Jane Impson Robinson raised ten children and four grandchildren against almost impossible conditions. While overcoming the loss of several children from tuberculosis she remained determined and devout servant of God. She raised their own food, slaughtered her own animals and sewed all family clothing. Today, she is still remember as Mrs. Robinson, “the Indian Lady on Russian Hill” and Hartshorne, Oklahoma.
In our Family, Jane Impson Robinson is our “Famous Person”, 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 of 1844. He moved to Indian Territory where he was a teacher and accomplished stone mason. 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 Greek Catholic Church was dedicated as the only Orthodox Temple between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, 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 homesite.
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 an “Indian gut eater” or “Indian nigger”. On one occasion Mrs. Robinson was ordered off a narrow side walk by a white man so 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 days trip by wagon or automobile to Wilburton. Staying overnight there, the Choctaws from Hartshorne would then travel a 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 Choctaws nearby which provided dairy product 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 orphans 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 grave. 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 Robinsons was known as a matriarch, committed and devoted to rearing family in difficult times. She was highly respected among 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 at 9 am on Saturday, July 27, 1940. Reatives present at her death in Hartshorne were May Esther, Rosa Ann, Ruth Lavaughan, Evelyn Jane and her son Foy.
Jane Robinson – Date of birth – July 27, 1940
Choctaw Roll No. 10723
Dawes Roll No. 14660