Biography of Alexander H. Roberts
Audubon County, IA Biographies

Fortunate indeed is the family which can trace its history back for more than three generations, and there are very few in this country that can do more than trace their genealogy back as far as four generations. The Roberts family history has been traced in an unbroken line to the eleventh century and investigation has shown its descendants by the thousands. They are found scattered over Europe and over many of the states in this country, and wherever they are found they rank among the best families of the community. It is not strange to record, therefore, that the representative of this family in Audubon county is one of the leading citizens of the county and ranks high as a member of the community, who is active in civic, religious and business affairs. A famous historian once wrote, "Show me a people that has no pride of ancestry, and I'll show you a non progressive and backward race." This is quite true. The investigator and writer has found, as a result of years spent in historical and genealogical work, that the best and most progressive communities are those which take pride in keeping up the family records and keeping alive the family traditions. Culture, knowledge and pride of family and community go hand in hand and they are one and all inseparable.

Alexander Holt Roberts, president of the Audubon Commercial Club, and pharmacist of Audubon this county, was born on August 26, 1848, in Des Moines county. Iowa, the son of James Dorsey and Susan (McDonald) Roberts. He was born on a farm which was entered upon and settled by his grandfather, Reuben Roberts, as early as 1838. Mr. Roberts, therefore, enjoys the distinction of being a descendant of one of the oldest families in the state of Iowa. Reuben Roberts came from Elizabethtown, West Virginia, at a time when the greater part of the country that he traversed was a wilderness. The banks of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers were not then lined with great cities and towns as now and Indians yet roamed the great forests and the plains. Wild animals were plentiful and settlers were few and far between. This brave pioneer was made of stern material, however, and his vision enabled him to see far into the future and determine that the vast stretches of unpeopled territory would in a generation or so swarm with millions of industrious inhabitants.

The Roberts family traces its origin back to the eleventh century in Wales, the family being of Welsh origin. The family properly begins with (I) Colwyn of Langno, in the eleventh century; (II) Meredith of Colwyn (meaning that Meredith was the son of Colwyn of Glyn); (III) Gwegan of Meredith; (IV) Einion of Gwegan; (V) Meredith of Einion; (VI) Howell of Meredith; (VII) Griffith of Howell; (VIII) levan; (IX) Rhys; (X) levan; (XI) Griffith; (XII) Morris; (XIII) Thomas; (XIV) Robert Thomas Morris of Cowyne; (XV) Richard Roberts - Margaret Evans, wife; (XVI) Richard Roberts, wife, Elizabeth; (XVII) Richard Roberts, wife, Margaret; (XVIII) Reuben Roberts, wife, Elizabeth Barton; (XIX) James Dorsey Roberts, wife, Susan McDonald; (XX) Alexander Holt Roberts, wife, Elizabeth Pritchard.

Colwyn, with whom this genealogy originates, was the Lord of Llyn, Wales. His coat of arms was: A, sable; a chevron, between three fleurs-de-lys, arg. The descent of Richard Roberts is as follows, according to a genealogy compiled from a pedigree chart by Lewis Down, deputy herald for Wales (by patent under seal of Clavencicux and Norrey, kings-at-arms), made in the year 1588, from a manuscript pedigree by John Roberts, brother of Richard Roberts, compiled about 1704 from manuscript in Harleion collections, British Museum, and from wills and deeds in Pennsylvania, and from official records in Wales.

Colwyn was the ancient lord of that portion of the promontory of Llyn in Carnarvonshire which included, among others, the parish of Llangin, Llanengan, Llabedrog and Llanarmon. These several parishes are on the Bay of Cardigan. Colwyn lived in the eleventh century and was ancestor to most of the families in that part of Llyn. In later years the lordship of a greater part of Llyn belonged to the Princes of North Wales and their descendants, among whom was Trahairn Goch, who held the title to a considerable portion thereof in the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding this fact, the immediate possessions of the descendants of Colwyn do not seem to have been disturbed. Down to 1700 there was scarcely a freehold in the parishes mentioned not held by the posterity of this Welsh princeling. Colwyn was the father of a son, Meredith, etc., down to Morris of Griffth. who held the lands of Pencold, near Plasdlu, in the parish of Lianarmon, and other detached farms, about the year 1500 and later. Morris Griffith had issue as follows: Griffith Morris, John Morris, William Morris, Thomas, Hugh, Richard. David, Robert and Meredith Morris. Thomas Morris had (beside a son Richard) a son Robert, called Robert Thomas Morris of Cowyns, who was the father of Richard Roberts, who married Margaret, a daughter of Richard Evans, and was the father of John Roberts, born in 1648 of Richard and Ann Roberts. From the record of the Richard Davies Company (1682) we find that "John Roberts, one of the twenty seven grantees, on the thirtieth and thirty first of July, of Liagian parish, Carnarvon, gentleman," the grant comprising one hundred and fifty acres of land in Pennsylvania. It likewise appears that both his brother Richard and his sister Ann removed with John Roberts to Pennsylvania on September 16, 1683. John married Gainor Roberts, a daughter of Robert, son of Hugh and Elizabeth Williams, his wife. John Roberts died on June 6, 1724. A record of his will is in existence, dated July 3, 1722, and probated at Philadelphia, August 31, 1724. Richard Roberts, a brother of John Roberts of Pencoyd, removed from Pennsylvania to Maryland in about 1862. Bartholomew, the son of Richard, was born on August 24, 1701. Richard Roberts, whose wife was Margaret, was evidently a younger son in a large family of children. He was born in 1728 and enlisted in the First Regiment of Maryland troops in the Continental service from Anne Arundel county, April 23, 1778. He died in August of 1778. His issue was as follow: Thomas, Richard, John, Edward, Gainor (born 1766, died 1856), David. Abner, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Reuben, the last named the direct ancestor of A. H. Roberts, being born in 1772 and died on March 9, 1850.

Reuben Roberts married Elizabeth Barton, a daughter of John and Sophia Barton, in 1779. John Barton was a member of the Third Haven Meeting (Friends Records of Talbot county, volume 5, page 311). Reuben and Elizabeth (Barton) Roberts had issue as follow: John; Jonathan, born in March, 1801, and died on September 3, 1849; Penelope, 1803, died on August 16, 1839; Gaius. an infant; Sophia, February 29, 1809, died on January 29, 1885; Jehu, 1811, died in 1884; Reuben P., 1813, died on December 10, 1854; Martin S.; Rebecca J., March 21, 1818, died on June 10, 1894; Josiah, October 24, 1820, died on August 28, 1870; James Dorsey. father of A. H. Roberts, July 25, 1823, died July 27, 1903; Alexander Holt. 1826, died November 15, 1847.

It is a matter of record that Reuben Roberts removed from Maryland to Virginia in 1802 and settled in Marshall county, near Grave creek. In 1838 he migrated to Iowa and settled on a farm twelve miles west of Burlington.

A recapitulation of the history of the Roberts family in America reveals the following authentic facts: Forty two enlistments are recorded from among the members of the Roberts family in the American War of Independence, Continental army, from Virginia alone, and there were eighteen members of the family enlisted in the state of Maryland. Richard Roberts, the great grandfather of A. H. Roberts, was a Revolutionary soldier. His great grandfather, Barton (on his mother's side), was also a Revolutionary soldier. The famous Bishop Roberts, of pioneer missionary fame, was a cousin of Reuben Roberts. Richard Roberts, from Anne Arundel county, Maryland, enlisted in the Continental army for a term of three years, in the First Maryland Regiment of Volunteers, and died during the same year of his enlistment. Additional genealogical facts, which will have a tendency to make clear some previous statements of this chronicle follow: Richard and Margaret Roberts were the parents of Reuben, who married Elizabeth. the daughter of John and Sophia Barton. Reuben was the tenth child of Richard and Margaret Roberts. He was born in 1772 and died on March 9. 185o. and was the father of James Dorsey Roberts, the father of Alexander Holt Roberts. with whom this review is directly concerned. The grandfather of A. H. Roberts, on the maternal side, Captain Barton, fought in the War of 1812.

Reuben Roberts. as recorded, in 1838 settled on a farm twelve miles west of Burlington, Iowa, where he died. James Dorsey Roberts, his son, was born on July 25, 1823, and died on July 27. 1903. His wife was Susan. a daughter of Alexander and Mary McDonald. She was born in August of 1826, and died on October 18, 1894. The children of James Dorsey and Susan (McDonald) Roberts are as follow: William Barton, of Texas: Alexander Holt, of Audubon, Iowa; Theodore Lang, of Mt. Pleasant. Iowa; Martha Malyina Weller, of Long Beach, California.

Alexander Holt Roberts was educated in the common schools of Henry county and Howes Academy at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He was reared to young manhood on a farm and learned to till the soil as had his forbears for generations before him. He was graduated from the Bryant & Stratton Business College at Burlington, Iowa, in 1869, and for some time thereafter was employed in the office of the Burlington Hawkeye, and thereafter taught school ford a time. For some time succeeding his work in Burlington, Mr. Roberts was engaged in the general merchandise business at New London, Iowa. In 1872 he embarked in the drug business at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and in 1878 he came to this county, locating at Audubon at a time when the country was a prairie and the city was in the embryo stage of development. He purchased a lot in the newly platted town and erected a building in two months time. Within three months from his advent there he was doing business. He is still conducting his business in Audubon and has the oldest established business in the city of Audubon. During his long residence in the county, Mr. Roberts has been closely identified with the pioneer life of the city and county and the later improvement and upbuilding of the city.

On September 14, 1871, A. H. Roberts was united in marriage with Elizabeth Pritchard, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Pritchard, who came from Philadelphia and settled in Henry county in 1834. She was born on a farm entered by her father. The patent given to Thomas Pritchard by President Tyler in 1841 is now in the possession of Mr. Roberts. To this marriage have been born two children, Ira Pearl, a practicing dentist of Sioux City, Iowa, and Ralph Pritchard, a practising dentist at Falls City, Nebraska, who is the father of two children, Thelma Millicent, aged fifteen years, and Ralph Pritchard, Jr., three years of age.

A. H. Roberts has always taken a great interest in church and Sunday school work and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is an active layman and has represented his church many times as a delegate to lay conferences, in 1900 having been a member of the general conference at Chicago, being widely known as one of the leaders in church and Sunday school work in the county. For the past thirty six years he has been the efficient Sunday school superintendent in the Methodist schoolat Audubon. He is actively interested in civic affairs and is found in the forefront of all movements intended to advance the interests of his home city and county. For the past two years he has served as president of the Audubon Commercial Club, an organization which is "boosting" the city and pushing public improvements. In politics, he is a Republican. He is fraternally connected with the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, having attained to the chapter and the commandery in that order, and has the distinction of being the commander of the local Knights Templar organization for sixteen years. His membership is with the Veritas Lodge No. 392, Amity Chapter No. 93 and Godfrey Commandery No. 44.

There are few more public spirited citizens in Audubon county than Mr. Roberts. He was the first treasurer of the Audubon Agricultural Society, in which capacity he served for six years. He was a member of the first town council, also of the first city school board, in both of which positions he has given years of active service. When the Belgian Relief Association was organized for the purpose of extending relief to Belgian victims of the European war, Mr. Roberts was elected chairman of the association, and none worked harder than he to extend the cause of this association, there having been sent from this county, besides more than three hundred dollars in cash, one car of shelled corn, one car of flour and one car of canned corn, for the relief of the stricken Belgians.

There is a special satisfaction in offering in the foregoing life record justification for issuing such a compendium as the one in hand. It is not necessary to record that the career of men of the type of Alexander H. Roberts has been such as to gain wide reputation or the plaudits of men, but that such as he have been true to the trusts imposed in them and to such attributes of character as entitle them to the regard of all. Mr. Roberts has been a very useful citizen in his sphere of action, and has won the confidence and good will of all with whom he has come in contact.

History of Audubon County, Iowa
Its People, Industries and Instutions
H. F. Andrews, Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Indianapolis - 1915

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