All the ancestors on this page have their roots in and around the town of Dunmanway, County Cork, Ireland.
The Roberts family in the United States started with Francis Roberts who emigrated from County Cork in about 1865.See all links in Roberts Family Tree
Teresa Roberts married Henry Petersen on June 13, 1918 in East Chicago, Indiana. Both families were very active in the First Congregational church in East Chicago so this may be where the couple met. Although a life-long resident of East Chicago, Teresa spent the last few years of her life in the Glen Rock, New Jersey home of her daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Bob Stevens.********
James Roberts married May Francis on December 31, 1887 in Brayton, Tennessee. James had become a naturalized citizen in March of that year. He came to America from Ireland with his father, Francis, and mother, Charlotte, about 1865. His family moved to Bledsoe County, Tennessee for a few years before moving to Chicago in 1872. After his father died in 1879, he was living with his mother and two brothers working as a box maker. In 1883 he moved back to Tennessee and in 1887 he started married life as a farmer. With his marriage to May Francis he was marrying into a family with a long history in America. Many of May’s family were among the early English settlers. Although they were married in Tennessee and gave birth to Teresa (my grandmother) there, in 1906 they moved to East Chicago, Indiana. He worked there as a pattern maker for metal casting at the Davidson (Hubbard) foundry of East Chicago. He was a skilled carpenter who built several homes in East Chicago including the one in which he lived. By 1920 James was working as a janitor at the railroad and was soon forced into retirement due to poor health. The 1920 census shows that James and May were living on Baring Avenue and sharing the house with my grandparents, Henry and Teresa, and my mother who was less than a year old. In retirement he enjoyed drawing and painting. In 1930 May and James were living by themselves at 4421 Olcott Ave. James died of "heart exhaustion" in 1935.
It seems that almost all of the Irish immigrants in the Stevens family were Protestants. That includes the Scots-Irish who had originally come from Scotland to Northern Ireland and those who immigrated to America from Southern Ireland. James Roberts was one of the latter. James was described as an Orangeman, i.e., an Irish Protestant. He was a prominent member of the Congregational church in East Chicago, Indiana, throughout his life.
Francis Robert married Charlotte Wagner on July 14, 1855 in Fanlobbus, County Cork, Ireland. In 1858 before emigrating Francis was described as being both a servant and a a shop keeper in Dunmanway. In 1870 after arriving in Tennessee, Francis' occupation is a farmer. At the time of his death, nine years later in Chicago, his occupation is painter.********
Joseph Roberts married Elizabeth Crowly in 1820 in Murraugh Parish, Ireland. Joesph was a weaver.
Francis Roberts and Charlotte Wagner migrated to America from the town of Dunmanway in the parish of Fanlobbus, County Cork, on the river Bandon in Ireland. The modern town of Dunmanway was founded in the closing years of the 17th century by Sir Richard Cox where he established the woolen and cotton industries, encouraging the growth of flax and the improving of the roads. Francis and Charlotte immigrated to the US about 1865 during a period when the population was dropping quickly in the region. Dunmanway went from over 3,000 residents in 1841 to about 2,000 in 1871. Francis and Charlotte were part of the sizable Protestant minority in the area.
This summary from the Cork Almanac of 1875 describes the town at the time. “Dunmanway is the terminus of the West Cork Railway, running from Bandon: it consists of one street of about half a mile in length. There are Protestant, Catholic, and Wesleyan places of worship (Francis was a Protestant), court-house, bank, etc., in the town; and the Commissioners of National Education have established a model school here. This town is intimately associated with the name of Sir Richard Cox, the Irish Lord Chancellor in the reign of Queen Anne. He established an English colony here, made new roads, erected a handsome stone bridge over the Bandon river, and removed the parish church of Fanlobbus into his new town: he also established the manufacture of linen, diapers, fustains (coarse cloth), and girthwebs (saddle straps); to encourage which he give a house rent-free to the man who, through the year, had made the best and greatest quantity of linen. Sir Richard died in 1733; in the twenty years after his death the houses in the town had more than doubled, and the flax and woolen wheels had increased from 138 to 254. The present church of Fanlobbus was erected in 1821, at a cost of £1,000, on the site of the old church erected by Sir Richard Cox.”
Limited records show that the Roberts and Wagner families had been in the Dunmanway area for at least three generations, perhaps much longer. The families don’t seem to have been particularly prominent in the area, although Charlotte Wagner's brother, Richard, did become a shopkeeper. But other more distant relatives, the Jennings, Atkins, and Crowley families, do seem to have been landowners and merchants.
The reasons for leaving for America are not known, but it is clear that many of Charlotte Wagner’s relatives migrated to the Chicago area at the same time she and Francis did. The hard times in Dunmanway started much earlier than their departure. The first signs of the Great Famine in the area were apparent with the failure of the potato crop in 1845. By April 1846 the famine in Dunmanway had begun in earnest. A well-known letter written to the “Ladies of America” from women in Dunmanway said, “Oh that our American sisters could see the laborers on our roads, able-bodied men, scarcely clad, famishing with hunger, with despair in their once cheerful faces, staggering at their work . . . Oh that they could see the dead father, mother or child, lying coffinless, and hear the screams of the survivors around them, caused not by sorrow, but by the agony of hunger.” About a million Irish people died of starvation or disease, and a further million succeeded in emigrating.
It would be another twenty years before our own ancestors left Dunmanway but the legacy of the Great Famine must have played a part in the decision to leave. Today on the outskirts of Dunmanway, you can find the Fanlobbus Famine Burial Ground with hundreds of stone markers but few marked graves. Undoubtedly, the Roberts and Wagner families have ancestors buried here.
The Wagner family still has a presence in the Dunmanway.
Charlotte Wagner married James Roberts on July 14, 1855 in Fanlobbus, County Cork, Ireland. Charlotte was a dressmaker. The 1880 census shows the widowed Charlotte living in Chicago with son James and two other sons.********
James Wagner, Jr. married Elizabeth Atkins in 1811. He lived to be 90 years old.********
Richard Wagner married Mary Hayes in 1780.********
Very little is known about Richard Wagner, Sr. other than he ws from Dunmanway.
The Atkins family had been merchants in the Dunmanway area.
Elizabeth Atkins married James Wagner in 1811. Her brother, James Wright Atkins, died on a voyage from Quebec, Canada in 1830.********
John Atkins married Elizabeth Wright on February 10, 1773 in County Cork, Ireland. Elizabeth was only sixteen when they married and they had nine children.********
William Atkins married Mary Blake. It is likely that William's father and/or grandfather (both named William) were tenants of Sir Richard Cox as shown on the 1725 Rent Roll of Tenants in Dunmanway. Cox devoted much effort in his later years to improving the town of Dunmanway: he obtained a royal charter to hold fairs and market days in the town and did much to encourage the local flax industry. Thanks largely to his efforts, by the time of his death Dunmanway was a flourishing little town of some 600 citizens. James and Richard Wagner later leased land in Dunmanway from Cox's descendants in 1847.