Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween in the 1950's

Things were so different when I was a girl growing up in Abilene, Texas on ACC Hill.  It was called that because of the location of Abilene Christian College.  Most of the people who lived in that part of Abilene were associated with the college.

I remember the kids playing together and walking to friends' houses blocks away, riding our bikes, and having to be home by dark.  At Halloween, the kids who lived on "the hill" would walk blocks in the dark to go trick or treating.  The lady who did my mother's hair, Thelma Beall, lived about two blocks over and two blocks down from our house.  I would always try to trick her, but she would pick me out each year.  I tried hiding in the middle of a group of friends or hiding at the back.  I tried not speaking.  One year I even switched masks with a friend just in case my mother had given away what mask I would be wearing, but nothing worked.  She always picked me out of the group.

Those were simpler times.  We didn't have Halloween costumes; we had masks.  And what a time of innocence that was, too.  There was no fear about us roaming for blocks to go trick or treating.  There was no fear that someone would give children something harmful or harm them.  

Another memory that stands out is Mother making pop corn balls.  She had a white dishpan with a thin red line around the edge.  It was big enough to fit over both burners on the stove.  She would pour pans of popped corn in it and then pour the syrup mixture in to start forming the popcorn balls.  She wrapped them in waxed paper and tied them with a ribbon.  As I write this, I can picture her smiling as she made them and as she waited for the kids to start knocking at the door.  It did not take long for word to spread that Mrs. Robbins made popcorn balls.  I was so proud that everyone made sure to stop at our house.  The next year she made even more, but quickly ran out. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

John H. Robbins - Part III

Yesterday as I was finishing up my posts on John H. Robbins I omitted some things I intended to include, so they are being posted today. 

His obituary stated he had two daughters and one son living in 1916.  The 1880 Branford, New Haven, Connecticut census lists John, age 25 and wife, Emily, age 24 with William C., age 5, Annie E., age 3, and Lila E., age 2.  In the 1900 Stone Mountain, De Kalb, Georgia census, the number of children Emily had is difficult to read, but may be 8; the number living is 4.  Gladdis E. is the only child listed as living with them at the time and she was born in April 1899.

Annie E. Robins Dower, wife of John H. Dower, is buried in the Stony Creek Cemetery in Branford, New Haven, Connecticut.  The picture of her grave marker shows her name as Annie E. Robins, wife of John H. Dower, that she was born in 1876 and died in 1930. 

The 1900 Branford, New Haven, Connecticut census shows John was born in England in July 1875 and was a stone cutter.  He and Annie had been married 3 years and had 2 children, a son and a daughter.  The names are difficult to read, but look like Lovel, a son, age 2, and a daughter whose name begins with an E, age 2/12, which could be read as Edith M after seeing it on later census records.  The year of immigration for John was 1872; Annie immigrated in 1873.  The 1900 census showed John's brothers, Edwin and Harry, immigrated in 1873.

The 1910 census shows John and Annie are the parents of Lovell, a son, age 12, Edith, a daughter, age 10, and Richard, age 5.  Living with them is a sister-in-law named Gladys Robins, age 11.  A few entries prior on the same page has Howard G. Robins, Annie's brother, and family listed.  His occupation is assistant supervisor in a rail road office.

By 1920 the family is in Middletown, Middlesex, Connecticut.  John Dower is a granite cutter for a monumental company.  Edith is a developer for a Kodak Shop and Richard J. at 15 is an "elevator boy" at a bank.  Additions to the family are a son, Ralph E., age 8 and a daughter, Cecillia, age 2 years, 11 months.

Since John Dower died in 1923, Annie is listed as the head of the household on the 1930 Branford, New Haven, Connecticut census.  The enumeration date was April 24, so it is assumed she died after that date.  Listed with her are Ralph, age 18, Cecelia, age 13, and son, John, age 8.

Mystery Monday - More About John H. Robins

Last Monday I blogged about the mystery of finding John H. Robins in Llano, Texas and am fairly certain he is not part of my family line.  Even so, I looked at the other two news articles in The Llano News, and found out a little more. Since his death certificate had the date of death on September 13, the article published on September 11 seemed to precede his death.  However, when the article was found, it proved the date on the death certificate to be incorrect.  The following is a transcription of the article.

J. H. Robins Dead
Yesterday morning at 12:10 o’clock J. H. Robins passed away at his home a few miles from town.  Interment was made in the Llano cemetery yesterday afternoon following services by the pastor.
Mr. Robins was above sixty years of age.  He had been sick for a long time and all that human skill and patient ministering could do was done to bring him back to health.  But those efforts would not avail and the patient sufferer passed away.
The NEWS begs to add its sympathy to that of the many friends of the bereaved.
The obituary will appear next week."

Since this article was published on September 11, the date of death would be September 10, not September 13 as recorded on the death certificate.  The article also states he was buried in the Llano City Cemetery although there is no marker and no record of the burial in the existing cemetery records.  Based on this new information I have added his name to the Llano City Cemetery on and linked his first wife to that record.  I have not researched further to find more about his second wife at the time of his death.

The other article in The Llano News dated May 11, 1916 is as follows: 

Runs Into Telephone Pole. 
"Sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning the telephone pole that stands at the Corner Drug Store was hit by the heavily loaded truck of the Waco Quarry Company and was broken in two several feet above the ground.
The early risers on yesterday morning were much concerned over the looks of the pole as there was every indication that it had been hit by an avalanche, the like of the slides in the Panama Canal.  Investigation showed, however, that the young Mr. Robins in making the sharp turn with the heavy car was unable to turn quick enough and the collision was the result."

 Who was "the young Mr. Robins?"  Was he the stepson mentioned in the obituary since it stated the rest of the family was all in Connecticut or was one of his sons working with him at the quarry at that time?

Since last week's post I received a reply to my request for a photo of the gravestone for John H. Robins in the Stony Creek Cemetery in Branford, New Haven, Connecticut.  He has no marker there, but his first wife, Emeline is buried in Stony Creek.  Hers is a single marker in a curbed area with Robins carved in the curbing.  She is buried next to their son, William C. Robins, and his wife, Lilla M. Thomas.  I placed a note (on the memorial page for John H. Robins in the Stony Creek Cemetery that was transferred to me) indicating no marker was found and referenced his page in the Llano City Cemetery.  I decided to leave both entries in hopes of helping other researchers since the moves from England, to Connecticut, to Georgia, to Llano might not be that easy to find had I not come across his obituary.

John and Emeline's son, William and his wife, Lillian M., are listed on the 1900 Branford, New Haven, Connecticut census as being married two years.   He was age 25, born September 1874 in Connecticut and she was 30, born November 1880 in England.  They had a child, Florence E., born in September 1898 in Connecticut, who was listed as a son in the 1900 census, but as a daughter, age 11, in the 1910 census.  William's occupation was also a granite cutter.  Harry, Edwin, Ernest, and Howard were also easily located on the 1900 Connecticut census records, but none of them were listed as stone cutters.

Besides finding John H. Robins in the census records mentioned in last week's post, I found his parents and siblings in the 1880 Branford, New Haven, Connecticut census on page 58.  His father was John Robins, born in England and was the superintendent of a stone quarry.  His mother, Mary [Deeble], was also born in England as were his siblings: J Annie S, Harry L., Edwin D., and Sidney H.  Two siblings, Ernest G., about 8 and Howard G., about 5, were born in Connecticut.  A brother-in-law, John L. Deeble, age 38, born in England, was living with the family and was a stone cutter.

As time allows, I may pursue this family a little more, but since they don't seem to be part of my Robbins line, I think it's best I decide the mystery has been solved for my research interests.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Aaron R. Robbins

This is a transcription of the obituary for A. R. Robbins found in the Waco Times Herald published on Tuesday, June 2, 1903, on page 4, column 3.  Although I had found a transcription of the article, there was no citation with it.  Fortunately, a genealogy reference librarian at the West Waco Library and Genealogy Center was able to locate it on microfilm and made a copy of it with the sourcing information.

"A. R. Robbins, aged 77 years, died at No. 922 South Sixteenth street last night at 8 o'clock after an illness of several weeks.  He was an old man who enjoyed the highest esteem of all who knew him.  He was the father of Mrs. W. W. Smith and has been in Waco for some time.  The remains were shipped on the noon Katy for Granger, where they will be interred this afternoon upon arrival at Granger."

This is the Aaron R. Robbins who was written about on pages 563 and 564 of Goodspeed's History of Texas: Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties.

When I first started researching my Robbins family, I thought it was wonderful so many names were given to the next generation, but as I kept finding more and more, it became frustratingly confusing.  There are so many men in the family named Aaron Robbins I've made a chart to help me try to keep them straight.  To add to the confusion, there are several named Aaron R. Robbins.  The terms Sr. and Jr. weren't always used, but even when they were, it did not necessarily mean they were father and son, only older and younger by that name.  This applies not just to Aaron R. Robbins in my family, but to the use of Sr. and Jr. when researching any line.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mystery Monday - Northern Robins in a Southern Nest

It's true that birds of a feather flock together, so when I came across an obituary for John H. Robins who died in Llano, Texas in 1916, I thought he might be part of my Robbins line.  I copied the information and started doing a little research.  If there's a connection, it isn't an obvious one,  but I thought I'd post what I found in case it helps another Robbins/Robins researcher trace him from England to Connecticut, to Georgia, to Texas. 

Here is the information I found in the obituary for John H. Robins in The Llano News published on September 21, 1916:
  • He was born at Gunnis Lake, Cornwall, England on 6 August 1855
  • His parents were John and Mary Anna (Deeble) Robins
  • He moved to Stony Creek, Connecticut in 1870
  • He came to Texas from Georgia in 1909 to oversee the granite work of the Harris County Courthouse
  • He was over the Gooch & Wells granite quarry in Llano
  • He had been sick for about two years
  • He was a member of the Episcopal Church
  • Survivors were his wife, 
    • two daughters, one son, four brothers and one sister who all lived in Connecticut 
    • and one stepson in Llano
    • five children preceded him in death

The next step was to look on and luckily I found his death certificate.  Information on it confirmed what I'd found in the obituary and had a little more information.
  • He died in Llano, Llano County, Texas on September 13, 1916.
  • His occupation was listed as a quarryman and an employer
  • His mother's birthplace was Plymouth, England
  • The cause of death was pneumonia with a contributing cause of pneumonia in Nov. 1914
  • It did not have the information filled in about where he was buried
My next search was on There is a John Robins listed in Stony Creek Cemetery in Branford, New Haven County, Connecticut but there is no photo of a marker and the birth and death dates are listed as unknown.  There are no links to family members.  I contacted the manager of the page and asked if she would mind transferring it to me since I have information to add even though I don't fall under the guidelines of being a direct relative.  It has been transferred to me, but I do not know if John was actually buried there or not.  The page was created for him based on information found in the Hale Collection which was published in 1937.  I have submitted a request for a photograph of his first wife's marker since she died in 1903, but if it happened to be a double marker with only his name on one side, that would not mean he was buried there.  If I wanted to research this further, I would try to locate the cemetery records and newspaper articles in Connecticut about John Robins in 1916.

There is no other record on for this John Robins.  A search of the City of Llano Cemetery Records yielded no entry for him either.

A search of listed two more articles about John Robins in The Llano News in 1916, but my subscription had expired.  One is dated May 11, 1916 and one September 11, 1916. The Llano County Public Library also has this year of the paper on microfilm where they can be viewed at no cost. 

Since I was still interested in finding more, I looked on and found a few family trees for this John Robins, but little other information on them.  Since I do not have the World Explorer Membership, I cannot view the census records in England for him on Ancestry, but located him in 1880 in Connecticut, 1900 in Georgia, and 1910 in Llano.  Having his occupation listed as "stone cutter", "quarryman", or "granite cutter" was a tremendous help.  Had he been a farmer, it would have been much more difficult to identify him.

Now I can look for passenger lists and even try looking for him in the census records in England on if I decide to continue the research.

Why spend all this time on someone I probably cannot link to in my research?  That's no mystery.  I have enjoyed the research and it has opened new possibilities for me to explore.  Since most of my research has been focused on Texas and Arkansas, I've only listened to others talk about researching passenger lists and census records other than the U.S.   In addition, my nephew submitted a DNA sample for our Robbins line, so who knows what connections we may find in the future.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Church Record Sunday - Ballinger, Texas Church Directory

Church directories can provide the names of church members, their addresses, phone numbers, and in more recent times, photographs.

I do not know the year this directory was printed, but it was about 1945 and my father, Richard Robbins, was the minister.  He may have printed the directory as well.

All of the telephone numbers were only 3 or 4 digits long, and many members did not have a number listed.  I have combined two entries as Mr. & Mrs. when it is obvious they are husband and wife; otherwise I have typed the names in the order they appear.


Mr. & Mrs. Roy Allaman

South Ballinger, Route 1
Mrs. Horace Atnipp

803 Phillips Ave.
H. L. Atnipp

803 Phillips Ave.
Mrs. O. B. Amarine

201 Eighth Street
Mr. Dormon Neil Amarine

201 Eighth Street


Mr. & Mrs. J. P. Boothe

Three miles South, Route 1
Mr. & Mrs. E. H. Becton

800 Ninth Street
Mrs. W. C. Bryan

704 Harris Ave.
Miss Ann Bryan

704 Harris Ave.
Miss Fadinie Baker

Ballinger, Texas


Miss Jewel CartWright

707 Fifth Street
Mr. & Mrs. L. L. Clark

700 Tenth Street
Miss Wanda Crager

Ballinger, Texas
Mrs.  Alma Curbo

217 South Broadway
Miss Elyon Curbo

217 South Broadway
Mrs. Ella Cross

1102 Strong Ave.
Mrs. C. E. Cape

Paint Rock, Texas
Mr. Clifford Cook

903 Fifth Street
Mrs. M. L. Cook

1109 Tenth Street, Route 2
Mrs. Jim Collins

1306 Seventh Street


Mrs. Alta Davison

419 Hutch Ave.
Mrs. Oran Dean

701  12th Street
Mr. E. L. Dewitt

809 Ninth Street


Dr. & Mrs. J. Dexter Eoff

700 Eighth Street
John Eoff

700 Eighth Street


Mrs. E. D. Floyd

608 Bonsall Ave.
Mr. Jack B. Fry

803 Third Street
Mrs. Ed Farley

South Ballinger, Mail: 1208 Hutch Ave.
Miss Gloria Farley

South Ballinger, Mail: 1208 Hutch Ave.
Mr. Edward Farley, Jr.

South Ballinger, Mail: 1208 Hutch Ave.
Mrs. Andrew Flint

Box 124, Route A. – Five miles South


Mrs. Elmer Greenwood

1005 Eighth Street
Mr. & Mrs. R. B. Gulley

1103 Railroad Ave.


Mrs. Lee Harris

1306 Ninth Street – Route 2
Mrs. L. L. Heywood

801  12th Street
Mrs. Herman Hulsey

416 Hutchins Ave.
Mr. & Mrs. S. H. Hickam

Route 2, Box 28
Mrs. P. P. Holton

401 Seventh Street
Miss Sally Hall

1306 Seventh Street
Mr. & Mrs. N. W. Hudson

606 Broadway
N. W. Hudson, Jr.

606 Broadway
Mrs. George Harris

905 Snap Ave.


Mr. & Mrs. J. F. Joy

Two miles South of Ballinger
Mr. & Mrs. O. K. Jacob

503 Tenth Street
Mrs. C. L. Jennings

209  13th Street


Mrs. C. B. Looney

505  12th Street
Miss Sue Looney

505 12th Street
Mrs. Vertie Lewis

704 Eighth Street


Mrs. Lee Roy McAulay

1106 Eighth Street
Mr. & Mrs. Jim Miller

300 South Broadway
Mrs. Bertes Morgan

906 Snap Ave.
Mrs. Beulah McMillian

701 Tenth Street
Miss Dorthy McMillan

701 Tenth Street
Miss Barbara Jeanne Morlan

800 Sixth Street
Mrs. J. L. Moreland

709  12th Street
Mr. S. M. Middlebrook

909  12th Street
Mrs. D. H. Macune

Two miles South
Mrs. J. W. Mayes

Broad Street, Route 2
Mrs. Robert McGarvey

701 Tenth Street
Mrs. A. J. McDaniel

508 Fifth Street
Hal McDaniel

508 Fifth Street
Mrs. Arlie Miller

704 Eighth Street
Miss Dorothy Miller

704 Eighth Street
Mrs. A. D. (Elsie) McElroy

1609  16th Street
Mrs. S. A. McElroy

1609  16th Street
Mrs. Margaret Miller

Abilene Highway, Route 2


Mrs. A. A. Neely

503 Third Street
Mr. William R. Nuckls

300 Phillips Street


Mr. & Mrs. J. Lester Ohlhausen

1100 Hutch Ave.
Mrs. C. A. Orr

1701 Eighth Street


Miss Dorothy Primrose

800 Ninth Street
Mrs. Bill Pagels

1305 Eighth Street
Mr. & Mrs. Albert L. Penuel

1204 Sixth Street
Mrs. Louise Phillips

618 Park Ave.
Miss Eunice Phillips

618 Park Ave.
Mrs. S. V. Parrish

419 Hutch Ave.


Mr. & Mrs. B. D. Roberts

Talpa, Texas
Mr. & Mrs. T. J. Riddle

1109 Tenth Street
Miss Maurine Riddle

1109 Tenth Street
Mr. & Mrs. O. H. Rezzlle

1 mile South of Ballinger
Miss Bernice Rezzlle

1 mile South of Ballinger
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Robbins

707 Bonsall Ave.
Mrs. Opal Richards

400 Fifth Street


Mr. & Mrs. Ross A. Smith

404 Tenth Street
Miss Bessie Smith

600 Ninth Street
Miss Alice Smith

209 Third Street
Mr. & Mrs. C. L. Sargeant

Route 1, South of Ballinger
Mrs. R. N. Stark

South of Ballinger
Mr. R. L. Sutphen

1007 Ninth Street
Mrs. Jewel Sutphen

1007 Ninth Street
Miss Clora Beth Sutphen

1007 Ninth Street
Bobby L. Sutphen

1007 Ninth Street
Mrs. Dee Saylors

803 Sixth Street
Miss Bettie Stuart

305 Ninth Street


Mrs. W. H. Taylor

707 Fifth Street
Mrs. Guy Taylor

1201 Fifth Street
Mrs. Frank Tatum

Abilene Highway


Mrs. Archie Wallace

900  15th Street, Route 2
Mrs. J. Alton Williams

601 Third Street
Miss Wanda Williams

601 Third Street
Gene Weldon Williams

601 Third Street
Mrs. Kate Wood

413 Hutch Ave.
Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Wilder

500 Fourth Street
Mr. & Mrs. J. H. West

Talpa, Texas

When I saw my mother was on the committee to care for the yard, I remembered at one time she had only one pants suit.  That was probably in the late 50s. It was brown cotton, tailored, and semi-casual by today's standards.  When I asked her why she never wore pants, I told me that in some place they had lived she was criticized for wearing pants in the front yard while doing yard work.  I wonder if Ballinger was that place.  At least a decade later, she had several pant suits, but I don't think she ever wore them to church.  My how times have changed!