Roll family farms

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Location: Lancaster and Alden, New Yorkmap
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George Roll arrived in New York from Dettwiller France in July 1832. In 1838 his father, John Roll, purchased land in the Town of Lancaster. The seller was the Farmer’s Loan and Trust Company. In the early 1830s a number of New York City firms were interested in the Holland Land Company’s unsold lands, and the Company began to liquidate its business interests in western New York. One of the interested firms was the Farmers Land & Trust Company. In 1835 this firm purchased about 89,000 acres of land from the Holland Company in Niagara, Erie, Orleans and Genesee Counties. Payments were completed in the summer of 1838 and the Holland Company’s interests were closed in these four counties. (Paul D. Evans, The Holland Land Company (1924), pp. 393, 422-423.)

John Roll’s deed was dated December 15, 1838. He paid $370 for 64 acres of land ($5.78 per acre). Adjusted for inflation, this would be $10,200 today. The land was contained in lot number 7, section 2, township 11, range 6 of the Holland Land Company survey. Township 11, range 6 is the northern two-thirds of Lancaster, New York.[1]

On the same day, December 15, 1838, John Roll conveyed this land to his son George Roll. The microfilm copy of that deed is too poor to read, but the deed is listed in the Erie County, New York County Clerk’s index. In 1838 George Roll was twenty-three years old, unmarried and he had some siblings living at home. It does not appear that he became the sole owner of the land, especially because, after his father’s death in 1850, his brothers and sisters became joint owners of the 64-acre farm. Thus, it is most likely that in December 1838, John Roll and George Roll were joint owners of the land.[2]

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John Roll died in 1850 without a Last Will. The Surrogate’s Court appointed his youngest son Michael Roll as the administrator of the estate. Nine heirs were identified. They were Elizabeth, John Jr., Christine, Andrew, George, Francis, Magdalena, Mary, and Michael. The whereabouts of Clare Roll was unknown. In 1853 they all conveyed their share of the Lancaster property to their brother, George. The transfers were all made with quitclaim deeds, which meant each heir, except George, terminated (“quit”) “any right and claim to the property, thereby allowing the right or claim to transfer to George” (Wikipedia).

Ten years later, in March 1864, George Roll purchased an additional 20 acres of land across Ransom road from his farm. He paid John Rodloff $800 for a 20-acre parcel in lot 5 section 2. In 1867, George Roll’s two oldest sons purchased a farm in Alden, and the next year he sold this 20-acre addition. The land in lot 5 section 2 was sold in March 1868 for $1,200, which was a very nice return on his investment.[3]

George Roll died in January 1897. His Last Will left his estate to this wife, Gertrude. She died a few months later, in May 1897. John Roll, the oldest son, became the administrator of the estate and sold the Ransom road land. The land was conveyed to John Smith for $2,150 in April 1898. The deed notes that the parcel contained 64 acres, but that two railroad companies had purchased rights in the lot, which amounted to about three acres of land.[4]

John Roll and George Roll, Jr.

The attached map represents the farms on the Alden segment of Westwood Road. Town Line road is on the left side of the image and Sandridge road is on the right side. The map is from the 1880 Atlas of Erie County New York. This Atlas is useful because it provides the names of landowners and it shows the boundaries of the parcels of land they owned.

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There were three children of George Roll (1815-1897) and Gertrude Jerge (1824-1897) who operated farms on this stretch of Westwood road at some time during the last third of the nineteenth century. The two oldest children were John Roll (1845-1925) and George Roll, Jr. (1847-1905). The brothers grew up on their father’s Ransom Road farm in Lancaster, and in 1867 they ventured onto their own land.

On December 4, 1867, the brothers purchased 100 acres of land in lot number 43 in Alden. This lot is on the north side Westwood Road and the farm is identified on the map as item #1. The land was 2 miles east from the farm where they grew up. John and George Roll, Jr. owned an undivided interest in the property. This means that neither of them owned a specific piece of the land. Instead they each had a share (or “interest”) in the entire 100-acre property. Legally, they were “tenants in common” and held an equal share of the rights, benefits, and obligations of the property.[5]

When they purchased the land at the end of 1867, John Roll was 22 years old, George Roll, Jr. was 20 and both men were single. The brothers paid $5,000 for the land, but we don’t know where the financing came from. The deed does not note that the land was mortgaged, and $5,000 was a lot of money for two young men in 1867. Most likely the money came from their father, but we don’t know for sure.

John Roll married his first wife in April 1869, which was 17 months after he purchased the farm. It would be another three years after that before George Roll, Jr. was married, an event that occurred in June 1872.

After John was married, but before George’s wedding, the two brothers created a divided interest in the property. On September 5, 1871 two deeds were signed. The first was “intended to convey the east one half of the above described land” to George Roll, Jr., while the second deed was “intended to convey the west one half of the above described land” to John Roll. This conveyance was reflected in the 1880 land map on which each brother was identified as the owner of a distinct 50 acres of land.[6]

The 1880 land map also shows George Roll, Jr. was the owner of another small strip of land on Westwood Road. That land is identified on the attached map as item #2. George Roll, Jr. purchased that 16-acre parcel of land from Sebastian Gundy in December 1873. The history of the small strip is a bit complex. In 1846 Sebastian Gundy, Joseph Gundy, and Stephen Kegler purchased an undivided interest in 50 acres of land. By 1870, Stephen Kegler’s son owned two thirds of that farm and Sebastian Gundy owned the other third. That land was sold to George Roll, Jr. in 1872.[7]

Joseph Roll

In the late 1870s, Joseph Roll (1856-1912), John and George Roll’s brother, started farming on Westwood Road. Joseph Roll married Mary Staebell in October 1877. The bride’s father, Frank Staebell, worked a farm on the south side of Westwood Road and Joseph purchased land across the street from his new father-in-law. Joseph Roll’s farm is indicated on the land map as item #3 and “F. Soebel’s” 40-acre farm can be seen on the south side of the road.

Joseph Roll acquired these 25 acres of land from Mary Anstett in October 1877. Joseph Anstett purchased a 50-acre farm on Westwood Road in 1864 and by 1870 Joseph, his father Michael, and his brother Anton were farming 150 acres of land in lots 36 and 37. Anton Anstett was the owner of this 25-acre farm, but he died in 1874 only two years after his wedding. Joseph Roll purchased the farm from Anton’s widow, Mary Anstett. He paid $850 for the parcel.[8]

Joseph Roll worked as a farmer for about nine year then left farming at the end of 1886. In December of that year he sold his 25-acre farm to Martin Fox for $1,375 and purchased a hotel that was located on Walden Avenue near Wende Station. This was when Joseph Roll entered the hotel business. He will eventually become a successful businessman in Depew.[9]

George Roll, Jr. Moves

At the end of the 1881 growing season, George Roll, Jr. moved his farm from lot 43 to lot 36. First, in December 1881 he sold his 16-acre strip of land to William Jehle, who had married into the Gundy family. In effect, George sold the strip back to the Gundy’s. Then the following spring, he purchased three new parcels of land.[10]

The first parcel was acquired on March 17, 1882 from Thomas Roos. That parcel is identified on the land map as item #4. This 31-acre parcel was on the north side of Westwood road and George Roll, Jr. paid $850 for that land.[11]

Within the next thirty days, George Roll, Jr. purchased another 102 acres of land on the south side of Westwood road. That land is identified on the land map as item #5. First, some background about that land. In March 1875, Jacob and Casper Jerge purchased 102.64 acres of land in Alden that was located in the eastern part of lot number 36. Shortly after acquiring the undivided interest in this property, the Jerge brothers legally divided the land. On December 22, 1875 they each took 51.32 acres of land. Jacob and Casper Jerge’s names were misspelled on the 1880 land map and the number of acres in the two parcels conflicted with the deeds, but the location of the property is correct.

George Roll, Jr. purchased these two parcels of land in the spring of 1882. On March 31, 1882 he paid Casper Jerge $2,300 for his 51.32 acres of land in lot 36 and on April 10, 1882 he paid his brother John Roll $2,250 for the other 51.32 acres of land. It is not clear when John Roll acquired that parcel from Jacob Jerge, but the April 1882 deed clearly conveys that parcel from John Roll to George Roll. In addition, on the same day in April, George Roll conveyed his 50 acres of land in lot 43 to his brother John. John paid his brother $3,350 and ended up with the 100-acre farm (item #1 on the map). George Roll, Jr. had acquired 133.64 acres of land in the three transactions.[12]

George Roll, Jr. did not keep the 31-acre parcel on the north side of the street very long. In April 1886 he sold that land to Peter Backmann for $2,000. This gave him a hefty $1,150 profit in just four years. After the transaction George was left with 103 acres of land.[13]

George Roll, Jr. made one final adjustment to his farm in October 1892 when he added a 9-acre parcel of land. This piece of land, identified on the map as item #6, was at the south line of his farm. The land was in lot number 35 and George purchased the segment between the northern lot-boundary and the railroad tracks.[14]

George Roll, Jr. died on March 17, 1905. He was 58 years old and had worked this farm a bit more than 22 years. The newspaper reported his estate was valued at $15,000, which is about $437,000 today. Mary (Kieffer) Roll, George’s wife, died a year after her husband, on March 17, 1906. The Roll family then sold all the farm equipment at the end of the 1906 growing season. The newspaper announced the following auction.

On Wednesday, October, 31st, 1906 at 10:30 o’clock a.m. George Roll [the 3rd] will sell at Public Auction at his residence in the Town of Alden on Westwood Road, about 1 mile west of Sandridge all of his farming implements and stock, consisting of three horses, 8 cows, 1 lumber wagon, 1 wide-tire thimble skein truck wagon, and several other good wagons and buggies and sleighs, 1 Portland cutter, 1 roller, grain binder, corn binder, mower, rake, roller, harrows, plows, cultivators, grass-seeder, fanning mill, grain bags, harnesses, iron kettle, 1 new champion potato digger, 4 acres of corns stalks and many other articles. Everything nearly new. Capt. Pratt, auctioneer.

Ten years later, on March 27, 1916, the estate of George Roll the 2nd sold his farm to Edward Knoche.[15]

John Roll

John Roll farmed the same land his entire career. As noted above, he had purchased the farm with his brother in 1867 and acquired his brother’s share in 1882. On July 11, 1897 John purchase 8.75 acres of land on Sandridge road, directly next to St. John’s church. This parcel is identified on the attached map as item #7. The land was sold at auction by the estate of Michael Killinger in order to pay the late owner’s debts. John Roll won the bidding for a price of $1,350.[16]

It is not clear why John Roll purchased this land. It was one and one-half miles away from his farm and John Roll did not retire from farming in 1897. In both the 1900 and 1910 Censuses, he was reported as a farmer and he was residing on his farm in lot 43 on the western end of Westwood road. From the Erie County land records, we find that John Roll sold his farm in lot 43 on April 2, 1914. The new owner of the land was John Buczak. In March the Lancaster Times announced that John Roll would sell the remainder of his farming assets:

Thursday, March 2nd, John Roll having sold his farm will sell on the Westwood Road half mile North of Marilla station 5 horses, 2 colts, 13 cows, wagons, buggies and all kinds of farm implements, oats, hay, seed potatoes, stack of straw, 40 chickens, and many articles too numerous to mention. Sale starts at 9 o'clock. Big bargains between 9 and 10 o'clock. Lunch at noon. The usual terms. E. R. Wagner, auctioneer, S. P. Adolf, Clark

John Roll was 69 years old when he sold his farm and farming supplies. It was at this time that he moved to Sandridge road. The 1920 Census found John and Barbara Roll living on Sandridge Road and he was listed as a retired farmer. John Roll died January 21, 1925. He was 79 years old.[17]

Further Reading

More about George Roll and his family is here:
A Roll family history by Michael Nuwer


  1. Farmer’s Loan and Trust Company to John Roll
  2. John Roll to George Roll December 1838
    Index page:
    Deed page:
  3. John Rodloff to George Roll, March 1864
    George Roll to Heinrich Kliukman March 1868
  4. John Roll (administrator) to John Smith, April 1898
  5. Squire A Joslins to John Roll and George Roll
  6. John Roll to George Roll
    George Roll to John Roll
  7. Sebastian Gundy to George Roll
  8. Mary Anstett to Joseph Roll
  9. Joseph Roll to Martin Fox
    John Koch to Joseph Roll
  10. George Roll to William Jehely
  11. Thomas Roos to George Roll
  12. Casper Jerge to George Roll
    John Roll to George Roll
    George Roll to John Roll
  13. George Roll to Peter Bachmann
  14. Paulus Geyer to George Roll from
  15. George Roll to Edward Knoche
  16. Michael Killinger estate to John Roll
  17. John Roll to John Buczak

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Categories: Westwood Road Farms