Benjamin Robbins

Benjamin Robbins was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey on November 29, 1760.  He was a surveyor and a farmer.  In 1782, he married Bathsheba Nutt, Aaron's sister, and they had twelve children.  

When the brothers-in-law chose their lots, Benjamin chose 160 acres in the spring rich section northwest of town.  He was the first of the three to arrive back with his family and settle into their new home.  They arrived on April 6, 1797 after a ten day trip cutting their way through the heavy underbrush and trees to clear a path for their wagon. 

Robbins first small cabin was unroofed by a storm soon after it was built.  In 1803, he then built a stone house on the site which still stands as the one-story portion at the rear of the Routsong Funeral Home.  He added a two-story section in 1820.

There is a story that has been passed down that a plague of rattlesnakes infested his land close to his house.  He called for volunteers to help get rid of the snakes.  Twelve backwoodsmen came to his farm and in one day killed 400-some snakes - mostly rattlesnakes.

Benjamin's son Sam was Centerville's first mayor.  His daughter, Nancy, married Peter Sunderland on October 15, 1799, in the first wedding performed in this new community.

He died on June 3, 1837 and is buried in the Sugar Creek Baptist Cemetery.

 

Benjamin Robbins

By Ferne Reilich, Curator

The Curator, April 2007

Each day as I arrive at the Nutt Cottage, turn on the lights and put our OPEN sign in the front door, I have the chance to look across the street and observe the beautiful limestone building at 81 North Main Street.  It is designated in our files as the Benjamin Robbins house.  We know that Benjamin was one of Centerville’s earliest pioneers, coming here in 1797 with Aaron Nutt and Benjamin Archer.  So, let’s find a few more important facts about Benjamin Robbins and his house.

 He was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey in 1760, to Elizabeth and Richard Robbins.  In 1782, he married Bathsheba Nutt of Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  They were both 22 years old.  Fortunately, we have in our archives a copy of the family record that Bathsheba wrote in their Bible.  This document shows they had 12 children, including one set of twins.  After they had the first 2 children Bathsheba noted, “In the year 1786 we moved to the back parts of Pennsylvania.”  It sounds like she may not have been too enthusiastic about moving, however, we can imagine that Benjamin was starting to look for more land.  He probably wasn’t satisfied with what he had there, as just two years later in 1789, they moved to Dry Ridge, Kentucky.  They remained in Kentucky until 1797 and had several more children.  Also living in Dry Ridge, at that time, were two other families from New Jersey and they were all related.  Bathsheba’s brother, Aaron Nutt and his wife, Mary (Archer) Nutt, and her brother Benjamin Archer, were neighbors.  Then we can imagine that the brothers-in-law got together and decided to look at the land in the Northwest Territory, later Ohio.  Bathsheba notes again in the family Bible, “In the year of 1797 we moved to Montgomery County, Ohio.”

 A grandson, also named Benjamin, later wrote that his father, Samuel, said they spent ten days on the road, cutting through dense forests almost the entire way to make a wagon road.  They reached their destination on April 6, 1797 and built a small log cabin.  One night during a violent wind and rain storm, the cabin was either blown down or unroofed, as different records disagree on that point.  The land Benjamin had chosen was the Northwest quadrant of what is now Centerville, and the Montgomery County records show that he paid $1.30 in taxes on the land in 1798.  He particularly chose that section, where 81 North Main now stands, because it had a large spring on it which was a good source of fresh water.  Benjamin was both a surveyor and a farmer, so he recognized the potential of the property.  In the early 1800’s he had a stone house built there and we know in 1809 he paid $200 to Montgomery County for taxes that year.  The original house was thought to be a small one story structure at the back and the two story house we now see was added about 1820.  How fortunate that the house has had only a few owners and has been carefully cared for these many years.  One former owner was told that the stones for the house were probably quarried on the property, and many of them show the marks of being “dressed” by hand.

 By 1814, our records show that Benjamin had also purchased several lots along what is now West Franklin Street.  It seems he may have used all his cash to buy land, as it was later recorded that he wrote, “For medical service, I owe Dr. John Hole one pair leather shoes for a boy child.”  Of course, we know that cash was not often in circulation and services were traded.  Benjamin seems to have been respected in the community and was a member of the First Baptist Church of Sugar Creek, built on the land of Aaron Nutt.  In 1807 the trustees of the church appointed him to “Lay off a burial ground in proper manner.”  That cemetery is still a very important part of our historical community and many of our pioneers are buried there, including Benjamin and Bathsheba.  He passed away in 1837, and Bathsheba in 1848.  How fitting that they rest in the cemetery which Benjamin surveyed and not far from Aaron Nutt and Dr. John Hole. 

 Resources: The History of Montgomery County, Ohio, 1882, A Sense of Place, Genealogy and Landmark Files, Washington Township Cemetery Records

 

Benjamin Robbins - Another Discovery in the Sugar Creek Cemetery!

By Jean Simpson, Education Coordinator

The Curator, December 2007

 Several years ago Vickie Bondi and I were trained as volunteer tour guides at the Sugar Creek Baptist Cemetery and learned the location of the burial sites of many of our early settlers including Aaron Nutt and Dr. John Hole.  We were told that the headstones of founder Benjamin Robbins and his wife Bathsheba were missing, so we assumed that they had fallen over as so many of the stones have done.

 Since we have records that tell the location of their headstones, I would sometimes go to the cemetery early on a tour day and look for a broken base where they might have been.  While researching the John Harris headstone (last month's Curator) I perused two photo albums compiled in 1976 that show the Robbins’s headstones, so I knew that they had been standing 31 years ago!

 Then in mid November I was talking with Tony Stevens, the cemetery sexton, and asked him if he knew where the Robbins headstones might be (thinking that maybe someone had saved them.)  He said he would show them to me.  I asked him where they were and he replied that they were at the cemetery – still standing!!!  So Curator Ferne Reilich and I met Tony and he took us to the headstones.

 Ironically, they are just one row back from a stop on the tour, but as you can see from Marilyn William’s photo, the inscription is hard to read.  I am so glad to know that the headstones are safe and that we can show them to folks in the community.

 Benjamin Robbins, along with Aaron Nutt and Benjamin Archer surveyed the land here in 1796.  Ben Robbins chose a quarter section of land northwest of the present town center because of the many springs.  The following spring he and his wife Bathsheba Nutt Robbins (Aaron’s sister) and their children arrived from Dry Ridge, Ky. and lived in a log cabin at the site of the present Routsong Funeral Home.  He soon built a one-story stone house that is believed to be at the back of the present day house.  The two-story stone house was likely added about 1820.  Benjamin Robbins died in 1837, so his headstone has been standing for 170 years!