Rachel Roberson has consumed a lot of my genealogical research time. She is supposed to have been Indian, or perhaps part Indian. I’ve wanted to find some answers but now years of research have given me so much information it seems almost impossible to say anything helpful.
She was Rachel (Roberson) Horne (1847-1944), my grandmother’s grandmother. More exactly, my father’s mother’s father’s mother. Traditions in different branches of the family tell me she smoked a corncob pipe, and she taught beading and basket weaving to her daughters and granddaughters. Rachel’s sympathies were with the South during the Civil War (“She was one of the onriest Rebels there was”).
My genealogy correspondents seem to be aware William Horne’s wife was Indian, but none of them have had any further information except to attribute his nomadic life and extreme poverty to her influence.
The 1850 and 1860 censuses show Rachel as the daughter of Rufus and Elizabeth (Lomax) Roberson. She is said to have had a brother Thomas Skidmore Roberson, as well as an unnamed sister who married a Lakota man. That marriage is implied to have been the origin of the connection between our family and the family of Pete Catches.
There is a curious tradition that Rachel was sold by her parents. It’s not clear whether she is supposed to have been sold to the Robersons by her Indian parents, or she is supposed to have been sold by the Robersons to Wiliam Horne as a wife.
Rachel is shown on censuses as the only child of Rufus and Elizabeth Roberson. This might support the tradition she was adopted but DNA triangulation seems to show she was probably their biological daughter. Her descendants have autosomal matches with descendants of Rufus Roberson’s brothers Benjamin and Craig.
I’ve found no evidence of the brother or sister Rachel is said to have had, except a magazine clipping of a picture of a Lakota boy in traditional dress on which my father wrote, “This is the grandson of Rachel Horn’s sister.” The clipping seems to be from a 1960s or 70s magazine such as Life or Look. I’m relatively certain the boy pictured is Pete Catches, Jr.