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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

EDWARD DAVID ROBERTS, banker, was born at Cambria, Wisconsin, July 18th. 1864, son of John W. and Eliza (Williams) Roberts. His father came from Bala, Wales, at an early age. He was a grain merchant in Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here Mr. Roberts attended DuflFs (business) College after finishing the Public School of Cambria and later completed his education at the Western University of Pennsylvania. After a brief period in the claims department of the Milwaukee Central Railroad Company, Mr. Roberts went to Bridgewater, South Dakota, where he joined his brother-in-law, John W. Davis, Jr., in establishing the first National Bank of Bridgewater.

In 1885 he removed to Colton, California, and entered the first National Bank of that place. During his residence in Colton Mr. Roberts served as a member of the City Council and took an active interest in all civic and business life.

Meanwhile, his father had become president of the San Bernardino National Bank of San Bernardino, California, and in 1895 the son joined him in the management of that institution, becoming its president upon the death of the older Roberts in 1904. In 1907 he established the San Bernardino County Savings Bank and in 1909 the First National Bank of Rialto and became president of both of these institutions. In 1915 he accepted the first vice-presidency of the First National Bank of Los Angeles and removed to that city, retaining the presidency of the three banks in San Bernardino County. In 1920, owing to the multitude of his other interests, Mr. Roberts resigned from the Los Angeles institution but remained a member of the directorate of both the First National and Los Angeles Trust Company.

While Mr. Roberts was closely identified with the strongest group of financial institutions in Southern California, he was also one of the largest fruit growers in San Bernardino County, owning extensive vinyards [sic], orange orchards and stock farms, and was as successful with these ventures as with his banks.

A republican in politics, he was for years chairman of the San Bernardino County Central Committee and was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1904 and 1912. From 1911-14 he served as state treasurer of California, and during his administration of this office its policies were thoroughly adjusted and put upon a basis creditable to himself and characteristically businesslike. He had the task of selling $18,000,000 in state highway and harbor bonds, and when the Express Companies asked what seemed to be an exorbitant charge for transporting a number of the bonds to New York he loaded up two big suit cases with them and carried them to Wall street himself.

Mr. Roberts considered it the duty of every good citizen to take an unselfish interest in his country's affairs, and while he was offered many times by enthusiastic admirers among the republican leaders the senatorship or governorship of his state, he always refused, as his own affairs were of such a nature that it was not possible for him to serve. He accepted the appointment of Hiram Johnson to the office of state treasurer at the time when he was most needed.

He was a member of the State Bankers' Association and served on various committees, also a member and vice-president for California of the American Bankers' Association and a member of the nominating committee. He was a Mason, belonging to St. Bernard Commandery of Knights Templar and Al Malakai Shrine Temple of Los Angeles, also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and a communicant of St. John's Episcopal Church of Los Angeles. He also belonged to the California Club, Ciretos Gun Club and the Midwick Country Club of Los Angeles and to the Sutter Club of Sacramento and Squirrel Inn Mountain Club of San Bernardino.

He was an extensive traveler, a liberal art patron and an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman. He was a man of attainments and eminently successful in any enterprise in which he ventured.

Personally he was warm hearted, generous to a fault, democratic and an indefatigable worker, with a genial disposition and a keen sense of humor.

He married Maud, daughter of Henry F. Adams, M. D., and Louise (Wilkerson) Adams, and to this union were born two daughters : Mrs. Louise Roberts Kamm, wife of Walker W. Kamm, of San Francisco and Portland, and Mrs. Marie Roberts Kamm, of Los Angeles, California.

As befitted a man of his character Mr. Roberts family life was ideally happy. He was a devoted husband and father.

He was stricken with appendicitis during a business trip to San Bernardino, where he went on July 31, 1920, accompanied by Mrs. Roberts, and died following an operation August 4, 1920. His remains rest in the family tomb at Inglewood, Los Angeles, California.

Mr. Edward David Roberts was one of the Southland's best loved sons, who filled to the satisfaction of all concerned the positions entrusted to him, positions in which the acid test is nobility of character. His sound judgment and sterling integrity was united with practical commonsense and earnest purpose, combining to make him a man of unusual gifts and high character. He was a man of dignity, force, quick sympathy and possessed, a rare purity of motive. He knew the secret of contented and fruitful living and he was generosity personified. No appeal of a worthy cause was ever made to him in vain, and he gave freely and fully not only of material wealth but of his time and sympathy. His patriotism was very strong and deep, and he proved it many times.

Mr. Roberts loved California, and the City of San Bernardino was very dear to him. When he went to Los Angeles he left a void none could fill, not only in the financial and business circles but in fraternal and social circles, where his courtesy, geniality and graces of mind and heart made him an ever desired companion. The only compensation was his frequent visits. He retained many of his interests here, and his friends always cherished the hope that some day he would return to them.

Their grief cannot be measured when they learned of his death in Los Angeles, and his memory will be a living, loving one so long as one of his colleagues and friends remain. He has solved the one Great Mystery, raised and let fall the impenetrable Curtain of Silence, yet those who are left behind know that he has seen the smiling dawn of a never ending day, that with him all is indeed well.

And now I know that immortality
Is but the rending of a narrow girth free,
That some great soul may conquer and go
And, reincarnate, revolutionize the Earth.
M. A. R.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011