History of Virginia - Honorable Wade Hampton Roberts

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Honorable Wade Hampton Roberts

HON. WADE HAMPTON ROBERTS, prominent citizen and proficient lumber manufacturer and wholesaler, was born on the "Beaver Dam Farm," six miles west of Wise, Wise County, Virginia, on March 18, 1864, and is the son of William L. Roberts, who for many years was a prosperous and leading farmer of the county. The father was born in Lee County, and died on "Beaver Dam Farm" April 27, 1894. His parents located permanently on this well known farm when he was a small boy, and there he was reared, learning how to care for live stock and how to grow vast crops of farm vegetation, and securing a fair education at the public schools. When his parents died he inherited a portion of this farm, and thereafter conducted it along approved and elaborate lines until his death. A portion of this farm contained some of the best soil to be found in the county, a rich alluvial loam with some clay.

He became prominent in the administration of county affairs, was a steady republican, and served as county supervisor, much to his credit and the satisfaction of his constituents. With morals of the highest character, he early became a conspicuous member of the Primitive Baptist Church and was ordained as one of the clergymen, thus serving the organization with noteworthy eminence. During the Civil war he served in the Union Army for two years as a member of the Forty-fourth Ohio Regiment of Infantry, and upon his honorable discharge returned to the old farm of superior soil.

When a young man he was joined in matrimony with Miss Susanna Kilgore, who was born in Scott County, Virginia, August 30, 1830, and died at the home of her son, Wade Hampton, May 17, 1917. To this congenial union these children were born: Louisa, who became the companion of George Beverly, a successful farmer, and she died near Wise, Virginia, at the age of fifty-five years; James A., who became a proficient farmer at Alamagordo, New Mexico, and died at the age of fifty-five years; Polly Anne, who wedded Burdino Hubbard, and he rcsides in West Virginia, but she passed away on the "Beaver Dam Farm" October 10, 1886; Wade Hampton, subject; William F., who is a resident of Ben Hur, Lee County, Virginia, where he is engaged in farming and lumbering; Franklin, who died in infancy; Geneva, who died at the age of eight years.

Wade Hampton Roberts grew to maturity on "Beaver Dam Farm," learning under his father's tutelage how to grow luxurious crops and thrifty herds of stock. At the same time he was given a good education in the public schools of Wise County. Upon reaching the age of twenty he engaged in the mercantile business at Lipps, Virginia, continuing to conduct the same there until 1890, when he moved to Tacoma, Virginia, resumed the same business on a larger scale and was there occupied until 1893, when he came to Wise, Virginia. Here he carried on an extensive mercantile establishment until 1910, and in addition has become immersed in lumber manufacturing and wholesaling, being one of the pioneer lumberman of Wise County. He has cut and manufactured thousands of acres of virgin timber, starting in 1898. These are his occupations at the present date. He is sole proprietor of the W. H. Roberts Lumber Company of Wise, and is also engaged in coal operations, commencing in 1912. He is vice president of the Roberts Coal Company, Inc., of Wise, which organization operates mines two miles west of Wise. They have a capacity of 250 tons of coal a day. He is also vice president and a stockholder of the Wise Wholesale Company, and a stockholder and director in the Citizens Bank of Wise. He owns a fine residence with a large, well kept lawn on Nottingham Avenue, Wise, Virginia. He likewise owns considerable other property in Wise. One of his best possessions is a tract of coal lands, containing 7,500 acres in the heart of the Wise County coal fields, on which a plant is now in operation. There is also on this land a fine orchard, specializing in the famous Albemarle Pippin, Delicious, Staman-Winesap and other improved varieties. He also owns a half interest in two fine orchards five miles east of Wise, in the Hurricane fruit belt, which produces the best apples in Southwest Virginia. These orchards are equipped with a modern cold storage plant. One of his prize possessions is a sheep ranch, stocked with thoroughbred Hampshire sheep. It consists of 500 acres of good soil, part of which is under cultivation. He owns 150 acres of excellent mineral lands in Lee County, Virginia, and 300 acres of coal and timber lands in Wise County. He is operating three saw mills near Wise and annually manufactures about 3,000,000 feet of lumber and carries in stock about 2,000,000.

He is a republican, served the county in the House of Delegates of the state in 1906 and 1916, and was a member of the finance and other important committees. During these terms there were many important bills introduced, some of which seriously affected the development of Southwest Virginia. He was instrumental in the defeat of a bill proposing to place an additional two cent tonnage tax on all coal produced in Virginia, which would have greatly retarded the development of the coal fields of Wise County. He stood firm and used his influence in placing Virginia among the first states ratifying prohibition. He fought hard for good schools and good roads. He succeeded in getting the town of Appalachia incorporated against strong opposition, which is now one of the most prosperous towns in the county. One of the principal streets of this town now bears the name of Roberts Street. He was a member of the Wise School Board for eight years and of the town council for six years. He is a member of Hoge Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; of Craig Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; is past principal sojourner of the chapter; is a member of Cyrene Commandery, Knights Templar; and of Aces. Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Richmond, Virginia. During the World war he did all in his power to aid the movements of the Government to conquer the enemy. He bought bonds and War Savings Stamps, helped the Red Cross, contributed to the various patriotic organizations and encouraged enlistment. The patriotic spirit he displayed `vas striking and conspicuous.

On February 17, 1886, he married Miss Mary Lee Davidson, born August 15, 1866, daughter of William R. and Jemima (Pendleton) Davidson. Both of her parents are deceased. Her father was an extensive farmer, a dignified and reputable neighbor and also a progressive agriculturist. To Mr. Roberts and wife were born the following children: Ollie, born January 7, 1887, educated in the public schools and Hollins College, who wedded Samuel Stallard, a physician and surgeon; Richmond R., born April 14, 1889, educated in the public schools, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Washington and Lee University, who is president of the Roberts Coal Company and lives in Wise, also clerk of the Circuit Court of Wise County; Maude, born June 10, 1891, educated in the public schools and Virginia College, who married William Harvey Bruce, a physician and successful surgeon of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Corrie Sue, born December 22, 1893, who died ,it the, age of four years; McKinley, born March 13, 1897, who resides with his parents; Karl H., born September 5, 1900, was a student at Hampden-Sidney College during the World war and a member of the Students' Army Training Camp at the College, and after taking a business course at Eastman Business School at Poughkeepsie, New York, is now associated with his father in the lumber business; Fay, born December 11, 1903, after graduating from Wise High School is now a. student at Ward Belmont College; Wade Hampton, Junior, born January 5, 1906, who died in infancy.

Lewis Roberts, grandfather of Mr. Roberts, was born in Grayson County, Virginia, and died on part of "Beaver Dam Farm," on Guest River. He farmed on a large scale. His wife was formerly Miss Annie Day, who was born in Grayson County and died on the old farm. Mr. Roberts' great-grandfather came from Scotland and located on New River in Grayson County.

He had two sons, one of whom, Lewis, came to Lee County, Virginia, and founded the Beaver Dam Farm."