The Robinson Family at Telluride, Colorado (1896-1904)

My great-grandparents, Edward Warrington Robinson and his wife Mary Elizabeth Robinson lived in Telluride from about 1895 to early 1904 when Warrington died of pneumonia. During this time, Warrington was an Express Agent for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, Deputy County Clerk, County Clerk, Justice of the Peace, and Police Magistrate. The early days were fairly peaceful, but it would not last. Union organizers and socialist agitators created a great deal of strife and mischief for Telluride in the early days, and the National Guard was called in to restore order in the fall of 1903.

Warrington was the son of William S. and Harriet H. Robinson of Malden, Massachusetts. Harriet and William are both listed in Dictionary of American Biography and it is worth noting that Harriet left a treasure of scrapbooks and diaries covering her family’s life that are preserved at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library for Women at Harvard University. Claudia Bushman used that collection as a basis for her doctoral dissertation and later published it as A Good Poor Man’s Wife (University Press of New England:1981).

In 1985 I visited the Stephen H. Hart Library of the Colorado Historical Society in Denver. While there I found microfilm copies of Telluride newspapers from the time of Warrington’s death. Time limitations prevented a more thorough search of the available issues at that time. However, I recently discovered the library had digitized early Colorado newspapers, the collection was available on line, and included the Telluride papers. With a searchable index, I’ve found many more references to the Robinson family in Telluride. The Telluride newspaper collection begins in February, 1896. In a diary written years later, Mary indicates they were in Telluride in 1895 as well.

These anecdotes were found by searching on “Robinson” and limiting the results to just articles. As noted on the library’s introduction to the collection, there are limitations to what the search engine can find, and a thorough search of the collection, page by page, issue by issue, may produce more articles.

Most of these articles were screen captured as presented by the Library’s imaging engine. Others, due to their length, were captured from a pdf view of the entire newspaper issue so there is some variation in font size of the various images.,

The result is a picture of life in small town America around the turn of the century. Privacy, as we think of it, was almost an unknown concept, as just about everything seemed to make the paper, even if it wasn’t news: children’s birthday parties, trips to the “outside”, health issues, who was in town visiting, etc. I’ve loosely categorized the articles, and arranged them chronologically within the category. Warrington’s career is first as it sets the framework of the ebb & flow of his family’s life. There is a listing of the weddings he performed as justice of the peace, and the many court cases he heard. Note that these are what I found in the newspaper. There are perhaps many more of each to be found in the Telluride or San Miguel County archives. I have not included any official notices of County business that Warrington issued in his capacity as County Clerk.

One complication is that there was another Robinson family in town at the time, Gus Robinson, who was a sign & house painter & decorator as well as town alderman and served on various committees. This gives rise to many more “hits” than one might desire to sift through. Fortunately, in most cases, the imaging engine gives enough of a preview to bypass the extraneous images. It should be noted also that this means there are two “Mrs. Robinson’s” in town, but the editor was fairly consistent in identifying either as Mrs. W. Robinson or Mrs. Gus Robinson so there is limited confusion as to who he’s referring to. There was also W. W. Robinson who appeared a few times in 1896-7. Some comments on one of his visits identifies him as a grocer-salesman from Denver who never stayed very long. Warrington seems never to have been known by nor used his given name, Edward.

There were two papers in town at the time. The Daily Journal was an evening daily while The Telluride Journal appears to have been published weekly, and summarized the week’s events. Most times, what was in The Daily Journal was duplicated in The Telluride Journal and where so, I’ve used The Daily Journal version. Sometimes The Telluride Journal version would add more summary information or provide closure to the issue, and I’ve used that one instead, trying to avoid duplication.

Both papers were published by Charles Painter who appears to have known the Robinson’s socially. Even so, he seems at times confused about Warrington’s true name, often referring to him as W. W. Robinson. There are references to Mary’s family in Denver that can also be confusing. As Mary’s maiden name was also Robinson, references to her brothers & sisters sometimes are identified as his. Even in the obituary, Warrington is called a native of Great Britain, when in fact it was Mary who was English. A documented account of their ancestries, families, and descendants can be found by clicking the cookie in the upper left corner of any page on this site.