Historic Letters from Robbins Family Discovered
No one knows how 100 years of letters and memorabilia from the Robbins family wound up in the attic of a Plymouth townhome.
However, when a local woman saw that the city of Robbinsdale would celebrate 125 years this year, she remembered a box of papers her daughter had come across.
They were from a family named “Robbins,” so she called up the Robbinsdale Historical Society.
“She remembered that her daughter had boxes of letters in the attic and they were from this family. She asked if we would like to see them,” says Pete Richie, a volunteer and historian with the Robbinsdale Historical Society.
Andrew B. Robbins is not only the namesake of Robbinsdale, but the family played a key role in early city history.
“We were blown away by the extent of this collection. It was 100 years of correspondence going back to the 1860s with the Civil War and the Dakota Conflict,” says Richie.
Robbins Family Letters and Much More
Pete Richie says the letters, school papers, wills, and memorabilia span 100 years. Some letters are from Andrew B. Robbins, the man who founded Robbinsdale.
Many of the papers are connected to Robbins’ daughters. The five women were college educated, owned businesses and in many ways, they were ahead of their time.
“The women did a lot for building this town,” says Richie.
- Letters from Andrew B. Robbins to his mother when he served in southern states during the Civil War and in Minnesota during the Dakota Conflict.
- A tongue-in-cheek poem on women’s suffrage from Edith Robbins, who went on to serve more than 20 years on the local school board.
- Correspondence from Amy Robbins, who served as a Red Cross nurse in France during WWI. She also wrote a book of poems about her service and some early drafts were in the box.
- Letters about local businesses from Amy Robbins, who came back from war to be a local businesswoman herself.
- A dog’s journal written by Esther Robbins, where she wrote about her dog’s life from the dog’s point of view. There are also several school papers from Esther Robbins, including a biography of her influential uncle Thomas Barlow Walker, who created the Walker Art Center.
What happens next with the letters? Historians are scanning and cataloguing all information and will keep copies at the Robbinsdale Historical Society. Some letters will be returned to descendants of the Robbins family.
“It’s an outstanding collection and it means a lot to the history of our city and to the descendants,” says Richie. “There’s a lot of personal information and history of the city here too.”