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Clinton Swart Family

Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Home movies
Date:
circa 1975
Scope and Contents:
The Clinton Swart Family home movies features travel footage, family outings, and gatherings with family and friends. Additionally, the footage heavily features off-road motorcycle riding.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Motorcycles  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Home movies
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref118

Free Union Legacy Preservation Piney Woods Home Videos

Source:
Tammy Shepherd  Search this
Former owner:
Tammy Shepherd  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
2 Video recordings
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Home movies
Date:
circa 1994
Scope and Contents:
The Free Union Legacy Preservation Piney Woods Home Videos consist of gatherings of family and friends for holidays and birthday parties, as well as documentation of casual family outings and dance lessons.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Christmas  Search this
Birthday parties  Search this
Ballet dancing  Search this
Ice skating  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Home movies
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref675

Antonia Bonds Family Home Movies

Source:
Bonds, Antonia  Search this
Former owner:
Bonds, Antonia  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
2 Video recordings
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Date:
circa 2000
Scope and Contents:
The Antonia Bonds Family Home Movies feature casual gatherings of family and friends, a wedding, and documentation of a food recipe.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Cooking  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Weddings  Search this
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref739

Ayanna Mackins Family Home Movies

Source:
Mackins, Ayanna  Search this
Former owner:
Mackins, Ayanna  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
3 Video recordings
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Date:
circa 2003
Scope and Contents:
The Ayanna Mackins Family Home Movies feature casual gatherings of family and friends, vacations, and an unidentified political meeting.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Government and politics  Search this
Vacations  Search this
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref743

Dan Evans Family Home Movies

Source:
Evans, Dan  Search this
Former owner:
Evans, Dan  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
4 Video recordings
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Oral history
Date:
circa 1990
Scope and Contents:
The Dan Evans Family Home Movies consist of oral histories with family elders, documentation of family reunions, and outdoor recreation.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Family reunions  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Oral history
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref764
Online Media:

Highland Beach Town Home Movies

Source:
Sanders, William  Search this
Lathan, Zora  Search this
Former owner:
Lathan, Zora  Search this
Sanders, William  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
30 Video recordings
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Date:
circa 1955
circa 1975
Scope and Contents:
The Highland Beach Town Home Movies consist of home movies shot by members of the African American resort community of Highland Beach, Maryland. They feature casual gatherings of family and friends at the beach and various outdoor recreation activities. Additionally, there are films shot by Zora Lathan during her time in college.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Beaches  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Vacations  Search this
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref765

Nicolle McQueen Family Home Movies

Source:
McQueen, Nicolle  Search this
Former owner:
McQueen, Nicolle  Search this
Collection Creator:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Extent:
1 Video recording
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Date:
circa 1985
Scope and Contents:
The Nicolle McQueen Family Home Movies consist of documentation of a road trip to a family reunion.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is available online for open research.
Collection Rights:
The Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright for all works are retained by the creators of the original analog materials. Permissions for any use of the material may be requested from National Museum of African American History and Culture Right and Reproductions 202-633-3846.
Topic:
Families  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Vacations  Search this
Family reunions  Search this
Collection Citation:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
See more items in:
Great Migration Home Movie Study Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmaahc-sc-0001-ref766

Glascow family gathered for an evening of Pokena

Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Names:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Collection Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (photographic print , black and white, 5 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Date:
circa 1940s
Scope and Contents:
Description written on verso: the Glascow Family gathered for an evening of Pokena, (grandma Plummer seated on the far left).
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use of the collection requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
The Plummer-Arnold Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographic prints
Collection Citation:
The Plummer-Arnold family papers, undated-2005, bulk circa 1880-1955, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-038, Item ACMA PH2005.7004.16
See more items in:
Plummer-Arnold Family papers
Plummer-Arnold Family papers / Series 1: Family photographs
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-038-ref575

Glascow family gathered for an evening of Pokena

Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Names:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Collection Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (photographic print , black and white, 5 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Date:
circa 1940s
Scope and Contents:
Description written on verso: the Glascow Family gathered for an evening of Pokena, (grandma Plummer seated on the far left).
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use of the collection requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
The Plummer-Arnold Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographic prints
Collection Citation:
The Plummer-Arnold family papers, undated-2005, bulk circa 1880-1955, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-038, Item ACMA PH2005.7004.47
See more items in:
Plummer-Arnold Family papers
Plummer-Arnold Family papers / Series 1: Family photographs
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-038-ref592

Glascow family gathered for an evening of Pokena

Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Names:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Collection Creator:
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (photographic print , black and white, 5 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Date:
circa 1940s
Scope and Contents:
Description written on verso: the Glascow Family gathered for an evening of Pokena, (grandma Plummer seated on the far left).
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use of the collection requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
The Plummer-Arnold Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographic prints
Collection Citation:
The Plummer-Arnold family papers, undated-2005, bulk circa 1880-1955, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-038, Item ACMA PH2005.7004.48
See more items in:
Plummer-Arnold Family papers
Plummer-Arnold Family papers / Series 1: Family photographs
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-038-ref593

Forman H. Craton Papers

Creator:
Craton, Forman H., 1902-1983  Search this
Names:
General Electric Company  Search this
Extent:
4.15 Cubic feet (13 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Letters (correspondence)
Memoirs
Personal papers
Diaries
Date:
1902-1983
Summary:
Diaries and memoirs, profusely illustrated with photographs and other mementos, which describe Craton's life, education and work experience as an engineer at General Electric in minute detail, and include his comments on the culture, current events and politics of the times; and correspondence, mostly letters from Craton to his wife and to his mother.
Scope and Contents:
This memoir is the autobiography of a man whose entire career from college graduation to retirement was spent working in one of the giants of American industry, the General Electric Company. His life spanned more than three quarters of the twentieth century and the detail in which it has been recorded provides much scattered historical, cultural, social and economic information about the period.

It is part contemporaneous diary written on a daily or weekly basis, part a record of chronological periods of Mr. Craton's life reconstructed from notes, scattered diary entries, sketches, photographs and memory and part a record of specific experiences, for example the family's boating years, Mr. Craton's time at the War Production Board, his religious life. Mr. Craton referred to it as "my 40-volume autobiography-----a continuous story of my life since birth. I estimate there are at least three million words in this record-----" in a two page autobiographical account written November 28, 1978 for Milton Wise, a former classmate.

References to Mr. Craton's work at G.E. appear in the daily and weekly diary entries but are in separate sections in the record of Mr. Craton's life that was written after his retirement. The story of those years is divided into two sections, one relating to home, family and friends and another to his career at G.E. These sections on his work contain a significant amount of information on the company's transportation interests and the manufacture and merchandising of locomotives and locomotives parts as well as descriptions of Mr. Craton's colleagues.

The year 1942 spent in Washington as a dollar-a-year man at the War Production Board and his account of his trips to Washington immediately before and immediately afterwards paint an interesting picture of war-time Washington, its hotels, restaurants, and cocktail lounges and the social life of which they were a part. They also give some indication of a Federal government rapidly expanding to meet war-time needs at home and abroad.

Major current events occurring during Mr. Craton's lifetime are also noted. They begin with the arrival of the Graf Zeppelin in New York In October 1928; the election of Herbert Hoover as president in that year as well as subsequent presidential elections were recorded as were the depression of the thirties and its effect on family life, and World War II. Developments in the space program and the landing of the astronauts on the moon were watched on television and noted in the memoirs.

The record is replete with Mr. Craton's disapproval of labor unions and their activities and his bias about Jews and Blacks, and reference to social classes that he considered his inferiors. Entries throughout the years from childhood on describe friends, acquaintances and fellow workers in minute detail. They also describe every woman with a pretty face or good figure noticed on the street, in a store, restaurant or hotel and document the drinking that was one aspect of recreational life at the time among some groups.

Looking back on the period from 1949 to 1963 from the vantage point of 1977 Mr. Craton divided it into 3 periods. In the one he entitled "Emancipation" there is a lengthy description of their friendship with the Brightmans, biographical details of the members of the Dinner Club, a detailed account of Bab's wedding and the birth of the first grandchild. This record of friends, family and activities is heavily illustrated with photographs and clippings.

Numerous references to the family's daily living and travel expenses show the changes that occurred in the price level over the years and caused Mr. Craton major concern about inflation.

The memoirs are profusely illustrated with photographs of family, friends and places visited as well as with magazine pictures, menus, programs, and other mementos.

Much of the collection is typed on 8-1/2 by 5 inch notebook sheets. Much is handwritten in a small, neat script. Photographs are labeled.

The Container List indicates by folder whether the contents are diary or memoirs written after the fact.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into two series.

Series 1: Memoirs, 1902-1983

Series 2: Correspondence, 1923-1982
Biographical / Historical:
Childhood and Youth

Forman Craton, an only child, was born on June 23, 1902 in Syracuse, New York. His mother, Annie Fairbanks Hutchison was the granddaughter of General Orrin Hutchison, a man of some prominence in Onondaga County, New York. His father, Dr. Samuel Boyce Craton, was the great grandson of Joshua Forman, the founder of Syracuse, New York. Dr. Forman earned his medical degree at Syracuse University and became an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. Somewhat later he confined his practice to diseases of the eye.

Mr. Craton's memoirs recount several unpleasant memories of a dark, gloomy house on McClennan Ave. in Syracuse where he spent his earliest years. Among them were the death of a brother who was a "blue" baby, a series of colds, coughs, sore throats and other respiratory complaints, getting sick on street cars, fear of dogs, and fear of being banished from home for misbehavior.

About April 1, 1908 the family moved to 326 Highland Ave., a socially better neighborhood where they spent the next 7 years which are described by Mr. Craton as among the happiest in his life. The long winters offered a multitude of winter activities for children. They built snowmen, snow forts, snow houses. There were few cars so the streets were not cleared and youngsters went sledding and tobogganing on nearby hills. The tennis court at the Sedgwick Farm Club was flooded for skating and hockey. Indoors the children played "house" with appropriate rearrangement of the furniture or hide-and-seek in houses with large attics. In good weather, hopscotch, baseball and football took over along with climbing trees and riding bicycles.

Burten Holmes' travel pictures, special movies such as "Birth of a Nation" and later Jack London's "The Sea Wolf" as well as books and records were part of the cultural scene. Magazines too, "St. Nicholas", "Boys' Life" and "American Boy" were available. At his mother's instigation young Craton began a stamp collection.

Most of the neighborhood families, including his, belonged to the Sedgwick Farm Club, two and a half blocks from his house. It had large rooms, bowling alleys, a squash court, tennis courts, a children's playground. Dancing school which he attended was held at the club once a week. He also attended Sunday School regularly.

After one term at a private school young Craton transferred to Lincoln, the neighborhood public school, where he finished the 8 grades in 6 years. In summarizing his early years Mr. Craton remarked on the varied backgrounds of his school friends and the fact that rich and poor children mixed well and played together. He mentioned being conscious of class distinctions as early as 1912 and this awareness reappears throughout his life.

The comfortable life of young Forman's early years changed abruptly with the untimely death of his father, Dr. Craton, on February 26, 1915. The family income dropped from $10,000 to $12,000 annually, a very good one for that period, to about $1,500 a year from his father's estate. Shortly after his father's death the boy and his mother moved to 410 Douglas St. It was a "nice flat" but the lad was aware that the neighborhood was not as good as Highland St. Forman gradually lost touch with his old playmates (his mother resigned from the Sedgwick Farm Club to save money) and the boy soon became part of the Douglas St. crowd.

The young Forman began his high school days at North High School. Two of the city's characteristics were important to him during this period. The NY Central R.R. ran through downtown Syracuse and watching the trains was a fascinating pastime. The Erie Canal on which boats were hauled by horse through the city competed with the NY Central for by his attention. Although too slight for competitive sports he was an enthusiastic fan of the football and baseball teams at school. His lone outside activity at school was dramatics.

Work experience during his high school years included several one or two day-at-a-time jobs shoveling snow for the NY Central, laboring work at a steel company, tips for errands at the State Fair, and Christmas clerking at a men's store. His first full time job was as gardener for the Calthop sisters during the summer of 1919, at 20¢ an hour. In the fall of 1919 he got a job working after school and on Saturdays at Bardeen's, a book publishing company. The summer before university he was a machinist's helper at Solrag Process Co. That summer he and his mother moved to a flat at 205 Waverly Ave, a block from Syracuse University where he enrolled in the fall.

To his bitter disappointment the young man was not asked to join Phi Delta Theta, his father's fraternity and this caused great unhappiness in his early days at the university. Because of the necessity to be practical about earning a living for himself and his mother he put aside his interest in writing and cartooning, and majored in mechanical engineering. He excelled in his college work, and was invited to join several honorary fraternities in engineering and mathematics. He made a number of friends both male and female and in spite of his early bitterness over his rejection by his father's fraternity had a satisfying college career. After intercession by a friend of his father's about which Forman later wrote that he was ashamed, he received and accepted a bid from Phi Delta Theta in the middle of his college years.

In August 1923 the Cratons vacationed at Star Island, in the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire, where young Forman quickly became friends with Willette Flitschner, from Louisville, KY. whom he would marry in a few years.

Young Manhood

During his final year at college an interview with Mr. George Pfeiff who was recruiting for a new course in Factory Management at the General Electric Co. led to a job offer in Schenectady, NY. After some soul searching about leaving his mother in Syracuse he left for the job at General Electric in Schenectady. His career at General Electric lasted 38 years.

Homesickness was a serious problem as Forman Craton began his career with the company. With the exception of vacations he had spent all of his young life, including his college years, in Syracuse. He went directly from a vacation at Star Island where Willette was also vacationing to a plant employing 22,000 people in a city in which he was a stranger. His proclivity for introspection, always strong, and his sensitivity to people and his surroundings are clearly evident in his letters to his mother and to Willie in August and September, and recur frequently throughout the years. He turned to poetry at this time for solace, particularly Sara Teasdale. The year 1924 ends with two letters to Willie declaring his love.

Because the young man had been recruited for the Factory Management Course he was moved from spot to spot in the plant, some assignments lasting a week, others several weeks. In 1925 Forman enrolled in an accounting course at G.E. that involved home work. That and almost daily letters to his mother and Willie left him little free time. Still troubled by home-sickness and unhappy in his work, after much agonizing he asked for a transfer to "test" which in effect meant starting again.

He had become convinced that his interests lay in engineering rather than in manufacturing and the test course pointed its members toward design, application engineering and technical sales.

A young Mr. Craton left for the General Electric facility in Erie, a plant with 5000 employees, on January 10, 1926 and never looked back. The transfer brought him immediate satisfaction and pleasure in his work and began a lifetime career. He found Erie and its people interesting, began attending the Unitarian Church where he met and enjoyed knowing a number of young people. His early months there were spent in rented rooms but late in the year he rented an apartment at 1308 W 9th Street in preparation for his marriage to Willie.

Family Life

Forman Craton and Willie Flitschner were married January 27, 1927. He made his first trip for the company, the first of an endless number, in 1927. The year 1928 was a banner year for the young couple. A daughter named Barbara and always called Bab was born on August 28 at Hamot Hospital. His salary having been increased to $42.00 a week in February, they bought a secondhand, dearly beloved Dodge for $225. In late June Forman wrote the first paragraph of his first short story, in an endeavor to follow through on his interest in writing. The year 1928 was also the year that the Graf Zeppelin which had left Germany in October 13 arrived in New York on October 15. In November the Cratons voted for Herbert Hoover who won the presidency by a large electoral majority. His Democratic opponent was Al Smith.

On May 24, 1932 a new baby, Roger Phelps Craton, was born. As the depression hit bottom Mr. Craton's salary was cut to $1900 a year, his work week to 4 days and he felt lucky to still have a job.

The death of Willie's mother made 1935 a sad year for the family. Increasing responsibilities at GE as business improved kept Mr. Craton busy at the plant and frequently out of town. As his responsibilities increased the necessary and expected business entertaining increased keeping him away from home often during the evenings in Erie. He was out of town more frequently also and business entertaining often involved drinking and late nights.

The war years meant greater responsibility at the plant and long working hours for Mr. Craton and the restrictions felt by all families as rationing affected family eating habits and recreation, especially the use of automobiles.

For several years after the children were born Mr. Craton's mother either lived with the family or visited for long periods of time. His mother had become harassed by worry, fears and discontent

and no effort by Mr. Craton seemed to assuage these. This situation continued through out the thirties. On November 19, 1939 Mr. Craton wrote "all of this makes life at home unnatural, strained, unpleasant and nerve wracking."

Mr. Craton's frequent and long business trips made the responsibility for his mother especially difficult for his wife. It was January 1944 before the elder Mrs. Craton left the Craton house to reside at St. Margaret's Home with many misgivings on her part and Mr. Craton's.

His mother's death occurred on September 28, 1947 and an inheritance of about $20,000 from her made building a longed for new home possible in 1948.

Another crisis in their family life was the suicide of Willette Craton's father, "the Colonel", on April 10, 1946. Long widowed he had remarried at age 70, apparently not very successfully. He was also driven by financial worries. What estate there was went to the second wife with only the proceeds of a $1,000 insurance policy to Willette Craton, causing some feeling of resentment.

Graduation from university were important family occasions as were the children's marriages.

Thanksgiving was generally spent with Bab and Tom Moore and their family, Christmas with Roger and Joan and theirs.

Children and Grandchildren

A daughter named Barbara and always called Bab or Babbie was born on August 28, 1928 at Hamont Hospital. Her brother, Roger Phelps Craton was born on May 24, 1932.

Both children did well in school, received good grades, and were a source of pride and satisfaction with their behavior, appearance, and accomplishments. Bab wanted a year at Southern Seminary in Buena Vista, Virginia before entering college. Despite their concern about the expense the Cratons agreed because they feared she could not get all the necessary credits in the Erie public school. Her graduation from Southern Seminary was an important family occasion which involved visiting the Robeys and other relatives living in the area.

Bab left Erie in late September 1946 for her first year at Syracuse University. By 1949 she was a senior at Syracuse University and Roger was a senior at Strong Vincent High School and well-thought of as a young sailor at the Erie Yacht Club.

Bab graduated from college in June, 1950 and she and Tom Moore, an architectural student, were married in August. Since he had one more year for his degree in architecture she went to work in an office in Syracuse. Roger graduated from high school that year and entered the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1975.

The first grandchild, Elizabeth Forman Moore, was born on September 15, 1952. Her father Tom joined an architectural firm in Berea, Ohio where they lived for a time before moving to Brecksville, Ohio. A second grandchild, Peter Moore born in 1955 was followed by another girl, Margaret Joanna Moore, born October 2, 1957 and called Peggy.

Another Moore grandchild, Charles Andrew, born July 3, 1965 shortly became a cause of much

family concern and anxiety because of his failure to thrive and respond developmentally. By April 1970 he was placed in the Sunnyhaven Home in Columbus, Ohio. He was transferred to a state hospital in Breckville in the spring of 1973. Sunnyhaven felt he could no longer be helped there and he had become more difficult to manage. Mr. Craton never became reconciled to Charles' retardation or the fact that he was born to his adored daughter.

Peg Moore the youngest child was thinking about college during the annual Thanksgiving visit in 1974-she was interested in one with a strong art curriculum. Peter Moore was an increasingly excellent football player in high school, winning several awards. He planned to enter Wooster College in the fall, having graduated from high school in 1975 the same year Elizabeth graduated from Bowling Green University. She was attending classes at the Univ. of Georgia, working in the Admissions Office and living at 2511 Planthersville Road in Decatur.

Roger Craton at the University of Pennsylvania joined the fraternity to which his father and grandfather belonged. He was active in Masks and Wigs and also played lacrosse. He graduated with high honors in 1954 and married Joan Gibson the following November.

Roger and Joan Craton moved to Detroit, he to work in a bank and finish his M.A. degree at night.

By 1960 Roger was working for the Ford Motor Company. His first child, a boy named Lincoln after Joan's father, was born May 30, 1960. Cynthia, his second child was born on August 1, 1962. Both of these children attended private schools and lived in London for the several years during which Roger Craton worked for Ford in London.

By 1971 Roger had returned to Ford in Detroit, and had bought a large home in Bloomfield Village, Birmingham, Michigan. He had been appointed comptroller of Ford's North American Automotive Operations, a 30 million dollar a year business.

On July 5, 1980 Roger phoned his parents that he was leaving Ford to become chief finance officer with a seat on the board of directors of Chesebrough-Pond Corporation effective August 1, 1980. His new annual compensation was to be $300,000. Thus meant that the Roger Craton family would move to Greenwich, Connecticut in June 1981 when Cynthia Craton would graduate from high school.

A Thirty Eight Year Career At The General Electric Co.

The following account of Mr. Craton's career was written by him in November 1978 at the request of Milton Wise of the class of 1924 of Syracuse University, who was compiling a book on the surviving members of their class at the College of Applied Science.

"On July 7, 1924 I reported in Schenectady for General Electric's new Factory Management Course and thus began a rewarding GE career that was to span the next 38 years. However, a year on this course convinced me I was slanted more toward engineering than manufacturing. So I transferred to the "test" course, which pointed its members toward both design and application engineering as well as technical sales. It proved to be a good move.

Long fascinated by trains and discovering GE's deep involvement in rail transportation apparatus, I soon transferred to the Erie, Pa. plant where I finally headed traction motor test nights and later took locomotive test. The latter was an impossible dream come true, involving electric locomotive riding and operation on the 4-mile test track. In November 1926 I moved into railway control engineering at Erie to design circuitry for gasoline-electric cars and various types of electric-drive locomotives. Also I had an indoctrination course on traction motor design and application.

In 1930 the Lackawanna suburban electrification out of Hoboken was inaugurated. It included two 3,000-volt trolley-battery-diesel locomotives for transfer freight service between the Jersey City and Secaucus yards. I'd done the control engineering on these locomotives and helped put them into service, This included the thrill of operating the locomotive pulling a 105-car freight train up grade out of Jersey City, through the Bergen Hill tunnel and on to Secaucus, to me an incredible experience. This assignment was my first intimate exposure to railroading and years later I wrote an article about it which appeared in TRAINS Magazine.

In 1931 I moved from design into locomotive application engineering and commercial work, the two functions being combined at Erie. However we were fast sinking into the abyss of the Depression. By 1932 the only active job we had was apparatus for the Pennsylvania Railroad electrification; if you weren't fortunate enough to be working on that, and I wasn't, it was touch and go whether you'd be short-timed or dismissed. I got down to four days a week and 157 per month with a wife and two children to support but I hung onto my job. That was the bottom. In 1933 things began to improve slowly, I was assigned the New Haven Railroad commercial work at Erie. The New Haven was progressive and interested in dieselization as well as possibly extending their electrification to Boston. We made extensive diesel-switcher studies culminated by an initial order for ten units. This was followed in 1937 by an order for six 3,600-hp 216-ton 11,000/600-volt AC/DC passenger locomotives for operation into Grand Central. On September 21, 1938 while running freight tests on these, we found ourselves in the middle of the hurricane of that date, another experience I wrote about for TRAINS.

In the late 1930s GE and American Locomotive Co. were partners in the diesel business; they built 100 tons and up using our equipment and we anything below 100. I was assigned promotion of our diesels with the New England railroads. This meant extensive traveling involving memorable episodes. My experiences on the Boston & Maine, where we had a demonstrator, were particularly noteworthy and were covered by a TRAINS article entitled "Joy & Pain on the Boston & Maine."

In 1940 I became manager of Industrial Haulage at Erie which had responsibility for the GE mining and industrial locomotive business, about to come on strong with World War II in the immediate offing. This was my first managerial job. I became active in the Mining & Industrial Electric Locomotive Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and was chairman of the section. Also I spent much of 1942 in Washington as a dollar-a-year man on the War Production Board and was responsible for scheduling the manufacture of all locomotives in the U.S. below 100-tons; these included both diesel and steam as well as the military requirements. I made a 2-month trip to Hawaii in early 1945 to appraise the postwar market for diesels in the sugar industry.

In 1945 I became assistant general sales manager and in 1947 general sales manager of GE's locomotive and transportation equipment business. The product line included electric-drive locomotives of all types and sizes, electrical propulsion equipments sold to other builders for locomotives, subway and rapid-transit cars, trolley cars and coaches, off-highway vehicles, and a large parts business. After the war we had a period of inflation and labor trouble including a 9-week strike which made pricing and shipping promises difficult. Also as 1950 approached we struggled to get our business up to $100,000,000 annually, which would keep about 5,000 employees busy at Erie. So it was a challenging and interesting time.

In the early 1950s due to rapid growth the Company was reorganizing, decentralizing and establishing new measurements. In 1953 a study team was formed to recommend how the Company's foreign operations could be blended smoothly into all this. On the team were four from international operations, four from domestic, and the chairman, an international man. On this team I represented the Company's heavy apparatus business. The nine of us holed up in a New York hotel for over a year on this when we weren't traveling around on interviews including a 3-week trip to Central and South America. It was one of the most fascinating of my business experiences.

After this I returned to my marketing job at Erie, the position having been upgraded slightly from "sales" to "marketing" in the reorganization. In 1956 I spent three months taking the Company's Advanced Management Course. Back in Erie again, I headed a team to study the reorganization of our own business. we spent four months on this and presented our report in May 1957. We recommended the business be split up into three decentralized sections: 1) Locomotives; 2) Equipments; 3) Parts sales. Our recommendations were adopted and the department reorganized. I became general manager of the equipment business, a position I held until my retirement o July 1, 1962 at age 60.

Equipment doesn't sound as glamorous as locomotives but actually is more so. We'd adapted our locomotive propulsion apparatus to oil-well drilling which put us into that business; I've visited an oil-well drilling platform 60 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. With expansion of open-pit mining and the proliferation of heavy off-highway vehicles, our motorized-wheel business was booming. Mass transit was promising an even greater future. Also we supplied electrical equipments to Alco and Baldwin as well as our own associates in the Erie Plant. These lines along with parts kept some 2,500 people busy in our Equipment Section."

Finances

It took 17 years thanks to his early career change and the depression for Mr. Craton's salary to reach %5,000. The next step up meant that he was eligible to join Elfun, an investment fund for G.E. managers and executives.

With the end of the depression and the increasing industrial activity caused by war production Mr. Craton's salary had risen to $6,700 a year. Overtime and extra compensation brought this to $8,500. By November 1946 several increases had raised his base salary to $9,000 and following a long strike at the plant this figure was raised to $9,720. A March 13, 1946 journal entry noted that Mr. Craton's income tax for 1945 was $1,800 -- "more than he used to make". One of the satisfactions of these increases was the purchase of a small boat that added a great deal to the family's recreation.

Mr. Craton became eligible for the GE stock plan in 1953 and was authorized to purchase 900 shares of company stock over the next 10 years at $71.00 a share. His stock in GE enabled him to retire at age 60 instead of 65. He noted that the 2500 shares he owned in 1965 for which he had paid about $60,000 over the years had a market value of $300,000. It was the income from the Elfun trusts and the dividends from G.E. stock, substantial contributions to his retirement income, that made the extensive travel during his early retirement years possible.

Despite the post-war salary increases and his investment income that appeared to keep pace with the inflation of those years, inflation was an abiding concern for Mr. Craton.

Leisure Time

As a young single man much of Mr. Craton's social life revolved around the Unitarian Church. He enjoyed the young people he met at church-related social affairs and found them interesting.

After their marriage the Cratons played bridge with friends, occasionally played poker for small stakes, went to movies, and attended lectures and concerts at Chautauqua during the season. They entertained and were entertained by friends for cocktails and dinner and made weekend visits to friends living out of town. Swimming, walking the beach and picnics at Peninsula, a local recreation area, were important when the children were young. They were regular television viewers with a number of favorite programs. The Watergate hearings were watched daily during the second Nixon administration and all space shots were followed with interest. The week-end sports programs were watched with anticipation and pleasure. Mr. Craton's interest in opera is well-documented and he was a regular radio and television fan of the Metropolitan Opera performances. He also bought and played frequently recorded arias.

A friendship with the Brightmans developed into a more active social life than usual but this subsided after the Brightmans left Erie.

Recreation during the years from 1945 to 1964 was centered in the Yacht Club which Mr. Craton joined when he bought a small boat. Boating then became a major recreational activity. Young Roger quickly became an excellent sailor, participating in sail boat races with skill and enthusiasm. The first boat was replaced by a larger but still modest one. Mr. Craton's interest eventually resulted in his being elected commodore of the Erie Yacht Club, a highly prized distinction. The Cratons participated in all of the Yacht Club activities, using it for dinner, dancing, and special occasions, even after Mr. Craton sold his boat.

Mrs. Craton joined a local book club in 1928 and was still a member in 1982.

Most of the home repair and upkeep was done by Mr. Craton, a careful and persistent workman who was proud of his results. He was indefatigable in searching for parts and pleased to avoid what he considered outrageous charges, particularly by plumbers. Mrs. Craton did most of the gardening but he helped with the heavy work.

During periods when Mr. Craton was keeping a diary on a daily or weekly basis much of his spare time was devoted to writing it. He also spent many hours in creative writing in an effort to get published and for a brief period in drawing cartoons for possible publication.

Mr. Craton became an avid photographer and gave it special emphasis after the children were born and during vacations. He also used a movie camera for some occasions.

During his retirement years Mr. Craton was a regular attendant at the YMCA Friday speakers luncheon, lunched with a friend on a weekly basis and he and Willie enjoyed frequent dinners out with the Reeds and the Ogdens, friends of long-standing.

For a period of years immediately following retirement Mr. Craton was actively engaged in fundraising for the United charities campaign, particularly among G.E. retirees and played a major role in a capital fund drive for the Booker T. Washington YMCA.

Religious Life

As a small child Mr. Craton went to Sunday School at the May Memorial Unitarian Church in Syracuse where the minister was the Reverend John H. Applebee. After his father's death when he was twelve years old he went to the church service with his mother. In his teens he also belonged to the Young People's Religious Union. He was one of two delegates from May Memorial selected to attend the Unitarian Laymen's Third Annual Institute at Star Island, Isles of Shoal, off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, July 28 - August 11, 1923 where he first met and fell in love with Willette, his wife.

In Schenectady as a young man on his first job Mr. Craton attended All Souls Unitarian Church. He liked the people and the minister, the Reverend Ernest Caldecott, very much and depended heavily on the church for his religious and social life during a period of severe loneliness and homesickness. He began however to have some problems with Unitarianism. Although he enjoyed the sermons as lectures he found them lacking in spirituality. During this period Mr. Craton was also unhappy with the factory management course at General Electric. He felt he was not suited to the manufacturing part of the General Electric Co. although he was much impressed by the vast scope of the company. He finally worked out a transfer from factory management to "test" that resulted in a transfer from Schenectady to Erie, PA and the real beginning of a satisfying career in GE.

The Unitarian church in Erie was neither as large nor as socially well-connected as that in Schenectady but the people were hospitable and the Reverend Charles Judson Dutton an interesting minister. Despite his concerns about the lack of spirituality he continued to attend the church until the children were ready for Sunday School. Both Cratons felt that the children needed a different Sunday School for their religious initiation.

The Cratons tried St Paul's Episcopal for a time and then the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in the early 40's. There they remained first they attended without joining the church. His attendance was spotty because he was overwhelmed with work and travel. Later the yacht club activity took up the weekends and attendance dropped to Christmas and Easter. The Cratons finally joined the Presbyterian Church because they wanted Bab and Tom Moore to be married there. His retirement did not get Mr. Craton to resume regular attendance but Mrs. Craton was a faithful volunteer in the church library for many years.

Health

Mr. Craton's health as a child seems to have been unexceptional. There were coughs, colds, upper respiratory complaints and several of the common childhood diseases but nothing out of the ordinary.

As a young man he developed an intermittent bladder problem that medication helped some and that seemed to be more nuisance than serious. This was life-long. There was also a chronic urethritis that he noted with concern. While he recorded a number of minor ailments in his journal he lost little or no time from work. The first hospitalization was for an appendectomy in 1947. Mr. Craton's care and concern about his own health carried over to his wife and children. He seemed excessively upset about the children's routine childhood illnesses.

Once Mr. Craton reached the management level at the Corporation he made annual visits to the Mayo Clinic for physical examinations paid for by the company. These were continued for many years after his retirement when Mrs. Craton became a Mayo patient also. The Clinic findings for both of the Cratons are recorded in some detail.

Having disregarded a doctor's advice about a car trip to Florida in 1969 Mr. Craton spent several weeks hospitalized there and several more recovering enough to return to Erie. A detached retina in the summer of 1970 resulted in hospitalization, surgery and a long period wrestling with double vision. Much dreaded prostate surgery occurred in 1971 successfully.

The annual visit to the Mayo Clinic in 1973 brought a diagnosis of angina pectoris, use of nitroglycerine, orders to cut his drinking to one drink a day, to cut down on sweets and to walk every day.

Chronic emphysema was beginning to interfere with Mr. Craton's physical activity and to diminish his pleasure in those he pursued.

Another detached retina meant another hospitalization and recovery period. This was followed by ambulatory surgery for a fracture of a hand. A severe bronchitis took Mr. Craton back to Hamot Hospital again in the first week of February. By this time Mr. Craton was almost living the life of an invalid whose physical condition dictated his activity or lack of it. In May of 1982 there was another hospitalization for tests all of which negative. Following the second retina surgery Mr. Craton in his words "developed a post-operative nervous condition that lasted for months, that required doctoring, extensive use of Valium...For months I had to fight depression, apprehension and the jitters. I had no appetite and lost perhaps as much as twenty pounds". (Special note at beginning of Diary for the year 1978)

During his working and retirement years there were a number of dental problems that seemed to be exacerbated by his objections to the dentist's charges. He continued with the same dentist year after year and also continued complaining about him.

Mr. Craton's Writing

Mr. Craton had interests from a very young age in writing and in drawing cartoons. The interest in writing was life-long, that in cartoons short-lived. Because of the necessity to be practical about earning a living for himself and his mother, Mr. Craton put aside his interest in writing and cartoons and majored in mechanical engineering. Throughout his life however he continued to try to write for publication and document his life whenever he could find the time to do so. In June 1927 for example, six months after his marriage he wrote his first short story. In 1934 after a vacation trip to Canada he tried another short story. The memoir itself is testament to his writing interest. The diary sometimes abandoned for lack of time was always returned to -- once after a lapse of 27 years. This gap was filled during his retirement years when he also wrote extensively on particular periods of his life or special activities such as boating.

A number of statements scattered throughout the memoirs indicate that regular entries were important to him, helped him cope with problems and enhanced his enjoyment of his good times.

Mr. Craton also tried persistently when he could find the time to write and rewrite for publication. While he had no success with his interest in short-story writing and none with the cartoons he submitted to Collier and the Saturday Evening Post for publication, he did succeed with several articles about trains and railroads. An article about diesel electric locomotives in industry resulted in a check for $35.00 and publication in the magazine Purchasing in 1944. Another milestone was the publication in Steel of an article for which he was paid $55.00.

Yankee, a magazine with a circulation of about 350,000 accepted and paid $250 for an article entitled "Candle Light" that was based on visits to the Isles of Shoals when Mr. Craton was a young man. Trains also accepted a railroading article "Joy and Pain on the Boston and Maine" for which it paid $45.00 and in December 1970 published "Tarzan Jr." and paid $125.00 for it. The published articles were a source of pride and satisfaction.

Travel

Travel was an important part of Mr. Craton's life. His business trips were frequent and often lengthy, taking him away from wife and family. They included time spent in Hawaii, Australia, Mexico and Venezuela on G.E. business.

Family travel included frequent trips of short duration to visit family or friends, annual trips to the Mayo Clinic combined with visits to family or friends, and trips to Buena Vista, Virginia where cousins, the Robeys lived and operated Southern Seminary, a girls preparatory school. The earliest vacation trip of note was in 1931 to Colorado. This was by car, driving an average 300 miles per day for a total mileage of 3,940 miles. Gasoline averaged 15¢ a gallon, oil 25¢ a quart. There was a trip to Canada in 1933, a Great Lakes Cruise in 1936.

During the war Mr. Craton was sales manager for locomotives for industry, the military, the Maritime Commission and underground mining. Because G.E. thought there was a potential post-war market in Hawaii, particularly in the sugar fields Mr. Craton was sent there while wartime travel restrictions were still in effect to determine the design of a standard diesel electric unit for use in Hawaii.

This trip began a life long love affair with the islands that resulted in seven more trips of several months each with Mrs. Craton after he retired.

During those seven years the Cratons spent two or three of the worst months of the Erie winter in Hawaii.

Mr. Craton's retirement at age 60 meant a real emphasis on travel that started with a nine week trip to Europe in 1962 and included Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and was followed by several months in Florida in early 1963. In 1964 there was a South Sea Island cruise followed by several months in Hawaii, in 1966 a trip of 80 days around the world and in 1967 a return to Europe, with close friends, Barbara and Charles Reed. 1968 saw a trip to the North Cape, the Scandinavian countries, Russia and Ireland.

A trip to Florida in 1969 was an unfortunate one. Mr. Craton spent much of it in hospital and recovering from a back problem. There was a return to Hawaii in 1971 but a planned return in 1972 had to be cancelled because a bleeding intestinal tract sent Mr. Craton into the hospital again. Several months were required for recuperation.

In June 1972 the Cratons returned to Canada, this time to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and Vancouver, and again in January 1973 returned to Kappa Sands, Kauai, Hawaii where they spent Erie's worst winter months each year from 1973 through 1977.

A second detached retina for Mr. Craton prevented any winter travel in 1978 but by June of 1978 the Cratons were able to visit Joan and Roger Craton who by then were living outside London. It was a memorable trip with a number of short trips beyond the London area.

Mid March of 1979 took the Cratons on a trip to the American south. Their first stop was to see their great-grandchild Carrie, and then on to Charleston, Savannah, Hilton Head and Jekyll Island, where they visited their friends the Bauschards. Mr. Craton did not enjoy much of this trip, would have preferred being home but realized that his wife needed both a change and less work and more rest than she got at home. They cut the trip short by a week and returned home.

The last recorded trips were to see Joan and Roger and their new home in Connecticut in late March and Roger's summer place in Good Hart in July 1982.
Provenance:
Gift to Smithsonian from Mrs. Willette Craton, October 9, 1992
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Electrical engineers  Search this
Electric engineering -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- 1920-1930
Memoirs
Personal papers -- 20th century
Diaries -- 20th century
Citation:
Forman H. Craton Collection, 1902-1983, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0454
See more items in:
Forman H. Craton Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0454
Online Media:

Robinson and Via Family Papers

Collector:
Robinson, Franklin A., Jr., 1959- (actor)  Search this
Names:
Capital Transit Company (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Serenity Farm, Inc.  Search this
Howes, Grace Bourne, ?-1976  Search this
Robinson, Adina Theresa, 1963-  Search this
Robinson, Amanda Baden, 1849-1940  Search this
Robinson, Elizabeth Bourne, 1892-1976  Search this
Robinson, Frank A., 1883-1970  Search this
Robinson, Franklin A., 1841-1905  Search this
Robinson, Franklin A., Sr., 1932-  Search this
Robinson, Martha Walls, 1807-1897  Search this
Robinson, Robert David, 1962-  Search this
Robinson, Robert Henry, 1851-1937  Search this
Robinson, Thomas Wells, 1803-1869  Search this
Townshend, Martha Robinson, 1880-1961  Search this
Via, Adina Mae, 1937-1966  Search this
Via, Robert Delano, 1933-  Search this
Via, Robert Milton, 1906-1983  Search this
Creator:
Conner, Mary Robinson, 1930-2009  Search this
Via, Ida Virginia Woods, 1914-2010 -- 20th century  Search this
Extent:
23.1 Cubic feet (70 boxes, 3 map-size folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion pictures (visual works)
Correspondence
Photographs
Postcards
Baby books
Phonograph records
Postcard albums
Ephemera
School yearbooks
Diaries
Albums
Housebooks
Snapshots
Home movies
Family papers
Scrapbooks
Funeral registers
Cookbooks
Architectural drawings
Place:
Maryland -- Family farms
Washington (D.C.)
Prince George's County (Md.)
Arizona -- Motion pictures
Benedict (Md.)
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
Disneyland (California)
Brandywine (Md.)
St. Thomas, V.I. -- Motion pictures
Florida -- Motion pictures
Date:
1838-2017, undated
bulk 1872-1985
Summary:
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.
Arrangement:
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

Subseries 2.2: Townshend, Martha Robinson, 1896-1961, undated

Subseries 2.3: Robinson, Frank A., 1899-1970, undated

Subseries 2.4: Robinson, Elizabeth Bourne, 1841-1976, undated

Subseries 2.5: Conner, Mary Robinson, 1938-1985, undated

Subseries 2.6: Robinson, Franklin A., 1932-1997, undated

Subseries 2.6.1: Farming, 1948-1976, undated

Subseries 2.6.2: Financial, 1948-1988, undated

Subseries 2.6.3: 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA), 1945-1954, undated

Subseries 2.6.4: Travel, 1959-1970, undated

Subseries 2.7: Robinson, Jr., Franklin A., 1959-2001, undated

Series 3: Serenity Farm, Charles County, Maryland, 1962-2000, undated

Series 4: Via Farm, Calvert County, Maryland, 1954-1987, undated

Series 5: Via Family, 1932-2010, undated

Subseries 5.1: Family papers, 1941-1983, undated

Subseries 5.2: Via, Robert M., 1933-1987, undated

Subseries 5.3: Via, Ida Virginia, 1928-2010, undated

Subseries 5.4: Via, Robert D., 1933-1988, undated

Subseries 5.5: Robinson, Adina Via, 1937-1966, undated

Series 6: Photographs, 1872-2000, undated

Subseries 6.1: Photographs, 1872-2000, undated

Subseries 6.2: Photographic negatives, 1927--2000, undated

Series 7: AudioVisual, 1943-1988
Biographical / Historical:
Robinson Family

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.

Via Family

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.
Related Materials:
Materials at Other Organizations

The Maryland Historical Society holds items (costume, farming related implements) related to the Robinson and Via families.
Separated Materials:
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.
Provenance:
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center, by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., in November 1993.
Restrictions:
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.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Farms -- Maryland  Search this
Holidays  Search this
Amusement parks -- California  Search this
Children's parties  Search this
Rural women  Search this
Sheep ranches  Search this
Parks -- California  Search this
Rural families  Search this
Tobacco -- Harvesting  Search this
Tobacco -- Storage  Search this
Street-railroads  Search this
Street-railroads -- Employees  Search this
Travel  Search this
Urban transportation  Search this
Work and family  Search this
Tobacco curing  Search this
Women in agriculture  Search this
Farm equipment  Search this
Farm buildings  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Family festivals  Search this
Farm ownership  Search this
Farm life -- 20th century  Search this
Farm management  Search this
Illiterate persons  Search this
Christmas  Search this
Soldiers  Search this
Students  Search this
Family -- 20th century  Search this
Family farms  Search this
Easter  Search this
Electric railroads  Search this
Acting -- 1980-2000  Search this
Amateur films  Search this
Agricultural machinery  Search this
Agriculture -- 20th century -- Maryland  Search this
Tobacco farmers  Search this
Housewives -- United States  Search this
Weddings  Search this
Farmers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works)
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Photographs -- 20th century
Postcards
Baby books
Phonograph records
Postcard albums
Ephemera
School yearbooks
Diaries
Albums
Housebooks
Photographs -- 19th century
Snapshots
Home movies
Family papers
Scrapbooks
Funeral registers
Cookbooks
Architectural drawings
Citation:
The Robinson and Via Family Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0475
See more items in:
Robinson and Via Family Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0475
Online Media:

[Children and station wagon, Pebble Beach : color slide]

Photographer:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Collection Collector:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Collection Printer:
Janus, Allan  Search this
Collection Interviewee:
Hanfstaengl, Erna  Search this
Extent:
Color slide (2-1/4" x 2-1/4".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Place:
Pebble Beach (Cal.) -- 1960-1970
California -- 1960-1970
Date:
[1960s.]
Scope and Contents:
Three children, one sitting on open tailgate of wagon, and dog.
General:
Located in slide sheet 32, box 2.
Videodisc frames 632 and 633 are closeups of these children.
Exhibitions Note:
Copy made for exhibition in family automobile show.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

A small number of letters and photographs are restricted until the year 2031. Identification list in box.
Collection Rights:
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.
Topic:
Automobiles -- 1960-1970  Search this
Station wagons -- 1960-1970  Search this
Beaches -- California  Search this
Family recreation -- 1960-1970  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1960-1990 -- Phototransparencies.
See more items in:
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection / Series 5: Transparencies / 5.1: United States / California
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0145-ref11703

[Stop and Shop sign, Cape Cod, Mass. : color slide (chromogenic transparency),]

Topic:
Volkswagen (automobile)
Photographer:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Collection Collector:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Collection Printer:
Janus, Allan  Search this
Collection Interviewee:
Hanfstaengl, Erna  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (slide, 2-1/4" x 2-1/4".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Chromogenic processes
Place:
Cape Cod (Mass.) -- 1950-1960
Massachusetts -- 1950-1960
Date:
1957/08
Scope and Contents:
Shows Shell gas station, Volkswagen beetle, other cars.
General:
In box 16, Series 5, sheet 43.
Exhibitions Note:
Copy print used in family automobile exhibition, 1997, NMAH.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

A small number of letters and photographs are restricted until the year 2031. Identification list in box.
Collection Rights:
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.
Topic:
Automobiles -- 1950-1960  Search this
Station wagons -- 1950-1960  Search this
Shopping -- 1950-1960 -- Massachusetts  Search this
Signs and signboards -- 1950-1960 -- Massachusetts  Search this
Service stations  Search this
Family recreation -- 1950-1960  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1960-1990 -- Phototransparencies.
Chromogenic processes
See more items in:
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection / Series 5: Transparencies / 5.1: United States / Massachusetts
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0145-ref11704

National Zoological Park, Easter Monday Interviews

Extent:
12 audiotapes (reference copies).
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Audiotapes
Oral history
Date:
2003
Introduction:
The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The National Zoological Park Easter Monday Oral History Interviews were recorded by the Smithsonian History Division to document this cultural tradition in Washington, D.C.
Descriptive Entry:
On 21 April 2003, Pamela M. Henson, of the Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, and Jeffrey Hyson, assistant professor at St. Joseph's College, conducted interviews with twelve zoo visitors on Easter Monday about their families' Easter Monday traditions and reminiscences of past Easter Monday visits to the National Zoo. Interviewees were Justine Love, Tyrone Parker, Donald Isaac, Clarence Miles, Antoinette Archie, Delois Jackson, Joyce Madyun, Benet Durant, John Matthews, Marie Reardon Dudley, Harold Flood, and Lorraine Miller.

This collection contains twelve interview sessions, totaling approximately 6 hours of recording. There are two generations of tape for each session: original audiotape cassettes and reference audiotape cassettes. In total, this collection is comprised of 12 original audiotape cassettes and 12 reference copy audiotape cassettes. The original tapes are reserved in preservation storage. The interviews have not been transcribed.
Historical Note:
After the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park opened in 1891, families began visiting the National Zoo on the Monday after Easter Sunday. Many of the visitors were African Americans who worked as domestics and had the day off after the Easter Sunday. Easter Monday at the National Zoo soon became a traditional African American family event. Especially popular among the many children were the Easter egg rolls down Lion-Tiger Hill in the park. The Easter Monday tradition has continued to the present, especially as an African American family celebration.
Topic:
African Americans -- History  Search this
Zoos  Search this
Easter  Search this
African American families -- Social life and customs  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Easter eggs  Search this
Celebrations  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Audiotapes
Oral history
Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9615, National Zoological Park, Easter Monday Interviews
Identifier:
Record Unit 9615
See more items in:
National Zoological Park, Easter Monday Interviews
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-sia-faru9615

NYC culture catalog : a guide to New York City's museums, theaters, zoos, libraries, botanical gardens, concert halls, and historic houses

Title:
New York City culture catalog
Author:
Alliance for the Arts (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Physical description:
220 p. : ill. (some col.), col. maps ; 23 cm
Type:
Guidebooks
Place:
New York (State)
New York
New York (N.Y.)
Date:
1994
Topic:
Family recreation  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_602887

Pye and Skye

Artist:
Paul Herzoff, born Hollywood, CA 1946  Search this
Sitter:
unidentified  Search this
unidentified  Search this
Medium:
gelatin silver print
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
1973
Topic:
State of being\emotion\love  Search this
Animal\cat  Search this
Architecture\vehicle\recreational vehicle  Search this
Portrait group\family\spouses  Search this
Portrait male\Pye  Search this
Portrait female\Skye  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the National Endowment for the Arts
Copyright:
©1973, Paul B. Herzoff
Object number:
1983.63.738
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk7902a3f29-ae65-469c-b65d-74914b356933
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1983.63.738

Charles H. Frost's Home Movies ca. 1927

Physical description:
reference one video cassette (21 minutes) silent b&w 1/2 inch VHS
master one video cassette (21 minutes) silent b&w BetacamSP
archival original one film reel (540 feet) silent b&w 9.5mm
Type:
Home movies
Motion pictures (visual works)
Place:
Canada
North America
United States
Date:
ca 1927
Topic:
Children playing  Search this
Children  Search this
Lakes  Search this
Boats and boating  Search this
Family recreation  Search this
Amateur films  Search this
Local number:
HSFA 2002.2.2
Restrictions & Rights:
Information on reproduction and fees available from Human Studies Film Archives
Data Source:
Human Studies Film Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_288657

Utah - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Thu, 08 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more post:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_2cdf996451d0ba96e9e5560e23279f55

Meet Your New Favorite Font

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:00:10 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more post:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_cd57e71f07839a5b6b2ec7b740a67aee

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