|In the 1850 census, Walter was living with his wife Elizabeth, and their son, Douglas S. Elizabeth's brother John B. Smallwood was also living and farming with them. Walter's property was worth $600 and John's $1000.|
In the 1860 census, Walter was living with his wife Elizabeth their child, Mary D., and Joseph B. Smallwood, possibly a nephew of Elizabeth's (June Riccio had him listed as John B. Smallwood's son).
In the 1870 census of Creek Twp, DeWitt Co., IL, Walter, 52, is living with wife Elizabeth H., 51, daughter Mary D., 16, and "Margret", 8. Walter was born in Virginia, Elizabeth in Ohio, the children in Illinois.
In the 1880 census, Walter was 62 years old and living with his wife Elizabeth, 60, his 17 year old daughter Margaret, his 1 year old grandson Charles, and John Murphy, an 18 year old nephew. They apparently lived next door to Gideon Smallwood, Elizabeth's brother. (pg116)
It is not perfectly clear who's child Charles is. Walter's son Douglass died possibly when he was 10, but the headstone was unclear and he may have died when he was 30. So most likely, Charles is Douglass' child. Unfortunately, Douglass did not show up in the 1870 census and his marriage is not in the IRAD database. Whoever he is, Charles L. Roben married Estella Doak 20 years later in 1900.
Walter served on the Petit Jury, listed in the 12 Oct 1855 issue of the DeWitt Courier.
From Don Smallwood:
Born in Rygate, VT in 1818, Walter left in 1840 for points west. He floated rafts of lumber down the Connecticut River to Hartford, then left for Ohio via Buffalo and the Erie Canal. He made his way to Tuscarowas County, OH, where his brother was teaching school. He taught school for two terms and in 1841 left his brother's place and worked his way to the Ohio River where he again got a job rafting logs. In this way, he reached the Mississippi River and eventually made his way to Decatur, IL. He had $1.25 left when he went looking for work. He met Parmenias Smallwood who asked him if he was from back east, which he replied that he was, and he was offered a job teaching school. He was hired by subscription to teach on Stevens Creek, about 3 miles from where the city of Decatur now stands. He taught three years here and went out to Salt Creek, De Witt County, where he stayed awhile with George Smallwood. He taught school in Turnbridge in 1845 for one year, during this time he traded for a yoke of oxen, his intentions were to break prairie. Samuel Smallwood and his brother John B. proposed to him to take a load of wheat to Chicago with his oxen hitched to a wagon. Misfortune befell Walter when the oxen sighted water and began running toward it, upsetting the wagon and spilling the wheat. When he returned, he was offered 40 acres of land for the team, which he accepted. He then wet out to build a cabin which was constructed of walnut logs. It was 16x16 and the roof was made of clapboards. In 1846, he was hired to teach school in Creek Township which was the second school that had ever been taught there. He boarded with George Smallwood, taught school and worked on his farm until the year 1848 when he was elected Justice of the Peach of De Witt County, On April 10, 1849, he was united in marriage to Elizabeth H. Smallwood, who went to school with him when he taught near Decatur. In 1861, Mr. Roben accompanied by his wife and daughter, visited his old home in Vermont. It was his first trip there since he left in 1840. He was a well-thought of person and when he died in 1901, his remains were followed to the grave by a procession of mourners that reached over a mile in length.
Obituary, 7 Jun 1901, The Clinton Register:
ANOTHER PIONEER CALLED. Death of One of Creek Township's Oldest Citizens. Was the Friend of
Abraham Lincoln and Richard J. Oglesby and Other Noted Men.
. . .Walter Roben, of Creek township . . . passed . . . at 3 o'clock Tuesday morning. He was
born at South Rygate, Caladonia county, Vermont, a little over 82 years ago, on Sept. 26th,
1818, where he grew up, secured a common school education and feeling the desire with thousands
of others to come out to the great Virgin West, emigrated to Macon county in the latter part of
the thirties. At Decatur, then a small place, he met and married Miss Elizabeth H. Smallwood,
whom he survived several years. To this union two daughters were born, Mrs. Mary Conn, of
Riverdale, Kan., who is the widowed head of a grown up family; and Mrs. G. B. Armstrong, with
whom and her husband he has lived and ended his days on the old Creek township farm two and a
half miles west of Lane. He came to this farm when the sweeping prairies with scarce an object
to restrict the view spread out on the one side, and the unkempt thickets and forests of Salt
creek stretched away fenceless in the other direction. He loved his scarce neighbors and
reveled in lofty communion with wild nature. He was a student and taught school for a number
of terms, holding the second school ever taught in Creek township. He was a great reader of
religious and phifosophic works; and was liberal in his religious views having made quite a
study of Thomas Paine's works, and leaned very strongly to the Universalist faith. He was in
constant demand for a number of years holding township offices until a younger generation
relieved him of these charges and gave him what he always seemed to covet--a private life
among his books at his country home . . . .
. . In his early life he knew Lincoln well, having been thrown in his company both in Macon and
DeWitt counties. A life-long friendship existed between him and Ex-Gov. Oglesby. Except asthma
which attacked him late in life he was favored with health and strength until quite recently
when he became affected with vertigo and was accustomed to fall with these dizzy spells when he
was at work, which he reluctantly ceased. A fall Tuesday caused the fracture of his hip, which
produced a shock too great for his enfeebled frame and in a few hours the faithful life slightly
hurried, went out to meet the sunlight on the banks where stand the beautiful green trees.
Rev. T. A. Canady of this city, preached the funeral at the old home today, and a large
procession accompanied the remains to the pretty shades of old Rose cemetery at Lane.
The pallbearers were C. Hoff, I. C. Thurber, C. E. Moody, W. R. Doak, James Roberts, Carl
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