Samuel S. Robinson Papers: 1852-1888
Summary Information
Title: Samuel S. Robinson Papers
Creator: Robinson, Samuel S. (Samuel Stillman), 1824-1904
Inclusive dates: 1852-1888
Extent: 1 linear foot (8 volumes and 3 folders)
Mine manager in the American west and northern Michigan. Letterpress books containing business correspondence detailing his work with the Quincy Copper Mine in Hancock, Michigan, as superintendent of the Detroit Bridge and Iron Works, and in Georgetown, New Mexico, and Twin River, Nevada; also include miscellaneous letters, and partial calendar to the letterpress books.
Call number: 85373 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff, 1976

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Charles Lee (donor no. 5864) and came to the library in 1976. The diary was received in 2014 from Robin B. McLeod (donor no. 11187).

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Samuel S. Robinson Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


S. S. Robinson, a descendant of early New England colonists, was born in 1824 in New Hampshire, where as a young man he worked as a school teacher, stone mason, and bridge builder. Moving to the Upper Peninsula about 1850 [1853], he made himself a mining expert through study and experience. His first charge was the Sharon and Derby mine in present Gogebic County. From 1860 to 1865 he was manager of the Quincy mine near Hancock. He later operated silver mines in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Robinson's mining career was interspersed with periods of bridge building. As superintendent of the Detroit Bridge and Iron Works in the early 1870's, he constructed railroad bridges at St. Joseph, Missouri, Huntington, Indiana, Chicago, and elsewhere in the Middle West. He died on his farm at Pontiac in 1904.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists primarily of letterpress books recording copies of outgoing correspondence. There is a partial calendar to some of the letters compiled by a descendant, Arney Robinson Childs in 1964 and a diary written in 1852-1853 while living in New England, with the last entry noting his departure for Michigan.

Many of the letters reflect the operations of his business enterprises and related matters--land speculation, dealing in mining stocks, the difficulties of procuring labor and supplies, shipping on the lakes, the almost insurmountable hardships of overland transportation into new country. But, since many of the letters are personal ones, they record much about the manners and customs of the day: in New England, where Robinson kept in touch with his childhood acquaintances; in the frontier west, described vividly in letters sent back east; and in Michigan, which remained home base for him and his family until his death on his farm at Pontiac in 1904.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Bridges.
  • Copper mines and mining -- West (U.S.)
  • Copper mines and mining -- Michigan -- Upper Peninsula.
  • Hancock (Mich.)
  • Upper Peninsula (Mich.)
  • Nevada.
  • New Mexico.
  • Detroit Bridge and Iron Works.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Letterpress books [series]
Box   1  
June 4, 1862-January 4, 1864 (300 pages)

(Book A. Partial calendar, Quincy Mine, Hancock, Michigan; Powder journey and mail contract correspondence)

September 15, 1863-June 1866 (837 pages)

(original volume rebound into three parts)

(Quincy Mine and other topics; Mail contract-correspondence and reports)

Box   1  
Part 1 September 15, 1863-December 31, 1864

(Pages 1-302)

Box   1  
Part 2 January 4, 1865-December 29, 1865

(Pages 303-661)

Box   1  
Part 3 January 1, 1866-June 1866

(Pages 662-837)

Box   1  
January 1868-August 1868 (243 pages)

(Twin River, Nevada)

Box   1  
August 1871-1877 (291 pages)

(St. Joseph, Missouri-Detroit, Michigan; Some wayside correspondence from various points; Visit to Father Norton during his last illness, January 1875)

Box   1  
June 1876-June 1878, December 8, 1888

(243 pages)

(Book B. Partial calendar. Hayes election; Kansas City; Detroit Bridge & Iron Works; Frank's trip to Texas in 1877)

Box   1  
September 25, 1881-January 9, 1883 (292 pages)

(Georgetown, New Mexico; family and social correspondence; some accounts of the murder of John Risque and John Stawson by Apaches; also April 22 or 23 letter to Hon. H.M. Teller, Secretary Interior, May 19, p109)

Related papers [series]
Box   1  
Diary 1852-1853
Box   1  
Partial calendar to the letterpress books
Box   1  
Miscellaneous correspondence 1858-1865