Hugh Robinson About 1911, Photo Courtesy Bob Baltzell


Joplin Daily Globe, Sunday, May 28, 1911


A New Machine With Which Ward
Hopes to Break Altitude Records
-- Robinson's Lucky "13."

Hugh Robinson, a Neosho boy, and Jimmie Ward, the youngest and most spectacular aviator in the world, will display their aerial prowess this afternoon in the first program of the three days' meet at Electric park.

The aviators and their machines arrived in Joplin yesterday afternoon.  Besides the regular machines, a brand new Curtiss biplane of the latest model reached here yesterday direct from the Curtiss factory at Hammondsport, N. Y., and in this craft Ward expects to go after the altitude record if he finds conditions suitable.

Robinson's Monoplane.

Particular interest attaches to the performance because of Robinson, who is almost as well known in Joplin as in his home town, Neosho.  From his earliest years, Robinson displayed exceptional mechanical ability.  He is credited with having built the first automobile and taken out the first automobile license that was ever issued in Newton county.  Moreover, Robinson also has the distinction of having built the first monoplane ever constructed in America.  However, fortune frowned upon his monoplane endeavors.  Undertaking a flight in the teeth of a gale, the monoplane was reduced to splinters before it had scarcely left the earth.

Later Robinson became connected witht he Curtiss forces, with which he has been associated several years, having served the usual apprenticeship before being officially commissioned to fly.

Why He Chose "13."

It was at the San Francisco meet last January that Robinson first participated on a regular aviation program.  That meet was distinguished by Ely's flight and successful landing on the deck of a battleship.  But next to Ely's performance the feat of young Robinson in capturing prizes in record-breaking time was one of the stellar features of the occasion.

In just thirteen minutes Robinson captured prizes to the value of $1,313.13.  And from that day to the present Robinson has adopted the usually fateful number "13" as his lucky star.

A huge "13" is emblazoned on his biplane, and Robinson declares it his talisman.


Jimmy Ward About 1911, Photo Courtesy Bob Baltzell


The photographs are from postcards owned by Bob Baltzell.  Neither was mailed, but the Ward card was addressed with a message dated June 15, 1911.  Also note the number "13" on the radiator behind Robinson, which he added after January 1911 according to the article.  It is possible these photographs were taken at the Joplin meet in May, 1911

Joplin Daily Globe, Wednesday, May 31, 1911

Noted Aviator Was Neosho's Star En-
tertainer and Now the Town is
Proud of Him.

Hugh Robinson, the Neosho boy who has electrified the crowd at Electric park the last three days with his daring feats in an aeroplane, was given a great reception by his home town when the Missouri and North Arkansas train, which was bearing him and his party to Little Rock, pulled into the Neosho station.  It was another "Conquest of Canaan."  In the party besides Mr. Robinson were his wife and his two children, his aged mother and Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Ward.  The crowd demanded a speech and Robinson attempted to make good, but his speech could hardly be considered a classic in point of fluency.  However, the crowd didn't expect much of a speech.  As one old Neosho citizen said, "Hugh never did talk very much, but he always performed right smart."

According to Lee Bell, local representative of the Missouri & North Arkansas who went as far as Neosho with the party last night, Robinson had an amazing and bewildering career as a cheerful youth in Neosho.

"Hugh made the first motorcycle that ever shrieked its blinding way into Neosho," said Mr. Bell yesterday afternoon.  "After riding it through town for a week at the rate of 60 miles an hour the machine concluded to balk.  It balked suddenly.  It took Hugh and the doctor a day to pick the gravel out of Hugh.

"His next effort was to surpass the performance of a circus star who rode down a flight of steps on a bicycle.  Hugh restored his dilapidated motorcycle to running condition and notified several of his boy friends when the event would take place.  The boys were there and Hugh was there.  For the first 30 steps the performance was perfect, but Hugh overlooked the fact that the steps were broken by a landing.  When he reached the landing he and the motorcycle abruptly severed connections.  He shot straight into the air for 20 feet and then dropped like a plummer for 20 feet more, and this time it took Hugh and two doctors two days to remove the gravel from him.

"Then Hugh turned his attention to the construction of an automobile.  It was a wonder.  In that day automobiles were called 'red devils' and Hugh's creation was the reddest and most devilish that had ever been beheld in the city of springs and hills.  It was built on the plan of a buckboard, with the engine behind.  It didn't enjoy a long life, that automobile.  It never arrived at a green old age.  But it went some while it was going.  Every mule in Neosho township developed nervous prostration during Hugh's mad gasoline career, and erstwhile gentle, placid cows developed hysterics.  Mild and well-behaved ducks became flighty and eccentric, while the population of Neosho was divided into two fierce factions, one faction contending that Hugh wouldn't be killed for a week, and the other insisting that he couldn't possibly survive the day.  There came a swift and fearful end to that automobile, and Hugh and all the doctors in the county confederated in the task of displacing the gravel and splinters.

"Well, after the automobile experience Hugh disappeared and the next Neosho heard of him he was driving a taxi at the world's fair.  Again he disappeared, only to be heard from as touring Europe.  Back home he came and rumor had it he was building an airship.  It didn't fly very high, but everybody knew that if anybody could build a machine that would fly Hugh either would be that man or would be found among the flyers.

"He has arrived at last.  All his Neosho friends are glad and proud of his success."

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