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Frank de Hass Robison
EMINENT business talent is composed of a combination of high mental and moral attributes. It is not simply energy and industry; there must be sound judgment, breadth of capacity, rapidity of thought, justice and firmness, the foresight to perceive the drifting tides of business and the and ability to control them, and withal a collection of minor but important qualities to regulate the details of the pursuits which engage attention. The late Frank de Hass Robison, for many years a widely known railroad builder and promoter of legitimate sports, afforded an exemplification of this talent, an extraordinary character, and in the vast theater of his operations he achieved a reputation which placed biro in the front rank of Ohio's progressive and successful men of affairs.
Mr. Robison was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 16, 1852, and he was a son of Martin Stanford Robison and Maria (Allison) Robison, who were the parents of four children, all now deceased.
Frank de Hass Robison grew to manhood in his native city and received his early education in the Dubuque, Iowa, schools, finishing in a Methodist college in Delaware, Ohio, but did not graduate. When only seventeen years of age, he went into business with his father, who was a large exporter of flaxseed, he having been the first American to ship flaxseed to Europe; but young Robison had from boyhood a strong liking for railroading, and he left his native city when a young man, coming to Cleveland, Ohio, as a railroad contractor, becoming a member of the firm of Hathaway & Robison, and meeting with success from the start. He subsequently became president of what was known as the Little Consolidated Railway Company, in Cleveland, which was later consolidated with the VBig Consolidated corporation, in which Mark Hanna was so extensively interested. Mr. Robison was also president of the Ft. Wayne & Indiana Railroad Company. Many of these properties were in very bad shape, physically and financially, but by the exercise of rare business acumen, industry, and perseverance, Mr. Robison succeeded in due course of time in placing them on a sound basis and bringing them up to important positions in the railroad world. He deserved a great deal of credit for his splendid work in this connection. He also carried out some gigantic and important contracts in the matter of street railway construction work, successfully building the street railways of the cities of Toronto, St. Catherines, Hamilton, Dundas, London and Ottawa, Canada, and also built the first electric line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. These achievements won him a great name throughout the railroad world.
A lover and advocate of athletic sports, especially as applying to those of the outdoors, Mr. Robison also won a national, if indeed not international, reputation as a sportsman. For some time he was owner of the "Cardinals" of St. Louis, Missouri, of the National League baseball clubs, which splendid team now
belongs to Mrs. Robison and her daughter, Mrs. Helene Hathaway Robison Brittan.
He was a great club man, having belonged to the Cleveland Kennel Club and the Cleveland Athletic Club, being the first president of each; he also belonged to the Union Club, the Country Club, the Roadside Club, and the Grosse Point Club, of Detroit, and the Lambs Club, of New York City. He was a member of the Crain Creek Hunting and Fishing Club, and of a number of hunting and fishing clubs outside of Cleveland. He kept a very large kennel of fine hunting dogs, was also a lover of good horses, usually keeping as many as fifteen high-grade driving and riding horses. Although very fond of horse racing, he did not own any racers. His hobby was sports of various kinds, especially baseball and football, also hunting. He was a crack marksman, and often took hunting excursions into the wilds, but he always took game in a legitimate manner, and was an advocate of proper game protection.
Mr. Robison's large business transactions brought him into intimate acquaintance with most of the big financiers of the United States, among whom he had a high standing. For a period of fourteen years, he was associated in business with Senator Mark Hanna, and the people of Ohio owe him a debt of gratitude which cannot be paid, for he built electric lines all over the State, including street railroads in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Springfield, and Youngstown. He was one of the captains of industry of his day and generation in America.
Politically Mr. Robison was a Republican, and while he was an enthusiastic supporter of his party, was never active in the work of the same, nor an office seeker. However, he attended all national conventions. He was brought up in the Methodist Church, and in his earlier life was a regular attendant at services but was never a member. Fraternally Mr. Robison was a thirty-second degree Mason.
Mr. Robison was married on January 7, 1874, to Sarah C. Hathaway, of Philadelphia, a daughter of Charles Hathaway, a very prominent contractor and builder of street railways, building roads in Dublin, Ireland, and London, England, as well as in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, and he was one of the contractors in building the old Hudson River Railroad, now a part of the New York Central system.
Mrs. Robison was one of six children, only two of whom are now living. One of her brothers was named George Burnett Hathaway, the name Burnett coming from the maternal grandmother, wife of the first missionary to Hawaii. Mrs. Robison traces her ancestry back to the Warren family which came to America from England in the Mayflower, 1620.
To Mr. and Mrs. Robison three children were born, namely: Marie is deceased; Helene is the wife of Schuyler P. Brittan, of St. Louis; Mr. Brittan is president, and his wife vice-president, of the "Cardinals" of St. Louis, belonging to the National Baseball League; Hortense, who was the youngest of the Robison children,
is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Brittan have two children, Frank de Hass Brittan, and Marie Brittan.
The death of Frank de Hass Robison occurred in Bratenahl, Cleveland, Ohio, September 25, 1908. He will long be remembered by his many friends as a very charitable, genial, companionable gentleman, always very solicitous of the welfare of his family, to whom he was deeply attached, and was with them whenever possible. He was never appealed to in vain for support in a worthy cause, and by his many charitable deeds he accomplished an inestimable amount of good.
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