"Robert Carson's parents, James and Ellen, had come directly to Allegheny County from Ireland. They settled in Allegheny City, a bustling Scots-Irish working-class town on the north plain just across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. James Carson, a successful carpenter, provided adequately for his family.
Robert, the eldest of their six children, was born in 1864 and may have finished high school, or come close to doing so. The family was active in the Fourth United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny City, where Robert sang in the choir and toured with the men's quartet. In the winter of 1893 Robert Carson's quartet participated in a choral social in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, a prosperous sheep-farming community in Washington County, about eighteen miles southwest of Pittsburgh. Among the other groups performing in Canonsburg that evening was a local female group, the Washington Quintette Club, from nearby Washington, Pennsylvania, which featured alto soloist Maria Frazier McLean. Maria was attracted to the quiet, debonair Carson, who at thirty must have appeared more mature than many of the young men she knew. Robert was a slender, pleasant-looking man of average height, with prematurely thinning dark hair and kindly blue eyes. He sported a thick, sweeping mustache in the grenadier's fashion that he waxed into perfect sharp tips. Robert courted Maria McLean, who agreed to marry him less than a year later in June 1894, even though his background was educationally and socially inferior to hers.
Although Robert came from a proper United Presbyterian family, Maria's widowed mother, Rachel Andrews McLean, was probably not enthusiastic about the match." 
Robert was an insurance salesman.
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