George Washington Henry Robertson

gwh robertson 3(1822-1897)

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.

Ashes to Ashes

So, our trip to Maryland to research and visit cemeteries was a success. We’ve written about most of our cemetery visits (see posts, below), the Nabb Center for Delmarva research, and the online archives of land deeds that we’ve been exploring.

The focus of the trip was the Robertson Cemetery in Clara and we picked a perfect day for it.

We visited with the gentleman who maintains the grounds, and chatted about what might become of the cemetery when we all can’t do it anymore. None of us had an answer to that. In the meantime, we just plan to continue doing what we can. I see it as a tribute to my father, and to the other people whom I never did meet.

The list of interees is here and is complete as far as I know. Along with my grandparents, great-grandfather, and Great-Aunt Esther (Robertson) Mezick, there are half-aunts and -uncles, half-cousins n-times removed, and spouses of all these.

My father wrote down a history of the cemetery in 1997. He wrote this about the “residents”

The cemetery was a very special place for the Robertson and Evans families. There are 24 descendants of George Washington Henry Robertson, including spouses, buried there, plus five of the William Evans family, plus a few unmarked graves.

I’m not sure who the Evanses are that he refers to. It might be the family of the wife of Washington Hughes Robertson, Priscilla Ann Matilda June Evans, who was the mother of Esther and Mary Priscilla, both of whom married James Washington Thomas Robertson (at different times), and both of whom are buried here. Or there is a Cooper Evans down Clara Road a little way, according to a 1877 map of Tyaskin.

And I certainly don’t know anything about unmarked graves in the plot.

Over time, I hope to fill in some of these gaps —- find out about Aunt Dula and Aunt Ruby, for example. We heard a lot about these women growing up. They must have taken some responsibility for the children after Dad’s mother died.

Here is the aerial shot from Google and the plat map of the cemetery, dated 2000.

aerial

plat-map

(Click for PDF.)

We have been tracing the deeds to the land the cemetery is on through the Maryland Land Records site (see Don’t Fence Me In), from 1962 back to 1895, so far. We’d at least like to get it to 1876, the date of the first burial.

 

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.

Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church Cemetery

Nanticoke Rd, Tyaskin, MD

Also on Find a Grave, and Facebook.

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

Jesse Hughes

IN MEMORY OF
Capt JESSE HUGHES
was born Jan 29 1767
and departed this life Nov 29th 1838
Aged 71 years and 10 months.

Caleb Hughes

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.

Charlotte Hughes

Died Dec 23, 1868
Age 75
Whilst in this tomb my mother lies
Her spirit rests above
In realms of bliss it never dies
But knows a Saviour’s love.

 

 

Don’t Fence Me In

One of the most exciting developments to come out of our trip to the Eastern Shore was the Maryland Land Record website.

landrec

Our helpful librarian gave us a tutorial on how to use the site [see Day Two: The Nabb Center] — it can be confusing and we wouldn’t have figured it out without him. By eliminating the present-day real estate concerns, we can concentrate on the Active Indices, 1665-1995. I already had an account at the site (no charge) so we were ready to go.

Mattie and I are such nerds that we’ve been delighted to plunge into this arcane site for the actual deed document images. And having fun 1) transcribing the handwritten deeds and 2) translating the legalese. We learned how to download the whole deed as a PDF. Then I can enhance the scan in Acrobat, and we attempt to read it all, misspellings and lack of punctuation included.

deed-sample

They are full of colloquial-seeming land descriptions, like this

“Also two lots or parcels of swamp land known as the Old Hopkins and John Q. Robertson’s land, beginning at a sassafras post in center of ditch and at a corner of the west side of Samuel C. Evans swampland.”

Consequently, we are looking for a sassafras post that was in a ditch in 1864.

But we were told that it was common to name these parcels of land, so we’re trying to find Belvedere (or Belvideer) and other parcels bordering on Shiles Creek, a tributary from the Wicomico River.

creek

Shiles Creek map, from the Wicomico River Stewardship Initiative website

We have found one mention of our great-grandmother, Leah (Wainwright) Robertson (as George W.’s wife), in a Trustee Deed from 1847, a rare sighting of a mostly invisible woman.

And we’ve traced the history of the cemetery, backwards in steps from 1962 to 1895. It gets more problematic before that but we persevere. We know the cemetery was founded in 1876, but haven’t yet discovered that deed.

Day Three: Continued

Part Two: Moving on Down the Road

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

  • Hearn-Catlin Cemetery
  • 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.

Day Three: Memories Are Made of This

  • Wicomico River
  • Tyaskin
  • The old Nanticoke Road
  • Rockawalkin Church

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.

Day Two: The Nabb Center

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.nabb-all-3.jpg

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.

Day One: Our First Cemetery

Parsons Cemetery, right in Salisbury, began like many cemeteries in rural America — as a family burying ground, specifically on the Parsons 53-acre farm. Upon his death, Benjamin Parsons, who had no children, bequeathed his home and farm to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church for a cemetery. St. Peter’s accepted this generous gift and moved the folks currently resting in the church’s small graveyard to the more spacious Parsons field.

parsons-cemetery

Today Parsons Cemetery is still an open and operating burial ground and it is the resting place for several of our “great” relatives.

Charles V. Hughes and his wife Mary, were Mattie White Hughes’ (our grandmother) mom and dad.

Also lying beside them are Verner Vane Hughes, Mattie’s brother, and his wife, also named Mary. We knew them as Uncle Verner and Aunt Mary. Uncle Verner’s son, Max, and his wife, Miriam, are located on the opposite side of the large Hughes headstone. We also knew them well.

The cemetery is large and well cared for by Cemetery Manager, Rusty Barnes — a friendly and knowledgeable gentleman who provided us with maps and helped us find the Hughes burial sites.