Friday, April 20, 2012

Robinsons: The First Family of Rampart

The Robinson family name is the most well-known in Rampart City.  Robinson Park, the oasis in the city's center, and Robinson Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, are both named for the family.  As well there are a half-dozen schools in the city with the Robinson name, a charitable foundation, and a wing of Rampart General Hospital.  All that's missing are the Robinsons themselves, who sadly are no more.

The Robinson family line can be traced back to some of the first English colonists to settle in Rampart.  Ebeneezer Robinson was a second-generation Robinson who became a prospering merchant in the local community.  Ebeneezer was also immensely popular around Rampart for helping the poor with food, clothes, and other goods when they couldn't make ends meet.  It came as no surprise that he drew the affections of the local army commander's daughter, Catherine.

Thanks to hard work and favorable contacts with His Majesty's armed forces, the Robinson family continued to grow and prosper up until the American Revolution.  The war, particularly the brutal crackdown on civilians by the British in Rampart, threatened to destroy the Robinson family.  Some within the family wanted to head north to the safety of Canada, but the family patriarch, Lucius, kept the family together and began cultivating contacts within the Patriots, already having an inkling which way the war would end.

Hiram Robinson
After the war, Lucius and his family helped rebuild Rampart and made some savvy investments in a shipping company that traded between America and Europe.  As time passed, the family's wealth grew, as did its interests in Rampart.  But it was under Hiram Robinson that the family gained its most influence.  In the style of other tycoons like Carnegie and JP Morgan, Hiram owned not only factories, but also mines, farms, and a railway company.

To fortify his empire, Hiram sought the hand of the much-younger Clarissa Davidson, the daughter of a rival businessman.  It was more a strategic alliance than a marriage, but Clarissa agreed to the marriage, in no small part because her father was secretly in quite a bit of debt.


Clarissa Robinson
The wedding of Hiram and Clarissa was the social event of the year, if not the century.  Newspapers from around the world covered the event.  The guest list was a who's who of early 20th Century America, with even President Taft attending the ceremony.

In later interviews, Clarissa stated that she barely knew Hiram before they were married.  "Only after did I learn to love him."  It was Clarissa who opened Hiram's heart--and his wallet.  Looking out her window at the bleak expanse of the city, Clarissa asked her husband to build a park so that the people could have somewhere to enjoy the natural beauty of the world.

Construction of what came to be known as Robinson Park began soon after.  It was an undertaking rivaling the digging of the Panama Canal, as dozens of acres were cleared and replanted.  In time, though, Clarissa's vision was realized and the people of Rampart City had a grand, green oasis to enjoy.

Sadly by the time Hiram died in 1930 of a heart attack, the Robinsons had not produced any offspring.  It was never determined if Clarissa was infertile or if Hiram were impotent or if it were simply chance.  Some gossip suggested the real cause was that Hiram had little interest in lovemaking, something backed by the nature of their marriage.

Whatever the cause, Clarissa was the last of the Robinson family in Rampart City.  For her part she continued her charitable endeavors, donating much of her estate's wealth to help the city's impoverished citizens.  She also donated heavily to cultural institutions like the symphony, opera, and the Plaine Museum.  Not limiting herself solely to the city, Clarissa also reached out to help the poor and displaced in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  She earned the nickname "Lady Robinson" for her generosity as well as her grace and style, which were an inspiration to generations of women in Rampart City.

As the years went by, though, Clarissa Robinson was seen with less frequency around Rampart City.  Her last public appearance was at the dedication ceremony for Robinson Tower, which had been named in her honor for her contributions to the city.  Six months later, Clarissa Robinson finally died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 84.  Befitting her style, her estate was divided among local charities and the Robinson family mansion converted into a boarding school for underprivileged youth.

From their humble beginnings, the Robinson family achieved a greatness and lasting legacy like few others.  For that reason, they still remain the first family of Rampart.

S is for Sylvia Joubert:  A Restless Soul

5 comments:

  1. President Taft again. He gets mentioned more than Lincoln in fiction nowadays.

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  2. I think you should use the word "Dynasty" instead of "Family". This kind of "Family" reminds me of the DuPonts or the Vanderbilts or the Kennedy's. These kinds of powerful families usually have a strong political connection too. I think rather than have President Taft "attend" an event it should be that someone in the past "was" a president or at least a presidential candidate. In the least, there should be members who are senators or congressman or judges. And when you say factories...what kind of factories? I think you should go with oil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could do that except this is mostly one of those BS posts. In the story the only mention of any of this is Emma goes to get a dress from Mrs. Chiostro, who gives her one of Clarissa Robinson's that she made back in the '30s or something, because Mrs. C is a witch and lived for 512 years, and it's mentioned how Clarissa was a big style trendsetter back in her day.

      Delete
  3. You are creating a very convincing world in which to place your characters.

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