Biography of I. A. Robertson
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I. A. Robertson has been an increasing factor in mercantile affairs at Alma for a number of years, and was recently honored by the citizens of that town in election to the office of mayor. The Robertsons were pioneers in Jewell County, Kansas, where I. A. Robertson was born in Holmwood Township July 29, 1872. He is of Scotch ancestry, his forefathers having originally lived at Glasgow. They came to New York City and from there to Butler County, Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Thomas Robertson, brought this branch of the family to America. He was a pattern maker by trade and had worked in several large gun foundries at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, West Virginia, during the Civil war. His death occurred at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
John A. Robertson, father of the Alma mayor, was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1842, and grew up in that city and at Pittsburg. While in Pittsburg he was employed as a bookkeeper for a large saddlery and hardware house. In 1861, at the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth New York Infantry, and was part of the famous Sickles Brigade. He performed all his duties as a soldier until the second battle of Bull Run, where he was wounded and incapacitated for further duty. In 1869 John A. Robertson came to Kansas, locating in Pottawatomie County, but in 1870 homesteaded 160 acres and pre-empted another quarter section in Holmwood Township of Jewell County. He still owned these tracts of land, which he had since converted into a valuable and productive farm. The land is situated six miles north of Mankato. From the farm he finally retired to Manhattan in 1887 in order to give his children the advantages of schools and colleges there. After moving to Manhattan he served two terms of two years each as probate judge of Riley County. He is still living at Manhattan, is active in the republican party, a leading member of the Presbyterian Church, is past commander of the Grand Army Post and a member of the Masonic fraternity.
John A. Robertson married Margaret Jane Walker. She was born near Columbus, Ohio, in 1846, and in 1855, when she was nine years of age, her parents removed to Pottawatomie County, Kansas, and homesteaded among the pioneers. She grew up near the town of Westmoreland. John A. Robertson and wife had four children, I. A. being the oldest. Dr. T. M. Robertson is a dentist at Coffeyville, Kansas. Kate L., who died at Manhattan in 1915, was a resident of Burlington, Kansas, where her husband, Wayne White, is a farmer and stock raiser. Blanche L. married J. L. Smith, now a county agricultural agent living at Coquilla, Oregon.
I. A. Robertson lived on his father’s farm in Jewell County until he was about seventeen years of age. After that he attended public school at Manhattan and in 1896 graduated with the degree Bachelor of Science from the State Agricultural College. While in college he served as assistant librarian two years.
After that he spent six years as a clerk in the reconstruction department of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, being located at Boonville, Marshall and Lexington, Missouri. Further experience came as clerk in stores at Manhattan, and in 1906 he removed to Alma and with Albert Moore established a men’s clothing and furnishing store for the Knostman Clothing Company. This was one of a chain of four stores, the others being situated at Manhattan, Junction City and Wamego. On May 1, 1911, Mr. Robertson became sole proprietor of the business at Alma, and is the principal merchant in his line in that part of Wabaunsee County. His store is located on Missouri Street and his home is at the north end of the same street.
Mr. Robertson is a republican. He had served as town councilman, as member of the school board, and was elected to his present office as mayor in April, 1917. He is giving the town a vigorous administration of its municipal affairs. For ten years he was treasurer of the Congregational Church and is one of its very active members. Fraternally he is affiliated with Alma Lodge No. 76 of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In 1902 at Garnett, Kansas, Mr. Robertson married Miss Mercy Jane White, daughter of George and Mercy Jane (Sutton) White. Both her parents are now deceased, her father having been a farmer in Osage County, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Robertson have three children: Roberta, born August 11, 1903; Bannon, born August 20, 1906; and Gordon, born November 29, 1911.