Henry Martyn Robert was an engineering officer in the regular Army. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. To bring order out of chaos he decided to write Robert's Rules of Order as it came to be called.He believed these basic rules, which still hold true today....
Abide by the will of the majorityHowever, most people don't realize there is a Dayton connection to Mr. Roberts...
Listen to the minority.
Consider one thing at a time.
Give everyone a chance to talk.
Born in Robertville, S.C., Henry M. Robert and James Robert were sons of the Rev. Joseph T. Robert, a Baptist minister. Mr. Robert did not approve of slavery and before the Civil War became inevitable he had moved his family to Dayton where he accepted a college teaching post.
James Robert followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a tutor at the elegant girls’ school, Vassar. Henry M. Robert entered West Point at the age of 16, destined to become a general in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
James Robert returned to Dayton at the request of local educators and wealthy parents, to head the Cooper Female Seminary, which was located on W. First St., on the present site of Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Board of Education building.
A plan by E. R. Stillwell to broaden the levee from Monument Ave. to First St. interested him, but he believed that more valuable real estate would be created by dredging the river basin and filling the land to the pasture that then served as a gypsy camp ground. The plan for his development had the plat extending from First St. to Fourth St. and from the Third St. bridge to the Dayton View bridge.
Robert sought technical advice from his brother, Henry, then a colonel in the engineers, who agreed to help. The two brothers became so taken with the project that Henry was to make frequent trips to Dayton as the various phases were completed.
On one such trip, he met the accomplished Helen Thresher, daughter of early settler Ebenezer Thresher, owner of the Thresher Paint Co. The young couple’s romance culminated in a Christmas Eve wedding in 1860. Thus, Henry M. Robert married into a Dayton family and Dayton history.
Thanks to DaytonHistoryBooks.com, we now know that it is quite possible the famous Mr. Roberts spent some time here in St. Anne's Hill. Please join us for our next monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 7 pm in the Liederkranz building, and see his rules in action.