Carlton Edward Robertson (1878-1945) ~ Mattie White Hughes (1883-1934)
Mattie White Hughes is our grandmother, and I was named for her. (Her actual name may have been Martha, but it seems she was always called “Mattie” and my true name is Mattie – not short for anything.)
Mattie was the eldest child of Charles Venables Hughes (1859-1930) and Mary Amelia Rider Fletcher (see The Hughes family, circa 1896). Mattie was born on 27 April 1883 in Maryland.
. Mattie’s brothers – our Uncles Verner, Charlie and Claude were active in shipping, transport, and produce in Salisbury. We remember all three of them and their wives – Aunt Mary, Polly, and Eva.
The census data has a story to tell
Mary W. Hughes (Mattie’s mother) is listed as the head of the Hughes household, with an occupation as farmer, age 39. Her husband, listed as such, Charles V., is 40 years old and listed as a “sailor.” Mattie W. appears as the 18-year-old daughter and the eldest; Claude (13), Verner (9), Lillian (7), Charles (5) and Elsie (2) are also listed as sons and daughters. Mary and Charles and the six children would constitute the completed Hughes family.
Charles V. has become the head of household and is listed, at age 57, as a Captain of “bay vessels.” He is self-employed. Mary has gone back to being listed as a wife with no trade. Charles and Mary’s older sons, Claude V. (23) and Verner V. (19) are listed as farmers, doing general farming work.
Here’s the story we like to tell ourselves:
In 1900 Charles was a sailor on various bay-going sailing vessels and often out on said vessels earning his living on the Chesapeake. Mary, who was home, had to take charge and run the farm. We are assuming the children helped a bit – but the oldest was only 13 – so help from that quarter was limited.
By 1910 Charles had risen to the rank of Captain – perhaps of his own bay vessel? – and was perhaps not out at sea as much as his younger counterpart. Mary has “retired” from farming to be a wife, and her two older sons are in charge of the farm – or at the least the work of farming. I tend to think Mary did not simply bow out and leave the running of the farm to the boys. Her birth and death dates have her living until the ripe old age of 90 – and if those dates are true, she strikes me as a strong, persevering kind of woman and no softy.
By 1910 of course, Mattie, our grandmother, had been married for 4 years, with a 1 year old baby to care for.
We know even less about Mattie than we do about Carleton – with no real family stories to help us get to know her better. She died when she was 51, in 1934. Her son, our father, was 16 at the time. Our aunts, Pauline and Carolyn, were 25 and 11 respectively. From what we have gleaned from family stories and lore, several of the aunts – daughters of JWT Robertson’s first and second wives – must have helped out with the kids. We heard stories about Aunt Ruby, Aunt Rachel and Aunt Dula, among others, who were around and must have helped Grandfather Carleton with raising the young ones.
Carleton was 56 at the time of her death, and never remarried.
Update: It is very hard to find anything personal and meaningful about women during this time period. They are so very often, only a footnote or parenthesis. So we were thrilled to find the following poem – written by “A Friend” – in tribute to our grandmother.
In memory of Mattie Hughes Robertson, wife of Carlton Robertson, who passed away May 10th at her home in Rockawalking, MD.
We knew her first a school girl bright,
In days gone by when hearts were light,
Here cheerful face no shadow knew,
Her loving smile was ever true.
The years passed quickly then away,
A lovely bride she was one day,
A home she made for loved ones true,
And many friends oft came there too.
Two daughters fair, and a bright boy,
Were added to that home of joy,
A loving mother she became,
In word and deed as well as name.
When need and trouble to others came,
Her helping hand was e’er the same.
The world a better place was made,
By all she did and sought to aid.
Her home although her joy and pride,
She ne’er forgot her church betide,
And many years amid the throng,
We heard her voice in praise and song.
The roses bloom, the roses fade,
Within the garden she loved and made,
But friends some day we’ll meet above
Where all is life and all is Love.
Mattie is buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery and Carleton is there next to her.