Early History of Robinson Township

Robinson Township was first settled in 1835 by Ira, John, Lucas and Rodney Robinson, brothers of well known fur trader and Indian friend, Rix Robinson. Organized April 7, 1856, at the home of Ira Robinson, the Township covers thirty six square miles. In the 1870s, when the Chicago and West Michigan Lake Shore Railroad from New Buffalo to Muskegon was constituted through Robinson Township, Robinson Station became the nucleus around which a village quickly developed. Several stores, two saw mills, a shingle mill, a church, a post office and a cluster of thiry to forty homes were built. In 1876, the railroad company went into bankruptcy, and the tracks from Holland to Fruitport, via Spoonville, were taken up.

STEARNS BAYOU. The bridge at Stearns Bayou was named for a former governor of Michigan. It was a float bridge that swung aside for the passing of logs. When logging ended, a steel and plank bridge replaced it, allowing boat traffic to pass. The present bridge was built in 1966 and was the first hot galvanized bridge in the United States. Also at this site is Felix's Marina. In the winters of earlier years, Indians from north of the river came across the ice to fish and trade baskets.

CLARK SCHOOL, 144th STREET. An old log shanty located about a mile south of Green Street was converted into Clark School in 1864. It is named for beloved teacher Helen Clark. In 1869, a new frame building was constructed, but in 1875 this school was dismantled and moved to its present site on Stearns Bayou. It was used until 1914, when part of the building was moved to Felix's Place and converted into a home.

ST. ANTHONY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH, 13421 GREEN STREET. This is the oldest church in the township. It was founded in 1910 by six families, and Mass was held in Clark School. The present building was constructed in 1912 and dedicated in 1917. Through the years extensive remodeling has taken place, but the church remains a place of worship in the township.

ROBINSON CEMETERY. The land for this cemetery along Grand River was ceded to the government in 1835 by the Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians, then later deeded to Rix Robinson. In 1849, this property was deeded to Alfred Robinson, nephew of Rix.

IRA ROBINSON HOUSE, 104th AVENUE AND NORTH CEDAR STREET. A white frame house encloses a log house owned by Ira Robinson. The log house originally stood on the bank of the river and is the oldest building in the township. It was the site of the meeting at which the township was formed.

Township meetings were held in various buildings. On December 5, 1899, a building was purchased from Herbert Ames for $75.00 to be moved to the new town hall site, but in 1923 a tornado destroyed this building. A new hall was built at 12010 120th Avenue, the present site of the fire station.


Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 26 November 2005
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/twprecords/robinsonhistory.html