Catharina Gale Roberson

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Catharina Gale Roberson (Helvey)

Also Known As: "Catherine Helva", "Catherine Helbay"
Birthplace: Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in New Market, Platte County, Missouri, United States
Place of Burial: Dearborn, Platte County, Missouri, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Henry Helvey and Susanna Helvey
Wife of James Roberson
Partner of Joseph Barron, Indian Trader
Mother of William Nathaniel Gale Barron, Sr; Joanna Collier; Catherine Mahala Crabtree; Rufus Morgan Roberson; Benjamin Francis Roberson and 3 others
Sister of ... Helvey; Susanna Hobbes; Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Casebolt; Henry Helvey, Jr.; Margaret Hutsell and 4 others

Managed by: Justin Swanström
Last Updated:

About Catharina Gale Roberson

She was named in her mother's 1794 will and was listed as an heir in her father's 1800 estate settlement.

"According to family members, Catherine and her first "husband" Joseph Barron were living in what is now Wythe County, Virginia when Barron left his family and went to Norfolk to sell his furs. Soon after, the news came to Catherine that there had been a big Indian raid and she, supposing he was killed after he did not return in a reasonable length of time, took her small children and went to Tennessee, to the Watauga Settlement in Carter County, where her uncle, William Nathaniel Gale lived, and for whom she had named her baby boy, who was born before leaving Virginia. Mr. Gale reared the lad and later made him his sole heir. Some time later, Catherine married a Mr. Roberts, or Robinson [James Roberson], in Tennessee." (Godspeed)

Some descendants have elaborated the story, making it even more romantic:

"A favorite family tale relates how the couple lost each other. They were residing in Wythe County, when Joseph went off to Norfolk to ship some furs.Soon after, news came to Catherine that there had been a big Indian raid with many fatalities. When Joseph did not return at the time expected, she assumed he'd been killed and took her children to Tennessee, to the Wautauga Settlement, where she sought shelter with her uncle, William Nathaniel Gale. She had named her baby boy, born before leaving Virginia, for Mr. Gale, who reared the lad and later made him his sole heir. Some time later Catherine married a Roberts or Robinson in Tennessee. Joseph, returning home, found Catherine gone. Eventually, he learned of her whereabouts and remarriage. He remained in Wythe County, set up a business with a Mr. Warner and remarried a Rhoda Mary Finley in September 1803." (Martha Tyler Graham, "Re: Wythe County Helveys", Feb. 2, 2000 at

The story can't be entirely accurate. Catherine's two children with Joseph Barron were born about 1801 and 1804 but the Cherokee attacks essentially ended with the massacre at Cavett's Station (near Knoxville) in 1793 and the killing of Chief Benge in 1794. Moreover, Norfolk is on the eastern coast of Virginia, while the Cherokee wars were inland. Joseph Barron married another woman in 1803. Then too, an affidavit made later says Catherine entrusted her son to two men who took him to her uncle in Tennessee about 1805, not that she herself took both children in 1803.

There are some peculiarities about her life that suggest, but do not prove, a different story. Joseph Barron was a good friend of her uncle William Gale. In 1823 Henry Sheffey testified that "Gale and Barron were on terms of great intimacy and friendship." Barron was also 24 years older than Catharina. Her mother was convicted of illegally selling liquor, and her uncle was a tavern keeper. Rufus Morgan's father Gideon Morgan was also a tavern keeper. In 1810 he was in Roane County, Tennessee, while Catharina's uncle William Gale was in These facts allow the speculation that Catharina might have become the mistress of Rufus Morgan after her lover Joseph Barron left her. Morgan could have been the father of her children Rufus Roberson and Catherine Roberson. She might not have married James Roberson until much later.

Guardianship papers for her son were recorded 18 August 1812 in Sullivan County, Tennessee, and re-recorded 1816 in Washington County, Virginia.

She was almost certainly married to James Roberson about 1803-1810, but I have not been able to find a record of her marriage. The passage above says she was living in Tennessee at the time of her marriage. Her uncle William Gale lived there in 1805. In 1809 and 1812 he was living in Sullivan County on the road to Lee Court House. Her sister Mary was living in adjoining Lee County, Virginia as early as 1792. Taken together, these facts suggest she was married in Sullivan or Lee counties about 1810.

She was not the Catharun Mann who married James Robertson on 6 April 1820 at Rutledge, Grainger County, Tennessee. That was a different couple.

From about 1813 Catharine and her husband lived at Lee County, Virginia, as did her sister Susanna and brother-in-law Absolom Hobbs, and her sister Mary and brother-in-law John Casebolt. Some sources say she was living there in 1801 when her son Gale Barron was born, although Godspeed says explicitly he was born in Wythe County.

Joseph Barron provided for his children by Catherine in his 1815 will. To Catharine Helbay's son Gale Barron, he gave his plantation in Anderson County, Tennessee, and to her daughter Joanna Barron, a house and lot in Williamsburg, Jackson County, Tennessee. Barron calls her Catherine Helbay and Catherine Hebbaley, perhaps suggesting she and James Roberson were not yet married when he made his will.

She might have been in Washington County, Virginia in 1816 when the guardianship papers for her son Gale Barron were recorded there.

After her second husband died, about 1839, Catherine moved with her grown children to Platte County, Missouri, and died intestate there. Janet (Palmatier) Leverett said (1999) that the Roberson family were Cherokee and came west on the Trail of Tears (1838).

She appears as Catherine Robinson on the 1840 census of Platte County. Her household consisted of 1 female 60-70 (herself), 3 males 20-30 (sons Rufus, Benjamin and Craig), 1 female 15-20 (daughter Regina), and 1 female 5-10 (unknown).

She appeared on the 1850 census next to her son Benjamin and with her son Craig and his family in her household. She died in 1851. Her gravestone says, Kathrine Roberson d. 7-26-1851, aged 70 years. On 14 August 1851 her son Benjamin Robeson posted bond as administrator of her estate. In 1853 a copy of her husband's will was recorded in the Platte County, Missouri Probate Court, in conjunction with the administration of Katherine's estate.

Her maiden name, birth date, and relationship to her husband and sons are shown by the LDS International Genealogical Index for Platte County, Missouri. This source indexes an LDS film "Official temple record for deceased individuals, 1991- #1903870. The LDS Church did not document the source of the information. According to this source, her name was "Katherine Helva" and her husband was "James Roberson."

She might have been particularly close to her brother Jacob Helvey, whose descendants used the given names Morgan and Pinckney. Jacob moved to Indianapolis before 1825; her granddaughter Rachel Roberson is said to have married at Indianapolis.


  •, Katharine Roberson
  • Emigration: Circa 1803 - Carter Co, Tennessee
  • Emigration: on the Trail of Tears - 1838 - Oklahoma
  • Emigration: 1839 - Platte Co, Missouri
  • Census: June 1 1840 - Platte Co, Missouri
  • Census: Oct 11 1850 - Green Twp, Platte Co, Missouri
view all 12

Catharina Gale Roberson's Timeline

March 10, 1781
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
December 1, 1801
Age 20
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Age 22
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Age 28
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Age 29
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
March 1, 1813
Age 31
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 35
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 38
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 40
Lee County, Virginia, United States