Putnam County, New York
There are few citizens of the county of Putnam who are more extensively known or who have been longer connected with its business, social and religious interests than the subject of this article. Mr. Roberts was the son of Lemuel and Phebe Roberts, and was born in the town of Patterson, April 12th, 1823.
He was the youngest of a family of eleven children, having two brothers (Willis and Barzillai) and eight sisters. At the age of sixteen he began teaching, and his ability won for him steady employment. Desiring a mercantile education he went to New York and accepted a clerkship in the clothing establishment of Brooks Brothers. He advanced rapidly, and returning to this county, he opened a store in Milltown in partnership with his brother.
The prospective importance of the village of Brewster led him to remove to that place, where he became a large property owner. Steady application to business so affected his health that he disposed of his establishment and engaged in the insurance business. In this he exhibited his usual energy and ability and built up a business which was excelled by none in the county, and gained a well-deserved reputation for honest and strict integrity. In the affairs of the village and the town Mr. Roberts was well know as a man of progressive ideas, and in all social questions of the day.
He was a bitter opponent of slavery at a time when it was considered discreditable to be an abolitionist, and a firm opposer of intemperance, when he had few supporters. Mr. Roberts was selected to deliver an historical address at Brewster on the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of American Independence in 1876. This address, which embraced a great amount of research in our early local history, was replete with information, and is still more valuable from the fact that many of the aged citizens of the town from whom he obtained his knowledge, have since passed away.
For many years Mr. Roberts was a most active and influential member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was ever regarded as one of the pillars of the church and society. In the cause of temperance, in the societies formed to promote that work in the church and Sunday school, he was especially helpful. For nearly sixteen years he was superintendent of the M. E. Sunday school, and for twenty years was chorister and long an active member of the official board. He rarely missed a church service, and never permitted himself to be absent from a Sunday school session.
Mr. Roberts married Miss Kate Waring, daughter of Peter and Ester Waring, February 3d, 1859. They had two children. Julia Waring, now living in Brewster, and Edwin Waring, deceased.
After a useful and active life, devoted to the best interests of the community, Mr. Roberts passed to a better world December 23d, 1885, and by his decease the village and the town lost one of its most respected and useful citizens. The following extract from the funeral sermon preached by Rev. Wh. H. Ferris, D.D., expressed the fellings of those who knew him well.
"When I head the sad news of his death my first thought was: 'I am sorry this life has been so short,' and the next thought: 'I am glad it was so long.' But we could have wished for him a longer life. We need such men of deep convictions and manly courage and force of character, men who dare to do right and, who follow their convictions. Yet, if we measure life by deeds, he lived long. His was an earnest, concentrated life; measured by its force, its activity, its intelligence, its wealth of affection, its achievements, it was long. It is far less important how long we live, than how much we live. His were crowded years, full of thought and effort for others. His ability as an author, whether of prose or poetry, was eminently creditable."
Source: pages 512 to 514.
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