Biography of William Wesley Robb

William Wesley Robb, who is superintendent of the electric light plant at Chanute, began his career as a locomotive fireman and had filled many positions of responsibility, chiefly as a manager of machinery and plants, and much of his service had been rendered in the State of Kansas.

He is of Scotch ancestry. His great-grandfather came from Scotland and was an early settler in Ohio. His grandfather, James Warren Robb, was born in the State of Illinois, in 1824, and died in Mercer County in that state in 1902. By profession he was an attorney, but many years ago he came out to Kansas with his son and and took up a homestead in Dickinson County, where he lived about eighteen years. He then removed to Wisconsin and afterwards to Illinois.

Rev. J. W. Robb, father of William Wesley, had spent a large part of his life in Kansas, and was a participant in the pioneer activities in the western part of the state. He was born in 1851 in Mercer County, Illinois, grew up there, and when a young man went to Minnesota. He became a minister of the Presbyterian Church, and was married in Minnesota where he preached the gospel for several years. He was also pastor of a church in Illinois. It was in 1873 that he brought his family to Kansas and located in Dickinson County. He conducted a Presbyterian mission there, and he preached at many points in the western part of the state. He was a real pioneer and ministered not only to the spiritual but to the material needs of his early neighbors. He helped them build their sod house homes, took off his coat and worked alongside the harvest hands in the wheatfield, and every Sunday would preach a sermon and conduct the religious services of the community. From Kansas he removed to Nebraska, spent about eight years there, then went to Wisconsin, and in 1902 returned to Kansas and for several years was a minister of the gospel at Iola. He is now living in comfortable retirement at Fort Scott. He is a republican and a member of the Masonic and Independent Order of Odd Fellows fraternities. Rev. Mr. Robb married Miss Alwilda Andrews, who was born in Minnesota in 1853 and died in Wisconsin in 1911. A brief record of their children is as follows: W. H. Robb, who is chief engineer of a cement plant at Syracuse, Indiana; William W.; Mary, wife of Henry Wertz, a locomotive engineer living at Colorado; Eva, wife of Lon Brown, a practicing physician at Western, Kansas; Lucy, wife of Merton De Forest, who is a locomotive engineer with the Chicago Northwestern Railway, living at Green Bay, Wisconsin; Clarence K, engineer of the city water plant at Chanute; and Addie, wife of Arthur Powell, a railroad telegraph operator living in Illinois.

William Wesley Robb was born at Janesville, Wisconsin, November 27, 1872. The first school he ever attended was in Dickinson County, Kansas, and the school was held in a private home. Afterwards he continued his education in Nebraska, graduating from the high school at Hastings in that state. He also spent, three years at the Poynette Academy at Poynette, Wisconsin.

On leaving the academy, in 1894, Mr. Robb took employment with the Chicage and Northwestern Railway, and for four years was a locomotive fireman. Coming to Kansas, he became a stationary engineer at Fort Scott, where he remained four years, and after that was at Iola four years, at Independence one year, and Neodesha three years. Mr. Robb is a very expert mechanic and had shown a great deal of capability in every task assigned him. On coming to Chanute in 1910 he accepted the superintendency of the electric light plant. Mr. Robb and family reside at 223 South Santa Fe Street, and he also owned a dwelling house at 1601 South Ransom Street in Fort Scott. In politics he is a republican voter and is affiliated with Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Chanute and with the Scottish Rite bodies at Fort Scott.

In 1902, at Fort Scott, Kansas, he married Miss Ollie Hedges. She was born in Ontario, Canada. To their marriage was born one child, James William, on December 4, 1911.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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