James WT Robertson, our great-grandfather and Esther A., his first wife, had three children – all daughters. Alice T. was the third, born 6 November 1874. Alice’s mother died when she was a year and a half old.
As we have said before, women are harder to research – they seldom get their names in the paper, own property, build wells, or even make wills. And, in general, following a person through census records can sometimes be deadly dull. But in Alice’s case, census records tell an interesting and somewhat sad story.
Alice’s life through the lens of the census
Alice is 6 years old in her census debut. Her dad, James W.T., has married Caroline Catlin (our great-grandmother). Caroline has given birth to Carlton Edward (1878) and Esther Caroline (1880), and Alice’s 2 other sisters, Carrie (10 years) and Eva (8 years) are there as well. The Robertsons at this time are raising five children.
By 1900 things have changed even more. Caroline Catlin has passed away and Mary Priscilla, James’ 3rd wife, is there, along with her five children. Alice (25 years old), Carlton and Esther Caroline are also still at home – and the Robertsons are now a family of eight. Both Carrie and Eva were married by this time, and out of the house.
James’ 3rd wife, Mary Priscilla, has also died and he is living on his own with five grown (or almost grown) children. Alice, at 33 years, is the oldest and still at home.
On 29 April 1912 Alice married Henry Ward Kennerley in Clara, MD. He is the son of William R. Kennerly and Elizabeth Esther Ward. Henry was 40 years old; Alice was 38.
Marriage – a brief census interlude
The Trinity Church register of marriages shows Henry Ward Kennerly of Nanticoke, and Alice T. Robertson of Whitehaven were married “at the Bride’s home” with the bride’s family as witnesses. The officiant was Rev. W. C. Poole. This register confirms that Alice was Henry’s second wife. In one of our resources there is a fragment of a will quoted that says, “To wife, and Hal B. Kennerly (brother) half of estate for my son, Rollison Kennerly to be used for his care, maintenance and education until he is 21 years old.” We have found no other record of a child for Henry.
The 1900 Census shows Henry Kennerley, age 27 of Virginia, living with Mary A., whom we assume is his first wife. She was 24 years old. Henry’s occupation is given as oysterman. By the 1910 Census Henry is a widower and back living with his parents, William and Lizzie. Also present in this household are two brothers, a sister-in-law and a 6 year old child named William K. It is impossible to tell, by this census, who the child belongs to. Henry is listed here as a fisherman, and the census does indicate that he can neither read nor write.
I entitled this section a “brief interlude” because Henry dies less that one year after his marriage to Alice, on 13 April 1913 in Nanticoke, MD. He was 41. Alice and Henry didn’t even get to celebrate their first anniversary.
We can find no record of what happened to Alice immediately after his death, but by the next census we can take up her story again….
Alice has moved to Camden, NJ and is a teacher, living on her own (she is listed as a “lodger” along with 4 other people who are not related). She is a 45-year-old widow.
Alice, at 56, is teaching in public school and still a “lodger.”
Alice is now 65 years old, listed as “head of household” and is living in Philadelphia, PA. She has no occupation listed – so maybe she has retired.
Alice Robertson Kennerly died on 30 September 1941 in Salisbury, MD. Whether she had moved back home after retirement, or she went home because she was ill, we have no way of knowing. She is buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery near her family.
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