One of North Dakota’s early legislators was Harve Robinson. Harve came to Sentinel Butte in the spring of 1891 after attending Purdue University of Indiana. For ten years he was a cowpuncher along the badlands of North Dakota’s western edge.
He was mainly with the Three Sevens outfit owned by the Berry-Boice cattle company in Billings County. He was known far and wide out west, which led to his election as Billings County treasurer in 1900. He served one term.
Robinson eventually started a cattle operation of his own, growing it into the one of the biggest in his neck of the woods. After his term as county treasurer, he took a position with Interstate Bank of Billings County and soon became its president. Five years later, he established Stockman’s State Bank of Medora. He also organized a handful of other banks in eastern Montana.
He was married twice, and had three children with his first wife, Jennie, who died shortly after giving birth in 1908.
Robinson was a popular man, and he handily won a seat in the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1910. He served one two-year term. Robinson also served as treasurer for the Republican State Central Committee, and was elected one of Sentinel Butte’s first trustees when the village incorporated in 1913. Local legend tells of Robinson the “banker rancher” winning another rancher’s outfit, horses and “everything he owned in the world except his family” while shooting craps, though later on, Robinson loaned the man twenty dollars that he allegedly turned into fifty thousand.
Harve Robinson was born on this date in 1867 in Indiana, and died in 1962 in Dickinson.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
North Dakota Department of Health Public Death Index
North Dakota Department of State. (1911). Legislative manual. Tribune, State Printers and Binders: Bismarck, ND.
Gilbreath, W.C. (1910). North Dakota Magazine: Year Book 1909. North Dakota Department of Agriculture: Bismarck, ND.
Johnston, H.V. (1942). My home on the range: Frontier ranching in the badlands. Webb Publishing: Minnesota.
North Dakota Centennial Blue Book, 1989. Legislative Authority: Bismarck, ND.