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1907 Past and Present Biographies

Thomas Roberts

Thomas Roberts
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Thomas Roberts, who has the honor of being one of the first twelve settlers of Greene county, was born in North Wales, May 5, 1823. He was a son of Thomas and Sarah Roberts and the second in a family of seven children. His early education was acquired in his native land and his labors as a young man were inthat country.

At the age of twenty-two Mr. Roberts decided to seek his fortune in America and on April 15, 1845, embarked at Liverpool in the Henry Clay, an old sailing vessel. Arriving in New York, he went directly to Columbus, Ohio, where he worked in a tannery. As he had served an apprenticeship in this business in Wales, he was able to give valuable service to his employers. With the money that he saved during these years he visited Illinois and Iowa and returned to Wales, where he spent the winter with his parents, filling their minds and hearts with enthusiasm for his adopted country. Upon again coming to the United States he established himself in the tannery business in Des Moines, Iowa, where he remained until April, 1851, when he removed to Greene county. His first land purchase was in Grant township but he sold his original farm and bought land in Jackson township, where he still owns four hundred acres of well improved property. The hope which brought him to America has been fully realized, for here he has prospered and he owned at one time fifteen hundred acres of land in Jackson township.

Mr. Roberts has been twice married. On October 7, 1849, his union with Miss Mary Myrick, a native of Ohio, took place. This worthy couple were married forty-five years when Mrs. Roberts passed away. She was an exemplary woman and left a memory which will be cherished not only by her family but by all who knew her. She was the mother of ten children: Benjamin F., who was born July 12, 1850, and is now deceased; Eli, born January 22, 1852, who is an agriculturist in Oklahoma; Edward N., who was born November 9, 1853, and has also passed away; Sarah Abigail, born January 10, 1856, who resides in Iowa City; Samuel, born November 20, 1857, and living near Des Moines; Mary E., who was born March 22, 1860, and has passed away; Lydia C., born March 25, 1862, and now a resident of Des Moines; Martha J ., who was born October 12, 1864, and lives at Butte, Nebraska; William W., born June 17, 1866, a resident of Fremont, Nebraska; and Carrie Bell, born April 27, 1869, living in Grand Island, Nebraska. Mr. Roberts was married, February 15, 1888 [?], to Jennie Baker, a resident of Jefferson, who was born in 1849 in Janesville, Wisconsin. She is a daughter of William and Hannah E. Baker, both deceased. This union has been blessed with one child, Thomas Augustus, born December 2, 1888. He is now attending the Culver Military Academy at Culver, Indiana.

Mr. Roberts has always been deeply interested in religious organizations and has for years been a devoted member of the Baptist church, in which both he and his wife are active workers. His political affiliations were with the republican party until a few years ago, when he became convinced that the prohibition party best represented his ideas. In 1883 he retired from farming and removed to Jefferson. where he is now living. He is eighty-four years old, but though retired from active work he has never retired from his interest in all that is going on about him. He is deeply interested in the progress of the county, as much so as he could be in the progress of his own children,
for he has known it from infancy and helped to make it what it is.

Transcribed from "Past and Present of Greene County, Iowa Together With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead,"
by E. B. Stillman assisted by an Advisory Board consisting of Paul E. Stillman, Gillum S. Toliver,
Benjamin F. Osborn, Mahlon Head, P. A. Smith and Lee B. Kinsey, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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