About Belle Petticrew Robert
Belle Petticrew Robert
Belle was married to William Smith Robert. It must have been after 1867 when her family moved from Xenia Ohio (near Dayton) to St. Louis. Her father, Algernon Sidney Petticrew had probably come to St. Louis to open a branch of a large steam machinery business, Owens, Lane and Dyer that specialized in steam sawmills. Robert, a wealthy man, bought this business in 1882 with Belle's brother-in-law, Moses Perry Johnson, as a junior partner. When Robert died in 1886 Perry Johnson bought Robert's share of the business from Belle.
Belle died in 1900. Widowed early, she adopted and brought up her brother, Charles's son, Willie, after Charles died. She was buried in the Robert family plot at Montauk Point at the far eastern end of Long Islands. The Robert had been given land in that area by King George III before the Revolution. This same family started the first overseas American College. It was located in Constantinople, (Istanbul) and is still operating -- Robert College
History of Robert College
"The present Robert College is the consolidation of two renowned schools – the old male Robert College and The American College for Girls.
The first school, the old Robert College, was born in 1863 in the village of Bebek by the Bosphorus, when Christopher Robert approached Cyrus Hamlin with his desires and found a receptive audience. Hamlin, an American schoolmaster, had been running a school, a bakery and a laundry in Bebek at the time. Robert was a wealthy American industrialist desiring to establish in Turkey a modern university along American lines with instruction in English. These two men, an educator and a philanthropist, successfully collaborated to found Robert College.
In 1864, the Board of Regents of the State of New York granted a charter to Robert College enabling it to confer the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Also, in 1864, a Board of Trustees was formed with Robert as its first Chairman. It is this very same Board of Trustees which has continued governing and supporting the school since then. Robert’s initial personal contribution of $30.000 has since been augmented by the generosity of countless individuals.
Five years later, another kind of charter was secured, an imperial decree, an ‘’irade’’, from the Sultan. It confirmed the right of the college to operate as an educational institution and gave it permission to build a proper campus on the heights of Rumelihisar by the Bosphorus. Hamlin immediately set to work on the new campus. His first building is a good example of the innovative aspect of the college spirit. Citing Hamlin Hall as the first example of truly modern use of steel girders, the historian Arnold Toynbee noted, ‘’…it was built by an imaginative amateur on the shores of the Bosphorus, (and) not until the following century did the seeds sown by Hamlin begin to bear fruit in North America and in Western Europe.’’
What Hamlin and Robert planted indeed flourished. Under the subsequent leadership of George Washburn (1877-1903) and Caleb Gates (1903-1932) the college grew in size and scope through the help of benefactors such as John S. Kennedy, Olivia Stokes and members of the Dodge and Huntington families. By the early 20th century, Robert College had become a leading institution in the Middle East."