A Town in Oklahoma, USA Bearing the "ROLL" Name

ROLL Reunion

1908 ROLL, Oklahoma town view.

ROLL, Oklahoma, Roger Mills County, USA

Location: 35°46'45"N 99°42'40"W
Elevation: 2,278 feet







ROLL had a post office from December 9, 1903 to August 31, 1920, so it was an official “town” for 17 years. Although buildings and residences still exist, the town of ROLL is now found on Oklahoma’s list of “ghost towns”. The 1905 census shows 15 people in ROLL. The town was in Day County, and at statehood in 1907, it was in Roger Mills County.

Located in the Black Kettle National Grassland area, ROGER MILLS County was created from Cheyenne-Arapaho Lands. Named by vote of the people of the county, most of whom were recent emigrants from Texas, of which state Roger Q. Mills was then United States Senator. No ROLLs were found in the Day County 1900 census records, nor were there any ROLL wills or probates. The County Clerk's office did not list any ROLLs owning land.

Martha Kendall Holmes writes in June, 2003, “I know the old school/church that was there for many years is now in the historical park in Cheyenne. I remember going there many times as a child with my uncles. Mr. Beebe had a store and we went to see Beebe. And I would go to church there with cousins when the school was used as a church. This was all 50 years ago. I often wondered why it was named Roll."

Betty ROLL HOLT in Tulsa, Oklahoma wrote, "I don't know how true it is, but have been told Roll, Oklahoma was named for a Benjamin ROLL. Some of his descendants live in southwest Oklahoma, and one of his sons, Nelson, lived in Dallas."

Harvey ROLL, related to Benjamin, of Elkhart, Kansas mentioned to other ROLL researchers that his family surname bore the origin of ROLL, Oklahoma, but there is no documented evidence or proof of these claims.

Picture: Early 1900's of Martha RORABOUGH standing on the porch of the shoe store that she helped her husband.
Picture: Baptism of Beulah Church on August 11, 1912.
Picture: Robert and Joseph STAUBER in 1904 standing north of highways 47 and 283 junction.

Roll One-Room School House

The Roll one-room school was one of 101 one-room schools that dotted Roger Mills County in the early 1900’s. The school was built in 1903 for $200 by the fathers of the community under the direction of Mr. Bill HANAWALT. It was given by Vera CAUDLE (on whose land it stood) to the Historic Roger Mills Preservation Foundation. It was moved to the city park from the town of Roll (14 miles to the north), was restored and dedicated in April 1991. The next week, classes began. The school is located on Highway 283 on the South edge of Cheyenne.
In 1943, the school consolidated with Crawford and the building became a community center. The ladies rolled bandages for the war effort and when WWII was over, they decided to form a quilting club which met until 1989. The school also hosted community dinners and events.
It serves as a hands-on history lesson to area fourth grade classes as they visit it on their field day trips. They return to the year of 1910 as they play ante-over, pump water, wear long dresses, read McGuffy Readers, cipher, use ink and pen, etc. This school teaches 6 R's - Readin', 'Ritin', 'Rithmatic, Respect, Religion, and Responsibility. Each year the school is in session Tuesday through Friday during the months of April, May, last half September, and October. Otherwise the school is open as a museum. There is always a self-guided tour through the windows of the school.

Picture: The first class in 1903 at the Roll School.

Judy, teacher and Historian in Cheyenne, Oklahoma writes, " I teach at the restored ROLL One-Room school, which is now located in the Cheyenne City Park and we hold classes there in the 1910 era for area fourth grade classes in the spring and the fall, providing a "hands-on" history lesson as a field day trip from regular school. [Judy has done a wonderful job in helping with ROLL history and research.]
I have always been told that ROLL received its name because of the rolling hills where it is located. I will check all my sources and see if I find anything different. I will have to admit, the possibility of ROLL being named after a ROLL family is really interesting.
There are several homes still in Roll, and the area was settled during the third land run here in Oklahoma Territory, known as the Cheyenne-Arapaho Land Run on April 19, 1892. All runs were between 1889 and 1895, so there are no census records until 1900 in Oklahoma Territory. We celebrate this occasion every five years at the Old Settlers. The queen of the event has to be of the lineage of a "sooner" land runner.
ROLL is still a community and they have a community newspaper writer who records the news from this community in our weekly Cheyenne Star newspaper. There is much written about the people of Roll. They have a beautiful "Silent Home" Cemetery between ROLL and Crawford. There is no business left in ROLL proper but just a mile north on 283 there is Jerry's Truck Stop which is the hub bub area of the community.
Everyone is very busy with June wheat harvest. It has a lot of ranch land. I checked one of our bigger resource books and found a couple of ROLL families in the Arapaho area who came from Germany, but no mention of the town being named for them, as they were not there.
If the ROLL family would like to have a reunion at the school house, we would be glad to accommodate. We have two motels, and a bed and breakfast in Cheyenne. We have three restaurants and a large Family Center at our church which can be used for family reunions. There are several things to see and do here if you like the relaxing and slower pace of life. General Custer had a battle with the Cheyenne Indians just west of Cheyenne.... this was prior to his waterloo.
Actually we are such a young pup of a state, gaining statehood in 1907. I was correct in that Roll was in Day County prior to statehood, and it disappeared at statehood. I found no ROLL surnames in any of the Roger Mills County cemeteries. From the Prairie Fire Book, published in 1978 by the Western Oklahoma Historical Society, we find on page 493, two ROLL families, Rudolph "Ralph" ROLL and William Robert ROLL:

When overtaxing became such a burden in Germany, Heinrich Roll, a shoe cobbler and Fredrika, his wife, began saving to come to America. Soon they immigrated with their three sons, Henry, Charlie, and Gus. They settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Rudolph, Annie and Bill were born here. Rudolph was born April 4, 1859.
Around 1873, the Roll family moved to a farm near Peck, Kansas. Here Rudolph (Ralph in English) met and married Jessie Irene DeWater, on July 3, 1902. They were married by Rev. D.H. Switzer in the Methodist parsonage in Wichita, Kansas.
Jessie Irene DeWater was born January 29, 1881 to Elijah Hamilton and Elizabeth Melissa Weber DeWater. The DeWater family was originally from Michigan. They later moved to Oklahoma and it was here that Elijah Hamilton DeWater died. He is buried in the Glass Mountain Area of Oklahoma, near Fairview, OK. The family then moved to Kansas.
In 1907, Rudolph "Ralph" and Jessie Roll came by covered wagon to OK. They settled on a farm 4 miles west, two miles north and 1.2 mile west of Arapaho. Rudolph raised hogs in Kansas and he hired help to drive the hogs to his farm in Oklahoma. Here he raised corn, hogs and cattle. He took the hogs to market by train to Ft. Worth, Texas or to Wichita, Ks; usually buying a load of calves to take back home.
In 1916 Ralph and Jessie moved into their recently completed two-story home. Eight children were born into the Roll household: Frieda, Hubert, William Robert, Gladys, lester, Leola and Pauline. One child, Leona, a twin to Leola, passed away shortly after birth.
William Roll remembers a joke on his father which is still told. It goes like this: One day, Rudolph and his hired hands were picking corn, when the men noticed the neighbor farmer and his hired help going in with their last load of corn for the day. Rodolph consoled his help by telling them, "Don't worry boys, they might beat us in tonight, but we'll beat them out in the morning."
Rudolph died January 2, 1934 and was buried in the Arapaho Cemetery. Jessie Irene continued living on the farm until 1943, when she moved to Wichita, KS leaving her son, William Robert, to farm the homeplace. In 1956 she moved back to Arapaho and lived there until her death in January, 1962. She was also buried in the Arapaho Cemetery. Today her grandson, Ralph W. Roll, is still farming the home place and rearing his children there.
As of 2003, Ralph retired to Frisco, Colorado.

William Robert Roll was born January 4, 1908 near Arapaho, OK in Custer County to Rudolph and Jessie Roll. He was raised on the farm where he was born, attending school first at Sunnyside and later graduating at Emerson High School in Arapaho.
Claire Elizaeth Smith was born April 9, 1909 to pioneer parents, Frank and Maud Watts Smith. She was an only child, and moved to a farm 1/2 mile east of Arapaho. Here three children were born: Frances Elizabeth born November 4, 1930, Ralph Watts born December 31, 1934 and Ardeth Ann born November 7, 1936.
On Nov 21, 1937, Claire died leaving "Bill" with three small children to raise. Frances Elizabeth stayed with her mother's parents, Frank and Maud Smith for two years. Bill moved back to the farm where he was raised, with Ralph and Ardeth. His mother lived with them for six years before moving to Wichita, Kansas.
Bill raised his three children on the farm and when Ralph married Lettie Brown, september 22, 1957, they started farming with Bill. Three children: Melanie born Octoer 4, 1959, Mark born June 14, 1965 and Melissa born March 21, 1967, were born to Ralph and Lettie making the fourth generation to live on the farm.
Frances Elizabeth lives in Clinton. Ardeth Ann married Carrol Woodland and they had three children, Scott born July 6, 1956, Gregg born February 14, 1959 and Susan born June 11, 1961.
On June 8, 1959, William "Bill" Roll married Ruber Riber of Clinton. He moved to Clinton, but still farmed with Ralph until retiring in 1970.
The three children have fond, funny memories of their childhood with a daddy who was both daddy and mother to them. He had trouble learning to cook rice---but made sure they were in church with him every Sunday at the First Christian Church in Arapaho. Frances Elizabeth, being the oldest, mothered Ralph and "Ardie" and as a result, Ralph, still to this day, calls her "Boss".
When Bill married Ruby, she accepted her ready-made family with love and they, in turn think she is just
As of 2003, William "Bill" ROLL at age 95 is still living with his wife in Clinton, OK.

There seems to be a flaw in connecting these ROLL families to the founding of ROLL, Oklahoma. These families migrated from Wichita, Kansas in 1907, whereas ROLL was founded four years earlier. They bought a 320-acre farm a few miles west/northwest of Arapaho. The William and Rudolf ROLLs came from Rugenwalde, Germany (probably in the state of Hesse), emigrating in 1856; aka the German "shoe cobbler" ROLL line.

Walter Roll, 23 years old, married Miss Dovie Barton, 19 years of age on June 14, 1922 in Roger Mills County. Each of them lived in Butler, Custer County. Since they were both of age, there are no witnesses listed or parent signatures. The Walter and Dovie BARTON ROLL line were from the beaver trader MANGELS/ROLL-Netherland (Dutch) family, the first American ROLLs, arriving before 1660 to New York. The Walter Martin ROLL clan had extensive travels, spanning IL, AK, OK, and CA. Walter was born 1899 in Judsonia, Alaska and died in 1978 in Van Nuys, California.
ROLL, Oklahoma cemeteries:
Pie Flat Cemetery     OK Roger Mills  355011N  0994238W  Roll
Rhome Cemetery        OK Roger Mills  354634N  0993413W  Roll SE
Silent Home Cemetery  OK Roger Mills  354737N  0994446W  Roll
Ioland Cemetery       OK Ellis Co.    355642N  0993122W  Roll NE
Lone Bell Cemetery    OK Ellis Co.    355141N  0993708W  Roll SE

   ROLL Reunion

"The German is like a willow.
No matter which way you bend him,
he will always take root again."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn -

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