Roach, Missouri

With nearby towns bearing names like Tightwad and Here 'Tis, one might reasonably suspect that the village of Roach was named as a joke. But that assumption would be a mistake, because the tiny crossroad hamlet located on Route AA, just north of Highway 54 was named after one of the more distinguished families in the area.

The Roach family migrated to Missouri from Tennessee in 1831 and laid claim to a tract of land near Linn Creek. L.I."Jack" Roach was born on the property in 1837. Orphaned at the age of three, Jack eventually came to live with the Crain family.

At sixteen, Jack Roach began working as a crewman on Osage River steamboats and by his 24th birthday he had passed the examination for a pilot's certificate on the Osage and lower Missouri Rivers. The Civil War interrupted his career; he served in the Union Army for the duration of the war.

In 1866 Jack married Frances Crain, a daughter in the family that had raised him. Soon after he was elected to a series of county offices, including county clerk, circuit court clerk, probate judge, and sheriff. In 1883 Jack became prosecuting attorney of Camden County. He owned a mercantile store at Gunter's Springs (later called Ha Ha Tonka) and built a substantial residence nearby. He died in 1886.

One of Jack Roach's six children, Sidney Crain Roach, attended law school in St. Louis and opened a practice in Linn Creek in 1897. Following in his father's footsteps he served as county prosecutor from 1898 to 1909. He married Edith King; eventually the couple would raise four children. In 1909 Sidney was elected as a Republican representative in the Missouri General Assembly. He served in that capacity for four years. Sidney then returned to his law practice while remaining active in party politics. He subsequently was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1920 and served two terms.

After his stint in Washington, Sidney Roach moved to St. Louis in 1924 where he again resumed his career as a lawyer. In 1932 he served as co-counsel for the plaintiff in the celebrated Snyder Estate versus Union Electric condemnation trial. On January 26, 1932, he collapsed from a heart attack after delivering an impassioned final argument in the case. Never fully regaining his health, Sid Roach died in Kansas City in 1934. He was buried in the family cemetery at Roach, Missouri.

Prior to the coming of the lake, the Roach cemetery was located near the south end of Old Linn Creek, at the present-day mouth of Possum Fork Cove. Since it would fall well below the lake waters, it was one of sixty cemeteries that had to be relocated on higher grounds. The site chosen for the relocation of the cemetery was on land owned by the family. The area adjacent to this became the village of Roach.

© 1999-2000 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.