Oswego County's: Guide To Government

Orville Robinson

Was born on the 28th of October, 1801, at Richfield, Otsego County, N.Y. His parents emigrated from New England at the close of the Revolutionary war to the far west, and took up their abode in the wilds of Otsego county. His early years were spent amid the hardships and privations of pioneer life. The only aid he received in acquiring an education was from the scanty and precarious instruction of the common school. His own energy and diligence did the rest. But in the struggles against these adverse circumstances of his youth, habits of industry and self-denial were formed and a vigor of body and mind, and a strength and firmness of character were developed, which distinguished him in after years and enabled him to outstrip, in the prizes of life, many of his contemporaries who had enjoyed the advantages of the academy and the college.

When about twenty-one years of age Mr. Robinson began the study of the law in the office of the late Veeder GREENE, at Brighton, and finished his legal clerkship in the office of the late Daniel GOTT, at Pompey Hill, in Onondaga county. William H. SHANKLAND, afterwards justice of the Supreme Court for the Sixth Judicial District of New York, was his fellow student in the office of Mr. Gott, and many lawyers who have attained distinction received their legal training about the same time at Pompey Hill.

In 1827, at the May term of the Supreme Court held in the city of New York, Mr. Robinson was admitted to practice as an attorney of that court, and in July following he opened a law office in what is now the village of Mexico, Oswego county.

On July 7, 1827, he was married to Miss Lucretia GREENE, of Richfield, a daughter of Wardwell GREENE, and the sister of his first instructor in the law. Mrs. Robinson was born February 8, 1862, in the county of Schoharie, N.Y. Her father was a native of Rhode Island and a relative of Major-General Nathaniel GREENE of Revolutionary memory. He was also a soldier in the war of the Revolution, was severely wounded in battle and for many years received a pension from the United States. It may also be stated that both of the grandfathers of Mr. Robinson were citizen soldiers. Both rendered active service in the so-called French war of 1755, and both, as captains of companies, shared in the struggles of the American Revolution. It might be expected that the descendants of such ancestors could not be deaf to the call of their country in her hour of danger. Age had unfitted Mr. Robinson for military service in the late civil war, but his sympathies were with the government in all lawful efforts to suppress rebellion and maintain the Union, and his contributions to that end were freely given. His son, Wardwell G. ROBINSON, however, closed his law office, took command of the 184th regiment in New York Volunteers, and continued in active service until the close of the war; he is still living in Oswego.

In the first year of Mr. Robinson's residence in Mexico he was elected to the office of justice of the peace, and in the succeeding year to that of town clerk. In 1880 he was appointed by Governor THROOP surrogate of Oswego County and continued in that office eight years, having been reappointed by Governor MARCY in 1834. In 1834 and 1836 he represented the county in the Assembly, and when the county became entitled to two members in 1837, he was again elected as one of them. In the meantime his professional business had been increasing in extent and importance. He had been admitted to the highest grades of his profession in the State and Federal courts, and had attained a prominent position among the lawyers of Central New York.

In 1841 Mr. Robinson was appointed district attorney of the county and held the office two years. In 1843 he was elected to represent the newly-formed district comprising the counties of Oswego and Madison, in Congress, and in the same year was elected supervisor of the town of Mexico. In 1847 he removed to Oswego, where he has since resided. In 1852 he was elected recorder of the city, but the police duties connected with the office made it distasteful to him, and he resigned in August, 1853. In 1855 he was for the fourth time elected to the Assembly and was honored with the speakership of that body. In 1858 he was appointed by President BUCHANAN collector of customs for the Oswego District, and after having discharged the duties of that office to the satisfaction of the government and the public for two years, he resigned it and thereafter held no public office.

Landmarks of Oswego County. 1895