One of Mesa’s four “founding fathers,” Charles Innes Robson, was born February 20, 1837, in England. He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was 14. Three years later, without any family members accompanying him, Charles traveled to America with other English converts.
In Utah, he was foreman of a huge papermill in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House district—the first west of the Mississippi.
In his early 20s, Charles married Sarah Ann Curtis (“Sally Ann”), a widow with two young sons. They had two more children, Charles Innes II and Mary Elizabeth.
Because he honored his priesthood and was financially able, he received permission to enter into plural marriage, taking as his second wife Francelle Eugenia Pomeroy.
Together, they had four children—Isabelle, Francis, Irene and Lucretia.
For many years, Robson was the Utah Territorial Penitentiary warden. In 1870, a riot broke out, a gun snatched from a guard’s hands discharged, and a bullet entered Charles’ lung. He was never strong after being shot and suffered with heart trouble aggravated by this injury.
Yet he let nothing interfere with his faithful execution of church and family responsibilities. Robson served as a ward clerk, bishopric counselor and bishop in Sugar House Ward, and then he readily accepted the call to help settle Arizona’s Salt River Valley. He took his oldest son and Francelle and their four children with him. Francelle’s father, another of the Mesa founders, Francis Martin Pomeroy, was also in this company.
Having started in Paris, Idaho, September 14, 1877, the company made camp above Camp Verde in late December. The leaders—Pomeroy, Robson, Charles Crismon and George Sirrine—went ahead to find a place to settle near Mesa.
Robson homesteaded near today’s Robson and 2nd Avenue. Their home was one of the finest in Mesa, one of the first to have a sink and bathtub and to have water piped in.
He became president of Mesa’s first co-op store, was Mesa’s first recorder and introduced a meat market in town.
On December 10, 1882, Robson was called as a counselor in the new Maricopa Stake presidency. Four years later, he was called as Stake President and served eight years.
His oldest son, Charles Innes Robson II, was stricken with typhoid fever and passed away in 1880, at 17 years old.
Robson was kicked by a horse in 1894 and his jaw was fractured in two places. Unable to take in sufficient nourishment, Robson died February 24, 1894, at age 57.
Two years later, his remaining son, Francis Pomeroy Robson (“Frank”), was ambushed and slain while hunting outlaws. Frank had married Florence Amelia Babbitt and their son, Charles Innes Robson III, was two when Frank died.
Robson’s wives both died within a few years of him and both were laid to rest in Mesa.
Today, dozens of descendants of Charles Innes Robson—including Robsons, Barneys, Waltons, Neagles, Deckers and Hatches—live in the area.
“We have a great history and closeness as a family,” says Loretta Robson Pace, great-great-granddaughter. “We have been taught to stay together, to be loyal to each other.”