submitted by Lynn McCleary, January 5, 2008


Alden Burrill Robbins born in Salem, Mass., February 18, 1837. Went to school of Master Gerrish in Salem. Moved with his father’s family to New York City about 1829. Attended the Greenwich academy in that city at the age of twelve years, then attended the English and Classical school of Putman and Ames in Brooklyn, N.Y. Was one year in the academy in Goshen, Litchfield, Ct. Returning to Salem he prepared to enter Harvard University, but went to Amherst in 1835.

He united with the Congregational church of Bolton, Mass., Sept. 7, 1834. He graduated at Amherst in 1839 and that summer was tutor in Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Mass., and was principal of the academy in Pawtucket, Mass., in the years 1839 and 1840. Entered Andover Seminary in the fall of 1840, spending the middle year at Union Seminary, New York City, and returning graduating in 1843.

He was licensed to preach by the Andover Association and was ordained by council, Sept. 20, 1843, in the Tabernacle church at Salem, Mass.

He was a member of the “Iowa Band” of twelve ministers formed at Andover Theological Seminary in 1843. He reached Iowa in that fall, leaving Salem, Mass., via Albany and Utica by canal to “Oswego, then to Niagara Falls by boat from Buffalo thence to Chicago by steamer; thence via Princeton to Stephenson, now Rock Island, Ills,; thence to Burlington and to Bloomington, now Muscatine, arriving here Nov. 7, 1843.

He helped to organize the First Congregational church in November 1843, of 28 members, only one of who, Mrs. M.J. Fimple, now survives. He was pastor of the church until November 1891, forty-eight years, when he resigned and was made pastor emeritus.

Doctor Robbins was married twice. His first wife was Miss Eliza C. Hough, of Canterbury, Conn. They were married Sep. 27, 1843. She died of cholera in this city July 16th, 1850. She was the mother of three children, Dana H., Horace H. and Mrs. Anna H. DeForest. The last two are still living. On Sept. 20th, 1851, at Monmouth, Ills., Dr. Robbins and Miss Mary Sewall Arnold were married. Six children were born to them, of whom but two survive. Mrs. Esther H. White and John Alden. The latter lives in our city. Mrs. DeForest resides in New Haven, Conn., Horace H. at Grinnell and Mrs. White is with her husband, Re. George E. White, a missionary in Marsovan, Turkey.

Mrs. Mary S. Robbins died in this city June 22, 1894.

Dr. Robbins had a busy life. Besides his church and its local and State associations, in which he was deeply interested, he was made in 1867 a corporate member of A.B. C. Foreign Missions, and rarely missed its annual meetings.

In 1869 Amherst college conferred upon him the title of Doctor of Divinity.

Iowa College at Grinnell was an institution, which lay close to this heart. There he held the position of trustee and was for many years president of the board. He was also for many years a director of the Chicago Theological Seminary.

The funeral of Dr. Robbins will take place Wednesday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, in the Congregational church. – Dec. 27, 1896 (hand written).

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