Rev. Elijah White Roach

“In a country churchyard, in Charlotte County, there stands a modest stone over the grave of one of the most useful and beloved pastors of the Baptists of Virginia. For, fifty-three years the pastor of one church, while at the same time having charge of other fields, is an unusual record, and at once marks the preacher as a man of gifts extraordinary”. Thus begins a biography of Elijah White Roach published in 1912 by George Braxton Taylor in the Virginia Baptist Ministers, Third Series.


Although Elijah White Roach spent his life in Virginia, he had a major impact on both Collin and Dallas Counties as several of his children moved here in the 1870’s and 1880’s, possibly before 1860. The impact of this early migration is still being felt today as the Roach family continues to influence the lives of the county citizens by actively serving the cities, schools, and churches.


April 5, 1900 McKinney Democrate Gazette

The following excerpt from the April 5, 1900 McKinney Democrate Gazette seems to indicate that at least three of his children were in Collin or Dallas Counties (Elijah Thomas Roach, Mary Roach Chambers, John White Roach-Grandson, Susan Roach Betterton, and the husband of Martha Roach Watson). Virginia census records fail to list Joseph and Mary Chambers in 1860. This likely indicates that they had already moved to Texas. They did bury a child in Rowlett Cemetery in 1879.

“Tom Roach was called to Dallas last week to the bed side of his sister Mrs. Mary Chambers, who was very low and did not live long after he arrived. Mrs. Chambers was brought to Old Rowlett and buried Sunday. Bro. H. R. Moran of Nevada preached the funeral. White Roach and family, Mr. Betterton and wife, and Will Watson came with the corps from Oak Cliff. Miss Lula Crozier came in from Belton and will remain at home a few days. Mrs. Chambers leaves several children and grand-children as well as a host of friends to mourn her loss.”


Migration to Texas

John White Roach, arrived between 1874 and 1875

John White Roach (1844-1931) was a grandson of Elijah White Roach. He was the son of John Isham Roach (1820-1880), the eldest child of Elijah White Roach. He married his first cousin Emma Witt Chambers who was the daughter of Mary P. Roach. The following tables shows ALL individuals with the Roach surname in the 1880 census for Collin County. By the birth locations of his children, you can see that they came to Texas between 1874 and 1875.

Roach Family in Collin County 1880 Census
Name Birth Year Birth Location Relationship
John W. Roach abt 1845 Virginia Head
Emma W. Roach abt 1851 Virginia Wife
Richard C. Roach abt 1870 Kentucky Son
Annie C. Roach abt 1874 Virginia Daughter
Joseph I. Roach abt 1875 Texas Son
William Roach abt 1878 Texas Son


Mary Roach Chambers, arrived before 1876

We can base the arrival of this family on the marriage date of Nannie Lestelle Chambers (1855 – 1938) to John Rufus Crozier. They were married on November 15, 1876 in Plano. We also know that Mary buried a son, William Dupuy Chambers, in June of 1879 in the Rowlett Cemetery.


Elijah Thomas Roach, arrived between 1887 and 1890

This family is the direct line ancestors to the current Frisco Roach family members. Elijah Thomas Roach (1848 – 1903) was the youngest child of Elijah White Roach and the only living male child in 1880. In the 1880 Virginia census, he was caring for his father who died July 16, 1883. As you can see from the Collin County 1900 census, he arrived somewhere between 1887 and 1890. Many of his older children had already moved out of the house.

Elijah Thomas Roach Family in Collin County 1900 Census
Name Birth Year Birth Location Relationship
Elizah Rouch abt 1848 Virginia Head
Cora A Rouch abt 1848 Virginia Wife
Earley C Rouch abt 1882 Virginia Son
Nollie F Rouch abt 1887 Virginia Son
Lillian C Rouch abt 1890 Texas Daughter


Sarah Roach Watson, arrived between 1866 and 1875

As you can see from the Collin County 1880 census, Sarah Roach Watson (1837 – ) arrived somewhere between 1866 and 1875.

Thomas H. Watson Family in Collin County 1880 Census
Name Birth Year Birth Location Relationship
Thomas H. Watson abt 1837 Virginia Head
Sallie H. Watson abt 1837 Virginia Wife
Leslie W. Watson abt 1857 Virginia Son
Sarah A. Watson abt 1863 Virginia Daughter
William H. Watson abt 1866 Virginia Son
Gracie Watson abt 1875 Texas Daughter
Gertrude Watson abt 1878 Texas Daughter


William James Betterton (spouse of Susan F. Roach) arrived before 1880

William James Betterton was the spouse of Susan F. Roach who died October 3, 1867 in Virginia. As you can see from the 1880 census, he and his sons also came to Texas before 1880.

William James Betterton Family in Dallas County 1880 Census
Name Birth Year Birth Location Relationship
W. J. Betterton abt 1832 Virginia Head
W. F. Betterton abt 1857 Virginia Son
CHS. Betterton abt 1859 Virginia Son



In summary, it is my opinion that these families all came to Texas together around 1875. Elijah Thomas Roach stayed to take care of his father and then then made the journey to Texas to join his siblings.