the sand knobs occupied by the Calumet Club of Chicago.

The only building was their Club House located on the beach of Lake Michigan, where the Gary Steel Mills now stand. The first grading and leveling of the sand knobs was done by horses and scraper, and Stein and Wyatt had the first contract for grading and leveling the sand knobs for the first steel mills. I furnished them all the feed for their horses, shipping hay and grain from the elevator at McCool, on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad local. The feed and grain was unloaded at the old railroad shed of the Calumet Club House on the B & O. The only way I could get to Gary was by horse and buggy, going to what was then the town of Miller, driving down to the beach and going along the beach to the old Calumet Club House where Stein and Wyatt had their offices.

I furnished moulding sand and loam for foundries and steel mills in Chicago and around Chicago, shipping from my farm at McCool.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 151

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul