Feb 1, 2006

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Miller Robinson

Robinson Family -
front of shop ca 1902

ca 1890 - Shrivers Bend,
now the site of Oxbow

Mt. Baldhead scene

Mt. Baldhead scene


How many professional photographers plied their trade in Saugatuck in the early years? Herman Simonson was absolutely king of the hill starting about 1910 but what of the fifty years previous? Old portraits of locals are fairly common but most were probably not taken locally. Photographs of the area prior to 1885 are rare. Notable and early examples are Singapore 1869, the lighthouse about 1870 and the 1874 panorama from Baldhead (which is spread across the top of this page). These photographer’s identities have faded into the fog of time. There are traces from Commercial Record advertising and from embossed portraits but there appears to have been few if any established full-time professionals.

One part-time photographer was Miller Robinson, grandfather of Peggy Webster Boyce. Miller was born in Maine in 1860 and came here in the 1880s. We are fortunate to have details of his life and a sampling of his known photos. He was a sort of “jack of all trades” being a jeweler, watchmaker, telegraph operator, shopkeeper and photographer. In 1894 he opened a shop on the village green corner with Butler St. His great granddaughter Cathy Boyce Brockington described the shop as: “… two businesses in the same store, a jewelry store and a watch repair shop… later he added postcards and souvenirs of Saugatuck and homemade candy to his inventory. In 1895 he opened the Robinson Gallery and added a photography business to the building.” He was an active photographer for at least 10 years.

There are a number of Robinson portraits and local scenes – all very well done - which I would attribute to him.

And of course, there are those in your attic - no doubt, more of his work we have yet to rediscover.        by Jack Sheridan

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