CHARLOTTE CECILIA (RICHARDSON) BLAIR ROBERTSON

The Tales of a Blair Family    

Charlotte Cecilia Richardson was born March 28, 1840 in Waterloo, Canada, the daughter of George Herbert Richardson and Cecilia Wells Church Richardson.   Her parents were of English stock and her father's family were early settlers in New England.  In 1852, when Charlotte was twelve years old, she moved to Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois with her family.  

In an 1897 letter, Charlotte was described as a tiny, frail woman, but she was anything but frail in spirit.  Her life was filled with triumph and disaster and she met them both head on, with great strength.  She took on adult responsibilities at an early age when she married Silas Jackson Blair on October 3, 1854 at age fourteen.  Their first child, Ida Laura, was born to them on June 25th, 1858 and there second child, Harriet Cecilia, was born October 26, 1860.

Charlotte was twenty-one when the Civil War broke out and her husband marched off to fight with the Union Army as a Sgt. in the 34th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  It was fortunate that she had a large supportive family because to everybody's sorrow, Silas never came home.  He was killed at Pittsburgh Landing during the battle of Shiloh on April 7th, 1862, just seven months after he entered the service.  More sorrow followed when their youngest daughter, Ida Laura passed away on November 15th, 1863.

With her husband on the same Tennessee battlefield was a young man of only seventeen years.   His name was Andrew Alexander Robertson and he was a good friend of Silas and Charlotte.  Andrew was with the 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Co. H. under the command of Lt. Col. Ellis and was in the very thickest of the battle on April 6th, 1862.  Here young Robertson displayed true heroism when Col. Ellis, Major Goddard and twenty-six men of Co. H. were shot down, and during the carnage and confusion Andrew Robertson remained calm and brave until he too succumbed to serious injury.  His wounds were so severe that he was released from service and sent home to Forreston, Illinois, to recover.  While Andrew was home recovering from his wounds he continued to see his good friend Charlotte and eventually their friendship grew into something deeper and they were married on June 5th, 1864.  Unbelievable as it might sound, Andrew, still suffering from his previous wounds, re-enlisted as a Lieutenant in the army and served until the war's close in 1865.  Andrew and Charlotte had one child, Katie Maude, born to them on October 27, 1865, but sorrow visited them again when little Katie died just 10 months later.

After the war, life for the Robertson's started to prosper.   Andrew taught school in Forreston until going into the grain and lumber business with his brother-in-law, George Richardson.  The partners and their families moved west in 1873 and engaged in the same business at Alden, Iowa and then Iowa Falls, Iowa.   In 1881 the business partnership was dissolved and the Robertson's moved to Hampton, Iowa where Andrew continued to deal in grain and stock.  Hampton was an up and coming town in the State of Iowa where many second generation Forreston families had moved, including the N. W. Beebe Jr. family.

In 1884, while Charlotte was away visiting her daughter who was attending school in Chicago, tragedy struck the family again.  Andrew was taken seriously ill and Charlotte was telegraphed with a message to hurry to his bedside.   She arrived on a Thursday and over the next couple of days he quickly seemed to improve.  On Sunday evening, Charlotte left his bedside to go to dinner and before leaving he called her to his bedside and kissed and embraced her many times, but normally being an affectionate man she thought little of it.  Upon her return from dinner she noticed that his face had changed and supposed he was about to faint.  She raised his head and saw a wound in his right temple and then noticed the pistol in his right hand.   He died in her arms a few moments later without uttering another word.  It was surmised that  he took his life because he could no longer bear the pain he had long suffered as a result of his war wounds.

Charlotte's business card


Charlotte, alone again, went on to lead a very full and productive life.   She had been a life-long student and writer and following her husband's death she moved to Chicago to be near her daughter and took up a career of teaching and writing.  She was elected a life member of the Illinois Woman's Press Association of Chicago.  She served as an instructor of public speaking, dramatic art and physical culture in Chicago and later in Los Angeles where she moved after a near fatal bout with typhoid fever in 1901.   Above is pictured one of Charlotte's original business cards.  She was greatly interested in religious work and problems, and was an active member of the Plymouth church in Chicago.  She was also a member of the D.A.R. and The Fraternal Order of Eastern Star.  Her D. A. R. membership was made under the name of a Richardson ancestor, Wyman Richardson, who served as a Minute Man during the American Revolution.

Charlotte remained in California until 1927, when her health compelled her back to Illinois to live with her daughter, Harriet Blair Ward, in Champaign, Illinois.  She died on March 3, 1928 and according to her obituary she was laid to rest in Chicago. However, there is a monument in her name next to her husband Alexander in Union Cemetery, Iowa Falls, Hardin County, Iowa. With them is a marker for a baby Robertson (Ward Robertson). There are no dates on the baby's marker.

 

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