Roberts, Martin (General)
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ROBERTS, GENERAL MARTIN. Standing upon a beautiful elevation, at the point where the road divides and leads to the east and west sides of Mount AEolus, overshadowed by rnagniñcent elm trees, and commanding a view of the charming valley of the Batten kill River, as that stream courses along the base of the Green Mountains, is the place known to every dweller of Manchester, Dorset and other towns as the “Roberts homestead,” the property occupied during most of the years of his long life by Martin Roberts. And the older residents of the town will recall in pleasant remembrance the familiar form, the dignified, military, and ever courteous bearing of him of whom we write. Should there be found one person whose memory could carry him back three-quarters of a century, he would recall in mental picture the thriving little hamlet, with its dozen or more of houses clustered around the homestead place, and known as “Robertsville.” But hamlet and proprietor have long since gone; and it is therefore the purpose of this sketch to perpetuate the memory of the latter to the use of generations to come, in the history of the county in which he was born and lived and died.

Martin Roberts was the eldest son of Gen. Christopher Roberts, and was born on the 8th day of January, in the year 1778. Of his early life and of his more mature years we have no detailed record, but in the history of the town of Manchester it is stated that the male children of Gen. Christopher Roberts were Martin, Jonathan, John Peter, Benjamin, and Serenus. Martin, while quite young, became a clerk in the store owned by Joseph Burr, of Manchester, and here he acquired a knowledge of the mercantile business. After a few years he started in trade for himself, in a small way at first, but gradually enlarging the same until about the time of the breaking out of the War of 1812, he was known as one of the most thrifty and successful merchants in the region, until about the closing years of the war, when, on account of general stagnation in trade circles, and the consequent depreciation of values, together with his inability to recover loans and advances made to friends, his possessions were largely reduced, but not one whit was Martin Roberts lessened in the estimation of his fellow townsmen and acquaintances by reverses of fortune. After liquidating the heavy losses thus incurred, still possessing means and resources unexhausted, he entered into the bold enterprise of starting a new line of stages for carrying passengers and mails between Boston and Saratoga The line was arranged to run by a new route from Boston westward through Keene, Concord, Chester, Landgrove, Peru, and over the Green Mountains to Robertsville in Manchester, and thence over the Western or Taconic range through Rupert and Salem to Saratoga. The charms of the scenery through the most beautiful valleys and passes of the mountains was somewhat depended upon to attract travel and make the new route remunerative, but the enterprise was financially a failure, and brought heavy losses to the bold originator of the scheme.

In military affairs in the State General Roberts was active and prominent, and rapidly advanced from lesser rank to greater until he became Major-General of militia, the highest military office in the State, and this he held up to the time of his death in 1863. No less prominent was the position occupied by General Roberts in the Masonic fraternity of the State, as for a number of years he filled the exalted office of Grand Master.

During the period of political agitation about the time of the War of 1812, General Roberts was on what was proved, by American success, to be the unpopular side of the controversy. He was the Federalist leader, and the acknowledged champion of the doctrines of that short-lived party in the north part of the county, and as such was put forward by his followers and pitted in the field of politics against the leader of the Democracy, a person no less prominent than Richard Skinner, then the leading lawyer of the town, and afterward governor of the State

Martin Roberts was twice married. His first wife was Lucy Bulkley, by whom he had four children, two only of whom grew up and raised families. They were Marcius and Mary B., the former settling in East Dorset, while the latter became the wife of Dr. George Tuttle, and lived in Manchester. His wife Lucy having died, Martin Roberts, on the 11th of January, 1806, married Betsey, the daughter of Luther Stone, esq., one of Arlington’s most prominent citizens. The issue of this marriage was thirteen children, all of whom, save one which died in infancy, grew to man’s and woman’s estate, married, and raised families that are now scattered through several States of the Union. These children were Lucy, Dexter, Charles, Benjamin, Edward, Mira, Betsey Ann and Julia Ann, (twins), Richard, Belvediere, Elizabeth, and Henry Eckford.

General Martin Roberts died in 1863, at the advanced age of nearly eightysix years. The old homestead still stands, but all evidences of the existence of a small village around it are fully wiped out. The old home and farm, enlarged and improved, are now the property of Edward Roberts, who, from the love he bears the place of his birth, out of his abundant means maintains the homestead as much as possible in its original form, and makes it his dwelling place throughout the warmer months of the year.

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