David Rittenhouse Porter Roddy was my 3rd great-grandfather on my dad’s side. The above picture is a screen shot of the Pawnee, Kansas Muster Roll for part of the Civil War. It shows that David was only in service for 8 months before he was discharged due to a disability.
The following is a lengthy obituary from the Tiller and Toiler in Larned, Kansas. It tells us a lot about who David was and his life.
Obit: Death of David R.P. Roddy; From the Tiller and Toiler, Larned, Kansas; December 5, 1929
“The County’s Oldest Citizen, and Pioneer, Died Sunday at the Age of Ninety Years”
D.R.P. Roddy, 90 years old, the oldest resident of Pawnee county, and a pioneer of the county, died Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock at the Larned hospital. Several weeks ago Mr. Roddy suffered an attack of pneumonia and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Mr. Roddy was able to survive the attack of pneumonia but it left him in such a weakened condition at his advanced age that recovery was impossible. Mr. Roddy was active until a few months ago even transacting business affairs during his last summer. Mr. Roddy had a long a versatile career in Kansas, as a farmer, railroad contractor and builder and land agent. He associated in the construction of some railway lines by which the middle west is linked with the Rocky mountain and Pacific coast country.
As a Kansas homesteader he arrived in Pawnee county in March 1878. He had come with his wife and six children from Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Some advertising matter which he had read on Western Kansas was one factor in making this move, and another influence was the intention of other Pennsylvanians to come west. Mr. Roddy made his first home on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 7. township 22, range 18, Pleasant Ridge township. This was raw land, containing as its chief improvement a frame house of two rooms and a sod barn. For it he paid $8 an acre. The first year he planted a few acres of sod corn and harvested a fair crop. He continued farming the same ground and after three years rented additional land. Mr. Roddy had a ready resource at his hand when hard times came to the settlers of Western Kansas.
While in Pennsylvania he had had some experience in railroad grading as foreman on the East Broadtop railroad. It was not difficult, therefore, for him to secure a position as general foreman of grading and construction on the Santa Fe, which then was in the course of construction.
He became a general foreman for the firm of F.A. Butler, and began work in Rice county, Kansas. Later he was with the A.P. railroad at Laguna, N.M., from which he rejoined the Santa Fe forces close to Ft. Cummings and from there to Deming, N.M., where he graded for sidetracks and station. Following that he went to Olathe, Kansas, then between Las Vegas, NM., and Hot Springs, N.M., at Raton, N.M., from Attica, Ks., to Kiowa, Ks., twenty-five miles of the line out of Kingman, and also some work at Saratoga. He then became a general foreman with J.B. Colt & Sons, contractors, and was engaged in construction work on the Missouri Pacific from McCracken to Pueblo.
From railroad building he and his sons next turned to construction of irrigation ditches and they contracted and built sixty miles of ditches at La Junta, Colo. They built dikes along the Mississippi river in Arkansas and subsequently returned to railroading and did some work on the Orient railway in Kansas, and the line from Osage Kansas, to Cushing, Okla.
Mr. Roddy had many thrilling experiences with the tough and lawless element that infested Bad Man’s Land in Arkansas in the early days. All the towns and camps had their quota of horse thieves and gamblers and honest men as well as rogues had to go about heavily armed. Mr. Roddy at times had the responsibility of superintending the work of 300 men and an equipment of sixty teams.
With this long and varied experience as railroad builder, Mr. Roddy returned to Larned, where his wife had remained in the meantime, and he engaged in the real estate business, handling western lands. He remained in this business to the end of his life. Among other property, he owned a half section of land in Haskell County, Kansas.
Shade Gap, Pennsylvania
Mr. Roddy was born in Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pa., February 27, 1839. His parents were William and Sophia (Copeland) Roddy, both natives of Pennsylvania. His father was a railroad contractor before him and combined that business with farming. His mother was a daughter of Mathias Copeland. Their children were: Catherine, wife of James Mills, a Union soldier from Illinois who died during the war; Eliza, who is unmarried and lives in Larned; J.C. Roddy of Shade Gap, Pennsylvania; Margaret, wife of Lawrence Lynch, of Pawnee county; Thomas of Shade Gap; D.R.P.; William who enlisted in the One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and died in the Marine Hospital at New Orleans.
Mr. Roddy grew up on a farm and received a country school education. While attending Millenwood Academy in Pennsylvania, he first became acquainted with his wife. On leaving school he was a teacher in Pennsylvania until August 1862, when he enlisted at Harrisburg in Company I of the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry. This regiment was known as the Pennsylvania Bucktails, so called because each soldier wore a deer tail on his cap. The first captain was George W. Spear, who soon resigned on account of sickness and was succeeded by Capt. B.X. Blair. His colonel was Roy Stone. After his enlistment Mr. Roddy did guard duty at Washington D.C., and Belle Plains, Va., and on April 12, 1863 was discharged on account of disability due to illness. His war service over he resumed teaching and also clerked in stores at Latrobe, Pa., and Hancock, Md., and from there returned to his native town of Shade Gap.
Mr. Roddy was married April 12, 1865 to Miss Martha E. Sipes, daughter of George and Rachel (Cornelius) Sipes. Her mother was a daughter of Benjamin Cornelius of Virginia. George Sipes was a son of George Sipes, Sr., and both were Pennsylvanians of German descent. George and Rachel Sipes had the following children: Rebecca, wife of J.S. Hedding, of Hancock, Maryland; Rachel, wife of William M. Williamson, a former judge of Blair County, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Martha Roddy; Sarah, wife of W.M. Elder, who came to Kansas in 1879 and is still in Garfield, Pawnee County. Mrs. Roddy’s father was a tanner, farmer and merchant at Shade Gap, Pennsylvania.
Politically Mr. Roddy was a Democrat, but never held or sought office. He and Mrs. Roddy, who died several years ago, were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Of their children, Rachel died after her marriage to S.P. Kennison of Larned, leaving two children, Willie and Harry. J.H. Roddy, the oldest son, died several years ago in Pueblo, Colo., where he was a member of the city detective forces. He was married to Susan Lane and had two children, Raymond and Donivan. William Roddy is a theatrical advance man for “The Birth of a Nation”, and George S. Roddy married Mary Stanton, in Chicago he is associated with the Outdoor Poster Advertising Co., Mrs. Steve (Gertrude) Prather, a daughter, of Garfield, also survives him, as well as a sister, Mrs. Margaret Lynch of Dodge City.
Mr. Roddy was a member of B.F. Larned Post No. 8, Grand Army of the Republic, and served as its chaplain for six years. Mrs. Roddy was active in the Women’s Relief Corp No. 61 and served as it’s chaplain for five years.
Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon, (December 4, 1929) at 2:30 o’clock at the Beckworth Mortuary, Rev. W.B. Summers, of Garfield, officiating. Interment was at the Larned cemetery.
Mr. Roddy is one of the last rugged pioneers who contributed much to the development of Western Kansas. He was a man of many sterling qualities, a dependable friend, a good neighbor, and an exemplary citizen. The work of his life is outstanding and permanent in the winning of the west.
What an amazing man he would have been. I would love to sit and listen to his stories.
Big thanks to my sister, Susan, who gave me the copy of David’s obituary.
(David is my 3rd great-grandfather. He is the father of Rachel Sophia (Roddy) Kennison.)