By DERRICK BABBS
For the Ford County Record
Early pioneer Samuel Lyman was the first white settler of Lyman Township in Ford County. He was born in Massachusetts on July 16, 1811, and came to the area with his wife and four sons. In July 1856, he built the first permanent house on the northeast corner of the township.
On Sept. 9, 1867, a petition was presented at a meeting of the Ford County board of supervisors for a new township, which later was granted. This new township was named after Mr. Lyman, who passed away on Dec. 25, 1877, and was buried in the Lyman Township Cemetery in Roberts.
Making things right with Roberts
In fall 1871, land that became the village of Roberts was surveyed by Francis Alonzo Roberts, after whom the town was named. It was not named for an English emigrant, James Roberts, as mentioned in previous articles. I apologize for the error.
Francis Alonzo Roberts was born in 1835 in Wenona in Marshall County in Illinois. On Dec. 30, 1867, Mr. Roberts bought a home on the north end — which is now Main Street — of Roberts. It was then that he moved his family from Marshall County to Ford County. He died Aug. 18, 1898, and was buried in Marshall County.
First Hospital in Ford County
Dr. John A. Colteaux passed up a Major League Baseball career to become a small-town physician. Dr. Colteaux’s entire life was spent in the community of Roberts. He was born there in 1886 and attended Roberts schools.
At age 14, he was on the road toward a promising baseball career playing for the Kankakee Browns. However, he turned down Major League offers to enter Chicago College of medicine. He graduated from medical school in 1911 and opened a practice in Roberts.
Dr. Colteaux would perform operations in the patient’s home by lamplight on the kitchen tables. Incidents such as this led him to establish the Roberts Hospital, which became Ford County’s first hospital in 1923. Dr. Colteaux retired in 1948, and Dr. Rulison would take over. The hospital would continue in operation until 1954. Dr. Colteaux would pass away in 1963, and a year later his beloved hospital was torn down.
Saying ‘goodbye’ to the Congregational Church
As early as 1867, the Congregational Church organization already existed. On Oct. 24, 1875, the members of Roberts organized under the name "The First Congregational Church of Roberts." Town lots were bought on the northeast corner of Main and Weldon streets. In fall 1879, a church building begun construction.
On May 16, 1880, the church was finished and was dedicated to the worship of God. In 1890, the bell was purchased from a church in Ludlow.
In 1908, the church was expanded, and stained-glass windows were put in the newer part in 1914.
In 1932, it was given the name of the Congregational Church.
Later, in 1916, the name was changed to the United Church of Christ. Sadly, the church dissolved and has been empty for some time now.
The church was expected to be demolished this year.