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.)
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Charles County (Md.) -- Family farms
Calvert County (Md.) -- Family farms
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Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
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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, 1845-2017, 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.
No restrictions. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Contact SIA Reference Staff for further information (email email@example.com)
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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This collection consists of photographs, news clippings, and correspondence documenting Thaden's aviation career.
Scope and Contents:
The Louise McPhetridge Thaden Collection contains numerous newspaper and journal articles, personal letters and business correspondence, writings, photographs, and scrapbooks, all relating to her aviation career.
The National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Archives Division also holds additional materials about Louise Thaden. Biographical information can be found in the biographical fiche collection at the NASM Archives/Garber Facility. In the NASM Archives downtown facility, we recommend the Biographical Files which contain additional newspaper and journal articles, letters, memorabilia, and photographs. Please note that these files also contain microfiche.
For additional photographs please see the NASM videodisc files located at the NASM Archives Udvar-Hazy facility. The images can be seen on NASM videodisc 7B-6445 --6491 (Accession # 1989- 0132). Also check NASM videodisc 2B-46705 --46805. In most cases, there are original videodisc prints available in the NASM Archives facility downtown and copy negatives at the Smithsonian Institution, Office of Printing and Photographic Services (OPPS). Please consult a staff member for more details and about ordering procedures
This collection had little original arrangement, and accordingly, has been divided into six general series according to material types.
Series 1: GENERAL. This series contains mostly journal and newspaper articles, but also includes telegrams, letters, applications, invitations, examples of commercial endorsements, membership certificates, and original race information and itineraries. It is arranged in chronological order. Significant events are highlighted. In some cases, newspaper clippings with handwritten messages have been kept for their inherent value.
Series 2: WRITINGS. This series contains samples of her various writings. It is arranged in chronological order.
Series 3: PHOTOGRAPHS. This series contains photographs. The subject matter ranges from childhood activities to award ceremonies. It is divided by two large subject groupings: first—people (arranged by general categories), second—events (arranged by date). All paperwork directly related to a particular photograph has been kept with that photograph. Please note that Smithsonian Institution negative numbers are written on the back of each photograph when applicable. Sub-topics listed in the finding aid are meant to highlight particular topics in each folder and are not intended to indicate exclusive content. Please review each folder thoroughly.
Series 4: SCRAPBOOKS. This series contains seven scrapbooks of various sizes and content and two Civil Air Patrol award certificates. The inclusive dates are listed next to the individual scrapbook. The content of the scrapbooks date mostly from 1919-1940 and contain photographs, newspaper articles, membership certificates, licenses, contestant ribbons, invitations, business cards, and cartoons about Thaden. Handling notes are listed next to individual scrapbooks in the finding aid. Please follow these notes so that the physical integrity of the object can be preserved.
Series 5: THADEN AIRCRAFT CO. AND RELATED MATERIAL. This series contains information about Thaden Aircraft Company and Herbert von Thaden. Items in this series include: newspaper and journal article, resumes, letters, photographs, and information about the All-Metal aircraft created by Herbert Thaden. This series is the only portion of the collection with any obvious arrangement and was separated into its own series for this reason.
Series 6: MISCELLANEOUS. This series contains all of the materials that do not appear to fit easily into any of the above series. The items here include undated or general journal and newspaper articles, newspapers from University of Arkansas, maps, Who's Who application, musical score, souvenir stamps, travel souvenirs, and resumes.
Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979) was one of the United States foremost female aviators during the late 1920s and 1930s. She received instruction in 1927, soloing and receiving her pilot's license in 1928. In December 1928, Thaden achieved a new altitude record of 20,260 ft. In March 1929, she made a new solo duration record, 22+ hours. A month later she set a new speed record of 156 mph. Thaden was the only woman to hold all three records simultaneously. In August 1929, Thaden won the First Women's National Air Derby, commonly called the Powder Puff Derby. Three years later (August 1932), she, along with Francis Marsalis, set the new refueling duration record of 196 hours. In July 1936, Thaden set the new light plane speed record at 109.58 mph. In the same year, she also won the National Air Race, and was awarded the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race Trophy, becoming the first woman ever to receive this trophy. She set an East-West speed record in 1936, and an inter-city distance speed record and another 109.56 mph speed record in 1937.
Ms. Thaden also distinguished herself in her efforts to promote aviation safety through campaigns to mark airports more effectively. She actively sought ways to promote women in aviation through her work with the U.S. Department of Defense, Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) 1959-1961 and in her work with the Civil Air Patrol, 1949-1979. She also co-founded the Ninety-Nines, and organization of women pilots. She received numerous awards and honors throughout her life including: Harmon Trophy, Famous Aviators Wall—Mission Inn (Riverside, CA), Arkansas Aviators Hall of Fame, First Flight Society Hall of Fame, Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, International Aerospace Hall of Fame of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, National Aviation Hall of Fame, Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, and Civil Air Patrol Distinguished Service Award and Meritorious Service Award. She was also an active writer who published an autobiography entitled High, Wide and Frightened and several journal and newspaper articles. In 1928, she married Herbert von Thaden, an aeronautical engineer and designer of several all-metal aircraft. They had two children, William and Patricia, who donated the materials found in the collection.
1905-11-10 -- Born, Iris Louise McPhetridge, Bentonville Arkansas: Roy Fry and EdnaHobbs McPhetridge
1936-09-04 -- Winner, Bendix Transcontinental Air Race; First woman to win Bendix, Wright 420 hp Beech Staggerwing CI7R; New York to Los Angeles, 14 hrs 55 minutes
1936-09-04 -- East-West Speed; New York to Los Angeles; 165.346 mph, Wright 420 hp Beech Staggerwing CI7R
1937-01-21 -- Inter-City Distance Speed; Wright 420 hp Beech Staggerwing; Detroit to Akron, 40 minutes 43 seconds
1937-05-29 -- 100 km Speed; 197.9 mph, Wright 420 hp Beech Staggerwing D17
1927 -- Instruction
1928-02-08 -- Solo
1928-02-28 -- Federation Aeronautique Internationale Aviators Certificate No. 6850 after approximately 5 hrs 15 minutes solo time, signed by Orville Wright
1929 -- Transport pilot License number 1943; 4th woman to earn this rating
Delta Delta Delta (Delta Iota Chapter)
Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots): -- Founding & Charter Member 1929-1930: First de facto President 1930-1936: National Secretary 1934-1936: Vice President 1960-1961: Amelia Earhart Scholarship Committee
1937-1938: National Aeronautic Association; National Secretary
Veteran Air Pilots
1945-1952: American Red Cross Motor Corps
OX5 Pioneers Club of America
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA)
1959-1961: US Department of Defense, Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS)
1960-1961: Executive Committee
1960-1961: Information Sub-committee Chairman
Civil Air Patrol 1949-1970
Lieutenant Colonel Command Pilot Search & Rescue Mission Pilot Cadet Squadron Commander Director of Cadets, Virginia Wing Director of Cadets Squadron, Cadets Middle East Region Coordinator for Women, Middle East Region National Commanders Cadet Committee 1959-1963: National Commanders Training Committee Chairman National Scholarships Committee 1970: Retired Status
League of American Pen Women, Honorary Member (Pittsburgh, PA)
Business & Professional Women, 381st (Vincinnes, IN)
Strategic Missile Wing, United States Air Force (Wichita, KS)
Honors and Awards
1936: Harmon Trophy (Aviatrix) Federation Aeronautique Internationale, Champion Aviatrix of the United States
Civil Air Patrol: Distinguished Service Award; Exceptional Service Award; Meritorious ServiceAward with Cluster
OX5 Club of America, Broadwick Award --Outstanding Aviatrix
Citation: The Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Airport: Louise M. Thaden Field, Bentonville, AR
1974: The Louise M. Thaden Office & Library, Staggerwing Museum, Tullahoma, TN
OX5 Pioneer Aviators Hall of Fame
1973: OX5 Silver Wings Achievement Award
1980: Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame
1988: First Flight Society Aviation Hall of Fame, Kitty Hawk, NC
1989: Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame
1989: Recreation flight, 1929 First Women's Air Derby, 60th Anniversary, Susan Dusenbury, pilot
1991-04-05: Flying helmet taken aboard Atlantis Space Shuttle by Mission Specialist Linda Goodwin, Ph.D., NASA Flight #STS-37
1996-08: Staggerwing Beech Commemorative Tour honoring Louise Thaden, winner of 1936 Bendix Transcontinental Air Race; 60th Anniversary
1997-07: Award of Achievement, The Ninety-Nines, Inc.
1999-04: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame of the San Diego Aerospace Museum
1999-07: National Aviation Hall of Fame, Dayton OH
2003-03: Women in Aviation, International --named as one of the "100 Women Who Made a Difference" in the history of aviation, 14th annual conference
Louise Thaden Woman of the Year Award --Annual presentation by Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce at the NW AR Business Women's Conference, began 2000
2000-03: Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame
William Thaden, gift, 1983, XXXX-0006, NASM
No restrictions on access
Kaslov, Steve, ca. 1888-1949 (King of the Red Bandanna Romany Gypsies ) Search this
4.3 Cubic feet (16 boxes)
West Virginia -- 1930-1950
New Jersey -- 1930-1950
Maspeth (Queens, Long Island, N.Y.) -- 1930-1950
New York (N.Y.) -- photographs -- 1930-1950
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of 4.3 cubic feet of manuscript, print, and photographic materials created or collected by Carl de Wendler-Funaro (1898-1985) in pursuit of his interest in Gypsy life and culture. (Carlos de Wendler-Funaro used several forms of his name; he wrote mostly as Carl de Wendler-Funaro.) The -collection was brought to the attention of the Division of Community Life, National Museum of American History, by Matt T. Salo and donated to the Smithsonian by Dr. de Wendler-Funarol's widow, Cornelia de Funaro, in May 1985, through Richard E. Ahlborn, Curator.
The number and breadth of the photographic materials, especially, the accompanying documentation and their representation of many Gypsy groups in a single time period, make this collection an important resource for research.
Print and Manuscript Materials
The print and manuscript materials in the collection are organized-into six series: (1) materials for which Carl de Wendler-Funaro is author, co-author or editor; (2) materials about de Wendler-Funaro; (3) correspondence; (4) journals, books, or extracts from them, by various authors; (5) newspaper and magazine articles; (6) photomechanical images from newspapers, magazines, and books.
The manuscript materials include drafts of portions of planned books, reading notes, and Gypsy language notes and transcriptions. De Wendler-Funaro seems to have planned two books. One was to have been a book of his photographs, with accompanying essays describing his encounters with Gypsies, the other a work on Gypsies, especially those in the United States. The major element of the second book was to have been the history of the Rom in this country as told by Steve Kaslov. The second work was to have included the manuscripts, 'The Last Caravan,' on Romnichels in the United States; 'Romanian Gypsies in Maspeth Village,' on the Ludar; 'Hungarian Gypsies,' orx these musicians in the United States; and some folk tale materials. Several outlines for the two books are in the collection.
The draft materials written with Steve Kaslov include an account of the Gypsy leader Chaiko Jura. The account, which seems to approach legend at some points, describes his immigration to the United States, adventures in this country, and death. Also among the draft materials, and intended to follow in the proposed book, is what may be termed an official biography of Steve Kaslov (c. 1888-1949). Apparently tentatively entitled "The Ways of my People,' the manuscript recounts a few incidents, told at length, in the experiences of Kaslov's family and social network from about 1900 to about 1938.
De Wendler-Funaro's notes suggest that the Kaslov biography was dictated to an unnamed lawyer in the early 1930s and given to de Wendler-Funaro in 1934. Kaslov dictated the story of Chaiko to de Wendler-Funaro. (Perhaps this is the source of a statement in the New York Sun, June 20, 1941, that Kaslov had written two books.)
The okaslov manuscripts' are written mostly in a variety of American English common among American Rom. Parts of the biographical section are written in the first person, others in the third. Cultural material includes descriptions of weddings, funerary ritual, business transactions, conflicts and conflict resolution. As factual sources the manuscripts are unreliable: dates, for example, are only very approximate; birth places for Steve Kaslov and his family are incorrect.
Evidence in the manuscripts indicates that de Wendler-Funaro hoped, through 1976, to publish these texts in some form. Apparently Kaslov made a first attempt to publish in 1940, when he sent a draft to Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt sent the manuscript on to George Bye, a literary agent, who returned it in 1941 as unpublishable, calling it a Oterribly disorganized manuscript .... [Kaslov] is now working with a doctor (de Wendler-Funarol who claims to be an author but the results are very unhappy' (Correspondence in FDR Library).
Correspondence in the collection (series 3) includes letters to and from de Wendler-Funaro; drafts of letters by Steve Kaslov, soliciting aid for Gypsy education; and correspondence between the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, and the U.S. Department of State. According to Mrs. de Funaro, Carl de Wendler-Funaro destroyed his other correspondence before his death.
Many of the books, journals, articles, and extracts in the collection (series 4)- are materials upon which de Wendler-Funarol's dissertation is based. They include typed transcriptions of published articles as well as printed matter; dates of the materials range from 1554 to 1979.
The collection includes about 2,000 photoprints, including multiple copies, and 2,000 negatives. These materials are organized into eleven series: (7) photographs by de Wendler-Funaro: Gypsies in the United States; (8)photographs by de Wendler-Funaro: Gypsies outside the United States; (9) heirloom photographs'; (10) photographs by other creators; (11) photographs ;rom commercial agencies; (12) photographs of non-Gypsies; (13) photocopies, of numbered photos, in numerical order; (14) negatives; (15) contact sheets made from negatives from by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic Services, 1986; (16) scrapbook sheets; (17) slides made from negatives and prints by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic. services, 1986.
The original photographs by Carlos de Wendlet-Funaro span the,period 1922 to 1966, but the majority were taken from about 1932 to about 1942. More than half the photographs are of the Rom group of Gypsies in the United States, and most of these were taken in New York City from about 1938 to about 1942. Other original photos by de Wendler-Funaro are of other Gypsy groups in the United States -- Ludar, Romnichels, 'Black Dutch,w and Hungarian musicians -- as well as of Gypsies in Mexico, Holland, Germany, Austria, France, England, and Hungary. Photographs by other creators include copies of portraits collected from Gypsy families, photos by other photographers, and commercial news photographs collected by de Wendler-Funaro.
De Wendler-Funaro seems to have used the photographs to gain access to Gypsy families and communities (many photos show Gypsies examining albums and sets of pictures). Some photographs were published in his 1937 article, and in two articles by Victor Weybright (1938a, 1938b). De Wendler-Funaro apparently also used lantern slides made from these photographs in lectures on the subject of Gypsies; a handbill advertising his availability on the lecture circuit is part of the collection.
Manuscript drafts for book outlines, introductions, and accompanying essays show that de Wendler-Funaro long nurtured hopes of publishing a popular tool-, 'Incorporating his photographs. To this end he numbered and captioned more than a hundred of these; a partial list of captions is part of the manuscript files. For the most part, the captions are not very helpful in understanding Gypsy cultures. Photocopies of these pictures with captions, in numerical order, are in box 8. With some exceptions, most of the photographs can be used to study costume, personal ornament, and kinesics; these will not be listed separately as subjects in the inventory. The photos of the Rom in New York City show several types of traditional costume, contemporary modish dress, and a wide range of variations on both. Taken together with the "heirloom photos' collected from the same group, they show change and variety in men's and women's dress.
In the photographs of individuals and groups one may compare, for example, sitting positions of women with relation to costume and use (or non-use) of chairs.
Most of the photographs of Rom taken in New York City show Gypsies relaxing on stoops or in the street during the summer, a common pastime in their neighborhoods. They contain little culturally specific information other than that discussed above.
Information on housing is most clearly represented in photographs of camps, in which the type of tent and, to some extent, the relationships of tents, are visible. All the tents shown appear to be commercially made. Since it was the practice to raise the tent walls in good weather, many photos also show tent interiors, with wooden platform floors used on non-grassy sites (Rom) or linoleum as a ground cloth (Romnichel). The use of featherbeds; either alone (Rom) or with bedsteads (Romnichel) is documented.
There are few photographs showing the use of interior space in urban storefront or apartment dwellings (Rom). The photographs taken in the Maspeth, Long Island, 'Gypsy village' show exteriors of the shacks built@by the Ludar.
Of cooking and heating equipment, the cast-iron or sheet-metal stoves of the Romnichels are most evident. The Rom are shown using a variety of equipment, the traditional trivet (Mexico), the Coleman-type camp stove (U.S), and the pot-bellied coal stove (New York City).
Photographs of autos and trucks, auto-drawn luggage trailers (Romnichels in the North), and horse-drawn wagons (by the horse and mule trading Romnichels in the South) reveal something of the transport of people and goods.
A few photographs show subjects at work, but most work pictures are static demonstrations or mere associations with productive enterprise. There are demonstrations of coppersmithing and fender repair work (Rom), and manufacture of rustic furniture (Romnichels), as well as posed demonstrations of palm-reading. Romnichels in the South are shown posing with horses and mules. The business that appears most frequently is fortune-telling, through photographs of roadside business tents (Romnichel); amusement, fair, and resort-area tents and stands (Rom); and canvas facades, banners and signs carrying the fortune-teller's message.
Ritual life is poorly represented in the photographs. There are some photos of a funeral procession, and one interior shot of a funeral; two photos of a saint's-day feast; one of a memorial feast; and one set taken in preparation for Christmas festivities. Curiously, there are no photographs of Rom weddings. The dearth of pictures of rituals and celebrations, which form so important a part of Rom life, may be due to difficulties with interior lighting.
Because of internal and other inconsistencies, exact dating of the photographs is often difficult. Discrepancies of as much as ten year occur in some of the dates in de Wendler-Funaro's notes.
Collection is arranged into seventeen series.
Biographical / Historical:
According to information supplied by Mrs. de Funaro, Carl de Wendler-Funaro was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 12, 1898. After attending Boys' High School and Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, he attended the University of Illinois and Cornell University, receiving a bachelor's degree in entolomology from Cornell in 1923. Subsequently he taught foreign languages at New York University, the McBurney School of the YMCA in New York City, Newark Academy and Wagner College. He began graduate work in the late 1930s, and in 1958 earned a doctorate from Columbia University with a dissertation on 'The Gitano in Spanish Literature' (a copy is in the collection, Box 1, folders 2 and 3). De Wendler-Funaro retired from teaching in 1963; he died in Tucson, Arizona on February 15, 1985.
Carl de Wendler-Funaro was an avid amateur collector of insects, especially Coleoptera, as well as shells, minerals, stamps and coins; his insect collections were donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
De Wendler-Funaro's interest in Gypsies, according to his manuscripts, began in childhood. The manuscripts and one published article indicate that this interest continued to be personal, rather than professional,,,,apd @hat,,he, did not pursue his contacts with Gypsies systematically. (it was, not, 'until' the late 1940s that anthropologists began systematic studies of GYPSY.@ cultures.) It appears that de Wendler-Funaro sought out Gypsies in fairgrounds, amusement parks and urban storefronts, collecting specimens of language and taking photographs. Irving Brown's letter to de Wendler-Funaro (1929), and de Wendler-Funarol's article in Leisure (1937) refer to his visits to amusement parks. Some of his Romnichel (English Gypsy) subjects recall him as the man who drove along the roads, stopping to take pictures wherever he saw a tent. About 1938 de Wendler-Funaro became involved with a Committee on Gypsy Problems of the Welfare Council, a social service agency of New York City. This involvement may have been an outgrowth of his association with Steve Kaslov, styled by some a Gypsy king. De Wendler-Funaro seems to have served as Kaslov's amanuensis.
Gypsies in the United States:
Several groups, all known to outsiders as "Gypsies," live today in the United Sates. In their native languages, each of the groups refers to itself by a specific name, but all translate their self-designations as 'Gypsy' when speaking English. Each had its own cultural, linguistic, and historical tradition before coming to this country, and each maintains social distance from the others. An overview of these groups and their interethnic relations is presented in "Gypsy Ethnicity: Implications of Native Categories and Interaction for Ethnic Classification," by Matt T. Salo.
The Rom arrived in the United States from Serbia, Russia and Austria-Hungary beginning in the 1880s, part of the larger wave of immigration from southern and eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Primary immigration ' ended, for the most part, in 1914, with the beginning of the First World War and subsequent tightening of immigration restrictions (Salo and Salo 1986). Many people in this group specialized in coppersmith work, mainly the repair and retinning of industrial equipment used in bakeries, laundries, confectionaries, and other businesses. The Rom, too, developed the fortune-telling business in urban areas.
Two subgroups of the Rom, the Kalderash ('coppersmiths') and, Machwaya natives of machva,' a county in Serbia) appear in the photographs iiv, this collection. De Wendler-Funaro identified some, but not all, Kalderash as, 'Russian Gypsies.' Another group he identified as "Russian Gypsies' seem, to,, be the Rusniakuria ('Ruthenians'), who in New York are known as musicians and singers.
The Ludar, or "Romanian Gypsies,' also immigrated to the United States during the great immigration from southern and eastern Europe between 1880 and 1914. Most of the Ludar came from northwestern Bosnia. Upon their arrival in the United States they specialized as animal trainers and show people, and indeed passenger manifests show bears and monkeys as a major part of their baggage. Most of de Wendler-Funarols photographs of this group were taken in Maspeth, a section of the borough of Queens in New York City, where the Ludar created a village of home-made shacks that existed from about 1925 to 1939, when it was razed. A similar settlement stood in the Chicago suburbs during the same period. One of de Wendler-Funarols manuscripts, "Romanian Gypsies at Maspeth Village,' (box 1, folder 9), and a letter from Ammiee Ellis, a social worker (box 2, folder 2), refer to this settlement.
The Romnichels, or English Gypsies, began to come to the United States from England in 1850. Their arrival coincided with an increase in the demand for draft horses in agriculture and then in urbanization, and many Romnichels worked as horse-traders. After the rapid decline in the horse trade following the First World War, most Romnichels relied on previously secondary enterprises, 'basket-making,* including the manufacture and sale of rustic furniture, and fortune-telling. Horse and mule trading continued to some extent in southern states where poverty and terrain slowed the adoption of tractor power (Salo and Salo 1982).
Photoprints in box 6, folders 2 through 10, correspond with de Wendler-Funarols trip described in his manuscript 'In Search of the Last Caravan' (box 1, folder 10). Discrepancies between this manuscript and the photos should be noted. De Wendler-Funarols notes date this trip variously between 1931 and 1945. I have dated it about 1940. Although one man appears as a frequent subject in the largest set of photos (box 6, folders 22 and 23), in the manuscript, de Funaro mentions having missed meeting him.
Gypsies from Germany, whom de Wendler-Funaro refers to 'as Chikkeners (Pennsylvania German, from the German Zigeuner), sometimes refer to themselves as wblack Dutch.w They are few in number and claim to have largely assimilated to Romnichel culture. They are represented in de Wendler-Punarols photographs by a few portraits of one old man and briefly referred to in the manuscript mIn Search of the Last Caravan.*
The Hungarian musicians also came to this country with the eastern European immigration. In the U.S. they continued as musicians to the Hungarian and Slovak immigrant settlements.
Collection donated by Mrs. Cornelia de Funaro, June 26, 1985.
Collection is open for research.
Photographs by de Wendler-Funaro are available for reproduction. Fees for commercial use. Permission to reproduce photographs by Alexander Alland must be granted by the photographer's estate; other photographs may have copyright restrictions.
Funeral rites and ceremonies -- manuscripts -- Gypsies Search this