Update on Leah Wainwright

Previous Post
Our Elusive Great-great-Grandmother

Using the aforementioned Emerson Roberts’s Wainwright and Related Families –[Roberts, Emerson B.. Wainwright and related families. Wilkinsburg, Pa.: unknown, 1942. https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=26034], namely this reference

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?
    from what?
    where was she buried?
  • And moving back, Is Joshua Wainwright the offspring of Cannon Wainwright (1745-1820)?


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 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.

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.

Our Elusive Great-great-Grandmother

Leah Wainwright Robertson (1825-187?)

She’s always been just off the charts, this mother of my grandfather’s father. She isn’t buried in our Robertson cemetery, and we’ve wondered why. The Robertson Cemetery came into being in 1876 on the death of Esther Robertson, James Washington R’s first wife. We assume Leah had passed away before that and was buried in another family’s plot.

It looks like she died sometime after 1870. She is listed in the 1870 census, 45 years old, keeping house — transcribed as Robinson, a scourge of all our lives, that surname mix-up.

There are a few anomalies in the records but we are trying to explain them. The 1880 census for Tyaskin district lists a Leah in the household of her husband, George Henry Robertson, but Leah, my GG-Gmother has to have been dead by then. Her spouse George Henry Robertson married a second time and somehow this second wife, Ellen Larmore, is listed in that census as Leah. I believe this because the children of this second marriage — Elmer, Norah, and Vernon — are listed in the 1880 census, and they were specified in GHR’s will as the children of his (second) wife Ellen Larmore.

So we are trying to find when Leah died and where she is buried. I look at the people around her — what’s the phrase . . . . ?

A History of the Wainwright and Cannon Families

This document turned up on Ancestry. The source is listed as the Newberry Library in Chicago. I’ve searched the Newberry Library website but can’t find any mention of it. Not surprising that is isn’t digitized and/or indexed, because it must be a pretty obscure publication. It does show up in WorldCat and LC and a few others.

It’s dated 1935, updated 1942, by someone named Emerson Roberts who might have been a distant relative. Mr. Roberts’s stated purpose in compiling the information was to trace the lineage of one Mary Wainwright Roberts who, if my calculations are correct, is a sister of Leah.


Source Information

Ancestry.com. Wainwright and related families [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: Roberts, Emerson B.. Wainwright and related families. Wilkinsburg, Pa.: unknown, 1942. https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=26034


It was online as a collection of JPG files, each page a separate image. I downloaded them all — 64 or so pages, and output them as a PDF using Adobe Bridge. I don’t assume this document is reliable. There are a few sources listed throughout and the ones I can find online check out, so far. The author recounts the family history and characterises the moral tenor of the people involved.

The Wainwrights have been marked for their seriousness of purpose and demeanor, their depth of conviction and sense of personal responsibility.

(Not sure if this means they’re all party poopers.) But he says things like “the aforesaid” and “she made it her duty and her Christian pleasure . . .” So it’s totally charming.

According to Mr. Roberts, GG-Grandmother Leah (b. 1825) is the daughter of Joshua W~ and Mary (Polly) Street. This agrees with some of the information I had. I’m looking for confirmation of this parent-child relationship. Census records from before 1840 don’t list all the household members, so it’s unclear who the offspring are. I’m at a bit of an impasse on this point.

Other people are presenting some feasibility problems. So that’s what I’m working on now.