Collection consists of diaries for Annamae Myers, documenting the activities of a farm family in Ohio, 1931-1967 and Stephen Harriman, Mrs. Myers' maternal grandfather, covering the years1884, 1888, 1893 and 1894.
Scope and Contents:
The Annamae Myers diaries record the activities of a farm family in Ohio, 1931-1967. There are daily entries about the weather and frequent mention of trips to the hairdresser and trips to the children's music and dancing lessons and to town for shopping, movies, or to pay bills. The diaries include frequent entries of amounts received for the sale of farm produce, and some financial data are entered at the end of each volume, but such entries are neither regular nor complete. They do however provide information on prices for agricultural products in a rural community. Major political and historic events are noted. There is infrequent reference to the emotions generated by family living and by the historic and political events of the twentieth century. Also includes a few diaries kept by Stephen Harriman, Mrs. Myers' maternal grandfather, with very brief daily entries of the weather, trips to town, visits made and visitors to the farm, and the start of farm operations, i.e., plowing, sowing.
Biographical / Historical:
Annamae Barlup Myers was born April 7, 1903 in Ohio and spent most of her life on a farm, first, the "home farm" which her parents bought in 1915, then that of her father-in-law, followed by about seven years in a small Ohio town and a return to the home farm. Her diaries are a record of life in rural Ohio for more than thirty years. The diaries reflect a life busy with household chores, laundry, cooking, churning, gardening, canning, and preserving and helping on the farm. For example, Mrs. Myers helped with the threshing, driving the tractor, and cooking for temporary farm helpers during peak periods. In addition to making some of her own and the children's clothes, Mrs. Myers sewed for friends and neighbors and during some years took care of a small child for pay. The many references during the early years to not having enough money to meet their obligations gradually give way to a picture not of affluence but of more comfortable financial circumstances without the constant worry about bills evident in entries during the thirties and early forties. Although the diaries primarily note the events of family life they also mention major political or historic events with a few emotional overtones.
Collection donated by Mrs. Margaret Myers, June 22, 1989.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Division of (NMAH, SI). Search this
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Division of (NMAH, SI). Search this
17.66 Cubic feet (53 boxes)
Illinois -- 1940-1990
Vermont (Ill.) -- 1940-1990
The records of the Kost family farm, Vermont, Illinois. The farm consisted of 120 acres where small grains, hay, and cattle were raised.
Scope and Contents:
The William C. Kost Farm Records is an exhaustive collection of bills, receipts, pay-stubs, and other financial records relating to the business of a small, mid-western family farm. Beginning with Kost's employment as a bookkeeper in 1942 for local Vermont, Illinois area taverns, the financial records intensely cover the period until the year before his death in 1989. The collection is a complete financial picture of a typical mid-western farm during the post WWII period, through the agricultural boom days of the 1950s and 1960s, and into the trying agricultural times of the late 1970s and 1980s. These financial records reconstruct a day to day, week to week, and month to month, financial portrait of the Kost farm. The limited amount of correspondence found in this collection complements the financial record. Tax returns, medical, and personal expense records are all included within the collection. Kost and his wife ran the farm operation with occasional hired help. Kost also took a job off the farm to supplement the farm income.
The collection is organized into three series.
Series 1, Tavern Accounts, 1939-1945
Series 2, Maryland Farm, 1946
Series 3, William C. Kost Farm, 1946-1989
Biographical / Historical:
William Cassel Kost (1917-1989) acquired land and began farming in Vermont, Illinois in 1946. The farm consisted of 120 acres where Kost raised small grains, hay, and cattle. Prior to this time, Kost had been a bookkeeper for local taverns and a tenant farmer. Over the next fifty-three years, Kost worked his own farm as well as occasionally renting land, the Maryland Farm and others. In the 1950s, Kost secured a position with Hemp & Company, later known as the King-Sealey Thermos Factory, first in a part-time capacity then as a full-time employee, retiring on disability in 1975. He continued to farm until his death in August 1989. He was married to Maxine Elvidge (1916-1987) and had one son, William Elvidge Kost (1941-).
Division of Work and Industry and the Division of Home and Community Life holds artifacts related to this collection.
Donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center by William E. Kost in 1993.
Collection is open for research. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
A farm journal and account book for a farm located at Long Branch, Harford County, Maryland, covering the time period March 1879 to August 1884 (excepting 1880) and documenting all aspects of farm life and labor.
Scope and Contents:
The diary bears numerous handwriting styles, denoting more than one author. The farm documented in this volume featured truck farming, orchards, small grain crops, dairying, and hogs. A possible German or Amish influence is indicated, probably due to its proximity to Pennsylvania, with such products as cider, sauerkraut, wheat and hay being produced, as well as by products from hogs including sausages, lard, and pudding (scrapple). Curing and preservation of meat is documented as well.
All tasks of day-to-day life on the farm, by whom they were performed and with what equipment as well as the weather were recorded. The compiler recorded other such detail as which fertilizers were used for which crops, variety names, how much was paid to each hand who worked on the farm (in the case of tenant farmers, with firewood or cow pasture), names given to animals, and such things as laborers' travel to nearby towns to purchase goods and supplies. Especially descriptive are the parts of the diary relating to livestock, with entries for births, sales, and activities such as butchering, sausage making, curing and preservation of meat.
The farm was comprised of fields, orchards, meadows and gardens, in addition to a number of outbuildings, sheds, smokehouses, a barn, a stable, and a blacksmith shop. Maintenance of these buildings is described in detail in the diary.
This volume is rich in detail about the functioning of a typical American farm during this time period. It also includes an entry for the Fallston, Maryland earthquake of March 11, 1883 (page 95).
The collection is arranged into one series.
Series 1, Farm diary, 1879-1884
Biographical / Historical:
This diary is a combined farm journal and account book for a farm located at or near Long Branch, Harford County, Maryland, covering the time period from March 1879 to August 1894, excepting the year 1880. This was a time when American agriculture was on the cusp of mechanization, and a time when increasing urbanization was changing the demographics of farm life. More and more youth were relocating to urban areas, challenging small family farms to continue to run with fewer people, and forcing them to bring on day laborers or other help.
Farms in the northern part of Maryland were quite distinct from those in the southern part, where tobacco dominated. The farm documented in this volume featured truck farming, orchards, small grain crops, dairying, and hogs. A possible German or Amish influence is indicated, probably due to its proximity to Pennsylvania, with such products as cider, sauerkraut, wheat and hay being produced, as well as by products from hogs including sausages, lard, and pudding (scrapple). Curing and preservation of meat is documented in the volume as well. The products (wheat, hay, cider, sauerkraut) being sold in nearby towns (as documented in the volume) indicates that the farm was not just self-sufficient but also a profitable participant in the market economy.
An interesting entry is found on page 95, for March 11, 1883, "A very perceptible earthquake was experienced here the house shook, & things on sideboard rattled. It lasted about 3 minutes." This is primary documentation of the Fallston, Maryland quake. Other entries mention the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, trips to Hanways' Mill, Ashland and other local destinations.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Robinson and Via Family Papers, 1845-2010, (AC0475)
Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records, 1986-1991, (AC0773)
John K. Parlett Collection of Agriculture Ephemera, (AC1225)
This collection was purchased at auction from Carmen D. Valentino of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2012.
The collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Smithsonian Institution. Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Search this
The "economic crisis" of the early 1980s rivaled the Great Depression of the 1930s in its impact on family farming. Its effects were still being felt in 1991. Some farms that had been in families for a century or more had gone bankrupt; people who loved working the land had been forced to move to towns or cities and work in factories or offices. In many rural areas, churches and schools closed or merged with those in nearby towns because populations had become depleted. Some farmers complained they didn't know their neighbors anymore, as farmland was turned into housing developments or bought up by large agribusinesses. But many family farms survived. In spite of the ups and downs of fluctuating agricultural markets, unpredictable weather, and debt payments, family farmers found strategies to persevere.
Smithsonian researchers identified two things that the families researched for this year's Festival had in common: a body of skills and knowledge inherited between generations within an ethnic and rural tradition; and a keen interest in and understanding of their rural past, reflected in family histories, stories, photos and memorabilia. These two qualities - knowledge and consciousness - can be called "family farm folklore," and they have helped rural families maintain a way of life few of them would willingly trade for easier and often more profitable lives in towns and cities.
The old and the new, the older generation and the younger generation, come together on the family farm. Like folklore itself, life on the family farm embodies both continuity and disjuncture, change and durability. At the Festival, farming families from twelve midwestern states presented their culture through family folklore and storytelling, community celebrations, and demonstrations of work skills - from machinery repair to computer-based management of breeding records. Farm families try to preserve a way of life and to remain stewards of the land. But today their task is more complex than it has ever been, given the economic, technological and informational revolutions in farming. Festival visitors could understand how tensions between an increased productivity through innovation on one hand and a preservation of family lifeways and values on the other, animated the family farmers' challenge of living off and caring for the land.
Betty J. Belanus was Curator of the program, and Barbara Lau was Program Coordinator, with Doris Dietrich as Assistant Program Coordinator. Family Farming in the Heartland was made possible with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Fieldworkers and research associates:
Phyllis Brockmeyer, David Brose, Tim Cooley, Mark Esping, LeeEllen Friedland, Janet Gilmore, Judy Heffernan, Lisa Heffernan, Marjorie Hunt, Melanie LaBorwit, James P. Leary, Marsha McDowell, Bill Moore, John Reynolds, Larry Rutter, Lydia Sage-Chase, Dorothy Shonsey, Mike Shonsey, Catherine Swanson, Norberta Tijerina, Charlie Walden, Peter Wehr
Jane Adams, Eleanor Arnold, Barry Bergey, Ray Brassieur, Jenny Chin, Lynn Ireland, Gordon Kellenberger, Tim Lloyd, Carl Magnuson, Richard March, Phil Nusbaum, Steve Ohrn, J. Sanford Rikoon, Howard Sacks
Eleanor Arnold, Barry Bergey, David Brose, Charley Camp, Mike Combs, LeeEllen Friedland, Judy Heffernan, Marjorie Hunt, Melanie LaBorwit, James P. Leary, Marsha McDowell, J. Sanford Rikoon, Howard Sacks, Lydia Sage-Chase, Mike Shonsey, Catherine Swanson, Jennifer Thisson, Charlie Walden
Arnold Family -- Arnold FamilyClarence "Jake" Arnold, 1925-, hog and grain farming, Rushville, IndianaEleanor Arnold, hog and grain farming, Rushville, IndianaJohn Arnold, 1955-, hog and grain farming, Rushville, IndianaLeslie Arnold, 1953-, hog and grain farming, Rushville, Indiana
Borman Family -- Borman FamilyHarlan Borman, 1939-, dairy farming, Kingdom City, MissouriKatherine Borman, 1967-, dairy farming, Kingdom City, MissouriKelly Bormah, 1965-, dairy farming, Kingdom City, MissouriTimothy Borman, 1965-, dairy farming, Kingdom City, Missouri
Cerny Family -- Cerny FamilyAnthony Cerny, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisBetty Cerny, 1929-, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisEric Cerny, 1972-, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisJosephine Cerny, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisNorbert Cerny, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisRichard Cerny, 1932-, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisTheresa Cerny, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, IllinoisThomas Cerny, tomato, pepper, grain, and beef cattle farming, Cobden, Illinois
Dahl Family -- Dahl FamilyPascalena Dahl, 1918-1998, dairy farming and gardening, Mineral Point, WisconsinTony Dahl, 1964-, dairy farming and gardening, Mineral Point, WisconsinVickie Dahl, 1961-, dairy farming and gardening, Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Gustad Family -- Gustad FamilyJeannie Gustad, 1941-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South DakotaOrdell "Bud" Gustad, 1940-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South DakotaPaul Gustad, 1964-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South DakotaShari Gustad, 1964-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South DakotaSteve Gustad, 1963-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South DakotaVirginia Gustad, 1962-, hog and grain farming, Volin, South Dakota
Hill Family -- Hill FamilyLynnette Hill, potato farming, Imlay City, MichiganRussell Hill, potato farming, Imlay City, MichiganShannon Hill, potato farming, Imlay City, MichiganTyrone Hill, 1951-, potato farming, Imlay City, Michigan
Holmquist Family -- Holmquist FamilyDarrel Holmquist, 1921-, wheat and beef cattle farming, Smolan, KansasMarlysue Holmquist, 1947-, wheat and beef cattle farming, Smolan, KansasMary Holmquist, 1919-, wheat and beef cattle farming, Smolan, KansasThomas Holmquist, 1954-, wheat and beef cattle farming, Smolan, Kansas
Jones Family -- Jones FamilyBrendan Jones, 1980-, hog, beef cattle and grain farming, Ainsworth, NebraskaCarol Jones, 1940-, hog, beef cattle and grain farming, Ainsworth, NebraskaDavid Jones, 1940-, hog, beef cattle and grain farming, Ainsworth, NebraskaLois Jones, 1923-, hog, beef cattle and grain farming, Ainsworth, Nebraska
Logenbach Family -- Logenbach FamilyConnie Logenbach, 1940-, cucumber, sugar beet and cattle farming, Fremont, OhioLarry Logenbach, 1940-, cucumber, sugar beet and cattle farming, Fremont, OhioMike Logenbach, 1970-, cucumber, sugar beet and cattle farming, Fremont, Ohio
Peters Family -- Peters FamilyLarry D. Peters, 1952-, popcorn and beef cattle farming, Vallonia, IndianaLavena Peters, 1922-1993, popcorn and beef cattle farming, Vallonia, IndianaPeg Peters, 1953-, popcorn and beef cattle farming, Vallonia, IndianaRalph Peters, 1921-2003, popcorn and beef cattle farming, Vallonia, Indiana
Simanek Family -- Simanek FamilyAllen Simanek, 1960-, grain and beef cattle farming, Walker, IowaArthur Simanek, 1918-2005, grain and beef cattle farming, Walker, IowaDorothy Simanek, 1924-, grain and beef cattle farming, Walker, IowaLinda Simanek, grain and beef cattle farming, Walker, Iowa
Sage-Chase and Voigt Family -- Sage-Chase and Voigt FamilyLouise Otter "Pretty Eagle" Sage, 1912-1994, Mandan Indian gardening, Halliday, North DakotaBob "Moves Slowly" Sage-Chase, 1934-, Mandan Indian gardening, Halliday, North DakotaAnn Charity "Cornsilk" Voigt, 1928-, Mandan Indian gardening, Halliday, North DakotaJanet "Bird Woman" Voigt, 1964-, Mandan Indian gardening, Halliday, North Dakota
Tomesh Family -- Tomesh FamilyJohn Tomesh, 1919-1999, dairy farming, Rice Lake, WisconsinJoseph Tomesh, 1922-, dairy farming, Rice Lake, WisconsinRose Tomesh, 1928-, dairy farming, Rice Lake, WisconsinVirginia Tomesh, 1929-, dairy farming, Rice Lake, Wisconsin
Tom Weisgerber, 1971-, fiddle, St. Peter, Minnesota
Michele Blizzard, 1964-, fiddle, Frazeyburg, Ohio
Midwestern Parlor Music Styles
Art Galbraith, fiddle, Springfield, Missouri
Paul Keller, 1920-1994, ragtime piano, Hutchinson, Kansas
Gordon McCann, 1931-, guitar, Springfield, Missouri
Bob Andresen, 1937-, guitar, Duluth, Minnesota
Gary Andresen, guitar, Duluth, Minnesota
Farm Songs and Stories
Chuck Suchy, singer, songwriter, Mandan, North Dakota
Michael Cotter, 1931-, storyteller, Austin, Minnesota
Brian and the Mississippi Valley Dutchmen -- Brian and the Mississippi Valley DutchmenBrian Brueggen, band, leader, concertina, Cashton, WisconsinWilhelm Oelke, 1929-1998, drums, vocals, Coon Valley, WisconsinLouis E. Allen, 1932-, tuba, McFarland, WisconsinPhilip Brueggen, 1931-, trumpet, vocals, Cashton, WisconsinDon Burghardt, 1931-, trumpet, trombone, vocals, Sturdevant, WisconsinMilton "Tony" Jorgenson, 1920-, banjo, Coon Valley, Wisconsin
Moon Mullins and the Traditional Grass -- Moon Mullins and the Traditional GrassPaul "Moon" Mullins, fiddle, vocals, Middletown, OhioGerald Evans, Jr., mandolin, vocals, Cincinnati, OhioGlen Inman, 1944-, bass, West Carrollton, OhioWilliam Joseph "Joe" Mullins, banjo, vocals, Hamilton, OhioCharles Mark Rader, 1956-, guitar, vocals, Trenton, Ohio
Rich Hawkins, 1942-, KRVN, Lexington, Nebraska
Lee Kline, 1930-, WHO, Des Moines, Iowa
Verlene Looker, 1945-, KMA, Shenandoah, Iowa
Access by appointment only. Where a listening copy or viewing copy has been created, this is indicated in the respective inventory; additional materials may be accessible with sufficient advance notice and, in some cases, payment of a processing fee. Older papers are housed at a remote location and may require a minimum of three weeks' advance notice and payment of a retrieval fee. Certain formats such as multi-track audio recordings and EIAJ-1 videoreels (1/2 inch) may not be accessible. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at 202-633-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Copyright and other restrictions may apply. Generally, materials created during a Festival are covered by a release signed by each participant permitting their use for personal and educational purposes; materials created as part of the fieldwork leading to a Festival may be more restricted. We permit and encourage such personal and educational use of those materials provided digitally here, without special permissions. Use of any materials for publication, commercial use, or distribution requires a license from the Archives. Licensing fees may apply in addition to any processing fees.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1991 Festival of American Folklife, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Collection, Acc. 1992.0023, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Via, Ida Virginia Woods, 1914-2010 -- 20th century Search this
22.1 Cubic feet (67 boxes, 3 map-size folders)
Motion pictures (visual works)
Maryland -- Family farms
Prince George's County (Md.)
Arizona -- motion pictures
Charles County (Md.) -- Family farms
Calvert County (Md.) -- Family farms
California -- motion pictures
Bahamas -- motion pictures
Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
Puerto Rico -- motion pictures
Washington -- motion pictures
Oregon -- motion pictures
St. Thomas, V.I. -- motion pictures
Florida -- motion pictures
Papers documenting the farming and family life of the Robinson family of Prince George's County and after 1975, Charles County, Maryland. Papers documenting the farming and family of the Via family of Greene County, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Prince George's and Calvert Counties, Maryland, by 1949.
Scope and Contents:
An extensive and comprehensive collection of papers relating to family, farming, and the Southern Maryland tobacco culture, the Robinson and Via Family Papers cover many aspects of family and farm life. The papers are particularly important in regard to the tobacco culture that defined Southern Maryland for generations. The papers concern two distinct family groups, the Robinson and Via families who are connected through the marriage of Franklin A. Robinson and Adina Mae Via. The papers consist of material generated by the Robinson and Via families in their personal and working lives and as farm owners and operators.
The papers are especially strong in 20th century material. They consist of various types of farm records: account books, bills, receipts, tenant farming agreements, ephemera, land rental and purchase agreements, insurance policies, photographs and 8mm and 16mm films of farming practices and procedures, equipment and landscapes, related to the farming of tobacco, small grains, and livestock. The personal records include diaries, letters both personal and business, greeting cards, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, baby books, house plans, recipe books, photographs and 8mm films of birthdays, holidays, weddings, baptisms, family occasions, and family travel, oral histories, and funeral ephemera including photographs, and transcription discs. Of particular interest are the "Serenity Farm Tobacco Production Photographs" documenting the crop year 1999-2000 and the films detailing agricultural practices. There is a memorandum book for Black Walnut Thicket, 1885-1901, the Baden farm in Baden, Prince George's County.
This collection includes a comprehensive range of 8mm and 16mm films and photographs documenting farming practices and landscapes as well as family gatherings, birthdays, holidays, and vacations. The researcher is alerted to the fact that in some cases with the memorandum and account books, books printed for a given year were often saved and used for subsequent years, some were dated, some were not.
The collection is divided into seven series arranged by subject and most often chronologically at folder level within each series.
The collection is divided into seven series:
Series 1: Ferndale Farm (Potomac Landing), Prince George's County, Maryland, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.1: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, and publications, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.2: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, 1945-1960, undated
Subseries 1.3: Farm papers, bills, and receipts, 1960-1965, undated
Series 2: Robinson Family, 1845-1997, undated
Subseries 2.1: Family Papers and Publications, 1845-1993, undated
The Robinson family is thought to be of Scottish origin and appear in the records of Prince George's County, Maryland by the early 18th century. The line has been definitively traced to James Robinson (?-1849). James' father was probably Benjamin Robinson (?-1810), of Prince George's County, Maryland. (Will Book TT1, pg. 15, Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Maryland State Archives (MSA))
James Robinson and Sarah Wynn were issued a marriage license on February 28, 1802 in Prince George's County, Maryland. (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland) Eleven children lived to maturity (not listed in birth order); Thomas Wells (1803-1869), Ann, Priscilla, James Monroe, Benjamin (1813-1882), John C. (1819-1895), Mary Sophia, Thomas Stanley (1800-1874), Alfred, Sarah Ann, Matilda, and Rebecca Maria.
James worked as overseer for Benjamin Oden on Oden's estate Bellefields near Upper Marlborough, Prince George's County. (Oden Papers, Maryland Historical Society) The Robinsons and their children, moved to Wood County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on April 18, 1818 where James acted as Oden's land agent (Deed Book 6, pg. 123, Land Records of Wood County, West Virginia). They brought with them three slaves described in the above reference as, "Kate a woman 45 years of age very black; Colonel a boy aged 8 years yellow complexion: and George a boy aged six years of a dark brown complexion." They settled on part of what was known as the "Burnt Mill" tract in the general area where the Hughes River meets the Little Kanawha River. (Deed Book 9, pg. 110 and Deed Book 14, pg. 40, Land Records of Wood County)
Thomas Wells Robinson may not have accompanied his family to Virginia as he has a presence in Prince George's County prior to 1822 and was employed as overseer for Benjamin Oden at least until 1832. He married Elizabeth I. Richards on December 15, 1829 (Robinson Family Bible). They had nine children; Richard Thomas (1831 1906), Rebecca Maria (1832-1895), Mary Wynn (1834-1916), James George (1835-1883), Virlinda Victoria (1837-1838), Elizabeth Ann (1839-1916), Sarah Ann Sophia (1840-1874), Franklin Alexander (1841-1905) and John Alfred (1843); seven lived to maturity. (Robinson Family Bible) Elizabeth died on August 17, 1843 from complications in childbirth. She was buried in the churchyard of Page's Chapel (later known as St. Thomas Episcopal Church), Croom, Prince George's County.
In 1843, Thomas purchased the plantation of Dr. Benjamin B. Hodges for $10,000 or approximately $15 an acre. Hodges was a brother-in-law of Benjamin Oden. The deed dated September 7, 1843 describes the parcel as containing, "Six hundred and twenty nine acres of land more or less and constitute that plantation or Estate of the said Benjamin Oden heretofore commonly called "Brown's Quarter Place" being the Land tracts and parcels of land sold by the said Benjamin Oden to the said Benjamin B. Hodges and by deed bearing date the tenth day of December eighteen hundred and thirty five and recorded in Liber AB no. 10 folio 162 also one of the land Records of the County aforesaid". (JBB no. 3 pgs. 312 314, Land Records of Prince George's County) The land was level to rolling bordered on the north by a tributary of Piscataway Creek and generally termed "white oak land". Underlying the whole property was a large strata of gravel and sand. The entire parcel went by the name, Potomac Landing.
Thomas supplemented his land holdings with later purchases. With the exception of twenty acres purchased from Sarah Talbert in 1844, (JBB no. 3 pg. 475, Land Records of Prince George's County) and the purchase of lot #3 consisting of 195 acres, part of the estate of John Townshend in 1856, these purchases were not contiguous to Potomac Landing. By the time of his death in 1869 these non-contiguous parcels had been sold. Thomas sold eighty-six acres of Potomac Landing and Jeffries to Edward Eversfield in October of 1843. (JBB no. 3, pg. 198, Land Records of Prince George's County) On January 13, 1846 Thomas married the widow Martha Ann Walls, daughter of George and Martha Naylor Walls. They had two sons; Benjamin Wells (1848-1849) and Robert Henry (1851-1937).
In addition to his sons, Thomas owned slaves. The number varied from six in 1849 (JBB 6, folio 186, Land Records of Prince Georges' County) to eleven as noted in the census for 1850, and finally six as noted in the census of 1860. The 1867 Maryland Slave Statistics noted that, "at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of Maryland, in the year 1864, . . ." Thomas owned six slaves, their names and ages being; Isaac Franklin age 31, Alfred West age 19, Susan West age 17, Margaret Franklin age 14, Fannie Franklin age 12, and Peter Franklin age 9. All were noted as being in good physical condition. (Prince Georges' County Slave Statistics 1867 1869, C 1307 1, MdHR:6198, page 185, MSA)
In April 11, 1855 Thomas excuted a deed of trust to J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore for securing a loan. At that time the farm was described as, "about five hundred and seventy acres . . . also the following personal property to wit Eight head of horses, nine cows, two mules, twelve work oxen, twenty Eight Sheep, one bull, two colts and all other stock of every description now on the aforesaid land, also the farming utensils and the following named Slaves, Stephen aged Sixty three years, Isaac aged twenty six years, Elvia aged twenty Eight years Alfred aged twelve years, Hanson aged ten years, Henrietta aged twelve years Susanna aged eight years, and Margaret aged three years. Together with the crop of Tobacco now in the house and the crop of wheat now growing." (EWB 1 pages 155 156, Land Records of Prince Georges' County)
Thomas's financial problems began in the mid-1800s when Deeds of Trust appear in the county records securing outstanding loans. In 1856 and 1857 Thomas joined with others as bondsman for his son, Richard who was serving as "Collector of the State and County Taxes" for the 4th collection district, making he and the other signatories liable for any uncollected taxes. This, coupled with poor investments, led to his almost being "sold out" in 1859-1860 by J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore to pay his debts. He executed three drafts on Penn & Mitchell, also of Baltimore, to pay off J.W. & E. Reynolds. (Equity Case #597, Prince Georges' County) Thomas was in poor health and his son James managed the plantation in 1857 and 1858, and again from 1861 to October of 1862 (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County)
In October of 1862 Thomas' two sons, James and Franklin, traveled to Richmond to join the Confederate States Army. James enrolled in the 5th Battalion, Local Defense Arsenal and Franklin enrolled in the 5th Virginia Infantry, the Stonewall Brigade. (CSA Military Records, National Archives) James visited home frequently but was captured by the Union Army in St. Mary's County, Maryland on May 15, 1864 and spent the remainder of the war in Point Lookout Prison Camp. He was released on May 14, 1865. Franklin was not able to visit home at all during the war but survived to return home in 1865.
In 1865, Thomas surveyed a parcel of 172 acres for his daughter Rebecca Maria. Rebecca had married her second cousin, William B. Robertson, on November 18, 1855. He made a gift of fifty acres, and Rebecca agreed to purchase the remainder. The Robertsons named this parcel Holly Grove. In Equity Case #849 (1872) filed after Thomas' death, his widow Martha and Samuel H. Berry, as executrix and executor, sought to recover payment for this land. At that time, William B. Robertson described this 172 acres of Potomac Landing: "There was no fences on the line which separated this land from the old gentleman's land, but he was to put a fence on it which he agreed to do before we agreed to come there. The land was thin, unimproved, with gullies and scrubby pine. If witness had been a judge of land he would not have given five dollars for it. All the improvements were one comfortable quarter the other indifferent with a poor oak shingle roof, worn out which made it not tenantable." Further along in his testimony, William gave an account of a conversation, "In a few days my father in law Thos. W. Robinson came to Washington and told me there his children had returned from the South, his two sons, that his debts were small and he was a happy man." Rebecca and William built a house on the property, a side-hall, double parlor plan that most likely her brother James was builder. They also built accompanying farm structures. (Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Equity Case #849, MSA)
Thomas' son, Franklin, managed the farm after the War. In December 1868 Thomas entered into a sharecropping agreement with Edward Hanson, an African-American. After about a year-long illness, on May 16, 1869, Thomas died, deeply in debt. He was buried beside Elizabeth in the graveyard at St. Thomas' Church. He named as executrix his wife, Martha, and his friend and lawyer, Samuel H. Berry, as executor. His will divided the farm into thirds, one third going to his wife and their son Robert Henry, one third to his son James, and one third to his son Franklin. The land was surveyed according to the will. His personal property was sold but not enough profit was realized to pay off his creditors. The Commissioners of Prince George's County sued the estate on behalf of Thomas' creditors. The outcome was that in 1876 the property was sold at public auction. The Notice of Sale dated September 1, 1876 in the local county newspaper, The Prince Georgian, describes the farm as, "containing 514 2/3 acres More or less. The Improvements consist of a SMALL DWELLING, Three Barns, Stabling, and other necessary outbuildings. It is well wooded and watered, and the soil of fair quality. It has recently been divided into three lots and will be offered in lots, a description of which will be given at the time of sale." The sale was held on September 27, 1876, Lot No. 1 was purchased by Robert for $6.00 an acre, Lot #2 was purchased by Franklin for $5.00 an acre and Lot #3 was purchased by James for $4.00 per acre. Robert and Franklin eventually paid off their mortgage, but James defaulted on his purchase and later moved to St. Mary's County, Maryland. His portion later came to be owned by the Hawkins family, some members who had worked on the Robinson farm. (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County, MSA)
Lot #1, purchased by Robert from his fathers' estate, consisted of 177-1/3 acres, including the dwelling and farm buildings. On July 24, 1872, he married Amanda Malvina Baden (1849-1940), daughter of Robert W. G. and Margaret Caroline Early Baden. The Baden and Early families were both prominent south county families. Robert and Amanda had eight children; Caroline Early (1873 1967), Lucy Tennent (1875 1958), Albert Henry (1878 1914), Martha Perry (1880 1961), Robert Gover (1882 1882), Frank Alexander (1883 1970), Margaret Baden (1886 1956) and Grace Malvina (1889 1965).
By 1880 Robert had paid off his debt on the property and was fully engaged in farming. Unlike his father, or perhaps because of his father, Robert did not add to his land holdings, choosing to remain relatively debt free for his lifetime. The only land transactions he participated in were the sales of 79-3/4 acres in 1921 of Amanda's inheritance from her father and her interest in two smaller parcels of her father's land sold in 1894 and 1928 respectively. In 1928 he transferred 3.09 acres to his son Frank.
As late as the Federal census of 1880, Franklin was living with Robert and his household, both men engaged in farming. Sometime after 1880, Franklin took up residence on his part of Potomac Landing. His brother James most likely built the side-hall double parlor house that copied the main house at Potomac Landing. On February 18, 1897, Martha Robinson, died at the age of ninety. She was buried in the graveyyard of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's County.
Robert continued cultivation of tobacco and small grains as his father before him. The first reference to the farm being named Ferndale is found in the "Communion Record" of Robert's daughter, Martha Perry "Pattie", dated 1896. (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The exact origin or reason for this new name is lost but perhaps the name Potomac Landing held such bitter memories of debt and hardship that, as a symbolic break with the past, a new name was found. It also may have simply been a way to distinguish this portion of Potomac Landing from the others. The farm continued to be listed on tax bills as Potomac Landing well into the 20th century, but was known to the general public and businesses as the Ferndale Farm. (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Robert served as deputy inspector at the State Tobacco Warehouse in Baltimore for eight years under W.B. Bowie. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Brandywine. In July of 1905, Franklin died, a bachelor farmer. He was buried facing south in the graveyard of the Church of the Atonement, Cheltenham, (a chapel in St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish) where he had served as vestryman, treasurer, and cemetery custodian. Franklin died intestate and a lengthy process of dividing his estate began. This resulted in the sale of his part of Potomac Landing (Lot #2) in July 1908 to William E. Boswell. The court declared Robert ineligible for any inheritance due to his being " . . . a brother of the half blood." The Boswell family later sold the property to the Billingsley family of St. Mary's County. (Equity Case 3209, Prince George's County)
In 1910, after living in the farm's original home for approximately sixty seven years, the Robinson family built a new home. It was described in a 1956 insurance policy as, "2 story, frame, metal roof, 16x43, wing 14x28, 9 rooms." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The house design was a simple Victorian with plastered walls, and lit by carbide gas. Electrical lighting was installed in 1951. The house was built with monies from Robert and Amanda, and their son Frank, who served as builder and contractor.
On Tuesday March 9, 1937, "During a celebration in honor of his wifes birthday anniversary, Mr. Robinson collapsed at the table and died immediately without a word or a sigh." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) Robert was buried beside his mother in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden.
At Robert's death, Ferndale Farm was valued at $30.00 an acre, the total acreage, 174 acres, being valued in the whole at $5,220.00. Robert died intestate, again the fate of the land was in question. He left eight heirs, his widow, Amanda, six of his children and his son Albert Henry's only surviving child, R. Henry Robinson. Rather than have the farm sold and his mother's life disrupted, Frank purchased the estate and personal property from the heirs. Before this could take place, a deed had to be granted the heirs for the property since one had never been recorded after the 1876 sale. Equity case 873 was reopened sixty-two years after its supposed resolution. Frank testified, "over a period of about thirty years I would on a number of occasions, talk about the fact that he had purchased and paid for this property and that a deed had never been executed to him and [he] kept saying he was going to have someone straighten this matter out for him." It was discovered that Robert had fully paid for his part of Potomac Landing. On February 14, 1938 the farm was deeded from Amanda along with Robert''s heirs to Frank. (Book 499, page 334, Land Records of Prince George's County) According to the deed and a 1937 fire insurance policy the farm consisted of 177 1/3 acres, "1 two story dwelling, one tenant house, 1 barrack, 1 tobacco barn, 1 corn house & cow stable, 1 Stable, and 1 Granary & Stable." (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Frank A. Robinson, now the sole owner of Ferndale Farm, was born August 17, 1883. He learned farming and in addition took up the trade of builder and contractor. As a young man, he worked in the general store of his uncle Robert Baden. He was the contractor for the first Bank of Brandywine and many homes in and around the town of Brandywine, including the home of his cousin Robert E. Baden, DDS. He was secretary of the Building Committee for construction of the Chapel of the Incarnation in Brandywine, a mission chapel for St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish. His success in the building trade gave him disposable income that he invested in land. His first purchase was in August, 1915 of a 2-9/100 acre of land in Brandywine that was being sold by the Board of County School Commissioners; the purchase price was $300. In March 1916 he purchased 38.09 acres of his Uncle Franklin's farm. This property adjoined Ferndale Farm.
Over the next fifty-four years of his life, Frank bought and sold many pieces of real estate. Perhaps his most significant purchases were: 18-1/3 acres purchased from The German American Colonization Land Company of Maryland in October 1915 (Book 115, pg. 140, Land Records of Prince George's County); 147.99 acres purchased from August and Wilhelmina Noltensmeir in December 1917 (Book 129, pg. 263, Land Records of Prince George's County) and 320 acres called the Vineyard purchased from William M. Wilson in March 1928. Frank used these three parcels as collateral for other purchases. Never once did he mortgage Ferndale Farm, insuring that no matter what financial stormy seas might blow, his home was secure. Over the course of his life, especially in the case of the Noltensmeir farm, when cash was needed a parcel of land would be surveyed off and sold. He inherited his grandfather Thomas' love of land but had fortunately developed a shrewd business sense to go along with it.
On November 20, 1929, he married Elizabeth Freeland Bourne, daughter of Joseph Blake and Maria Gantt Bourne of Calvert County, Maryland. They had three children: Mary Elizabeth (1930-2009), Franklin Alexander (1932), and Robert Lee (1935-1997). In addition to his construction business he continued farming, raising tobacco, hay, and small grains. He engaged in sharecropping with tenants on his various properties. He was active in community affairs serving on the Board of The Maryland Tobacco Growers Association (MTGA), the Vestry of St. Thomas Parish, and as sheriff of Brandywine. On January 9, 1940 Amanda Baden Robinson died. She was buried next to her husband at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden. In February 1958, Frank and Elizabeth conveyed 1.57 acres of Ferndale Farm to son Franklin where he and his fiancée, Adina M. Via, were building their new home prior to their marriage in July of that same year.
The booming economy and suburbanization of the Washington metropolitan area in the early 1960's led to the high quality gravel lying beneath Ferndale into becoming a valuable commodity. In October 1962, Franklin and his parents granted a three-year lease to William C. Nolte for mining sand and gravel on the Ferndale Farm at .174 per yard. (Book 2747, pg. 11, Land Records of Prince George's County) From now until 1975 when the property was sold, gravel would be mined from under the farm by various companies. In November 1962, Elizabeth and Frank transferred to Franklin the 38.09 acres Frank had purchased from Fitzhugh Billingsley in 1916. (Book 2754, pg. 99, Land Records of Prince George's County) That same year they transferred 6.754 acres, part of the Vineyard, to son Robert and his wife Lois, (Book 2765, pg. 201, Land Records of Prince George's County)
On December 28, 1965, Frank and Elizabeth participated in a land exchange/purchase of the farm of Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown located along the Patuxent River in Benedict, Charles County, Maryland. Franklin had rented this farm the year before and was impressed enough by its location and arability to work out a purchase. Frank and Elizabeth traded 65.9920 acres that would eventually become Franklin's under Frank's will. On February 21, 1966 they deeded the Charles County farm to Franklin and Adina. Adina named this property Serenity Farm. The property consisted of 480.66 acres. (Liber 179, page 708 etc., Land Records of Charles County)
On February 5, 1970, after a short illness, Frank died at Cafritz Memorial Hospital. He was buried at St. Paul's Episcopal Church near his parents. In his will, probated March 4, 1970 he left thirty acres of the property purchased from the German American Land Company and A. Noltensmeir to Elizabeth. He willed forty acres of the same parcel to daughter Mary Robinson Conner. The remainder of Ferndale Farm was willed to Franklin and the remaining acreage of the Vineyard was left to Robert Lee.
Franklin Alexander Robinson was born August 13, 1932 at the Garfield Hospital in Washington, D.C.. He received his schooling in the public school system of Prince George's County, graduating from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. He was a charter member of Gwynn Park's chapter of The Future Farmers of America. He was extremely active in FFA, achieving the Degree of Maryland Farmer in 1950 and their highest award, the Degree of American Farmer at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri in October 1953. He obtained his private pilots license in 1954. He entered the United States Army in February 1955 and went through basic training at Camp Gordon, Augusta, Georgia. After basic training he was transferred to Camp Hanford, Washington State. There he worked part time on the farm of Dick and Theresa Laurent during his off duty hours and began a lifelong friendship with them. He returned home to farming on an agricultural discharge in October of 1956. On July 27, 1958 he married his high school sweetheart, Adina Mae Via, daughter of Robert Milton and Virginia Woods Via. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962), and Adina Theresa (1963).
Franklin continued expanding and improving the farming operation by modern methods and means. At times, he farmed over one thousand acres, both owned and rented. On February 21, 1966, his parents deeded their purchase of the Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown farm in Benedict to he and Adina, later known as Serenity Farm Franklin and Adina engaged an architect to draft house plans for an anticipated new residence. A small A frame vacation home was built on the property so the family could spend weekends there.
On December 14, 1966, after a long illness, Adina died from complications associated with Hodgkin's Disease. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Waldorf, Charles County. Franklin married Margaret Walker Lennox (nee Tallen, known as Rita) on August 21, 1970 (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland). This marriage ended in divorce in 1977. There were no children from this marriage.
On July 14, 1975 the Robinson family, Franklin, his second wife, Margaret, her daughter Margaret W. Lennox, Franklin, Jr., R. David, A. Theresa and Elizabeth B. Robinson, moved to Serenity Farm. On July 17, 1975 Franklin and Elizabeth sold the remaining acreage of Ferndale Farm to Brandywine Sand and Gravel, thus ending 131 years of ownership by the Robinson family. Elizabeth Bourne Robinson died on July 15, 1976 and was buried beside her husband at St. Paul's Church, Baden. Franklin married Hiltrud (Ceddie) Harris (nee Sedlacek) on July 15, 1978. (Robinson Family Bible) This marriage ended in divorce in 1986. There were no children from this marriage. Franklin married Diedre Gale Merhiage on April 19, 1989; this marriage ended in divorce in 1997. There were no children from this marriage. He married Remelda Henega Buenavista on January 13, 2007.
The Robinson family continue day-to-day operations of Serenity Farm. The land is well suited to the growing of tobacco and small grains, which crops, (with the exception of tobacco) along with a flock of sheep, are cultivated there to the present time. After the crop year 2001 the Robinson family took the tobacco buyout program offered by the state of Maryland and ceased growing tobacco. Franklin is active in farming and community affairs having served on the vestry of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of Directors of MTGA, the Board of the Production Credit Association, the Boards of three schools, Holy Trinity Day School, Queen Anne School, and Calverton School, and numerous other organizations. Currently the farm consists of approximately 275 acres. In 1981 a state agricultural land preservation district of 222.755 acres was created. This was the first such district in Charles County and one of the first in the state of Maryland.
In 1985, R. David began a greenhouse business for the sale of spring flowering bedding plants and hanging baskets but currently works in conjunction with Farming 4 Hunger to grow produce for local area foodbanks. A. Theresa is involved in the daily running of the farm along with Franklin. Franklin, Jr., obtained a BFA degree in Drama from The Catholic University of America in 1981 and an MA from The American University in Film and Video Production in 1988. He was a civilian employee of the United States Air Force (USAF) from November 1981 to January 1986. He pursued a full time career as a professional actor from 1986-2007 and is a published author and produced playwright. The three siblings have been involved in community affairs, with R. David sitting on the Charles County Agricultural Preservation Board, A. Theresa having served on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Parish, Charles County, and Franklin, Jr. having served on the vestries of both Trinity Parish and St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of the Washington Literacy Council, a choir member of the choir at St. Thomas Church, among other church related posts and as chair of the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission.
The Via family traces its origins to the colony of Virginia, where the probable progenitor of the line, Amer Via, a French Huguenot, settled in Manakin Town, Albemarle County between 1670-1700. It is impossible to trace the Via line definitively due to the loss of Virginia county records during the Civil War.
The Via family line covered in this collection can be definitively traced to William Via of Fredericksville Parish, Louisa (later Albemarle) County, Virginia. The William Via family lived west of the present day town of Whitehall at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area commonly known as Sugar Hollow. William Via III served in the Virginia Line during the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Craig, daughter of Thomas Craig and Jane Jameson, on March 17, 1784. William died on June 27, 1836, in Albemarle County (Rev. War Pension Appl. 6363, National Archives). His son Thomas married Sally, widow Griffin, on January 1, 1811 (Albemarle County Marriage Records). Their son, Hiram Karl Via (1812-1893), married Harriet Ardenia Naylor by license dated March 7, 1836 (Albemarle County Marriage Records).
Hiram and Harriet's son, Robert St. Clair Via (1844-1925), served as a private in Company I, 7th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States Army (CSA Military Service Records, National Archives). After the war he married his first cousin, Mary Frances Naylor, daughter of Samuel Chapman Naylor and Eliza Jane Gardner, on April 3, 1866 in Rockingham County (Rockingham County, Virginia, Marriage Records). Sometime between 1870 and 1872, they moved to Linn County, Missouri, and settled about seven miles from the town of Bucklin. Their son, Hiram Chapman Via (1872-1933), was born there. In 1893, the family returned to Virginia, and settled on a farm in Greene County near the town of Stanardsville.
Hiram Chapman Via operated a mill as well as a farm. On March 15, 1899, he married Adina Eleanor Eusebia Runkle, daughter of Milton D. L. Runkle and Roberta A. Beadles (Greene County, Virginia, Marriage Records). They had three children: Bernice Olive (1902-1999), Robert Milton (1906-1983), and Deward Daniel (1909-1977).
Robert moved to Washington, D.C.. In December 1927 he began employment with the Capitol Traction Company as a streetcar conductor (Robinson and Via Family Papers). During the early 1930s, Robert rented a townhouse at 715 A St., SE, where he lived with his sister Bernice V. McMullan and her son, William C. McMullan; his brother and sister in law, and his parents. Next door, at 717, lived the Moses Albright family, including Moses's stepdaughter Ida Virginia Woods (1914-2010), daughter of Jesse Lee Woods (1894-1918) and Donna Mae Barker (1896-1928) of Frederick County, Maryland. Robert and Virginia began a courtship and on September 3, 1932 were married in Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland (Frederick County, Maryland, Marriage Records).
After their marriage, Robert and Virginia lived in various locations in the Washington metropolitan area. Their first child, Robert Delano, was born on March 24, 1933, and their second child, Adina Mae, was born on April 12, 1937. Virginia was employed outside the home while her children were in school. Her first job before her marriage had been with Woolworth's in Martinsburg, WV working the candy counter and then before the birth of her son at The Hecht Company on F St. in Washington, D.C.. After her marriage she worked briefly for the United States Postal Service in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Beginning in the 1950s, she worked for Charles of the Ritz as a receptionist in their beauty salon located in Woodward & Lothrop's F Street store in Washington, D.C.. She also worked as salon manager at the Charles of the Ritz salons in the Woodward & Lothrop stores in Seven Corners, Virginia, and Chevy Chase, Maryland. She retired due to health reasons in 1973.
On September 10, 1941, Robert and Virginia purchased Lot #43 in Woodlane subdivision in Prince George's County. (Book 619, pg. 12, Land Records of Prince George's County) A house was designed for them for this lot by Clyde E. Phillips. They did not construct a home on this property due to the outbreak of World War II. Robert, due to his employment in public transportation, did not serve with the Armed Services in World War II. On October 18, 1946, they purchased approximately thirty acres bordering on Burch's Creek near the towns of Clinton, also know as Surrattsville, and T.B. in Prince George's County from Joseph H. and M. Pauline Blandford. (Book 873, pg. 483, Land Records of Prince George's County) Over the next three years, hiring private contractors, doing work themselves, and with the help of Robert's brother Deward, they built the two story house designed by Phillips in 1941. They moved to the farm from Capitol Heights in 1949. Robert raised hogs, small grains and a crop of tobacco yearly on this farm and also maintained his job with Capitol Transit (formerly Capitol Traction).
In 1954, Robert and Virginia purchased a farm of approximately 150 acres in Island Creek, Calvert County, Maryland. The intention was for Robert and his son to enter into a full time farming operation on expanded acreage. Robert D. Via, known as Delano, graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. Delano was a part-time farmer and pursued a career as a country and western singer with Bashful Bob and the Rhythm Rangers, he being Bashful Bob. He was employed in various jobs, and began a tour in the Army in 1953. By the time the Via family moved to Calvert County in 1956, he decided to pursue careers other than farming. He eventually traveled and worked in various parts of the United States. He married first Delores Cooper, second Gloria J. Irick, and finally Candice Marinelli in December 1974, they had two children, Robert Marin (1975) and Kirstin Marin (1976).
On June 1, 1956 Robert resigned from his position at Capitol Transit due to health reasons. He and his family moved to the farm in Island Creek, Calvert County where he began full time farming. He and Virginia sold the thirty-acre farm in Prince George's County on June 21, 1956 to Melvin C. and Geraldine H. Rardia. (Book 2003, pg. 564, Land Records of Prince George's County) Virginia continued her employment with Charles of the Ritz. Adina, now a graduate of Gwynn Park High School, was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland. They both commuted daily from Calvert County to their places of employment.
Robert farmed in Calvert County, raising hogs, cattle, small grains and tobacco. Over the course of the next twenty-seven years, Robert and Virginia sold smaller parcels off the farm. In 1974, Robert and Virginia built a small retirement home designed for them by Calvert Masonry Contractors. Robert died on December 22, 1983. He was buried beside his daughter Adina in Trinity Memorial Gardens. At the time of Robert's death, the farm consisted of 28.694 acres. In 1998, Virginia deeded the remainder of the farm, then less than six acres, to her grandson, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. who sold all but a one-acre lot in April 1999.
Virginia continued to live on the farm in Calvert County, maintaining a small herd of cattle. In the fall of 1989 Franklin, Jr. went to live with her. In 1993, the onset of Alzheimer's Disease required her to move to Serenity Farm and take up residence with her granddaughter A. Theresa. Virginia participated in various studies on Alzheimer's Disease conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland beginning in 1992. She was profiled in the September 1997 issue of Washingtonian Magazine. In October of 1998 she moved to All American Senior Care in Brandywine, Maryland and in 1999 she moved to Morningside, an elderly care facility in Waldorf, Maryland. In 2002, she moved to St. Mary's Nursing Center in Leonardtown, Maryland. The remainder of the farm was sold in 1999 and 2002. She died January 14, 2010 and was buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf.
Adina Mae Via was born April 12, 1937 at the Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, D.C.. Adina grew up in Washington, D.C. attending public schools. She moved with her family to the Burch's Creek farm, Prince George's County, in 1949. She enrolled in the Prince George's County school system, and graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June of 1955. After graduation, she was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs.
In July of 1956, she moved with her family to the Via farm in Island Creek, Calvert County. On July 27, 1958 she married Franklin A. Robinson at the Chapel of the Incarnation. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962) and Adina Theresa (1963). In the fall of 1958, she and Franklin took up residence in the home they had built on Ferndale Farm. She resigned from her position with the USAF in 1959.
On December 14, 1966, at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, Adina died from complications due to Hodgkin's Disease. She had been battling this disease for many years prior to her death. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Charles County.
Materials at Other Organizations
The Maryland Historical Society holds items (costume, farming related implements) related to the Robinson and Via families.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Work and Industry (Agriculture Collection) holds agricultural implements and artifacts associated with both the Robinson farms and the Via farm; the Division of Home and Community Life holds clothing, textiles (crib quilt), jewelry, cosmetics and Adina M. Robinson's sewing box and dress patterns; (Costume and Textiles Collection). See accession numbers: 1989.0688, 1990.0394, 1991.0010; 1991.0722, 1992.0184, 1992.0283, 1992.0321, 1992.0474, 1992.3106, 1994.0064, 1994.0304, 1997.0327, 1998.0038, 1998.0129, 2001.0196, 2002.0087, 2003.0015, 2005.0009.
Division of Armed Forces History (National Numismatics Collection) holds the Robert M. Via Trolley Token Collection.
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center, by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., in November 1993.
Unrestricted research use on site to portions of collection, but some papers of living persons are restricted. Access to restricted portions may be arranged by request to donor. Gloves required for unprotected photographs. Viewing film portions of the collection and listening to LP recording requires special appointment.
The Archives Center does not own exclusive rights to these materials. Copyright for all materials is retained by the donor, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.; permission for commercial use and/or publication may be requested from the donor through the Archives Center. Military Records for Franklin A. Robinson (b. 1932) and correspondence from Richard I. Damalouji (1961-2014) are restricted; written permission is needed to research these files. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.