When I first started researching Lazarus Dodson, Sr., he seemed impossibly vague. He moved from place to place throughout his life, across states and on the frontier of early America in areas not yet states, and never left a forwarding, or return, address. We don’t know who his wife was, and his life was only reassembled from pieces and tidbits. We still have more questions than answers, but some of the hints we’ve picked up along the way are incredibly tantalizing.
Was his wife Native? Why was he encamped with the Indians? Was his son really an Indian Trader? Was another son murdered? Follow along as we piece the clues of Lazarus life together into something resembling a partially completed puzzle.
Lazarus Dodson, son of Raleigh Dodson and his wife, Mary, surname unknown, was probably born about 1760, perhaps slightly earlier, probably in North Farnham Parish in Richmond County, Virginia. However, there is some evidence that his father, Raleigh was living in Prince William County between 1759-1761, based on a court case, Raleigh Dodson vs John Webb in trespass found in the Prince William order book 1759-61, p 241, so Raleigh could have been born in Prince William County, Virginia.
Notes from the Broad Run Baptist Church in Farquier County, Va., after October 1763 but before May 1764 state that Lazarus Dodson was dismissed to Halifax, but this can’t be our Lazarus, given his age, so it must be the Reverend Lazarus Dodson. Yes, of course, there had to be multiple men with the name Lazarus Dodson. That’s just how these southern families work!
Raleigh, Lazarus’s father, is not mentioned beyond his birth which is recorded in North Farnham Parish register on February 16, 1730.
The Farnham Parish church as it stands today is believed to have been built about 1737. It has been restored, although it was used as a stable during the Civil War. It is located in Farnham, Virginia, in Richmond County at the intersection of North Farnham Church Road (County Route 692) and Cedar Grove Road (County Route 602) on North Farnham Church Road. Given that the parish register included dates preceding 1737, this was obviously not the first church at this location, or the church met in private homes before the building was constructed.
We do find a Raleigh Dodson in Halifax County, VA, by 1766 when a Raughley Dodson and Lazarus Dodson witnessed a deed of Joseph Terry to Thomas Dodson, Halifax Deed book 6-363. If this is our Lazarus, the son of Raleigh, he would have to have been born significantly before 1750 to be of age to sign a legal document. Therefore, this is not our Lazarus and it’s probably not our Raleigh either. There are two Raleigh/Lazarus pairs in Halifax County about this time, so it’s difficult to tell them apart.
On Feb. 19, 1768, John Roberson and wife Margaret of Orange Co. NC sold to Rolley Dodson of said county for 16# Virginia money 50 acres on the east side of the Country Line Creek. Witnesses Hugh Kelly, Henry Hicks and Henry Willis. Caswell Co., NC, was created from Orange in 1777 and Raleigh’s land fell into Caswell. The Caswell tax list for that year shows him assessed for property in the Richmond District. He and his wife Mary sold 50 acres of land on the south side of Country Line Creek (shown on the 1833 map below, just below the Dan River) on July 5, 1778 to Clement Gann (being purchased of John Robinson) and evidently moved to Hawkins County, TN about this time. By this time, Lazarus would have been about 18 and would surely have welcomed the adventure of moving to the frontier of what would, in 1796, become Tennessee. Lazarus would have been too young to have been married in 1778.
We know Raleigh and Lazarus are still in the Virginia/NC area in May of 1777 when they signed the following oath of Allegiance in Pittsylvania County, which borders Halifax Co., Va. and Caswell Co., NC:
“I do swear or affirm that I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the Third, King of Great Britain, his heirs and successors and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia as a free and independent state and that I will not at any time do or cause to be done any matter or thing that will be prejudicial or injurious to the freedom and independence thereof as declared by congress and also that I will discover and make known to some one justice of the peace for the said state all treasons or traitorous conspiracies which I now or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the United States of America.”
After Raleigh had left Caswell County, NC, the name of Rawley Dodson shows up there once again in the records in matters pertaining to the estate of John Moore, Jr (1786-1791). A list of accounts included the name of Rawley Dodson in Caswell Co., Will Book C in June court 1792.
The marriage records of both Halifax County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina, respectively, are intact and neither holds a record for Lazarus Dodson’s marriage to Jane whose surname is unknown. Lazarus likely married her after his move to the frontier of then North Carolina, now Tennessee.
Arrival in East Tennessee
The next place we find Lazarus is in what would become Eastern Tennessee in the current County of Hawkins. This 1783 entry gives us a glimpse at what Lazarus was doing in the winter of 1781/1782, based on this land grant:
Page 105, grant 1262 – Dec. 4 1783 – James Lea enters 317 acres on the North side Holston below the mouth of Richland Creek at a “certain place where Francis Maberry, Major John Reid, and Lazarus Dodson camped with the Indians as they was going down to the Nation last winter and opposite the camp on the other side of the river.”
This record, along with his later involvement with Indian lands in Alabama, his son Jesse being found living on the Indian lands in 1797, near or on the lands later to be settled by Lazarus himself, and Jesse later becoming an Indian trader, has always caused me to wonder if Lazarus Dodson married a Native woman.
Interestingly enough, the Lea family is also found on Country Creek in Caswell Co. NC. The Dodson family is involved with the Lea family for generations.
The land entry that indicates that Lazarus was with Major John Reid may give us clues as to what Lazarus did during the Revolutionary War.
John Reid, a Major in the Revolutionary War, resided on the Holstein in Washington Co. VA and was appointed ensign in Illinois Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. John Montgomery. He immediately raised his quota of men, joined the regiment at Long Island on Holstein and served there, from January 9, 1779 to January 1781 during which time he acted as Adjutant from April 9 to June 1779 and as Quartermaster from June 1 to December 25, 1779. Reid also carried expresses from Cols. Evan Shelby, Arthur Campbell and David Smith. He was under Col. Campbell in the battle of Kings Mountain in October of 1780, and served as Quartermaster with Col William Campbell in the battle of Guilford Courthouse in March of 1781.
If Lazarus Dodson was with Major Reid in late 1781 or early 1782, this suggests he may have also been with him in the battles of Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. Lazarus may well have been among the men raised at Long Island of the Holston.
The Revolutionary War
Both Lazarus and his father, Raleigh Dodson served in the Revolutionary War.
Their Revolutionary War service is documented in “North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts, Index to Soldiers residing in Washington and Sullivan County, 1781-1783
Both Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson are listed.
After finding this tantalizing nugget, I contacted the NC Archives and eventually, visited, in order to obtain the original records.
According to pay records found in the NC Archives, in Raleigh, NC, Lazarus Dodson served in the Revolutionary War in August of 1783. That is likely the date of his discharge, so he may have served earlier in the year.
In 1783, an Act authorizing the opening of a land office for the redemption of specie and other certificates was passed, and all soldiers holding specie or certificates were enabled to redeem them by taking land in exchange, at a rate fixed by the state of North Carolina.
When I first saw this list of Specie certificates, I also noticed George Eastis, two names above Lazarus Dodson. George lived in East Tennessee for a time, but ultimately went back to Halifax County, Virginia. However, his son, John R. Estes settled in Claiborne County, TN and his son, John Y. Estes married Rutha Dodson, daughter of Lazarus Dodson (Jr.) and his wife, Elizabeth Campbell. Nothing like a little synchronicity in genealogy.
Believe it or not, there were two holes punched in this document, reflecting how it has been stored.
Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson both served in the Revolution and are both found in the Morgan district which includes the land that would become East Tennessee.
A second Rolley Dotson is found in the Hillsboro district (auditors Mebane and Nichols), which is the area of NC below Halifax/Pittsylvania in VA. We know that our Raleigh was in East Tennessee prior to this time.
The auditors and their corresponding districts found in the archives helped define which Raleigh was which.
On April 16, 1784, Lazarus Dotson transferred land to David Rose – 5000 acres on a big creek that runs into Elk River on the south side of said river where a Buffaloe Road crosses the said creek running down said creek for compliment. Warrant issued Feb 19 1787, #1691. This may have been the land he claimed in payment for his Revolutionary War service.
Hawkins County, TN
In 1786, Lazarus signed the petition seeking the formation of Hawkins Co. along with his father, Raleigh, and brother, Toliver.
On Feb. 19, 1787, a warrant was issued to Lazarus Dodson for 5000 acres of land on the south side of Elk River which he had entered on April 16, 1784. This warrant he had previously transferred to David Ross (Elk River runs primarily through the counties of Warren, Franklin and the SE corner of Giles in Tennessee).
By 1787, if not before, the family had selected the location across the Holston River from Rogersville that would eternally carry the Dodson name in the form of Dodson Creek (above) and later, the Dodson Creek Cemetery and Church (below).
The following photo shows the landscape from across the Holston river. The TVA plant today is located on the east bank of Dodson Creek where it empties into the Holston River. Raleigh and Lazarus owned the land on both sides of the creek into the rolling hills.
In 1787, the entry book for John and Landon Carter, entry takers for Washington Co., NC, now Tennessee, shows a warrant, 1783, dated May 21, 1779, directing the surveyor of Sullivan Co. to lay off for William Payne 150 acres on the Holston River adjoining a tract of land known as the “burnt cabin”. This land was surveyed on April 28 1787 for Rawleigh Dodson by Rawl Dodson, deputy surveyor.
The State of NC issued grants to Raleigh Dodson for two tracts of 150 acres, both apparently entered before Hawkins Co. was created from Sullivan in 1786, #1481 for 150 acres on the left fork of Dodson’s creek and #31489 for 150 acres on the south side of Holston River. Dodson’s Creek, no doubt was named by or for Raleigh Dodson, is a branch of Holston River on the South side of the river and nearly opposite the town of Rogersville. On this site was Dodson’s Ford where the Great War Path and Trading Path crossed the Holston river at the mouth of Dodson’s Creek. The spot is marked by a Tennessee Historical marker.
The land around Dodson’s Ford is some of the most beautiful in E. Tennessee. The photo below shows the area where Dodson’s Ford was located, across this field and behind the trees. The Great Warrior Path also crossed here and a campsite was located near the river.
In October, 1780, the forces under Col. Arthur Campbell gathered here before going downriver to the attack on the Overhill Cherokee towns of Chota, Talequah, Tallassee, and others.
In 1788 Rolly Dotson enters 300 acres on the South side of Holston River and on both sides of Dotson’s Creek, beginning on Dodson’s line on a branch at a white oak marked D, runs along said Dodson’s line and up the branch, paying 7 pounds, 10 pence. The warrant was issued and a duplicate warrant was issued as well on Sept 28, 1792. In 1788, this warrant was assigned on August 12th from Raleigh to Lazarus Dodson.
In 1789, Lazarus Dotson applied for his own 300 acres in Sullivan County on the South side of the “Holstein River”, grant #1491.
The photo below is peeking at the river near where Dodson’s Ford was located on the land that Raleigh and Lazarus owned.
In 1793 a survey for 300 acres was made for Lazarus Dodson assignee of Raleigh Dodson, Raleigh Dodson, Raleigh Dodson Sr. and Alexander Deberty chain carriers.
The Amis Store in Hawkins County kept a ledger book. Raleigh had a great number of transactions, but we just find this short entry for Lazarus in 1794.
Mr. Lazarus Dodson
1794, March 14 – to balance brought forward from LBF 91 (LB credit leaf missing)
1794, July 30 – by grindstones to balle (same amount as above)
Horse Breeder Too
Based on an article from the book, Making the American Thoroughbred: Especially in Tennessee, 1800-1845 by James Douglas Anderson published in 1916, it appears that Lazarus was involved in a horse-breeding operation with his brother-in-law, James Manasco. One or the other of them, or maybe both, lived in Greene County at this time.
HARDY TENNESSEE PIONEERS
The pedigrees of practically all thoroughbreds produced in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the pedigrees of a majority of all the thoroughbreds produced in the United States, between 1 883 and 1 896, trace to some of the horses named in this chapter and the next, as standing in Tennessee prior to 1845.
As early as 1790, according to Killebrew’s “Resources of Tennessee,” the following named thoroughbred stallions were brought to Sullivan County, which joins Virginia: Stately, Milton, Genus (doubtless Genius), Flag of Truce, Don Quixote, Diomed and Peter Quicksilver. The leading men in this movement were Col. John Scott, Col. William Blevins and members of the Snapp, Tipton, Greene and Rutledge families. Killebrew gives no pedigrees, hence I am unable to identify any of the horses. The records show, however, that horses of these names were of this period. The only imported horse named Diomed was the sire of Sir Archy, and he was not imported until 1 799.
Though I can find no authority other than Killebrew for the statement above made, there is still indisputable evidence that the thoroughbred beat the Constitution to Tennessee; or, to state it another way — “the Constitution followed the flag” of the thoroughbred to Tennessee.
Between 1790 and 1795 the following named stallions (pedigrees given here as in advertisements) were advertised in The Knoxville Register and State Gazette to stand in East Tennessee. The words in parentheses are mine.
Young St. George, by imp St. George, dam ” by the old Arabian who was imported and come out of the famous Rosetta.” Season 1792 at James Manasco’s and Lazarus Dodson’s, Greene County; $2 and a bushel of corn. (The imp St. George referred to was most likely the one foaled 1771, by Dragon, out of a mare by Blank.)
White Horn Branch of Bent Creek
Charles Campbell and his sons John and George also lived on Dodson’s Creek. John and George Campbell would marry Jenny and Elizabeth Dobkins, daughters of Jacob Dobkins, also a Revolutionary War Veteran. This entire family group, minus Raleigh Dodson and Charles Campbell who remained on their land in Hawkins County, would move to Claiborne County about 1800.
Lazarus maintained his residence on Dodson’s and Honeycutt’s Creeks, Hawkins Co., until he moved about 1797 to the Whitehorn Fork of Bent Creek, then in Hawkins Co., but now in Hamblen Co.
Charles Campbell and Lazarus’s brother, Oliver, Dodson witnessed this deed.
Jacob Dobkins lived there, and it is only about 9 or 10 miles on the main road that crossed the Holston River at Dodson’s Ford to Bull’s Gap where Whitehorn is located. Lazarus Dodson’s son, Lazarus, who was born about 1795 would eventually marry Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of John Campbell, about 1819 after the entire group had moved to and settled in Claiborne County.
On March 29, 1800, Lazarus Dodson of Claiborne County sold to Johnathan Ling for $900 the 575 acre tract of land on White Horse Fork (also White Run Fork). This deed is repeated in 1804, for some reason, but includes the words “being the same place whereon said Dodson formerly lived.”
An 1805 deed from Johnathan Long to Mathias Mires references this 111.5 acres as being part of 2 surveys that said Long bought of Lazarus Dodson and the same place that Mires is now living adj Walker and Manasco. Lazarus’s brother-in-law was James Manasco, which probably explains why he moved to White Horn Branch of Lick Creek.
Claiborne County, Tennessee
By the spring of 1800 Lazarus (Sr.) was in Claiborne Co. where he settled on Gap Creek near Cumberland Gap. His land lay on the west side of the Kentucky Road that ran from Tazewell to Cumberland Gap and near the “Back Valley Road” (Highway 63) which goes from near Cumberland Gap to Jacksboro in Campbell Co., Tn. Today this land is located on Tipprell Road between the town of Cumberland Gap and the town of Arthur.
A January 28, 1802 document filed in Hawkins County shows that Lazarus has obtained land or had some interest in the land where he lived. Richard Mitchell and Rodham Kinner of Hawkins County are bound to Lazarus Dodson for $2700 payment to be made to said Lazarus in 12 months. Condition is that tract in Powel’s Valley adjoining land of Elisha Wallice [Wallen] below Cumberland Gap being 640 acres. If money not paid, obligation to remain in effect. Witnesses A Nelson, John Gore.
Lazarus was a member of Gap Creek Baptist Church in Claiborne Co. and is referenced in the minutes on June 5th, Saturday, 1805. Another church in the association had asked for their help with determining what to do about “a breach of fellowship with James Kenney and it given into the hands of members from other churches, to wit Absolom Hurst, Lazarus Dodson and Matthew Sims and they report on Sunday morning a matter too hard for them to define on for they had pulled every end of the string and it led them into the mire and so leave us just where they found us.”
This 1809 and 1810 Hawkins County entries confirm that indeed, the Claiborne County Lazarus Dodson is one and the same as the Lazarus Dodson in both Hawkins County and on the White Horse Fork of Bent Creek.
1809, Dec 26 – Mathias Miers of Jefferson Co. Tn to Edward Walker for $350 tract in Hawkins on Bent Creek, part 2 surveys bought of Lazarus Dodson and the same place where on said Walker now lives and adj line of other survey of Dodson’s and Manazius? (probably James Menasco, his brother-in-law). Wit William Berry, Samuel King, Registered March 16, 1814
1810, Jan 17 – Lazarus Dodson of Claiborne to William Right of Hawkins for $400, 100 acres on the s side Holston River on Honeycutt’s creek, Mooney’s line. Wit George Mooney, Edmond (Edward) Mooney, Proved Feb 1810 by both Mooney’s
Honeycutt’s Creek is beside Dodson Creek. This does cause me to wonder why Lazarus owned an interest in land in Hawkins County. This begs the question of whether Lazarus Sr.’s wife is a Honeycutt.
By 1810, Lazarus had sold all of his land in Hawkins County and subsequently purchased land in Claiborne County from Abner Lea. The deed thus describes Lazarus’ place of residence, “560 acres in Claiborne where said Dotson now lives, on the Indian Country line, Joseph William’s corner, Gap Creek, a stake near Cumberland Mountain, the top of Poor Valley Ridge adjoining where John Jones formerly lived, Aaron Davis’ line.” The “Indian Country line” ran from the Cumberland River in Kentucky to the Clinch River in Claiborne Co., Tn. on the west side of the Kentucky Road. It was created by treaty and it encompasses the territory referred to in the list of inhabitants for which the sheriff of Grainger Co was exempted from collecting taxes in 1797. Jesse Dodson, possibly Lazarus’s son, was noted as living in the Indian area in 1797. That fact that he was living on the Indian side may be very significant.
You can see, on map titled “A Map of Tennessee, Formerly Part of NC” from Mathew Carey’s American Atlas in 1795 that the Indian Boundary is shown colored pink just to the left of the Kentucky Road where it passes through the Cumberland Gap.
The court minutes of Claiborne reveal that Lazarus was appointed at the September term 1803 to serve as a juror for the December session. He failed to appear.
At the March session 1804, Lazarus was appointed overseer of the Kentucky Road (now 25E) from Powell River in place of John Wallen with the following hands to work: “all of Capt. McKinney’s Company from the Kentucky road down to a line dividing between William Jones and Timothy Jennings and so across the valley leaving the house of Archibald McKinney in the said list of hands.” At the same session, Lazarus was one of those appointed to the jury to view and mark a road the nearest and best way from the intersection of Jurden’s path with the Kentucky road on a direction to Cumberland Gap as far as the state line.
At the September term 1805 Moses Davis replaced Lazarus Dodson as overseer. Lazarus continued serving as juror off and on through 1816. At about this time, Lazarus Jr. becomes of age and it is not possible to distinguish between him and his father. At no time in the records is either referred to as Sr. or Jr., so Lazarus Jr. may already have made his way to the Indian lands in Alabama as soon as he was old enough.
There is a gap in the surviving Claiborne records between Nov. 1808 and May 1812, and another between Aug. 1817 and Nov. 1819. No reference is made in the surviving minutes to an estate settlement for Lazarus Dodson Sr. The early Claiborne estate records are also missing. Therefore we are unable to determine if Lazarus died in Claiborne Co. It is a possibility that he went early into the Cherokee lands of Northern Alabama where some of his children went, and died there or in one of the Tennessee border counties or in McMinn County where his estate was divided among his heirs.
It’s unclear, but likely that these 1819 transactions involved Lazarus Sr., not Lazarus Jr., given when Lazarus Jr’s children were born in Alabama. The first item in 1819 is the sale of Lazarus land to William Hogan, the second the sale of the same land from Hogan to Lazarus Dodson and Abner Lee just a couple months later.
April 1819 – Indenture in 1819 between Joseph Williams of Surry Co., NC and Thomas Williams by his attorney in fact and William Hogan of Claiborne for $600, tract of land in Claiborne in Powells Valley commonly known by the name of Butcher Springs tract below Cumberland Gap. Beginning on the Indian boundary line on three post oaks thence north 20 degrees, east 320 poles to 5 post oaks then south 68 degrees east 320 poles to a stake thence south 22 degrees west 320 poles to a stake thence north 68 degrees west 320 poles crossing Gap creek to the beginning containing by estimation 640 acres the same land granted by the state of NC to said Joseph Williams by pat no 485 referenced thereto being had will more fully appear with all and singular rights….Joseph Williams by his atty Thomas L. Williams wit Charles F. Keith, Anderson Barton, April term 1819 ack by Thomas L. Williams in open court, Registered October 16 (or 18) 1819.
On May 4, 1819, Lazarus sells his land to William Hogan – William Hogan of Lee Co., Va. bound into Lazarous Dotson and Abner Lea both of Claiborne in the penal sum of $5000, the condition being that “I this day purchased of Lazarous Dotson and Abner Lea a certain tract of land containing 640 acres.” Wit Martin Beaty, William Jones, David Dodson. This may well have been in preparation for going to Alabama. Some of the children of Lazarus Jr. were born in Alabama. Lazarus Dobkins Dodson’s Civil War records indicate his birth location is in Alabama about this timeframe.
Oliver Dodson, brother to Lazarus Dodson (son of Raleigh), settled in Anderson County, Tn. He was alive in 1803 and 1806, but deceased by Oct 16, 1819 when his brother Lazarus conveys land to his 5 children.
Oct. 16, 1819 – Lazarous Dodson of Claiborne Co. to William Dodson, Moses Stout, Willie Mullins, Henry Guttry, and Prudence Dodson, all of Anderson Co., for $1, 100 acres in Anderson Co on Cane creek by entry made by Lazarous Dodson, certificate #31 on Jan. 22, 1812, including the improvements where Oliver Dodson formerly lived. Wit Elijah Jones, Jesse Dodson, John Cooper, John Lewalen. Proved Jan. session 1820.
In 1822, William Dotson, Lazarus’s nephew, son of his brother Toliver , of Dicature (sic) County, Alabama conveyed his one-fifth share of Oliver’s land to Michael Spesard. William was in Jackson County by August 1820 when he commissioned Justice of the Peace in Jackson County.
William died in Jackson County, Alabama in 1872 and is buried in the Dodson Cemetery at Lim Rock, Alabama.
In 1826, Lazarus Jr., because Lazarus Sr. is now dead, buys back the same land, but for less money it appears. Abner Lea, William Hogan, Lazarus Dodson and John Pace may all be related.
1826, Sept 20 – William Hogan to Lazrous Dodson and John Pace, all of Claiborne for $3500, 640 acres in Claiborne adjoining Peter Huffaker’s field, a compromise line between Hogan, Aaron David and William Jones, excepting 4 acres heretofore conveyed to said Huffaker and 2 acres donated by Hogan to the Baptist Church, including the meeting house and also a donation to the trustees of the Washington School, including the schoolhouse. Wit William McCubbin, Thomas Taylor, Proved April term 1829, Claiborne “the within deed between William Hogan of McMinn Co., Tn to John Pace and Lazerous Dodson for 640 acres by William McCubbin and Thomas Taylor.” Book I-285.
Given these records, we know that Lazarus was living in Claiborne County in 1819 but that in 1812 he had patented land in Anderson County.
Lazarus died sometime between 1819 and 1826.
In 1826 in McMinn County, we fine the following entry: “Abner Lea and Others Obligation to William Dodson: State of Tennessee McMinn County. Know all men by these presents that the Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson and Eligha (sic) Dodson and William Dodson and Jessee Dodson and Lazrus Dodson and held and firmly bound in the penal sum of two thousand dollars which payment will and freely to be maid now(?) and each of us do bind our selves our heirs executor and administrators to the abounded signed sealed and delivered this day and date above written. This is our obligation is as such that has the above abound to appoint Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to be the gardeans [guardians] of the estate of Lazarous Dodson dc’d also we authorize the said Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to make to William Dodson a deed of Conveyeance to the part of land granted to the said William Dodson North East Quarter of Section 11 Township 5 Range first east of the meridian. Also that we confirm the sale made on the 13 day of May 1826 we also agree to give unto the heirs of David Dodson a certain piece or parcel of land designated to David Dodson by Lazarus Dodson dec’d be it further understood that this is to be there part and all that they are entitiled to by us, where unto we have set our hand and quill this 11 day of September 1826. Abner Lea, Oliver Dodson, Eligha Dodson, Lazarous Dodson, Jesse Dodson
Witnesses: Landford and Rhodes William Dodson
The land above is roughly the Cochran Cemetery area near Englewood in McMinn Co. David Dodson who died on August 15, 1826 is buried in this Cemetery. It appears that David and Lazarus Dodson may have died in very close proximity to each other relative to their death dates. Poor Jane apparently lost a husband and a son within a very short time.
Abner Lea is certainly an interesting player in this scenario. He is reported (although unverified) to have been married to a Mary Dodson. Based on the heirs listed above, it strongly suggests that Mary was the daughter of Lazarus Sr. His birth date is reported to be about 1770, so too young to be a brother-in-law to Lazarus and about the right age to have married his eldest daughter. In 1810, Lazarus purchases land from Abner in Claiborne County. If this is the Abner born in 1770, he was about 40 at this time.
In 1830, Jane Dodson, probably Lazarus widow, born 1760-1770 is living in McMinn County adjacent her son William Dodson and Fannie Dodson, David Dodson’s widow.
It was unclear what had become of the land Lazarus owned on Tipprell Road, but this deed signed in 1861 solves that mystery by referencing a sale in 1833 by Lazarus Dodson [Jr.].
1861, May 6 – Lazrous (sic) Dodson formerly of Claiborne Co, Tn. but now of Pulasky Co., Ky., to David C. Cotterell for $100 “to me the said Lazarous Dodson paid in the year 1833 having then sold to David Cotterell a tract of land on Gap Creek known as the Robert Chumbley land who had entered said land and sold and assigned said entry over to me and when the grant issued it came out in said Chumley’s name and afterwards was assigned by my request to said Cotterell”…beginning at a white oak two poles below Walker’s line, crossing Gap Creek, etc…his mark Lazarus Dodson. Witnesses: Lewis Chumbley, Andrew Chumbley.
This rather odd suit brought in Hawkins County Tn. shows that by 1835 Lazarus Jr. was no longer in Tennessee.
May 7, 1835 – John A. McKinney vs David C. Cotterall, John Pace and Lazarus Dodson – the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson are not residents of this state…ordered that they make appearance at Rogersville on the first Monday of Nov. next term or complainants bill will be taken pro confesso and a copy of order to be published in the Abington newspaper and on motion of said complainant leave is given him to take depositions of the def, Dodson subject however to all just exceptions.
Nov. 3, 1835 – they failed to appear.
Sept. 18, 1837 – ordered by court that the clerk and master ascertain the amount of interest due on $87.50 being half the amount of the obligation executed by the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson to the complainant.
Sept. 1837 – cause came for final hearing by responses made that Cottrell by an agreement made with the complainant pending this suit has assumed to pay the sum of $100 which at that time was half of the obligation and he was bound to do with as the agreement with Pace and further that Dodson is liable to pay the complainant the remaining half of said obligation with interest in the amount of $118.56 with interest from this date until paid.
Above, Lazarus Dodson’s land in Claiborne County, TN, looking towards Poor Valley Ridge.
Heading North on Tipprell road. Lazarus’s land is on either side of the road here with Butcher Springs to the right, out of sight.
Gap Creek runs just over the railroad track and alongside it. This would be the perfect place for a homestead. It’s actually flat and farmable here between the ridge and the valley center.
The Cottrell Cemetery was established by David Cottrell, the man who bought the land from Lazarus in 1826. The earliest marked burial is Moses Cottrell who died in 1857, but there appear to be many older unmarked graves and graves marked with fieldstones. If Lazarus Sr. died in Claiborne County, he would be buried here, under the oldest trees. This photo is taken from inside the cemetery, looking back over Lazarus’s land towards Tipprell Road.
Lincoln Memorial University owns most of the adjacent land today. The photo below overlooks Lazarus’s land towards the Southeast and you can see the “old Kentucky Road” in the photo in the upper left hand corner, which is 25E today. At one time, Lazarus headed the crew that maintained the old Kentucky Road.
A Civil War map shows us exactly where the homestead of David Cottrell was located, which of course had previously been the homestead of Lazarus Dodson. The lane above his house is the road that at one time went to the Cemetery and on to the Kentucky Road. Today, that lane no longer goes through to the cemetery, which is accessed through LMU. Tipprell Road was then called Gap Creek Road and the Kentucky Road was labeled Tazewell Road on this map. Patterson’s Smith shop looks to be the intersection of 25E and Back Valley Road today.
The soldiers camped at Butcher Springs which is labeled “Camp Cottrell” on the map.
Children of Lazarus Dodson Sr.
Based on this following 1842 McMinn County court record entry referencing an earlier 1826 entry, we know the names of some of Lazarus’s children, at least those who were living and those who had died and left heirs.
Oct. 5, 1846 – Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to the heirs of David Dodson decd in compliance with agreement made Sept 1826 – this is from the wills and estate book.
Sept. 11, 1826 – Abner Lea, Oliver, Elijah, William, Jesse and Lazarus Dodson to William Dotson, obligation they appointed Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson the 2 guardians of the estate of Lazarus Dodson decd to make deed to William Dodson, also agree to give land to heirs of David Dodson decd that was assigned to him by Lazarus Dodson decd; Oct. 3, 1842 – the ? of the witnesses Garrett E. Lankford and David Rhodes? is identified as they reside outside the state of Tn.
The children of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth, his wife, surname unknown, are:
- Lazarus Dodson Jr., born about 1795 in Hawkins Co., Tn. and died in Pulaksi Co., Ky. on October 5, 1861 where he was residing at the time of the 1860 census. He married first Elizabeth Campbell who died probably during the late 1830s, daughter of John and Jane Dobkins Campbell and married second to Rebecca Freeman in 1839.
There is every indication that Lazarus Jr. went to Jackson Co., Alabama soon after his marriage to Elizabeth Campbell, but still held land in Claiborne Co. In May 1819 Lazarus Dotson and Abner Lea both of Claiborne Co. sold to William Hogan of Lee Co., Va. by $5000 bond a tract of 640 acres. This appears to be Lazarus Sr. preparing to leave the area, along with most of his children. This deed was witnessed by Martin Beatty, William Jones and David Dodson. The witness David Dodson may be the one who moved to McMinn Co. and is likely son David of Lazarus Dodson Sr.
Lazarus Jr. is out of Claiborne Co., during the years 1819 until September 1826.
In Sept. 1829, William Hogan living in McMinn Co., Tn. sold to Lazarus Dodson and John Pace of Claiborne Co., for $3500 a tract of 640 acres adjoining Peter Huffakers field, a compromise line between Hogan, Aaron Davis and William Jones, excepting four acres heretofore conveyed to the said Huffaker and two acres donated by Hogan to the Baptist Church, including the meeting house and also a donation to the Trustees of the Washington School, including the schoolhouse. This has to be Lazarus Jr. since Lazarus Sr. is dead and appears, based on earlier and later deeds, to be the original land that Lazarus Sr. owned.
In 1827 Lazarus appears in the court minutes for the June session as the security for Andrew Chumbly in the case the State vs Andrew Chumbly. Thereafter Lazarus appears in the court minutes, serving as juror in Sept 1827, sued for debt by Moses Ball in March 1828 (Ball awarded damages in Sept. 1828), ordered to a road jury in Dec 1829, serving as juror in March 1830, as constable in March 1831, after which his name disappears from court records until March 16, 1835 when John Hunt, sheriff and collector of public taxes lists Lazarus Dodson on his list of “persons being removed out of my county or insolvent so their poll tax cannot be collected for the year 1833 or 1834”.
It was unclear what had become of the land Lazarus owned on Tipprell Road, but this deed signed in 1861 referencing a sale in 1833 by Lazarus Dodson (Jr.) solved the mystery.
1861, May 6 – Lazrous Dodson formerly of Claiborne Co, Tn. but now of Pulasky Co., Ky. to David C. Cotterell for $100 “to me the said Lazarous Dodson paid in the year 1833 having then sold to David Cotterell a tract of land on Gap Creek known as the Robert Chumbley land who had entered said land and sold and assigned said entry over to me and when the grant issued it came out in said Chumley’s name and afterwards was assigned by my request to said Cotterell”…beginning at a white oak two poles below Walker’s line, crossing Gap Creek, etc…his mark Lazarus Dodson Wit Lewis Chumbley, Andrew Chumbley.
In 1835, we find the Hawkins County record that states he is not a resident of the State of Tennessee.
May 7, 1835 – John A. McKinney vs David C. Cotterall, John Pace and Lazarus Dodson – the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson are not residents of this state…ord that they make appearance at Rogersville on the first Monday of Nov next term or complaintants bill will be taken pro confesso and a copy of order to be published in the Abington newspaper and on motion of said complainant leave is given him to take depositions of the def, Dodson subject however to all just exceptions.
Nov. 3, 1835 – they failed to appear.
Sept. 18, 1837 – ord by court that the clerk and master ascertain the amount if interest due on $87.50 being half the amount of the obligation executed by the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson to the complainant.
Sept. 1837 – cause came for final hearing by responses made that Cottrell by an agreement made with the compl pending this suit has assumed to pay the sum of $100 which at that time was half of the obligation and he was bound to do with as the foot of the agreement with Pace and further that Dodson is liable to pay the complainant the remaining half of said obligation with interest in the amount of $118.56 with interest from this date until paid.
However the name of Lazarus Dodson is on a list of free male inhabitants, 21 and upwards, of Claiborne in 1833. The foregoing records suggest that Lazarus was living in Claiborne Co., in 1830, though he is not found there on census records for that year. It is possible he lived in the household of another family, perhaps his in-laws. These records also suggest that he left the county again for a few years, returning to marry his second wife, Rebecca Freeman, in 1839.
In 1841 Wiley Huffaker was appointed by the court of Claiborne Co. as guardian of the minor heirs of Lazarus Dodson and of Elizabeth Dodson, decd. This was relative to the settlement of the estate of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, who died in 1838. The children received land, slaves and cash from their grandfather’s estate which was first rented and then sold for their benefit. The guardianship records continue until Dec. 1845 when the final settlement was made with Lasrus Dotson, the youngest heir, who would be Lazarus the third.
Lazarus and Rebecca Freeman Dodson have not been located on the 1850 census. They are not on the census of Pulaski Co., KY that year. The children of Lazarus and Elizabeth Campbell Dodson appear to have been raised after Elizabeth’s death by their Campbell grandparents. Lazarus, their father, left the area but these children were raised in Claiborne County, married there and established homes. The children’s names were taken from the records relative to the estate of John Campbell, their grandfather, as a guardian was appointed for them relative to their inheritance. The children of Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell were Ruthy, born 1820 in Alabama, married John Y. Estes in 1841 in Claiborne County, died in 1903 and buried in the Venable Cemetery in Little Sycamore. John Campbell Dodson, born 1820-1821 in Alabama, married Barthenia Dobkins in 1839 in Claiborne County, died after 1860. Nancy Ann Dodson born about 1821, married James S. Bray in 1840 in Claiborne Conty, died between 1852 and 1860. Lazarus Dobkins Dodson born between 1822-1828 in Alabama, married Elizabeth H. Carpenter in 1845 in Claiborne County, died in 1885 in New Madrid County, Missouri. Mary Dodson born in 1831 in Tennessee, died after 1860.
- Oliver Dodson – born August 31, 1794 in Hawkins Co., Tn. and died Dec. 8, 1875 in McMinn Co., Tn. married Elizabeth, surname unknown, born March 16, 1795 in Va. and died Aug. 7, 1883 in McMinn Co., Tn. Both are buried in the Mt. Cumberland Cemetery, McMinn Co.
The first record of this Oliver is in the Claiborne court minutes in August 1815 when he proved he killed a wolf in Claiborne Co. On Jan. 16, 1820 he was relieved as road overseer of the Kentucky road from where Powell’s Valley Road intersects the same at Wallen’s field to the state line at Cumberland Gap.
At the August term 1820 he exhibited the scalp of a wolf he had killed in Claiborne in 1819.
In June 1824 he sued William Hogan for a debt and was awarded damages and costs.
Sometime before or after these events, he spent some time in Jackson Co., Al. where one of his sons Marcellus M. Dodson claimed to be born in 1819. By 1830 Oliver was settled in McMinn Co, Tn. where he lived the remainder of his life.
A chancery suit filed in McMinn in 1893 involving the estate of Oliver Dodson gives us a list of his children and some of his grandchildren. The suit, chancery case #1282, Lazarus Dodson vs Mary Jane Reynolds stated that all were nonresidents of McMInn Co. except for Lazarus who files for himself and as administrator of Oliver Dodson and Mary Jane Reynolds. Some grandchildren lived in Knox Co., Tn. and the others lived in California, Texas, Missouri, Oregon, Montana, Georgia and other states.
- Jesse Dodson a son of Lazarus Sr. was born by 1781 or earlier and he was of age in March 1802 when he served as a juror in Claiborne Co., Tn. at the March term and also the June term of 1802, when he was designated as Jesse Dodson Jr. This was no doubt for the purpose of distinguishing him from Rev. Jesse Dodson, a much older man who was also a resident of Claiborne Co. at this time. Jesse, the son of Rev. Jesse, was born in 1791, thus being too young to serve as a juror in 1802. At the June 1805 term of court Jesse Dodson again served as a juror and was designated “Little Jesse Dodson”.
Prior to this, Jesse Dodson Jr. was “assessed for 1 white poll and was included among those living within the Indian Boundary for the year of 1797 which the county court of Grainger released the sheriff from the collection of taxes.” Apparently these people it had been determined were living beyond the treaty line on Indian land and were not within the jurisdiction of Grainger Co.
Given this information, if this Jesse is the son of Lazarus, then he preceeded his father to Claiborne County by a couple of years and may well have settled on the land where Lazarus eventually lived, which was indeed, just inside the Indian Boundary and was Cherokee land.
Jesse Dodson and Mary Stubblefield Dodson joined the Big Spring Baptist church “by experience” in March 1802. They received letters of dismissal from the church in Nov. 1805, but Jesse returned his letter in May 1806. Apparently in early 1807 Jesse got into a dispute with the church over a theological question which continued on through Sept. 1807 when the question was dismissed. In Aug. 1808, Jesse was “excluded” from the church for “withholding from the Church”. He is not again found in the records of Claiborne County.
On June 20, 1811, Jesse Dodson was licensed to trade with Indian tribes in Madison Co., Alabama. Descendants of this man have the oral tradition that he was an Indian Trader. He was said to be the oldest son of a large family of boys. Once when the Indian trader returned from one trip and was preparing to leave on another, the father implored his older son to take along his younger brother. The trader refused, saying the boy was so inexperienced that he would be killed by Indians. The father was adamant and insisted, so the trader relented and took the boy along. He has killed by Indians before the trader’s eyes. From then on there were hard feelings between the Indian Trader and his father. This is a tradition which may have grown with the telling over the generations, but there could be some grains of truth in the tale. If would certainly be interesting to know for sure if Jesse the Indian Trader is the son of Lazarus Sr.
The land that became Jackson Co., Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory and was occupied by the Cherokee until they gave it up by treaty on Feb. 27, 1819. It is certainly possible that Jesse Dodson, Indian Trader of the Mississippi territory, was a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr., who, himself was camping with the Indians in the winter of 1781/1782. Indeed, he did appear to have a family of mostly boys and the name Raleigh is conspicuously absent from a list of descendants, perhaps indicating a death.
1819 is also the years that Lazarus sold his Claiborne County land and when several of his children apparently went to Alabama.
A Jesse Dodson was on the 1830 census of Jackson Co., Al. though the family statistics are puzzling. The household consisted of 2 males 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 20-30, 1 female under 5, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 30-40 and 1 female 50-60. This would not be Jesse Dodson the Indian Trader unless he were away from home on the date of the census enumeration or unless the census taker made an error in recording the statistics. We have no record of the children of this Jesse Dodson except for one son, who wound up in Texas. That son may also be the Jesse in Jackson County in 1830.
- David Dodson is not in the records of Claiborne Co except for the one time when he witnessed the deed, William Hogan to Lazarus Dotson and Abner Lea, in May 1819. Apparently David was of age at this time when his father purchased the land for possibly the second time.
If it is the same David Dodson who later appeared in McMinn Co., Tn., then he was probably born between 1790 and 1800. David Dodson (Dotson) died in McMinn Co. about 1826. His widow was Fanny Dotson b 1790-1800. The 1830 census of McMinn Co. with a household consisting of herself, 1 male 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 female under , 2 females 5-10. Living next door was William Dotson whose household was 1 male under 5, 1 male 20-30, 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10 and 1 female 20-30. He was the administrator of the estate of David Dotson and seems a little old to be a son of David and Fanny, so was likely his brother instead. It should also be pointed out that here a Jane Dotson, aged 50-70, born 1760-1770, living alone, also resided next to Fanny Dotson. She was probably David’s mother, the widow of Lazarus Dodson Sr.
The estate of David Dodson was not settled until April 1846, presumably after all the children had come of age or married. Apparently all this family left Tennessee before the 1850 census was taken.
- As mentioned, William lived adjacent David and Mary Dodson in McMinn County in 1830. Also, a William L. Dotson was appointed one of the arbitrators between the administrators of the estates of Thomas and William Burch, decd, in June of 1834. Thomas Burch died circa 1830 and had been the administrator of the estate of his father, William Burch, who died about 1828. One of the daughters of William Burch was Mrs. Aaron David, apparently a former neighbor of Lazarus Dodson in Claiborne Co. Mentioned in Thomas Burch’s estate is a note against the estate of William Burch, decd and an unidentified piece of land in Claiborne Co. Aaron Davis was a member of Gap Creek Church, Claiborne Co. Tn. in 1818.
There were several William Dodsons in McMinn Co and it is not entirely possible to separate them without further records, but one of them was the son of Lazarus Sr. William L. Dodson, believed to be the son of Lazarus, was born December 11, 1804 and died August 29, 1873. He is buried in the Cochran Cemetery in McMinn County, shown below, along with Lazarus’s son David. It’s likely that Mary, Lazarus Sr.’s widow, is buried here as well, given that she was living adjacent to David and William in 1830, and William owned the land on which the cemetery stood. It’s possible that Lazarus is buried here as well.
- Elijah Dodson was a son of Lazarus Sr. as well. He is connected in the records of Claiborne with Martin and Jehu who are not listed as Lazarus’s sons. Elijah was born in 1790 in Hawkins Co. according to information in the Oregon Donation land claims. He died in Yamhill Co., Oregon in 1859. His first wife was Mary, surname unknown, whom he married March 12, 1807 in “Clayborn Co, Tn.”. His second wife was Elizabeth, surname unknown, who died in the Autumn of 1854. They were married Sept. 1848 in Pilk Co., Oregon.
In the June 1805 term of court, Claiborne Co., Tn. Elijah along with Jehu was appointed as a road hand to work on a road of which Martin Dodson was overseer. It was a segment of the Kentucky road from the top of Wallen’s Ridge to Blair’s Creek. In Aug. 1814, Elijah proved a wolf scalp he had killed in 1814 and at the Aug term 1815 he served as a juror. There are no records of Elijah in Claiborne beyond this date.
It is possible that Elijah eventually went to Henry Co., Ohio and Clay Co., Missouri before moving to Oregon where he made a claim to land in Yamhill Co. on which he lived from Feb. 1848 until his death. It is believed that two of his sons were with him in Oregon. The record stated that his first wife left 6 children.
DNA and the Dodson Family
According to the Dodson DNA Project at Family Tree DNA, several people are members who descend from Charles Dodson of Rappahannock Co., VA. Charles, born in 1649, was the great-great-grandfather of Lazarus Dodson. Several years ago when I checked, this group was simply labeled as R1b1a2, now R-M269. Since then, it appears that several people have confirmed SNP tests, among them, R-P25 and R-L2. How can that be? Easy. These are all sub-branches of haplogroup R and the men have tested at different levels. R-P25 used to be R1b1 before the renaming event and R-L2 used to be R1b1a2a1a1b3c1, which illustrated perfectly one of the reasons why they are only using haplogroup SNP names today.
This confirms that the Dodson male line was European.
However, it can’t address whether or not the wife of Lazarus Sr. was Native or not. To discover that, we need to test someone descended from Lazarus and his wife, Jane, through all females. The current generation can be a male, because women pass their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on.
If you descend from Lazarus and his wife Jane through all females to the current generation I have a DNA testing scholarship for you!!!
I sent an e-mail to the Dodson DNA Project administrator asking if someone from Lazarus’s line has DNA tested, but I haven’t heard back. I descend through Lazarus Sr. through Lazarus Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Campbell, through daughter Ruthy. Therefore, on the Dodson paternal side, “my paternal line” would have to be represented by one of the descendants of the sons of Lazarus Jr. or Lazarus Sr. I’m hoping someone from these lines has already tested. Otherwise, I have a scholarship for a male Dodson from Lazarus Dodson Jr. or Sr., or his father, Raleigh Dodson.
Honoring Lazarus Dodson, Patriot Ancestor
Lazarus Dodson (Sr.) was a patriot. He served in the Revolutionary War. He was paid on August 1783 for his service, along with his father, Raleigh Dodson. Extensive research over the years has helped us to piece the lives of Raleigh and Lazarus together. Lazarus died between 1819 and 1826, and his heirs sold his land on Tipprell Road, in Claiborne County, Tn. in 1833. Most of his children were living in McMinn County at that time, and shortly thereafter, along with his widow. When they moved there is uncertain. Assuming Lazarus Sr. did not die in Jackson County, Alabama, Lazarus is either buried on his land in Claiborne County or in McMinn County. Jackson County wills and probate records burned during the Civil War.
Given that Lazarus owned land in Claiborne, it’s most likely that he died on his land and is buried there, perhaps the first grave in the Cottrell Cemetery. There are many older, unmarked graves in this cemetery. Lazarus’s heirs sold this land to David C. Cottrell in 1826 and the land, until recently, has remained in the Cottrell family.
On June 11th, 2011, at 2 PM, the Dodson family descendants, the Cottrell family, and members of the local Joseph Martin Chapter of the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution), DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and staff from LMU gathered to honor Lazarus Dodson and set a long overdue headstone for him.
Debbie Frantz, one of Lazarus descendants through the Estes family, and her husband George (below) were instrumental in arranging this ceremony. George is an active SAR member as is Debbie in the DAR. Debbie joined the DAR based on Lazarus’s service, so this was a particularly significant event for her. Also representing the Dodson family was Roberta Estes, also descended from Lazarus through the Estes family, and Daryl Peters, descended from Lazarus’s father, Raleigh.
It was a beautiful but very hot day, near 100. Daryl felt faint, and recalled the words of her grandmother, “women don’t sweat in the heat, they swoon”. She and a few other people were swooning alright.
The Cottrell cemetery is now on Lincoln Memorial University property and LMU has agreed to take over maintenance of the cemetery. This time in 2010, Daryl and I were there finding out the name of the man to contact about the cemetery. This year, that gentleman, Keith Cottrell, who cared for the cemetery for years, has passed away, but many of the Cottrell relatives were present to help us celebrate.
It’s such a beautiful location. You can see for 20 miles to the east if it’s not foggy. The LMU campus is right there as well. Lazarus’s heirs sold this land to David C. Cottrell in 1826 after Lazarus Dodson died. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to provide a marker for his grave, overlooking his land.
Debbie Frantz read about his life, his history, and what we have been able to piece together about him. There were other speakers as well, and two ladies sang. All in all, a lovely service, even if Lazarus’ death date is 10 years too early on his stone.
Below, Debbie and I have placed the “Descendants” wreath. His three descendants present were me, Debbie and her grandson. I wonder if Lazarus knows that nearly 200 years after his death, that his descendants are returning to set a stone and honor him.
Wreaths were lain of honor of Lazarus Dodson by the TNSSAR, General Joseph Martin Chapter, Kentucky Path DAR Chapter, Martin Station SAR chapter VASSAR and the Dodson Family Descendants. Flags were flying high.
Frank Smith, Dean of Students at LMU was the main speaker of the event and did a spectacular job. His topic was about the significance of “the dash“. That dash – the dash between the birth and death dates – the importance of the lives we live. It’s the dash that we celebrate, not the beginning or the end. And it’s the dash of Lazarus life that we have reconstructed to the best of our ability. May all of our ancestors inspire the days of our dash.
The legacy of Lazarus Dodson will live on through his descendants and through the accomplishments of the students that will be given a chance to fulfill their dreams as educators of tomorrow through the Cottrell Endowment fund, which will give LMU a great legacy to be proud of. Anyone who wishes to contribute may do so by writing a check to LMU and noting that it is a contribution for the Cottrell Endowment Fund. They have committed to raise $25,000 as an endowed fund so a scholarship can be offered every year. This was in exchange for LMU agreeing to maintain the cemetery in perpetuity.
After the service ended, we got to meet the Cottrell family with whom we’ve been communicating for months to document the cemetery. The photo below is of Lazarus’ descendants and the Cottrell family together.
Below, the Cottrell family gathers at David Cottrell’s stone. It seems so long ago, but David Cottrell probably knew Lazarus Dodson (Sr., the Patriot), certainly knew his son, Lazarus (Jr.), and lived in the home that Lazarus (Sr.) built, farmed his land and eventually, was buried alongside Lazarus.
Jim Rowland, one of the Cottrell family members mentioned that he knew where the old David Cottrell house had been located. He’s about 60 or so and said it was torn down when he was a teenager, but it had been abandoned years before. So off we went caravan style to see the location of the old house. Of course, we went via the roads, but in the old days, they would just have walked over the hill. Too hot and too many snakes today.
Here we are, all gathered in the road in front of the land that once held the cabin of Lazarus Dodson, Sr. We’re by the bend in the road, by the word Cottrell, on the map inset below from the Civil War map of the 1860s.
After arriving, Jim pointed out the location of the old house and barns. At the bend in Tipprell Road, the house used to stand where the dead tree is today (photo below), and the barn was in the clearing to the right. This was rather unusual land, because it’s almost flat here.
The barn had been located to the right of the clump of trees, in the little clearing just as it starts up the little hill. This location is also shown on the Civil War map and it is the only homestead on Tipprell road at that time. As the crow flies, the cemetery is just behind the house and over the hill. There was originally a road that connected the two sites, and the road still exists, but has been abandoned and is blocked at both ends today.
Lazarus was also a member of the Gap Creek Church and helped to found it as well. It was on his 640 acres that he received for his Revolutionary War service, located on Gap Creek. The Church backs up to Gap Creek has been rebuilt several times, but surely some of the original lurks beneath the surface.
Before we left, we had seen where Lazarus was buried, where he lived, where he worshipped and the creek on his land that quenched the thirst of his family and his animals. We have seen the Indian lands and Butcher Springs where the local story says that long hunters were ambushed by Indians. Lazarus’ land is steeped in history.
We were glad to get back to the hotel and air conditioning. We drove back via Tipprell Road, a little one lane road (sometimes stretched to two lanes, but you have to stop to pass). This would have been the road Lazarus took to the village of Cumberland Gap, “above” his place on the mountain. Even today, after being paved, it is extremely quiet and peaceful. We stopped and shut the car off and just listened to the sound of Gap Creek tumbling down the mountain, the birds….and nothing else except for the occasional rustle of the leaves. How beautiful and peaceful this land is today.
As fate would have it, a Tennessee artist, Tamara Hogshead painted Gap Creek and donated the painting to a nonprofit group for their fundraising auction. I bid on, and won, that painting which I love dearly and graces my home today. What are the chances of finding this painting and then discovering that it is of Gap Creek, the creek that ran through Lazarus property?
However, it wasn’t always serene. We know that this is the place where battles of the Civil War were fought as well as bloody battles between Indians and migrating European settlers. Today, it is peaceful and stunningly, almost hauntingly, serenely, beautiful. This is the Appalachia our ancestors loved, where Lazarus lived, the roads he trod, and the land where we return to honor him and to visit the landscapes of our ancestors.
If no one ever thanked you Lazarus, for your service to your country, or told you they were proud of you, proud to be your descendant, let me do it now. All of your descendants thank you, those who were able to be present in 2011, and those not. Those who searched for and documented the meaningful events of your life, those moments between the dash, and those who will, in the future read about them. We are all here because of you, and we live in a free country. That freedom is thanks to you, your father, and the other Patriots. You will never be forgotten, nor will your service to your country. We have set a memorial stone for you to insure that others can visit you, on your land, in the future. Hopefully future generations will come, sit a spell in this magical location, ponder the dash, yours and theirs, learn a little about your life, and find a piece of their heritage on the tract known as Butcher Springs, just below Cumberland Gap.
Thank you, from your descendants!
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 [Lazarus Dodson 300 ac and Joseph Beard 400 ac (warrant number mentioned twice) – on warrant list; for grant to L Dodson see file 523 in Sullivan Co; warrant issued Jan 19 1782 by John Adair, warrant assigned Aug 12 1788 by Rawleigh Dodson to Lazarus Dodson (William Smith witness); 300 ac in grant (survey not in shuck, see Sullivan Co file 531); Carter’s entry 1014 in same shuck; grant 539 issued Nov 26 1789.
 Page 64 – 427 (311) March 16 (or 15) [RJE – looks to be several surveys under this same number] Grant 534 issued Feb 13 1791
 Hawkins deeds 1-94, 2-3184-65, 4-66, 6-196, 6-264. 1800, March 29 – Lazarus Dodson of Claiborne Co and Johnathan Ling of Hawkins $900 for tract in Hawkins on White Horse Fork (also White Run Fork in next deed which is exactly the same except dated March 29 1804. Actually this is White Thorne Fork) of Bent Creek being same place where said Dodson formerly lived, adj fence of Walker, being 575 acres of land as set out. Wit William Paine, JP, M_Myres. Reg Nov 21 1804
 See Claiborne deed B-316, D-4, E-366 one of which might refered to Lazarus Jr. Deeds were also recorded in H-291 and L-23 but these books are missing from the courthouse.
 Decatur County was a short lived county crated from territory of Madison and Jackson Counties.
 Ack Aug term 1819 by William Hogan Reg Oct 14, 1819 book E-366.
 Ack May 6, 1861 by Lazarus Dodson by appearance before James Allcorn, Clerk of Court in Pulaksi Co., Ky. Registered Oct. 13, 1870 Claiborne Co.
 Claiborne marriages 2-10.
 Ack May 6, 1861 by Lazarus Dodson by appearance before James Allcorn, Clerk of Court in Pulaksi Co., Ky. Registered Oct. 13, 1870 Claiborne Co.
 Claiborne was not formed until 1801.