The Hughes family, circa 1896

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton and Mattie

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

About Carlton

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

Carlton Through Census Documents

1880 Census

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

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

1890 Census

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

1900 Census

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

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

Marriage and Children

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

carlton-mattie-marriage-lic-2

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

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

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

The Census Resumed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miscellaneous Life Events

Carlton registered for the draft prior to both world wars.

Details from World War I registration

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

Details from World War II registration

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

Saying Good-bye

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

[picture of newspaper obituary?]

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

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

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

See also Carlton and Mattie, Part 2

Culling Through Old Photos.

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.

 

 

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 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.

Culling Through Old Photos

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

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

mattie-and-carlton-cropped

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

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

Day Three — Take a Left Where the Old Spring Hill Church Used to Be

We called the charming gentleman who maintains the Robertson Cemetery for us and told him we would meet him there. We could hear the doubt in his voice as he told us that he would have his cell phone with him – in case we got lost.

Well, we didn’t get lost – but the way there dipped and wove past more fields of young corn (no soybeans that we could see) and crossing the Wicomico River on a historic cable ferry.

Whitehaven Ferry

The Whitehaven Ferry across the Wicomico River

These Maryland country roads – isolated and rural as they are – are amazingly well-marked. Much better than most streets in New England. And we followed Dad’s directions – down Capitola to Clara Road.

It was then that we realized the cemetery would not be marked. But as we drove down Clara, Mattie – riding in the back seat – said “That looks like a cemetery.” And lo and behold, off in the fields was a small, shaded oasis of trees and what looked like gravestones. We turned down the unmarked dirt driveway and there was our guide in his red pickup truck waiting to drive us down the soggy lane that led to the Robertson cemetery. And we were there.

titlestone