Dula Gardner Robertson and Carter Denson

(1883 – 1955) and (1878 – 1934), respectively

We knew her as Aunt Dula, although I don’t think we ever met her. She was our Dad’s aunt (our great aunt) and we think she was one of the women who helped raise our father when Dad’s mom, Mattie, passed away.

Dula Gardner Robertson was born on 27 November 1883 in Wicomico County, MD. She was the first child of James W.T. Robertson and Mary Priscilla (JWT’s third wife), but when she was born she already had four half-sisters and one half-brother (Carlton, our grandfather).

We have a copy of the Trinity Church Baptismal Register where both Dula and her sister, Ruby Pauline, born in 1885, are listed. There is no date on the page to indicate when this page of the Register was filled out — apparently they were both baptized at the same time.

Our first glimpse of Dula in the Census was not until she was 18 years old. (She just missed the 1880 Census, and there are no records from the 1890 Census.) At this time she is living with her large family — James W.T. and Mary Priscilla had five kids! (By the way, the 1900 census lists the family as Robinson.)

In the Baltimore County Census for 1900, Carter Denson, Dula’s future husband, at 22 years old, was living on his own (listed as a “boarder”). His trade is listed as “commission agent.” This appears to be some kind of salesman or agent entrusted with the selling of other people’s goods, thus earning him a commission.

The only date we have for Dula and Carter’s marriage is a year — 1904. Dula was 21 years old; Carter was 26. Update: Marriage records on the Maryland State Archive website shows their marriage date as 5 Oct. 1904 at the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.

The 1910 Census, taken on 15 April 1910, finds them in the Tangier District of Somerset County. The census lists Carter, Dula, and their first daughter, Allie Maxine, born in 1905 and 6 at the time of the census. Carter’s trade is in “stone” and he is a “General Merchant.” In 1918, Carter filled out a draft registration card, which has them living in Hebron in Somerset County.

The 1920 Census holds a bit of a mystery. Their location is Middletown, MD in Frederick County, north of Baltimore, and certainly not anywhere on the Eastern Shore or near Baltimore. The family has grown to include Nellie — 6 at this time, and Carter is not listed with any occupation at all. By 1923, however, it seems everyone has moved to Baltimore. The Denson family appears in the 1923 Baltimore City Directory at 108 East 32nd Street North, and Carter is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Baltimore Concrete Products Company. Dula is there, in parenthesis. (Woman’s lot, I guess.)

Carter T. (the only time a middle initial appears, I think) and Dula (in parenthesis) are in the Baltimore City Directory for 1926 as well. At the same address on 32nd (street?), and he is still an official with the Baltimore Concrete Products Company.

The 1930 Census once again lists the whole family – Carter, Dula, Allie, and Nellie. The census was taken in Baltimore, and lists Carter, still, as the Proprietor of a Concrete Block Factory.

Carter’s obituary appears in the Baltimore Evening Sun on 5 Dec. 1934. Dula attests in the probate document that he died on 4 December 1934. Carter’s will leaves everything to Dula and appoints her as Execturix as well. He was 56 years old.

Dula is listed as his widow in the 1937 Baltimore City Directory, still at the same 32nd (street?) address. Her oldest daughter, Allie Maxine, marries Arthur Betts sometime in the 1930s; Nellie D. married Howard Shehorn in 1935. Nellie and Howard had one child, also born in 1935.

The 1940 Census is yet another mystery. Taken in Baltimore, it lists Dula as widowed and her two daughters, Allie and Nellie, as single and living in the same house.

The 1950 Census has not been released yet – so the next information we have on Dula is her death, on 9 August 1955. She was 72 years old – and evidently, she moved back home to the Eastern Shore, as she died in Wicomico County.

Dula and Carter are buried side by side in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

Dula and Carter's graves at the Robertson Cemetery
Dula and Carter’s graves at the Robertson Cemetery

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