Roberts Settlement, a Pioneer Story: Through the Lens of the Children

Roberts Settlement was among nearly 60 rural spaces settled by free Blacks throughout Indiana during the 1800s. It was founded in 1835 in Jackson Township, Hamilton County, by Elijah Roberts, Hansel Roberts and Micajah Walden, who migrated from North Carolina and Virginia, purchased land from the federal government and established a farming community. Roberts Settlement expanded from an initial 900 acres to more than 2,000 acres. As Roberts Settlement grew, so did the families that lived, worked and prayed there. African American historian Susan Hall Dotson will explore Roberts Settlement through the lens of the children who were born and raised there. The children will become the “storytellers,” sharing what it was like to live in Roberts Settlement in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Susan Hall Dotson has more than 25 years of museum and research library experience. She currently serves as the African American collections curator at the Indiana Historical Society and adjunct professor of African American studies at Ball State University. Previously she was curator and director of community relations at the Western Reserve Historical Society and senior coordinator of community programs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Hall Dotson received her master’s degree in history from Cleveland State University, focusing on African, African American and American pop culture history. She is president of Indianapolis’s Joseph Taylor branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is an inaugural community scholar in the Africana Studies Program at the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and serves on several boards and committees, including Indiana Landmarks’ Black Heritage Preservation Program Advisory Council and IUPUI’s Library Information Systems Advisory Board.