Thomas M. Roberts



Thomas M. Roberts, a member of the firm of Roberts Bros., butchers and dealers in live-stock, Galena, is widely known throughout Jo Daviess and adjoining counties through his extensive dealings, and has the reputation of being one of the most enterprising and capable business men in this part of the country. He has been established in business here for more than thirty years, and having met with more than ordinary success, is classed among the most substantial and well-to-do citizens of this city, with whose growth he has identified himself, and actively aided, since first locating here.

Our subject was born in Cornwall, England, July 10, 1830, to Henry and Philippa Roberts. (For further parental history see sketch of Samuel Roberts). As soon as our subject was large enough to be of any service, he had to assist his father on the farm, and continued so employed until he emigrated to this country with his parents in 1842, landing in New York City on the 19th of May. The family journeyed by way of the Hudson River and Erie canal to Buffalo, where they spent three weeks, and they then took passage on a schooner for Southport, now Kenosha, Wis., which was then a small hamlet of five or six houses. There were a number of English families living in the vicinity whom the father wished to visit, so he concluded to tarry there awhile, and rented a house in which to sojourn while he stayed there. After visiting his countrymen, Mr. Roberts started forth to seek a location suitable to his requirements, and with his elder sons journeyed to Jo Daviess County, and being very much pleased with the many natural and advantages possessed by this part of the country, he leased a farm, and then hired a team to go back to Kenosha for his household goods and family. On his arrival there he hired another team in which to convey his wife and children, but during the first day's travel one of the horses died, and they contrived to couple the wagons together, and hitch the single horse ahead of the pair, and so proceeded to their destination; our subject having to ride the head horse as there were no reins. Our subject assisted his father in the management of his farm about three years, and then engaged in mining for lead in this county. In 1852 he went to the copper mines of Lake Superior, and was engaged in mining there, with a fair degree of success, until the fall of 1853, when he returned to Galena, and rented his father's farm. He was then actively engaged in agricultural pursuits until January, 1856, when he abandoned farming to go into business, buying the city meat-market of his brother James. He was associated in that enterprise with his brother Henry, now deceased, until 1867, when the latter sold out to his brother Samuel, and he and our subject have been in company together ever since. In addition to their extensive business a butchers, they deal very largely in live-stock, buying and shipping to Chicago markets, getting stock from Iowa and Wisconsin as well as Illinois.

Mr. Roberts and Miss Mary Galaher were united in marriage on the 24th of January, 1860, and their happy wedded life has been blessed to them by the birth of six children: Helen C.; Mary C., wife of George W. Barlow, of Chicago; Frederic G., a resident of Chicago; Henry T.; Louisa and Lottie. Mrs. Roberts is a native of Galena, and a daughter of James A., and Mary (Schuatke) Galaher, natives of Maryland, and pioneers of Galena. Her father was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and her mother of German descent. They were the parents of the following children: Charlotte, the wife of Gen. J.C. Smith, Ex-Lieutenant Governor of Illinois; Ann E., widow of J.A. Leekley; Mrs. Roberts; Rebecca P.; Helen, wife of Rock Bennett, of Golden, Colo.; Mary, wife of John Spencer; and Louisa.

Mr. Roberts is a man of energy and good business tact; he is a man of experience, whose judgement in regard to business matters is keen; his success in life is attributable to the fact that he superintends his own affairs. His pleasant manners have won him many friends. Mrs. Roberts, who shares the esteem in which her husband is held, is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Roberts belongs to the society and is a Trustee. In politics, he is a good Republican. He is director of the First National Bank. He is identified with the I.O.O.F. as a member of the Wildy Lodge No. 5, and he is also a member of the Lead Mine Encampment No. 5, I.O.O.F.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)