For some of the photos, all of the newspaper articles and most of the other information on this web page, we are grateful to the family of Ethel Naomi Roberts, especially her daughter Diane. Diane traveled to Minnesota and devoted many hours to research in the archives of the Albert Lea Tribune and at Riverside Cemetery in Medford.

Albert Lea, Minnesota
Monday, October 30, 1916


After untold suffering for more than a year from a disease that has baffled the most eminent physicians and experts of the country, F.A. Roberts, Euclid Street, found relief in death Sunday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock.

Besides his wife he leaves one son, Russell and one daughter Ethel to mourn his loss.

Short funeral services will be conducted from the family residence Wednesday at 12 o'clock noon by the Rev. Mark Paulsen and from the Episcopal church at 12:30 o'clock.

The remains will be accompanied by the family the same afternoon to Medford, Minnesota where they will be laid to rest beside those of his four children.

All members of the Ancient Order of United Workmen Lodge No. 71 are requested to meet at the hall at 12:00 o'clock sharp.

An extended account of the life of the deceased will be given in a later issue of the Tribune and Times-Enterprise.


Albert Lea Tribune
Albert Lea, Minnesota
November 8, 1916

Frank A. Roberts was born on the Atlantic ocean, near the Thames river bound from the Fortress of Gibraltar to London.

Both of his parents were English and at the time of his birth, his father, Edward, was a Royal civil engineer doing all the civil engineering at Gibraltar.

The deceased completed his education at Rugby College and served his time in the English navy, receiving the rating as an officer.

After coming to America, he was employed as cowboy government scout for eight years.

He came to Minnesota in 1885 and was married to Lydia M. Eastman in 1887. He arrived in Albert Lea in 1891 and started to work for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern R. R. Co., now the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. For sixteen years he held a responsible position for this road. He then worked for the Minneapolis & St. Louis until he became ill about a year ago.

Three of his sons and one daughter have passed away. A wife, son and daughter are left to mourn his loss. He leaves behind five sisters, two in London, England; two in Whaley Bridge, England and one in Glasgow, Scotland.


Rugby School is one of England's oldest and most prestigious public schools, and was the setting of Thomas Hughes's semi-autobiographical masterpiece Tom Brown's Schooldays. A substantial part of the 2004 dramatization of the novel, starring Stephen Fry, was filmed on location at Rugby School.


James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837-1876)

The legendary "Wild Bill" Hickok began his career as a Kansas lawman in 1858 at the age of 20. For the next ten years, he was in and out of Kansas working as a wagon master, special policeman, government scout and guide, and deputy U.S. marshal. His exploits in the West were published in an 1867 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine that brought him national recognition.

While serving in the English navy, Frank Arthur Roberts may have read about "Wild Bill" Hickok.


The Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW) was founded by John Jordan Upchurch in Meadville, Pennsylvania on October 27, 1868. The order was founded with the aim of adjusting "all differences which may arise between employers and employees, and to labor for the development of a plan of action that may be beneficial to both parties, based on the eternal truth that the interests of labor and capital are equal and should receive equal protection." Each member paid $1 into the insurance fund to cover the sum of not less than $500 in benefits paid to a members dependents when he died. Each time a member died, $1 was due from the surviving members to reestablish the fund.


In the 1900 U.S. Census, the occupation of Frank Arthur Roberts is Stationary Engineer. In the 1910 U.S. Census, his occupation is Machinist. He probably helped maintain and repair earlier models of the steam engines pictured here.

This Class M50a Steam Locomotive #4061 of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was delivered in 1929.

The 502, delivered in December 1920, was the pride of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad. President Lucian Sprague would occasionally take the throttle. She participated in the pageant at the Chicago Railroad Fair in September 1949 and went from the fair to the scrapper.


Albert Lea Tribune
Albert Lea, Minnesota
April 18, 1917

Mrs. Frank A. Roberts (Lydia M. Eastman) was born at Medford, Minnesota, the 27th of May 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts were married October 28, 1888. About 1890 they came to Albert Lea where they have since made their home. There were six children in the family, two of whom survive their father and mother, Russell aged eighteen and Ethel aged six.

Mrs. M. T. Paul of Medford, Mrs. F. M. Trich of Waterloo, Ia., sisters and R. S. Eastman, A. B. Eastman brothers survive Mrs. Roberts.

Mrs. Roberts passed away Saturday evening. Death was caused by apoplexy following a short illness of pneumonia.

The funeral service was held at the Episcopal church. The interment was at Medford Monday afternoon.


Albert Lea Tribune
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Thursday, February 5, 1903

Arthur Roberts, the twelve-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Roberts, 541 Euclid street, was accidentally shot through the heart about two o'clock Saturday afternoon and instantly killed by the discharge of a 22-caliber rifle in the hands of his playmate, Milton Malmer. The two boys had been hunting and shooting at a mark across the Milwaukee tracks, but after firing a few shots, they were unable to use the rifle for some reason, although they made several attempts to fire it. When the lads returned to the Roberts home, Milton Malmer made another attempt to discharge the gun, and this time he was successful. But just as he shot, the Roberts boy came around the corner of the house, not over ten feet away, and the bullet passed through his heart.

Dr. Nissen was summoned, but death had evidently been instantaneous. Deputy coroner Burton, after an investigation, decided that an inquest was not necessary.

The funeral services were held from the Christ Episcopal church Wednesday mortning at 11:45, Rev. Mueller officiating, and the remains were taken to Medford, Min., for interment.

The death of their son is a terrible blow to the parents, and they receive the deepest sympathy of the community in their bereavement.


This photo of Margaret Edith Roberts with her brother William Russell Roberts was taken in 1909 or 1910. On the back, someone wrote "For Vesta Paul." Vesta (Eastman) Paul was an older sister of their mother.

Albert Lea Tribune
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Monday, July 11, 1910

The eight year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Roberts died Saturday afternoon at their home on Euclid street of diphtheria and the remains were taken to Medford where the interment will take place.


Ethel Naomi Roberts was adopted in 1912 by Frank Arthur Roberts and and his wife Lydia. She was born in Illinois and brought to the Roberts by Martha Janson, a social worker. The Jansons were a well-known Albert Lea family, and Martha's sister, Dr. Sara Janson practiced medicine in Illinois from 1902 to 1962.

Ethel was baptized in Albert Lea at the Episcopal Church in October of 1912. When the Roberts family disintegrated with the death of everyone but Russell, Martha Janson again intervened and placed Ethel with her good friends, Robert Anderson and his wife Anna Marie. The Andersons adopted Ethel and she had a happy and rewarding life. She married and gave birth to four children. Her husband died in 1950. Ethel died about 1999.

This photo of Martha Janson with Ethel Naomi Roberts was taken in 1912.

From the website of the Albert Lea Historical Society:

DR. SARAH ANN JANSON was born in 1874 in Albert Lea. She graduated with a class of six from Albert Lea High School in 1891 and enrolled in the Mankato Normal School. During her teaching and school administrative career, she put herself through medical school at the University of Chicago, becoming the first woman to graduate with a degree in medicine from that school. Throughout her medical career she delivered more than 7,000 babies, was adamant about women's suffrage, and with her husband traveled to Europe, Hudson Bay, and to the Arctic Circle.


Two older brothers of William Russell Roberts died as infants, in 1889 and 1893. He was born in 1899. After his parents died in 1916 and 1917, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. He and Emily Liepe met while both were employed at the Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company in Chicago. They were married in 1930. Their children Virginia (1931), Constance (1932), Frank (1936), Vallie (1939) and Robert (1940) were all born in Chicago.

Robert Roberts and Frank Roberts
Vallie (Roberts) Pluto, Virginia (Roberts) McGann and Constance (Roberts) Halloran
October 15, 1985

William Russell Roberts died in 1946. His wife Emily died several months later. Here is a list of their 16 grandchildren:

Virginia's children
    Mary McGann
    Constance (McGann) Ballou
    Ellen McGann
    Margaret (McGann) Michalski
    Alfred McGann

Frank's children
    Kathleen (Roberts) Hopper
    Debra (Roberts) Dechert
    Pamela (Roberts) Post
    Frank Roberts
Constance's children
    Daniel Halloran
    John Halloran

Vallie's children
    Christine Pluto
    Heidi Pluto

Robert's children
    Natalie Roberts
    Sheila (Roberts) Johnson
    Gregory Roberts