A study of the Roach Family History

The Family of Elijah Thomas Roach and Cora Isabella Brightwell

 

Husband:   Elijah Thomas Roach
Born:  22 Feb 1848 in Prince Edwards County, Virginia
Died:  10 Jan 1903 in Frisco, Texas
Father:   Elijah White Roach
Mother:   Nancy Richardson Harvey

 

Wife:   Cora Isabella Brightwell
Born:  14 Feb 1848 in Farmesville, Charlotte County, Virginia
Died:  16 Dec 1917 in Frisco, Texas
Father:   Henry Clarence Brightwell
Mother:   Elizabeth Frances Moore

Married:  18 Dec 1867 in Prince Edward County, Virginia

 

Child Sex Birth Death
Myrtie White Roach F 13 Sep 1869 in Virginia 23-Oct-1888 in Frisco, Texas
Hettie Lee Roach F 17 Jan 1871 in Virginia 25 Jan 1956 in Collin County, Texas
Hallie Witt Roach F 10 Jan 1873 in Lynchburg, Virginia 08 Nov 1907 in Frisco, Texas
Emmett Dillard Roach M 14 Nov 1874 in Virginia 23 Oct 1938 in Frisco, Texas
Earlie Cleveland Roach M 05 Aug 1881 in Virginia 01 Dec 1933 in Frisco, Texas
Nollie Fulton Roach M 18 Aug 1886 in Charlotte County, Virginia 12 Dec 1942 in Corpus Christi, Texas
Lillian Claire Roach F 05 Nov 1890 in Lebanon, Texas  

 


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Elijah Thomas Roach was born in Prince Edwards County, Virginia, February 22, 1848. Cora Isabella Brightwell was born February 14, 1848, near Farmesville, Charlotte County, Virginia. At the age of 15 years, young Elijah Thomas enlisted with the Southern Forces and was a soldier in the 38th Infantry CSA. After the Civil War terminated, Elijah Thomas worked in one of the lumberyards in Lynchburg, met and married Cora Brightwell. Seven children were born to them: Myrtie, Hettie Kay, Hallie, Emmett, Earlie Cleveland and Nollie Fulton. Lillian Claire was born in Lebanon, Texas, November 5, 1890. Emmett was born November 14, 1874 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Travelers from the Southwest, and from Texas particularly, brought glowing tales back to Virginia of a little town on the Trinity called Dallas, and of the black land, then mostly prairie, which extended northward into the county called Collin. And, as Lynchburg was becoming a little too densely populated to please Elijah Thomas and his cousin John White Roach, and, as competition was growing in the lumber and drayage business, the two cousins decided to heed the call of this new, almost unsettled land. They sold their household furnishings, gathered their families together, and traveled by train to arrive at the village of Plano in the fall of 1887. John White went immediately to Dallas, but Elijah Thomas liked what he saw around Lebanon, bought a wagon and team of horses, and engaged in the same type of work he pursued in Virginia, lumber and drayage.

Emmett assisted his Father while Nollie and Earlie attended the Lebanon grade school. Emmetts education was restricted to six years grade school work in Virginia. It was at the church parties that Hettie met Dougan Work, the village druggist. She later married him. Hallie met and married Bud Newman and lived in Dallas. Myrtie drank contaminated well water while on a young peoples social, took typhoid, and died within a short time.

Elijah Thomas realized that the new railroad, running several miles west of Lebanon, meant that Lebanon was being by-passed and that a new town would soon spring up somewhere along the rail line. So, Elijah Thomas moved his family a few miles northwest to the area, which later became known as Frisco. (It was J.T. Williams, a friend of Emmetts, who gave Frisco its name).

Elijah Thomas Roach built the first house in Frisco, at the northwest corner of Sixth and Pecan Streets. The house still stands but has been remodeled and altered several times since the original construction. Elijah Thomas son-in-law, Dougan Work, opened the first dry goods store in Frisco.

The Elijah Thomas Roaches and the Tom Kerleys were friends from the time the Roaches came from Virginia and frequently went to the same church services in Lebanon. Mrs. Tom Kerley, Mary Sue, was a charter member of the Methodist Church in Lebanon. Elijah Thomas and Cora were charter members of the First Baptist Church in Frisco as was Hettie L. Work and husband, D. Work.

Elijah Thomas died January 9, 1903. Emmett, who had enlisted in the Philippine Insurrection and served in the Philippines for 18 months, was unable to receive his discharge until October 1903. Elijah Thomass illness and death left Cora and the three small children in financial troubles. Cora rented out the house that Elijah Thomas built and kept house for Booker Shrader until her sons discharge was finalized. Emmett moved his mother, two brothers, and sister back to the home place, and immediately requested the proud and strong-willed Myrtle Kerley to marry him and live on paper – his discharge papers. Thus, after seven hectic years of courtship, and four broken engagements, Emmett married Myrtle September 29, 1904, and moved her into the house with his mother and three children. It was in this house that Emmett and Myrtles first two children were born, Thomas and Mary.

Emmett still liked the good black land around Frisco. His blood called for the farm, cattle, and the grain and cotton business. Then the Silver Crisis occurred and it was necessary for Emmett and his mother to sell the house that Elijah Thomas built and move to the Rector place southeast of town. Nollie went to work in West Texas and Earlie stayed in town working when he could. Lillian remained with the family and continued her education in Frisco and then went to North Texas Normal (University of North Texas) where she received her teaching certificate. Lillian taught in the Frisco School before moving on to Marshall.

Submitted by: Mary Roach in 1975

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