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RG3092.AM:  Robertson Family

Papers:  1856-1920

Omaha, Douglas County and La Platte, Sarpy County, Neb.:  Journalist; politician; soldier

Size:  1 reel of microfilm and 1 folder


Several references to John B. and Theodore H. Robertson appear in Andreas’ History of the State of Nebraska and in territorial newspapers. Andreas notes that John B. Robertson served as a judge of election in Burt County in 1854, was elected to the Territorial Legislature in 1854, was appointed Quartermaster of the First Regiment of the Nebraska Militia in 1855, and was named agent to the Omaha in 1856. His son, Theodore H. Robertson, resident of Sarpy County, was an employee of the 3rd Territorial Council. He also served in the 11th Territorial and the 1st State Legislatures and was chairman of the Democratic State Convention in 1870. He was elected city printer for Omaha in 1857 owned The Nebraskian, an Omaha newspaper, from 1857-1859. Among his political enemies, reflected in his journalistic endeavors, were Republican John M. Thayer and fellow Democrat J. Sterling Morton.

Dean L. Robertson was the grandson of Theodore H. Robertson, and the great-grandson of John B. Robertson. A native of La Platte, Nebraska, and a graduate of Omaha’s South Side High School, Dean Robertson enlisted with the U.S. Marines on January 23, 1918. As a private in Company 79, 6th Regiment, Robertson saw action at Chateau Thierry; Aisne-Marne, Soissons; Marbache; St. Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne (Champagne); and with the army of occupation. He served overseas from May 7, 1917 to July 16, 1919.


This collection consists of a microfilm reel and one unfilmed folder of documents arranged in three series: 1) Diaries, 1861; 1918-1919; 2) Correspondence, 1856-1919; and 3) Reminiscence, 1920. The material relates to the Robertson family’s involvement in the Colorado gold rush, politics in territorial Nebraska, and World War I.

The Diaries of Series 1, all on microfilm, include those of Theodore H. Robertson for 1861, including notations about a trip he made to the Colorado gold fields, and Dean L. Robertson’s World War I diaries. Prior to his June trip to Colorado, Theodore notes weather conditions, newspaper work, and events leading up to his February 11th marriage to Harriet A. Hogaboom. Entries during his June trip to Denver include the number of miles traveled each day, road and weather conditions, and when and where he camped. In Colorado Robertson set up a lumber mill on the Platte River near Denver and record of his work there and his accounting notes are included. Due to problems with light contrast on the microfilm, some of the entries are illegible.

The diaries of Dean L. Robertson provide detailed information about his experiences as a marine during World War I. Tracing his service from induction through discharge, these volumes describe his role as a soldier involved in many of the key battles in France during the war and as a member of the army of occupation immediately after the war ended. As with Theodore’s diary, portions of the microfilm are difficult to read.

Series 2 consists of the Correspondence, 1856-1919. The letters from 1856-1866 (unfilmed) were written to J.B. Robertson and to his son, Theodore. The letters discuss an appropriation for a capitol building in Nebraska, a potential appointment for J.B. Robertson as agent to the Omaha, and territorial politics. In one letter, J.B. Robertson cautions his son to be careful in his writings for The Nebraskian. The Dean L. Robertson correspondence, 1918-1919, describes his service in the U.S. Marines during World War I. Coupled with the diaries described above, Robertson’s letters, on microfilm, provide a detailed account of his military experiences.

The Reminiscence of Series 3, on microfilm, was written by Dean L. Robertson, probably in 1920. Using the above-described diaries and letters as source material, Robertson reviews his military career in this seventeen-page typed memoir.


Series 1 – Diaries, 1861; 1918-1919

Reel 1

Theodore H. Robertson diary, 1861

Dean L. Robertson diary, 1918, Jan.-June

Dean L. Robertson diary, 1918, June – 1919, Mar.

Series 2 – Correspondence, 1856-1919

Correspondence, 1856-1866 (unfilmed – see folder)

Correspondence, 1918

Correspondence, 1919

Series 3 – Reminiscence, ca. 1920

Reminiscence of Dean L. Robertson, ca. 1920



Douglas County (Neb.) — History

Gold rushes — Colorado

Journalists — Nebraska

Omaha (Neb.) — History

Politics and government — Nebraska

Robertson family

Robertson, Dean Lercy, 1894-

Robertson, John B.

Robertson, Theodore H., 1828-

World War, 1914-1919 — Personal narratives


AIF   12-12-1979

Revised kfk   03-28-2003

Encoded TMM   08-02-2011