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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ROBISON, FRANK DE HAAS

ROBISON, FRANK DE HAAS

ROBISON, FRANK DE HAAS (1852-25 Sept. 1908), pioneer in street railway lines and owner of the CLEVELAND SPIDERS, was born in Pittsburg, the son of Martin Stanford and Mariah Allison Robison. After spending his boyhood in Dubuque, Iowa, he attended Delaware University briefly. In 1877, Robison and his father-in-law Charles Hathaway organized Hathaway & Robison to build and operate street railway systems. Located at 611 Superior St. in Cleveland, the company established street railway systems throughout the United States and Canada. Robison personally organized the Cleveland City Cable Railway Company in 1889 and built 24 miles of cable lines on Payne and Superior Avenues. In 1893, he merged with MARCUS A. HANNA's Woodland Avenue and West Side Street Railway to form the Cleveland City Railway Company. In the transaction, Robison lost his railway stock, control of the system, and $1 million when broker John Shipherd fraudulently sold the stock to Hanna and kept the proceeds. In a court settlement Robison acquired a substantial interest in the new Railway Company.

Robison organized the Cleveland Forest Citys (see FOREST CITY BASEBALL CLUB) in 1887, affiliated with the American Association, and renamed his club the Cleveland Spiders in 1889 when he entered the National League. Two years later Robison built LEAGUE PARK on his Payne Ave. cable line at E. 66th St. and Lexington Ave. to increase ridership and baseball attendance. The Spiders were successful until 1898, when Robison, angered by poor attendance, transferred its best players to the St. Louis team he had just purchased. He sold the Cleveland team to Charles Somers and John Kilfoyle in 1900.

Robison married Sarah P. Hathaway of Philadelphia in 1875, and they had a daughter, Mrs. Schuyler P. Britton. He died at his BRATENAHL home and was buried at LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.