After 80 years or searching, hoping and praying, a local family has reunited with their long-lost “baby brother.”
“It had been a lifelong search,” said Wesley Robbins of Calhoun. “We just never did think we would be able to find him.”
In 1925 when Robbins, was only three, his family was forced to leave the family farm in Calhoun behind to find work in Atlanta.
Robbins father, Amos Talmadge Robbins, along with his pregnant wife Elizabeth Dyer Robbins and their six children moved to Atlanta where Elizabeth gave birth to their seventh child, a boy they named Talmadge. His six older siblings affectionately referred him to as the baby.
Two months after giving birth to Talmadge Elizabeth died, leaving her husband alone to raise seven children, the oldest of which was just eight years old. Unable to care for seven children on his own, Amos Robbins made the difficult decision to place the baby in an orphanage.
Three of the sisters were taken in by a neighbor to help raise and the other siblings were taken in by family members who assisted Amos Robbins while he searched for work.
The baby was adopted and taken to live in Albany, Ga., but the Robbins siblings were not aware of this information, and the children always wondered what happened to the baby.
“Dad signed papers saying he would not try to find him. He didn’t want to go back on that prom-ise,” Wesley said.
It wasn’t until adulthood that the Robbins clan began actively looking for the baby.
“It was just one of those things- the family was always looking, always searching,” said Louanne Holbert, Wesley Robbins youngest daughter.
In 1961, the oldest sibling, Arnold Robbins died of cancer. This is when the siblings began search-ing in earnest.
“My sister, Marcell, put an ad in the paper,” said Wesley.
But that effort proved futile. There was a response to the ad, however the man was not Talmadge Robbins.
“I think he was sincere, he wanted to find his lost family too,” said Wesley.
The turning point
It finally took something as simple as a free trial with a genealogy Web site find the lost Robbins brother. In the early days of last winter Holbert decided to take to the Internet. She began a family tree on the Web site ancestry.com. Holbert entered in the names of her paternal grandparents along with the names of her father and his siblings.
“Two or three weeks later they called,” Holbert said.
According to Holbert, LeAnn MacCunach, the daughter of a man named John Williamson phoned her father’s house.
“She said, ‘I think that your dad is my dad’s brother.’ They had seen that he was a Robbins from Calhoun. We didn’t know that while we were looking for him, his family was looking for us,” said Judy Meadows, Wesely’s oldest daughter.
This is when Meadows immediately took the phone to her father.
“I said, ‘There is a girl on the phone who says her father is your adopted brother.’ His mouth just fell open,” she said.
Within the hour Wesley returned the phone call. This confirmed that John Willamson was in fact the long lost baby Talmadge Robbins.
Immediately family members began arrangements to visit John and his family in Millidgeville where John lives with his wife of 60 years, Gene. Last month, the Williamsons celebrated their wed-ding anniversary, and his new found siblings were invited.
Wesley and his family made the three hour drive to Millidgeville, not knowing what to expect.
“When I saw him, I didn’t have the words for it,” Wesely said.
Holbert and Meadows immediately noticed the striking similarities between the brothers. The two men not only look alike, they also share many of the same habits, such as standing with one hand in their pocket, or placing folded hands in their laps.
John’s first words to Wesley were, “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
“Who would’ve thought that after all these years, they would have found each other?” Holbert asked.
Meant to be
Over the course of the sibling’s lives, unaware to any of them, there little brother was close by.
Robbins said that while stationed in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II his base in Cali-fornia was only 30 minutes from the base in San Diego where his baby brother was stationed.
“He was close enough to reach out and touch,” said Holbert.
John attended North Georgia College in 1942; his older sister Bernice had attended the same school just one year earlier.
“They never gave up hope that he was nearby,” said Holbert. “Whenever they would see a man with red hair they would stop and ask, ‘Is your name Robbins?’ They never gave up hope.”
But Holbert also believes there was a higher power at work. Before their mother’s death in 1925, Elizabeth Dyer Robbins asked her oldest daughter Marcella, then just eight years old, to promise she would take care of the children.
“She took it the hardest when the baby was placed in the orphanage,” Holbert said.
It was Marcella who had led the active search for John, until her death in August of 2008.
“We figure it was her. When she got to heaven she guided us together,” Holbert said, while wiping tears from her eyes.
Wesley said the reunion is bittersweet. Three of the oldest Robbins siblings have passed away.
“Our family still isn’t complete. But it is a whole lot better now than it used to be,” Wesley said.