Joseph Perkins Ellis is among the oldest living ministers of this Association, and has been one of the most active and useful. His parents were Virginians, but settled in Shelby county, Kentucky, about 1803, where J. P. Ellis was born, in October, 1811. In 1819 his parents moved to Daviess county, where he was brought up. He was educated under the tution of Stephen H. Maddox, whose school he attended seven years. In 1826, he obtained hope in Christ, under the ministry of Samuel Vancleave; but he delayed uniting with a church, till 1834, when he was baptized by John Holland for the fellowship of Bethel church, in Shelby county. This occurred while he was on a visit to his relatives. Four days after his baptism, he delivered an exhortation from the words, “God is love.” Returning to his home in Daviess county, he gave his membership to Panther Creek church. In December of the same year, he moved to Ohio county, and united with Bells Run church. On the 15th of September, 1835, he was married to Jane S. Taylor, and was licensed to preach, the following year. Although he had been zealously and usefully engaged in the Master’s vineyard, from the time he was baptized, he was not ordained, till October, 1842, when he came under the hands of Reuben Cottrell and H. H. Ellis. He immediately took charge of Bells Run church, and, within the same year, was called to the care of Panther Creek and Mt. Pleasant churches, in Ohio county, and Bethabara, in Daviess. Besides these, he has served, at different periods, Zion church in Ohio county, and Zion, Friendly Grove, Whitesville and Pleasant Ridge, in Daviess. To say that he served these churches faithfully and successfully, according to the custom of the times, would not give an adequate idea of his labor. Like Talbot, Downs and Cottrell, whom he succeeded, he was a voluntary unpaid missionary, seeking out the dark corners, and proclaiming salvation to the destitute. Only one year did he accept a salary for missionary labor. Among the churches of which he laid the foundation, are Whitesville and Zion in Daviess; Zion, in Ohio; Bethel in McLean, and Ohio in Spencer county, la. He also gathered the first Missionary Baptist church in Wayne county, Ill. In all, he has aided in the constitution of 16 churches. He has kept no account of the number he has baptized, but it must be quite large. The war-worn old soldier is no longer able to do the work of a pastor, but is still doing what he can. His residence is three miles east of Whitesville, in Daviess county, where he has resided since 1848.
Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. II. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886