Biography of Frank H. Roberts

Frank H. Roberts is proprietor and editor of the Oskaloosa Independent. The Independent enjoys distinction among Kansas newspapers. It was established in 1860 by his father, the late John W. Roberts. It had been published continuously and successfully during all the intervening years by father and son. No other newspaper in Kansas had been published so many years in one locality. The town let in Oskaloosa where John W. Roberts began his pioneer enterprise as a newspaper publisher fifty-seven years ago is still the site of the present plant of the Independent, and in this quality of permanence and stability, hardly any other institution excels the Independent.

The present proprietor of the paper was born at Waynesville in Warren County, Ohio, July 25, 1851. His paternal ancestors came originally from England. There were three Roberts brothers, all of whom settled in New Jersey in Colonial times. The grandfather, John Roberts, was born in 1790 and was a pioneer settler in Western Ohio, following farming there, and acquiring ownership of an entire section of land. An important feature of the Roberts farm in Montgomery County, Ohio, was two large maple sugar orchards.

John W. Roberts, whose name is one that will always command respect in the annals of Kansas journalism, was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1826. He grew up in his native locality but was married in Warren County. At Waynesville for a number of years he published a weekly newspaper and a monthly literary journal. In July, 1860, he came to Oskaloosa, Kansas, and established the Oskaloosa Independent. To this paper he gave the best energies and talents of his years and was almost daily in the editorial sanctum until his death, which occurred at Oskaloosa in 1900.

His name is also associated with Kansas authorship. He was author of a book written in answer to Bellamy’s “Looking Backward.” His choice of title was “Looking Within.” He also contributed to a monthly scientific publication in the East, and his article on the “Laws of Mind” brought him a certificate of membership in the English Scientific Association of London, Fully twenty years ago John W. Roberts drew a vivid picture of airships maneuvering in war and performing almost identically the same service over the field of battle which had been verified in the present great world war. John W. Roberts was an original republican. He attended as a delegate the Philadelphia convention of 1856 which launched the republican organization as a national party. At one time he served as probate judge of Jefferson County and frequently attended county and state conventions as an old line republican. He was a local minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church for many years and active in the Masonic fraternity.

He married Huldah E. Fairholm, who was born at Mount Holly, New Jersey, in 1824, and died at Oskaloosa, Kansas, in 1906. Her ancestors were from Ireland but were of English descent and were American colonists. Frank H. Roberts was the oldest of his parents’ five children. Julia, who lives at Oskaloosa, is the widow of W. D. Lane, and attorney. Charles A. died at Oskaloosa in 1917 and was a farmer. Mary M. had been assistant postmaster at Oskaloosa for the past sixteen years. Arthur E. was a photographer by profession, and while a resident of Oskaloosa he died at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1909.

Frank H. Roberts was educated in the public schools of Oskaloosa, being nine years of age when his father established his paper there. He attended high school and in 1871 graduated from the Topeka Business College. With the exception of three years under Major Hudson on The Evening Capital at Topeka, he was continuously associated with his father in the Independent printing office, and since his father’s death had been its sole proprietor and publisher. The Independent is a strict republican organ, now the official newspaper of Jefferson County, and its circulation includes several Northern Kansas counties and the paper is read by hundreds in other states. The plant and offices are on Jefferson Street on the original lot.

Mr. Roberts himself is a loyal republican. He served one term as mayor of Oskaloosa. For two terms he was president of the Kansas State Editorial Association. For the past twenty-five years Mr. Roberts had been on the official board either as trustee or steward of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He succeeded Governor Stanley as superintendent of the Sunday school and filled that post twenty-three years. Fraternally he is identified with the Knights and Ladies of Security in Oskaloosa Council.

Mr. Roberts lives in a comfortable home on Herkimer Street, and this house he had remodeled in 1885 and he and his family have enjoyed its substantial comforts ever since. He married at Sugar Grove, Indiana, in 1878, Miss Emma Wilkins. She died at Colorado Springs in 1891, but was laid to rest at Oskaloosa. The two children of that marriage are: John W., now superintendent of schools at Sedan, Kansas; and Eugene S., who is a linotype operator in his father’s office. In 1894 Mr. Roberts married Daisy M. Needham, of Leavenworth, Kansas. They have also two children: Francis Needham, who is a student in Baker University and is sergeant in the Kansas National Guards, and Charles Wesley, a sophomore in the Oskaloosa High School.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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