Surname Saturday – Roberts

Roberts
Surname Saturday

Name Origin

Roberts and Robertson are patronymic names that come from the first name Robert. The name has Old German origins coming from ‘hroth’ and ‘berht’ which mean “fame” and “bright,” similar to how our word “illustrious” is used today. [i] Had I known 50 years ago that my biological father was a “Roberts,” I probably would have adopted the illustrious surname for myself. But instead, I adopted “Taylor” as my surname, which is a story in itself.

I was pretty sure I was a Roberts long before I could prove it. After, I learned that I was most likely “a Roberts,” I purchased a Roberts tartan at a Scottish Fair. I don’t know if my Roberts’ are Scottish, as I still need to track down the origins of my Roberts line, but I like the tartan.

Geographical

Today, Roberts has its highest frequency of use in Wales where one in 124 people have the surname. However, by far the greatest number of people with the Roberts surname live in the United States where over 50% of the people in the world with the surname currently live. Among the States, the greatest number of “Roberts” live in the great state of Texas. Worldwide, Roberts is the 658th most common name; approximately 793,774 people bear the surname.[ii]

My Roberts Ancestors

My earliest known Roberts ancestor is my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Roberts. I haven’t tracked down where Edward was born, yet, but his son, Elias, was born in South Carolina and died in Tennessee. Elias was born in 1767, so this Roberts line goes back to at least colonial times.

Elias Roberts married Rebecca Brashears; they had nine children including John Calvin Roberts.

John Calvin Roberts was born in the Southwest Territory (Tennessee); he married Elizabeth Blackwell and they had fifteen children, including Asa Ellis Roberts.

Asa, who was born in Tennessee, had sixteen children with two wives including a son, Hugh Ellis Roberts, with his second wife.

Hugh, who was born in Illinois, had four children including my paternal grandfather, Bert Allen Roberts.

My known relatives.

I have five half-siblings, all of whom have the Roberts surname.

My records have 272 direct descendants of Edward Roberts identified, so far.

Do you think you are a related Roberts? Test with FTDNA and see.


Endnotes

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We’re Related – Barack Obama?

Famous Friday

Roberts/Blackwell/Harris Line
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Last April, through the application “We’re Related,” I was learned that my wife is related to her eighth cousin, twice removed, Michelle Obama. I determined that that relationship was “very probable.”  This year “We’re Related” suggests that I am related to Barack Obama. I am very sure that I’m related to President Taft, but Barack Obama? Could “We’re Related” be right?

Common Ancestor

“We’re Related” suggests that Temperance Overton (1679-1765) is our common ancestor. The lineage goes up my paternal (Roberts) line:

  • Hugh Eugene Roberts (1926-1997)
  • Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949)
  • Hugh Ellis Roberts (1882-1908)
  • Asa Ellis Roberts (1835-1887)
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1796-1867)
  • Sarah Harris (1765-1806)
  • Robert Harris (1741-1809) *
  • Robert Harris (1696-1765) *
  • Temperance Overton (1679-1710) *

Comment

I don’t see anything intrinsically wrong with the suggested pedigree from me up to Temperance. I know that a Sarah Harris married a David Blackwell, but I haven’t found adequate sources for birthdates, places or parents for either of them. I am a little uncomfortable that there are three generations for whom I haven’t confirmed the pedigree research.

Temperance Overton’s Descendants leading to Barack Obama as suggested by “We’re Related include:

  • Temperance Overton (1679-1710)
  • Elizabeth Haris Hudson *
  • Mary Hudson (1726-1792) *
  • Charles Bunch (1765-1792) *
  • Nathaniel Bunch (1793-1859) *
  • Anna Bunch (1814-1893) *
  • Frances Ann Alfred (1834-1918) *
  • Margaret Belle Wright (1869-1935) *
  • Private **
  • Private **
  • Private **
  • Barack Obama

Analysis

I did a brief look at the Ancestors of Barack Obama on Famous Kin.  Their website indicated Barack’s ancestors as follows:

  • Barack Obama
  • Mother – Stanley Ann Dunham (1942-1995)] **
  • Grandfather – Stanley Armour Dunham (1918-1992)] **
  • Great-grandmother – Ruth Lucille Armour (1900-1926)] **
  • Great-great-grandmother Gabriella Lee Clark (1876-1966) **

Margaret Belle Wright (1869-1935) and Gabriella Lee Clark (1876-1966) are clearly not the same person. So, it appears that I need to look at which pedigree is more likely — The one with three “private” entries or the pedigree that is documented. I’ll take the Famous Kin and Geni suggestions over Ancestry’s ‘private’ entries.

Findings

Although entertaining, “We’re Related” in this case, proved to be an unreliable application that suggested a famous cousin that is unlikely to be related to me.

Endnotes:

  1. * = Italic entries are “We’re Related suggestions that are unknown to my research.
  2. ** = Names and dates are from “Famous Kin.” See https://famouskin.com/family-tree.php?name=10012+barack+obama for details.
  3. Geni entry for Gabriella Lee Armour (Clark). See https://www.geni.com/people/Gabriella-Armour/6000000000240290231.

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.

Childhood

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

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

Adulthood

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 Newspapers.com


Sources

  • 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. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCDB-2JV
  • 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. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/7163/records/14326489.
  • Find a Grave, Find a Grave, John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873) [No Image]. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : 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) . https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147852303/john-calvin-roberts.
  • Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), John Calvin Roberts – #78188. accessed 12 June 2016. http://www.acvancestors.com/g2/p2607.htm#i78188.
  • Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Ancestry.Com, John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwell. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.

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Endnotes

[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: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Roane_County,_Tennessee_Genealogy#Census

 

Surname Saturday – Taft

Roberts/Barnes/Taft Line
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I was surprised to learn that I know of more ancestors with the surname of Taft in my Roberts Line than any other surname, including Roberts. Only my Mannin(g) and Wolcott ancestors, which are on my Brown line, are more numerous.

Name Origin

Taft is an English name coming from a variant of Old and Middle English word “toft,” meaning a yard enclosing a residence[i], a curtilage, or homestead. It was also applied to a low hillock where a homestead used to be.[ii]

Geographical

Nearly 12,000 of the 13,500 Tafts in the world live in the United States. The highest concentration of Tafts is on the Island of Jersey, a dependency of the United Kingdom in the English Channel (close to France). Today, there are over 1,000 Tafts in both New York and California. There are only 59 people with the Taft surname here in Maine. I wonder if their ancestors came to Maine as mine went to New York in the 1700s. I’ll have to look at that sometime.

My Ancestors

Photo of President William Henry Taft
“Cousin Bill” (William Henry Taft) – Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Taft is a very famous name in American history. Probably the most famous Taft is my 5th cousin, four times removed, William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He is the only person to have held both offices. You don’t find cousins any more illustrious than “Cousin Bill.”

I haven’t researched Robert, Benjamin, or Stephen Taft enough to understand their immigration. Certainly, they came from Europe and probably England during the Great Migration of the mid-1600s. Silas Taft, my 5th great-grandfather was born in Massachusetts colony in 1744 and died in New York in 1812.

The 1840 Census indicated that there were no Taft families in Indiana, however my 3rd great-grandfather, Joel Cruff Taft died there in 1849. I know he had lived in New York, during the 1820s, before he went to Indiana. Twenty-five percent of the Tafts in the United States lived in New York in 1840 and over 1/3 of the Tafts resided in Massachusetts. So, it appears that my Tafts followed a typical migration west – Massachusetts to upstate New York, west to Indiana with some going further west again.

My Great Taft Ancestors

  • 1st Great-grandfather: Joel Clinton Barnes (1857-1921)
  • 2nd Great-grandmother: Mercy Eliza Taft (1822-1884)
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: Joel Cruff Taft (1800-1849)
  • 4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft (1774-1839)
  • 5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft (1744-1812)
  • 6th Great-grandfather: Stephen Taft (1710-1803)
  • 7th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Taft
  • 8th Great-grandfather: Robert Taft

My known Taft relatives.

My records have 259 known, direct-line descendants of Robert Taft identified over fourteen generations, which is about 9% of my known Roberts/Brown Tree. Mercy Taft, who married Nelson Barnes in 1839, had nine siblings who I haven’t had a chance to research yet.



Sources

[i] Internet: Forbears – Taft Surname Meaning & Statistics – http://forebears.io/surnames/taft accessed 14 Feb 2018

[ii] Internet: Ancestry – Taft Family History – Taft Name Meaning – https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Taft accessed 14 Feb 2018

Don’t give up communicating with that match

DNA – Roberts

FTDNA Chromosome Browser Results

In 2016, my number 3 match In Family Finder (Family Tree DNA) was a 2nd to a 4th cousin with whom I shared 100cM of DNA. We shared a couple big chunks on Chromosome 3; there was another nice match on chromosome 12, and a small piece on Chromosome 11. I emailed him in November 2016 and waited.

During the ensuing months, I found two more cousins with whom I shared DNA but I still wondered about that first one. I wondered about him and I emailed him again in May 2017 hoping to figure out how we were related.

I emailed him again mostly as a follow-up in November 2017. And wow. A response. A nice response with enough information to show exactly how we are related. I came to learn that he is the 2nd great-grandson of my 2nd great-grandfather, Asa Ellis Roberts. In other words, he is my half 3rd cousin (we have different great-grandmothers). Asa had 16 children, 12 with his first wife, Cynthia Minerva Toney and 4 with his second wife, Patience Anna Marshall. (My line follows Patience’s children.)

If you are working to fill in the descendants of your ancestors and to connect with distant cousins, it is great to have a first contact message (email) and then remember to follow-up every few months. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a response. Just keep working at it and, hopefully, you will eventually receive the answer which will show a new line of cousins.

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DISCLAIMER
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