|From The Sunbury News, September 2016:||
|Ran as Sunbury Bicentennial Article|
Roberts, Hezekiah to Long John
By Polly Horn, Curator of the Myers Inn Museum
As one strolls South on Columbus Street past the former Boyer Hotel
across Granville Street from the Myers Inn Museum, the next three
houses on the west side of the street have caused me many hours of
research and literally 30 years of doubts. In 1815 William Myers
gave his mortgage deed for 100 acres to Hezekiah Roberts to secure a
note for $400 and a note for $500 in what was to become the village
of Sunbury in 1816.1 Roberts put a cabin on the property
and ran a tavern. Later the owners name is Rogers and later still
Roberts. So who is this man?
When Hezekiah and Jamacia Roberts had lived in Orange County N.Y., their son, Hezekiah, Junior was born on March 10, 1760, and later a daughter Catharine. While Hezekiah, Jr. was still a young boy the family moved to Luzerne County, PA. where they lived for the next 40 plus years.2 To save their lives during the Wyoming Massacre, the family took flight down the Susquehanna River on a raft which went to pieces so the family walked 60 miles across land to East Town on the Delaware River. When the trouble was over they returned to Luzerne.3 During the American Revolution Hezekiah Sr. was a Lieutenant in Seventh Company of the 3rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia. His grave is marked in Sunbury Memorial Park.4
Hezekiah jr. married Catharine the daughter of Matthias and Rebecca Van Loon of Plymouth, PA., who came from New York and appeared on the Luxerne census of 1790.5
Following the Pennamite Wars (see the article about our Roots in Pennsylvania), William Pennís heirs had the right to survey all unpurchased lands in Luzerne County and offer it for sale for a purchase price and interest. From April 1799 to May 28, 1805, Hezekiah Senior received five Land Warrants for a total of 306.135 acres in 5 different areas of Luzerne County.6 His son, Hezekiah Roberts, Jr. received 132.818 acres in April of 1799.7 In 1805 Hezekiah sold his 5 tracts for $40008 and eventually moved to Sunbury. In 1808 Hezekiah Roberts, jr. and his wife Catharine sold Plymouth Lots 11, 12, part of lot 9 and 82 acres of Avondale Lot 52 for £10008 or about $4300 and also moved to Ohio.
According to the 1880 History of Delaware County, Hezekiah Roberts, Jr, bought 320 acres in Berkshire Township when he first came to Ohio. A few months later he sold the land to his father and in the spring of 1810, he bought 406 acres in Genoa Township from Joseph Latshaw.
Roberts began planting corn in the bottom land which Latshaw had already cleared.9 His wife gave birth to the possibly the first white child born in the township, John Roberts, on Nov. 18, 1810. Hezekiahís supplies he brought with him gave out, so he needed to procure more and get some luxuries for his wife. He followed an Indian trial through the woods to Zanesville where he got the supplies he could carry, returned home to his wife who was anxiously awaiting his return. Soon after he made another trip to Zanesville and purchased young apple trees which he put on his land opposite his cabin.10
Roberts was a blacksmith and immediately put up a small log shop just east of his cabin which was the first blacksmith shop in the area. He continued to work it until his son was old enough to take his place.
Roberts assisted in erecting the old Curtis mill, which was the first in the township and he became one of the first to raise flax for the mill. Roberts then bought the Copeland mill, and, moving to the west side of the creek, ran it for several years.11 Meanwhile his son, "Long" John Roberts so called on account of his 6'6" height, was learning the blacksmith trade from his father. When Hezekiah died in December 1827, Long John who had never apprenticed as a blacksmith, took over the shop and worked it continually for 40 years. Not only was he the best black smith he was patient and never turned away a horse because it was tough to shoe.12
He stayed with his mother to look out for her. On March 2, 1837,
John married. Phoebe Weeks. She was born in May 1812 in New York
where her mother died. In 1834 she came to Ohio with her father
13 probably David Weeks.14 The couple continued to
live in the house with Johnís mother.
John and Phoebe had 7 children. Four died in infancy. Mary E. was
born in 1838, Pruella J. In 1841, and Euretta in 1846 who later
married L. L. Thrall and moved to Licking County. Euretta had one
child, John M. Thrall. When Phoebe was ill the Thralls moved in to
take care of her and help with the farm. Phoebe died in 1874.
I had always suspected the two Hezekiahs - one in Sunbury and one in Genoa were related but just figured out how when I found Hezekiah Senior's will. Since Genoa Township is also celebrating its Bicentennial, I thought you might like to hear a little of its history. Next week weíll see how the Roberts and Rogers fit together in Sunbury's History.
. . . . And Now You Know
|1. Partial Abstract to Lands in
the Names of Opal M. Clark and Henry Landon, Village of
Sunbury, Delaware County, Ohio. 1929. Page 9. Located in Community Library and Big Walnut
Area Historical Society. Page 9.
2. Blair, William T. The Michael Shoemaker Book. 1924. Reprinted in India, 2013
3. History of Delaware County and Ohio. O. K. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers. Chicago, 1880. Page 853.
5. Blair. Ibid. page 451.
6. Blair. Ibid. page 450
7. Blair. Ibid. page 450
8. Blair. Ibid. page 451
9. History of Delaware County and Ohio. ibid. page 605
10. Ibid. Page 606.
11. Ibid. Page 606.
12. Ibid. Page 853
13. Ibid. Page 853
14. Ibid. page 606.
15. Ibid., page 853.
16. Cemetery Records of Delaware County, Ohio. Delaware County
Genealogy Society website at
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