Roberts Sr.


JOSEPH ENGLAND ROBERTS was born in New Jersey in February of 1840 to Jacob and Joanna Roberts. The 1850 Census and the 1860 Census shows the family living in Woolwich Township in Gloucester County. Joseph E. Roberts did not serve in the Civil War.

On January 28, 1868 the Roberts' first child, Eleanor "Nellie" Roberts was born. The family was living in Auburn, in Salem County. The 1870 Census shows him living in Upper Penn's Neck Township in Salem County, where he was a dealer in dry goods. He lived his wife Priscilla and there two daughters, Eleanor "Nellie" and Joanna, his parents and younger sister Emma. The family moved to Camden at some point after the 1870 Census.

The 1872 Camden City Directory shows Jacob Roberts, a builder, living at Royden and Roberts Street. The Roberts family moving to Camden and simultaneous first appearance of Roberts Street in Camden City Directories cannot be a coincidence. It is likely that this is Joseph E. Roberts and family, with Jacob, his father, being listed in the directory as the head of household and principal in the business. As of this writing Jacob's role in the business is not known. It is known that Joseph E. Roberts went into the construction business after arriving in Camden, and was quite successful. In 1873 he went into partnership in a real estate business with Barton Lowe. The 1874 City Directory shows Joseph E. Roberts in the insurance business at 419 Hamilton Street, which was renamed Berkley Street a few years later. The 1876 City Directory shows Joseph E. Roberts back in construction at 232 Benson Street, along with his ward John Nulty.

By 1877 the Joseph E. Roberts and family were living at 401 Broadway. This would be his address for the rest of his days. The 1880 Census shows Joseph E. Roberts and his wife Priscilla, daughter Nellie, Joanna, and Elizabeth, and sons Joseph Jr. and three-month old Herbert living at the Broadway address. Sadly, Herbert died as a child. Also living at 401 Broadway were wards John Nulty and Amy Batten. Another daughter, Erma, was was born in October of 1885. Sadly, Mrs. Priscilla Roberts passed away on February 16, 1889.

Miriam Nulty Finkeldey, daughter of John Nulty, wrote the following about the Roberts family:

Joseph England Robert Sr. lived at the corner of Benson and Broadway in Camden, N.J. The father was a well-known, prosperous lawyer [and builder- PMC]. 6 Children: Miss Amy [Amy Batten, apparently a ward- PMC], Eleanor and Joanna "Anna" (teachers). Elizabeth "Diddie", Dr. Joe and Erma. The Roberts family spent each summer on the same farm in Auburn, N.J. This farm adjoined the from of Charles McNulty who had 6 children also. The oldest was John McNulty, my father. When John was old enough to go to school, Mr. Roberts investigated the Auburn one-room schoolhouse system and asked Charles if John could come live with them so that he could attend Camden City schools. He came when he was 8 in 1861 and there until he and my mother were married in 1888. When John became of age he changed his name to Nulty. 

Joseph E. Roberts' father, Jacob Roberts, had passed away shortly before the 1880 Census. Jacob's wife, Joanna was living with her married daughter Hannah Harbison at 560 Benson Street, a short walk from 401 Broadway.

In 1886, George Reeser Prowell wrote of Joseph E. Roberts in his book History of Camden County, New Jersey:

Among the builders of Camden are several who have erected five or six hundred houses each. The heaviest operators are undoubtedly Cohn & Roberts, Wilson Ernst, and George Holl. Fine examples of the work of the firm first named are to be seen on Front and Point Streets, between Cooper and Linden. Mr. E.N. Cohn commenced building in 1866, erecting in that year 12 houses on Pearl Street. He then continued putting up blocks and separate structures, operating alone and in conjunction with Charles B. Richard and Asa R. Cox, and building not less than one hundred and fifty houses. He also erected the Pfeil and Galtz building, which was burned. In 1882 he formed a partnership with Joseph E. Roberts, who, individually, had built about two hundred houses, and as a firm they have since constructed at least four-hundred and fifty dwellings, to which line of building they devote themselves exclusively.

As indicated above, Joseph E. Roberts had partnered with Edward Cohn.  The Roberts and Cohn real estate firm was located at 105 Market Street. Edward Cohn bought land from John F. Starr Jr. in North Camden, and with partners Roberts and George Holl built many two- and three-story row and frame houses from Cooper's Point to Pearl Street, which they sold and rented out to working class people. By the time the 1890 City Directory was compiled, Joseph E. Roberts had gotten away from construction and was primarily engaged in the real estate business. His business included real estate ventures in Somerset County, New Jeresey and in Cape May. City Directories indicate that this was his profession until his passing in 1915. The 1910 City Directory also indicates that he practiced law, as do the recollections of his granddaughter.

Joseph E. Roberts and his family were active members of Broadway Methodist Church. Joseph E. and Priscilla Roberts' surviving son, Joseph E. Roberts Jr., became a prominent physician in Camden and surrounding environs. Dr. Roberts Jr. was also for many years a trustee of Broadway Methodist Church in Camden. Joseph E. Robert Sr. was one of the original trustees of The Home for the Aged and Infirm of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Camden Democrat
June 26, 1872

Joseph E. Roberts
Barton Lowe

Camden Democrat * July 18, 1874

To the Honorable the City Council of the city of Camden,N. J.

WE, your petitioners, residents of the Fourth and Sixth wards of this city, and property 
owners therein, most respectfully petition your honorable body to construct a culvert for under-drainage, to commence at the termination of the Line street culvert, at the intersection of Line street and Broadway, and to extend outward to the intersection of Line and Sixth streets; thence northward to and to connect with the culvert at the Intersection of Sixth and Royden Streets in the said city. And your petitioners will over pray, &0. January, 1874. 

JOHANNA ROBERTS, 17 houses, 6th ward. 
J. E. ROBERTS, 19 houses, 4th ward. 
F.J. ROBERTS 22 houses, 4th Ward 
LAWRENCE KELLEY,  Sixth and Royden Streets, 4th ward. 
WM. HEYWOOD, Corner of Line and St. John Street, 4th ward. 
F. ERNST, 4th ward. 
PETER McGLYNN, 612 St. John Street, 4th ward. 
WM. J. KENNEDY, 607 Line Street 
S. B. HARRISON 4th ward. 
JACOB ROBERTS 614 Royden Street, 4th ward. 
M.E. HARDEN, 6th Ward 
REUBEN B. COLE, N. W. Corner of Reese & Division, 6th ward. 
ARTHUR STANLEY, 929 Newton Ave.
GEORGE HOLL, 706 South Fifth Street
SAMUEL W. THOMAN, 712 South Fifth Street, 6th ward. 
JOHN WELSH, 6tb ward. 
WM. HEYWOOD. 6th ward. 
F. ERNST 6th ward. 
GEORGE ROTH,  559 Royden Street, 4th ward. 
OWEN FARELY, 707 South Sixth Street, 6th ward. 
WILSON ERNST, 559 Line Street, 4th ward 
JOHN BOWYER 4th ward, 12 houses
GEORGE WALKER 818 Broadway, 6th ward
GEORGE W. FIELD 805 Broadway, 6th ward 
JOSEPH H. THOMPSON, 901 Broadway, 6th ward 


Philadelphia Inquirer
June 7,1888

Joseph E. Roberts
Edward N. Cohn
Locust Street - Mechanic Street
Knight Street
Front Street - Chestnut Street
Kaighn Avenue - Stevens Street
Broadway - Benson Street
Viola Street - Cox Street
Berkley Street - Pleasant Street
North 27th (Cooper) Street 
Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Keystone Chemical Company
George Holl
James Cox
Frank Shaw

Camden Post
June 29, 1888

Philadelphia Inquirer
January 14, 1890

Kaighn's Point Ferry Company
Herbert C. Felton
West Jersey Title & Guarantee Company
Samuel H. Grey -
John J. Burleigh 
William Casselman - D. Somers Risley
William J. Sewell - Peter L. Voorhees
William S. Scull - E.N. Cohn
Franklin C. Woolman -
Thomas E. French
Alexander C. Wood
Camden Heating & Lighting Company
E.A. Armstrong -
Joseph E. Roberts
George Barrett -
J. Willard Morgan
William T. Bailey - David Baird Sr.
Howard M. Cooper - Rene Gillon

Jersey Journal - June 18, 1890


Philadelphia Inquirer
April 28, 1895

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 4, 1912

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 30, 1915
Joseph Roberts
Broadway - Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church

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Philadelphia Inquirer - July 30, 1915
Joseph Roberts
Broadway - Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church

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Philadelphia Inquirer - July 30, 1915
Joseph Roberts - Rev. John Handley - Broadway
Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church

Old Camden Cemetery