While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


T. Bradford Willis
Benjamin W. Roberts.
Benjamin W. Roberts (1852–1904). Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

ROBERTS, BENJAMIN W. (1852–1904). 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. 

Grave of Benjamin W. Roberts
Grave of Benjamin W. Roberts. Courtesy of T. Bradford Willis. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

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). 

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, T. Bradford Willis, "ROBERTS, BENJAMIN W.," accessed May 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/frore.

Uploaded on January 17, 2018. Modified on January 24, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...