COLONEL F. T. ROBSON
†††† For several years Colonel F. T. Robson followed the profession of civil and electrical engineering, becoming widely known in that connection, but now devotes his attention to agricultural pursuits and is superintendent and part owner of the Stanford Vina Ranch in Tehama county. He is a veteran of the Spanish-American and World wars and has to his credit a distinguished military record. Born in Woodbury county, Iowa, August 15, 1880, he is a son of John W. and Eleanor (Coleman) Robson, the former a native of Scotland. Leaving that country when but four years of age, the father came to the United States and on entering the business world as a young man he engaged in construction work as a railroad builder and general contractor, successfully handling the large and important projects entrusted to his care. There were four children in this family; Clara, the wife of F. H. Taylor, who removed from Cleveland, Ohio, to Phoenix, Arizona, where they still reside; Ralph Ewart, who met death in an automobile accident in Lassen county, California, in October, 1925; and who served with the rank of major in the Three Hundred and Sixteenth Infantry, Ninety-first Division, during the World war, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the Belgian government for bravery in action; Laura, the wife of La Rue Sutherland, who is engaged in the insurance business in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Frederick T.
†††† The last named acquired his high school education in Sioux City, Iowa, and was next a student in Ames College of that state, taking a course in electrical engineering. In April, 1898 soon after the United States became involved in war with Spain, Colonel Robsonís patriotic spirit prompted him to join the Fifty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, with which he was ordered to Chickamauga Park, Tennessee, and later in the same year he mustered out of the service. Entering the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad, he was assigned to the Cherokee division, and during the next three years worked in every department, learning the business from the ground up. At various times he was a brakeman, fireman, telegrapher, station agent, train dispatcher, rodman, and assistant surveyor and aided in surveying the line from Fort Dodge, Iowa to Omaha, Nebraska.†
†††† Arriving in California in July, 1901, Colonel Robson became identified with the Tuolumne Lumber Company, owned by Charles Crocker, for whom he worked for three years in various capacities, including that of assistant superintendent of logging operation. On the expiration of that period he went to the Orient as a traveling salesman for various American manufacturing concerns, under the direction of the Pacific Hardware & Steel Company of San Francisco, acting as their representative in Japan, at Hongkong, China, and vicinity and also in the Philippine islands. For about three years he filled the position and was at Macao, China, in 1906 at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, but owing to a storm did not get the news of the disaster until he reached Shanghai. The Russo-Japanese war was then in progress and he was near Port Arthur when the Russian general surrendered. In May, 1909, he made his first business venture, joining two of his friends and former classmates from Sioux City in forming the firm of Spaulding, Sloan & Robson. They established offices in the Nevada Bank building of San Francisco but soon afterward Mr. Spaulding withdrew from the organization, which then became known as Sloan & Robson. The junior partner continued active in the management of the business until April 1, 1917, when he enlisted for service in the World war, and was in training at the Presidio, where he was commissioned captain of engineers. After various assignments he was sent to Camp Gordon near Atlanta, Georgia, as department engineer and was next detailed for duty with the Three Hundred and Seventh Engineers, attached to the Eight-second Division. Of the twenty-seven thousand men in this division, Colonel Robson was the only one from California. As a member of the Three Hundred and Seventh Engineers he went overseas early in 1918 and for a time was with the British Army, gaining experience in trench warfare. He was then sent to the front, being stationed first in the Toul sector, and later participated in the Argonne and St. Mihiel offensives. He was promoted to the rank of major and received a citation for bravery and for meritorious work in the Argonne engagement. Later he was assigned to the staff of the Eighty-second Division as a lieutenant colonel. After the signing of the armistice he was sent to Bordeaux, France, where he was stationed until 1919, when he sailed for New York, proceeding from that city to San Francisco, and received his honorable discharge July 3, 1919, at the Presidio.
†††† For a period thereafter the Colonel was engaged in business in San Francisco as a consulting engineer, maintaining his connection with the old firm of Sloan & Robson, and was then obliged to take up outdoor work owing to the condition of his health. Since August 15, 1919, he has been manager of Stanford Vina Ranch and is financially interested in the place, of which he has full charge. His position is one of great responsibility, for he has supervision of one of the largest and finest ranches in this part of the state, and within a period of eleven years was wrought a marked change in the appearance of the property, contributing materially towards its development and improvement. Originally it embraced some eighteen hundred acres but recently they sold about eight hundred acres. All of the land is under irrigation and the entire tract is being farmed on an intensive scale. This is all silt land, which has been brought to a high state of fertility, yielding abundant crops of alfalfa, grain, beans and fruit. There is a large dairy on the place, which is devoted to the breeding of Holstein-Friesian cattle, and he also raises Duroc-Jersey hogs. The most modern methods underlie all of the work, which is performed with businesslike thoroughness and system under the capable direction of Colonel Robson, who is a recognized leader of agricultural progress in northern California. A complete history of the Stanford Vina Ranch appears elsewhere in this volume.
†††† On the 19th of February, 1912, Colonel Robson was married in Berkeley, California to Frances Shattuck Woolsey, a native of Sonoma county, this state. She was graduated from the University of California in 1908 and is much interest in movements for cultural improvement, particularly along musical lines. He parents, William E. and Rosa M. (Livingston) Woolsey, lived for many years on their large ranch near Santa Rosa, California, but since the fatherís retirement they have made their home in Berkeley. Colonel and Mrs. Robson have a son, John W. who was born October 1, 1921, and is attending the Vina grammar school.
†††† Fraternally the Colonel is a York Rite Mason with membership in Molino Lodge, No. 150, F. & A. M., at Tehama; Berkeley Chapter No. 92, R. A. M.; and Red Bluff Commandery, K. T. At Oakland, California, he joined the Mystic Shrine, with which he was identified until his removal to Vina, and while in the Philippine islands he was inducted into Manila Chapter of Eastern Star but demitted later. He belongs to the American Legion at Red Bluff, to the Sutter Club of Sacramento, the Rotary Club of Red Bluff, the Spanish-American War Veterans Association of Red Bluff, the American Society of Military Engineers of Washington D. C., and the National Sojourners, a Masonic organization composed exclusively of army officers who served outside the United States. In outdoor sports he finds his recreation, and especially enjoys hunting and fishing trips. He is a consistent member of the First Presbyterian Church of Red Bluff and votes with the republican party. While never an office seeker, he consented to become the Berkeley commissioner of public works in 1915, resigning two years later to enter the United States Army in defense of his country. Loyal and patriotic, Colonel Robson has given tangible proof of his public spirit in many ways and his has been an active, upright and serviceable career which contains much that is of inspirational worth and value.
Transcribed by Craig Hahn.
© 2005 Craig Hahn.