Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

PROF. JOHN R. ROBERTS. Of high professional and academic attainments and ranking among the foremost educators of southern Missouri, Prof. John R, Roberts, the efficient and popular superintendent of the Greene county public schools has achieved marked distinction in the noble work to which his talents and energies have so long been devoted, and judging by the past it is safe to predict for him a future of still greater usefulness and honor. Not only as a teacher and manager of schools has he made his presence felt, but as a citizen in the daily walks of life, his influence has tended to the advancement of the community and the welfare of his fellow men, while the responsible public. positions to which he has been called from time to time bear testimony to his ability to fill worthily high and important trusts. His name with eminent fitness occupies a conspicuous place in the profession which he adorns and his career, presenting a series of successes such as few attain, has gained for him much more than a local reputation as a successful organizer and manager of educational interests. The major portion of his life has been spent in this, his native state, and at the proper age he entered the school room, where he early displayed the powers of mind and desire for study which subsequently won for him honorable distinction as a scholar and success as a teacher. Ten years ago he accepted the superintendency of the Greene county public schools, and in this perhaps the greatest of his labors as an educator and manager have been thus far accomplished. His great force of character and ripe scholarship, together with his ability as an organizer enabled him to bring to his work in this county the results of his professional experience with marked effect, and it was not long until the schools under his supervision advanced to the high standing of efficiency for which they are now noted. The teaching force during his incumbency has been increased and the enrollment of pupils is vastly greater than a decade ago, while many things tending to lesson the teachers' labors and at the same time make them more effective have been introduced; the course of study throughout has been modified and improved, the latest and most approved appliances purchased and everything in keeping with modern educational progress, tested and where practical retained.

Prof. Roberts was born in Macon county, Missouri, January 8, 1849. He is a son of Joseph P. and Celia (Rippetoe) Roberts, natives of Jackson county, Tennessee. They were married in Tennessee, from which state they emigrated to Missouri in 1844 and located in Macon county, where they made their home until 1856, when they removed to Greene county. Joseph P. Roberts was a pioneer minister in the Christian church and he did an incalculable amount of good among the early settlers in this state. Upon coming to this county he located on the James river. Our subject was then about seven years of age. They lived in what is now a part of Christian county, which was formed from Greene county in 1858. The father died in 1888 and the death of the mother occurred in 1898. Their family consisted of six children, two sons and four daughters, five of whom survive at this writing, namely: Prof. John R., of this sketch; P. W., a farmer and minister of the gospel, a veteran of the Civil war, and ex-judge of the county court of Christian county, is still living there; Mary A., married N. A. Inman, a farmer of Christian county, bore him eight children and is now deceased; Wealthy is the wife of H. C. Collins, a stock dealer of Christian county, and they have fix children; Nannie has been a teacher for forty years at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where she is still employed; Martha, who married N. J. Robbins, a farmer and fruit grower of Bentonville, Arkansas, has eight children.

Prof. John R. Roberts received his early education in the public schools of Ozark, this state, then entered Abington College, Knox county, Illinois, from which institution he was graduated in the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1873, and later that college conferred on him the degree of Master of Arts. After leaving school he went-to Arkansas and established a college at Pea Ridge, of which he was president for a period of twenty years and which grew to be an institution of great importance to that country under his able management, and it has sent thousands of useful young men and women from its halls to benefit northwestern Arkansas especially, and this school will ever be a monument to our subject of which his descendants may well be proud. Coming to Springfield, Missouri, in 1896, Prof. Roberts continued his profession here, teaching most acceptably in both the Normal and high schools until 1905, when he was elected county superintendent of public schools and has discharged the duties of this important trust for a period, often years in a manner that has reflected much credit upon himself and to the eminent satisfaction of all concerned.

Prof. Roberts was married in 1876, in Arkansas, to Alice Dean, of Benton county, that state, where she grew to womanhood and was educated. She is a daughter of W. B. and Laura Dean. Mr. Dean was a merchant during his active life, and his death occurred in 1910. His widow is now living in Dallas, Texas. Their family consisted of seven children, namely: A. J., Alice, John L., William A., Henning A., Marguerite and Nannie.

To Professor Roberts and wife one child was born, Josephine, who was given excellent educational advantages, and she is the wife of H. P. Mobberly, a well known civil engineer, who has been employed in the engineering department of the Texas Pacific railroad for a period of twenty years. Mr. and Mrs. Mobberly reside in Springfield and have one child, Alice Dean Mobberly, born in 1906, and is now a student in a local grade school.

Politically, Professor Roberts is a Republican, but has never cared for political preferment. Religiously, he belongs to the Christian church. A gentleman without pretense, broad-minded, of pleasing personality, he is honored by all with whom he comes in contact.


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