Many people on Ancestry whom I assume are distant relatives say her father was Covington Mezick. This might be on the basis of his will, dated 1828 and probated in March of that year, in which he names a daughter, Eliza Mary Ann. However, a transcription of Mary Catlin’s gravestone in the Hearn-Catlin cemetery puts her birth date as 31 August 1831. Granted this might have been hard to read, and I haven’t seen it myself. But she is 18 years old on the 1850 census list which appears to confirm the 1831 date. So that puts Covington out of the picture.
A deed dated 20 March 1858 between William R. Jackson and “Edward W. Catlin and wife” records a transfer of property. The Catlins are selling 2 tracts of land, Turnstile and Mt. Hope, “being a piece of land devised to the said Mary A. Catlin wife of Edward W. Catlin by the last will and testment of her grandfather John Turner . . .” (Somerset County Circuit Court (Land Records) LW 5, p. 0531, MSA_CE103_5; available on the Maryland State Land Records site).
The will of John Turner dated 4 Dec. 1839 and probated 28 April 1840 (Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940) lists his wife, Polly Turner; his 4 children — “Mary Harris, wife of William Harris,” John Turner Junior, Naaman Turner, and Rebecca Turner; and finally his 3 grandchildren — John Mezick, Mary Mezick, and Purnell Harris.
This is how we’ve assembled a tree that shows John Turner and his wife Polly who may have been a Barkley, his 2 sons, and 2 daughters.
Because his daughter Rebecca has not changed her last name, we assume she is not married at the time of his 1840 will. So his other daughter, Mary, must have been married twice, for him to have grandchildren with 2 different names, Mezick and Harris.
We conclude that Mary Turner married first, Littleton Mezick, in 1828 according to Somerset County Marriage Licenses 1796-1832. He must have passed away, although we have no record of that. The last dated document we have for Littleton Mezick is a bond from 1834, (Somerset County Court (Land Records) GH 7, p. 0245, MSA_CE102_61, available on the Maryland State Land Records site.)
James WT Robertson, our great-grandfather and Esther A., his first wife, had three children – all daughters. Alice T. was the third, born 6 November 1874. Alice’s mother died when she was a year and a half old.
As we have said before, women are harder to research – they seldom get their names in the paper, own property, build wells, or even make wills. And, in general, following a person through census records can sometimes be deadly dull. But in Alice’s case, census records tell an interesting and somewhat sad story.
Alice’s life through the lens of the census
Alice is 6 years old in her census debut. Her dad, James W.T., has married Caroline Catlin (our great-grandmother). Caroline has given birth to Carlton Edward (1878) and Esther Caroline (1880), and Alice’s 2 other sisters, Carrie (10 years) and Eva (8 years) are there as well. The Robertsons at this time are raising five children.
By 1900 things have changed even more. Caroline Catlin has passed away and Mary Priscilla, James’ 3rd wife, is there, along with her five children. Alice (25 years old), Carlton and Esther Caroline are also still at home – and the Robertsons are now a family of eight. Both Carrie and Eva were married by this time, and out of the house.
James’ 3rd wife, Mary Priscilla, has also died and he is living on his own with five grown (or almost grown) children. Alice, at 33 years, is the oldest and still at home.
On 29 April 1912 Alice married Henry Ward Kennerley in Clara, MD. He is the son of William R. Kennerly and Elizabeth Esther Ward. Henry was 40 years old; Alice was 38.
Marriage – a brief census interlude
The Trinity Church register of marriages shows Henry Ward Kennerly of Nanticoke, and Alice T. Robertson of Whitehaven were married “at the Bride’s home” with the bride’s family as witnesses. The officiant was Rev. W. C. Poole. This register confirms that Alice was Henry’s second wife. In one of our resources there is a fragment of a will quoted that says, “To wife, and Hal B. Kennerly (brother) half of estate for my son, Rollison Kennerly to be used for his care, maintenance and education until he is 21 years old.” We have found no other record of a child for Henry.
The 1900 Census shows Henry Kennerley, age 27 of Virginia, living with Mary A., whom we assume is his first wife. She was 24 years old. Henry’s occupation is given as oysterman. By the 1910 Census Henry is a widower and back living with his parents, William and Lizzie. Also present in this household are two brothers, a sister-in-law and a 6 year old child named William K. It is impossible to tell, by this census, who the child belongs to. Henry is listed here as a fisherman, and the census does indicate that he can neither read nor write.
I entitled this section a “brief interlude” because Henry dies less that one year after his marriage to Alice, on 13 April 1913 in Nanticoke, MD. He was 41. Alice and Henry didn’t even get to celebrate their first anniversary.
We can find no record of what happened to Alice immediately after his death, but by the next census we can take up her story again….
Alice has moved to Camden, NJ and is a teacher, living on her own (she is listed as a “lodger” along with 4 other people who are not related). She is a 45-year-old widow.
Alice, at 56, is teaching in public school and still a “lodger.”
Alice is now 65 years old, listed as “head of household” and is living in Philadelphia, PA. She has no occupation listed – so maybe she has retired.
Alice Robertson Kennerly died on 30 September 1941 in Salisbury, MD. Whether she had moved back home after retirement, or she went home because she was ill, we have no way of knowing. She is buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery near her family.
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.
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.
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 Hughese, left to right: Claude Venables, Charles Venables, Verner Vane, Lillian Gale, Charles Fletcher, Mary Amelia Fletcher, Mattie White
Carlton Edward Robertson (1878-1945) ~ Mattie White Hughes (1883-1934)
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
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.
Most of the records for the 1890 U.S. Census were destroyed by fire.
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.
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.
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.
Joshua’s will of 1850 is recorded at Princess Anne in Liber S.W.J. #2, folio 247. The administration by his son Jesse is dated September 16, 1850 (S.W.J. #2, folio 247, Princess Anne.)
I finally found a citing of Joshua Wainwright’s will administration. From the Maryland Register of Wills, Somerset County page on Family Search, the correct SWJ #2, page 247. And there it was — an acknowledgement that Joshua Wainwright was, in fact, Leah’s father. He leaves one eighth of his assets to each of his children, including
To his daughter Leah Robertson, wife of George W. Robertson, the one eighth
It doesn’t take much, but for this I did the happy dance!
So the next questions are
When did Leah die?
where was she buried?
And moving back, Is Joshua Wainwright the offspring of Cannon Wainwright (1745-1820)?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.