Ira and Sarah Root

Ira and Sarah Root

A Family of Independent Spirits

Condensed from an article by Jim Reis, published in Pieces of the Past, Volume 3, pages 26-28 and reprinted here with his permission.

The patriarch of the Campbell County family was Ira Root.  He was born in Piermont, New Hampshire, on May 4, 1806 the son of Ephraim Root and Vashti Birge.  The family later settled in Hebron Conn.  When Ira was 18, he journeyed to Cincinnati and moved in with his uncle, David Root, a well known Presbyterian minister.  While living there Ira decided to complete his schooling at Miami University.

Upon graduation, he worked for a short time as a professor of Greek and Latin at Augusta College in Bracken County, Kentucky.  Discovering that teaching was not his calling, he moved to Newport and begun studying law in the office of Richard Southgate.  On Dec 25, 1834 Ira Root married Sarah Ann Perry, granddaughter of Colonel David Perry and daughter of David and Susan Perry.  She was born in Newport 12 June 1818.  She died Jan 12, 1909 in Newport and was buried in Evergreen.

Children of Ira Root and Sarah Ann Perry

1. Oliver Wyatt Root b-3 Oct 1835 in Newport; d-3 Aug 1904 in Newport.
2. Albert Tell Root b-Aug 1840 in Newport; m-Margaret B Hawthorne (1848-21 Feb 1936), daughter of Jacob Hawthorne and Mary L Southgate, 23 Feb 1877 in Newport; d-7 Mar 1907 in Newport; br-Evergreen Cemetery
3. James C Root-born 1846 died 19 Dec 1871 m-Margaret B Hawthorne (1848-1936), daughter of Jacob Hawthorne and Mary L Southgate, 4 June 1867
4. Susan Root-born Jan 1851 died 8 Oct 1949; m Frank S Barker, had son Virgil F born 9 Sep 1877 who died 9 Jan 1945

Obituary of Sarah Ann Perry Root

After passing the local bar exam, Ira opened an office in Newport.  Later he formed a partnership with Francis Manville Webster and they shared a law office until 1860 when Webster was elected Newport City Attorney, an office he held until 1866.  Before his partnership with Webster, Ira got involved with politics and was elected in 1844 as a State Representative from Campbell County for the first of several terms.  He ran as a Democrat, although one would not have known that by reading the local newspaper.

During the 1845 session of the General Assembly, Root was one of the strong backers, and by one account the author of a bill establishing a state public school system.  The action led to a series of newspaper letters accusing Root of damaging the existing Newport Seminary, a privately run school.  The charges also generated letters in support of Root.

Before the Civil War, Root advocated keeping the country together regardless of the consequences.  And when the Confederate states seceded to trigger the Civil War, he backed the Republican Party position to maintain the union at all costs. 

In 1862 at the advanced age of 57, that irrepressible lion from New Hampshire shouldered a rife and joined Captain Arthur's Home Guard.  At a meeting in November 1863 at the Campbell County Courthouse in Newport, Root even joined Green Clay Smith in urging local residents to comply with the unpopular military draft.

Sarah Root was as active in the abolitionist movement as was her husband.

Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, 30 October 1861, page 2


LADIES ATTENTION!-The Newport Ladies Aid Society will meet this afternoon, October 30, at two o'clock at Mrs. Ira Root's residence, corner of York and Taylor streets.  Let all who are members and those desirous of becoming so, be prompt in attendance.  the cause is a noble one and every true hearted woman, who feels an interest in driving the rebels from our state, should immediately lend a helping hand to assist in providing the troops of our own State, as well as of Ohio and Indiana with the necessary clothing which the approaching cold weather imperatively demands.

Let it not be said to the shame of Kentucky's daughters that when the State was in peril from invasion by rebels and traitors, they failed to respond to the wants of the heroic men who rushed to her defense.


At a meeting of the Friends of Emancipation on February 18, 1864, in Newport, Ira spoke against slavery in all forms.  In 1866 he helped found a Methodist Church in Newport.  Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated Dec 2 1866.  Ira Root died Feb 12, 1868 at the age of 62.  He died at 4 pm at his home on Third and York in Newport.  Services were held at the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church and he was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

1868 Obituary of Ira Root

Oliver Root graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1860, and like his father he first tried teaching.  He taught English literature at Brooks Academy and the Chickering Institute in Cincinnati and then in the Newport public schools.  Albert T and Oliver took over their father's practice after the death of Ira.  In 1867 Oliver was elected Newport city attorney, a post he was elected to several times.  Albert was elected to that position in 1877.  Oliver never married and died Aug 3 1904 at his home and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Children of Albert Tell Root and Margaret B Hawthorne

1. Sallie Southgate Root-born 2 Mar 1878; m Bailey Morlidge
2. Mary Hawthorne Root-born 10 July 1879 died Oct 1973 m-James Wright Jr.
3. Albert Hawthorne Root b-28 Jan 1881 in Newport; d-21 Dec 1973 in Ft Thomas; br-Evergreen Cemetery; m-Frances Bliss 15 June 1909; d/o Henry Bliss and Bettie Hayman; d-24 May 1973; br-Evergreen Cemetery
4. Susan Virginia Root-born 9 May 1888
5. Lucille Dare Root-born 31 Jan 1886; m-Earl Smith

Obituary of Albert Tell Root

Children of James C Root and Margaret B Hawthorne

1. Ira Root-born 18 Mar 1868 in Newport; d-28 Nov 1872 in Newport
2. Horace White Root b-5 Nov 1869 in Newport; d-29 Sep 1969 in Ft Thomas; he served as Newport city attorney from 1913-1917; m-Melissa born 1874 died 20 July 1963; had daughter Irene Ware born Nov 1899
3. Anna Blanche Root-born 3 Nov 1871

James C Root died a few years after his father on Dec 19, 1871.  An account on Dec 23 in the Covington Journal called James C Root "a young man of much promise and very favorably known."  He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

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