Robert Massey was born October 19, 1858, to Benjamin and Maria (Wither) Massey. Not much is known of the history of his early life. He was strongly identified with Bentonville business interests. For many years he was a dry goods salesman but accumulated a sufficient fortune to justify making heavy investments. In addition to investments in St. Louis, he held interest in the Strode-Long Mercantile Company of Bentonville. He was the vice president and stock holder of the Benton County Bank. A. O. Clark, the architect of this city, was closely allied with Mr. Massey in business affairs and designed several buildings for him.
Mr. Massey is most known for the building of the Massey Hotel. When it was completed, it was to be one of the best appointed hostelries in this part of the state. The hotel took the place of the old Eagle Hotel that had been located on that property. Work on the Massey Hotel started in May of 1909. with a projected cost of $40,000 when complete. The building measured 60’ X 165' and was built with 40 guest rooms and featured hot and cold water, electricity and steam heating. Many of the rooms had their own private bathrooms, a luxury at that time.
Mr. Massey didn’t see the completion of the hotel. He met with a tragic death November 7, 1909, in a runaway horse accident near the Tourist Hotel north of town. He was thrown from a buggy against a tree with such force that his skull was crushed and he was dead when picked up. The accident was a peculiar one. Mr. Massey had recently purchased a horse which had been accustomed to being driven in a team. Together with a driver he took the horse and buggy out to familiarize the animal with a single rig. While driving along a wooded stretch of road near the hotel, or sanitarium as it was known, the horse became restless and the driver had the greatest difficulty in managing it. Finally the beast became uncontrollable and bolted, the driver being thrown out. Before Mr. Massey could recover the reins, the vehicle struck a tree and threw the Mr. Massey against another tree with terrific force with fatal results. Almost all the businesses in town were closed for his funeral which was attended by hundreds of people.
The Massey Hotel was completed after his death and opened its doors June 28, 1910. The building to this day is still called the Massey building in memory of its former owner. Mr. Massey was never married. He is buried in Maple Park Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri.