THE ROBINSON-VIA FAMILY PAPERS,
(10 Cubic Feet: DB19, F/O2, ShB6, 1 Paige, 1 OS Folder)
by: Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., February 2001
ROBINSON FAMILY STORIES
The Robinson family is thought to be of Scottish origin arriving in America in the
mid-1700's. The line has been definitively traced to James Robinson (?-1849) of Prince George's Co.,
Maryland. James' father may have been Benjamin Robinson (?-1810), of Prince George's Co.,
Maryland (Will Book TT1, pg. 15, Records of Prince George's Co., MD, Maryland Hall of Records,
James Robinson and Sarah Wynn were issued a marriage license on February 28, 1802 in
Prince George's Co., Maryland. (Marriage Records of Prince George's Co., MD) To this union were
born eleven children (not listed in birth order); Thomas Wells (1803-1869), Ann, Priscilla, James
Monroe, Benjamin (1813-1882), John C. (1819-1895), Mary Sophia, Thomas Stanley, Alfred, Sarah
Ann, Matilda and Rebecca Maria. From all evidence, James appears to have been at one time a
plantation manager or plantation overseer for Benjamin Oden at Bellefields Plantation in Prince
George's Co., Maryland before removing to Wood County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1818. He
also acted as Oden's land agent for his western Virginia lands. (Oden Papers, Maryland Historical
Acting as a tenant and agent for Oden on his lands in western Virginia, James and Sarah
Wynn Robinson, with their children, moved to Wood County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on April
18, 1818 (Deed Book 6, pg. 123, Land Records of Wood Co., West Virginia). With them they also
brought 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 Co., West Virginia)
Their son Thomas Wells Robinson returned to Prince George's County, Maryland prior to
1822. Thomas acted as overseer for Benjamin Oden at least until 1832. He married Elizabeth J.
Richards on December 15, 1829 (Robinson Family Bible). To this union were born 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 (1843-1843), of these seven would live
to maturity. (Robinson Family Bible) Elizabeth R. Robinson died on August 17, 1843 from
complications in childbirth. She was buried in the churchyard of St. Thomas Episcopal Church,
Croom, Prince George's Co., MD.
In 1843 for $10,000, approximately $15 an acre, Thomas purchased the plantation of Dr.
Benjamin B. Hodges, brother-in-law of Benjamin Oden. By deed dated September 7, 1843 the
plantation is described as, "a tract of land called Potomac Landing lying and being in the County
aforesaid containing three hundred and twenty acres of land more or less being the same land which
was conveyed by deed of Trust from John H. Brown and others to a certain Charles D. Hodges by deed
bearing the date the fourth day of March Eighteen hundred and Six and Recorded in Liber JRM no. 11
folio 463 one of the land Records of the County aforesaid and by the said Charles D. Hodges conveyed
to Benjamin Oden by deed bearing date the Seventh day of September eighteen hundred and eight with
and Recorded in JRM no. 13 folio 106 also one of the land Records aforesaid Reference being had to
the aforesaid Deeds will more fully and Particularly appear. Also two parts of a Tract of land called
the "Forrest" lying and being in the Said county and adjoining the aforesaid tract containing thirty-four
acres of land more or less being the same land which the said Benjamin Oden purchased of a certain
Henry O. Hill as May be More fully and particularly seen by reference to the deeds of the said Henry
O. Hill to the Said Benjamin Oden and the Courses and distances metes and bounds therein mentioned
and referred to particularly which Said deeds are now on record among the land Records of the County
aforesaid one of which bears the date the tenth day of December Eighteen hundred and Eleven also two
other tracts of land lying contiguous to each other and adjoining the aforesaid lands one called
"Blacklocks Venture" and the other called "the Widow's Trouble" containing together two hundred and
Sixty-five acres of land More or less which said last mentioned lands were purchased by the Said
Benjamin Oden from a certain Alexander Mundell as Trustee for the sale of the real Estate of Nicholas
Blacklock deceased and by the said Alexander Mundell conveyed to him by deed bearing date the
Eighteenth day of December Eighteen hundred and thirty-three and recorded in Liber AB no. 8 folio
341 also one of the land Records of the County aforesaid reference being thereto had will also more
fully appear; and lastly part of a tract of land lying in the Pocosin being part of the tract called "The
Widow's Trouble" containing ten acres of land covered with wood more or less all of which said lands
hereintofore named and described that is to say "Potomac Landing" Part of the tract called the "Forrest"
the tracts called "Blacklocks Venture" and "the Widow's Trouble" and the ten acres in the Pocosin
being part of the "Widow's Trouble" contain in the whole 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 Co., MD)
Thomas supplemented his land holdings with later purchases, but with the exception of
twenty acres purchased from Sarah Talbert in 1844, (JBB no. 3 pg. 475, Land Records of Prince
George's Co., MD) and the purchase, in 1856, of lot #3 consisting of 195 acres, part of the estate of
John Townshend, the rest of these purchases were not contiguous to "Potomac Landing" and by the
time of his death in 1869 had been sold. Thomas also 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 Co., MD) In 1865 Thomas gave/sold 172 acres to his daughter Rebecca Maria Robertson.
The land was physically level to rolling bordered on the north by a tributary of Piscataway Creek.
Underlying the whole property is part of a large strata of gravel and sand.
On January 13, 1846 Thomas married Martha Ann Walls. She was the daughter of George
and Martha Naylor Walls. To she and Thomas were born two sons; Benjamin Wells (1848-1849) and
Robert Henry (1851-1937). Only Robert Henry lived to maturity.
Working the fields of "Potomac Landing" Thomas, in addition to his sons, made use of slave
labor. The number of slaves varying from six in 1849 (JBB 6, folio 186, Land Records of Prince
Georges' Co., MD) to eleven as noted in the census for 1850, and finally six as noted in the census of
1860. In 1867 slave statistics were collected by the state of Maryland and 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; 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' Co. Slave Statistics 1867-1869, C 1307-1, MdHR:6198, page 185,
Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD)
In a deed of trust executed by Thomas to J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore for securing a
loan, April 11, 1855, the farm at that time was described, "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' Co., MD)
Thomas' financial problems began around 1849-1850 when Deeds of Trust appear in the
county records to secure his note. In 1856 and 1857 Thomas joined with others in signing an
agreement to bond his son Richard Thomas Robinson as "Collector of the State and County Taxes" for
the 4th collection district. This eventually turned out to be a costly show of support for his son as this
action made he and the other signatories liable for any taxes not collected by Richard. This, coupled
with other 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' Co., MD) This brought him some much
needed time. Thomas was in poor health and his son James managed the plantation in 1857 and 1858,
and again in 1861 to October of 1862 (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' Co., MD)
In October of 1862 Thomas' two sons, James and Franklin traveled to Richmond and joined
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,
Wash., DC) James visited home frequently but was captured by the Union Army in St. Mary's Co., MD
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, Thomas surveyed a parcel of 172 acres of "Potomac Landing" for his daughter
Rebecca Maria, who had married her second cousin William B. Robertson on November 18, 1855. He
made a gift of fifty acres to his daughter and she agreed to purchase the remainder. In Equity Case
#849 (1872) filed after Thomas' death by his widow Martha and Samuel H. Berry, as executrix and
executor, to recover payment for this land, 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 with Thomas, "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."
His sons were back from the South and perhaps he was a happy man but his debts were not
small. His son Franklin managed the farm after the War. In December of 1868 Thomas entered into
a sharecropping agreement with Edward Hanson, an African-American, to farm part of "Potomac
Landing". On May 16, 1869, after a years illness, Thomas W. Robinson died, deeply in debt. He was
buried beside his first wife, Elizabeth, in St. Thomas' Churchyard, Croom, MD. He named as executrix
Martha A. Robinson, his wife, and his friend Samuel H. Berry as executor. His will divided "Potomac
Landing" into thirds, one third going to his wife and their son Robert Henry, one third to his son James
G. and one third to his son Franklin A. The land was surveyed according to the will, his personal
property was sold but not enough profit realized from the sale to pay off his creditors. The
Commissioners of Prince Georges' Co. sued Martha A. Robinson & Samuel H. Berry as executrix and
executor on behalf of Thomas' creditors for payment. The outcome of the suit was that in 1876 the
property was sold at public auction. The Notice of Sale in the newspaper The Prince Georgian on
September 1, 1876, describes the plantation 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 H. Robinson for $6.00 an
acre, Lot #2 was purchased by F.A. Robinson for $5.00 an acre and Lot #3 was purchased by James
G. Robinson for $4.00 per acre. Robert and Franklin eventually payed off their mortgage, James
defaulted on his purchase and later moved to St. Marys' Co., MD. And so began a new era of "Potomac
Lot #1 purchased by Robert from his fathers' estate consisted of 177 1/3 acres, it included the
dwelling and farm buildings. On July 24, 1872, he married Amanda Malvina Baden, daughter of
Robert W. G. Baden and Margaret Caroline Early, the Badens and Earlys both prominent county
families. To this union were born 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), seven of these
children lived to maturity.
By 1880 he had paid off his debt on the property and was fully engaged in farming. Robert
Henry, unlike his father, or perhaps because of his father, did not add to his land holdings, choosing
to remain relatively debt free for his lifetime. The only land transactions he participated in during his
entire lifetime were the sales of 79 3/4 acres in 1921 of his wife Amandas' inheritance from her father
R.W.G. Baden and her interest in two other smaller parcels of her father's land sold in 1894 and 1928.
In 1928 he transferred 3.09 acres to his son Frank.
As late as the Federal census of 1880 his brother Franklin was living with he and his
household, both men engaged in farming. On February 18, 1897 Martha, widow of Thomas, passed
away. She was buried in the churchyard of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's Co.,
Robert continued the 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 Robinson dated 1896. (Robinson-Via Family Papers, NMAH, Smithsonian
Inst., Wash., DC) The exact origin of this new name for "Potomac Landing" is lost but perhaps
"Potomac Landing" held such bitter memories of debt and hardship for Robert that, as a symbolic break
with the past, a new name was found for his part of his fathers' estate. The plantation continued to be
listed on tax bills as "Potomac Landing" well into the 20th century, but was known to the general
public as the "Ferndale Farm". (Robinson-Via Family Papers, Smithsonian Inst., NMAH, Archives
Center, Wash., DC)
Robert served as deputy inspector at the State Tobacco Warehouse in Baltimore for eight
years under Mr. W.B. Bowie. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Brandywine.
In July of 1905, his brother, Franklin died a bachelor farmer. He was buried facing the South in the
churchyard of the Church of the Atonement, Cheltenham, MD where he had served as Vestryman,
treasurer and cemetery custodian. Since Franklin died intestate a lengthy process of dividing his estate
began, which resulted in the sale of his part of "Potomac Landing" to Mr. William E. Boswell in July
1908. None of the proceeds went to Robert as the court declared him ineligible due to his being, "a
brother of the half-blood". (Equity Case 3209, Prince George's Co., MD)
In 1910, after living in the original house on "Potomac Landing" for approximately
sixty-seven years, the Robinsons' built a new home described in a 1956 insurance policy as, "2 story,
frame, metal roof, 16x43, wing 14x28, 9 rooms;". (Robinson-Via Family Papers, NMAH, Archives
Center, Smithsonian Inst., Wash., DC) The house in design was a simple, yet stately, Victorian with
plastered walls, lit by carbide gas. Electrical lighting was installed in 1951. The house was built with
monies from Robert & 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-Via
Family Papers, Smithsonian Inst., NMAH, Archives Center, Wash., DC) Robert H. Robinson was
buried beside his mother in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's Co.,
At his death, "Ferndale" was valued at $30.00 an acre, the total acreage, 174 acres being
valued in the whole at $5,220.00. Since Robert Henry died intestate, again the fate of the land was in
question. Robert Henry 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 mothers life
disrupted, Frank purchased the estate from the remaining heirs. Before this could take place though,
a deed had to be granted to the heirs for Robert Henry's part of "Potomac Landing". Equity case 873
was reopened sixty-two years after it's supposed resolution. In the testimony of Frank, he explains,
"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 found that indeed
Robert Henry had paid for his part of "Potomac Landing" in full and on February 14, 1938 the farm was
deeded from Amanda B. Robinson and Robert Henry Robinson's heirs to Frank. (Book 499, page 334,
Land Records of Prince Georges' Co., MD) According to the deed and a fire insurance policy written
in 1937 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-Via Family
Papers, Smithsonian Inst., NMAH, Archives Center, Wash., DC)
Frank A. Robinson, now the sole owner of "Ferndale", was the third son of Robert Henry and
Amanda Baden Robinson. He 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 responsible for the construction of the first Bank of Brandywine, many homes in and
around the town of Brandywine, including the home of his cousin Dr. Robert E. Baden, DDS. He was
also the secretary of the Building Committee for the construction of the Chapel of the Incarnation. His
success in the building trade gave him a certain amount of disposable income which he invested in
land. His first purchase was in August of 1915 of a 2 9/100 acre of land in Brandywine which was
being sold by the Board of County School Commissioners, the purchase price was $300. In March of
1916 he purchased 38.09 acres of his Uncle Franklins' farm. This property adjoined the property which
his father held of the former "Potomac Landing".
Over the next fifty-four years of his life he bought and sold many pieces of property in the
area. Perhaps his most significant purchases were these; 18 1/3 acres purchased from The German
American Colonization Land Co. of Maryland in October of 1915 (Book 115, pg. 140, Land Records
of Prince Georges' Co., MD), 147.99 acres purchased from August and Wilhelmina Noltensmeir in
December 1917 (Book 129, pg. 263, Land Records of Prince Georges' Co., MD) and 320 acres called
the "Vineyard" purchased from William M. Wilson in March 1928. Over the course of his life it was
these three parcels that Frank used as collateral on loans and mortgages for other purchases. Never
once during his lifetime did he mortgage his home place, "Ferndale", insuring that no matter what
financial stormy seas might blow, his home was always 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 had inherited his grandfather Thomas' love of land but fortunately he 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 Co., MD. To this union were born three children; Mary Elizabeth
(1930-), Franklin Alexander (1932-), and Robert Lee (1935-). He continued to farm, in addition to his
contracting business, raising tobacco, hay, small grains and also 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, the Vestry of St. Thomas Parish, and as sheriff of Brandywine.
On January 9, 1940 Amanda Baden Robinson passed away. She was buried next to her
husband in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's Co., MD.
In February of 1958, Frank and Elizabeth conveyed to their son Franklin 1.57 acres of land
on "Ferndale" for the new home Franklin and his fiancee, Adina M. Via, were building.
The booming economy and suburbanization of Prince Georges' Co. in the early 1960's led
to the high quality gravel, lying beneath "Ferndale", becoming a valuable commodity. In October 1962,
Franklin, with his parents, Frank and Elizabeth granted a three year lease to William C. Nolte for the
mining of sand and gravel on the Ferndale Farm at .17¢ per yard. (Book 2747, pg. 11, Land Records
of Prince Georges' Co., MD) From now until the property was sold in 1975, gravel would be mined
from under "Ferndale" by various companies. In November of 1962 Elizabeth and Frank transferred
to their son Franklin the 38.09 acres Frank had bought from Fitzhugh Billingsley in 1916. (Book 2754,
pg. 99, Land Records of Prince George's Co., MD) During that same year they transferred to their son
Robert and his wife Lois, 6.754 acres, part of the "Vineyard". (Book 2765, pg. 201, Land Records of
Prince Georges' Co., MD)
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 Co.,
MD. Franklin had rented this same farm the year before and was impressed enough by it's location and
arability to work out a purchase. For this property, Frank and Elizabeth traded 65.9920 acres of
"Ferndale" which would eventually become Franklin's under Frank's will. On February 21, 1966 they
deeded the Charles Co. farm to Franklin and Adina. Unfortunately, the deal did not work out as
initially planned and Franklin and Adina were forced to borrow money to continue with the farms
purchase. Adina named this farm "Serenity". "Serenity" consisted of 480.66 acres described as,
"BEING a part of the same land and premises devised in trust under Item Two of the Mary E. Bowling
will, dated October 14, 1907, duly admitted to probate in the Orphans' Court for Charles County,
Maryland, on December 17, 1907, and recorded among the Will Records of said County in Liber
C.H.P. No. 19, at folio 326; and, BEING part of the land acquired by the said Testatrix by several
deeds, one of which is from George F. Adams, et al, dated March 1, 1887 and recorded in Liber B.G.S.
No. 2 at folio 108 of particularly described as per survey of D.H. Steffen, County Surveyor, as follows:
BEGINNING for the same at an iron pipe driven in the ground on the North Side of the State Road
leading from Hughesville to the Patuxent River Bridge, forty feet from the center line thereof, said iron
pipe marking a corner of the Frank Hill Estate and the Southwest corner of the entire tract now about
to be described; running thence with said Hill land . . ." (Liber 179, page 708 etc., Land Records of
Charles Co., MD)
On February 5, 1970, after a short illness, Frank died at Cafritz Memorial Hospital in
Washington, DC. He was buried in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince
George's Co., MD beside his parents. In his will, probated March 4, 1970 he willed thirty acres of the
property bought from the German American Land Co. and A. Noltensmeir to his wife Elizabeth, he
willed forty acres of this same parcel to his daughter, Mary Robinson Conner. The remainder of the
home place, "Ferndale" was willed to his son Franklin and the remaining acreage of the "Vineyard" was
left to his son Robert Lee.
Franklin Alexander Robinson was born August 13, 1932 at the Garfield Hospital in
Washington, DC. He received his schooling in the public school system of Prince George's Co. He
graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June of 1951. During his high school years he was a
charter member of The Future Farmers of America. He was extremely active in the FFA, achieving
the Degree of Maryland Farmer in 1950 and their highest award, the Degree of American Farmer at a
convention in Kansas City, MO in October of 1953. In 1954 he took flying training and obtained his
private pilots license. 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 and "Ferndale"
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. To this union were born 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, owned and rented. On February 21, 1966, his
parents deeded their purchase of the Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown farm to he and Adina. This was
the farm later known as "Serenity". Franklin and Adina engaged an architect to draft house plans for
them for their anticipated new residence. Franklin constructed a small A-frame vacation home on the
property so the family could spend weekends there.
On December 14, 1966, after a long illness, Adina passed away from complications
associated with Hodgkins Disease. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf, Charles
Franklin married Margaret Walker Lennox (nee Tallen) on August 21, 1970 (Marriage
Records of Prince George's Co., MD) This marriage ended in divorce. There were no children from
On July 14, 1975 the Robinson family moved to "Serenity", Charles Co., MD. Those moving
to "Serenity" farm were Franklin, his second wife, Margaret Lennox Robinson (nee Tallen), her
daughter Margaret W. Lennox, Franklin's children; Franklin, Jr., R. David, and A. Theresa, also
Elizabeth B. Robinson, widow of Frank Robinson. On July 17, 1975 Franklin and his mother Elizabeth
deeded the remaining acreage of Ferndale Farm/Potomac Landing to Brandywine Sand and Gravel,
thus ending 131 years of ownership of "Potomac Landing" by the Robinson family. Elizabeth Bourne
Robinson passed away on July 15, 1976 and was buried beside her husband Frank in the cemetery at
St. Paul's Church, Baden, Prince George's Co., MD.
Franklin married Hiltrud (Ceddie) Harris (nee Sedlacek) on July 15, 1978. (Robinson Family
Bible) This marriage ended in divorce. 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.
Franklin, along with two of his daughter A. Theresa, continues the day to day operations of
a family farm on "Serenity". "Serenity" has a superior quality of land to "Ferndale/Potomac Landing"
and is well suited to the growing of tobacco, small grains, etc. which crops, along with a flock of sheep,
are cultivated there to the present time (1996). Franklin is active in farming and community affairs
having served on the Vestry of St. Thomas Parish, the Board of Directors of Maryland Tobacco
Growers Association, 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
Franklin sold off marginal land and currently "Serenity" consists of approximately 275 acres.
In 1981 a state agricultural land preservation district of 222.755 acres was created from "Serenity".
This was the first such district in Charles Co. and one of the first in the state of Maryland.
In 1985, R. David begun a greenhouse business for the sale of spring flowering bedding
plants and hanging baskets. He currently wholesales product to all parts of Maryland and various
locations in Virginia and Delaware. A. Theresa is in charge of the sheep operation and is involved in
the daily running of Serenity Farm. 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 USAF from November 1981 to January 1986.
He now pursues a full-time career as a professional actor, assisting on the farm when between acting
jobs. All are involved in community affairs, R. David sitting on the Charles County Agricultural
Preservation Board, A. Theresa having served on the Vestry of Oldfields Episcopal Church, Charles
Co., MD, and Franklin, Jr. having served on the Vestries of both Oldfields Episcopal Church, Charles
Co., MD and St. Thomas Parish, Croom, Prince George's Co., MD, the Board of the Washington
Literacy Council, and currently a choir member of the choir at St. Thomas Church, Croom, Prince
George's Co., MD, among other church related posts.
R. David Robinson married Denise Marie Leal on May 5, 1984, this marriage ended in
divorce in 1988. He married Lorressa Dawn Bernard, daughter of Donald Irvin and Bonita Mitchell
Bernard on February 7, 1990. To this union have been born three children; Ashlee Nichole (1990-),
Virginia Larae (1992-) and Austin David (1996-). A. Theresa and Franklin, Jr. are currently unmarried.
The Via family traces its origins to the colony of Virginia, where the probable progenitor of
the line, (Pierre?) Amore Via, a French Huguenot, settled in Manakin Town in what became Albemarle
County between 1670-1700. It is impossible to trace the Via line definitively due to the loss of records
during the War Between the States.
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 on 7 March 1836 (Albemarle
County Marriage Records).
Hiram and Harriet Naylor Via's son, Robert St. Clair Via (1844-1925), served as a private
in Co. 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). To this union were born three children: Bernice Olive (1902-1999),
Robert Milton (1906-1983), and Deward Daniel (d. 1970).
Robert Milton Via grew up on his family's farm west of Standardsville in Greene County.
In 1928, he moved to Washington, D.C., and in December began employment with the Capitol Traction
Company as a streetcar conductor (Robinson-Via Family Papers, Archives Center, NMAH,
Smithsonian Institution). During the early 1930s, Robert M. Via rented a townhouse at 715 A St., SE,
where he lived along with his sister Bernice V. McMullan and her son, William C. McMullan; his
brother and sister-in-law, Deward and Eunice Lillard Via; and his parents. Next door, at 717, lived the
Moses Albright family, which included his stepdaughter Ida Virginia Woods (1914-), the daughter of
Jesse Lee Woods and Donna Mae Barker of Frederick County, Maryland. Robert and Virginia began
a courtship and on September 3, 1932, they were married in Frederick, Frederick Co., MD (Frederick
County, Maryland, Marriage Records).
After their marriage, Robert and Virginia lived in various locations in the Washington area.
Their first child, Robert Delano Via, was born on March 24, 1933, and their second child, Adina Mae
Via was born on April 12, 1937. Virginia was employed outside the home off and on while her
children were in school. Her first job after marriage was with the postal service in Capitol Heights,
Maryland. Most frequently, she worked for "Charles of the Ritz" as a receptionist in their beauty salon
located in Woodward and Lothrop's F Street store. She also worked as salon manager at the "Charles
of the Ritz" salons in the Woodward and 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 Co., MD. (Book 619, pg. 12, Land Records of Prince George's Co., MD). 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, Robert and Virginia purchased
approximately thirty acres bordering on Burches Creek near the towns of Clinton, also know as
Surrattsville, and T.B. in Prince George's Co., MD from Joseph H. and M. Pauline Blandford. (Book
873, pg. 483, Land Records of Prince George's Co., MD) 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 Clyde E. Phillips in 1941. They moved to the farm in 1949. The children
enrolled in the public school system of Prince George's Co., MD. Robert raised hogs, small grains and
a crop of tobacco yearly on this farm and also maintained his job with Capitol Transit (formerly Capitol
In 1954, Robert and Virginia purchased a farm, of approximately 150 acres, in Island Creek,
Calvert Co., MD. The intention was for Robert and his son to enter into a full-time farming operation
on expanded acreage.
Robert D. Via, graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June of 1951. He 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 Co. in 1956, he decided to pursue careers other
than farming. He eventually traveled and worked in various parts of the United States.
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 Co., MD where he began full-time
farming. He and Virginia sold the thirty acre farm in Prince George's Co., MD on June 21, 1956 to
Melvin C. & Geraldine H. Rardia. (Book 2003, pg. 564, Land Records of Prince George's Co., MD)
Virginia continued her employment with Charles of the Ritz at Woodward and Lothrop, Washington,
DC. Adina, now a graduate of Gwynn Park High School, was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air
Force Base in Camp Springs, MD. They both commuted daily from Calvert Co. to their places of
Robert farmed the land in Calvert Co., raising hogs, cattle, small grains and tobacco. Over
the course of the next twenty-seven years, Robert and Virginia sold smaller parcels of the Calvert Co.,
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, Charles Co., MD. At the time of Robert's death in 1983, the farm
consisted of 28.694 acres. In 1998, Virgina Woods Via deeded the remainder of the Calvert County
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 Co., maintaining a small herd of cattle. In
the fall of 1989 her grandson Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. went to live with her. In 1993, the onset of
Alzheimers Disease required her to move to "Serenity", Charles Co., MD and take up residence with
her granddaughter Adina T. Robinson. Since 1992 she has participated in various studies on
Alzheimers Disease conducted by the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD. In October of 1998
she moved to All American Senior Care in Brandywine, MD and in 1999 she moved to Morningside
an elderly care facility in Waldorf, MD.
Adina Mae Via was born April 12, 1937 at the Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, DC,
the second child and only daughter of Robert Milton and Ida Virginia Woods Via.
Adina grew up in Washington, DC attending the public schools there and moved with her
family to the Burches Creek farm, Prince George's Co., MD in 1949. She enrolled in the Prince
George's Co. 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, MD.
In July of 1956, she moved with her family to the Via farm in Island Creek, Calvert Co., MD.
On July 27, 1958 she married Franklin A. Robinson at the Chapel of the Incarnation, Brandywine,
Prince George's Co., MD. To this union were born three children; Franklin Alexander (b. 1959),
Robert David (b. 1962) and Adina Theresa (b. 1963). In the fall of 1958, she and Franklin took up
residence in the home they had built on the Robinson farm, "Potomac Landing/Ferndale". 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 Hodgkins Disease. She had been battling this disease for many years prior to her
death. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Charles Co., MD.