Our Elusive Great-great-Grandmother

Leah Wainwright Robertson (1825-187?)

She’s always been just off the charts, this mother of my grandfather’s father. She isn’t buried in our Robertson cemetery, and we’ve wondered why. The Robertson Cemetery came into being in 1876 on the death of Esther Robertson, James Washington R’s first wife. We assume Leah had passed away before that and was buried in another family’s plot.

It looks like she died sometime after 1870. She is listed in the 1870 census, 45 years old, keeping house — transcribed as Robinson, a scourge of all our lives, that surname mix-up.

There are a few anomalies in the records but we are trying to explain them. The 1880 census for Tyaskin district lists a Leah in the household of her husband, George Henry Robertson, but Leah, my GG-Gmother has to have been dead by then. Her spouse George Henry Robertson married a second time and somehow this second wife, Ellen Larmore, is listed in that census as Leah. I believe this because the children of this second marriage — Elmer, Norah, and Vernon — are listed in the 1880 census, and they were specified in GHR’s will as the children of his (second) wife Ellen Larmore.

So we are trying to find when Leah died and where she is buried. I look at the people around her — what’s the phrase . . . . ?

A History of the Wainwright and Cannon Families

This document turned up on Ancestry. The source is listed as the Newberry Library in Chicago. I’ve searched the Newberry Library website but can’t find any mention of it. Not surprising that is isn’t digitized and/or indexed, because it must be a pretty obscure publication. It does show up in WorldCat and LC and a few others.

It’s dated 1935, updated 1942, by someone named Emerson Roberts who might have been a distant relative. Mr. Roberts’s stated purpose in compiling the information was to trace the lineage of one Mary Wainwright Roberts who, if my calculations are correct, is a sister of Leah.


Source Information

Ancestry.com. Wainwright and related families [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: Roberts, Emerson B.. Wainwright and related families. Wilkinsburg, Pa.: unknown, 1942. https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=26034


It was online as a collection of JPG files, each page a separate image. I downloaded them all — 64 or so pages, and output them as a PDF using Adobe Bridge. I don’t assume this document is reliable. There are a few sources listed throughout and the ones I can find online check out, so far. The author recounts the family history and characterises the moral tenor of the people involved.

The Wainwrights have been marked for their seriousness of purpose and demeanor, their depth of conviction and sense of personal responsibility.

(Not sure if this means they’re all party poopers.) But he says things like “the aforesaid” and “she made it her duty and her Christian pleasure . . .” So it’s totally charming.

According to Mr. Roberts, GG-Grandmother Leah (b. 1825) is the daughter of Joshua W~ and Mary (Polly) Street. This agrees with some of the information I had. I’m looking for confirmation of this parent-child relationship. Census records from before 1840 don’t list all the household members, so it’s unclear who the offspring are. I’m at a bit of an impasse on this point.

Other people are presenting some feasibility problems. So that’s what I’m working on now.




2 thoughts on “Our Elusive Great-great-Grandmother

  1. Pingback: George Washington Henry Robertson (1822-1897) | Perfect Day

  2. Pingback: Update on Leah Wainwright | Perfect Day

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