The following brief biography of Roberts is found in The Baptist Encyclopædia: a Dictionary of the Doctrines, Ordinances, Usages, Confessions of Faith, Sufferings, Labors, and Successes, and of the General History of the Baptist Denomination in All Lands, (William Cathcart, editor, Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts, 1883, p. 993).
Roberts, Rev. Joseph, was born in Virginia in the year 1770. Some time about the close of the last century he left his native State in company with his father and settled on Little River, Greene Co., Ga. He had married before leaving Virginia, but had lost his wife, and therefore resided with his father for some years; but at that time neither he nor any of the family cared for religion, being intent upon the world and its pleasures and follies. Arrested in his wild career by the grace of God in the year 1803, Mr. Roberts united with the church at Whatley’s Mills, now Bethesda, and at once took a high stand as a member, attending the Georgia Association as a delegate in 1804. He married in 1805, and settled in Powelton, Hancock Co., where he was the companion and fellow-laborer of William Rabun, the two representatives for a number of years of the Powelton church in the Association. He soon manifested the possession of decided ministerial talents, and in 1811 was licensed to preach; two or three years afterwards he was ordained, and immediately entered upon a course of extensive and useful labor. The churches at Powelton, Horeb, Bethel, and White Plains, besides others, enjoyed the benefits of his ministry, the last mentioned, perhaps, sharing most largely in his godly labors. For eighteen consecutive years he preached to the White Plains church, being much esteemed by it and by all the other churches he served. Few ministers possessed to the extent he did the faculty of endearing their people to them, and this, perhaps, was one secret of his usefulness. The doctrines of grace were his delight, and furnished the staple of his sermons; yet, like Paul, he dwelt much upon practical godliness. He ended his useful life on the 22d of October, 1837, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.[ii]
[i] My note from the front of the White Plains church minutes is “February 1818 - Oct. 1836.” But from the text of the minutes I copied that Joseph Roberts was “…chosen by unanimous voice of the church and congregation” (Aug 15, 1818; p. 35). Perhaps this is explained that he tentatively arrived in February, but was not officially installed until August. The January 10, 1818 minute says the church appointed “Shockley, Veazey, Colwell, Parker, Ivy, and Grier to consult with Brother Joseph Roberts about becoming pastor” (p. 33).
[ii] Other information I have indicates that Joseph Roberts was born in Virginia in 1769 and died in Georgia in 1836. The Christian Index obituary for Roberts was published December 1, 1836 – meaning it is highly unlikely that he died in October 1837!