Biography of Colonel Henry W. Robinson

Colonel Henry W. Robinson, for nearly a quarter of a century, has been identified with Southern California, and for the past seventeen years has been a resident of Riverside, and associated with its growth and progress. He was born in Chelsea, England, in 1840. In 1850 his parents immigrated to the United States and located in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended the public schools until thirteen years of age and then engaged as clerk in a drag store in New York City. He was attentive to his duties and acquired a practical knowledge of the business, but his naturally roving disposition prompted him to seek a different life, and in 1859 he enlisted in the Third Regiment of United States Artillery.

The breaking out of the civil war in 1861 found Mr. Robinson well trained in the practical duties of a soldier’s life, and he was honorably discharged from the regular army, to enable him to accept a Lieutenant’s commission in the New York Volunteers. His military knowledge made him a valuable acquisition to the State troops, and he was appointed Aid-de-Camp on the Staff of General Seymour. He served in the Army of the Potomac, Department of the South, and in Florida, until 1864, and was then appointed and commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel in the Fourth Regiment United States Veteran Volunteers, and he also received the rank of Colonel by brevet, for gallant services during the war. He continued his army service until after the close of the war, and was not discharged until September 1866.

Immediately after his discharge, which occurred at Columbus, Ohio, he fitted out for an overland trip to California. He started from St. Joe, Missouri, in the fall of that year, and came via the southern route to California and located in Los Angeles County, in the spring of 1867. His first year was devoted to farming upon rented land. In 1868 he entered into a contract with the United States Government for carrying the mail in Los Angeles County to Inyo County, and established a stage line upon a route over 240 miles in extent. He conducted that enterprise for eight years, and had one of the best-equipped stage lines in Southern California. He also had contracts for carrying the United States mail from Spadra through Chino, Rincon and Riverside to San Bernardino, and also from Pomona to Temescal. He placed an efficient stage service upon these lines. In 1874 he established his residence and headquarters in Riverside. The previous year he had purchased the block bounded by Main and Orange and Fifth and Sixth streets, and upon this he located his stage station and established a livery stable, the first stable opened in Riverside. Colonel Robinson, in addition to his business, also engaged in horticultural pursuits, planting three blocks in Riverside with lemon and orange trees, and in later years was largely interested in land operations in East Riverside. In 1882 he purchased eighty acres from the railroad company and entered 160 acres under the Homestead Act. Sixty acres of that land he sold to the East Riverside Land Company. The remainder he is now devoting to general farming.

In 1880 or 1881, Mr. Robinson sold out his stage, lines and equipments to W. A. Hayt & Son, and then devoted himself to dealing in lands and other enterprises, and was also engaged in building up his block and inducing emigration to Riverside. He has been a prominent supporter of the many public enterprises that have aided in developing the resources of Riverside and placing them before the world. He was a stock-holder in the Citrus Fair Association, and was one of the original promoters of the Riverside Press, the first newspaper published in Riverside; and also one of the proprietors of the Valley Echo.

He is a member of Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M., and Keystone Chapter, No. 57, Royal Arch Masons, and also of Riverside Post, No. 118, G. A. R., of which he is Quartermaster. Politically he is a sound Republican. Colonel Robinson has made a success in his various enterprises and has retired on an ample fortune from the more active business pursuits and settled down in his pleasant home on Orange ” street, for the quiet enjoyment of life. In 1881 Colonel Robinson was married to Mrs. Eliza A. Bryan, a native of Indiana. The presence of that amiable lady seems to render the comforts and happiness of his home complete.


The Lewis Publishing Company. An Illustrated History of Southern California embracing the counties of San Diego San Bernardino Los Angeles and Orange and the peninsula of lower California. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois. 1890.

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