The Robertson men: O.D. Robertson, John Robertson, Sid Robertson, Gene Robertson, Les Robertson
The following is an article from the River Press, Oct 14, 1998, the Fort Benton newspaper. It gives some family history as told by Uncle Gene, my Dad's brother. Sometimes our family stories are accurate, sometimes they have been distorted over time. When they are distorted, I've noticed there is usually some truth, but the facts might apply to a different family member For instance, this article says O.A. Robertson was from Virginia. From census records and other records, I have determined he was born in Virginia but moved to Carroll Co. Missouri when he was two. So, I'm betting he considered himself to be from Missouri, not Virginia. Also, there was a Robertson who led a Missouri Army, but this army fought for the Union. And, by a record written in his own hand O.A. Robertson states he left for the gold fields from Carroll Co. Missouri, not Vicksburg. I am wondering if some of this info was confused with Great Grandfather John Byrd who DEFINITELY fought for the South. My Dad said his ancestors were imprisoned in Andersonville which was a Confederate prison camp. So things get garbled over time, but it's still interesting and brings up questions. Could O.A. have fought for the North and the Byrds for the South? Anyhow, here is some family history from Uncle Gene and Aunt Neve, the twins in my Dad's family.
ROBERTSON TWINS RETURN TO FORT BENTON BIRTHPLACE
By Larry Thornton
Eighty-one years ago on Oct. 10, 1917, during World War I a mother-to-be from Valley County, who had been staying with her sister across the river from Fort Benton, made the trip into town, to St. Clare Hospital.
On Oct 10, 1998, the results of that earlier trip journeyed back to Fort Benton to spend a special birthday on the streets of the community they were born in.
Gene Robertson and Geneva "Robertson" Pearson, the son and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Duncan Robertson, and who were possibly the first twins born at St. Clare Hospital, talked about their return to their birthplace, there [sic] lives, and their family history, with its many ties to Fort Benton and the state of Montana.
"It's nice to come back to see something that had to do with your past," Gene Robertson said.
At the time of their birth, Gene's mother had been staying with her sister, Mabel Mason, on a ranch east of Fort Benton, while his father was stationed at an Army camp in the State of Washington.
When the war finally ended, Gene said, O.D. Robertson returned to Montana and moved his family to Great Falls, York and eventually Helena.
As he talked about his family, it was clear that Gene's family history was in many cases, the history of the Treasure State.
Gene's grandfather, Oscar A. Robertson, like so many others from the distant state of Virginia, served in the Army of the Confederacy, and like many southern soldiers, was captured at Vicksburg, and faced the hardships of the Union's prison. And like many other confederate [sic] prisoners, took the Union government up on its parole offer.
Faced with the horrors of the Civil War, and its drain on the army, the North paroled many captured "rebels," if they'd once more take up their allegiance to the Union, promise not to take further part in the hostilities tearing apart the eastern states, and head west, where they'd serve as part of the military forces defending the frontier against "hostile Indians."
However, O.A. Robertson apparently got sidetracked on his Journey west, and didn't exactly fulfill all of the provisions of his parole - at least not intentionally.
While Gene's grandfather did eventually fight off Indian attacks in the west, and may have even been assisting the U.S. Military in doing so, it wasn't until some years later.
Gene explained that his grandfather hooked up with Col. Charles A. Broadwater's Diamond R Freight Company, and worked with the company until the railroad came in 1883. By that time, Gene's father had come along, and like many other youngsters wanted to "go to work with his father."
Apparently, Gene's grandmother [ Uncle Gene must have meant Grandma Emeline Owens Byrd who was raising O.D. and his brother since their mother, Rose Byrd Robertson died in 1878] gave in - just once- to her seven-year-old's request to make the freight trip with his father, allowing Gene's father to accompany her husband to pick up freight at Cow Island, in 1879, Gene said said he still remembered listening as his father told about the Indian attack [my Dad told this story too].
Gene also spoke of other memories about his father, a top ranch hand in later days, whose first job included working along side Montana artist, and ranch hand, Charles M. Russell.
In the years that followed their move to Helena, Gene found himself in the saloon business, "I never smoked or drank, but I've been in the bar business most of my life," he said.
While Gene worked at his chosen occupation his sister, Geneva, took the route of the salon, rather than the saloon, becoming a beautician and waitress. Although Geneva's early years were spent in Montana - they both attended school in Helena where Gene currently resides.....