Winnie Robertson and Rosa Phillips

Winfield J. Robertson

(1865 – 1945)

Winfield J. Robertson was the son of George Henry Robertson (our great uncle) and Martha Larmore. Winfield was born on 5 January 1865, we assume, in Tyaskin, MD, because that is where his Mom and Dad were living at the time.

The 1870 census has George and Martha and 4-year-old Winnie living on the farm with a farm laborer, George Moore, and a domestic servant, Anna Larmore – all in the same household. It’s unclear if the Anna Larmore is a relative of Martha. George is farming; Martha is keeping house.

By the 1880 census, Martha has passed away (1875). George’s second wife, Charlotte (Lottie) Ellen White, is living with the family which now consists of George Henry, Winfield (15) and Walter L. (10). (George and Martha’s third child, Addie White, who was born 25 Nov. 1872, must have died young, because she does not appear in this census.) Edith Addie (1 year) is George and Lottie’s first child, born in 1879. George and Lottie go on to have 8 more children.

Winfield marries Rosa Elizabeth Phillips in 1897, so that in the 1900 census he is the head of household, Rosa is a wife and mother, and Brooks, their firstborn son, is 1 year old. Winfield is listed as a sailor.

Winnie and Rosa (Phillips) Robertson

The census documents that list the Winfield Robertson family consistently identify them as living on Bobtown Road in the Mt. Vernon area of Somerset County. This address puts them near the south bank terminus of the Whitehaven Ferry, just across the Wicomico River from Tyaskin.

1) Robertson Cemetery; 2) Whitehaven Ferry; 3) Bobtown Road

In 1910 and 1920 the family is pretty much stable — Winnie, Rosa, and their three children, Brooks, Emil, and Martha May. In both of these censuses, Winfield is listed as a farmer, but it is interesting that his obituary says he is a shipbuilder and the former owner of the Whitehaven Shipyard.

Whitehaven Shipyard – Building and repairing watercraft had long been a key industry on the Eastern Shore and in Whitehaven specifically. We discovered an online article by the Whitehaven Heritage Association detailing the history of this industry in the area. It seems that as far back as 1879, George H., George W., and James W.T. Robertson purchased the land on which the Whitehaven shipyard stood. By World War I, the Whitehaven Shipbuilding Company was doing a great business building tugboats and barges for the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Mentioned as a 50% owner of the company at this time is Hilton Robinson (aka Robertson – son of George H. and Lottie).

How much time Winnie spent farming, building ships, or being a “waterman” we have not been able to determine. We are thinking that all of these family members – father George W.H., sons George Henry, James W.T., their brothers and sons, sisters and daughters – farmed the land, harvested oysters, built and maintained watercraft, ran a lumber mill, whatever it took to provide for large families in a challenging environment. But still had time to go to church and be involved in the prohibitionist movement.

Winnie, Rosa and Martha May are living together in 1930. Emil has married and both he and Brooks have moved out. (Emil dies in 1932 at age 28 in a trucking accident. He is buried in Pusey Cemetery in Worcester County, Maryland.)

After Rosa passed away, and by 1940, Winnie, 73, has moved in with his brother, Raymond Talmadge Robertson.

Winfield J. died on 11 January 1945 at the age of 80. His obituary appears in the Salisbury Sunday Advertiser, 13 January. It said he died after a short illness.

Rosa Elizabeth Phillips

(1873 – 1936)

As with most women at this time, it is difficult to find information about Rosa, apart from her life as a wife and mother. Rosa is the eldest daughter of William Ross Phillips and Emily Catherine Phillips of Tyaskin, MD. William

In the 1880 census she is 6 years old and living with her family, Mom and Dad (William and Emily) and 3 siblings: A. Harlan (H. Hartley), Minnie, and Erie (Arie Magdalen). They are living in the Tyaskin area of Wicomico County. William is a farmer.

By 1900 she has married Winfield and they have had their first child. She goes on to have 2 more children, and lives until the age of 63. Rosa died 9 July 1936.

The grave of Rosa and Winfield Robertson at the Robertson Cemetery

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