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 Hughese, left to right: Claude Venables, Charles Venables, Verner Vane, Lillian Gale, Charles Fletcher, Mary Amelia Fletcher, Mattie White
Carlton Edward Robertson (1878-1945) ~ Mattie White Hughes (1883-1934)
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
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.
Most of the records for the 1890 U.S. Census were destroyed by fire.
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.
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.
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.
Joshua’s will of 1850 is recorded at Princess Anne in Liber S.W.J. #2, folio 247. The administration by his son Jesse is dated September 16, 1850 (S.W.J. #2, folio 247, Princess Anne.)
I finally found a citing of Joshua Wainwright’s will administration. From the Maryland Register of Wills, Somerset County page on Family Search, the correct SWJ #2, page 247. And there it was — an acknowledgement that Joshua Wainwright was, in fact, Leah’s father. He leaves one eighth of his assets to each of his children, including
To his daughter Leah Robertson, wife of George W. Robertson, the one eighth
It doesn’t take much, but for this I did the happy dance!
So the next questions are
When did Leah die?
where was she buried?
And moving back, Is Joshua Wainwright the offspring of Cannon Wainwright (1745-1820)?
George Washington Henry Robertson was born in Maryland on 22 November 1822. His father was Samuel Andrew Robertson, Sr., who was 52 years old at the time of his eighth child’s birth. George’s mother was Emily Nellie Larramore, who was 42 at the time of his birth. Samuel and “Nellie” were married in 1803.
George W. H. Robertson was 20 years old when he married who we think might have been his first wife, Charlotte. A marriage between a George W. Robertson and Charlotte J. White of Somerset County, MD is recorded in the Maryland Compiled Marriages 1655-1850, and dated 3 January 1843. We are assuming Charlotte died rather quickly after the 1843 marriage. They had no children that we know of.
George marries Leah Wainwright on 20 February 1844. George is now 21; Leah is 19. Leah was born in 1825, in Somerset County, and is the daughter of Joshua Wainwright and Mary Street. (See Our Elusive Great-Great-Grandmother.)
George and Leah had 6 children, including our great grandfather, James Washington Thomas Robertson (born 29 November 1849). George and Leah’s children are
George Henry (1845-1896)
William Edward (1848-1860)
James Washington Thomas (1849-1932)
Laura F. (1852-1912)
Charlotte Ellen (1854-1943)
Martha Jane (1860-1920)
Ten years after the birth of George and Leah’s last child, Martha Jane in 1860, Leah must have died. She is listed in the 1870 census, 10 June, but must have died shortly after that. We have not been able to find a record of her death or a gravestone.
George marries a third wife, Ellen Larmore, and their first child, Elmer Harry, is born 29 November 1872, according to Elmer’s 1918 draft registration. George and Ellen’s three children are
Elmer Harry (1872 —)
Nora Ellen (1874-1898)
Vernon Whidley (1879 —)
On 13 March 1895, George wrote a last will and testament, leaving various parcels of land to his younger children and his wife, Ellen. His oldest sons, George Henry and James W. T., received nothing in this will, as George had made “ample provision” for them before this time.
We are thinking that George was an upstanding citizen and a man of his times.
He registered for the Federal draft on August 31, 1863. Maryland was a border state in the Civil War, and we assume George, who was 41 in 1863. would have fought for the Union? As far as we know, he saw no action.
He was active in the leadership of the Prohibition Party of Maryland. The July 4, 1891 issue of the Salisbury Advertiser has him nominated as Clerk of the Circuit Court for that Party.
His name appears on the Tax Rolls for the State of Maryland in 1863 – as a Retail Dealer.
We have several deeds that mention GWH Robertson as buyer and/or seller. We’ll be sharing that information later.
On 13 April 1876, James W. T.’s first wife, Esther A. Robertson, died at the age of 26. It was then that George and James set aside some land on their property for a Robertson Family Cemetery. Esther was the first interee.
George Henry, George’s first son, died on 21 March 1896, and he was also buried in the newly established cemetery. George himself died on 9 Jan 1897, and he is buried beside his oldest son. George Washington Henry was 74 years old at the time of his death.
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!
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
This cemetery is on the northern side of the Tyaskin area, closer to the Nanticoke than the Wicomico River, adjacent to the church.
Our ancestors interred here hail from the Hughes side of our parentage, our father’s mother — our 3x great-grandparents Caleb Hughes and Caleb’s wife Charlotte (Venables), and Caleb’s father Capt. Jesse Hughes.
Turns out the Sarah buried here is Jesse’s second wife (of 3), Sarah Harmonson Waters. His first wife, from whom we are descended, was Sarah McClester, who died in 1800. Her gravesite is unknown, according to Find a Grave.
Update: However, the Wicomico Cemeteries project places Sarah Hughes at the Mcclester – Evans Family Graveyard, which they said was overgrown with ivy, in the 1990s.
Sarah HUGHES, wife of Jesse Hughes, d. Feb. 26, 1800, aged 45 years
IN MEMORY OF
Capt JESSE HUGHES
was born Jan 29 1767
and departed this life Nov 29th 1838
Aged 71 years and 10 months.
Died Jan 3rd, 1869
Aged 82 years
My father here lies underground
The dearest friend I ever found
But through the Lord’s unbounded love
We’ll meet again in realms above.
Died Dec 23, 1868
Whilst in this tomb my mother lies
Her spirit rests above
In realms of bliss it never dies
But knows a Saviour’s love.
Having had a pleasant and productive visit at the St. Mary’s Methodist Church in Tyaskin, we decided to try our luck finding 2 other family cemeteries — neither one associated with an established church.
Off we went in search of
Joshua Wainwright Cemetery
But with little success this time. The area in which we were searching contained swamplands, dense forests, rivers and creeks and farmfields getting ready to be planted (with soy beans or corn, no doubt). We found no cemeteries, no headstones, no reserved plots of any kind. And not being enamored of the idea of wading in the water, so to speak, to search in more depth, we accepted our fate and moved on to the Robertson Cemetery on Clara Road, “our” cemetery.
Part Three: The Robertson Cemetery
We met Robert Randall Buller, caretaker extraordinaire, at the foot of a rather muddy access road, and he took us over to the cemetery in his truck.
This small plot of ground — home to 32 interees — is still a peaceful oasis of natural beauty, surrounded by 53 (or so) acres of soggy farmland.
Shiles Creek abuts the land and much of the area is very moist with poor drainage. The cemetery itself sits atop a small rise that gives one a bit of a view and protects the graves, at least for now, from becoming part of the wet land that surrounds it.
Here lies our grandfather and grandmother – Carlton and Mattie (Hughes) Robertson and many other relatives – great grandfather, great aunts and uncles, cousins once-removed, etc.
Robert Buller’s father is also buried here – they owned the surrounding farmlands from 1962 until around 1977, shortly after Robert Buller Sr. died. Several Mezick’s (neighbors) are also here.
On the western edge of the cemetery are a series of graves marked Evans. They are separate from the rest of the folk in the graveyard, and we have no idea who they are or why they are buried there. Neighbors? Friends? Distant relations? It is a mystery.
After a lovely walk around the cemetery we asked Robert to join us for lunch at the Pemberton Coffeehouse back in Salisbury. Over lunch, Robert gave us some information on his family’s connection with the cemetery and the surrounding farmlands, and told us why he had decided to become caretaker, One Father’s Day he had gone to visit the grave of his father and found the whole cemetery in terrible shape, with vines so thick they even covered some of the tombstones. He decided then and there he would fix it all up — and we are so glad he did.
Robert also gave us a tremendous hint about the Hearn Catlin Cemetery we had failed to find that morning. It seems a friend of his (Hearn by name!) had discovered a small cemetery across from his house (which house had been in his family for many years). It was in the general area that we had been looking for the Hearn-Catlin Cemetery, and we think it must be the one we failed to find. Unfortunately we ran out of time (and energy) to try to visit again but Robert gave us Mr. Hearn’s telephone number and we may try to contact him later. What serendipity.
Surrounded by all these names and places from my father’s childhood, and mine, can’t help but bring back memories.
Breakfasts down “on the farm” with so much food served, lunch was never a thought
Marathon card games (My aunts and uncles played a game called 500 – kind of a cross between Bridge and Canasta)
Song fests around the upright piano
Cutthroat games of croquet on the edge of a 10-foot-high corn field.
Our pilgrimage this morning brought us first to the old Rockawalkin Church (founded in 1839). My dad’s church (we think) and the site of Uncle Verner (we know) 80th birthday party.
The Rockawalkin Church Cookbook is one of our prized possessions, containing recipes (Mary Humphrey’s sweet potato pie and Aunt Mary’s crab cakes) contributed by several great-aunts and cousins.
Our second stop this day was at the graveyard surrounding St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Tyaskin.
This modest churchyard is home to several members of the Hughes Family.
Caleb and Charlotte Hughes, our great great great grandparents. Caleb died in 1869 and Charlotte (Venables), his wife, died one year before he did, at Christmastime. How sad.
Also buried in the St. Mary’s Churchyard are Capt Jesse and Sarah Hughes, our great great great great grandparents. Sarah died in 1810, at 36. Capt Jesse died in 1838 at the incredible (for that era) age of 71.
The St. Mary’s Churchyard is small and surrounds the church on three sides. It is a lovely place and well cared for.
Note: There is a discrepancy in Capt Jesse’s birth dates. His gravestone records his birthday as January 29, 1767. The Maryland Births and Deaths Index lists his birthday as February 28, 1768.
The Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University is a major resource library for the history and genealogy of the Eastern Shore. It is a beautifully appointed, state-of-the-art research center as well. Susan and I arrrived around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, ready to learn things.
Note: They take security seriously. No bags of any sort (even pocket books) allowed. There are lockers with combination locks available for all banned items. Also – no pens allowed. But there are nice red Nabb Center pencils available for free. You must sign in and out, and if you want internet access you need to supply a photo ID.
All this sounds rather formidable, but totally understandable given the wealth of information and knowledge you have free access to once inside. The staff is very friendly and eager to help — and incredibly expert at finding things.
We thought we had a clear idea of what to look at, but soon learned that we had been far too ambitious. And it is so easy to become overwhelmed. Hint: When the staff says “this particuliar resource is handwritten, dense, and hard to read,” you should listen.
We did have several successes:
Tracing the ownership of the farmland surrounding the Robertson Cemetery back to the early 1800s. We found deeds back to 1895 and now have a plan for looking even further back.
Note: A very big thank you to the research assistant there whose willingness to help and broad expertise was key to these successes.
We found a book on the Hughes Family – which will help us with verifying and identifying folks on our grandmother, Mattie White Hughes’, side.
We are thinking of going back but tomorrow has been designated “cemetery grand tour” day.