Posts Tagged ‘Rush Roberts’

Rush Roberts’ Heritage

August 22, 2011

It is always gratifying when descendants and relatives of Carlisle Indian School football players comment on this blog. Even more gratifying is when they provide information not known and is not easily found. Most gratifying of all is when relatives use this blog as a way to get in touch with each other. All of these things happened last week.

Henry Roberts, left end on the great 1911 team, was the son of Rush Roberts, a legendary figure in Pawnee history. I blogged about Rush Roberts a couple of times in March and April 2010 after discovering things about him I didn’t previously know. Since that time, descendants of Rush have posted comments regarding family genealogy on those blogs, with last week having the greatest concentration of new information.

Unfortunately, comments on older posts don’t show up on the first page of the blog. Readers must search to find them. The easiest way is to search for Rush Roberts and open the comments on the posts relating to him. You should find these to be interesting reading.

More About Rush Roberts

March 3, 2010

The commenter who raised the issue about Rush Roberts’s heritage found his obituary and forwarded it. The March 11, 1958 issue of The Lawton Constitution included the following extract:

 Roberts on Sept. 3, 1876 was the youngest of 100 Pawnees chosen as scouts for soldiers assigned the job of avenging Gen. George A. Custer’s death In the battle of Little Bighorn. He enlisted under his boyhood name of Ahrekahrard.

 Roberts was born in Nebraska and came to Oklahoma on a long trek with his tribe in 1874-75 when the government established a Pawnee reservation.

 Roberts was first married in 1882 to an Indian girl whose name translated into English as Captive Princess. She died a year later. Polygamy was then customary in the tribe and he next married three daughters of Kaheeka, principal chief of the Skedee band of Shawnees.

 On Sept. 18, 1876 Roberts and his fellow recruits were formally mustered into the army at Sidney, Neb. In a little over a month after his enlistment, Roberts, then 17, was in battle….

 Roberts won high praise from white troop leaders he served, one officer recalling: “Ahrekahrard, the youngest Pawnee scout in Gen. Crook’s fall and winter campaign of 1876-77, was with us on every occasion, he was quiet, but brave as any man could be and be charged with us into the villages as fearlessly as a warrior should.”

 Roberts subsequently traveled with the William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody’s Wild West Show in 1884-85….

 The commenter wrote, “shortly after his return took Lou Howell as his wife. She shows up in 1888-1896 annual Indian censuses as his wife. These same censuses have Lou’s younger sister Rose listed as ‘Living by Herself’ next after Rush & Lou[Howell]. Rose then shows up in the annual census’ as Rush’s wife from 1888 until her death in 1928.”

Was Rose his sister by blood? Was she really his wife, or just living in his house? Perhaps future research will find the answers to these questions.

Pawnee Adoption Customs

February 26, 2010

Reader comments that prompted Tuesday’s blog and those that came afterward contained some interesting information regarding Pawnee customs. Not being Indian, I know nothing about the customs of the various tribes and nations other than what I happen to read about them. Some customs are relatively standard for a geographic area whereas others are unique to certain peoples. It appears that the Pawnee have many customs that are their own and differ from their historic neighbors.

I first learned a bit about Pawnee customs while researching Stacy Matlock. After his first wife died, he returned to Carlisle where he worked at the Indian school for a year. During that time he may have courted Blanche Bill, younger sister of his late wife, because they soon married and returned to Oklahoma. His student file found in the National Archives included this handwritten note: “Married Blanche Bill who was next in relative line when his wife died.” Stacy’s granddaughter, who was unaware of his first marriage, wrote a volunteer at the Pawnee County Historical Society that it was a Pawnee custom for a sister or brother to marry the widow or widower.

Frances Kotal, granddaughter of Rush Roberts, Jr., commented about another Pawnee custom—adoption of children by childless family members. Her grandfather’s daughter, Wynema, with his first wife, Sally, was adopted by his sister, Vivian and her husband, Walter Archambault, after Sally’s death. Alexandra Kay, one of Rush Jr.’s five children with his second wife, Gertrude, was adopted at an early age by Harold and Emma CurleyChief. Frances’s mother, Richenda Irene, remained with her parents and three other siblings.

These customs were very practical and helped solve problems that arose when parents died when their children were still young. One wonders if they are still practiced.

Rush Roberts May Have Been White

February 23, 2010

As I sat down to write today’s blog on an entirely different topic, a comment came in from a relative of Henry Roberts. Henry played football for Carlisle for just one year, in 1911. Prior to coming to Carlisle, he had attended Haskell Institute. The commenter, who wants others related to, or knowledgeable about, Rush Roberts to get in touch with him. In his comment, he mentioned that Henry Roberts wrote a story when in fourth grade that can be found on the web. With a little googling, I found what I think is that article: An annotation by Henry’s brother, George, that was later attached to the story, gives some background information about Rush Roberts that even he may not have known. George wrote that Rush Roberts was not born a Pawnee, that he was a white, perhaps German or of German descent, whose parents had been killed by Sioux. Later, some Skidi happened along to find the orphaned boy. Sitting Eagle and Roaming Princess took him in and raised him as their own.

George opined that the reason Rush’s adopted Skidi mother sent him to the new Pawnee Reservation School was because orphans were often sent there. Hampton Institute records indicate that Rush attended that school for a time as well. This is the first time I have read someone acknowledge that Indian orphans were often sent to government schools. In my research of Carlisle Indian School football players, I have observed that many, probably the majority, had lost at least one parent before coming to the school.

The commenter also mentioned that a photo can be found on the Internet of Rush Roberts with seven other surviving Pawnee scouts. In his opinion, Rush had Caucasian features. Here is a link to a site that has a number of photos including one that may be the one the commenter referred to: I’ll leave to the reader to determine if Rush had Caucasian features.

Indians Were Poor Marksmen

January 10, 2009

Over a century before Rush Limbaugh roamed the airwaves, Rush Roberts, whose Pawnee name translates to Fancy Eagle, roamed the Great Plains. While researching the life of Henry Roberts, left end on the great Carlisle Indian School football team of 1911, for my upcoming book, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, I came across the fact that Henry’s father was a quite colorful character.

In 1876, at age 16 or 17, Rush was recruited as a scout for the U. S. Cavalry, becoming the youngest man to fight under Gen. Crook in this campaign. It is documented that he participated in the November 25, 1876 Dull Knife-Mackenzie Fight (aka Battle of Bates Creek) as a member of the Pawnee Battalion. The Pawnees were credited for fighting with exceptional capability against one of their ancient enemies. He was awarded his father’s name, Fancy Eagle, for his bravery in battle. Almost a decade after the war ended, he enrolled as a student at Hampton Institute in Virginia. He stayed there for two years and later sent two of his children, one of whom was Henry Roberts. Rush eventually became a chief of the Skidi Pawnees and lived to an old age. His exploits ares mentioned in We Remember: the history of the U. S. Cavalry from 1776 to the present by Edward L. Daily.

In an interview about the plains wars, Rush stated that, in general, Indians weren’t good marksmen with rifles. The problem was that they didn’t understand how to use the rear sight and wind gauge to hit their targets at long distances. However, they were excellent at shooting from horseback, particularly at short range. Rush explained, “The group formations of the army made a bigger target, but army marksmanship was better and steadier.”

Henry Roberts Gets Married

July 28, 2008

While looking up information on Carlisle’s participation in the 1912 Olympics, I stumbled across an article from Carlisle in the Washington Post that had nothing to do with the Olympics. So, we’ll take a day off from our Olympic coverage for a little romance.




Hurt in Game Against Syracuse, First Thing He Remembers on Regaining Consciousness Is Face of Pretty Indian Maid—Football Eleven Gives Happy Couple Wedding Banquet.


Carlisle, Pa., Jan 17 —As the climax to a four months romance that began when the groom was Injured on the football field, and was nursed in the Carlisle Indian School Hospital here by the bride, Henry Roberts, 23 years old, of Pawnee, Okla and Miss Rose Denomie, 19 years old, of Ashland Wis, were married here at the home of M. Friedman, superintendent of the school, today.

Henry Roberts, Pawnee, played left end on the great Carlisle 1911 team and, before his injury, was Rose Denomie’s football hero. As she nursed him back to health he determined to win the Chippewa maiden’s hand. He studied for a civil service examination and passed with high marks for which he was rewarded with a $900 a year clerical job (not bad for any American in 1911) at Shoshone Indian School in Wyoming. Armed with a good-paying job and restored health, he proposed.


Because Rose was Catholic, they were married by Father Strock in Superintendent Moses Friedman’s residence and were feted by his teammates. Immediately after the celebration they caught a train for Wind River Agency, Wyoming. In November The Red Man reported that they were in Odanah, Wisconsin where he was employed by the government as a stenographer. Jack Newcombe described Roberts as the one who “epitomized the success story Carlisle cared to boast of: a business career with an oil firm in Oklahoma, a home on a hilltop in Pawnee not far from the reserve where he was born, a happy marriage with the girl he had met at Carlisle.” In a 1959 interview Roberts mentioned that before retiring he had helped build the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. From bows and arrows to atom bombs!


Next time it will be back to the Olympics – if nothing interferes.


 Henry Roberts shortly before his wedding