Levi Robey, Esq., a portrait of whom appears in this connection, has been widely and favorably known throughout Waddams Township for a period of fifty-three years, being one of its earliest settlers, and is probably the oldest living pioneer of the county. Nature, in bestowing her gifts upon Mr. Robey, provided him with a good supply of cheerfulness, a generous and unselfish heart, and the genial spirit which has always rendered his companionship pleasant and desirable. He is beloved as thoroughly as he is known, and is the center of a large circle of friends and acquaintances, who entertain for him the highest respect and who watch his declining days with the solicitude natural in connection with one who has completed his fourscore years.
Mr. Robey was born in Washington Township, Scioto Co., Ohio, Oct. 22, 1807. His father, William Robey, was a native of Maryland, and his grandfather, also named William, served under Gen. Clark during the Revolutionary war, and assisted in driving the British from the soil of his native state. After this trouble had ended in the victory of the Colonists, William Robey, Sr., in company with five or six others, repaired to Kentucky and made a claim, put up a log cabin and contemplated returning home for the winter, but before completing their preparations the entire party with one exception was murdered by the Indians, including William Robey. He had been married, but his wife had not accompanied him to Kentucky. She was afterward married to Philip Moore, of Maryland.
After peace had been declared between England and the Colonies, the Moore family removed to the Northwestern Territory, and located in that portion now included in the state of Ohio. The journey over the mountains was made with pack-horses and the father of our subject located at the mouth of the Scioto River, which was then designated as the "Nile of the America". The Robey family was among the earliest settlers of that region. Mr. Moore also cleared a farm and there spent the last years of his life. Grandmother Moore survived her husband several years and also died in what is now Jo Daviess County, Ill.
William Robey, Jr., the father of our subject, was but four years old when his parents moved to the northwestern Territory, and in common with the others was conveyed on a pack-horse across the Allegheny Mountains. As soon as old enough he engaged in boating on the Scioto and Ohio Rivers, and upon reaching manhood became the owner of several boats, by which means he transported produce from Portsmouth to other points. During one of his expeditions he purchased a pony, and riding across the country visited his old friend, Daniel Boone, in Kentucky. He remained a resident of Scioto County, Ohio, until 1834, and then disposing of his interests in that region, he started in the month of June for the praries of Illinois, whither his family had preceded him a few weeks. They joined him near Hennepin, where they spent the summer, and in the fall came to that part of Jo Daviess County which is now included in Stephenson. They first stopped at Brewster Ferry, which now lies in Winslow Township, and renting the Brewster farm carried on agriculture and operated the ferry across the Pecatonica River until 1836. Afterward Mr. Robey made a claim in Buckeye Township, on the present site of the village of Cedarville. He secured his title as soon as the land came into market and lived there several years, then crossing the Mississippi went down into Texas and located twelve or fourteen miles north of Austin and not far from Round Rock. There he improved the farm which he occupied until his death in about 1877, after he reached the advanced age of ninety-eight years. His wife, the mother of our subject was Mary, the daughter of Judge John Collins, one of the earliest pioneers of Scioto Co. Ohio. She also died in Texas. The parental family included twelve children; eight of them grew to mature years.
Levi Robey was educated in the subscription schools of his native county, which were conducted in a log cabin with puncheon floor, slabs for seats and desks, and greased paper for window-panes. His studies were conducted mostly in the winter season, and as soon as large enough his services were utilized on the farm. In due time he developed into a pedagogue, following teaching, however, but a short time, and later traveled over the country selling clocks. He was married, when twenty-six years of age to Miss Almira Waite, the wedding taking place at the home of the bride in Washington Township, Ohio, Dec. 26, 1833. The following April, accompanied by his wife and his motherĖs family, he started for Illinois, preceding via the Ohio, Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and then by hired teams traveled sixteen miles further, where Mr. Robey rented a tract of land and remained until fall. He then started for Jo Daviess county, equipped with teams of horses and oxen. At Dixon they met a party of Indians who frightened one of the oxen so that he broke loose from the yoke, but was caught after much chasing. Soon after his arrival Mr. Robey entered a claim on Section 7, of what is now Waddams Township, and on St. Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1835, signalized himself as the first settler of the township. It had not yet been subdivided, but afterward became a part of Stephenson County.
Mr. Robey made it his first business to put up a log cabin, which was located on the northwest quarter of section 2, and which he occupied with his family twelve years. In 1847 he sold out and purchased his present homestead. The nearest market during these pioneer days was at Galena, forty-five miles distant, and Chicago for several years was comparatively unheard of. The postage on a letter was twenty-five cents, which oftentimes proved a larger sum than a settler could raise. Had it not been for the people required to operate the lead mines the settlers would probably have been compelled to transport their produce even farther than Galena.
Mr. Robey watched with intense satisfaction the gradual development of the rich resources of his adopted State, and was no unimportant actor in the building up of Waddams Township. He was uniformly successful in his labors, meeting with an ample reward for his toil and sacrifices. He became identified with local matters at the beginning, and was one of the Commissioners appointed to lay off the townships of this county. He represented the people of Waddams on the County Board of Supervisors seven years, and served as Justice of the Peace, receiving his appointment from Gov. Duncan. There were few enterprises connected with the public welfare in which he was not consulted, and no man took a warmer interest in the prospering country around him. He cast his first Presidential vote for Andrew Jackson, and since that time has been a stanch supporter of Democratic principles.
The wife of our subject, who has been the cheerful and patient sharer of his fortunes for a period of more than fifty years, is the daughter of Asa and Lydia (Kendal) Waite, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this album.
Of her marriage with our subject there were born five children, of whom the record is as follows: William A. operates a stock farm in Nora, Ill; Louisa E. is the wife of Robert Young, a farmer of Rock City; Cyrus A. is a resident of California; Mary M married James L. Hartsough and lives at McConnell's Grove; Levi Woodbury occupies the homestead; a granddaughter, Amanda E. Robey has been a member of the family since infancy. Our subject and his wife are connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, Mrs. R. being the oldest member of that church in this county.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, IL, published in Chicago by Chapman Brothers 1888.
Submitted by: Toni Campbell 5/3/00