Ivyhurst, located on the corner of Greene and Washington streets in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, was the home of Robinson Franklin Downey [1849-1923] and his wife, Ella Jean "Jennie" (Wilson) (Lindsey) Downey [1860-1934], who were united in marriage 6 February 1902 in Waynesburg. They never had children of their own, but Jennie had one daughter, Claire, from her first marriage, who lived with them at Ivyhurst. Due to Claire's early death in 1916, the Downeys had no direct heirs and so chose to leave Ivyhurst to their mutual alma mater, Waynesburg College. The school used Ivyhurst to house its music department until the 1960s when it was sold to make way for a gas station. In 1992, Ivyhurst's historic lot became home to Community Bank.

Robinson Franklin Downey

Robinson Franklin Downey was one of seven children born to Robinson West Downey and Catharine M. Inghram. Tragically, several siblings died during childhood, an elder brother John was killed in the Civil War, and an elder sister Emma died in childbirth. Only one sister, Kate, and one brother, Frank, survived to advanced years, but like Robinson neither had children and so the family line ended with their passing.

Robinson entered Waynesburg College in the early 60's and graduated valedictorian of the Class of 1867. In the stern days during and immediately following the Civil War it was most difficult for him to secure sufficient funds for his education and he was fond of telling how he went barefoot to college in order to maintain himself. After graduation he studied law in the office of his father and was admitted to the bar 19 December 1870, at the age of twenty-one years. For a number of years Robinson was one of Waynesburg's most active lawyers and was considered one of the most able, painstaking and conscientious attorneys practicing in the local courts. He was recognized as one of the greatest criminal lawyers in the state of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his practice before the bar he was the founder of the Citizens National Bank of Waynesburg. Later he organized the Union Deposit & Trust Company, was elected its first president in September 1901, and continued to fill that position until 16 June 1920 when he resigned on account of ill health. He was also long a member of the Waynesburg School Board and in 1885, was elected a member of the Board of Trust for Waynesburg College.

He spent several years in Washington, D. C., where he was very popular. During his last illness, First Lady Grace Coolidge sent him beautiful flowers from the White House. His political connections also earned a visit to Ivyhurst in earlier years from former President William Howard Taft and his wife, Helen, William Jennings Bryan, and numerous others as they campaigned or traveled.

Ella Jean “Jennie” (Wilson) (Lindsey) Downey

Ella Jean “Jennie” (Wilson) (Lindsey) Downey was a daughter of Andrew Wilson and Mary Bane. She graduated from Waynesburg College in 1879 and continued her studies at Berlin University in Germany and the Sorbonne University in France. She became a highly accomplished linguist and taught French and German at Waynesburg from 1900 to 1902.

Jennie’s first marriage to John Lindsey ended in divorce, but produced her only child. Her daughter, who became Mrs. Claire (Lindsey) Reisinger, graduated from Waynesburg College in the Class of 1916, but a week before the graduation ceremony the young woman was tragically killed when a streetcar struck the vehicle in which she was a passenger.

Socially elite, Jennie filled her agenda with activity. She was national vice-president of the Children of the American Revolution and a member of the Pen Women's League, the Chevy-Chase Club, and the Pennsylvania Society of Washington, D. C. She was organizing regent of the John Corbly Chapter D. A. R., and a member of the Library Club, and the Woman's Club of Waynesburg. She and Robinson were both members of the First Presbyterian Church of Waynesburg.

The Downeys often consulted with each other concerning philanthropy to Waynesburg College. Before their marriage Robinson had planned to leave his estate to the College and had made a Will to that effect. It was agreed between husband and wife that the survivor should carry out his wishes. In her closing years, therefore, Jennie planned to leave the major portion of her estate to her beloved alma mater. Had she not suffered the exigencies of the Depression her bequest would easily have amounted to approximately $75,000. The residue of her estate, including Ivyhurst with its spacious grounds, became the property of the school. Hundreds of acres of coal lands were also left to its endowment fund, as were several lots in Pittsburgh and a large number of valuable items of personal property.

Claire (Lindsey) Reisinger

Claire (Lindsey) Reisinger was the daughter of Ella Jean "Jennie" (Wilson) (Lindsey) Downey and her first husband, John Lindsey. However, following Jennie's marriage to Robinson Franklin Downey in 1902, Claire was treated and identified as his daughter. She lived with the Downeys at Ivyhurst until her marriage and returned there as an adult when her husband became ill.

She attended the Waynesburg schools and when twelve years of age spent a year in Europe with her mother, where she attended schools in France and Germany and was able to converse fluently in both French and German. Upon returning home she entered Waynesburg College, where she was a student for some time. Just before her marriage she again spent some months in travel through Europe in company with the Downeys. Claire possessed a bright and happy disposition which endeared her to all her friends and acquaintances. She was a member of the Presbyterian church and a teacher in the Sunday school and was active in all church work. She was held in most high esteem. She was united in marriage with Dr. Emory W. Reisinger, a prominent physician of Washington D.C. on 10 June 1911, and had resided there until the Fall of 1915, when on account of the illness of her husband who had to be admitted to a sanitarium, she came back to Waynesburg. She then re-entered Waynesburg College to complete her degree and was a member of the senior class of 1916. Just a week before the graduation ceremony, Claire was killed in an automobile accident when a streetcar struck the vehicle in which she was a passenger. The members of the senior class and college students attended her funeral as a body. She had no children of her own, but she did leave behind a young step-daughter, Natalie Reisinger, who had resided at Ivyhurst with her during Emory's illness.


Downey tombstones, Green Mount Cemetery, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

Greene County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Docket 9: 268, Downey-Lindsey, 1902; County Clerk's Office, Courthouse, Waynesburg.

Waynesburg College Bulletin, February 1930 issue, pages 1-2, columns 1-2.

Waynesburg College Bulletin, January 1937 issue, pages 1-2, columns 1-2.

Waynesburg Republican, 8 June 1916, page 1, columns 2 and 5-6.

Waynesburg Republican, 27 December 1923, page 1, columns 2-3.