John Robins, my grandmother Eva Robins’ father, was born March 10, 1865, in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada. In his early life John worked in Ontario as a teamster and a farmer. He and his wife, Harriet, along with their four daughters, immigrated to the U.S. in 1911. The family story is that they came to escape a debt-laden farming life in Canada for a new start in Tonawanda, N.Y. Prior to this, the Robins family had been in Ontario as far back as the early 19th century.
Once in Tonawanda, John worked in a steel plant and as a millwright at Spaulding Fibre in Tonawanda.
My father told me that in his prime, “Grandpa Robins” was a powerful man who could bend bottle caps with his fingers!
John died in 1946. I don’t remember seeing him, but I think my parents took me to see him when I was a baby. The picture above shows John holding one of my cousins with my great aunt Estelle behind him. It was taken in 1945.