Catharina Roberson

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Catharina Roberson (Helvey)

Also Known As: "Catherine Helva", "Catherine Helbay"
Birthplace: Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Death: July 26, 1851 (70)
New Market, Platte County, Missouri, United States
Place of Burial: Dearborn, Platte County, Missouri, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Henry Helvey and Susannah Helvey
Wife of Unknown Father of Catherine Roberson and James Roberson, of Lee County
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 Hobbs; Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Davis Casebolt; Henry Helvey, Jr.; Christiana "Tiney" Rader and 3 others

Managed by: Eula Melvina Howard
Last Updated:

About Catharina Roberson

Catharina (Helvey) Roberson (1781-1851), a pioneer of Platte County, Missouri.

She was not named in the 1792 will of her father but she was named in the 1794 will of her mother as Catharina Helvey. When her father's estate was settled in 1800 "There was yet due to two of the legatees, to wit, Elizabeth Casebolt and Catherine Helvey, 27 pounds, 19 shillings, 10 pence each. The Settlement with the Executors of the estate of Henry Helvey decd. was returned to court and ordered to be Recorded 11 September 1800" (Wythe Co. Will Bk. 1:155-157). Catherine was probably living with Joseph Barron in Tennessee and her sister Elizabeth was probably living with John Casebolt in North Carolina.

"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 1886)

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. This is expected. Godspeed Publishing produced its History of Tennessee in 1886. As stated in the text, this story came from family members, probably descendants of Gale Barron, about 80 years after these events.

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 in Wythe County, which must have ended his relationship with Catharina.

Then too, it does not seem that Catharina took her children to Tennessee in 1803. An 1823 affidavit says Catherine entrusted her son, age 4 or 5, to Henry Sheffey and Thomas Warner (Barron's business partner in Wythe County), who took him to her uncle in Tennessee about 1805. Further, "Gale and Barron were on terms of great intimacy and friendship." It seems, then, that Catharina in Wythe County sent her son with a friend of her former lover to her uncle, who was another friend of his. This affidavit and testimony was probably made in connection with the lawsuit against Thomas Warner as executor of Joseph Barron's estate, in proceedings at Wythe County in 1824. The case went to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and was finally settled in 1831.

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.

Guardianship papers for her son were recorded 18 August 1812 in Sullivan County, Tennessee, and re-recorded 1816 in Washington County, Virginia. William Gale kept a "house of entertainment" (a tavern, and perhaps also an inn) in Sullivan County on the way to Lee Court House from 1809. So, the 1812 papers were filed where he was living, and perhaps Catharina also. The 1816 papers were recorded where she must have been living. There is an indenture recorded by a Catherine Robertson in Sullivan County but it is probably too early to be her, (Sullivan County Register of Deeds, Vol. 2: 1788-1796, p. 264).

From about 1813 Catharina 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 1838 or 1839, Catherine moved with her grown children to Platte County, Missouri. 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 intestate 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."


The 1835 will of James Robinson gave his wife Catharina his man called Pat and his negro girl Sally (Platte County Will Book 158). The 1850 Slave Schedule of Platte County, Missouri shows Cathr. Robertson with four slaves: 1 female age 25, 1 female age 7, 1 female age 5, and 1 female age 3. Under an order of distribution dated 20 July 1855 B. F. Robinson, administrator for Catharine Robinson had permission to distribute the slaves belonging to the estate: Davis, Sarah, Ann, MIlley, and Hannah "in order of distribution as divided and specified in the will of James Robinson" (Platte County Probate Book D:306).


Under the will of her husband she received a life interest in one-third of his estate. When she died a copy of her husband's will had to be obtained from Lee County, Virginia. Her son Benjamin was appointed administrator of her estate. Benjamin F. Robeson posted bond as administrator of the estate of Katharine Robeson on 14 August 1851 (signed B. F. Robeson).

On 11 November 1853 B. F. Roberson, administrator, filed the 2nd annual accounting (balance $848.41). Refers to an earlier accounting filed 10 October 1851 (balance $410.58), sale of personal property filed 10 October 1851 (balance $533.73), and additional inventory filed 11 October 1852 ($39.79). (Estate of Katharine Roberson, Platte County Probate Book C:338).

On 3 October 1854 the court appointed William McN. Clough administrator pro tem, On the same day B. F. Robinson, administrator, filed a certified copy of the will of James Robinson. (Estate of Catharine Robinson, Platte County Probate Book C:627).

On 10 January 1855 B. F. Robinson, administrator, field the 3rd annual accounting(Estate of Catharine / Katharine Robinson (balance $898.92). (Platte County Probate Book D:101).

On 20 July 1855 most of the estate was distributed to the heirs. There was an order of distribution for the five slaves belonging to the estate (Probate Book D:306). B. F.Robinson, administrator, submitted an accounting showing $496.65 available for distribution, which the court ordered to be distributed except $150 to be held by the administrator until final settlement (Probate Book D:307). Finally, the court found the heirs entitled to distribution were the administrator "B. F. Robinson, Rufus M. Robinson, C. F. Robinson, and Regina Robinson as children of Katharine Robinson dec'd" (each one-fifth), and "(Regina Hammons and Robert Hammons) and (Joshua Dean and wife) are entitled through Thursy Robinson dec'd" (one-fifth) (Probate Book D:307).

On 26 October 1855 the estate was settled. Administrator B. F. Robinson submitted his final statement. The estate was valued at $2,729.43, which included $1,530 for slaves Sarah, Milly, Hanner, and Ann. The slaves were divided among the principal heirs. Son Craig took Sarah, son Rufus took Hanner, and Benjamin took Ann. Milly is credited to Jno. E. S. Russell, agent for John B. Collier. Collier was married to Joanna Barron, a daughter of Catherine Robinson by her prior "marriage" to Joseph Barron. John Russell was Collier's son-in-law. Collier received other payments, both for himself and as guardian for the Hammond heirs (daughter Thursy's children). Noticeably absent are any payments to daughter Regina. There is also a credit of $7,90 for "Old note on Smith Crabtree (insolvent)". He is thought to have been married to Catherine's daughter Mahala, but also received no other payments from the estate. Finally, there are no payments to Catherine's son Gale Barron. The pattern seems to suggest Regina and Joanna might have been the same person. (Probate Book D:394-95).


  • 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
  • Residence: 1850 - Green, Platte, Missouri, USA


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


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Catharina Roberson's Timeline

March 10, 1781
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
December 1, 1801
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
March 1, 1813
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Lee County, Virginia, United States