George W. Robson, the "Echo Man," was proprietor, editor, and printer of the Frontier Echo (Jacksboro, Texas, 1875–78), the Fort Griffin Echo (1879–82), and the Albany Echo (1883–84). He was born on July 30, 1837, in Farmington, New York, and spent his childhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was mustered into the Union Army on May 25, 1861, at Peoria, Illinois, saw service as a commissioned officer from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Lake Providence, Louisiana, and participated in an extended march to Savannah, Georgia. He was mustered out on July 16, 1864, his health ruined as a result of fever, which left him with a damaged nervous system, a chronic rheumatic condition, and partial deafness. On June 1, 1864, Robson married Julia M. Stone in Peoria; they had two children. The marriage ended in divorce, leaving Robson embittered, as the acerbity with which he treated marriage in his newspapers attests.
In 1871 he took part, with C. H. Stone, in establishing the town of Caldwell, Kansas. The call of the open road was too strong, however, and Robson wandered south over the Butterfield Overland Mail routes. He settled in 1875 in Jacksboro, Texas, where he purchased the Frontier Echo from his Yankee friend C. H. McConnell. In 1879 Robson moved his press to Fort Griffin and in 1883 to Albany. He never feared to express his opinions, played the iconoclast, never retracted a statement, and earned a reputation for being a man of integrity. He was for a time the historian of frontier Texas. Further, he was a close associate of James C. Loving and worked to organize the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Robson was one of the earliest editors to use woodcuts of cows and horses, on which he imposed the brands of cattlemen who wished to advertise for the return of strays-a device that became very popular.
Still, the Echo Man was forced to withdraw from journalism. No doubt his health, including an alcohol problem, was a major factor, and he was a Yankee. Edgar Rye, of Kentucky origin and Confederate persuasion, gave him too much competition with his rival paper, the Albany Star. The Echo merged with the Star in 1884. After a stint at storekeeping in Graham, Robson returned to Caldwell, where he was hailed as "first citizen." Hardly an issue of the Caldwell paper was printed without some mention of the "little captain" (Robson was 5'3" tall). He made the Cherokee Strip run for land on September 16, 1893, and moved to Medford, Oklahoma, where for a time he sold real estate. From then on, he divided his time between Medford and Caldwell until age diminished him mentally. Friends took him to the soldiers' home at Leavenworth, Kansas, where he died on December 13, 1918.
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William Curry Holden, "Frontier Journalism in West Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 32 (January 1929). Ernestine P. Sewell, "The Real `Anabasis' of Captain Robson," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 48 (1972). Eddie Weems, "Notes on Frontier Editors and Newspapers," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (October 1956).
Publishers and Executives
Ranching and Cowboys
Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Ernestine P. Sewell,
“Robson, George W.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 1, 1995