It seems appropriate to publish the first picture of the Roseberry House after the windows and shutters have been installed on the day that Dennis Bertland, the architectural historian we’ve engaged to assist us, provided a briefing on his investigation into the date of construction and for whom the house was built.
Contrary to my earliest inference, that it may have been built for John Tabor Kempe before the American Revolution, it appears it was erected in the 1780s or even 1790s for either John Roseberry or Joseph Roseberry, his son. The land was bought at a sheriff’s sale in 1787 by John Roseberry. It is clear that it was owned by Peter Kinney, who had purchased it from Daniel and William Coxe and John Tabor Kempe in 1772. Kinney was deeply involved as a soldier in the war, and his financial affairs were a mess, which resulted in the sheriff’s sale. He almost certainly was not in a position financially to erect the house.
It is unclear which Roseberry had the place built. Joseph purchased the property from his father in 1797, but may have been living there prior to that time. The preliminary dendrochronology report indicates the major timbers for the building were cut in 1788-1800, so it is probable the house was erected then. We may never get a definitive answer on the individual responsible, but we now have a pretty firm date.
Incidentally, by tracing immigration records and ships’ passenger lists Dennis found that the family’s original name was Rosenburger, and the family was German rather than English or Scottish. He says the evidence is not definitive, and genealogies can be confused, but that’s the most likely story based on what he found. There’s much more to come in the next several months; he expects to complete his research by the end of May.