Friday’s Faces from the Past: The William Roberts Family

William Roberts (1827-1891), from a Roberts Family Photo Album.
William Roberts (1827-1891), from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree), Find A Grave, and DNA matches are now wonderful ways to find cousins, and recently we had a new cousin connection in the Roberts line. Our common ancestors, John S. Roberts (1805-1875) and his wife Jane Salyers (1806-1880), were both born in Kentucky, and later moved to Indiana. They had eleven children, one of them being John Roberts (1832-1922) who has been the line written about to date on this blog. In the next few posts, however, we will explore John’s oldest brother William Roberts (1827-1891) and his descendants. Our new cousin provided lots of family photos, so let’s get started with them today. It will be interesting to see if there is any family resemblance to the John Roberts line.

William Roberts, above, was born on 2 February 1827 near Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana. In his early years, he was a teacher, but after a few years took up farming. William married Sarah L. Christie (1829-1912), daughter of Isaac Christie (1797-1865) and Susanna Cline (1798-1880). Sarah was also born in Jefferson County, on 10 March 1829, so it is quite likely they knew each other as children.

Sarah (Christie) Roberts, from a William Roberts Family Photo Album.
Sarah (Christie) Roberts, from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.

Sarah and William were married 16 March 1848 in Ripley County, Indiana, the county just northeast of Jefferson.

Their son John W. Roberts was born 1 January 1849, in Indiana, likely Jefferson or Decatur County. The young family was enumerated just after that of Sarah’s parents in the 1850 US Federal Census. Sarah’s father was a clergyman and her oldest brother was listed as a farmer too. Clergymen frequently had to farm to provide for their family, especially in rural areas. William and Sarah had no value of real estate listed, so could possibly have been renting from her father or farming on shares, since Rev. Christie owned $1800 worth of land. (Or the census-taker just missed it.)

John W. ROberts, about 1891, cropped from a family photo; from a William Roberts Family Photo Album.
John W. Roberts, about 1891, cropped from a family photo; from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.

The Roberts family had moved to Adams, Decatur County, Indiana, shortly after the 1850 US Federal Census enumeration. The 1860 census was not taken until 28 July, and found William farming and now with real estate worth $200. Young John W. Roberts lived in the household and was 11 years old. Sarah was listed as well, although there was another member of the household not listed but expected soon- George Lucas Roberts, who was born on 19 November 1860.

George Lucas Roberts , from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.
George Lucas Roberts , from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.

A third son, Isaac Henry Roberts, joined the family on 15 March 1863 in Greensburg, Decatur County, Indiana.

Issac H Roberts, c1893, from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.
Issac H Roberts, c1893, from the William Roberts Family Photo Album.

An infant girl who did not survive long was also born to the family.

June of 1863 brought the war home to the family when William Roberts was required to register for the Civil War Draft. At age 36, he was considered Class II, which was above the conscriptable ages of 20-35. Since he was also married, he  additionally fit the requirements for Class II. (Unmarried men 35-45 were considered Class I and could be required to serve active duty.)

In 1870, the census recorded the family as owning $500 in real estate. William was still farming, Sarah L. was still keeping house, and the three sons were living in the home as well, ages 21, 9, and 7. Ten years later, by 1880, son John W. had married and moved out, but George, 19, and a schoolteacher, and Isaac, who was 17 and attending school, were still in the household.

William was initially a Baptist like his father, but in his later years, decided to become “connected with the Christian church.” He was a Democrat politically. It was said of William:

“He was a man of quiet disposition, and although positive in his political and religious views never intruded his opinions in an offensive manner.”

William died on 5 September 1891, and was buried in South Park Cemetery, Greensburg, Decatur County, Indiana.

Sarah was 71 at the time of the 1900 US Federal Census for Washington, Decatur County, Indiana, where she owned a home at 67 Michigan Avenue. Her son George L, his wife Olive (Lynch) Roberts, and their children Paul Roberts and Miriam Roberts lived with her.

The multi-generational family moved to West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, by 1908. Sarah died there on 16 December 1912, having been a widow for 21 years. She was buried with William in South Park Cemetery.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. A Genealogical and Biographical Record of Decatur County, Indiana. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1900, page 253.
  2. Find A Grave- William Roberts-
  3. Find A Grave- Sarah (Christie) Roberts-
  4. The William Roberts Family Photo Album. Thanks for sharing!


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