Turn of the 20th Century: Vintage Robbinston, ME & My Family

I don’t believe I’ve ever shared any stories about Robbinston, Washington County, Maine.

First, here are a few facts about the “big city” of Robbinston:

Exactly where is Robbinston? Robbinston is roughly ten miles from Calais down Hwy. 1, which meanders along the coast in a southeasterly direction.

Next, Robbinston’s population was at an all time high when the 1860 census was taken. There were 1, 113 souls living there, including my 3X great grandparents, George and Mary Elizabeth (Scripture) Tarbox.

Today, there are about 500 residents in Robbinston, which covers about 28 square miles. You can live quite a ways from your closest neighbor. Even in 1860, there was space to be had for farming.

I’ve known for many years that my 2X great grandmother Nellie F. Tarbox Adams had been born in Robbinston. Her parents married in New Hampshire and then lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts for a few years, which is where her sister, Elizabeth, was born.

Between 1851 and Nellie’s birth in 1854, the little Tarbox family moved way north to Robbinston. By 1870, they had moved into Calais proper. George owned a granite quarry and made tombstones. He likely found the 10-12 mile commute taking up way too much of his business day since most of his clients would have been based in Calais or even over the International Bridge in New Brunswick.

What did Robbinston look like when Nellie was a little girl there? I doubt that it looked much different than at the beginning of the 20th century except that fewer people lived there. I imagine that produced quite a few abandoned buildings scattered around the countryside.

Of course, I had to check out EBay for some postcard possibilities. Here is what I found (and ended up purchasing):

Sleepy Hollow, Robbinston, ME

Road Through Robbinston

I suspect that the two roads above might be the same road because there just aren’t that many roads in Robbinston!

If this little road is along S. River Road, the main road between Robbinston and Calais, then this might be what it looks like today:

Source: Google Maps

This is the only area I could find where the road touched the waterway and had a squarish appearance.

If this isn’t the same spot, then the neighborhood in the third postcard is down off a side road where the Google car failed to travel.

Whether it’s the same place or not, the old postcards give me a feeling of what Nellie’s birthplace was like during her lifetime.

And this is one of the few buildings I saw with Google Earth that looks like it could have been there a century ago!

Cox Store in Robbinston

This is my most recent eBay treasure. The Cox Store also served as the Robbinston Post Office, so it is very likely that my 2X great grandmother, Nellie Tarbox Adams, and her family were in this store a number of times during their lives. It’s a very similar style to the abandoned building seen above it, but I highly doubt the two buildings are one and the same.



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