Hall Roberts came to Postville in 1864 and has here made his
home continuously since. Forty-nine years of residence made him a
pioneer citizen of the town, while intense and intelligently
directed activity has made him one of the foremost business men
of this section of the state. His efforts have contributed in
large measure to the substantial improvement and upbuilding of
this section of the country and at the same time have brought him
success--success so honorably won and so worthily used that the
most envious cannot grudge him his prosperity.
Mr. Roberts came from New England parentage, of the Puritan strain. He was born at Rollinsford, New Hampshire, March 7, 1844, and was the fifth child of Judge Hiram R. And Ruth (Hanson) Roberts, the former born in 1806 and the latter in 1809. The father was a successful New England farmer, who later in life became prominent in business and political affairs, serving for some time as judge of the probate court. He was recognized as one of the leaders of the democratic party in his state and was a candidate for governor on its ticket. He received a majority but not a plurality and the election was decided by the house of representatives, which elected a republican. Of the Baptist church he was a livelong member and his record as an honorable Christian gentleman, a progressive and public-spirited citizen and a substantial business man gained for him the honor and respect of all who knew him. He passed away in 1876 in the home in which he was born, and was long survived by his wife, who died in 1901, at the remarkable old age of ninety-one years. She was of Quaker parentage.
Hall Roberts spent the days of his boyhood and youth under the parental roof and acquired his education in the common schools. At the age of eighteen years, however, he left home and, making his way to the middle west, settled first at Hanover, Wisconsin, where he had various experiences as an assistant in a blacksmith shop, as a live-stock buyer and as a general merchant and grain dealer. He carried on general merchandising at Hanover in 1863 and 1864, and in the latter year removed to Postville, Iowa, where he also opened a general store. He was a partner of a Mr. Holton, with whom he had carried on business in Wisconsin. Together they removed their stock to Iowa and for a year and a half the partnership was continued, not only in general merchandising but also in grain buying.
At the end of that time Mr. Roberts purchased his partners interest and continued the business alone until the spring of 1866. He was known by the farmers as the boy grain buyer, being at that time about twenty years of age. The elevator, however, proved an unprofitable investment and was sold by its builders, Lawler & Reynolds, to the firm of Basset & Hunting, of McGregor, for whom Hall Roberts became manager of the business, conducted under the name of Hall Roberts & Company. In the meantime, or in 1866, his brother, W. S. Roberts, had become successor to Mr. Holton in the store, which was then conducted under the firm style of Roberts Brothers. They remained active in mercantile circles of the city until about 1878, when they sold out to a third brother, F. W. Roberts. They also became factors in financial circles of this part of the state, establishing a private bank, which formed the nucleus of the present Postville State Bank. The brothers continued in the banking business together until 1888, when the partnership was dissolved. W. S. Roberts taking over the business, with which he has been connected for half a century. In the early 70s he purchased the elevator from Basset & Huntling and since that time has been actively connected with the grain and live-stock interests of this part of the state, although in later years his son has relieved him to some extent of the active management and control of the business. Mr. Roberts is one of the directors of the Postville State Bank and is also a stockholder in the Postville Clay Products Company. About thirty years ago he purchased a farm a half mile south of the town and has developed it into a modern dairy farm, known as the Oak Ridge farm. Here he engages in the breeding of Guernsey cattle and now has a herd of high-grade Guernsey's, part of which are full bloods. In 1894 he erected a silo and for the past ten years has been a successful grower of alfalfa. In the summer of 1912 he cut seventy-five loads from twelve acres and it is rich enough feed to be used as a substitute for grain and mill feed for the cattle and hogs upon his farm. In addition to his other interests Mr. Roberts owns considerable real estate in Postville, having from time to time made judicious investments in property. Whatever he has undertaken he has carried forward to success and his sound judgment and enterprise, combined with unflattering industry, having constituted the foundation upon which he has built his prosperity.
On the 23d of April, 1866, Mr. Roberts was united in marriage to Miss Maria O. Easton, who was born in Martinsburg, New York, January 21, 1846, a daughter of Harvey and Maria (Buck) Easton, who were natives of Massachusetts but removed westward to Iowa, becoming residents of Winneshiek county in March, 1859. The father there engaged for some time in farming but afterward removed to Postville, where he lived retired for several years prior to his death, which occurred in 1878. For two decades he had survived his wife, who passed away in 1858. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have become the parents of four children. Rollie died in infancy. Harvey E., born December 2, 1871, is associated with his father in business. Bessie Ella, born November 22, 1874, is the wife of Dr. O., J. Blessin, a practicing physician of Postville. Ruth, born October 30, 1882, is the wife of H. A. Templeton, manager for the Rogers, Templeton Lumber Company of Great Falls, Montana. The daughter Bessie has one child, Ruth Evelyn Blessin, and Mrs. Templeton has three children, Bessie Roberts, Robert Palmer and Hall Roberts.
During the many years of his residence in Postville Mr. Roberts had shown himself to be an enterprising business man, with a well merited reputation for square and honest dealing. He has always taken an active interest in movements for the uplift and benefit of the community. In politics he is a progressive republican and has served as mayor of Postville. He has always worked against the saloon element and seeks the benefit of the community along all lines of reform, improvement and progress. He took a most active and helpful part in driving the saloons out of Postville in the years 1911 and 1912 and making it a temperance town. In 1876 he united with the Congregational church. Of which he has since been an active and helpful member, serving for thirty-four years as superintendent of its Sunday school. He belongs to Brotherly Love Lodge, f. & A. M., of Postville, and also holds membership with the Modern Woodmen and the Legion of Honor. When Mr. Roberts arrived at Postville the railroad had been built only part of the way from the river and the elevator was in process of construction. He has lived to witness almost the entire growth and development of the town and has played a most important part in the promotion of its best interests along the lines of material, social, political, intellectual and moral progress.
-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by
Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich
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