In 1881, Bat Masterson fought his last gunfight. The famous fight at the OK Corral happened in October. Clara Barton founded the Red Cross. Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show On Earth debuted in New York's Madison Square Garden.

In 1881, Bat Masterson fought his last gunfight.  The famous fight at the OK Corral happened in October. Clara Barton founded the Red Cross. Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show On Earth debuted in New York's Madison Square Garden.  
In the small town of Neosho, tucked away in the Ozark hills, most of the town centered around the square and the hills above it. And, in Neosho, Hugh Robinson was born on May 13, 1881.
Hugh Robinson must have been known as a boy willing to try almost anything. He built the first motorcycle in Neosho and rode it for a week.  With speeds up to 60 miles an hour, amazing and almost unthinkable at the time, local folks were making bets how long the motorcycle would last or if Hugh would be killed first.  Within the first week he totaled it and survived although it's said it took his doctor a day to pick out all the pieces of gravel.  
The spill failed to daunt the young daredevil. His next stunt mimicked a circus act  he'd seen where a performer rode a bicycle down some stairs. Hugh thought he could do better so he managed to fix his battered motorcycle and took off down a long flight of stairs. Rumor says it may have been the stairs that descend from High Street to Big Spring Park.  Midway down, he hit a landing that he had failed to calculate for and shot twenty feet into the air, then dropped twenty more feet to the ground.  Stories say it took two days for the doctors to patch him up after that fiasco.
Hugh Robinson had the first automobile license in Newton County.  Since horses still far outnumbered motor vehicles, he built his - and Neosho's - first automobile using a buckboard with a gasoline engine attached.  
Since the concept was still new and unfamiliar, there were many nicknames for early motor vehicles - steam buggies, horseless carriages, motor cars, and red devils. Neosho residents swore Robinson's first automobile was the reddest and most devilish of all.  
Despite avid interest and Robinson's hard work, the car met “a swift and powerful end.” This time, legend says it took all of the doctors in Newton County to tend Robinson's injuries.
After that, he left town, bound for bigger and brighter horizons.  Robinson was next sighted at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis driving a motor taxi.  Robinson created a motorcycle daredevil act he called the Circle of Death and at some point, he turned his attention upward to the sky.
Robinson holds many records.  He's the third person to fly after the Wright Brothers  He devised both the tactic and the term "dive bomb".  He invested the tail hook.  Robinson made the first medical flight and made the first air mail flight in 1911.  He was involved in the first air rescue at sea.  Robinson went down in history as the first person to complete a 360 degree vertical loop in an airplane and also made the first right turn, a maneuver that at one time was thought would tear the airplane apart.  And he made the very first successful parachute jump.
Robinson enjoyed a long and successful career in aviation. He worked with Tom Benoit to design, build, and fly Benoit flying boats, the first commercial aircraft in the world. Later, Robinson was a pilot and chief engineer at Curtiss Aviation in California.
Robinson died two months before his 81st birthday, on March 23, 1963 in Maryland.
During his long, often dangerous life, Robinson survived at least fifteen major crashes.
His aviation legacy and memory lives on in his hometown today. In 1999, United States Congressman Roy Blunt made a tribute to Robinson that was recorded n the Congressional Record. The same year, the local airport, long known as the Neosho Municipal Airport, was changed and dedicated as the Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport to honor the Neosho native who helped pioneer the field of aviation.
Thus, his legacy remains in Neosho and the memory of his daredevil antics will live forever in local history.