John Roorbach
Stefan Bielinski

According to family-based resources, John Roorbach was born in New York City in 1727. He was the son of Palatine émigrés Johannes and Sophia Grau Roorbach. His name was spelled variously and he sometimes was referred to as "Johannes Rohrbach, Jr." In 1748, he was admitted to the New York City Dutch church.

A number of same-named individuals are at risk during this time period. This sketch focuses on the Albany city resident during the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

He may have lived in Rhinebeck during the early 1750s. By 1756, "Mr. Rullyback" was in Albany and was identified as "Schoolmaster." However, he soon entered business and also served as an attorney and interpreter. By 1768, he had become prominent enough to be elected alderman for the first ward. Initially, the councilman was concerned with improving the road and docks located south of city hall. He served on the city council for most of its life until after 1780.

His home in "Cheapside" next to the King's Arms was a first ward landmark. In 1766, he stood with his neighbors in opposition to the Stamp Act. However, his name is not found in the records of the Albany Committee except where cases were referred to him as a "justice" - even during the period between colonial and state governments. In 1779, he examined German prisoners on behalf of the Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies. He also held Continental loan certificates. After the war, he was accorded a bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia regiment.

For more than two decades, this newcomer was an Albany mainstay. During those years, his name was among the most prominent on Albany Masonic rosters. Beginning in 1766, his house and holdings were valued on Albany assessment rolls. In 1779, his various first ward properties were valued substantially. During those years, he witnessed a number of wills of Albany peope. In September 1777, he witnessed the will of an albany yeoman. The last reference to him appeared in the city records for September 21, 1783 when his account for 12 shillings for wheat was ordered to be paid. After that, his name has not been found on Albany rolls.

Roorbach's marriage record is less definitive. A number of scenarios are in play. However, by the 1750s, the future Albany resident the husband of the Albany-born advantaged widow Anna Staats Visscher - who was responsible for a number of living children. Their child had been christened in Rhinebeck in 1752. No Roorbach children appear to have been baptized in Albany churches although both partners were occasional baptism sponsors at the Albany Dutch church.

Although his property was shown on a map of Market Street dated 1790, John Roorbach probably left Albany in the years surrounding the end of the War. Perhaps, he had moved west. He may have been the individual listed on the census of 1790 with a household of four men, two women, two other free people, and two slaves in Canajoharie. In 1800, a younger same-named individual was identified as a head of a substantial household living in Scipio in Cayuga County.

We move on for now but seek further information on his later years and passing.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Roorbach is CAP biography number 7956. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Family information is from Lewis Bunker Rohrbach, Rohrbach Family: Descendants of Nine Rohrbach Immigrants to Colonial America, 1709-1754, (1970), pp. 237-39.

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first posted 4/25/04; last updated 11/29/15