top of page


Nicholas Robbins Family


JAMES C. ROBBINS (A biographical sketch abstracted from Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Rock, Green, Grant, Iowa and Lafayette, Wisconsin, compiled and published by J. H. Beers & Company, Chicago, 1901) Re: The Nicholas Robbins Family No. 7.1.3


James C. Robbins, a stock dealer and grain buyer of Belmont and former sheriff of Lafayette County, belongs to the number of those brave souls who are not willing to admit the approach of age so long as the eye is not dimmed nor the natural force abated. He is on the wintry side of sixty and is still energetic and hustling, eager for business and ready for a deal at any time. He is a man of character and standing and has led a busy life usefully and well.


Mr. Robbins was born in Chautauqua County, New York in 1838, a son of Melzar and Aurelia (Sprague) Robbins, natives of Connecticut and New York, respectively. They came West to Jo Daviess County, Illinois in 1841 and engaged in farming there the rest of their lives. They were honest and God-fearing people, of the best habits and the kindest disposition. Their children included: Celestia, widow of William Bell, is now living in Iowa; James C., the subject, of whom more later; William, born in New York, became a soldier in Company E, 96th Illinois Volunteers, and was wounded at Chickamauga and discharged from the service. He married and settled in Illinois, where he reared his family. He and his wife are now deceased and their children are living in Colorado; Clara, born in Illinois, married H. D. Easley and settled near Apple River, Illinois, where she died leaving three children; Joseph B., born in Illinois, was also a soldier in the Civil War. He married and is now a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, extensively interested in mining, being one of the principal owners of the Robbins Copper Mines; Cornelia, born in Illinois, is the wife of Hugh Williams of Freeport, Illinois; George was born in Illinois, where he married and settled on the home farm near Apple River. He is still living there and has a family of two children, Frank and Maggie; Ella married Lewis Hinckley, moved to Colorado and died in that State; Charles, unmarried, is a resident of Illinois; and Etta, Mrs. Martin Tanner of Waterloo, Iowa, is the mother of two children.


James C. Robbins spent his childhood and early youth in Illinois, where he received the benefit of a common school education and was well prepared for the realities of life. He was a young man at the outbreak of the Civil War and soon became a soldier in the Union Army, enlisting in Company B, 45th Illinois Volunteers. Displaying much ability in the discharge of his military duties, he rose in rank and was commissioned by President Lincoln as a captain in the Louisiana Volunteer Artillery, being mustered into the 5th U. S. Heavy Artillery (Colored). He participated in some of the most important battles of the War and made a record of which he is justly proud, assisting in the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson and the siege of Vicksburg before being seriously wounded at Shiloh. He had a tedious recovery and when able for duty, reported to the front and served until November 20, 1864, when he resigned on account of physical disability.

In 1860 Mr. Robbins married Miss Sarah Frost, who was born in Vermont, daughter of Josiah and Lydia Frost. Her parents removed to Illinois while she was still a young girl and in that State she was educated and married. The young couple settled in Illinois and Mrs. Robbins remained near her family during the long and terrible years when her husband was at the front. She died soon after his return from the battlefields, passing away in 1866 and leaving two sons, James W. Robbins and Herbert J. Robbins. James W. was born in Apple River in 1862. He was educated at the Platteville, Wisconsin Normal School and is a railroad man living in Chicago, where he has been employed by the Illinois Central Railroad much of his life. Herbert J. was born in Illinois in 1865 and was also educated at Platteville Normal. He is also a railroad man and lives in Chicago. He and his wife have one daughter, Katie, a charming young girl.


In 1869 Mr. Robbins married Miss Emily Buss, a daughter of Daniel and Charlotte Buss, who came from England. At the time of their marriage she was residing in Belmont, Wisconsin, where Mr. Robbins had already established himself in the grain and stock business. Five children were born to this union: Lewis F., born in 1871; Laura, born in 1873 and educated in the high school in Belmont. In 1897 she married Dr. George Walters and now resides in Wesley, Iowa. They have one son, Cassius; Frank M., born in 1875, who is now in business in Fairbank, Iowa. Frank and older brother Lewis both served in the Spanish-American War; Cora, born in 1878 and educated in Belmont schools is presently living with her parents; and Charles D., born in 1883, who is a student at Belmont High School.


In 1868 Mr. Robbins came to Belmont and established himself in the grain and stock business. In 1892 he disposed of his grain trade and since that time has devoted himself to livestock, shipping principally to the Chicago markets. He has owned large tracts of Belmont business and residential property and in 1898 he erected his present home, a fine modern building, on Liberty Street. Mr. Robbins has made extensive investments in mineral lands in Lafayette County and is the owner of the "Lucky Three" Mine in the town of Kendall. Politically he has always been a Republican and was elected Sheriff of Lafayette County in 1884, discharging the duties of that important office with credit to himself and satisfaction to the County. He has been Justice of the Peace in Belmont for twelve years, is now a member of the County Board, and has been School Director and Treasurer several times. He is a man of character and standing in the community. Socially he is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Sherman Post, Platteville, Wisconsin; a charter member of the Blue Lodge of Masons at Apple River, Illinois; and is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America, No. 1117. In his various associations he has proved to be a companionable and genial gentleman. He takes a leading part in the affairs of his own community and is regarded as one of the solid business men and foremost citizens of Belmont.


Submitted by Harold ("Hal") D. Hileman of Hopewell Junction, New York. Mr. Hileman may be contacted by email at


NRD: Nicholas Robbins, John Robbins, Jeduthan Robbins (Sr), John Robbins (Sr), John Robbins (Jr), Seth Robbins, John Robbins, Melzar Robbins, William H. Robbins, Fannie (Robbins) Hileman, Harold H. Hileman, Lee E. Hileman, Harold D. Hileman

bottom of page