“The following are excepts from articles written by the late Mrs. James West that appeared in the Messenger February 3, 1938 and April 14, 1938.
“Straight is the line of duty; curved is the line of beauty. Going east from Allentown one may follow the curves of beauty on the old Shrewsbury Trail [Route 524]. No doubt it was red men who first trod this path, circling the hills and avoiding the marshes through the forest in the long ago – perhaps before Spaniards introduced horses to America, and the Indians traveled on foot to the sea and carried their dried oysters to their camp on their backs. And the years rolled into oblivion, and the first settlers came upon the land, and the crooked path became a crude road traveled by white men with oxen and carts.
“And time marched on, and the forests were laid low, and the broad valleys between the hills became fertile in fine carriages, drawn by spirited horses prancing under silver-mounted harness. And the time came when the old trail felt the tread of marching feet, when General Clinton’s army passed that way in the heat of June 1778.
“With the arrival of automobiles came the demand for good roads, and the Shrewsbury Trail grew in breadth, and its curves of beauty became hard and safe, and now hundreds of motor cars glide swiftly over it and pass very near that hill that is still five miles from Allentown – the hill where for generations the Robbins family buried their dead; the hill where the valleys meet.
“What a strange and interesting procession they would make, what a colorful pageant, the peoples who have passed this way through all the centuries.
“And from this hilltop the view of the surrounding country is magnificent. But in Autumn the view is more lovely than ever.
“Daniel Robbins was the first settler of that name in New Jersey, and there are a few if any persons of New Jersey origin bearing the name of Robbins or Robins who are not descendants. The name was originally spelled Robins, but the descendants of Daniel gradually adopted the present form of Robins, although some branches still adhere to the original name.
“Although Daniel Robbins came of Puritan stock, after his removal to Monmouth County, where all his neighbors were Friends or Quakers, he became identified with that society, as where many descendants thereafter. He died in August, 1714, and no doubt one of the many unmarked sandstones at the old graves in Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place marks the last resting place of Daniel Robbins, unless he was buried there by chart, as the Quakers buried in those times. Grave stones were uncommon.
“Among old graves of the Robbins family there is that of Joseph, son of Daniel Robins, who died 1709. Four slender white marble stones mark the graves of George Robins, his wife Rebecca, and their twin sons, George H. and Jacob F. George Robbins died April 21, 1857 in the 85th year of his age.
“This George Robbins is one of the fourteen children of Randall Robbins, ten of whom are buried here. They were born in the late seventeen hundreds. Rebecca, wife of George Robbins, died December 9, 1853, age 74. Their twin sons lived to be twenty-eight years and they both died the same year. Near them is a crude sandstone bearing two letters, ‘R.B.’ – Rebecca (Robbins) Blake, sister of George Robbins and wife of Thomas Blake. She died in 1845. Close by are the seven tiny graves of her children.
“A careful observer has noticed that all those sleeping of that hill are buried with their feet towards the sun.
“Back in the year 1695, when the Robins family like many others, first became extensive land owners, and Monmouth County was little less than a forest, inhabited by Indians in great numbers, here and there was a clearing, but the settlements were widely scattered, the streams were unbridged, the roads not much more than paths through the wilderness. Bridle paths for riding were for many years a necessity. About 1725, in the latter part of his ministry, the Rev. Joseph Morgan, it is said attracted attention by riding through the country in a two-wheeled cart or gig, probably the first of its kind brought into the country.
Next week will include accounts of the Robbins family and the Underground Railroad and the story of the ancestor of Abraham Lincoln, buried at Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place.
Robbins Family History (Part 2 of 2)
“Browsing on through pages of history, looking into the doings of kinfolks, we find that in 1695 Daniel Robins, first settler, purchased of John Reid, attorney for John Laing, a tract of land in Monmouth County containing 500 acres. In 1701 Daniel conveyed a part of this land to his son Moses.
“The oldest white marble gravestone in Ye Olde Robins Burial Place is that of Zachariah, the son of Moses, on which we read with difficulty that he was born in 1704, lived 44 years and died in 1749. This gravestone of Zachariah’s is the measuring stone mentioned in the first deed of trust for Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place, which was upon the land of Moses.
“Zachariah and his wife, Mary, were the parents of Daniel, grantor of the first deed of trust for the burial place. Meeting was held at the home of Daniel before the Robins Meeting House was built. Moses, son of Zachariah and Mary, was generally known as Moses Robins of Allentown. He was a prominent man in that village till his death in 1775. About 1740 he bought a lot of Nathan Allen on Main Street, Allentown, between what is now Dr. Farmer’s Hospital [Imlay House] and the brick house of Charles Havens. Some time later Moses built his house there. After some years it became the home of Joseph Robins, his cousin. This Joseph was one of fourteen children of Randall Robins. He was also the great-grandfather of the West twins (James and Palmer), and they remember when they sat of the front stoop of this old house and great-grandfather gave them big copper two cent pieces.
“This antiquated house was the oldest house in Allentown, and the second to be built on this lot. Its broad easy stairs and wide, friendly corner fireplaces and wooden latches and latch strings were a symbol of open-heated hospitality. It will be remembered by many of the townspeople as the old Redin Leming house. [The following, about this house, is from the Allentown Messenger dated May 23, 1918: “In an old house that stood on Main street, in Allentown, there resided a Quaker family by the name of Robbins. Included in the household were several daughters, the last survivor of them having been ‘Aunt’ Sally, a maiden lady. During anti-slavery days these daughters were active in assisting fugitive slaves in their efforts to reach Canada. In order to further assist in this work the family made their house a ‘station’ of the ‘under ground’ railroad, where the runaway negroes could be in hiding during the day time, and at night could be forwarded to the next station. ‘Aunt’ Sally and her sisters spent much of their spare time in knitting for the slave refugees, as they were often in a destitute condition upon their arrival here.]
“We learn that on February 22, 1763, Moses Robbins sold the homestead farm near the burial place to John Cox.
“Even back there in 1758 pioneers paid taxes on the farms they had dug out of the wilderness. It appears that at the time there were thirteen Robins families paying taxes, the most numerous tax-paying family in Upper Freehold. John Lawrence was the assessor for many years, and in his records, he says, ‘We have no water, craft, nor furnaces, nor forges, nor bloomeries, nor glasshouses, nor stills that still molasses, nor ferries, nor brew-houses, nor coaches, chariots, chaises and four-wheelers in Upper Freehold.’
“Do you remember noticing the old Quaker Meeting House built of brick that stands beside the Shrewsbury trail between Allentown and Clarksburg, at a place known as the village of Wrightsville, a mile and one-half west of Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place? Well, in the year 1738, this same Moses Robins, on behalf of himself and Friends thereabouts, made application to the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting at Crosswicks to build a meeting house near Robert Lawrence.
“This request was acted upon at the next Monthly Meeting – Tenth-month, seventh-day, 1738 – ant the Friends near Moses Robins had this meeting to build a meeting house according to their decree, the meeting subscribing eighteen pounds toward the building. The Burlington Monthly Meeting soon after subscribed twelve pounds for the same purpose. The house was built on the present site, and was known as the ‘Robins Meeting,’ and this year is the two hundredth anniversary.
“Sarah Robins is the only one of the fourteen children of Randall Robins buried in the little graveyard besides the Robins Meeting House. She was the wife of Benjamin Fields. Ten of her brothers and sisters are laid away on the hill in Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place. This cemetery is also the sleeping place of little Deborah Lincoln, a great aunt of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s ancestors lived in this area for a period of time in their migration west. And members of the Robins family are proud to say that down through the generations comes the word that Deborah Lincoln is connected with the Robins family. Faint, crudely cut letters on the little native sandstone at her grave read: Deborah Lincoln/Ag 3y 4m/ May 15, 1720.