Roberts was once one of the centers of teh
hop trade in Marion County (there were and are other places named Roberts
in Crook, Linn and Yamhill counties as well, each named for a different
Marion County's Roberts can trace its beginnings, according to Dorothy Rice, who won a local history essay contest in 1933, to "about the middle of the 19th century, (with) men who meant to stay and help make Oregon a civilized country. The first permanent settlers were the A. Stoughtons and Jim Townsends who came in the early part of the (18)'40s. Richard Ekin, who was an English sailor, came to Roberts in about 1845."
As was true of many such settlements, this thriving collection of dairy and hop farmers and merchants lived in a village that really didn't have an official name. They maintained their own identity because, even though they were close to Salem in the northeast, there was no road between the two places, and a trip between them was a major undertaking.
That isolation ended in 1911 or 1912, when the ORegon Electric Railway pushed through from Salem. A station was built and called Livesley, after T.A. Livesley, an importnat hop merchant in the area, owner of the firm T.A. Livesley & Co.
In 1925, John J. Roberts, a partner of Livesley, bought the company and changed its name toreflect the new ownership. This also changed the name of the railway station, and provided the little settlement withits present name.
But the new accessibility of the area also spelled its slow doom as a separate community. The road from Salem to Independence, which was cut through following the construction of the railroad, was paved in 1922, further linking Roberts with Salem, which had begun its slow march south. With the decline of the hops business, Roberts lost its only thriving industry.
Today, the most prominent feature of Roberts that remains is the Roberts Country Inn, whose official address is 3635 River Road S. This country resturant is heir to a business which began in 1915 when Charles Delano Query opened Livesley/Roberts' first general store. That building soon burned, and was replaced with a larger structure 150 feet to the southwest of ist orginal position. That store opened in 1920, and has remained in business since, now housing the Roberts Country Inn within its several-times-remodeled frame.
A few other old buildings, some lovingly restored may be seen at Roberts.
But the hills behind it are now covered with large, expensive homes and a private golf club. The official address for all of them is now Salem.
For an excellent history of this area, readers should read the spiral-bound, self-published book "illustrated Memoris & History of the Livesley-Roberts Community, 1840's to 1940's." compiled by Doug Chambers.
Filled with historic photos and stories--including the story of a Salem man who had been a slave--this modestly produced 114 page book sells for $9 at the Marion County Historical Society Museum or at the Roberts Country Inn. It also may be ordered by sending $12 for each copy (includes postage and handling) to: Doug Chambers, 4242 Chambers Avenue S., Salem, OR 97302.
Courtesy of the Statesman Journal, January 7, 1999