by Rocky Macy
This column is dedicated with respect and love to the memory of my mother, Ruby Florine SREAVES MACY, who passed away one year ago today. She was, as are so many others in this area, a descendant of the pioneering ROARK family that first came to Newton and McDonald Counties in the 1850's.
All of us make trails in life. The wagon ruts left by the ROARK family as they trudged across the Missouri wilderness have been buried beneath pavement and progress. The paper trail that the family generated, however, exists today, winding ever backward to a simpler time. What follows are a few of the signposts scattered along that trail.
William Carroll ROARK and his wife, Comfort POE ROARK, arrived in Missouri sometime between 1853 and 1855. They were residing with their family in Granby Township, Newton County, when the 1860 census was taken. Family members are identified by name, age, gender, and state of birth:
William C. ROUARK 38 M TN
Comfort 36 F KY
Francis* 18 M KY
Nathan 16 M KY
Joseph 13 M KY
William 11 M KY
Henry 7 M KY
Samuel 5 M MO
Mary 1 F MO
Nancy 1/12 F MO
*Francis was probably Camily Frances, a female, who later married William KELLY.
Note: An older daughter, Martha, was married to Henry REYNOLDS and living elsewhere in Newton County.
Most of the family had moved on to McDonald County by the time the next census was taken in 1870. I have not read that particular census report, but I do have information on the two grown children who remained in Newton County (Buffalo Township).
Henry REYNOLDS 33 M GA
Martha (ROARK) 29 F KY
Mary 11 F MO
George 9 M MO
William 3 M MO
Amanda 2 F MO
Nathan W. ROARK 25 M KY
Margaret 27 F TN
John* 11 M MO
Mary* 9 F MO
William 3 M MO
James V. 1 M MO
(*Step-children to Nathan?)
William Carroll ROARK died on 21 Feb 1888. One week later probate proceedings were initiated in Newton County. Comfort relinquished her right to administer the estate to her son Nathan. The following children were listed in the probate records alsong with their places of residence:
Martha REYNOLDS - McDonald County
Francis (sic) KELLY - McDonald County
N.W. ROARK - McDonald County
J.A. ROARK - Newton County
W.R. ROARK - McDonald County
H.D. ROARK - McDonald County
S.J. ROARK - McDonald County
A.C. ROARK - Newton County
Mary J. COOK - State of Idaho
Sarah Matthews - McDonald County
The widow, Comfort POE ROARK, was listed on the same document as living in Newton County, MO.
The next signpost along the trail is a mention of Nathan in the 1890 Special Federal Census of Union Veterans. The McDonald County entry reads: RUARK, Nathan W., 15 MO Cav.
The children of William and Comfort ROARK sold two lots from the estate of their father to Grant PRITCHARD in 1892. The warranty deed named ten children and their spouses:
Mary E. REYNOLDS - William REYNOLDS
Camiley Frances KELLY - William KELLY
Nathan W. ROARK - Jennie ROARK
Joseph A. ROARK - Siotha T. ROARK
William R. ROARK - Samantha ROARK
Henry D. ROARK - Rebecca ROARK
Samuel J. ROARK - Nancy ROARK
Mary J. COOK - John W. COOK
Albert ROARK - Julia ROARK
Sarah E. Mathews - Edward H. Mathews
Nathan W. ROARK became prominent in the berry business in Anderson, Missouri. What follows is an obituary on Nathan which was found in McDonald County Deaths and ETC, a collection of old, photocopied death notices. The grammatical errors are extensive, but, in the interest of historical accuracy, I have decided to print the piece as is.
Obituary: Nathan W. ROARK was born March 22ond 1844 in the state of Kentucky and died Dec. 13th 1908 and was in his 65th year leaves a wife and 13 children living. all present at the funeral, and two dead making 15 in all. Has 5 brothers and 4 sisters living. Lived on his home place about 28 years, was a member of the Baptist church in good standing for about 40 years was a member of the Grand Army Post, was the pioneer of the Berry Business in Anderson the funeral held at Baptist Church Monday, was attended by between 450 and 500, people. Which shows how much he was Esteemed by all who new him. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. M.G. ELLIFF and the body laid to rest by comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic. The family have the sympathy of the entire community.
Nathan ROARK is buried in the Anderson Cemetery. The information on his tombstone reads:
N.W. ROARK 3/22/1844 - 12/13/1908
Martha J. ROARK 5/10/1862 - 9/27/1938
William and Comfort and seven of their children are buried at Swars Prairie Cemetery in Newton County. Their tombstones detail the following:
William C. ROARK 9/19/1820 - 2/21/1888
Comfort ROARK 11/11/1822 - 2/18/1902
Henry D. ROARK 6/7/1852 - 6/29/1927
Rebecca V. ROARK 11/10/1859 - 9/15/1935
S.J. ROARK 2/25/1855 - 11/30/1925
N.A. ROARK 5/28/1857 - 7/2/1935
W.R. ROARK 5/28/1849 - 8/29/1909
Samantha A. ROARK 2/10/1858 - 2/19/1941
Edgar H. Mathews 1864 - 1919
Sarah E. Mathews 1866 - 1951
Henry REYNOLDS 4/20/1836 - 6/12/1907
Martha E. REYNOLDS 10/2/1839 - 7/1/1920
Joseph A. ROARK 1846 - 1922
Tennessee ROARK 1851 - 1939
John W. COOK 2/20/1858 - 4/8/1931
Mary J. COOK 9/16/1857 - 12/19/1923
My mothers' line comes down through Samuel James ROARK and his wife, Nancy Anthaline SCARBROUGH. Their daughter, Nancy Jane ROARK, married Daniel Alexander SREAVES, and they were my Mom's parents.
I have personally verified all of the information in this column. Variations in name spellings, dates, etc., reflect the way they were originally recorded on the various documents and tombstones. I have a considerable amount of additional ROARK information which will appear in ROOTBOUND after it is checked for accuracy. There are, as you can see, numerous avenues open for further research among the roots and branches of this most interesting family.