I was 10 years old sitting at my Grandmother Florence Russell Norris' kitchen table, trying to record a family tree on a piece of typing paper. The father had eleven children with the first wife and eleven children with the second. I couldn’t fit them all on the paper! But, it was Grandma’s stories that intrigued me. I wanted to see for myself how they were kin to me. I'm thankful for the genealogy databases we have now.
Knowing family origins was important to my Grandmother. She didn’t have a father growing up. That was something that truly bothered her - not having a complete family. (He came back into their lives twenty years later, a broken and dying man.)
Her mother, Mary Howard Spiers, was the first person of royal descent to marry into Spiers Family. (Descended from Lord Edward George Fitzalan Howard, first Lord Howard of Glossop, second son of 13th Duke of Norfolk, Henry Charles Howard.) Our Spiers were descended from Henry Spiers of Scotland whose lineage was proved by a Land Patent in 1744 in Prince George County, VA. (from Descendants of Henry Spiers, Pioneer Scotsman, complied by Mary Spiers Kennette).
Her father, Charles William Robins, was born in 1859? and orphaned at 4 years of age – his father William? Robins a seaman and his mother, a 16 year old Hughenot, Marie Louise DeMahuren. The family story is that Marie was pregnant so the young couple asked her widowed mother for help – they were turned away and disowned. William Robins died in 1863, supposedly while on a ship. Marie was pregnant and died giving birth to the child. Charles was made a ward of the Court as his father had Seaman’s Insurance. He was “adopted” by a young couple, Alonzo and Lucinda Russell of Lowell, Massachusetts (FamilySearch - Massachusetts State Census 1865 - has Alonzo, Lucinda, and Charles Robins (6 yrs) and Ann C. Russell (22 yrs).
I have information on his adult life (his first wife and twin children, as a travelling newspaper reporter out West and in Europe during the WWI, his second marriage to and divorce from my Gr grandmother Mary Spiers and the descendants from that marriage.)
We visited Lowell and found where his adopted family (Russell) lived and where they were buried. We didn’t have enough time to research him in the Massachusetts library. Family Search and Ancestry haven’t been helpful before the 1865 census. Each census had a different birthplace and birthdate.
We found where Gr grandfather Charles is buried in Portsmouth, VA (died in1936 where he had been living with his adult children from the first marriage).
Also, most of his children were known for their red hair – Ireland or Scottish?
The search for information on my Gr grandfather Charles William Robins Russell is ongoing. My Grandmother Florence died in 2001, not knowing her paternal lineage.
Hopefully I find more about his lineage before I pass!