Esther Caroline Robertson and Allen Willis Mezick

(1880 – 1962) and (1879 – 1944), respectively

Esther Caroline, born on 25 May 1880 in Wicomico County, Maryland, was our grandfather, Carlton’s sister. Their parents were James W. T. Robertson and Caroline Lawson Catlin Robertson. Caroline died 30 August 1880, at 29 years, – 3 months after giving birth to Esther – so it’s safe to say Esther never really knew her Mom.

James WT married again in December of 1883, slightly more than 3 years later. His third wife, Mary Priscilla, and he had 5 children – so there was quite a crowd for Carlton and Esther to grow up with.

Esther appears first in the 1900 Census. She is 20 years old and still living at home with JWT, Mary Priscilla, and 8 kids.

Esther marries Allen Willis Mezick, whose parents were Thomas Mezick and Annie Matthews. There is some uncertainty about when exactly they got married. One source says 1900. The 1910 Census says they had been married for 4 years, which – by my math, makes their marriage year 1906. Allen is listed as a farmer in all the Census data we have, but his obituary adds “Timberman” as well to his occupation.

They have two sons, Allen Kendall Mezick (called Kendall) and Thomas Harris Mezick (called Harris). By the time of the 1920 Census, the family is complete – Allen is 40, Esther 39, Kendall is 12 and Harris is 9. They are all living in the Tyaskin District of Wicomico County, Maryland and Allen is a farmer with a mortgage!

By the 1930 Census, Kendall seems to have left home, but Harris is still around through the 1940 census, at which time he is 28 years old.

Esther Caroline is the Aunt Esther we heard so much about. She must have been a figure in my Dad’s childhood, and around to help out once Mattie, his mother died.

Esther’s husband, Allen W., died on 12 October 1944, at the age of 65. His obituary says he had been sick for 2 months. The obituary also mentions Esther (Mrs. Esther Robison), and Kendall – who is living in Chester, PA, and T. J. Harris, who is living in Mardela, MD. Funeral services are at “the home in Tyaskin” so I think it is safe to say Allen and Esther were still living in Maryland in 1944.

Esther lives for 18 years as a widow, presumably still in Maryland. She passes away, however, at the age of 81 at the home of her son, Kendall, whom she was visiting at the time of her death, 7 February 1962.

The obituary also mentions Harris – still living in Mardela – and 4 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Both Allen and Esther are buried at the Robertson Family Cemetery in Clara.

Carlton and Mattie – Part 2

Carlton Edward Robertson (1878-1945) ~ Mattie White Hughes (1883-1934)

About Mattie

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

1900 Census

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.

1910 Census

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 Memoriam
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.

The Hughes family, circa 1896

Lots of time on our hands these days, so I’ve been going through more old photos. This came from a box from Cousin Jill.

It shows the Hughes family — Charles Venables and Mary Amelia Rider Fletcher, our great-grandparents, and 5 of their 6 children, about 1896 or 1897. Looks like it was published in a newspaper and someone cut it out and mounted it on cardboard. Someone, bless them, has labeled it on the back.

Mattie, our father’s mother, would have been about 14 here. She is on the far right holding the cat. She was the oldest of the family. Aunt Elsie was the youngest and was born in 1898. She is not in the picture which helps us to date it. Uncle Charlie was born in 1895 and he looks to be about 1-ish here.

This picture is colorized using the My Heritage colorization function. The process doesn’t affect the original, which is heavily sepia-toned.

The Hughes family at their farmhouse, about 1896 The Hughese, left to right: Claude Venables, Charles Venables, Verner Vane, Lillian Gale, Charles Fletcher, Mary Amelia Fletcher, Mattie White

Carlton and Mattie

Carlton Edward Robertson (1878-1945) ~ Mattie White Hughes (1883-1934)

About Carlton

We never knew either of our paternal grandparents. Our grandmother, Mattie White Hughes, died in 1934 at age 51. Our grandfather, Carlton came from a long line of farmers and folks who worked with their hands. And even though they are just two generations back, aside from official documents we have been able to locate (census, marriage license, draft registration, etc.) we know very little of a personal nature about either of them.

Carlton Through Census Documents

1880 Census

Carlton E. is first mentioned in the 1880 census as the next-to-the-youngest member of the James W. T. Robertson household (see James Washington Thomas Robertson). The 1880 census also lists Caroline Robertson as 1/12 years old, which I take to mean 1 month. The child’s name was actually Esther Caroline, but our southern family had a habit of calling people by their second name, so maybe that was the case here. We knew her as Aunt Esther. These were the only two children that James W. T. Robertson and Caroline Lawson Catlin would have together.

In 1880 James W. T. was still married to Caroline (listed as Caroline L.) but she would die that same year, 3 months after the birth of Esther Caroline.

1890 Census

Most of the records for the 1890 U.S. Census were destroyed by fire.

1900 Census

The 1900 census has James W. and the whole family listed as Robinson. (This spelling alteration continues to be the bane of our existence.)

Carlton is here, age 21, and his sister is listed as Esther C., age 20. At this point, James is married to his third wife, Mary Priscilla (Robertson) his first cousin. At the time of the 1900 census, James is 50 years old; Mary is 35.

Marriage and Children

Carlton and Mattie married on the day after Christmas, December 26, 1906. Carlton was 28 years old; Mattie was 23. Below is their official Marriage License. It may have been signed by Ernest Toadvine, which was a relatively common name in the area. At any rate – that’s what it looks like.

carlton-mattie-marriage-lic-2

We also have the Trinity Church Marriage Register (official church record) that lists Carlton E. Robertson of White Haven, MD and Mattie W. Hughes of Rockawalking, MD, married on December 26, 1906 in the home of the bride’s parents in Rockawalking, with a “few friends” as witnesses.

Carlton was a farmer, so we presume Mattie went to live on the farm and became a farmer’s wife. They had their first child, Helen Pauline, on 20 March 1909.

They had two more children together: James Edward (our Dad) on 18 July 1918 and Elsie Carolyn on 14 February 1923. In typical Southern manner, Helen Pauline went by her middle name, Pauline  (although she was always Aunt “C” to us and wedon’t know why); Elsie Carolyn was called Carolyn; my dad was always Edward.

The Census Resumed

The rest of the census information we have for them both is fairly straightforward:
1910 – Carlton and Mattie are married, with daughter Helen P. Carlton’s trade is always listed as “farmer” and the nature of his business is “general farming.”

1920 – Carlton E. and Martha W. are listed, along with Helen P., 10-11 years old, and James E. at 1 1/2 or 2 – can’t quite read it.

1930 – Carlton and Maddie [sic] are listed. Edward is their 11 1/2 year old son; Carolyn is there now at 7 1/2 years old. Helen Pauline seems to have disappeared – which is curious, because she did not get married until 1938. She would have been 21 years old in 1930.

Mattie died on 8 May 1934. Dad was only 16 years old; Carolyn was 11. Carlton never remarried, so as we understand it, a whole host of aunts stepped in to help raise the children.

We think of grandfather Robertson as an upstanding southern Christian gentleman. We heard that there was never alcohol in the house, they being serious Methodists. According to our father’s memories, Carlton would till the fields singing In the Garden – a fine old Methodist hymn, swinging his scythe to the beat of

And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
And he tells me I am his own.”

Ta (everyone’s nickname for Carolyn) told a slightly different story – her memory included the same action but a different song – “O’ if I had the wings of an angel, Over these prison walls I would fly. Tra-dee-all, tra-dee-all, tra-dee-all…..”  Either way, he sounds like a hard-working, farmer and devoted father.

We still have a bright red whatnot shelf Dad made in high school. He said he milled the wooden planks with his father (Carlton) because they were extra wide and had to be specially cut. The realization dawned that our Dad’s childhood really was right out of The Waltons.

Miscellaneous Life Events

Carlton registered for the draft prior to both world wars.

Details from World War I registration

  • 12 Sept 1918 – he was 40 years old
  • Registration was with the Local Board for the County of Wicomico – State of Maryland
  • He is described as of medium height, slender build, grey eyes and brown hair. He is a self-employed farmer, and Mattie is listed as his nearest relative.

Details from World War II registration

  • 27 April 1942 – Carlton was 62
  • Registration was with the Local Board No. 1, Baltimore County
  • He is described here are 5’8” tall, 151 pounds, brown eyes and grey hair. He is of light complexion. His place of residence is Route 2, Salisbury MD.
  • He was born in Clara, MD on 9 July 1879. (They got it wrong – he was born in 1878.)
  • The “person who will always know your address” is listed as Glen Messick, the husband of his half-sister, Dad’s Aunt Ruby. By this time, Mattie was deceased.

Saying Good-bye

Carlton died on 16 April 1945, from a heart attack. His obituary says he died at home, “on the Quantico Road.”

[picture of newspaper obituary?]

I love that it says he was survived by “a son, Lieut (jg) Edward Robertson, somewhere in the Pacific.”

Funeral services, as with his marriage, were held in his home and officiated over by 2 (I am assuming, Methodist) clergy – Rev. Frank Brockley and Rev. James Cloyer. Our Mom and Dad had been married for just 16 months when Carlton passed away. The story is that Madeline – home while Dad was away serving his country in World War II  – traveled to Salisbury all alone to meet Dad’s family (for the first time?) and attend funeral services.

Carlton Edward Robertson, our grandfather, was buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery next to his wife, Mattie.

See also Carlton and Mattie, Part 2

Culling Through Old Photos.

White-Smith-Fields Cemetery

From Paul J. Willing Wicomico Cemeteries Project

Located on the west side of Sharps Point Rd., just south of Riverside Dr., NW of Fruitland in the Trappe District. A couple of the markers have fallen over, but this graveyard is in pretty good shape. Thanks to Joyce Fields Crouch and Rosalie Fields for their help in completing this listing!

http://www.mdgenweb.org/wicomico/wcp/whitesmf.htm

We found this one using Google satellite view. It’s a little collection of graves by the side of the road in Fruitland. In general, this gravesite is not in bad condition, but the stones themselves are very hard to read.

I’ve since learned that some species of lichen might be protected so you have to be careful what you remove.

Henry and Sallie were our 3x-great grandparents.

Henry WHITE b. Dec. 20, 1807 initiated a member of Newton Lodge I.O.O.F. Feb. 28, 1849 d. Feb. 24, 1850

Sally WHITE, wife of Capt. Henry White, b. Sep. 25, 1804 d. Jul. 13, 1864

Rockawalkin United Methodist Church

(corner of Rockawalkin Road and Crooked Oak Lane)

On the way out the next day we drove by and had to stop at the Rockawalkin United Methodist Church, our dad’s childhood and young adult place of worship.

This was mostly a memory trip. The church’s function hall, above center, is where Uncle Verner Hughes had his 80th birthday party that we all attended in 1970, I think.

Culling Through Old Photos

Maybe it’s Swedish Death Cleaning or we might just be clearing out a lot of the dross.

Sister Mattie took another box of pictures from the attic, and one of the surprises we came upon was this picture. We think it might be our grandfather, Carlton Edward Robertson. This deduction is because it was with another picture, formatted exactly the same — with a green mat and a simple oval border and a type ornament top and bottom — of a woman we recognize as our grandmother.

mattie-and-carlton-cropped

So we’re thinking this is some kind of wedding photo. Of course, neither is labelled.

I have never seen a picture of Carlton, dad’s father. I have no idea what he looked like. So this is an exciting discovery, if it really is him.