JOHN FRANK ROBERTS. A native son of Southern Illinois who has resided in
the city of Cairo and been identified with its commercial interests since
1905, John Frank Roberts, vice-president of the Denison-Gholson Dry Goods
Company, is known as one of the leading business men of his section. He came
to this city from Jackson county, Illinois, where he spent the incipient
years of his career, but his birth occurred in Williamson county, January 9,
1869. Mr. Roberts' parents moved into Jackson county during his childhood,
and the environment of the country home and the work of the farm was his
while he passed his minority, and his education was started in the district
schools and completed in Ewing College and O. M. Powers' Business College,
James B. Roberts, the father of John Frank Roberts, was born in Tennessee, in 1842, and about 1844 came with his father, John A. Roberts, to Union county, Illinois, the latter being one of the founders of the community at Lick Creek, who died at that point. James B. Roberts was one of a family of thirteen children, of whom eleven grew to maturity, and he began life as a farmer with such preparation as the district school of the ante-bellum days afforded. For several years after his marriage he was a resident of Williamson county, where he was elected to public office and maintained himself honorably as a citizen and as a man. In political matters he was a Democrat, while his religious affiliations was with the Missionary Baptist church. He married Miss Caroline Rendleman, a daughter of John Rendleman and a granddaughter of Jacob Rendleman, who founded the family in Illinois by settling near Jonesboro, where he passed away at the age of seventy-eight years. Inquiry into his activities shows him to have been an extensive farmer and tanner, and to have died possessed of a modest fortune. Jacob's father was Dr. John Rendleman, who came from Germany and settled on the Yadkin river, in Stokes county, North Carolina, in 1757. He was a prominent surgeon, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in the same class with Dr. Benjamin Rush, for whom Rush Medical College, Chicago, was named, and was a soldier of Washington's army, and one of those who crossed the Delaware on the stormy Christmas night to participate in the battle of Trenton. James B. Roberts died at Anna, Illinois, in 1899, and his widow followed him to the grave during the next year, at the age of fifty-one. Their children were Charles W., a farmer near Makanda, Illinois; Edward, who is president and manager of a pharmaceutical business in St. Louis, Missouri; Stella M., the wife of George G. Patterson, an agriculturist near Makanda; and John Frank.
John Frank Roberts, who is the oldest of his parents' children, began his life seriously as a merchant at Cobden, Illinois, spending six years there in the retail business as a general merchant, and then removed to Makanda, where he carried on a more pretentious business and where his success was apparent and acknowledged. Desiring a wider field -for his attainments, he seized the opportunity to associate himself with the large wholesale dry goods houses of Cairo, and disposed of his Makanda interests. Purchasing a large interest in the Denison-Gholson Dry Goods Company, he was elected vice-president thereof and is one of the men of the firm. Wherever he has resided he has responded to the needs and demands of his community with moral and material aid, and his present connection adds a new factor in the civic improvement of greater Cairo.
On May 15, 1890, Mr. Roberts was married in Franklin county, Illinois, to Miss Effie Link, a daughter of Robert R. Link, one of the historic characters of Ewing College, and, in conjunction with Dr. Washburn, its founder. In 1869 Professor Link was graduated from Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee, lived near Nashville prior to his coming to Illinois, was actively identified with the Prohibition movement in this state, and was frequently a candidate of that party, being honored with the nomination for governor of the state just prior to his death. He married Elizabeth J. Webb, daughter of a Baptist minister of the state of Tennessee, Rev. Elijah Webb, originally from the Rendleman region of North Carolina. Robert R. Link passed away in 1893, at the age of sixty years, having been the father of: Will C, a resident of Benton, Illinois; Aliee L., the wife of John Richeson, of St. Louis; Effie, who married Mr. Roberts; and Nancy, the wife of Robert F. Hall, of Ewing, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have had two children; Rosalind, who was born July 8, 1891; and Roberta, whose birth occurred May 17, 1894.
Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 586-587.
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