On the Way Down

Here we are again in Salisbury, Maryland, in search of our roots — and many cemeteries.


This time we planned a three-part trip, with an initial stop in New York City to feed another passion – opera. Here are Mattie, Harry, and Fran with me (taking the picture) at the Met to see Don Giovanni.

And a second-leg trip to Columbia, Maryland, to visit good friends. While in Columbia we had dinner with Jill, our first cousin. It was really good seeing her and reminiscing about riding around in Delmar, DE when we were all (Mattie, Carlee, Susan, and Jill) teens – visiting all the hot spots. (Oh look – it’s Dagsboro!)


Now we are in residence in a loft apartment in downtown Salisbury, resting and chilling after our first cemetery walk. (See the next blog post for details on Parsons Cemetery.)

Traveling to Salisbury on Monday brought us across the Chespeake Bay Bridge – as stately and beautiful as ever — although beginning to show her age a bit, too. And then on into corn and soybean country. It is amazing to us how flat and rural the Eastern Shore of Maryland is. And how wet! So many rivers, inlets, waterways, and marshes.

Excess Baggage

Preparing for the Genealogy Road Trip

To Eastern shore of Maryland, the ancestral homeland

So it was 4 years ago that we three — Mattie, Harry, and I — traveled to Maryland, the land of Dad’s forebears. (See Day Three — Take a Left Where the Old Spring Hill Church Used to Be.) This time we plan to devote a few more days to researching and exploring.

Archive research

We shall visit the Nabb Center for Delmarva history, part of the Salisbury delmarvaUniversity library system. [Delmarva is the term for the peninsula that juts into the lower Chesapeake Bay, and includes Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virginia.]

Ahead of time we are searching the Nabb Center holdings — books, family histories, vertical files. I had learned about vertical files [an alphabetized file for pamphlets and other small publications that do not merit a call number in a library system] at a genealogy workshop held by the LDS church in Lynnfield back in Sept. 2018. The lady from the Boston Public Library introduced us to “finding aids” which is essentially the index to a vertical file.

So I’ve made a list of books, publications, and other ephemera that we want to peruse. We also emailed the library to find out if there was anything else we need to know — parking, hours, and the like.


Of course, we’ll be stopping at the Robertson Cemetery. We’ll get to see the new sign and meet with Mr. Buller again.

I’ve also combed through Find a Grave, comparing cemeteries and memorials against the Wicomico Cemeteries Project files. I have a list of 6 cemeteries around Salisbury that we hope to visit and photograph the graves, mostly of direct ancestors. Some go back to GGGG-Grandparents, so we’ll see how many of these we can actually accomplish.

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.


Counting Bridges

So first we had to drop off my car at the dealership. Someone had rear-ended me in April and this way I don’t have to deal with finding a rental.

We spent a hectic 20 minutes packing up the car — you’d think we were trekking across Antarctica — with the “help” of 4-and-a-half-year-old Morgan (who actually carried things for us) and 1-and-a-half-year-old Rian (who helped push suitcases along). Said “bye” many times – threw many kisses.

And then we hit the road. Over the Newport and Jamestown bridges and onto the mainland. Pick up I-95 through Conn., NY, and onto the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, appropriately enough, the Garden State, then onto the Jersey Turnpike. Although we had been warned about traffic in NJ and Delaware, the major traffic problems we hit were in CT.

Morgan measures trips by how many bridges are crossed. (Eg., to travel off Aquidneck Island, she has to cross 2 bridges. That’s a long trip.) So we decided to takes pictures of and count all the bridges we crossed on our way south.

Here are the rivers we crossed: Thames, Connecticut, Housatonic, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna. And, OK, speeding over them at 65mph isn’t conducive to great photography, but here some of them are.


Claiborne Pell-Newport Bridge, RI
Photo by Raime, Wikimedia Commons


Tappan Zee Bridge, NY
Photo by: Nrbelex at en.wikipedia


Delaware Memorial Bridge, DE
Photo by Crispy1995 at the wikipedia project


Welcome to Maryland!