PROF. CHARLES ROBERTSON. The vital and liberal tendencies of the Prairie State have given fresh impulse and breadth of vision to many a man of Eastern blood and breeding. A man with scientific instincts finds in the West a freedom from traditions and a stimulus to investigate which he might have missed in a narrower sphere. Macoupin County is justly proud of the record of the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this sketch, and he is acknowledged to be one of the leading scientists of our country, having made a special study of botany and entomology and being a discoverer in the path which Speagel, Darwin and Hermann Muller pointed out.
The subject of our sketch is a native of this county, being born in Carlinville June 12, 1858. His father, Dr. William A. Robertson, was born near Liberty, Bedford County, Va., October 27, 1803. His father, Dr. William Robertson, was a practicing physician and moved from Virginia to Knoxville, Tenn., in 1803, soon after the birth of his son. He resided there for a short time and then went to Kentucky, where he settled in Lexington, but after a short time removed to Harrodsburg and followed his profession there.
The father of our subject was quite young when his father moved to Kentucky. He attended school at New London Academy in Virginia, and commencing the study of medicine quite early, graduated at Transylvania College. He practiced for a time in Kentucky and in 1830 emigrated to Illinois, making his home at Edwardsville, in Madison County. A little later he practiced his profession in Alton, but subsequently abandoned it and engaged in farming. In 1835 he removed to Carlinville, where ten years later he engaged in general merchandising. He was a man of rare good sense and of more than ordinary financial ability. He was possessed of considerable literary ability and was liberal with his wealth, his private charities being numerous and his donations to institutions of learning and religion generous. He died February 5, 1880, leaving behind him a precious memory as a heritage to his children.
The father of our subject was married October 18, 1842, to Nancy H., daughter of Rev. Charles Halliday. She was born near Scottsville, Allen County, Ky., November 14, 1821. Her father, Rev. Charles Halliday, was born in Baltimore, Md. His father, James Halliday, was a native of Annandale, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, and came to America in Colonial times, making a settlement in Baltimore.
Charles Halliday was fifteen years old when his father died. He was educated in Baltimore and Fredericksburg for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, but before entering it he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and became a preacher in that denomination.
He who is now known as Prof. Robertson received his early education in the public schools of Carlinville, and finally advanced to Blackburn University and in 1880 became a teacher in that institution, taking up the branches of botany, physiology an Greek. He taught until 1886 since which time he has attended to the affairs of his private business and pursued his independent studies. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, of the Cambridge Entomological Club, of the Western Society of Naturalists, of the Indiana Academy of Science and of the Entomological Society of France. He was married in November, 1879, to Alice McDonald Venable, a native of Indiana. They have one child named Mary. Prof. Robertson is independent in politics and is a contributor to the following journals: Botanical Gazette, Transactions of the American Entomological Society, Transactions of the St. Louis Academy of Science, Entomological News, etc. It is fortunate, indeed, for science when such men as this have the means to free tem from sordid cares and enable them to devote themselves untiringly to scientific researches.