J. M. Roberts, a leading merchant of Maysville, was born in Estill County, Ky., on June 20, 1847. He is the eighth of fourteen children born to George and Polly E. (Gum) Roberts, both of whom were natives of Kentucky. The father was a farmer, and emigrated to Missouri in 1856, settling in De Kalb County. He died in 1879. The mother died in 1857. J. M. was reared on the farm, and attended the public schools. At an early age he was thrown upon his own resources, his father breaking up housekeeping after his mother's death. When but sixteen years of age he volunteered in the Missouri State Militia, and served one year. He engaged in farming until 1874, when he was elected sheriff of De Kalb County. After leaving that office, he purchased a tract of new land, and after improving it sold it, and engaged in merchandising at Maysville. On April 3, 1870, he was united in marriage with Jennie Lanham, a native of Good Hope, Fayette Co., Ohio, born March 15, 1851. They had four children, born as follows: Minnie B., February 14, 1871, died January 5, 1874; Dennis W., May 3, 1874, died September 17, 1875; Ira Mack, January 18, 1876; Harry E., March 9, 1880, died January 20, 1881. The mother died January 14, 1884. On March 31, 1885, he chose for his second wife Laura J. Ogle, of Maysville, born June 20, 1866. She is the daughter of ex-sheriff E. B. Ogle. To this union two children have been born as follows: Loretta, March 28, 1886, and an infant daughter, March 28, 1886, died March 29, 1886.

Source: History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties, Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1888), pp. 581-582.