Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 August 2012 ~ The Robb Family, pt 2

Flag of Northern Ireland
Flag of England
There is a Robb family that has been in America since Colonial days and it would be grand to connect to this well documented family – but try as I might over the years – I couldn’t find a connection.  They were of Irish or Scots heritage and that is where I was running into a problem. Our Robb’s were English transplants to Northern Ireland.
Most of the following information comes from The History of Carroll and Harrison Counties, Ohio* and without this book I’d still not have a clue. Although this is 3rd party, hearsay information it certainly points us in the direction to search for documentation.
Charles I by Anthony van Dyck
Back in the days of King Charles I [Charles  there was a bitter rivalry between Catholics and Protestants and a bloody civil war erupted. Many English fled to Northern Ireland to escape the civil strife.  Our Robb's were apparently part of this group of emigrants.

Battle of Naseby, artist unknown
Charles I, the son of the Stuart King James VI of Scotland, was  the one king unlucky enough to be beheaded by the English people. It was probably near the end of his reign in 1642 when things were getting rather violent that the Robb’s moved into Northern Ireland. 

County Tyrone Crest
The outcome of this English migration from England to Northern Ireland is that they built lives, married other English/Irish Protestants and a bitterness grew up between them and the indigenous Irish Catholic population – a bitterness that remains today. In 1850, after 200 years our family was on the move again from County Tyrone to Harrison County, Ohio. Why Ohio? I don’t know but a research trip to Northern Ireland to fill in the gaps is in order!

Lake Tappan, near Cadiz, Ohio
First Joseph Robb traveled to Ohio alone to establish himself and start a farm. He was about 30 years old. He settled near Cadiz  in a beautiful, forested and hilly area with lakes and streams inland from the town of Steubenville in eastern Ohio. 
In 1851 Mary Ann Robb followed Joseph with some of their children. She made the very difficult decision to leave three of the boys behind in Northern Ireland (one of them three years old). No doubt they were left with family and possibly it was to insure their education. But it may be that they didn’t have the means to move the entire family at once. Whatever the reason, the boys didn’t reach Cadiz, their parents, and siblings until 1859 – 8 years later. 

After all those years you can imagine the excitement of the boys as they reached their parents – the youngest of whom may not have remembered them at all. I’m sure there was great celebration and excitement as the boys arrived and for several days great happiness. Still the farm work was ongoing. On the 5th day after the boys arrival Joseph went out to work with a young team of
draft horses he was training to harness. 
He must have been an experienced horseman but there was a lot to distract him. Maybe with the new arrivals, or in showing off for the boys he lost his concentration. We’ll never know for sure why but the harness slipped and one of the horses got tangled, panicked and in his struggle fell on Joseph crushing the life out of him.
Imagine the horror for those boys just arrived, the sadness of their siblings, and the huge task of running a farm and raising 12 children that was left to Mary Robb. Whatever the burden, she was up to it. She kept the family together and the farm going, no doubt with the help of her boys. Samuel Robb, fresh for Northern Ireland, was seventeen. He was extraordinarily successful in everything he tried and it is his biography and that of his brother, David, that give us the above information.
Samuel Robb
Far from being spooked by horses due to his father’s tragic end, Samuel was a horseman and wealthy enough to be the first to import and breed Kentucky thoroughbreds in the area. He found oil, gas, and coal on his property and purchased land as investments in several states. Three of his brothers traveled to Iowa to farm. Samuel gave it a try but saw his fortune in Ohio and returned to Cadiz to be one of her favorite sons. 
Mary Ann Robb's maiden name was Porter. The comment was that Joseph Robb, who was of English descent, married an Irish girl. It may take a trip to Northern Ireland to take this Robb or Porter family back to earlier generations. The Porter's may account for my Uncle Weldon's red hair (he was called 'Red') and the lovely red heads in my cousin Susie's family.
Susanna Cristadden -- wife of Joseph and Mary's son, John Clarence Robb, most surprisingly, can be traced much farther back. . .but for decades her last name was a stumbling block. . . 
What kind of name is that?

Photo Credits:
Samuel Robb from the History of Carroll and Harrison Counties, H. J. Eckley, William T. Perry, Lewis Publishing Co., 1921.*
Tappan Lake  - Muskingum Watershed Conservation District -
All other photos -

30 Aug 2012 ~ You Tube Picks

I looked for You Tube videos of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and they were good enough to make me a little embarrassed for the lean pickings I found in rural Ohio and Iowa. I chose two, one I’ll place before the American videos and one after.  You wonder – were our Irish ancestors homesick for County Tyrone when they moved to their new home.  Did those who moved to Iowa miss Ohio?

If you'd like to get a feel for a place visit You Tube! The videos definitely give a sense of what an area is like, what her people are like, and what there is to do there. The videos run from the sublime to the ridiculous with an awful lot of ordinary in between.

Please know that the videos I choose are not meant to make fun of or disparage any person, group, or place. I do join with the people of the area who poke fun at themselves, or are creative and proud of their hometowns. God Bless them, everyone. . .they're out there doing stuff!

Por ejemplo, Marshalltown, Iowa videos show a multicultural shift with the growth of a Hispanic population. What is there to do in Marshalltown these days? Skate boarding, fire and storm chasing, car racing, and hunting. - oh, and in the winter - sledding. There is a community college. I wonder how much small town life has changed since 1850. (The following videos show some of the local terrain as our ancestors might have seen it, albeit at a faster pace. If you get bored stop the video and move to the next.

What is there to do in Cadiz, Ohio? Skate boarding, fire and storm chasing, car racing, and hunting – or sledding. Clark Gable was born there. Young citizens feel the town could use some updating.

Thunder On The Hill ATV Rally Cadiz, Ohio

The video above is Iowa but could be Ohio in winter, as well. Do you think Iowa is flat?
County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

by Phil McGovren

30 Aug 2012 ~ Solving the Robb Mystery ~

Iowa State Flag
After a lifetime of genealogy (and working on families easier to follow) ~ I hadn't gotten past my 2nd great grandfather in the Robb family.  Robb being my mother’s maiden name it is a key line.  A few days ago I caught a break and the Robb family now goes back to my 3rd great grandfather (4th for my children, etc.) and  I’ve been able to take allied lines back much farther – in one case to 1420.  The Robb information isn’t deep but carries an interesting immigrant tale with a tragic twist. . .

 A word about lucky breaks – they are a boon to family historians. I knew that the Robb’s came from Marshall County, Iowa and before that from Cadiz, Harrison, Ohio  It was information obtained from my great grandfather, George Fulton Robb's death certificate.  And, I knew that he had brothers named John and Edmund. 

Ohio State Flag
 Although George died when my mother was a baby, I remember Uncle Ed. The Robb’s were a good looking people and Edmund had a full head of snowy white hair that complimented his good looks even into old age. He would come to visit neatly dressed in a suit and with a gentlemanly manner. My grandmother said that Ed's brothers looked very much like him.

I had the name of George, John, and Ed's parents – John Clarence and Susanna (Cristadden) Robb – given to me by my grandmother, Margaret Lane Robb when I interviewed her about her husband's family.  I found that John Clarence’s mother was Mary Ann Robb in the census records but I couldn’t find the name of his father. It seemed odd, but I assumed that the father died young.

Clarence and Margaret Lane Robb
 John Clarence Robb and his wife Susannah moved from Cadiz, Ohio to Marshall County, Iowa with a couple of his brothers to farm and raise their families.  Many years later, during the Great Depression, my grandparents, Clarence and Margaret (Lane) Robb also moved to Marshalltown, my grandfather finding work in a battery factory in a terrible job market possibly with the help of his cousin, John Clarence Robb, Jr. That is where my mother was born. They moved back to Des Moines when she was still small but she knew her cousins, aunts and uncles from Marshalltown.

Cadiz Union Cemetery
 Mary Ann Robb, whom I found in several Federal Census Records, was a widow raising twelve children. Who was the father? The break came from the name of the last child – Craig.  It is not a common name.  Craig disappeared early so I was pretty sure he died before he was ten. How difficult it must be to lose a child so young and so many did back then! I was able to find his grave in Cadiz Union Cemetery. And, what luck! On his tombstone it says – “1857 - 1865 ~ Son of Joseph and Mary.” Now I had the father’s name thanks to a wonderful volunteer website called Find A Grave.

 What happened to Joseph Robb?  And, what was Mary Ann Robb’s maiden name? And where did they come from before Ohio?

 To be continued. . .

Photo credits: 
Iowa and Ohio flags from
Clarence and Margaret, Sandra Shaffer Barber collection.
Union cannon at Cadiz Union Cemetery from added by R. Bowles-Meentzen in 2009.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

29 Aug 2012 ~ Doing the blog thing one more time ~

This second blog is the natural outgrowth of my lifetime of genealogy and the web pages started all those years ago on Geocities - built lovingly by hand using HTML.

With today’s templates you don’t need to know HTML but it is a skill that comes in handy for tweaking more than you’d think. I’m still very proud of those first, if flawed, family pages on Geocities. When Geocities was closed down Aquila’s Orchard was pirated, preserved and is still out there on the web.

My tree on (grown large - 34,994 people and counting) [updated 20 Feb 2018 - 47,018 people and counting!], again called Aquila’s Orchard,  on that amazing genealogy website is a huge work in progress – deep and wide – far from perfect but a joy to build. is a great playground and workshop for those with a small interest or a great passion for family history. With genealogy as my primary work since my retirement, and hoping to make it a work of art and a lasting record of our family, a blog to share the stories is, of course, Aquila’s Orchard ~ The Blog.

I started my first blog – Sandy Hikes San Diego – with grand hopes of making friends, seeing more of beautiful San Diego County, and getting plenty of exercise. Two out of three's not bad, I guess. I worked hard and enthusiastically and poured lots of love into the project with the end result that no one read it, not even my family bothered or cared much – everyone was enamored with the new Facebook.
My heart not cooperating on more than one level I had to give up my initial goal of hiking the moderate trails in Jerry Schad’s book, Afoot and Afield: San Diego County. I traipsed out with my camera less and less; Jerry passed away; Steve White, a popular local musician I’d featured on the site, passed away . . . the project seemed pointless and other things took up my time.

I went on-line to take the blog down recently, ran the slide shows, read it ‘one last time’ and liked it well enough to spend the day updating the links and left the darned thing up. It's still relevant and recently I've had viewers from Russia and China so my small audience has gone global.

The point seems to be that I gained joy and pleasure – writing, photographic, and computer skills – while doing something I loved. You do it for yourself and hope that there are others out there who appreciate your work . . . and if it is only one other person that’s okay. I hope to be out with my camera again soon - time to get beyond the bunny.

Photo Credit:
Torrey Pine - © Sandra Shaffer Barber Collection
Aquila's Orchard/Tree - © Sandra Shaffer Barber Collection