Farming and family have been Bill Robinson’s life.
His 80 acres northwest of Florence have been in his family since his grandfather was a young man.
Over the years, the farm has seen many changes.
In 1904, grandfather R.W. Robinson, whose original 380 acres included a cemetery still in use today, built the stately 10-room, two-story house that now is Bill’s home.
It has seen no additions, just enclosure of what once was a porch.
After R.W.’s death in 1950, the land was divided among his children.
“My grandfather had nine kids, and his brother had 13,” Robinson said.
If Bill has one regret, it’s that he’d like to have more land.
“I’ve always rented a lot of grassland,” he said.
All three generations to live on the land have raised cattle.
His grandfather and father, Art Robinson, kept dairy cattle.
“They milked the cows, and we delivered it,” Bill said.
Milk was sold in Florence, Marion, and around the area.
The land still is home to cattle, but Bill now raises beef cattle for market.
He used to have a larger herd and raise wheat as well. Now he raises just 60 head, mainly because, at age 81, he’s not ready to give up his life’s work.
The fields were more barren when R.W. settled the land. Cattle had little shade.
“This place didn’t used to have any trees, and my father said to never cut down any trees,” Bill said. “He preached that.”
Now the farm has lush shade.
Bill has lived on the farm for all but nine years, when he moved away while his first wife, Beverly, was in college. After she began a career as a teacher, the couple lived at Cedar Point and he rented a farm.
“When I got married and left here, that was the end of the milk cows,” he said.
Beverly taught home economics and business at Cedar Point until the couple moved to the farm in 1964.
He didn’t want his dad climbing onto a tractor and driving it. He tried running the tractor out of fuel and leaving it in the pasture, but Art would simply go get fuel and set about driving again.
Whether any of Bill’s three children will return to the farm when he’s done, he does not know.
Son Mark Robinson works at Carlsons’ Grocery, as does his sister, Linda Carlson. Cheryl Doty, the other sister, works as a church secretary in Emporia.
A nephew, Ed Robinson, Jr., retired from military, has told Bill the land will remain in the family if none of them chooses to live there.