Biography of Samuel R. H. Robinson

In the history of railroad building throughout the American continent the name of Samuel Roland Hiland Robinson figures prominently. For many years he was accorded and executed most important contracts of that character, being associated with the construction of many of the most important times west of the Mississippi as well as in Canada and in Mexico. He developed splendid executive ability, and his administrative direction of his affairs showed him to be a man of keen insight and wide vision. For many years he maintained his home in St. Louis and was regarded as one of its most valued citizens. He was born in the county of Gray, Ontario, Canada, November 22, 1860, his parents being Thomas Argo and Sarah (Scott) Robinson, both natives of the north of Ireland.

He acquired a common school education in Ontario and in 1872 obtained a position as water boy on the Hamilton Northwestern Railroad of Canada. Later he occupied various railroad positions and also worked in lumber camps in Michigan. In 1882 he took up railroad building as a contractor and was superintendent and manager of the Minnesota & Arizona Construction Company, building railroads and canals in Arizona. From 1898 until 1900 he was superintendent of construction of the Vera Cruz al Pacifico Railroad in Mexico. Through the succeeding two years he engaged in the building of the Arizona & Southwestern Railroad in Arizona and Mexico and in 1902 formed a partnership with MacArthur Brothers for the construction of the Frisco Railroad between St. Louis and Crystal City. They were also engaged in the building of the Little Kanawha Railroad, a branch of the Wabash, in Ohio, and in 1904 laid one hundred and twenty-seven mites of track for the Canada Northern Railroad in Canada. Mr. Robinson later became the head of Robinson & Jeffrey, builders of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, and was likewise at the head of the firms of Robinson & Maney and Robinson & Chaney, engaged in government contract work. Independently he engaged in the construction of the Missouri River Northwestern Railroad in South Dakota and he was a stockholder in the MacArthur Brothers Company, Inc.

Politically Samuel R. H. Robinson was a republican and his religious faith was that of the Conregrational church. In Masonry he attained the Knights Templar degree of the York Rite and the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite and was also a Mystic Shriner. He belonged to the Missouri Athletic Club of St. Louis and to the Manitoba Club of Winnipeg, Canada.

Mr. Robinson was united in marriage to Miss Minnie McPhee, a native of Prince Edward Island and of Scotch descent. She survives and is now living in St. Louis. Their family numbered three children, of whom Thomas A. is the eldest; Leone is the wife of Herbert M. Morgan, of St. Louis. Charles R. is a member of the firm of Robinson Brothers. The father of these children passed away in St. Louis, February 13, 1920, at the age of sixty years, and in his passing the city lost one of her valued and representative citizens.

Thomas A. Robinson, who was born December 21, 1885, in Manitoba, Canada, was educated in the public schools of Arizona and the high school of St. Louis before enterIng Columbia University of New York, from which he was graduated In 1909 with the degree of Civil Engineer. Following his graduation he became a member of the firm of which his father was the head, operating under the name of the S. R. H. Robinson & Son Contracting Company. Since his father’s death he has been the active head of the business, specializing in railroad building. They are among the largest railroad contractors operating in St. Louis. Their business has always been of an extensive and important character and is now conducted under the firm style of Robinson Brothers, Charles R. Robinson being a partner in the concern. The name of Robinson has ever stood for the most progressive methods of railroad building, and as a standard of the highest efficiency in this line of work.

On the 12th of August, 1907, Thomas A. Robinson was married to Miss Mary Ryan, a native of the state of New York, and they have one son, Thomas J., who was born In New York city, August 14, 1908. During the World war Mr. Robinson entrained at Camp Taylor, spending two months in the officers’ training camp. His political support is given to the republican party, and he keeps well Informed on the questions and issues of the day but has never been an office seeker. His religious faith is that of the Presbyterian church, and his life has ever been guided by high and honorable principles.



Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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