Robert Cleland Family of Robbinston, ME: 113 Years Ago

Although I have ties to Robbinson, Washington, Maine (my 2X great grandmother, Nellie Tarbox Adams was born there), I am not related to the family of Robert Cleland who lived in this huge farmhouse in 1910:

Robbinston is and always has been a small town.  How neat would it be to have an actual photo postcard of the family home, taken over a century ago? With the census description that the family lived on the state road, I was challenged to find the house today. Success!

Next, I hoped to find descendants today who would like to have this memento, postmarked 113 years ago, of their family home. Again, success and this vintage postcard has gone home to family.

Who was R. Cleland?

With the 1910 postmark, it was easy to locate the family in the 1910 census. Robert Cleland, born April 1860 in Robbinston, was the son of Matthew Cleland, an immigrant from Northern Ireland, and Mary Ann Robinson, born in Milltown, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada, just across the water from Calais, Washington, Maine.

Matthew was a farmer by occupation and already owned land in Robbinson by 1846. In the 1850 census, he was at home with wife Mary Ann and their one year old son, James R. Matthew was 38; Mary Ann was 22. They likely married about 1848, probably in Charlotte County, New Brunswick.

By 1870, Matthew and Mary Ann had seven children at home. Also in the household was James Cleland, 53 and born in Ireland, likely Matthew’s brother.

Robert Cleland, subject of this sketch, was the middle child – 4th born with three brothers and three sisters. He married Fannie Gertrude Davis in 1890.

By 1900, they were already living in the home pictured on the postcard. Robert was, at the time, a dealer in general machinery, which most likely was farm equipment.

Whether or not his land was inherited from his father, who died in 1886, I don’t know. It may well have been because by 1910, his brothers and cousins Horace, Mathew, William and Howard and their families were all neighbors.

Robert died in 1931, in Robbinston, where he had spent his whole life. Fannie, born 22 June 1866 in nearby Pembroke, survived her husband by many years, passing away on 14 July 1960.

Many of the Cleland extended family are buried in Robbinston Ridge Cemetery.

Robert and Fannie were the parents of six children, all living in 1910.

Children (All events in Robbinston, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Helen G., born 1 December 1892; died 5 April 1980, Calais, Washington, Maine. She did not marry.
  2. Noel Robert, born 22 December 1896; died 11 April 1982, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Helen Urberta Harvey. She was born 27 April 1897, Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada; died 17 May 1963. They had one child.
  3. Mildon Ray, born 5 October 1898; died 28 June 1975, Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts; married Edna Essie McNutt. She was born 1 March 1900; died 20 February 1999, Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. They had at least two children.
  4. Curtis M., born 24 December 1899; died 27 April 1994, Calais, Washington, Maine. He did not marry.
  5. Arnold Lloyd, born 23 October 1902; died July 1973; married Ruby Amelia Cossaboom, 26 November 1949. She was born 1907; died 1996, probably Pennfield, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada, where both are buried. It appears they had no children.
  6. Ernest Morton, 1 June 1906; died 17 May 1994, place unknown; married Henrietta Inez Blackwood, 4 July 1932. Nettie was born 4 April 1908; died after 1940. She married (1) Mr. Cunningham and had one child. Ernest and Nettie also had one child together.

Therefore, although only three of Robert and Fannie’s six children had children of their own, there are descendants today. From the Google map crop above, it appears that their home is still lived in by someone. Whether or not it is a Cleland family member, I don’t know.




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