Submitted by Frank Cuzalina, son
Jane Impson Robinson raised ten children and four grandchildren against almost impossible conditions. Whole overcoming the loss of several children from tuberculosis she remained a determined and devout servant of God. She raised their own food, slaughtered her own animals and sewed all family clothing. Today, she is still remembered as Mrs. Robinson, “the Indian Lady on Russian Hill” in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. In our family, Jane Impson Robinson is our “Famous Person”, a symbol of strength and spiritual leadership like so many original Choctaw enrollees.
John W. Robinson, the son of N.C. and Jane Robinson was born in Kentucky in the year 1844. He moved to Indian Territory where he was a teacher and accomplished stonemason. He was at one time a teacher in a Choctaw Indian Seminary. He married Jane Impson in Jumbo, Indian Territory near Antlers in 1862. Jane Impson Robinson’s parents were Josiah and Jane Impson of Jack Fork County, Indian Territory. Josiah Impson and several brothers came from Mississippi to near Antlers, and lived in an area known as Impson Valley. Jane Robinson had three brothers, Isiaac, Morris and Joshua. John W. Robinson and Jane Robinson’s first-born child John Jr. was stillborn on December 16, 1885 in Jumbo. Shortly after, John W. and Jane Robinson moved to Hartshorne, Indian Territory, to allotted Indian land. They were the original pioneer settlers of the present day Russian Hill section of Hartshorne. In 1897, John W. and Jane Robinson donated six acres of their land to Carpatho-Russian Immigrants on which to build a church. In 1897 the Saints Kyril and Mefody Russian Orthodox Temple between St. Louis, Missouri and San Franciso, California. A century later it stands as a symbol of the combined integrity of both Russian and Indian people. Upon receiving allotted land, the Robinson family ultimately built three new homes on the western edge of Hartshorne. Proceeds from the sale of some allotted land or rental income permitted the Indian family to purchase a new “Whippet” brand automobile which they proudly drove about to be admired by the “white folks” John W. Robinson used his skills as a stone mason to build several rock commercial buildings still in use in Hartshorne. A large rock spring fed water well built by Mr. Robinson in 1904 can still be found in good condition on the original home site.
Prejudice toward Choctaw people was common even in the 1930’s and 1940’s. A great-grandson of Jane Robinson remembers as a child of five or six, walking to Hartshorne with her and hearing people calling her and “Indian gut eater” or “Indian nigger”. On one occasion a white man ordered Mrs. Robinson off a narrow sidewalk so that he could pass. She responded by singing in Choctaw as she proceeded to claim her rights to the sidewalk with her great-grandson in tow! Seeking medical services at the U.S. Government Hospital in Talihina in the 1920’s involved a day’s trip by wagon or automobile to Wilburton. Staying overnight there, the Choctaws from Hartshorne would then travel on the second day over the mountains south of Wilburton to Talihina. The present highway east of Hartshorne to Talihina did not exist then. The hospital was a wooden building and only basic care was available. As an inpatient there, Jane Robinson remembered an orphan’s home for Choctaws nearby which provided dairy products for the hospital. As an elderly patient in the “new” hospital built in 1937, she enjoyed the antics of little Choctaw boys at the nearby orphan’s home.
Jane Robinson often told of Indian customs related to death. When death occurred, a year of mourning followed. To mark the end of mourning, a Choctaw “Cry” was held near the greave. The family was encircled by friends and the ‘Song of Everlasting” sung. This released the family from mourning and the deceased was never again mourned by calling his name.
John W. Robinson died on October 25, 1916. Jane Impson Robinson continued to rear children in addition to her four grandchildren; C.H. Robinson, Dean Shockley, Euleda Shockley and Evelyn Jane Shockley Ledbetter. Jane Robinson was known as a matriarch, committed and devoted to rearing a family in difficult times. She was highly respected between Indian and non-Indian people and preferred to speak the Choctaw language rather than English. She was called “Jensie” by Choctaw people. Jane Impson Robinson died at 9 AM on Saturday, July 27, 1940. Relatives present at her death in Hartshorne were Mary Esther, Rosa Ann, Ruth Lavaughan, Evelyn Jane and her son Foy. Jane Robinson Date of Birth – Unknown, Date of Death – July 27, 1940. The Robinson Family and some of their descendants include; Minnie Shockley – She was married to John Ed Shockley, a Choctaw from Stringtown, Oklahoma. Her children were; Otto Shockley, Euleda Tallon, Sean Shockley and Evelyn Jane Ledbetter. Grandchildren; Mildred and Jim Tallon, Ronald, Foy and Barbara Ledbetter. Josiah – Died in 1919 in Belgium as a soldier. He had no children; Wife’s name was Lena. Teresa- Died at age 19. She was married to a Mr. Davidson. They had no children.
Charles Jesse- Married to Rose, and had one child a son, C.H. Robinson. “Charlie” was a jeweler, owning two jewelry stores in Hot Springs and Heber Springs, Arkansas. Both he and Rose died of tuberculosis, leaving C.H. an orphan at age fourteen. C.H. was tragically killed in a swimming accident near Hartshorne at age 19. Rosa Ann McKinley Robinson- Date of birth – May 26, 1897 Date of death – November 23, 1946. Married to Charles Lester “Jack” Thomas and had two children. Ruth Lavaughn and Eudora June. Ruth Lavaughn Thomas married Frank Cuzalina, and had four sons; Frank Ralph, Charles Thomas (died of pneumonia in 1936), Dale Angelo and Lawrence Dean. Franks wife is Jancie Monta and his children of Choctaw ancestry are; Charles Courtland, William Frank, Lyle Dale and Frank Jay.
Frank has one granddaughter of Choctaw ancestry, Courtney Ann Cuzalina. Dale’s wife is Dianna Lynn. He has no children. Lawrence’s wife is Sheila Ann and they have three sons of Choctaw ancestry; Larence Angelo, Chris Dale and Kevin dean. The three sons of Ruth Lavaughn all reside in McAlester, Oklahoma. Eudora June Thomas married Bill Wansick and has one son, Billy Ray and two grandchildren; Carla and Michael all of Choctaw heritage. Eudora June resides in Haileyville, Oklahoma. Theodore R. – He was married to Edna. They had four children; Teddy Rose, Edna Lucille, Martha Jane and John who settled in Grass Valley, California. Mary Esther – She married Bill O. Killebrew and had eleven children; Mary Evelyn, Betty Jane, Una Mae, Josiah, Bob, Paul, John, Norma, Erma, Wesley and an unnamed stillborn daughter. The Killebrews have a multitude of grandchildren, most of whom live in the Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada area. Jane Lucille – not enrolled. She married Boyd Roberts and had one son, Jerry Morris Roberts and three grandchildren.
Jane Lucille Roberts is the sole surviving member of the John W. and Jane Robinson family. At age 92 (as of 1996) she resides in northern California. Walter – not enrolled. He and his wife Laura had two sons; Arden of McAlester, Oklahoma and Jack Alexander who lives in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. John Jr. – stillborn, not enrolled.