Of all the Great Grandparents Mama Jesse and Papa Joe were certainly the best known and loved by our children. Visits to their home in Madill, Oklahoma were memorable, not only for the familial warmth and graciousness, but also for the fully laden table. Meals of staggering amounts were placed in front of visitors three times a day. As is the norm in the South, fried foods were in abundance including okra and catfish. The origins and history of this family are now to be explored.
The Roberts family origins are English. James Roberts is baptized 25 Oct 1724, in Deal, England.The English family of the Roberts can be readily traced back to his Grandfather who was born in Deal around 1660.Deal is a coastal town in Kent near the channel. Its location across the channel from France made it a key location to fortify against potential invaders. Henry VIII authorized the construction of the Deal Castle and it was quickly completed. The round structure was intended to deflect cannonballs better than a Medieval square wall. The Roberts family resided in Deal for several generations.
Elizabeth Mumbray marries James Archibald Roberts shortly after Christmas in 1748. They must have decided to emigrate to Virginia before their marriage as their son Cornelius Mumbray Neal Roberts is born in Pittsylvania, Virginia on the 29th of January, 1749. They must have jumped on a fast boat to cross the ocean in 4 weeks and give birth to the first American born Roberts. Their motivations for leaving England can only be speculative but James’ father, who died in 1747 is buried in the church graveyard near the royal observatory in Greenwich. This was a place reserved for better families. The immigrants take up residence in the Piedmont region of Virginia near the North Carolina border. Both James and wife Elizabeth will die near Black Mountain in Russell County. He was 31 and she 37.Their son Cornelius marries Mary Ellen Benton in 1767 at age 18. One of Mary’s brother is the future Senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton. Her father was a wealthy lawyer and landowner in present day Hillsborough, North Carolina. Evidently, the Roberts family must have had some standing in Russell County. It is reported that Cornelius had become a physician. This occupation will lead to his demise.
Cornelius had served with the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War and somehow ended with the title of “Colonel”. It is important to remember that in the South, the title of Colonel was frequently added to the name of prominent members of the community. In June 1788 he and several other men were attacked by Cherokees and killed and scalped on Black Mountain near the New Garden settlements. His young son, possibly Daniel Tipton who is the youngest of the four brothers, his under a fallen tree trunk. He was not discovered by the Cherokees and survived. Joseph Kizer will buy the estate of Cornelius consisting of some 260 acres north of the Clinch River for $1100 dollars. Daniel will marry Joseph’s daughter Elizabeth in 1798.
Daniel and Elizabeth move to Tennessee in 1804 where several of Daniel’s brothers lived. By 1816 they and seven of their children had moved to Lawrence County, Mississippi and finally to Winston, Miss. both in the central part of the state. Elizabeth appears to have died in Alabama before the move to Mississippi. Together they had a total of 14 children of whom our ancestor Jacob Roberts and his famous brother Alexander “Buck” Roberts, the famouse Texas Ranger. Jacob will marry two times and finally sets down roots in Caldwell, Texas and describes himself as a farmer with 1000 acres in the 1850 census. Caldwell sits in the southeastern region of the state. He will be in Lampasas, Texas (near Fort Hood in the center of the state) in 1880 living with his eight children. He describes himself as a widower and his children describe themselves as working on the farm. This includes his son, William Monroe by his second wife.
William Monroe is born in Caldwell and marries Emily Jefferson Lewis in Hempsted, Arkansas in 1867. In 1880 they describe themselves as farmers and live with six of their children. The live in the area known as Red Land which lies some 10 miles from Hope, Arkansas. William Monroe serves in the First Mounted Arkansas Rifles during the Civil War. Emily passes in 1895 and is buried near Ozan, Arkansas. Her husband William Monroe will die in 1902 but not before raising 11 children including Lewis Keys Roberts, my wife’s Great-Grandfather.
Lewis is born in Ozan, Arkansas in 1871 and marries Leila Mae Gray in 1893. The 1900 census finds them in the Chickasaw Nation farming on leased land. They move to Stonewall, Texas (the birthplace of Lyndon Baines Johnson) also farming on leased land in 1910. The extended family of 13 members seems to settle down in Taliaferro, Oklahoma formerly the home of the Chocktaw Nation. Lewis and Leila Mae will raise their 11 children before Lewis dies and is buried in Madill, Oklahoma in 1936. Leila Mae will follow her husband in 1964 at the age of 92.
Leila Mae have their daughter Jessie Pearl in 1906. Grandma Jessie will marry twice and have two sons, Robert and James. She will remarry in 1943 to Joseph William Pakulski after her divorce from James Monroe Bryson, the son of Lewis Keys. They will celebrate more than fifty years of marriage residing in Madill, Oklahoma.