Stevens, Mr. (Robert Smith), 1824-1893

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Born in Attica, Wyoming County, N.Y. Admitted to the bar in 1846. Moved to the Kansas Territory in 1856, where he became a banker and railroad magnate. Returned to Attica in the 1880s; elected as a Democrat to the 48th Congress (1883-1885).

From the description of R. S. Stevens letter : Attica, to Guy H. Salisbury, Buffalo, 1862 Dec. 15. (Buffalo History Museum). WorldCat record id: 181085058

Lawyer, Indian land agent, railroad construction overseer. Of Lecompton, Lawrence, Kan.; Sedalia, Mo.

Robert Wadleigh Smith Stevens was born in Attica, N.Y., on Mar. 27, 1824. He was the only son of Judge Alden Sprague and Achsa (Smith) Stevens. Alden Stevens did not follow family tradition by becoming a yeoman farmer. He was the first in his family to acquire a college education and became a teacher, an attorney and a judge. Alden was an advocate for modernization in education and was interested in the development of railroads which was a novel idea for his time. Robert Stevens was influenced and shaped by these ideas. Robert attended common (public) school in Attica. Family financial strains caused his formal education to end at 17 but he continued to study on his own and became a certified public school teacher in 1844. He read law with the Wyoming County district attorney and was admitted to the bar in 1846. Stevens also worked a number of other jobs; clerk at an auction house, post office, and was a partner in a mercantile venture. In 1850 Robert had his first experience with railroad promotion with the construction of the Tonawanda Valley Railroad. This was a short line railroad but the experience was of value later when he began overseeing the construction of what became the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad twenty years later. By 1852, Robert was a successful man of affairs and married Mary Proctor Smith in October. She was a second cousin on his mother's side and came from a well to do lumbering and land owning family. Mary was from Manchester, Mass. They only had one surviving child, Charles Frederick, born in 1856. Stevens was a staunch Democrat in a predominantly Republican area and gained stature in his party by campaigning, at the local level, for James Buchanan as president. During this time he also met Wilson Shannon, a former territorial governor of Kansas. Shannon convinced Stevens he should move to the Kansas Territory so they could practice law together. Stevens went to the Kansas Territory in 1856.

From the description of Papers, 1856-1875. (Kansas State Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 53311543

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Stevens, Mr. (Robert Smith), 1824-1893. R. S. Stevens letter : Attica, to Guy H. Salisbury, Buffalo, 1862 Dec. 15. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Stevens family. Stevens family papers [electronic resource], 1805-1899. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Stevens, Mr. (Robert Smith), 1824-1893. Papers, 1856-1875. Kansas State Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Buffalo Historical Society (N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Denison, George, 1822-1876. person
associatedWith Kansas. Legislature. Senate. corporateBody
associatedWith Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Missouri Pacific Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Parsons, Levi, 1822-1887. person
associatedWith Quantrill, William Clarke, 1837-1865. person
associatedWith Salisbury, Guy H. (Guy Hyde), 1811-1868. person
associatedWith Stevens family. family
associatedWith Stevens, Robert W. S. (Robert Wadleigh Smith), 1824-1893. person
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Sac and Fox Agency (Kan. and Okla.) corporateBody
associatedWith Vanderventer, Peter. person
associatedWith Wright, Amzi, 1781-1873. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sedalia (Mo.)
Parsons (Kan.)
Lecompton (Kan.)
Middle West
Lawrence (Kan.)
Denison (Tex.)
Indians of North America
Indian land transfers
American letters--History--19th century
Indians of North America--Government relations
Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence, Kan., 1863
Fox Indians
Sauk Indians


Birth 1824-03-27

Death 1893-02-23



Ark ID: w6n59bnh

SNAC ID: 25618497