Thursday, August 18, 2011

Finding James B Robinson

James Benjamin Robinson.  I grew up calling him Uncle Pete.  He was my Dad's Paternal Uncle.  I got to thinking about him the other day, while Jake was playing his harmonica at my Dad's house.  My Dad grabbed it and played a song for them.  I thought of Uncle Pete.  He always had his harmonica.  I can picture him sitting on the couch in my parents living room at Christmas time, jamming on the harmonica (if that's possible).  He was really into it!
The mystery that I'm trying to resolve is:  Who did Uncle Pete live with after his father passed away?
I've been told for years that he was raised by Ida's sister, Mabel.  My dad and mom had told me years ago that Uncle Pete was raised by an Aunt.  Never any mention of the father having passed away.  My Dad didn't know how young the brothers were when their father passed, so he just thought they didn't have the money to keep him.  Which is likely true, except that it was due to the fact that Thomas died.

The family consisted of Ida Alice Mason, AKA Mom Kuster (she later remarried), Thomas Crossley Robinson were the parents.  They had my grandfather, Samuel Raynor Robinson in 1898 and his brother James Benjamin Robinson in 1901.  They lived in the Kensington section of Philadelphia on G Street.  Hopefully it was a better place to be back then!  Thomas passed away in 1911, the death certificate says it was from Epilepsy with mental derangement as a contributing factor, when Samuel was 14 and James was 10.  I've been told that at this point James had to live with Ida's sister, Mabel.  Ida couldn't afford to keep both children.  It is my guess that Samuel was probably working already at the age of 14, so he was contributing some income.  I can't find any evidence of the split of the brothers, however, due to the time frame.  It all falls right smack in the middle of 2 censuses.  In 1910, They all lived with Thomas' mother, Mary,  at 3439 G Street (I suspect Thomas was sick at the time).  In February of 1911, based on the Death Certificate they lived at 807 Schiller Street.  By 1920, the next census year, Ida was remarried to Henry Benhart (unsure of spelling) Kuster, AKA Ben Kuster and both children were living with them at 3546 G Street.

So, this leaves me with my mystery...did Uncle Jim live with his Aunt Mabel?  My Dad and his brother Sam both recall this, however, Aunt Grace does not.  She tends to have the best memory about all of the Robinson family stories.  So, my Dad asked me to see if I could figure out if this is true or not!  So far, I cannot come up with a way to verify this.

Uncle Jim never married.  He was sent to Denver, Colorado by General Electric or Westinghouse to do electrical work there.  As far as we know, he worked for them until he retired.  While living out west, he developed a love of the rodeo.  I am unsure whether he just liked to watch or if he participated.

I wonder where I'll find him in the 1940 census when it's released next year.  It will likely take a while to find him, since it will not be indexed right away!!

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