Is That Robinson or Robison Road?

Most people living in Wooster or the Madison Hill area today are unaware of the Robison family history or the influence members of this family had in shaping our community at its very beginnings. Which is understandable after almost 200 years of progress and their last name has been misspelled time and again by various government entities. Most recent case in point, Cliff Bushnell in a note to Ann Gasbarre in 2008 wrote that “Robinson Rd. has been misspelled these past 50 years. The spelling was always ‘Robison’ Road until some office mistake made it Robinson…Local telephone books kept the correct spelling through 1959.” After which even the telephone company gave up and started referring to it as RobiNson Rd. I can take the naming problems one step further: what we know today as Robinson Rd., which was originally Robison Rd., is not even the location of the original road that bore the name! After seeing a 1879 newspaper ad for the auction sale of the Robison Homestead Addition to Wooster, that showed a very accurate map of the land and names on the roads at the time; it turns out what we know today as Secrest Rd. was the original “Robison” road!

1879 Robison Homestead Map

This map from an ad in the Wooster Republican Newspaper dated Oct. 1, 1879 showed some of the land holdings David Robison Sr. had accumulated over the course of his lifetime.


Old Map + Google Satellite Map

A google satellite map is overlaid on the old 1879 map to reveal the old locations of roads, creeks, and buildings as they relate to the locations of things today. Notice the old Wooster Mills was actually located farther north and west of the Bob Evans restaurant and the course of the Apple Creek through the area has drastically changed.


The misspelling of the family name traces all the way back to the War of 1812 when an 18-year-old David Robertson enlisted as a volunteer soldier to fight the British. He became a member of Captain William McConnell’s company of riflemen attached to Vance’s Battalion of Ohio Militia who was under the command of General Harrison and was at Fort Meigs during the historic battle. David Robison Jr., in honor of his father and the other soldiers who fought there, unveiled the Fort Meigs Monument at it’s dedication on September 1, 1908.

Wayne County Democrat newspaper ad for the Robison store that ran on May 9, 1850 p.3

Wayne County Democrat newspaper ad for the Robison store that ran on May 9, 1850 p.3

After the War of 1812 David along with his brothers, James and Thomas, secured land and settled in Wooster, Ohio with the last name of “Robison” as an error in David’s military discharge papers had erroneously spelled his last name as Robison instead of the Robertson name under which he had enlisted. As it is today once a government entity gets erroneous information in their records it is very hard to change, so this branch of the Robertson family simply became Robison.

Robison Cash Store ad that ran in the Wayne County Democrat newspaper dated Oct. 16, 1850 p.3

Robison Cash Store ad that ran in the Wayne County Democrat newspaper dated Oct. 16, 1850 p.3

David Robison and his brother Thomas conducted a large tannery on the NW corner of Buckeye and North streets in Wooster for many years, while his other brother James went west of town and started a sawmill along the Little Killbuck Creek. The Robison family soon became leaders within the fledgeling community. David became a property “Appraiser and Lister” for Wooster Twp. along with other pioneer citizens like Reasin Beall and Cyrus Spink. Robison served as township treasurer for 3 years and was elected a trustee for the town of Wooster. In 1836 David moved his family to a farm south of Wooster that was located in the lower Madison Hill area. According to a 1989 Daily Record newspaper article which stated that old county deed records show the old grist mill and 8 acres of land that used to stand in the area where Bob Evans Restaurant is located today was purchased by David Robison from Joseph Larwill in 1830. Whether Robison was the original builder of the grist mill is questionable but he, or his sons, owned the mill for the next 40 years and David Robison continued to buy land in the Madison Hill area. In 1845 Robison and Ephriam Quinby Jr. started a private bank, which became a state bank, and eventually evolved into the Wayne County National Bank, that was bought by PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. that continues to operate a regional banking franchise in Wooster.
Robison store was located on the SW corner of the public square in Wooster, Ohio.

Robison store was located on the SW corner of the public square in Wooster, Ohio.

By the 1850s Robison family members had also went into the retail business: operating the Robison store in the Golden Corner building that once stood on the SW corner of public square. David Robison was a founding member of the Wooster Cemetery Association and sold part of his land holdings in 1866 to the Wooster Cemetery Association for $800 to help grow the cemetery. David Robison Sr. died in 1870 and his son David Robison Jr. continued many of his father’s business pursuits and his own until he moved to Toledo, Ohio in January of 1876 where he became a prominent citizen in that part of the state. He divested the last of his father’s large land holdings in Wayne County with the Robison Homestead land auction of 1879 but their family legacy still reverberates throughout our community today even though nobody can spell their name correctly.

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