Ohio Biographies

John J. Roberts

John J. Roberts, deceased, was born in Frederick County, Md., December 17, 1782, and died in Somerford Township April 26,1860. He was a pioneer in the fullest sense, as he came to what is now Columbiana County before Ohio was a State. He was compelled to flee into Virginia, by the Indians, and remained in that State one year, when he returned to his former residence in this State. He removed to what was then called New Lancaster in the year 1809, and to Delaware, Delaware County, in 1810, where he resided till 1812. He was drafted as a soldier in 1812, but being sick at the time was unable to go, and procured a substitute. After this time, a volunteer company was enlisted in his neighborhood; he joined this company and marched to the frontier. The company to which he belonged built Fort Stephenson, which was afterward named Fort Croghan, in honor of its defender, who successfully defended the fort against the combined forces of British and Indians, August 2, 1813. He would have been in this engagement had he not been confined to his bed by a severe attack of camp fever. Several persons having been killed while conveying dispatches from this fort to the army which was stationed at Franklinton, in Franklin Co., Ohio, he volunteered to act as bearer of dispatches, which he did for some time, or until the headquarters of the army were removed from Franklinton. The carrying of the dispatches was the most difficult and dangerous service in the army, as they had to be carried through an unbroken wilderness, over fifty miles in one day; and nothing to indicate the route except blazed trees. The company to which he belonged was very unfortunate, and most of the members died of sickness brought on by exposure to the malaria of the wet, flat country in which they were compelled to encamp. During the war, his family, with many others, fled from Delaware to Franklinton, as a report had been circulated in the neighborhood that the Indians were coming from the north, killing all the white people they found in their line of march. He never returned to Delaware to live, but removed soon after the war closed to Darby Plains, in the northern part of Madison County. He removed to Somerford Township in 1823, where he resided until the time of his decease, except about three years which he spent in Illinois. He was a man of wonderful physical power, and was capable of performing a great deal of labor. He was engaged for several years in trading with the Indians, and was able to act as interpreter. He kept a tavern on the old Federal road, one mile north of Somerford, for several years, but the building of the National road diverted the travel from that route so much that he could no longer make the business pay, and so abandoned it. He built a grist mill, and had a small distillery for several years. His father was born in Wales, and in early life had followed the sea, and crossed the Atlantic thirteen times before he settled in America. John J. Roberts' sister married a Colonel in the English Army. This man was present at the meeting which Gen. Hull, of unsavory memory, had with the English officers who bought the men and stores composing the United States Army of Gen. Hull. This man said that Gen. Hull received so much money for every man surrendered by him to the English. This matter was revealed after Hull's trial and told to John J. Roberts by his brother-in-law, when he visited him in Canada. Charles Roberts, son of John J. Roberts, who was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, in 1805, died in Madison County, Ohio, in 1853; married Harriet Macan, in 1832. He taught school in Madison and adjoining counties for eighteen years. He moved from Somerford Township, Madison County, to Union Township, in 1839, and built the Roberts Mill, in 1844. This mill, which is still running, is three miles west of London, contains two run of buhrs, and is capable of doing merchant work. It was property originally owned by Judge Jacob Garrard, who owned a custom mill with but one pair of raccoon buhrs. Judge Garrard also carried on the distilling business, up to 1839. Charles Roberts, however, being conscientiously opposed to the manufacture and sale of whisky, would not purchase the still-house and fixtures, so that business was discontinued when he took possession of the property. In 1849, Charles Roberts purchased 200 acres of land in Jefferson Township, and built a saw-mill on Little Darby, two miles south of Jefferson. Having contracted consumption by exposure while engaged in building the saw-mill, he leased the mill to Dr. J. Randall, and removed from Darby to Union Township, where, after a lingering illness, he died. A great many of the older citizens of London received their education in the schools taught by Charles Roberts, and his name is frequently mentioned by them in speaking of the pioneer teachers of Madison County. He had traveled in nearly every county in Ohio, but was never outside of the limits of the State. He was the father of nine children, as follows: John U. Roberts, born August 21, 1833, married and resides in Union Township. Madison County; William H. Roberts, born 1835, married and resides in Clinton, Henry Co., Mo.; Catharine M. Roberts, born 1837, died, never was married; B. F. Roberts, born 1839, unmarried, and resides in Jefferson Township; Mary E. Roberts, born 1841, unmarried, deceased; Charles C. Roberts, born 1843, married, resides in Union Township; Malvina Estelle, born 1819, married to Michael B. Wilson, resides in Harmony Township, Clark Co., Ohio. Mrs. Harriet Roberts, nee Macan, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1814, married to Charles Roberts in 1832, resided in Madison County fifty years, and resides three miles west of London, near the Roberts Mill. She came to the county before the National road was surveyed, and was acquainted with the people of London before a solitary turnpike road was built in the county. John M. Roberts received a common school education, and attended the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio. He has followed teaching since old enough; has taught twenty-seven years, twenty-five in this county. In 1859, he married Emeline Truitt. by whom he has three children -- Flora, Alma and John F. Mr. Roberts is a Democrat. Charles C. Roberts was married in 1872, to Virginia Ann Douglass, by whom he has two children -- Olive and Charles W. Mr. Roberts enlisted in 1862, in Company A, Fortieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Capt. Jones, and served until 1865. He was a merchant for a short time in Jefferson, and operated a lime-kiln in this county in 1861 and 1862. He also operated a sawmill for a time, and is now engaged in the Roberts flour mill.


From HISTORY OF MADISON COUNTY - W. H. Beers [Chicago, 1883]