Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Roberts Family

A few weeks ago I attended the Roberts family reunion in Owensboro, Kentucky. This reunion brought together the descendants of Joseph Lawrence Roberts, my wife's great-grandfather. Joseph Lawrence had 11 children, 8 that lived to adulthood. All 8 of those children have now died, the last, Paul, passing in April of this year. However, the Roberts family is still very much thriving. We had dozens of Roberts cousins attend. Four spouses of the Roberts children are still alive and three of them attended the reunion. The oldest Roberts there was Catherine Roberts, age 93, widow of Manuel Roberts. She is in excellent health and I think she may even have driven herself to the reunion! Here are some pictures from the reunion.



At the reunion, Roy Roberts, son of Roy Gilbert Roberts and Ruth Taylor Roberts, presented each family with a book of the family's genealogy. Roy's book contains a lot of interesting stories about the family and paints a portrait of what life was like for a rural Kentucky family in the early 20th century. I contributed a bit to the book, mostly by referring Roy to other Roberts researchers who had far better and more detailed information than me. Since the Roberts family already has this detailed information on their family, I am merely going to post a summary of my findings on the Roberts family instead of my usual posting that includes source documents:

The earliest confirmed ancestor of the Roberts family is a John Roberts who died in 1724 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Family tradition is that this John Roberts was from Wales, but like most early Virginia settlers, it is impossible to tell where he was from as few colonial documents recorded this information.

John Roberts and his wife Elizabeth Trammell had at least five children. One son, John Jr., lived to be about 100 years old. We do not have exact dates for his life, but we know that he was born prior to 1703, and he is mentioned in an 1802 letter as being "one of the oldest residents in the county." He may have been over 100 when he died. He and his wife Elizabeth Russell had at least four children.

John Jr.'s son Benjamin was born in about 1741. He served as a Sergeant in the General George Rogers Clark's Illinois Regiment in the Revolutionary War from 1779 to 1782. This was the group that headed west to defend settlers on the frontier from Indian allies of the British.

It appears that Sgt. Benjamin signed up with Gen. Clark with the intention to permanently move to Kentucky. Three days after enlisting, he sold his land in Culpeper county, Virginia, and his family likely followed the army west.

Once in Kentucky, Sgt. Benjamin was part of the expedition that established a fort at the Falls of the Ohio, which was the founding of the city of Louisville. Also present in the expedition were several of Sgt. Benjamin's cousins, including the confusingly similar Captain Benjamin Roberts, son of George Roberts. Many researchers (including myself) have mistaken these two, as they were about the same age, from the same county, and both married to women named Anne (hence the reason I refer to him as "Sgt. Benjamin").

The Falls of the Ohio at Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1912, before dams largely removed the falls as an obstacle to boat travel.



During his service, Sgt. Benjamin filed for a land grant for land in Jefferson County, Virginia that eventually became a part of Henry county, Kentucky. His wife, Anne Duncan, died shortly after arriving in Kentucky in 1780. Sgt. Benjamin remained on his land in Henry county for the rest of his life, and died after 1810. Sgt. Benjamin and Ann had 8 children.

Sgt. Benjamin's son James was born in 1766 in Culpeper county, Virginia. He moved to Henry county, Kentucky with his parents in 1780 and then on to Daviess county, Kentucky around the time his father died after 1810. James was married twice in Henry county. James and his first wife, whose name is unknown, had three sons, James, Merry, and Benjamin. His second wife, Elizabeth, had two sons, Willis and Henry. All five sons moved with their father to Daviess county to the village of Yelvington. James died there in 1822.

James's son Benjamin was born about 1793 in Henry county. Moved to Yelvington in Daviess county prior to 1820. In 1821, he married Rebecca Frazier, daughter of James and Nancy Frazier. The had seven children, and lived in Yelvington their entire lives.

Marion Franklin Roberts and Relly Ann Bowlds Roberts


One of Benjamin's sons, Marion Franklin, known as Frank, was a bricklayer in the Knottsville area in Hancock county, Kentucky, who helped build one of the first Catholic schools in that area. On May 9, 1917, at age 80, Frank converted to Catholocism. He died at age 88 in 1924 and is buried at St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery in Maceo, Kentucky along with his wife, Arilia Ann (Relly Ann) Bowlds, daughter of William N. Bowlds and Sarah Pickerell. Frank and Relly Ann had six sons and five daughters. Their son Joseph Lawrence, born July 6, 1881, married Anges Maud Hartley on January 2, 1909. It is the descendants of their children that attended the Roberts family reunion. Most of their descendants still live in Daviess and Hancock counties, Kentucky.

21 comments:

Nicole said...

So I've been reading about all these Roberts family time lines. But for some reason i cant find my great grandfather anywhere. His name was Jack Linwood Roberts and he was born in Virginia. I just cant find his name mentioned anywhere. I was wondering if you could help me?

Indy Steve said...

Sorry, the Roberts line I'm researching was in Kentucky going back many generations. Unless your family has a Kentucky link then he is unlikely to be related. Try posting a message on the Roberts family board on rootsweb.com, and please include more information such as dates and cities or counties. Be as specific as possible and you're more likely to find someone willing to help you research.

mj said...
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mj said...

Indy, I have John Roberts son of Benjamin and Ann Duncan in Mississippi Territory as of 1790, also have his will describing proberty he was willed by Grandfather William Duncan. At the time that John arrived he had a family of three, which cannot include a wife, since he remarried in 1790. He married Mary Elizabeth Montford Calvit, widow of Frederick Calvit. Children which were brought with him, were William, Isaac, and Elizabeth, children born to John and Mary were John and James

Indy Steve said...

Thanks! I knew Sgt. Benjamin's son John went to MS, but I didn't have all those details. I will add that to my Roberts info.

carl said...

hello,
my family tree includes nancy ann roberts married to william fallis who had a son born jan 12 1822 name of benjamin fraNKLIN FALLIS BORN IN SHELBY COUNTY, KY. I WILL CONTINUE ON THE FAMILY TIME LINE BUT I THINK HER FATHER WAS THE CAPT U MENTION.
BENJAMIN ROBERTS ARE WE RELATED
LIZ TEGTMEIER

mj said...

We are just a bit down the road, not sure who is still reading. I ran a maternal dna several years ago, spent a great deal of time running Maternal surnames, and decided to see what would pop up running a few Roberts.. And my goodness, a total of 262 showed up, some with no exceptions, some with 2 plus.. which deems past generations. One thing that amazes me, and I do spend time tracking them back, a number of the Roberts surnames are being tracked from Texas back.. Some the lower migration route through LA, Miss, Alabama, Georgia, SC, NC and back to Va. On some of the families it travels to Texas from Tenn, NC, and back to Va. Amazingly they all seem to filter right back to John Roberts and Gainor Pugh. I think as DNA become more widely used by Researchers, we will find it is a tool we cannot do without.

mj said...

Carl, If your Nancy Anne Roberts was the child of Benjamin and Anne Duncan Roberts. Yes.. you are related to the Same Roberts family we generate from. Here are a list of the children:
Benjamin Roberts
– 1819
Betsy Roberts

George Roberts

Henry Roberts

John Roberts
1750 – 1802

James Roberts
1766 – 1822

Nancy Roberts
1778 –

William Roberts
1782 –

Chickadee said...
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Chickadee said...

I could use some help with my Roberts line. I believe it could be related to this one. I have some hand written notes from my great aunt who say that our Roberts settled in Kentucky. However, our ancestor, Peter Henry Roberts, was actually born in Pennsylvania in 1795. His father was a Henry Roberts of Culpeper, VA, but I do not know who Henry's wife was. Peter Henry Roberts married Sarah Hughes Bailey in Lauderdale, AL. They are buried in the Vest Cemetery, east of Staunton, Clay, IN. Peter had a brother, Benjamin, who died in Posey, Clay, Indiana. Any help identifying this line would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I am looking for the parents of Henry Foster Roberts b: 11/9/1824 d: 4/4/1910 in Hickman County, KY. Buried at Columbus Confederate Cemetery. with his wife Metilda Ann Head b: 8/23/1827 d: 11/9/1889 also buried at Columbus Confederate Cemetary. Married 11/11/1847 in Hickman County, KY. Children - John Wesley b:1859 - Joseph J b: 1872 - Eliza b: 1870 - Robert L. b: 1866 - Henry M? B: 1864. Any help past Henry Foster Roberts would be appreciated.

Shannon Roberts said...

I am tracing my line of Roberts backwards from Boone County Indiana (1868- current) to Trimble County KY (at least 1850-1868). I'm stuck with James and Catherine Roberts in Trimble County KY in 1850. There were several Roberts families in Boone County Indiana in the late 1800s and I know that James and Catherine are buried near John and Velina (Caldwell) Roberts in Elizaville, IN. I'm curious if they may be related as they also owned land near each other in Boone County, but have not been able to prove it. Can anyone help me with my brick wall? County lines changed so often in KY around 1840-1850 that I'm not sure how to determine which county James and Catherine may have lived in prior to Trimble county being formed. I have seen some references to a John Roberts in the area in a land dispute but have not been able to identify anything further. John and Velina were married in Nicholas County KY. So I'm unsure if the two Roberts families in Boone County IN is coincidence or not.

Shannon Roberts

Indy Steve said...

Hi Shannon. If you live near Indianapolis or Boone Co IN, you can look up where the families lived in Boone on maps of the pioneer families. Both the State library in Indianapolis and the library in Lebanon IN will have them. The courthouse in Boone co will also have the property records.
If you are not in the area, I am and I could help look up the records. Just let me know if you need me to help!

Roberts said...

Just like Anonymous I am also looking for the parents of Henry Foster Roberts b: 11/9/1824 d:4/4/1910 in Hickman County, KY.
Several of his children migrated to Oklahoma/Indian Territory in the late 1800's/early 1900's.
Please e-mail me if you have any information nroberts2828@yahoo.com

Shannon Roberts said...

Looking for information on Elizabeth Roberts married to William Riddle around 1844 in Trimble or Henry Counties. I have a William Riddle born 1844 that lived with James and Catherine Roberts in Trimble County in 1850. Hoping to see if there is a relation. I saw somewhere that Elizabeth Roberts married a William Riddle and he died shortly after.

Shannon said...

How can I get a copy of this Roberts Family Book?

Indy Steve said...

The book I mentioned was just about the Daviess Co KY Roberts families. There were a number of other branches that split when the family moved from Virginia in the early 1800's. But those branches aren't in that book.
Probably your best bet for finding a relation between your Boon co IN families and Trimble Co KY families is to check deed books in the two counties. As I mentioned, I'm in the Boone Co area so I can check that for any names you'd like. Just let me know!

mlee said...

Steve, this is Mj again, I ran across a few interesting facts yesterday. I had read prior of Benjamen's involvement with Ft. Watauga and that he had helped build he settlement. This morning I found articles that confirm to my memory but something else popped in. I was never quite sure how John Roberts ended up in Miss, until this morning. Sgt Benjamin Roberts was included with Clark, along with the Calvit men. Another fact I ran across, Elisha Roberts was born in Watauga. All of these little facts put together, 1. puts Roberts in Natchez along side the Calvits and others who were on the expedition that just happen to go south prior to 1785, no papers, which explains why none of them had earlier passports, interrogated by the Spanish, accepted and given land grants. Roberts went back prior to 1790 to get his wife and children, but only his children the 3 boys arrived with him on the barge. This would explains many things, and the knowledge that Roberts and Mary Elizabeth Calvit already knew one another. Now, who are the parents of Elisha Roberts? "Elisha Roberts, pioneer and public official, was born in 1774 at Watauga Settlement, near the Holston River in Hawkins County, Tennessee, the son of George and Rhoda (Payne, Paine) Roberts." is written in the Texas Handbook..
looking for two brothers, Matthew and Edmund Roberts, ended up in the Austin Colony 1826, got documents on them, but can't put them in the families.

Indy Steve said...

@mlee
Hi Mj. Thanks for the update on the John Roberts family. I also wondered why he went to MS and pretty much the rest of the family ended up in KY.

One correction to this post: The photo that was attributed as Benjamin Roberts and Rebecca Frazier was more likely Marion Frank Roberts and Relly Ann Bowlds. There is a different photo on page 88 of "Hancock County, Kentucky: A Pictorial History" by Judy Blair. It appears to be the same couple pictured here. Plus it is very unlikely a photo of this quality was taken shortly before Benjamin Roberts death in 1863.

Anonymous said...

my Roberts line settled early in Henry County,Ky.on Six Mile Creek that runs into the Ky. River at Lockport,Ky. a large land grant giving to a Roberts who had served in the Rev. War.and was an officer of that war. Had a large family there and after his death it was divided among his heirs. their increases are many some stayed in that area and others moved elsewhere

Patrick H said...

I'm a descendant of Benjamin Roberts and Rebecca Frazier through their son James, who married Anastatia Duncan. We may well have been in touch at some point (I hope so, since I recognize the research ;). My question is mostly related to DNA. Have any male descendants of Marion Roberts been YDNA tested? If not, one of my mothers cousins, amazingly enough named John Roberts has been tested on https://www.familytreedna.com and either our research is messed up or somebody else's is, because he was not a match for another descendant of John Roberts of Spotsylvania Co., VA. I'd prefer to believe we were right and the others were wrong, especially since I can't reproduce their research results, but...