Ancestor Bio – John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-09
By Don Taylor

John Calvin Roberts was the first Roberts ancestor I was pretty sure was an ancestor. Years ago, when I did a Y-DNA test to try to determine who my biological father was, the five genetically closest individuals to me were all surnamed. Of them, I was able to follow three of their trees back to a common ancestor, John Calvin Roberts. Although we could have all shared an ancestor of John’s, in that my branch could have split off before John, he became a pivotal person in my research and I hypothesized that he was a common ancestor. It turned out that I was correct.

Research Roberts 2017 – Ancestor #64

List of Grandparents

John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873)

John Calvin Roberts was born 03 Mar 1795 in Southwest Territory. He was the fifth child of the nine (known) children of Ellis and Rebecca (Brashears) Roberts. He was the only child born in the Southwest Territory. His four older siblings were all born in South Carolina and his three younger siblings were born after the Southwest Territory became a state, Tennessee, on June 1st, 1796.


John was six years old when Roane County was formed in 1801. It is even more likely that he experienced the excitement of seeing the United States nearly doubling in size with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The War of 1812 began when John was 17. Several researchers have indicated that John served in the War of 1812. I have been unable to confirm that service.[i] In any event, having the British in Tennessee would have made for exciting times.

John’s eight known siblings are:

  • Edward C Roberts 1787-1841
  • Robert Samuel Roberts 1789-1873
  • Rachael Roberts 1791-1856
  • Phillip Roberts 1794-1874
  • Bazzel Roberts 1797-1860
  • Elizabeth Roberts 1799-1855
  • Elijah Roberts 1801-1850
  • Mary “Polly” Roberts 1804-1823


Marriage Bond – John Calvin Roberts and Elizabeth Blackwell – Note solmization date at the bottom.

John married Elizabeth Blackwell on his 21st birthday, 3 March 1816 in Roane County, Tennessee. [ii] Elizabeth had 16 children over the next 27 years. Their first child, Calvin, was born nine months and a few weeks after their marriage.

Their children included:

  • Calvin Roberts 1816-(before 1848)
  • Elias R. “Robbie” Roberts 1818-1902
  • David R Roberts 1820-(before 1848)
  • Elijah Josiah Roberts 1822-1868
  • Elizabeth Roberts 1823-1848
  • George W Roberts 1824-1848
  • Francis Marion “Jack” Roberts 1825-1863
  • John F Roberts 1827-1848
  • Phillip Roberts 1829-(before 1848)
  • Amanda Roberts 1831-1849
  • Hugh Roberts 1833-1916
  • Asa Ellis Roberts 1835-1916
  • Robert Samuel Roberts 1837-1910
  • Bazzel Roberts 1839-1877
  • Rebecca Roberts 1841-1870
  • William Roberts 1843-1850


Sadly, the 1820 Census has been lost.[iii] One researcher suggests John and family were working the farm with his brother, Edward.

The 1830 Census finds John as the head of household consisting of 10 people, him, his wife, and eight children:

  •       Two males under five – Presumably Philip and John F.
  •       Two males 5 thru 9 – Presumably Jack and George
  •       Thee males 10 thru 14 – Presumably Elijah and Elias and either David or Calvin.
  •       One female 5 thru 9 – Presumably Elizabeth

From that, it appears that either David or Calvin died before the 1830 Census as it seems unlikely that either left home before the age of 14.

The 1840 Census finds John as the head of a household consisting of 13 people.

  •       Three males under five – Presumably Asa, Robert, and Bazzel.
  •       One male 5 thru 9 – Presumably Hughy
  •       One male 10 thru 14 – Presumably John F.
  •       Two males 15 thru 19 – Presumably Jack and George
  •       Two males 20 thru 29 – presumably Elijah and Elias
  •       One female 5 thru 9 – Presumably Rebecca
  •       One female 15 thru 19 – Presumably Elizabeth.

He appears in the census next to Robert S. Roberts, presumably, that is his brother Robert Samuel Roberts.

The 1850 Census is the first census that provides the names of people besides the head of the household. The census reports John’s household consists of the following:

  • John Roberts                        55
  • Elizabeth Roberts                53
  • Hughy Roberts                     17
  • Acy Roberts                          15
  • Robert S Roberts                 13
  • Bazel Roberts                       11
  • Rebecca Roberts                 10
  • William Roberts                    9
  • Elizabeth Nelson                 23

All were born in Tennessee except for John’s wife Elizabeth who was born in North Carolina. It is not clear who Elizabeth Nelson was. John’s daughter Elizabeth was born in 1823 and would be 26 years old during the 1850 Census, so I don’t believe it was her.

The 1860 Census finds John as the head of the household with wife Elizabeth and daughter Rebecca.

John’s wife Elizabeth died on 5 July 1867. She is buried in the Roberts Cemetery, in Roane County, Tennessee.

The 1870 Census finds John and his daughter Rebecca living in District 14 (post office Kingston), Roane County Tennessee.

Death & Burial

John Calvin Roberts died in April 1873 in Roane County, Tennessee. He is believed to be buried in the Roberts Cemetery. However, his marker has not been found and is presumed lost or to have never been erected.

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at


  • 1830 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1830 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennesee (A). 1830; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 180; Page: 55; Family History Library Film: 0024538.
  • 1840 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1840 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee (A). 1840; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Roll: 535; Page: 70; Image: 1022; Family History Library Film: 0024549.
  • 1850 Census (FS), Family Search, John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee – House Number 1415. Accessed:  6 August 2016.
  • 1860 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1860 Census – John Roberts – 14th District, Roane, TN – Post Office Kingston.
  • 1870 Census (A), Ancestry.Com, John C Robert, District 14 [Kingsto]), Roane, Tennessee. Roll: M593_1555; Page: 493A; Family History Library Film: 553054.
  • Find a Grave, Find a Grave, John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873) [No Image]. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 23 February 2018), memorial page for John Calvin Roberts (3 Mar 1795–Apr 1873), Find A Grave Memorial no. 147852303, citing Roberts Cemetery, Roane County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Ralph Martin (contributor 47724249) .
  • Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), John Calvin Roberts – #78188. accessed 12 June 2016.
  • Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Ancestry.Com, John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwell. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.

————–  Disclaimer  ————–


[i] One document often cited by other researchers indicates that John Calvin Roberts served in the War of 1812 also shows that John’s Wife Elizabeth has a Widow’s pension number. Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts, the wife of John Calvin Roberts preceded John in death and would not have been a widow and should not have had a widow’s number.

[ii] His Marriage Bond was dated 2 March 1816 and is occasionally cited as his marriage date by some researchers in error.

[iii] Family Search Wiki – Roane County, Tennessee, Genealogy, Census. See:,_Tennessee_Genealogy#Census


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