Everything You Know Is Wrong

In applying for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution on the basis of my 4G-grandfather Cannon Wainwright (which connection was denied, BTW) we uncovered some surprises in the Robertson lineage. We (my sister, my cousins, me, and several people with trees on Ancestry) have for quite some time identified George Washington Henry Robertson’s father as a Samuel Robertson who lived in Somerset County, MD from 1770 to 1832.

This turns out to be incorrect. My source for this relationship was Samuel’s will which named his son George as executor. George would have been 10 years old at the time of Samuel’s death and although he might have been precocious, we doubt he was up to administering his deceased father’s affairs at the time. So thanks to the DAR genealogy researchers we have found the couple who were most likely George’s parents — Elias Robertson and Francis Willing.

Francis Willing and Elias Robertson were married 11 May 1819, as listed in Marriage Licenses of Somerset County, Maryland, 1796-1831, p 158/209.

Elias dies in 1832 and names in his will his wife Francis, and all his children: James [a son by his first wife Nelly Silvia], and then Samuel, George, Francis [a son], Mary, John Q., and Henry C, presumably in birth order. (Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940; Somerset JP4)

Francis dies in 1850. The account of her estate also lists her offspring by name: “her son Samuel Robertson, her son George W. Robertson . . .” and so on. This is recorded in the Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999, Administration accounts 1845-1851 vol 2; pp 262-263 of 287. George W. Robertson is named as executor.

Next, we have a deed that records the sale of a tract of land called Hickory Ridge in Somerset County. This deed lists all of Elias and Francis Robertson’s children including “George W. Robertson and Leah his wife” (Somerset County Circuit Court (Land Records) LW 2, pp. 32-34, MSA CE 103-2), thus connecting this particular George W. Robertson with Leah, our gg-grandmother.

The Whites – Charlotte and George

The Robertson Family Cemetery seems to have become a critical resource for neighbors in need as well as a family cemetery. Of the 32 interees, 9 are neighbors and friends. The last of these to be buried here are Charlotte White and her son, George.

We don’t know very much about the Whites. The 1880 census lists a family of three living in Tyaskin: Alexander, 47 years old, his wife Charlotte, age 38 and their 2 year old son, George H. Alexander’s profession is listed as sailor.

By 1900 we think Alexander has passed away. Charlotte is listed as Charlotte Kirwin (back to her maiden name?) living with her son, George H. This and the 1910 census make it clear the Whites, Robertsons and Evanses are all neighbors and friends, living in the Nanticoke area of Wicomico County.

The 1910 census has George, at 32, living with his mother, who is now 65. George’s occupation is sailor. One curious thing – in this census Charlotte’s first name appears to be recorded as something else (beginning with an “A” but basically unreadable), with a middle initial of C. Could be Charlotte was her middle name – but on her gravestone her name is engraved as Charlotte A.

Charlotte passes away in 1919, at the age of 71, and the 1920 census shows that George is living alone – still in Nanticoke – on Muddy Hole Road – and working as an oysterman. The census also says he owns his home – so maybe he inherited from his Mom? We can’t find him in any later census reports.

Grave marker of Charlotte White and George White

George, passes away in 1958, at the age of 80. Charlotte and George are buried, side by side, in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

The Evans Family – Neighbors and Friends

The Robertson Family Cemetery was founded in 1876, when Esther Adeline, wife of James W.T. and mother of Carrie Roberta, Eva Blanche, and Alice Talmage, died and was buried in a small plot of land set aside on the family farm.

The next person to be buried there was William Evans, in 1895. We are unclear exactly who this William Evans is. The only part of his gravestone that is readable appears below, and only contains his name. The larger gravestone (which presumably includes dates of birth and death) is overturned at the moment. No matter who he was, William Evans was the first non-family member to be given a place to rest in our family cemetery.

Francis Jerome, born on 14 October 1851 and Lucy (Willing) Evans, born on 6 May 1861 are the father and mother of the Evans Family. It looks like Jerome was born in Salisbury to William F. and Sally Evans, but the family soon moved to Baltimore where William was a tanner and Jerome himself was apprenticed to a blacksmith.

William Evans grave marker

Lucy and the Willing family lived in the Tyaskin District in Wicomico County. Her dad was John Littleton Willing (actually called Littleton, we think), and his wife was Hester. He seems to have had various jobs both on and off a farm. We don’t have a marriage date for Francis Jerome and Lucy, but by the 1880 census they are indeed married, and have moved in with her (Lucy’s) family in Tyaskin. Jerome is listed as an oysterman.

It is this census that clearly demonstrates that the Willings, the Evans couple, and Robertsons were neighbors.

By 1900 the Evans family is large and seemingly growing. Jerome (at 49) and Lucy (at 39) have 5 children – Blanche (18), Charles (15), Walter (13), Florence (9), and Esther (3).

In 1884, tragedy struck the family, as Charles Edward dies at the age of 17. He is the second Evans family member to be buried at the Robertson Cemetery.

Charles Edward Evans grave marker
Aug. 4, 1884
July 19, 1901

In 1910 the Evans family is still in Tyaskin, but Jerome has become a blacksmith. Walter is listed as a laborer at odd jobs. He is 23 and Florence, at 19, is a clerk at a millinery store. Esther is 13. Marion Francis (9 years) and Lucille (7 years) have joined the family.

On 31 January 1918, the son Walter J. passes away at age 31 and becomes the third Evans family member to be buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

By now, Jerome seems to own his own blacksmith shop and the children, Florence, Marion Francis, and Lucille are all living at home.

Walter Jerome Evans grave marker
Sept. 8, 1886
Jan 31, 1918

On 16 September 1929, Francis Jerome – the head of the family – dies in Clara, MD. He is also buried at the Robertson Cemetery.

It looks like after that Lucy goes to live with her son, Marion, his wife, Alice and their son Wayne (6 years old) in Salisbury.

Francis Jerome Evans grave marker

Lucy passes away on 24 January 1935. She is buried beside her husband and sons – all at the Robertson Family Cemetery.

Lucy Willing Evans grave marker

Grant Elmer Hewitt

(1886 – 1912)

Grant Hewitt was born on 17 Feb 1886 in Somerset County, Maryland. His father was William James Bell Hewitt; his mother was Sarah “Sallie” Elizabeth Meredith. William was born in 1848; Sallie was born in 1850. They married on 8 June 1870. William was 22 years old; Sallie was 20.

Ten years later, according to the 1880 census, the couple has had 4 children, all daughters, ranging in age from 7 years to 6 months. The census was taken in Fairmont, Somerset County, MD. Grant’s father’s occupation is listed as a sailor.

Grant was born 17 Feb 1886. His brother, Leonard, was two years older, and a younger brother, William Ellis, was born in 1888. After having 7 children, Sallie passes away in 1892.

William marries Sarah Virginia Jennie James (called Jennie) in (approx.) 1893. (The 1900 census says they had been married for 7 years.) Their first child, Theodore, was born in 1896; Esther was born in 1898.

The 1900 census, which was taken in the Tangier District of Somerset County, MD, lists the family as James (William’s second name, of course), Jennie (Sarah’s 3rd name), and 5 children – Theodore, Esther, Leonard, Grant and Willie. Grant is 14 years old and already listed as an “oysterman,” as was his Dad.

The “Tangier District” is a peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Tangier and the Chesapeake Bay – so sailor or oysterman, it is clear that the Harris family, at this point, was earning their living on the bay.

By the time of the 1910 census, Grant, who is 24, has already moved out of the house, and William and Jennie have had 3 more children: Rodger (1901), Russell (1903) and Catherine (1906). They are still living in Maryland’s Tangier District.

1) Tangier Disctict; 2) Robertson Cemetery in Clara

The couple go on to have one more child, Jennie, who dies shortly after birth. Also, Rodger dies at the age of 3.

View Post

By the 1920 census the family has moved to Baltimore. William James (Dad) is working as a watchman; Russell is still living at home. Catherine, her husband James, and their daughter, Esther, are living there, too, as well as 2 lodgers.

The Nanticoke Bivalve Church register has a record of a marriage between Grant Hewitt and May Roberts, of Clara, on 30 June 1910. Grant died 30 Dec 1912, at the age of 26. We cannot find a death certificate or information about why, where or how he died. He and May seem to have had no children. The 1920 census has May back home living with her mother, Zipporah. Both women are recorded as widows.

Grant’s final resting place is the Robertson Family Cemetery, in Clara, MD. No other member of his family is buried there.

The engraving on the tombstone reads ~
He passed beyond
Life’s long provision
For years
We know that
And it is well.

Laura Francis (Frank) Robertson and William H. Harris

(1852 – 1912) and (1840 – 1910), respectively

Laura F. (Frank) Robertson was the first daughter of George Washington Henry Robertson and Leah M. Wainwright – our great, great grandparents.

She makes her first “official” appearance in the 1860 census, living with a large and varied household. (The census taker might have recorded her as “Louisa” – it’s hard to decipher the writing. But it is definitely our Laura, or Frank, as she called herself).

Father and mother, George W.H. and Leah were there, along with siblings George Henry (14 years), William E. (12), James W. T. (10), Charlotte T. (age 6) and a 1-month-old infant, later named Martha. Laura was 8 at this time.

Also in the household were William Sermon (60) and James Conway (18) listed as laborers, and Mary T. Winwright, Leah’s daughter by her first marriage. Mary is 17 years old and listed as a “house girl.”

The wedding date we have for Laura and William H. Harris, Jr. is 18 May 1869. But the 1870 census shows Laura Robinson [sic] living at her home with Mom and Dad and two sisters, Charlotte and Martha. William Harris is living there, too, and is listed as a farm laborer. Laura is 19; William is 26. Laura’s last name is still listed as Robertson.

William H. Harris, born 8 Nov 1840, is the son of William Harris and Mary L. Mezick.

Whenever they did get married, by the 1880 census “Frank” and William were living on their own in Tyaskin, MD. They have one child, Minnie Leah (or Leah Minnie, depending on what document you are looking at), age 8 years. Also part of the household are Alvina Dodson (servant) and Mary J. Williams (aunt).

By 1900, at the age of 16, Minnie Leah has married William Catlin and has moved out. Laura (age 47) and William (age 59) are there, and have another daughter who they named Laura Robertson. She is 11. Aunt Mary is still living with them, along with a servant – Fannie Conaway.

One document we have lists 2 more children for our couple: George and Edward. But there are no dates listed, and no census document mentions them. All we have at this point is speculation.

Laura F. (57) and William H. (69) are still together in 1910, and their second daughter, Laura R. at 31 resides with her parents as well.

Now they have a “niece-in-law,” Mildred J. Byrd (13) living with them, as well as a boarder, Clyde Truit (21). [Mildred is the daughter of Nora Robertson and William Byrd, both of whom passed away in 1898, when Mildred was one. Nora was the daughter of George Washington Henry Robertson and his second wife, Ellen Larmore, making her a half-sister of Frank albeit with a 22 year age difference.]

Daughter Laura R. marries Glenn Catlin on April 28, 1910. They got married in the Harris homestead, and the marriage is recorded in the Nanticoke Bivalve Church marriage record. [Glenn is a cousin of Caroline Catlin, our great-grandmother, making him also a cousin.]

William passes away on 29 Dec 1910 at the age of 70. Laura passes away 2 years later in 1912 – at the age of 60.

Laura and William are buried side by side in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

Martha Mae Robertson

(1909 – 1990)

Martha Mae (or May) was born on 29 December 1909 the third child of Winnie and Rosa (Phillips) Robertson. We have similar issues with her birthplace. The family is listed on the Mt. Vernon census form, but her death certificate lists her place of birth as Whitehaven.

1910 and 1920 census – Nothing much has changed. Mom and Dad and the three siblings  – Brooks, Emil, and Martha May – are living together in Mt. Vernon. Winfield, her dad, is farming.

1930 census – Both brothers have moved out. Emil has married. Martha is 20 and the only sibling still living at home. (We haven’t found Brooks listed anywhere.)

In the 1940 census Martha is listed in the population schedule of the Glenn Dale Sanitorium in Prince George, MD. She is a registered nurse and dietician there, and we are assuming single, since she is using Robertson as her last name.

Glenn Dale Sanitorium was opened in 1934 when tuberculosis was a mysterious and almost always fatal disease. Washington DC was overrun with cases, so they transferred their overflow to Glenn Dale – situated in rural Maryland on 200 acres. Glenn Dale employed over 500 medical and non-medical personnel for 600 patients. (See Glenn Dale Hospital – An Abandoned Sanatorium near Washington DC.)

Glen Dale Hospital

We have two puzzles surrounding Martha.

1 – Did she get married? We have no marriage certificate or indication that she did marry, but her death certificate lists her as “divorced.” There is some indication that she married a Lloyd Tallman, according to some family trees on Ancestry.

2 – Although she was employed at Glenn Dale in MD in 1940, she must have moved to New Jersey at some point after that. The Social Security Death Index has her last residence as 08015 Browns Mills, Burlington, NJ. But the North Carolina Death Index has her place of death as Henderson, NC. So, was she visiting North Carolina? Did she fall ill there? We have been unable to clarify the situation.

Martha died on 18 May 1990 and her body must have been transported back to her home state, Maryland. She is the last person to have been interred at the Robertson Cemetery.

Martha M. Robertson’s grave at the Robertson Cemetery

Brooks Robertson

(1899 – 1976)

Brooks Ross Robertson was born 22 May 1899. At this time, his family is listed as living in Mt. Vernon.  When Brooks filled out his WWII draft card, he listed his birth place as Princess Anne, Maryland. Both of these are in Somerset County.

Significant dates and places

1918 – Registered for the draft

Brooks Ross Robertson – living in Princess Anne, Somerset County, MD

At the time of this registration, he is farming on his Dad’s farm and he lists his Mom, Rosa, as contact person. He is tall, slender and has blue eyes and dark hair.

1920 Census

Still living with Winnie and Rosa and siblings Emil and Martha May, in the Mt. Vernon District of Somerset County. But Brooks is now recorded as a carpenter for a shipyard – maybe the Whitehaven Shipyard.

1940 Census

Brooks has moved to Chester City, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He is a roomer at a public hotel and works as an electrician. This information is further clarified on his WWII draft card. Brooks is living at 218 East 4th Street in Chester City. He is working for Belmont Iron Works in Eddystone PA. He lists “someone who will always know your address” as Mrs. Ella Eshleman. No idea who this is!

Brooks Robertson’s grave at the Robertson Cemetery

We lose sight of Brooks, until his death in December, 1976 in Chester, PA at the age of 77.

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.]

Eva Blanche Robertson Messick and Family

(1872 – 1932)

Eva Blanche Robertson was born in Wicomico County, Maryland on 28 April 1872, the second daughter of James W. T. Robertson and his first wife, Esther Adeline.

Eva’s first appearance in the census is 1880. Esther has died and JWT has married our great-grandmother, Caroline Lawson Catlin. Esther’s three children, Carrie, Eva, and Alice Talmage are living at home, along with Caroline’s kids, Carlton Edward and Esther Caroline. James WT is listed as a farmer and a merchant.

By 1900 it looks like Eva, age 28, has moved in with her uncle, John Rufus Robertson. John R (aka “Bud Rufo”) is Esther’s brother, and at this time John is married to Sarah E. Lankford. They have 5 children, ranging in age from 14 to 2. Also part of the household is Oscar, John’s brother. Eva is teaching public school, but I bet she helped out with the kids, too.

Eva Blanche married Daniel Walter Messick on 25 November 1909. Daniel is the son of Mahlon S. Messick and Rita A. Downing. In the 1910 census, Daniel is listed as an oysterman and Eva is still teaching.

They married rather late in life, especially given the times; Daniel was 42; Eva was 37. Their first child, Daneva, was born and died in 1911. They did go on to have another child, a son, Myron Daniel, who was born 18 Nov. 1913, according to his gravestone at the Mariners Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery.

The 1920 census lists Daniel as a painter, and Eva is the postmistress. Myron is 6 years old. They own their own house with no mortgage.

In 1930 they are living probably in the same house on Nanticoke Road. Daniel is 62 years old and is a house painter. Eva is 57 and no longer seems to be teaching. Myron is 16.

Eva Blanche passes away on 1 August 1932, age 60. She and her infant daughter, Daneva, are buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

Eva’s gravestone in Clara, Maryland

Daniel dies in February 1948, at the age of 80, but we can find no record of him in the 1940 census. His obituary, speaks of a funeral service held in the Nanticoke Methodist Church, and burial in the Robertson Family Cemetery. We have no record or stone marking his burial, and he is not listed in Find-a-Grave at this cemetery, nor at the Wicomico Cemeteries Project page.