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

Evan Carlyle Mezick

(1898 – 1960)

Evan Carlyle Mezick (Sr.) is the son of Luther Franklin Mezick and Carrie Roberta Robertson.

Carlyle’s [we assume that like many of the family, Evan Carlyle went by his middle name] dad, Luther was born in Tyaskin, MD on 11 Jan 1869. The 1900 census lists his occupation as oysterman, but by 1910 he is a gospel singer by profession, and travelled the country with his teen-age daughter, Audrey, proclaiming the gospel with religious, patriotic, and temperance-themed songs.

The Robertsons and this Mezick Family have many interesting connections.

Connection #1
Luther married Carrie Roberta Robertson on 24 June 1891 in Trinity Methodist Church, Tyaskin. Carrie is the eldest child of Esther Adeline and James W.T. Robertson, our great grandfather and his first wife.

Connection #2
Luther was very involved with the temperance and national prohibition movements, as were our great and great-great grandfathers (James W.T. and George Robertson).

Connection #3
Luther died on 27 March 1917 in Clara, MD. Carlton and Mattie Robertson, our grandparents, witnessed his will.

Connection #4
Luther was the son of Elizabeth Jane White and her second husband Isaac Francis Mezick. With her first husband, Thomas Hughes, Eliz. Jane White was Mattie’s grandmother.

Luther and Carrie had three children: Audrey (1893-1969), Herbert Luther (1900-1966) and Evan Carlyle.

Evan Carlyle was born 7 Jan 1898 in Clara, MD. He married Lillian Ruth Young on 5 June 1920. (She was born in Baltimore in 1901).

Lillian and Carlyle Mezick. Photo from Shari Handley

They had 8 children. The first child, a baby girl, was stillborn. The other children are:

  • Evan Carlyle Jr. (1925-1991)
  • Marvin Gerald (1926-2006)
  • Ronald Bryan (1928-1998)
  • Eugene Arlon (1930—1993)
  • Sharlene Ruth (1933-2014)
  • Burton Alan (1946 –2015)
  • and a daughter who is still living.

In the 1930 census Carlyle is listed as a radio salesman. In 1940 he is still a salesman, but his Selective Service Registration Card identifies his employer as the Balmar Corporation in Woodberry, Baltimore.

The Balmar Corporation was a foundry that specialized in parts for steam locomotives, but also, during the 1940s, helped with the war effort – parts for B-26s, and Liberty Ships. There is also an indication (Baltimore Sun November 24, 2017) that the company contributed to the Manhattan Project. What Carlyle did at the Balmar Corp is not clear.

Evan Carlyle died on 8 March 1960, at the age of 62. He is the only member of his immediate family that is buried at the Robertson Cemetery.

Evan Carlyle Mezick headstone at the Robertson Cemetery
ECM footstone

[Note: His father and mother are buried at St. John’s United Methodist Church Cemetery in Fruitlands, Wicomico County. Lillian, his wife, died on 20 July 1976, at age 74, and is buried in the Oak Lawn Cemetery in Baltimore County.]

Ruby Pauline Robertson Mezick and Glenn Grice Mezick

(1885 – 1950) and (1885 – 1957), respectively

Ruby Pauline — Aunt Ruby, our great aunt — was born on 21 November 1885 in Wicomico County, Maryland. She was the second child of James W. T. and Mary Priscilla Robertson (JWT’s 3rd wife). If the 1900 census is accurate, Ruby Pauline grew up in a very full house, with Mom and Dad, 3 half-siblings (Alice, Carlton, and Esther, ages 25 – 20) and 4 siblings (Dula, Chester, Nellie, and Rachel, ages 15 through 7). James WT was a farmer and it must have been all hands on deck when farming and housekeeping duties called.

Aunt Ruby

By the 1910 census, Ruby’s mother, Mary Priscilla has died (1901), and the only children left at home with Ruby and father JWT are Alice, Chester, Nellie, and Rachel. Ruby marries Glenn Grice Mezick on 25 March 1914 at the “house of the bride,” with JWT and both of Glenn’s parents present. (The marriage is recorded in the Trinity Church register.) Glenn is the son of Albert E. and Julia C. Mezick (listed as Messick in the 1900 Census). Guy and Geneva are his siblings. Also living with Glenn’s family in 1900 is Sarah E. Messick, listed as “a sister.” She is 38 years old.

The 1920 Census records Glenn and Ruby as husband and wife. They are both 34 years old. They are living on Quantico Road in Salisbury, and Glenn’s occupation is listed as farmer. By 1930, Glenn is working for the Post Office, as a rural carrier, and Ruby’s dad, James WT is living with them. He is 80 years old. Also living with them is someone named Hannah Collier. She is listed as a border, and is 28 years old. Ruby and Glenn did not have any children.

Uncle Glenn

Glenn and Ruby appear in the 1940 Census and Glenn is still a mail carrier. They have another lodger, Carrie Mezick, who is probably Carrie Roberta, oldest daughter of JWT and his 1st wife, Esther Adeline. Carrie married Luther Fuller Mezick, who died in 1917.

Glenn Grice registered for the draft for both world wars. In 1942 he is described as 6 feet, 165 pounds, with brown eyes, grey hair, and a ruddy complexion. He and Ruby are living in Salisbury, MD and he works for the Post Office in Hebron. He is 57 years old at the time of this registration.

Aunt Ruby

Ruby Pauline passed away on 20 March 1950 in Quantico, MD, at the age of 65.

Glenn, at age 65, gets married again, 5 months later, in August 1950, to Bessie Harris Fields of Quantico. She is 26 years old. We don’t know much about this marriage, but Glenn’s obituary says he is survived by a stepson named Fields, so we assume she was a widow at the time.

Glenn and Bessie are listed in the Salisbury City Directory for 1953 as living at 203 West Philadelphia (Street). Glenn dies on 26 August 1957. His wife, Bessie, reported his cause of death as pneumonia.

Both Ruby Pauline and Glenn Grice are buried at the Robertson Family Cemetery.

The gravestones in Clara, MD

George Henry Robertson

(1845 – 1896)

George Henry Robertson was the eldest son of our great-great grandparents, George Washington Henry Robertson and Leah Wainwright. He was born on 22 January 1845, according to his gravestone. He died in 1896 and became the second interment in the Robertson Cemetery.

1850s

At 5 years of age, George makes his first appearance in the U.S. Census, living with his parents in Quantico, Somerset, Maryland. His 2 younger brothers are there also, William E., 3 years old, and our great grandfather James W., listed as 6/12 years – so an infant, having been born late November 1849. Mary T., Leah’s daughter by her first marriage, is there along with 2 males listed as “laborers.”

There are 2 other men living at the residence: William Sirman, 52 years old and John Q. Robinson, 21 years old. We believe this is John Quincy Robertson who turns up frequently in the deeds we have been looking at; we also believe him to be the husband of Margaret Ellen White, who was the daughter of Leah’s sister, Betsy Ann Wainwright.

1860s

The family is still pretty much intact in the 1860 census. Three more Robertson children have been born: Louisa F., Charlotte T. and an “infant” who would be our great aunt Martha Jane, born in May 1860. William Sermon, now age 60 is also still with them. George Henry is 14 years old.

George Henry marries Martha Larmore on 20 October 1863. George was 18, Martha was 21. Martha Adeline Denson Larmore, as she is fully named in her father’s will, is the daughter of Elihu Larmore and Sally Wainwright. Sally is another one of of Leah’s sisters. The 1870 census includes in the household George and Martha, a farm laborer (George W. Moore), a domestic servant (Anna Larmore) and their first child, “Windfield” (Winfield) Robertson. They are all living in Tyaskin, in the newly created Wicomico County.

1870s

They went on to have 2 more children, Walter born presumably after July of 1870 and Addie White, born 25 Nov. 1872, listed in the Quantico Methodist Church records at the MD State Archive.

We don’t have a specific date for Martha’s death, but by 1877, George has married again. Charlotte Ellen White — Lottie — was born in 1855 and was 22 years old at the time of her marriage to George Henry, who was 32. Their first child, Edith Addie, is born in 1879.

1880-1890s

Addie White, the daughter born in 1872, does not appear in the 1880 census enumeration, so she must have passed away. George and Lottie’s first child born in 1879 is named Edith Addie, perhaps in memory of the lost child.

George Henry dies 21 March 1896, age 51. He actually predeceases his father, George Washington Henry, by 10 months.

1900s

By the 1900 Census, Charlotte and the 7 kids (Lofton, Lottie Marie, George Harry, Hilton, Leonard, Raymond, and Mina), are living on the farm. Charlotte is head of the household and a farmer. Lofton is listed as a bookkeeper and might be working elsewhere. George, and Hilton are farm laborers – so they must be working the farm. Edith is 21 and not there at all, and the younger children (Leonard and Raymond) are at school. Mina is only 6 and hasn’t started school yet.

Winfield (eldest son of George H. and Martha), and Winfield’s wife Rosa Phillips are buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery, as are 2 of their children, Brooks and Martha May. Of George’s other children we know little. Hilton ran for congress in 1920 on what appears to be an anti-anti-alcohol platform. We might look into that later on.

We don’t know very much about our great uncle George Henry. He’s mentioned in his dad’s will along with our great grandfather, James WT,

I George W. Robertson of Wicomico County, Maryland, make + declare this to be my last will and testament + revoke all others.

First, Having heretofore made ample provision for, or arrangements with my sons Geo. H. Robertson and Jas. W.T. Robertson, I therefore do not give them anything by this my will.

George H. and his dad, George W. H. are buried beside each other.  The inscription on George Henry’s tombstone reads:

My own, my all, farewell
I know God has taken thee to dwell
Prophetic hope dispell’d death’s frightful gloom
Celestial rays redeemed his dying sight
While beckoning angels smile beyond the tomb
And bid him welcome to their realms of light

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.

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

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.

Mary Robertson Robertson

Mary Priscilla Robertson (1864-1901)

Mary Priscilla was JWT’s third wife and the sister of wife number one, Esther Adeline. Mary P. was born on 11 June 1864 and her mom and dad were Washington H. Robertson and Priscilla Ann Matilda June (or Jane?) Evans. The family lived in Tyaskin, Maryland for most of their lives.

The Continuing Saga of James WT’s Three Wives

Mary Priscilla makes her first appearance in the federal census in 1870. The whole family is listed under Robinson. Washington’s wife, Priscilla, is there, along with 2 sons, Oscar, John R., and daughter, Mary P., who is 6 years old. Her oldest sister, Esther, was married to James WT, when Mary was 5.

Washington Robertson passes away in 1875, so in the 1880 census it seems as though the eldest son, Washington Ryland, has taken over working the farm; his wife, Orlinda, is listed as the primary housekeeper. Priscilla, 56 years old, is listed at the same address as “mother.” Mary Priscilla is 16 years old and living at home.

James WT’s second wife, Caroline Lawson, died in August of 1880, 3 months after the birth of their daughter, Esther Caroline, but James doesn’t marry Mary Priscilla until December of 1882. It must have been difficult running a farm and caring for five children from 2 to 10, but he seems to have waited a bit.

James Washington Thomas Robertson, seated, with Mary Priscilla Robertson
JWT Robertson and Mary Robertson

They married 27 December 1882. Mary was 18, James was 33. James and Mary had five children: Dula Gardner, Ruby Pauline, Chester Harmon, Nellie Oscarena, and Rachel Randall. (We actually have some vague memories of Aunt Dula, Aunt Ruby and Aunt Rachel.) Mary Priscilla died in 1901. She was 37. She is buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery next to both James WT and Esther A.

Mary’s gravestone

Esther Robertson Robertson

Esther Adeline Robertson (1850-1876)

James Washington Thomas Robertson had three wives. This is the story of his first wife, Esther. She was the daughter of JWT’s uncle, so they were first cousins and her maiden name was Robertson. Her father, Washington Hughes was brother to George Washington Henry (qv). Her mother was Priscilla Evans.

Esther was their first offspring to survive past childhood. She first appears in the 1850 census as Hester, age 3/12. She was born in 22 April and the date of this enumeration is August so that puts her age at about 3 months. Washington and Priscilla are the only other family members listed.

In the 1860 census Esther is 9. Her younger brothers are listed — Washington 7, Oscar 5, Sydney 3, and a baby sister Lily or Sally. Sydney and Lily will both die in Sept. 1866. Esther and JWT Robertson were married in 1869, so she doesn’t appear with her parents after this.

As with so many of our female ancestors, Esther is largely hidden, and even more so because she died so young. James and Esther were married 12 May 1869. She had just turned 19 and he was 20. As of the 1870 census, she is again listed as “Hester.” At 20 years old she is “keeping house” for the head of house, JWT who is a “sailor.” No children yet.

Within 7 years, Esther gave birth to 3 daughters. First was Carrie Roberta in 1870 followed by Eva Blanch in 1872 and Alice Talmage in 1874. Esther died 13 April 1876, one week short of 26. Her three babies were 6, 4 and 2. Esther’s death led to founding the Robertson Cemetery.

Esther A. Robertson, 1850-1876

Esther’s gravestone

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.