Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 August 2012 ~ The Robb Family, pt 2

Flag of Northern Ireland
Flag of England
There is a Robb family that has been in America since Colonial days and it would be grand to connect to this well documented family – but try as I might over the years – I couldn’t find a connection.  They were of Irish or Scots heritage and that is where I was running into a problem. Our Robb’s were English transplants to Northern Ireland.
Most of the following information comes from The History of Carroll and Harrison Counties, Ohio* and without this book I’d still not have a clue. Although this is 3rd party, hearsay information it certainly points us in the direction to search for documentation.
Charles I by Anthony van Dyck
Back in the days of King Charles I [Charles  there was a bitter rivalry between Catholics and Protestants and a bloody civil war erupted. Many English fled to Northern Ireland to escape the civil strife.  Our Robb's were apparently part of this group of emigrants.

Battle of Naseby, artist unknown
Charles I, the son of the Stuart King James VI of Scotland, was  the one king unlucky enough to be beheaded by the English people. It was probably near the end of his reign in 1642 when things were getting rather violent that the Robb’s moved into Northern Ireland. 

County Tyrone Crest
The outcome of this English migration from England to Northern Ireland is that they built lives, married other English/Irish Protestants and a bitterness grew up between them and the indigenous Irish Catholic population – a bitterness that remains today. In 1850, after 200 years our family was on the move again from County Tyrone to Harrison County, Ohio. Why Ohio? I don’t know but a research trip to Northern Ireland to fill in the gaps is in order!

Lake Tappan, near Cadiz, Ohio
First Joseph Robb traveled to Ohio alone to establish himself and start a farm. He was about 30 years old. He settled near Cadiz  in a beautiful, forested and hilly area with lakes and streams inland from the town of Steubenville in eastern Ohio. 
In 1851 Mary Ann Robb followed Joseph with some of their children. She made the very difficult decision to leave three of the boys behind in Northern Ireland (one of them three years old). No doubt they were left with family and possibly it was to insure their education. But it may be that they didn’t have the means to move the entire family at once. Whatever the reason, the boys didn’t reach Cadiz, their parents, and siblings until 1859 – 8 years later. 

After all those years you can imagine the excitement of the boys as they reached their parents – the youngest of whom may not have remembered them at all. I’m sure there was great celebration and excitement as the boys arrived and for several days great happiness. Still the farm work was ongoing. On the 5th day after the boys arrival Joseph went out to work with a young team of
draft horses he was training to harness. 
He must have been an experienced horseman but there was a lot to distract him. Maybe with the new arrivals, or in showing off for the boys he lost his concentration. We’ll never know for sure why but the harness slipped and one of the horses got tangled, panicked and in his struggle fell on Joseph crushing the life out of him.
Imagine the horror for those boys just arrived, the sadness of their siblings, and the huge task of running a farm and raising 12 children that was left to Mary Robb. Whatever the burden, she was up to it. She kept the family together and the farm going, no doubt with the help of her boys. Samuel Robb, fresh for Northern Ireland, was seventeen. He was extraordinarily successful in everything he tried and it is his biography and that of his brother, David, that give us the above information.
Samuel Robb
Far from being spooked by horses due to his father’s tragic end, Samuel was a horseman and wealthy enough to be the first to import and breed Kentucky thoroughbreds in the area. He found oil, gas, and coal on his property and purchased land as investments in several states. Three of his brothers traveled to Iowa to farm. Samuel gave it a try but saw his fortune in Ohio and returned to Cadiz to be one of her favorite sons. 
Mary Ann Robb's maiden name was Porter. The comment was that Joseph Robb, who was of English descent, married an Irish girl. It may take a trip to Northern Ireland to take this Robb or Porter family back to earlier generations. The Porter's may account for my Uncle Weldon's red hair (he was called 'Red') and the lovely red heads in my cousin Susie's family.
Susanna Cristadden -- wife of Joseph and Mary's son, John Clarence Robb, most surprisingly, can be traced much farther back. . .but for decades her last name was a stumbling block. . . 
What kind of name is that?

Photo Credits:
Samuel Robb from the History of Carroll and Harrison Counties, H. J. Eckley, William T. Perry, Lewis Publishing Co., 1921.*
Tappan Lake  - Muskingum Watershed Conservation District -
All other photos -


  1. Robb is a scottish name not english most of the plantation familys were scottish with a small amount of english land owners. thankyou study history

  2. That is true, Adrian, however it seems our Robb's lived in England before moving to Northern Ireland. They could have been from Scotland before that, however.


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