William Roark was born September 16, 1803 in Tennessee. He married Margaret Reed, the daughter of the famous pioneer Baptist minister, Isaac Reed. In the fall of 1834 they immigrated from Tennessee to Texas. They were accompanied by both William and Mary's parents. William Roark was appointed surveyor for the Mexican government by the land commissioner in Nacogdoches in early 1835. Soon after he was also surveying for the colonies of David G. Burnet, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Joseph Vehlein. On July 31, 1837, Roark was commissioned by Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas, to the office of Justice of Peace in the Captains district of Nacogdoches County. In the late 1830's, Roark was a partner in Durst and Mitchell Mercantile Co. located on the east side of the Angelina River. Roark was one of the first two Deacons when the Old Palestine Baptist Church was organized in the home of Thomas Selman. When there were no schools, Roark, who had a long interest in education, provided tutors for his children. In 1845 when the Nacogdoches University was organized, Roark was one of the original subscribers. On July 13,1846, in the first election held in the county, he was elected as one of the four county commissioners.
William Roark died of diphtheria in his home near Linwood, Texas on December 10, 1862. He and his wife are buried in the family cemetery which he had designated in 1838. It is now a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. William and Margaret had eleven children.
("Roark, William." Control File, East Texas Research Center. Ralph W. Steen Library. Stephen F. Austin State University).