Biography of R. L. Rodgers
Erie County, PA Biographies

R. L. Rodgers, who is successfully engaged in the real estate and insurance business in Erie, with offices at 609 Masonic building, was born in Kansas, June 2, 1875.

The Rodgers family traces its genealogy back for many centuries in the annals of Ireland. Many of its original members were Scotch Covenantors, who fled to the north of Ireland on account of religious persecutions. It is a matter of record that the grandfather of Robert Henry Rodgers, grandfather of R. L. Rodgers, took part in the famous siege of Derry Castle, Ireland, at the time of the fierce wars between the Catholics and Protestants. He was taken prisoner and ordered to be killed, but his life was saved by a prominent Catholic woman who had nursed him in his childhood and was so attached to him that although she had five sons in the Catholic army herself, she told his captors that the only favor she asked was that they spare the life of Rodgers.

Robert Henry Rodgers was married in 1844 to Miss Catherine Davidson, of Crawford County, Pa., who was born April 2, 1819, and died Nov. 6, 1897. Their children were: Samuel H., father of the subject of this sketch; Martin C., Mary E., Harriet, William S. and Nancy I Rodgers.

Samuel H. Rodgers was born July 8, 1847, and spent his early years on the old homestead. He attended school at Jamestown, and then removed to Kansas, where he followed the trade of a carpenter. He owned land in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, and served as deputy sheriff in Castro County, Texas. While there he built the first court house and a hotel. For a number of years he was United States Marshal in the "Wild and Wooly _West." He also served as government agent at Fort Reno, Indian territory, being appointed by President Garfield. On Aug. 19, 1874, Mr. Rodgers was married to Miss Carrie Gooding, of El Dorado, Kans., who was born Dec. 12, 1854, and died Feb. 14, 1878. Two children were born to this union: Robert L., the subject of this sketch; and Carrie Pearl, born Aug. 2, 1877. The children were then brought to Pennsylvania and made their home with their grandparents.

Nancy Jane Rodgers was born May 3, 1856, and died Feb. 17, 1901. She taught school, gained quite a reputation as a public speaker and writer. A poem in Hiawatha meter, being a history of the Rodgers family for 100 years, was read at their centennial reunion June 29, 1899-held on the farm originally settled and which had never passed out of the family.

R. L. Rodgers attended the public schools and spent one year at Jamestown Seminary. He then entered Fredonia (Pa.) Institute, and after completing a three year course taught school for four terms. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he enlisted in Company K, 15th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and served until the regiment was mustered out, then returned to Jamestown where he taught school for three years and also managed the old home farm.

After retiring from school teaching, he entered the real estate and insurance business at Jamestown, also served for a number of years as justice of the peace, secretary of the school board, secretary of the town council and was for a time editor and manager of the local newspaper. Disposing of his business and real estate holdings in 1914, Mr. Rodgers moved to Erie where he has since been engaged in the insurance and real estate business, also for the past several years being the Erie representative of the State Capital Savings and Loan Association of Harrisburg, Pa., the largest institution of its kind in the state of Pennsylvania. Mr. Rodgers has always been prominently identified with civic, fraternal and patriotic activities. In Masonry he is a Past Master by service, a 32d Mason, a Knight Templar and Shriner and very active in Scottish Rite and Shrine work. He is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Erie Real Estate Board, various insurance organizations, Erie Rotary Club, Erie County Historical Society, United Spanish War Veterans and City Planning Commission.

During the world war, he was very active in all the Liberty Loan, Thrift Stamp, Red Cross and other war activities. As chairman of the Liberty Loan campaigns in the county of Erie, outside of the city, being a public speaker of considerable experience and ability, his services were much in demand at that time and he made hundreds of addresses, not only in Erie and Erie County but elsewhere. He is still called on to speak on nearly all patriotic days, such as Memorial Day, Perry Day, Armistice Day, Lincoln and Washington birthdays and others and for many local and civic activities.

As this sketch is being prepared a two column news item appeared in the issue of the Erie Daily Times under date of February 10th which, by way of introduction reads as follows:

"Members of the Rotary Club were brought to a vivid realization of Abraham Lincoln and the debt which this country owes him when one of their members, R. L. Rodgers, delivered a striking address at the regular meeting of the club at the Lawrence Hotel on Wednesday afternoon.

Seldom have more powerful speakers appeared before the Rotary Club; never has a more sincere man addressed the members, and the talk given by Mr. Rodgers will go down in the history of the Rotary Club of Erie as one of the best talks ever given before the membership of that organization."

In religion the subject of this sketch was reared in the faith of the Old Scotch Covenanters, but on coming to Erie he and his wife identified themselves with the First United Presbyterian Church of which they are still members.

On March 20, 1908, Mr. Rodgers was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Ellen Cathcart, the daughter of Thos. G. and Elizabeth (McKee) Cathcart of Adamsville, Crawford County, Pa. Three children were born but only one survives, Thomas Andrews Rodgers, born December 13, 1915.

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania
By: John Elmer Reed
Historical Publishing Company

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