Fayette County Biographies

The biography below appeared in the "Proceedings of The Joint Sessions of the Bar Associations of Arkansas and Texas and of the Separate Sessions of the Bar Association of Arkansas and of the Texas Bar Association", held at Texarkana on July 10-12, 1906, and was contributed by Bruce G. Williams.


The subject of this sketch, Judge W. S. Robson, was a native of Georgia. He was born in Madison county, February 4, 1851. His parents were Dr. John R. Robson and Ann Keith Robson. In April, 1854, his father moved to Texas and settled in Fayette county, at Round Top, which at that time was a center of wealth and intelligence. In 1860 his mother died, and in 1863 he moved with his father and family to La Grange, the county seat of Fayette county. In 1867, during the scourge of yellow fever that swept through Texas, his father was stricken down and died, and the son, after a lingering illness, survived. Left an orphan at the age of 16, he began the battle of life. He was educated in the public schools at Round Top and La Grange. Owing to the fact that the war had swept away the wealth of his parents, and also having lost his parents, when quite young, he was deprived of the advantages of a collegiate or academic training. It is sometimes said that what are disadvantages for one, are advantages for another, and it may have been that the early deprivations with which the subject of this sketch was beset with were blessings in disguise. Responsibility is a great educator, and it only gravitates and settles upon the shoulders of those who are capable of bearing it. At the early age of 16 he became the breadwinner and head of an orphan family. He was not afraid of work, and he began his first labors as that of a butcher. Being possessed of a bright, active and receptive mind, he was destined soon to aspire to higher, better and more congenial labors. In 1872, at the age of 21 years, he was elected to the office of hide and animal inspector, which position he filled creditably until 1874. During these years he was engaged in the laudable task of self-education. From 1874 to 1876 he served with credit and distinction as Deputy District Clerk of Fayette county. After the adoption of the Constitution of 1876, in February, 1877, he was elected Assessor of Taxes for Fayette county, and was re-elected to this office in 1878. The records of this office now bear some of his footprints in the shape of improvements and innovations proposed and carried out by him. Before his term of office aa Assessor of Taxes had expired, and While he was fulfilling the duties of his office, he at the same time was reading law for the purpose of obtaining license and offering his services as a practitioner. At the June term of the district court of Fayette county in 1880, he was one of four candidates who applied for admission and who were admitted to practice law. The other three were Temple Houston, now deceased; Paul Meerscheidt, of San Antonio, and A. J. Rosenthal, of Galveston. Immediately upon his admission to the bar, Judge Robson took an advanced position, and from that time to his death he was connected, on one side or the other, with almost all of the important litigation, civil and criminal, arising before the courts of Fayette county, and he was often called beyond the limits of his county to attend to the litigation of a large and devoted clientage. During the years of 1884 and 1886 he took considerable interest in political affairs. In 1885 he was elected messenger to carry the Presidential vote of Texas to Washington City. In 1890 he was elected county judge of Fayette county, over a strong opponent and with a flattering majority. He held this office for six years, without any practial opposition, and at the expiration of this time he voluntarily retired to the walks of private life and to enjoy a private practice.

Judge Robson was prominently connected with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, one of the strongest benevolent organizations in the United States. It numbers a membership of nearly a half million, which is scattered over the United States and the Province of Canada. In 1898 he was elected Supreme Master Workman of this order, which office he filled with credit to himself and satisfaction to his friends. In 1898 he was unanimously nominated as the Democratic candidate for Congress in the then Tenth Congressional District. In this contest, he was defeated by a small majority. But he made a magnificent canvass and a splendid race. His defeat was due largely to the position of his party at that time towards the money question, which largely unsettled party lines and party fealty. Judge Robson was married to Miss Lucy Praetorius of La Grange in 1876. There were born to them eight children, all of whom are living—four boys and four girls. M. R., G. C, R. B. and W. S., Jr., are the sons, and Agnes K., Lucia May, Sidonia and Juanita Ray, are the daughters.

On October 7, 1905, after suffering from a stroke of apoplexy and paralysis, Judge Robson passed away, surrounded by his family, at La Grange, Texas, age 54 years, 8 months and 3 days. Up until a short time before his death, Judge Robson took an active interest in all public affairs, State and county, and was active in the encouragement of local industries and home improvements. He was a public-spirited man, generous to a fault, and possessed of a kind heart and noble disposition. His friends were devoted to him, and his family worshipped him. He was one of the charter members of the Texas Bar Association. He was one of the committee that was appointed to assist in drafting the original By-Laws of this Association.

Much time could be consumed in recounting his achievements, but limited time and space forbids.

He entered the practice of law in partnership with A. J. Rosenthal in 1880. This partnership continued until Judge Robson was elected county judge of Fayette county. In June, 1897, he was a member of the partnership of Robson & Duncan. This partnership continued until the 1st of June, 1903. After that time, he practiced law alone.

May his ashes rest in peace.—pp. 102-104.