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Roberts, Benjamin W. (1852–1904)

T. Bradford Willis Biography

Benjamin W. Roberts, African Methodist Episcopal minister, city official, and trustee of Paul Quinn College, was born at Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida, on July 26, 1852. He was the son of John D. Roberts and Ellen (Dellafield) Roberts. Roberts was a graduate of Wilberforce University in Ohio. In December 1871 he married Diana Williams (1853–1893), and the couple had two known children, Rosa Lee Roberts (1878–1889) and Maggie C. Roberts (ca. 1874–1965), a graduate of Paul Quinn College in 1895 and later its dean of music. After the death of his first wife, Roberts married Leona Ferguson at Franklin County, Ohio, on December 22, 1902.

Roberts was licensed to preach by the Reverend William Bradwell of the Florida Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on September 15, 1871. Roberts was later ordained deacon and elder in the denomination and served as a minister and presiding elder in Florida and later in Texas. He came to Texas in 1883 and held appointments in Austin and San Antonio. One of his last appointments was to Saint Paul’s A.M.E. Church of Waco, where he also served as a trustee of Paul Quinn College. He was chairman of the executive board of Paul Quinn College at the time of his death. Roberts was selected a clergy delegate to several sessions of the General Conference of the A.M.E. Church.

During his life, in addition to his ministerial positions, Roberts served as a Monroe County, Florida, county commissioner and a Key West city councilman/alderman and collector of customs. Benjamin W. Roberts died on February 1, 1904, and was buried at First Street Cemetery of Waco.

Canter Brown, Jr. Florida’s Black Public Officials, 1867–1924 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998). Kobena Korang-Arthur, The History of Paul Quinn College: Austin and Waco Years (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Texas, 1992). “Rev Benjamin W Roberts,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35097999), accessed January 9, 2018. Horace Talbert, The Sons of Allen (Xenia, Ohio: The Aldine Press, 1906). 

Categories:

  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Religion
  • African Methodist Episcopal

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

T. Bradford Willis, “Roberts, Benjamin W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/roberts-benjamin-w.

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