The exact location of our town was no doubt determined by the railroad, at that time known as the Gilman, Clinton, and Springfield Railroad. In 1877 the Illinois Central purchased this branch. One location seriously considered was Beset Grove. According to an article written by Bela Foster in the April 17, 1935 issue of the Roberts Herald, A. M. Haling had an agreement with the G. C. & S. Railroad to give them the right of way on his land if they would put a town on his land, the Beset half section.
--Lyman Township Plat. Atlas of the State of Illinois. 1876.
The company did put in a side track, and Mr. Haling put up an office and a large corn crib. George H. Thompson and Doolittle erected a store building just north of Otto Bleich's house and a temporary building on the Haling property for a flax seed storehouse. Some time later, however, the G. C. & S. began the erection of a depot on the Roberts land, and hope of a town at Beset waned.
In the fall of 1871 land that became our village was surveyed by Francis Alonzo Roberts after whom the town was named.
It is recorded in an old atlas that the first two families to live in the village were those of Dr. Marshall Cassingham and E. A. Bushor. Dr. Cassingham, born in Ohio in 1841, had come to Roberts from Kendall and Grundy Counties in 1871. He was graduated from Rush Medical College, Chicago in 1865. In 1880 Dr. Cassingham's brother Ora came to Roberts to engage in the drug business with the doctor. Ora had been a map publisher for some years. During his years in Roberts Dr. Cassingham built the home later owned by the Ortlepp family.
--History of Ford County, Illinois. 1985.
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A. M. Haling and others had made an agreement with the G. C. & S. Railway to give them the right of way if they would put a town on his land, the Beset half section. After some litigation the company put in a side track one half mile east of the present Fred Woodruff home.
Mr. Haling put up an office and a large corn crib and bought corn and sold coal and flour. The company had also promised Alonzo Roberts, Van Stlenbert, Taylor John of Thawville and the people of Melvin, the same thing. When it looked as though the town would be at Beset, George H. Thompson and Doolittle erected a store building just north of Otto Bleich's house.
They also put up a temporary building on the east side of the road on the Haling property for a flax seed store house. They carried on the business for about one year, until the chances of a town at Beset was nil. In 1871, Dr. Cassingham, then a young man saw the possibilities of a town in Lyman came here and had his office at Conger's who lived on the Tornowski farm on the hill a mile north of the Thompson store.
He boarded at Conger's until his family came when he moved into the only residence in the new town which we named Bungtown. When the G. S. & C. began the erection of a depot on the Roberts land the hopes of a town at Beset waned. Bungtown was moved to the site of Roberts. Thompson's store was moved to Roberts and anchored a little north of where the hotel is now. Dr. Cassingham occupied it for a year or two and later it was put on skids and moved to Thawville. It stands on the south side of Thawville's main street yet but has been remodeled and changed in appearance.
--Roberts Herald. 17 April 1935. Bela Foster.