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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

A Short History Of The Community Of Roachester

Dallas Bogan on 4 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Before outlining Roachester, the writer will briefly give a short history of Salem Township. The township was formed from Hamilton Township on June 24, 1813. Harlan Township was formed from Salem by an act of the Legislature on March 16, 1860, and the same statute gave to Salem the name of Corwin Township. It reserved this name until June 6, 1860, when the commissioners again returned the name Salem. A part of Union township, in 1860, was added to Salem, thus giving it its present layout.
The portion of the township taken from Union is called North Salem. It is divided into two sections. The part lying south of the river is called South Salem and has surveys of highly irregular sizes and shapes. The explanation for this feature is that the part of the township lying south of the Little Miami River was included in the Virginia Military Lands.
Slight controversy was apparent during the sub-dividing and adding-to of the townships. All said and done, Salem Township's shape is a significantly common right-angled triangle that consists of over twenty miles.
Roachester, a small town at present, was once a thriving community with a onetime population of about 300 inhabitants. It contained at this time two or three dry goods stores, grocery stores, a post office, three hotels, cabinet, blacksmith and wagon-making shops, along with physicians and lawyers. (The population had dwindled to about 100 in 1882.)
It was the first town laid out in Salem Township. The first tract incorporated forty lots and was recorded October 12, 1816. The owners were Mahlon and James Roach.
Some controversy arose as to how the name Roachester came about. An assumption was that the town name came from the name "Roach." However, some folks related that there was a girl in the family named "Esther" which added to "Roach" comes up with Roachester, if the "h" was dropped from Esther's name.
The village was suitably located, it being on the Cincinnati, Montgomery and Hopkinsville Turnpike, now Routes 22 & 3. This road was originally named the Cincinnati-Zanesville Road and was established before 1804. The other main road that intersected the town, now St. Rt. 123, was originally named the Lebanon- Morrow Road, it also being established prior to 1804.
Roachester was situated about half-way between Wilmington and Hopkinsville. It is said that the latter catered to a tavern on the southwest corner of the highway intersection.
Dr. J.L. Mounts states in his write-up in Beer's 1882 history of Salem Township that Roachester was the center for the mustering days with the purpose of military drilling of the locals. Also mentioned was that personal differences were always settled with "fisticuffs," whiskey playing an important part. Dr. Mounts made no mention of local saloons, but possibly one of the hotels maintained one.
Among the foremost citizens about 1840 were: Lewis Fairchild, merchant; James Turk, gunsmith; Isaac Patterson, cabinet maker and undertaker; Dr's. Hunt, Starbuck, Thacker, Leever and Roach, State Representative James Scott; J. Phillips and S. Parker, blacksmiths; John Harford, shoemaker; and Judge Mickle, Joseph Thacker and Captain Gilham, hotel keepers.
Roachester, like most small communities in Warren County, had a post office. The following postmasters and dates are: Oliver Cook, 13 Sep 1825; John B. Ayres, 2 Nov 1830; William S. Mickle, 18 Oct 1833; Jehu Trimble, 21 July 1840; Lewis Fairchild, 7 Mar 1844; William N. Kirkwood, 2 June 1845; Henry W. Coughanour, 21 Feb 1850; Isaac H. Stout, 8 Mar 1851. The post office was discontinued 16 July 1853. (Morrow's post office was conceived on November 5, 1845, and so for a few years both towns provided the mail.)
Twenty-eight years after the founding of Roachester, its neighbor to the west, Morrow, was founded. The Little Miami Railroad entered the area of present Morrow in 1844, and soon the businesses of Roachester began moving down over the hill to the new settlement. (The writer inserted into the Sunday Star a short history of the L.M.R.R. November 24, 1996.)
Morrow sprung up at the confluence of the Little Miami River and Todd's Fork. The railroad had taken the place of the stagecoach, and thus another transportation era had created yet another town.
Another rail line entered Morrow named the Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad. Local residents more commonly knew it as the "Sheepskin" line. The charter was graded February 4, 1851. Actual track laying began at Morrow in the latter part of March 1853. The line ran directly south of Roachester on the lower plain.
This line fell by the wayside, as did many other lines in the early days of railroading. Only so much traffic in the middle of the 19th century was available because of the lack of dollars in which to invest in new railroads. (An article on this railroad was inserted into the Sunday Star August 20, 1995.)
This line, along with the LMRR, certainly helped limit the population and business flow to Roachester. The farmers and merchants, who came from near and far, with their animals and produce, merely passed through Roachester on their way to the market, via the railroads.
In 1818 a one-story brick building was erected in Roachester that was A Friends Meeting House. It was constructed on one acre of ground deeded October 17, 1816, by James and Mahlon Roach to Isaac Thomas, Jr., Benjamin Nincle, Jonah Cadwallader and Andrew Whitacre, trustees of the Friends of Hopewell Meeting. The building and property was designated for church and burial considerations.
Heads of families who belonged to the early church were: Benjamin Butterworth, Robert Whitacre, Thomas Cadwallader, Ruth Tribbey, Elijah Thomas and Jesse Williams.
Several years prior to the construction of the Meeting House, Robert Whitacre organized the Meeting that was named Hopewell, the name being taken from a Meeting of Friends of Virginia.
Their first worship meetings took place in a small log house which stood just southeast of the new building. (The writer cannot find the exact location of the building. Perhaps someone can help me pinpoint it.)
As the Civil War was coming to an end the Society became ineffective and the Meeting was "laid down." At any rate, in 1872 it was reestablished, but it again was suspended in the spring of 1882.
Because of the division of the Society of Friends, the Meeting at some time became a Hicksite congregation.
The Roachester Methodist Episcopal Church was a one-story brick structure constructed in 1830, Mahlon Roach deeding the ground to the congregation. It later became a part of the South Lebanon Circuit. It was one of the earliest established churches in Salem Township.
The 1875 Warren County Atlas displays a layout of Roachester. Residents of the town include J. Young, J. Phillips, J.J. Robinson, C. Hart, and E. Tribbey. G.M. Ward, J.A. Robinson, Dr. J. Moore, B. Paxton and R. Rhoades owned land surrounding the town.
In the 1891 Atlas Roachester residents' names are Jasper Ayers, Robert Kind, Lucinda Robinson, Elizabeth Philips, Hannah Simpson, Theodore Couden, John Anderson, R.B. Gilmore, Percy Pickett, Elizabeth Mulford, and J. Hart.
Wm. W. Andrews, Louis Tribbey, J. Hammel, L. Brown, J.H. Gilmore, A. Jenkins, Henry Dempsey, Louis Tribbey, W.H. Lewis, and B.F. White.

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