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Nicholas Robbins Family


RUFUS NELSON ROBBINS (Jr) (A biographical sketch compiled by Dawn Robbins Mayerson, great-granddaughter of Rufus N. Robbins, from Robbins family records, censuses, cemetery records, and historical documents as cited within the text. Re: The Nicholas Robbins Family, No. 7.34.6


Rufus N. Robbins (Jr) was born 18 August 1824 and raised on the family homestead at Porcupine Lake (also known as Robbins Lake) east of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He was the first son and sixth child of Rufus Nelson Robbins (Sr) (1792-1867) and Letitia Wyman (1811-1873). 


Rufus married Mary C. Jeffery, daughter of Andrew Jeffery and Elizabeth Hemeon, on 29 November 1849. The Jefferys, neighbors of Rufus (Sr), also owned land on the southeast end of Porcupine Lake. Rufus (Jr) and Mary set up their household between their parents' homesteads and across the Tusket Road from Rufus's younger brother, Prince Robbins. With the assistance of his brother-in-law, Augustus Nickerson, Rufus built a small house which was added on to over the years as the family grew. 


Rufus went to sea soon after marriage and in early 1850, one family record notes him as a sailor aboard the schooner "Oregon" traveling between Boston and Yarmouth.


 The children of Rufus Robbins (Jr) and wife, Mary (Jeffery) Robbins were:


 1. Aldora Elizabeth Robbins, born 12 March 1851 in Massachusetts; married Charles Henry Adelbert Crosby 21 February 1874 at Arcadia Baptist Church. Aldora died 2 October 1926 at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.


 2. Laura Mary Robbins, born September 1854 in MA; married (1) John Perry Bain 13 September 1873 at Yarmouth, N.S. who was lost at sea in the West Indies in November 1875. Laura Mary later married (2) Nathaniel Patten Bain, John Bain's older brother, on 9 June 1877 at Yarmouth, N.S.


 3. Anne Robbins, born 1858 at Pleasant Lake, N.S.; married a Captain Belliveau. 


 4. Orick Nelson Robbins, born 28 July 1860 at Lake Pleasant, N.S.; married Jennie McSwain in 1881 at Lynn, MA. Orick died October 1929 and is buried with his wife and nephew, William Curtis Robbins, in the Pine Grove Cemetery, Lynn, MA. 


 5. John Jeffery Robbins, born 22 May 1861 at Pleasant Lake; married Mary Louisa Earl 9 May 1887 at the License Free Baptist Church at Yarmouth, N.S. John died 10 May 1936 at Pleasant Lake. He and Mary are buried in the Highland Plains Cemetery at Pleasant Lake with their sons Charles and Orick.


 6. Jeanette Evelyn Robbins, born June 1864 at Yarmouth, N.S.; married Prucius Washington Manley 11 December 1911 at Brattleboro, Vermont.


 7. Austin Burdick Robbins, born 24 October 1867; married Edith Gertrude Watson in 1901 at Cambridge, MA; died in the late 1930s.


In the 1860s, when sisters Sophia, Mary Ann, Zilpha and brother Prince migrated to the frontier of Michigan, Rufus remained in Pleasant Lake. His wife, Mary, had 13 brothers and sisters nearby and perhaps this was the reason he stayed in Yarmouth. 


Canadian census records from 1871 identify Rufus as a caulker. (1) According to family, he worked at the shipyard located at the intersection of Water and Vancouver Streets in Yarmouth. His wife, Mary, was making clothes from heavy cloth which she soaked in oil to make them waterproof "oilskins" for fisherman and

sailors.  She soon tired of this and moved to Milton Corner where she opened a boarding house. Rufus worked at the shipyard located 7 miles away. Upon returning to the boarding house in the evening, he customarily unloaded an oxcart of wood and returned to the woods to cut another load so the boarding house would have heat and fuel for cooking the next morning. Mary’s sisters, who had traveled extensively in the United States, later convinced her to move to Brooklyn, NY to open a boarding house. Brooklyn offered more economic opportunities than Yarmouth at that time, and provided better educational opportunities for Mary and Rufus's three youngest children.


 In 1881, Rufus died unexpectedly as a result of a tragic accident. An account of his death appears in the book, Yarmouth, Past and Present: A Book of Reminiscences, as follows: 


 "On the evening of Friday, May 20th, Rufus N. Robbins, of Milton, in the company of his daughter and her child, was returning from a visit to Charles Crosby's. When near the residence of Hezediah Porter, the horse took fright, and turning suddenly to one side, Mr. Robbins was thrown out, his head striking on a stone. The horse ran on, when the daughter, with much presence of mind, succeeded in getting hold of one end of the broken reins, and turning him to the side brought him to a standstill without further damage. Mr. Robbins was so severely hurt that he died on the Monday night following."(2)


Daughter Laura Bain and her young son Frank were unhurt in the incident. They recounted to other family members that the horse was frightened by hanging cowhides that were flapping in the wind. 


After Rufus's death, Mary closed the house in Yarmouth and returned to Brooklyn to run the boarding house. In 1880, Mary and her two youngest children, Jeanette Evelyn (14), and Austin Burdick (12) were living on Johnson Street in Brooklyn. (3) Mary was the head of household with seven boarders. Austin, was identified as a store clerk. John does not appear in the enumeration, but he often told his own children that he lived in NY until he was about 17 (1878) and was considered a "city boy" by the local Yarmouth girls.


Mary subsequently moved to Cambridge, MA where she opened another boarding house on Colombia Street and also worked as a seamstress. In the late 1890s, Mary suffered a stroke. After 1900, she returned to Yarmouth, N.S. and lived with her son John and his family until her death. Mary's wicker wheelchair remained in the homestead until the house was torn down in 1980.


Today, a portion of the property at Pleasant Lake is owned by the Purdy family, great-great-grandchildren of Rufus.





     1. 1871 census of Canada, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 192, subdistrict 3, p.65, dwelling 228, family 251, Rufus Robbins family; digital image, ( : accessed 26 January 2013); citing Library and Archives of Canada microfilm roll C-10546. 


     2. J. Murray Lawson, Yarmouth, Past and Present: A Book of Reminiscences (Yarmouth: Yarmouth Herald, 1902), 446.


     3. 1880 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, p.561 (stamped), dwelling 1, family 1, Mary Robbins family; digital image, ( : accessed 28 January 2013); citing Family History film 1254841, roll 841. 


Submitted by Dawn Robbins Mayerson, January, 2013. Note: Ms. Mayerson gratefully acknowledges the family research done by her father, Clarence Robbins, and sister, Mary Robbins Goodale, which has been used in this Supplement, and for all the assistance and suggestions she has received from her cousins on their branches of the Rufus and Mary (Jeffery) Robbins family. For further information, Ms. Mayerson may be contacted by email at

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