City of Andalusia impacted by Robinson family descendants

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today’s column will be a continuation of the lineage of Julius Gurdon Robinson, introduction of some other Robinson lines who settled in the area and a review of the Robinson Memorial Park, which is located in Andalusia.

Julius Gurdon Robinson’s son, William Augustus, and his wife, Mary Ann “Mollie” Foshee, reared at least four children: Margaret B. “Nell,” b. 1896, d. 1981; Julius William, b. 1898, d. 1975, m. 1938 Evie Amanda Davis (1908-1994); John Leyden, b. 1899, d. 1901; and Milton, b. 1907, d. 1983.

Very little is readily available on the generation of Julius’s children and grandchildren. It is hoped that someone in this family will share information on these Robinson descendants. Some limited data on Julius William, son of William Augustus, was located. He and his wife, Evie Amanda (Davis), reared the following three children: Judith Ann, m. Paul McDonald Smith; Donald, m. (1) Nita ? (2) Patricia ?; and James Frank, m. Mary Watkins.

Julius Gurdon Robinson and several members of his family were buried in the Robinson Family Cemetery in the Brooklyn community. The site, which is surrounded by a chain-linked fence, is located a short distance west of the Brooklyn intersection and on the south side of the Brooklyn-Evergreen highway. Robinson family members buried there include the following: Julius (1821-1876) and his wife, Margaret M. (1826-1902), Fannie Lou (1881-1964), Thomas W. (1866-1957), Alba Robinson Parker (1870-1937), Minnie Amelia R. Still (1861-1939), Margaret A. R. McCreary (1844-1881), Charles D. (b. 1901), Belo Gurdon (1904-1978) and James Frank (1855-1944).

Dr. Austin J. Robinson was a prominent settler also in the Brooklyn area of Conecuh County during the early 1800s. He later became one of the earliest settlers in the Town of Andalusia when it was established in 1844. In fact, he had owned the original 40 acres of land upon which Andalusia was to be located. In December 1843, he purchased that acreage for $1.25 per acre from the government since it was desired for the new town. On June 1, 1845, he legally conveyed the 40 acres to the County.

There are also records of a James M. Robinson, Sr. who was born in Georgia circa 1838 and who came to Alabama. He was probably married in Georgia to Kate McIver, a native of South Carolina. At some point, this couple moved to Brooklyn as their son, James M. Robinson, Jr., was born there in 1874. The family decided to leave Conecuh County for Covington County in 1880. James M. served several area Baptist churches as minister. These included the following: Brooklyn Baptist Church, Fairmount Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Andalusia. He is also credited with being the Pleasant Home Baptist Church.

It is believed that James M. Sr. and Kate Robinson reared the following four children: James M. Jr., b. 1874, d. 1946, single; A. H. “Bertie,” single; Maggie Mae, m. in later years T.V. Neil; and Kate, m. James Dinkins “Dink” Henderson. Mr. Neil whom Maggie married was President of Howard College, which is currently Samford University.

When James Jr. was a young man, he secured employment as a clerk in the office of Probate Judge Malachi Riley. When Riley died rather suddenly in 1894, James Jr. was working in the probate office, so he was appointed at 22 years of age to fill the remainder of Riley’s term. When the term expired, James Jr. ran for the office himself and was elected. He served the county in this capacity for 28 years. There are many records of his functioning as the judge and having an influence on the county and the local people. He never married, so he devoted his life to his career and his relatives.

A.H., probably Alberta, was called Bertie. He walked with a cane and was probably not in the best of health. He remained single and lived near his siblings who helped him. He sold insurance and served as a notary public. A unique job he performed was regularly winding the clock in the courthouse.

Maggie Mae was well known around Andalusia for many years. She did not marry until her later years and that was to T.V. Neal, former President of Howard College, which is currently Samford University. She and her relatives owned a good bit of property including the section of three stores along the west side of South Cotton Street. Through the years, she rented those to various businesses. Some of the Robinson family owned the building and property located adjacent to The First National Bank Building. The builders of the bank were beginning construction, and at the last minute the Robinsons would not sell the anticipated property. This resulted in the rather narrow structure, which is only 25 feet wide, rather than the proposed 50 feet.

The fourth child, Kate, was married to James Dinkins “Dink” Henderson. They built the large white, two-story house on East Three-Notch Street across from the First Baptist Church. (The property was later given to the church.) It was once reported to be the only house in town to feature an elevator. There were actually three stories, and the third one was designed as an art studio with the hopes that the daughter who studied art in New York would one day return home and paint there.

Kate was the only one of the Robinson children to have children for the next generation of this family. She and Dink reared the following children: James Dinkins II, m. Mae Grundy; Robinson Lafayette “Robbie,” m. Carolyn Grundy; Bernie McIver, m. Elizabeth Foster; Eleanor, m. Ralph Crutcher; Mary J., m. Harry Thornton; Fannie or Annie Mae, m. Andrew J. McCreary. James D. II and Robbie moved to Ft. White near Gainesville. Bernie moved to Pensacola, and Eleanor moved to Warsaw, Ga.

The members of this Robinson family, descendants of Rev. James M. Robinson, are the ones who donated the land on Church Street, which was developed into the Robinson Park. The seven acres were a portion of the family’s property and were given for the development of a park. The City of Andalusia engaged the services of a landscape artist to preserve the stately trees and to create walking trails and picnic and recreational areas. Various flowers and shrubs were added for additional beauty to the natural landscape. Since its completion, the park has been maintained and upgraded by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. A few years earlier, a wooden toy train was placed for the enjoyment of younger visitors. More recently, a walking trail was completed for the benefit of senior citizens as well as others. The park has been used for many special city events and is truly a fitting memorial to a family who contributed generously to the City of Andalusia.

Resources for this writing included The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama, Wyley Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama,, notes from David Walters and an interview with G. Sidney Waits.