Roberts, Bearry (1836-1907)

Bearry Roberts, a son of Jesse and Mary (Alpin) Roberts, was born in Conway County, Arkansas. Bearry had lost his father when he was an infant, and it was necessary that he early look out for his own support. He was fifteen years of age when he drove four yoke of oxen across the plains with a party, including his mother, which left Arkansas April 10, 1852, and arrived at their destination in Mariposa County, California, on October 1, 1852.  His mother, who was a native of Tennessee, later went to Texas, where her death occurred.


After spending five years in mining, Bearry Roberts took up ranching in San Bernardino County, as well as in the San Timoteo Canyon, where he settled on a 200-acre ranch in December, 1857.  He was one of the first to introduce Blooded cattle into this region, and did much to improve the breed of stock in this part of the state. He started out with his own resources, without means, but through perseverance, energy, and determination overcame the obstacles and hardships of life in a new country.


Mr. Roberts married Miss Frances Thomas, a native of Missouri, and they became the parents of twelve children: William M., Ozrow, Mary, Ella, Emma Beach, Nettie, Berry Lee, Sterling, Ida, Early, Archie Milton and Edward. He later married Martha Judson.


Bearry Roberts arrived in San Bernardino in 1867. He became a dismayed member of thee Timber Ditch community that was a Mormon enclave located north of the Santa Ana River east of Waterman Avenue. After a flood and several years of drought, he moved east and filed for a homestead where Citrus Valley High School is located today. He found an abandoned 1854 ditch called the Tenney Ditch, named for Nathan Cram Tenney. The ditch was deemed illegal by the Water Commission and never delivered water to the intended destination of Barton Hill. Roberts then filed on the waste water of the Santa Ana River. With Edwin H. Thomas and Henry Suverkrup members of the Timber Ditch, the old Tenney Ditch was granted water rights for water flow in the river every winter to June 1 on February 10, 1870. The Ditch was formally named the “Bearry Roberts Ditch” in honor of the pioneer that improved the ditch and attracted settlers from the Timber Ditch community.


In 1907 Bearry died at the home of his son, William M. Roberts, at Redlands.

[Source: Taken from the History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties by: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County and James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County with selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period of growth and achievement. Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL. Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011, and biographical sketch by Tom Atchley.]