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Tribute to the Charles William Robinson American Legion Post 218
By Shirley A. Satterfield
It was 1920 in Princeton, New Jersey, when a small, framed house was built on Lytle Street and given the address number 26. In the Princeton Municipality records, it lists the ownership as an early resident of Princeton. Like many houses in what is today known as the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, this house became a community establishment: a Negro men’s club known as the “Elite Social Club.” In 1966 this building was acquired to serve as the Charles W. Robinson American Legion Post 218.
Undated photo of Charles William Robinson American Legion Post 218
The Princeton Veterans who served in the First and Second World Wars, Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War joined on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month to discuss and plan services, events, community activities, and concerns related to men who had served in the wars. Many of the members formed a drum and bugle corps that performed annually in Princeton’s Memorial Day Parade. There was also an American Legion Post 218 baseball team, one of many sports teams in the Witherspoon-Jackson community.
Through the years, this historic and cherished building has been in the care of our veterans, Mr. Charles Streater, Mr. Earl Buggs, and Mr. Wallace Holland, who used to march proudly every year in the Memorial Day Parade.
To honor the American Legion mission devoted to mutual helpfulness, this historic building will again serve this community as a remembrance of all Princeton servicemen, as a lasting tribute to Charles W. Robinson, and as a place of learning and service for community veterans and residents.
This photo from the late 1920s or early 1930s shows the Charles William Robinson Post 218 American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps in front of the Witherspoon School for Colored Children on Quarry Street.
Remembering Charles William Robinson
Charles William Robinson was a naval serviceman who is one of 17,453 Gold Star casualties whose home or enlistment state is New Jersey. He was a resident of Princeton, New Jersey, and was a member of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.
He enlisted in the United States Navy and served during World War I as Petty Office Third Class. His military occupation or specialty was Master at Arms Third Class, and he served on the USS Buena Ventura.
During his service, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Robinson was reported Missing in action and ultimately declared dead on September 16, 1918. The circumstances were recorded as “Missing in action or lost at sea.” He is recognized as the first Princetonian to lose his life in World War I.
Even at an early age, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Charles William Robinson knew that he wanted to serve his country!
Charles William Robinson is buried at the Brookwood American Cemetery in Brookwood, England. This burial ground is an American Battle Monuments location. His name is engraved on tablets at this cemetery as a missing soldier.
Navy Petty Officer Third Class Charles William Robinson received the highest commendations: a World War I Victory Medal, a Purple Heart, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal. He served with honor in the United States Navy and is worthy to be remembered by the people of Princeton as well as New Jersey. May his positive example inspire us as global citizens.
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Links to our partner organizations' events pages:
Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church
Historical Society of Princeton
WJHCS Trustees Accomplishments and Honors:
Honoree: Leighton Newlin
Date: January 5, 2022
Elected: Princeton Councilmember
Honoree: Rev. Gregory Smith
Award: Ordination and Installation as Pastor
Date: November 20, 2021
Awarded By: Second Calvary Baptist Church, Hopewell, NJ
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Community Engagement Award
Date: November 17, 2021
Awarded By: Princeton University and Pace Center for Civic Engagement
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Liz Erickson Impact Award
Date: October 28, 2021
Awarded By: NonProfit Connection
Honoree: Bob Hillier, FAIA
Award: Reginald F. Lewis Community Service Award for Excellence in Business
Date: February 12, 2021
Awarded By: First Baptist Church of Princeton
Honoree: Shirley A. Satterfield
Award: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award
Date: January 16, 2021
Awarded By: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
Honoree: Rev. David McAlpin
Award: Recognition Celebration
Date: January 30, 2021
Awarded By: Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church