The Father of Rolesville, NC

Local legends claim that William H. Roles arrived in the area of present-day Rolesville, NC with cash for a 100 acre land purchase in his saddlebags.

Our Past, History of Greater Rolesville Area (Broadfoot Bookmark by Eloise Averette Freeman, February 1976) speculates that Roles was born in Wake County, NC, the son of James S. Roles. But little of Roles' life before his arrival and after his departure is actually documented.

While he was in Rolesville, on the other hand, William H Roles left his mark. His original 100 acres grew to 681 by 1834, and he joined other locals in drawing up a map of his land for the propsed town of Rolesville. The town's first incorporation was approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1837.

Located in northeast Wake County about 12 miles north of North Carolina's capital, Rolesville is a growing small town, as are most of Raleigh's neighbors.

Roles' other claims to fame include his service as Justice of the Peace beginning in February 1819; operation of Roles' store, the first local postal stop which became the Rollesville postal stop February 19, 1835; contributions to the founding of Hartsfield Meeting House; treasurer of Rogers Crossroads Baptist Church; charter member of Rolesville Baptist Church; Trustee of Wake Forest Institute (later Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, now Wake Forest University in Winston Salem); and Trustee for Rolesville Academy founded in 1832.

An advertisement in the Raleigh Star stated that Roles was leaving North Carolina for Mississippi January 2, 1839, and that John Terrell would manage his property and business affairs.

Roles purchased property in Holly Springs (Marshall County) Mississippi and from there he and his wife Lucy Fort Roles requested letters of dismissal from Rolesville Baptist Church in May 1841.

Lucy remarried by 1848, which suggests that William Roles died within a few years of his arrival in Mississippi.

Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url:

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Comments 9 comments

LeaAnne profile image

LeaAnne 8 years ago from North Carolina

Funny enough, the original land tag for my house was Tyrell's. I think they later spelled it Terrell.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina Author

Cool, LeaAnne - have you ever researched the historical connnection?

LeaAnne profile image

LeaAnne 8 years ago from North Carolina

I have. My neighbor's mother was a Terrell and married a Scarboro. I am within the 700 acre range of the middle of town. Thanks for sharing this history.

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Very interesting. I love to read about the histories of towns. They seem to get lost over time.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

I agree RGraf. I actually researched this about 15 years ago at the local library - I'm not sure you can even find the old reference books anywhere else. It's fun to dig through that section of books that you can only use on site.

Pat 7 years ago

I was reading some old letters my husband's grandmother had written in 1913, and she mentioned that the town of Rolesville had burned down along with 9 houses. Do you know what the facts of this are?

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi, Pat - thanks for stopping by. I've never heard about that, but I'll ask some of my "native Rolesville" friends and see what I can find out.

Matthew 6 years ago

Yes, it did burn in 1913

dineane profile image

dineane 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

thanks for the info, Matthew! Folks, click on the link on Matthew's name for the details.

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