Elizabeth Campbell’s birth year is known only through the ages of her children. Daughter Ruthy Dodson was born on March 1, 1820. It’s believed that Elizabeth married shortly before that time to Lazarus Dodson who was born in 1795. Therefore Elizabeth was probably born sometime between 1795 and 1802.
Elizabeth was raised on Little Sycamore Road in Claiborne County, Tennessee by her parents, John Campbell and Jane “Jenny” Dobkins.
Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, purchased this land in 1802 when the family moved from near Dodson Creek in Hawkins County. Elizabeth could have been born in Hawkins County and moved to Claiborne as a toddler, or born right here in this house.
The Campbell house still stands today beside Liberty Baptist Church and beneath Liberty Cemetery where John Campbell and Jenny Dobkins are probably buried.
Looking down from the cemetery, which is on the top of the “hill” behind the house, which is really a mountain, you can see the top of the Campell home.
The current owners told me about the secret room under the foundation. Did Elizabeth play there as a child?
Elizabeth assuredly carried water from the spring.
A natural spring provided clean drinking water for the family and would have been one of the primary reasons John Campbell selected this location. It would have been the children’s job to fetch water in a bucket. These old trees were likely standing when Elizabeth dipped into the fresh cool water emanating from the stones that mark the spring, even yet today.
Viewed from a different direction, you can see that it wasn’t far from the spring to the house. The spring, here, is the ditch at the base of the trees.
The original steps that Elizabeth climbed still remain, as does the original doorway. The cabin underneath is made of logs.
We also know that Elizabeth’s children visited the same spring, trod the same land and probably jumped off of this same step, following in their mother’s absent footsteps.
Elizabeth may have married in this house as well. Elizabeth probably married Lazarus Dodson in about 1818 or 1819, because their child Martha “Ruthy” was born on March 1, 1820, with another child following shortly thereafter. Ruthy consistently shows her birth in Tennessee in every census from 1850 through 1910, as do her children.
We know very little of Elizabeth’s life between her birth and death. What we do know is quite interesting, albeit less than concrete.
The family lore from several lines includes the persistent story that Elizabeth and Lazarus went to Jackson County, Alabama after their marriage. I’ve always been skeptical of this story, because their children are found in Claiborne County, Tennessee, exactly where both Lazarus and Elizabeth are found as children. But, as it turns out, I was wrong.
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’s known that the Dodson family had been involved with trading with the Indians since at least 1797 and that one Jesse Dodson was an Indian trader, licensed in 1811. It is certainly possible that Jesse Dodson, Indian Trader of the Mississippi territory, was a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr., meaning a brother to Lazarus Dodson Jr., who married Elizabeth Campbell. Lazarus Dodson Sr. was himself camping with the Indians in Sullivan County in the winter of 1781/1782. You can read more about the Indian trader story in the article about Lazarus Dodson, Sr.
The area on the map below labeled 101 is the Jackson County, Alabama land ceded by the Cherokee in 1819, bordering Tennessee, about 200 miles from Claiborne County. The area marked 203 was not ceded until the Indian removal in 1835. Additional maps and cessations can be viewed here.
Given that at least one of Elizabeth’s children was born in Alabama in 1820 or 1821, and possibly more were born there, Elizabeth was actually living on a frontier. Alabama was made a territory in 1817 and became a state in 1819.
The Cherokee ceded land in 1816 and 1819 but retained the land just to the east of Jackson County. The Cherokee were their neighbors, and if the Dodson family was trading with the tribe, they were working among them on a daily basis.
The next hint that we have about Elizabeth is that Lazarus reappears in the Claiborne County Court notes in June of 1827. We know that his father, Lazarus Sr., died in 1826, so this 1827 appearance is most likely Lazarus, husband of Elizabeth. If this is the case, it’s possible that Lazarus and Elizabeth returned to Tennessee together and she died in Tennessee between 1826 and 1830.
It’s also possible that Elizabeth died in Alabama in 1827, prompting Lazarus’s return.
Thankfully, Elizabeth inherited from her father, John Campbell’s estate and because she was already deceased, her heirs are listed and inherit her portion. John Campbell died in 1838 and Elizabeth’s children are listed as minor heirs in 1840, 1841 and 1842.
State of Tennessee, Claiborne County Court, October term 1842. page 280.
GUARDEAN SETTLEMENT MINOR HEIRS, ELIZABETH DODSON, DECEASED.
I, Wiley Huffacker, Guardean to John C., Nancy, Ruthy, and Lazarous Dodson minor orphans of Elizabeth Dodson, deceased, do make and present to your worships the following report, or settlement, to wit.
To amount in my hands as reported to your worships at July term 1841, $120.08 3/4. Interest on same from July 1841 to September 1842, $7.81. Recd. of George Campbell rents for 1839 & 1840, $5.50. Interest recd. on G. Campbells note, date above, $0.27. Rents recd. of Wm. Fugate for the 1841, $3.00. Do – Do of Wm. Campbell for the year 1841, $3.00. Do – Do of Jacob Campbell for the year 1841, $2.12 1/4. Total: $141.79 1/4.
Notes taken for sale of land as per decree of the Circuit Court, to wit. :
One note on Jacob Campbell due 1st. July 1843, $27.54. Due on 1st January 1844, $27.54. do on Wm. Campbell, due 1st January 1843, $78.44. Do on same due 1st January 1844, $78.44. sub total: $211.96, Total: $353.75 1/4.
September 1842 recd. as administrator on auction sales of negroes by order of Circuit Court, $116.04. Total Amount: $469.79 1/4.
Paid attorney Sawyers for advice, $5.00. Guardian bond to clerk Neil, $0.75. For attending to the whole business as Guardian, making and recording this settlement & &. $14.25. total: $20.00., yet due: $449.79 1/4.
Guardian entitled to credits as follows, to wit: Paid Gray Garret my part expenses selling land, $1.00.
John C. Dotsons rect. 26th Sept. 1842, in full his share $112.46.
James S. Brays rect. 31st Dec. 1841 $63.90. Do – do for rents for 1841, $1.50. Due 3rd Oct. 1842 for balance in full, or his wife’s share in my hands as guardian, $47.06.
John Y. Estes rect. dated 5th Sept. 1842, $54.35. Do – do rents for the year 1841, $1.50. Do – do order for what ballence may be in my hands as guardian, amt. $56.61.
Total amount due the heirs, after expenses, $449.79 1/4.
Vouchers filed to the amount of $338.38. balance, $111.41 1/4.
Leaving yet in my hands, one hundred eleven dollars & fourty one cents which is each heirs share & which is due & owing to Lazarous Dotson, the youngest heir. The other three having received their whole share as appears from the vouchers on file. Which settlement was presented to the court at October term 1842 & by the court examined & ordered to be filed and recorded, being received by the court. Wiley Huffacker, Guardean.
Elizabeth apparently died sometime between the birth of her last child in 1827 and 1830 when her 4 children appear to be living with her parents in Claiborne County, TN. Her father, John Campbell is show on the 1830 census, below.
John Campbell’s household has 4 small children living with he and his wife.
I do not find Lazarus Dodson, Elizabeth’s husband, in 1830, although there is a Lazarus Dotson in Pickens Co., Alabama but he is 40-50 years of age, along with his wife, and they have 6 children, 4 males and 2 females, which does not match our Lazarus and his known children.
Lazarus Dodson served on a jury in Claiborne County in March of 1830, so we know he was living there at that time and serves in both 1829 and 1831 as well. Perhaps he was living with another family in 1830.
I suspect that these are the Dodson children living with John Campbell, and that Elizabeth had passed over by then. Lazarus probably brought them back from Alabama and left them with their grandparents because he couldn’t farm and watch 4 small children too – all 4 being under the age of 10. If Elizabeth died in 1827 or 1828, those children would have all been under the age of 7 or 8. The youngest children probably had no memory of their mother. If Elizabeth knew she was dying, it must have broken her heart to leave her young children.
I would wager that wagon ride from Alabama to Tennessee was one long, sorrowful, journey. The children would not have known their grandparents and their mother had died. It’s possible that the first John Campbell and his wife, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins knew of their daughter’s death was when Lazarus showed up in a wagon, without their daughter and with 4 children. For that matter, they may not have known that Elizabeth had borne 4 children.
What a terribly bittersweet homecoming. The excitement of seeing the wagon, and who was driving, and then the agony of discovering that their daughter was not inside.
Snippets of confirming information about Elizabeth and Lazarus living in Alabama come from their children.
Elizabeth’s son, John Campbell Dodson, born in 1820 or 1821 shows himself to have been born in Alabama in the 1850 Claiborne County, TN census and 1860 Pulaksi County, KY census. His Civil War military records confirm that was well.
However, Elizabeth’s daughter, Nancy Ann was born in 1824 in Tennessee according to the 1850 Claiborne County, TN census. She died before the 1860 census, but her son, Thomas Bray, in 1900, shows his mother as born in Tennessee.
Elizabeth’s son Lazarus is shown living beside his sister Nancy Bray in 1850, also born in Tennessee. The 1860 census in Pulaski County, Kentucky and the 1880 census in Madrid Bend, Fulton County, KY also show that he was born in Tennessee.
Nancy Ann and Lazarus, the youngest children, may not remember living in Alabama, if, in fact, they did.
One thing we know for sure, Lazarus Dodson was absent from Claiborne County between 1819 and at least 1826 when either he or his father repurchased the land beneath Cumberland Gap. He was back for sure in mid-1827 when he appears in the court notes. Lazarus’s wife, Elizabeth would have been with him, wherever he was.
I believe that Lazarus Jr. purchased the land on Tiprell Road in 1826, previously sold by his father in 1819, given that the land was not mentioned in nor sold from his father’s estate and Lazarus subsequently swears that he sold that land in 1833. Lazarus may have purchased the land, then gone back to Alabama to retrieve his family, returning by the summer of 1827.
If Elizabeth died in Alabama, the location of her grave is unknown to us.
If Elizabeth died in Claiborne County, she would be buried either in the cemetery on Lazarus’s land, known as the Cottrell Cemetery today, or in Liberty Cemetery above her father’s house (if the cemetery was in use that early), or possibly in the Campbell cemetery on Jacob Dobkins’ original land. Regardless, I’ve visited her grave one time or another, and she was assuredly buried among family, regardless of which cemetery was her final resting place.
Elizabeth’s known children were:
- Martha “Ruthy” Dodson (1820-1903) who married John Y. Estes
- John Campbell Dodson (1820/1821-after 1860) who married Barthena Dobkins in 1839
- Nancy Ann Dodson (c1824-1852/1860) married James S. Bray
- Lazarus Dobkins Dodson (1827-1885) married Elizabeth Carpenter
Elizabeth’s mitochondrial DNA would be passed down from her mother to her, unmixed with any DNA from her father. Women pass their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on. That means that anyone who descends from Elizabeth, her mother, or her mother’s sisters, through all females to the current generation, carry her mitochondrial DNA. In the current generation, the testers can be either males or females.
Mitochondrial DNA is particularly important in these old families, because we really don’t know much about the female lines quite often. We may think they are of European origin, but sometimes they are Native, and vice versa. Mitochondrial DNA testing removes all question. Because it’s always passed intact, meaning never mixed with the father’s DNA, it remains clear for many generations, showing us the history of that one single line back into distant times.
Elizabeth had only two daughters, who had the following daughters who would be candidates to provide descendants who could test today for Elizabeth’s mitochondrial DNA.
Ruthy Dodson (1820-1903) married John Y. Estes – daughters:
Elizabeth Ann Estes (1851-1946) married William George Vannoy and lived in Montague Co., Texas. She had daughters
Doshia Phoebe Vannoy (1875-1972) married James Hutson and had daughters:
Audrey Lee Hutson (1917->2006) married Alfred Long
Opal Hutson (1900-197?) married Grady Murphy
Lizzie Lucille Hutson (1907-?) married a Luttrell
Eliza Vannoy (1871-1925) married Joe Robert Miller and had daughter:
Nell Miller (1902-1991) married William Jackson, daughter:
Reba Jackson (1926-2010) married John Webb
Nancy Ann Dodson (1821-1852/1860) married James S. Bray – daughters:
Mary Bray born circa 1848
Rhoda Bray born (1852-1921) married William Hunter Wood, daughters:
Nannie Harger Wood (1883-1975) married Harry Barr Ross
Bertha L. Wood
Carline Bray born circa 1838
If you descend from Elizabeth Campbell through all females (bolded above) to the current generation and are the first person who steps forward willing to DNA test, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you. In the current generation, you can be either male or female, so long as you descend through all females.
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