Biography of James H. Roe
Riverside County, CA Biographies





JAMES H. ROE
One of the earlier settlers in Riverside, James H. Roe was born in Birmingham, England, November 18, 1843, his parents being Rev. Charles Hill, a native of the north of Ireland, and Mary (Steadman) Roe, a native of England. When he was only eight years of age his father came to this country, locating in Boone county, Ill, where he had charge of a church until the breaking out of the Civil war. The father was commissioned as a chaplain of one of the Illinois regiments, and at the close of the war was put in charge of the Southwest Department of the Freedman's Aid Commission.

J. H. Roe was reared and schooled in Boone county until 1859, when he entered the University of Chicago, and was diligently pursuing his studies in that institution when the breaking out of the war induced him to abandon his college studies and tender his services as a soldier. In 1862 he accompanied his father, who was chaplain of the Fifty sixth Regiment of Illinois Infantry, to the front, and participated in the campaign in the Shenandoah valley under General Banks, and later was at the siege and surrender of Harper's Ferry. In 1864 he was commissioned a lieutenant in Company D, One Hundred and Thirty fourth Illinois Volunteers, and served with his command in Kentucky and Missouri, being honorably discharged at the end of his term of service. He then reentered the University of Chicago, graduating in 1865.

For a time Mr. Roe served as a clerk in a drug store, and in 1866 established a drug store in Marshalltown, Iowa, which he conducted until 1868, when he moved to Belle Plaine, Iowa, and engaged in the drug business under the firm name of Roe & Co. Several of his neighbors were among those who were interested in forming the colony at Riverside, Cal., and he finally decided to join them, coming to the state in 1873. He purchased twenty acres at the corner of Riverside and Central avenues. In 1874 he engaged in teaching in the public schools, and the year following had charge of the Spanishtown school, north of Riverside. In 1876 he established a drug store and successfully conducted the business for about ten years. Mr. Roe had a love for literature and was a writer of ability, as many of his poetical efforts, to be found in the files of the local¬ journals and the scrap books of his surviving friends bear witness, and this led him, in 1878, to start the first successful newspaper in Riverside - the Weekly Press. Two years later he sold the Press to L. M. Holt. In 1886 he sold his drug business to J. C. Hardman, and forming a partnership with R. J. Pierson, a practical printer, purchased the Valley Echo, which he conducted until 1888, when a consolidation of all the daily and weekly papers was effected, under the firm name of Holmes, Roe & Pierson, and the Daily Press and a weekly edition known as the Press and Horticulturist were published, Mr. Roe acting for a time as city editor. He finally sold his interest in the newspapers to his partners and engaged in the paint and wallpaper business until his death.

Mr. Roe was conspicuous in school and church work. He was a school official and deacon and treasurer of the Baptist church. A lover of music, he gave his services in the choirs of the Congregational and Baptist churches, and was a valued member of the pioneer orchestra and choral society. Many of the records of the early days were preserved by him, with a view to using them in writing a history of the valley, which his death prevented, but many of these are being used by E. W. Holmes in his historical narrative of Riverside, in this county history.

Mr. Roe was married in 1870 at Marshalltown, Iowa, to Miss Lovina Price, daughter of Owen Price, a well known Iowa pioneer. J. H. Roe died at Riverside August 16, 1900, leaving a wife and two children. His daughter, Mary Edna, became the wife of Frederick Johnson, and ended her earthly pilgrimage March 21, 1907. His son, Robert P., is now manager for a transfer company in Los Angeles.

From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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