The Pennsylvania Farmer

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Whitpain Township is known for its farmers and agriculture, and the only "well-known" farmer around the area during the 18th-19th century was named Job Roberts.


Job was born on March 23, 1756, the youngest son of John and Jane Roberts of the "Woodlawn Plantation." As stated in the title, he was known as "The Pennsylvania Farmer." He was the pioneer of scientific farming in the late 18th century, and recorded his experiments in a book he published in 1804:


The Pennsylvania Farmer: Being a Selection from the Most Approved Treatises on Husbandry, Interspersed with Observations and Experiments


Here's a list of his experiments he had done, and were included in the book:


  • Experimented with fertilizers (lime, plaster, various barnyard manures)

  • Deep ploughing of land

  • Built improved harrow

  • Devised new roller (1792)

  • Attached water wheel to dairy churn (making it possible to churn 150 lbs of butter per week)(1797)

  • Invented machine for planting corn (1815)

  • Advanced growing season of corn by soaking before planting

  • Introduced Merino sheep into Pennsylvania

  • Interested in cultivation of mulberry for silk culture

  • Substituted green fodder for his cattle for grazing


Outside of farming he was appointed Justice of the Peace* in Whitpain in 1791, and served until his death in 1851. He was called "Squire* Job Roberts."


NOTE:

*Justice of the Peace- a local magistrate empowered chiefly to administer criminal or civil justice in minor cases

*Squire- a man of high social standing who owns and lives on an estate in a rural area, especially the chief landowner in such an area


In his personal life, he married Mary Naylor on May 22, 1781, and had two children together. Their granddaughter Suzanne was the last Roberts to be born in the "Woodlawn Farm/Plantation."


Bibliography:


Browning, Charles Henry. Welsh settlement of Pennsylvania. (Philadelphia: W.J. Campbell, 1912), 272, 285.


Walters, Susan. "History: Local: CHAPTER LXXX : Whitpain Township: Bean's 1884 History of Montgomery Co, PA." USGenWeb Archives. Accessed April 13, 2020. http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/montgomery/history/local/mchb0071.txt.


Who Was Who In America: A Component Volume of Who's Who in American History. (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Company, 1963), 447.


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