Lazarus Dodson was born in 1795, probably in what is now Hawkins County, Tennessee, to Lazarus Dodson Sr. and his wife, Jane, whose name we don’t know.
The Dodson family had settled on land on what is now Dodson Creek in Hawkins County by 1787, before Tennessee was even a state. Hawkins County was formed in 1787 in what was then North Carolina from Sullivan and Greene Counties, although the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia, on Hawkins County’s north border, remained in dispute for years. Dodson Creek was on the south side of the Holston River, so safely in North Carolina.
Charles Campbell and his sons, John and George also lived on Dodson Creek. John Campbell, born about 1782, married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins, the daughter of Jacob Dobkins who lived just down the road near White Horn.
The Campbell and Dodson families lived near Dodson’s Ford, located at the mouth of Dodson Creek near the power plant today. The Dodson homestead would have been on the high ground, approximately at the location of 621 Old Tennessee 70, while the ford itself crossed the river, just above that location. The land between the homestead and the river was low and prone to flooding.
This beautiful scene overlooks both the Campbell and Dodson lands from a vantage point across the Holston River. Their lands are directly behind, beneath and beside the power plant. This is beautiful country.
Raleigh Dodson, the father of Lazarus Dodson Sr. manned and owned the ferry crossing the Holston River at Dodson Ford.
The road from Old Prussia Road to where the ferry crossed no longer exists today, but if you extend the line along Dodson Creek from the intersection of Old Tennessee 70 and Old Prussia Road along the west side of Dodson’s Creek, crossing the river near Arnott’s Island, that’s the general path.
According to local history, this was also the Great War Path, and the Indians used to camp at the mouth of Dodson’s Creek, in the area not plowed today. Locals find artifacts and firepits there.
It probably looks much the same today as it did then, except for the fields.
Bull’s Gap was the next major stop and it was about 12 miles on south, just past White Horn. Everyone traveled these main roads, and everyone, including Jacob Dobkins and his daughters would stop at Raleigh Dodson’s house (and probably tavern/store) after crossing the river.
In 1797, Lazarus Dodson Sr. moved to the White Horn branch of Bent Creek, very near Jacob Dobkins.
Claiborne County, Tennessee
Around 1800, this entire group of families moved from Hawkins County to what would become Claiborne County in 1801, including Jacob Dobkins, John and George Campbell along with their Dobkins wives and Lazarus Dodson and his wife, Jane. John Campbell would have married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins about 1795 and George’s brother, married Jane’s sister, Elizabeth Dobkins, about the same time – both daughters of Jacob Dobkins. Lazarus Dodson Sr. was a neighbor. He could have been otherwise related, by virtue of his wife, Jane, whose surname is unknown. We also don’t know the surname of Raleigh Dodson’s wife. There seems to be some connection to the Lea family, both in Virginia and in Tennessee. These early pioneer families could well have been related before moving to Dodson Creek.
Lazarus Dodson Jr. would have been about 5 years old when his parents moved to Claiborne County. Lazarus probably attended school in the same one room building that also functioned as a church on his father’s land.
That church still exists today, on the banks of Gap Creek, on land owned by Lazarus.
In Claiborne County, Jacob Dobkins, John Campbell and George Campbell settled not terribly far from each other, but Lazarus Dodson settled several miles away, just below the Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs, shown on the Civil War map, below. The location of Cotterell is the farm sold to David C. Cotrell by Lazarus Dodson in 1833 and confirmed in 1861. Present day Tiprell Road was called Gap Creek Road at that time, and Back Valley Road runs southwest from Patterson’s Smith Shops which is the intersection of 25E and Back Valley Road Today
In the photo below, I’m standing in the Cottrell Cemetery located on the road just above the Cottrell home. In the photo, looking southeast, you can see the church standing today in the location of Patterson’s Smith Shops.
Below, the same cemetery, but looking west over Lazarus’s land.
Today, Lincoln Memorial University, in the background below, owns the cemetery as well as part of the original Dodson land.
Does one of the many fieldstones mark the grave of Elizabeth Campbell, the wife of Lazarus Dodson, Jr.? Did he have children that died and were buried here – children that never lived long enough to be recorded in their grandfather, John Campbell’s estate settlement papers in 1841?
As I stood in the cemetery the sweltering June day that we set Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s DAR marker, honoring his Revolutionary War Service, I couldn’t help but wonder if this old tree had been young when Lazarus Dodson Jr. was a young boy, scampering through the fields here too.
On the map below, Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s land was located at 1595 Tiprell Road on the upper left, Jacob Dobkins lived on what is now Al Campbell Lane (ironically) and John Campbell’s land was at the location with the red balloon on Little Sycamore Road. George Campbell’s land was located near Jacob Dobkins’, just slightly to the west.
Both Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of John Campbell and Jane “Jennie” Dobkins, would have grown up in Claiborne County, but how they managed to “court” at that distance is unknown. The identity of Jane, the wife of Lazarus Dodson Sr. might be a clue, but we don’t know who she was. A church affiliation might be another clue, although Lazarus helped found Gap Creek Church near his home and Jacob Dobkins and John Campbell likely attended church at Big Springs in Tazewell or a smaller congregation closer to their home, if the now defunct church on Little Ridge behind John Campbell’s house had yet been established at that time.
Regardless of how, Elizabeth Campbell and Lazarus Dodson Jr. did court, and did marry about 1818 or 1819, based on the birth date of March 1, 1820 for their oldest child.
Unfortunately, Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Lazarus Dodson Jr. are both functioning as adults in Claiborne County and they are difficult to tell apart. In 1819, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Sr., sells his land near the Cumberland Gap, but in 1826, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Jr., repurchases the same land. Families, family dynamics and politics have never been simple!
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 deed was witnessed by Martin Beaty, William Jones and David Dodson (Claiborne deed E-366). The deed does not say Lazarus Sr. or Jr., but there is no indication that Lazarus Jr. had purchased this land, so the presumption has to be that Lazarus Sr. sold the land he obtained in 1810. The witness David Dodson may be the one who moved to McMinn Co TN and was likely another son of Lazarus Sr.
Alabama Indian Trader
At one point in time, about 1819 or 1820, Lazarus and his wife, Elizabeth Campbell, went to Alabama. This was a somewhat confounding turn of events, until you consider the multiple pieces of evidence that indicate the involvement of the Dodson family with Indians.
The first piece of evidence is that Lazarus Dodson’s father, Lazarus Sr., is reported in a later land survey to have been encamped with the Indians in what was then Sullivan and became Hawkins County, at the mouth of Richland Creek in the winter of 1781/1782.
The mouth of Richland Creek was located just above an island, as seen above. You can see, on the map below, that in 1787, Richland Creek was located deep in Indian Territory, about 50 miles east of Rogersville and another 40 or so south of Arthur which is located on the south end of Tiprell Road where Lazarus Dodson eventually settled.
Elisha Wallen, the longhunter and first white man to settle in this country, built a cabin near the mouth of Richland Creek in 1775, before he pulled up stakes and moved to Cumberland Gap, near where Lazarus settled about 1800.
There is no trace of the Indians or their encampment today. Lazarus wouldn’t recognize it. I bet that island at the mouth of Richland Creek is full of artifacts, some of which could have been left by Lazarus Dodson.
Second, we find Lazarus’s father, Raleigh settling on the Great War Path, in Hawkins County, where the Indians traveled and camped. Clearly, Lazarus Sr. know the Indians well. Keep in mind that we don’t know who either Raleigh or Lazarus Sr.’s wives were.
The third piece of evidence is that Jesse Dodson, probably Lazarus’s brother, is living inside the Indian boundary just beneath the Cumberland Gap in 1797. He was assessed for 1 white poll, but was then excused from tax when the Grainger Court released the Sheriff from the collection of taxes. At this time, the only people excused from taxes were Native people. This begs the question of whether Jesse was part Native and/or whether his wife was Native as well.
However, the failure to collect taxes may have been an issue of jurisdiction instead of heritage. Apparently these people were living beyond the treaty line on Indian land and were not within the jurisdiction of Grainger County. Claiborne County was not formed until 1801.
On the 1795 map below, you can see the Indian boundary line, just west of the Kentucky Road where it intersects with Cumberland Gap. This same Indian Boundary line is referenced in Lazarus Dodson’s deeds. 560 of the 640 acres Lazarus owned of this land was conveyed to him in 1810 by Abner Lea, thought (but unproven) to be Lazarus’s brother-in-law. The acreage amounts don’t match, but keep in mind that two Claiborne County deed books, H and L, from this timeframe are entirely missing.
If this Jesse Dodson living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 is the son of Lazarus Sr., then he preceded 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 line and was originally Cherokee land. This might well explain why Lazarus selected the land that he did, given that the rest of the people he moved with settled several miles to the southeast in a group.
Jesse Dodson and Mary Stubblefield Dodson joined the Big Spring Baptist church in Tazewell “by experience” in March 1802. They received letters of dismissal from the church in Nov. 1805, but Jesse returned his letter in May 1806, indicating he had returned. Apparently in early 1807 Jesse got into a dispute with the church over a theological question which continued 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. We know this Jesse Dodson is not the son of the Reverend Jesse Dodson whose son, Jesse Jr. was born in 1791. We otherwise don’t know who this Jesse is, other than perhaps the Jesse who was living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 who was possibly the Jesse who was subsequently licenses to trade with the Indians. Yes, I know there are works like perhaps and possibly here, but this is the best we can do.
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 Dodson Sr.
Jackson County, Alabama
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, Lazarus Sr. 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 year that Lazarus Dodson Sr. sold his Claiborne County land and when several of his children apparently went to Alabama.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with why Lazarus went to Alabama, but it can’t be ignored either.
Andrew Jackson was Major General in the Tennessee Militia. He was ordered to New Orleans to fight the British in January 1813. He was ordered to disband his troops (2500) and return to Tennessee when he reached present day Natchez, Mississippi. No pay or provisions for his men and they had to forage their way back 500 miles to Tennessee. Some people stayed in Alabama. Jackson returned and defeated the Creek Indians (Red Sticks) at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on May 27, 1814. The Indians were forced to cede 23,000,000 acres to the Federal Government. Mississippi became a State in 1817 and Alabama in 1819. Many of the militia from Tennessee returned to Tennessee, packed up their belonging, and returned with their families in two wheel carts to “Squat” on the Indian Lands in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The squatters were given title to the lands by the States. Some of the “Civilized” Creeks were also allowed to “keep” their lands.
I checked land records maintained by the state and the BLM and find no Lazarus Dodson. However, there are many entries for Dodson men during and after this time.
I initially discounted the oral history that Lazarus had gone to Jackson County, Alabama, but his son, John Campbell Dodson shows that he was born in Alabama repeatedly – in the 1850 census, in the 1860 census and on his Civil War papers.
Lazarus Dodson Jr. was just slightly too young to be involved in the War of 1812, having been born in 1795, and his father Lazarus Sr., probably slightly too old, having been born about 1760. I did check Kentucky’s War of 1812 veterans, just to be sure, given that Lazarus Jr. lived there from about 1833 until his death in 1861 – and there is no listing for Lazarus Dodson by any spelling.
Return From Alabama
Elizabeth Campbell Dodson died sometime between 1827 when the last child was born and 1830 when the Dodson children are living with their Campbell grandparents.
Lazarus Dodson is once again active in Claiborne County, beginning in 1826 (according to an 1826 deed that may have been “doctored” and wasn’t registered until 1829) but consistently from mid-1827 through 1833 when Lazarus sells his land to David Cotterell and apparently moves to Pulaski County, Kentucky. By this time, Lazarus Dodson Sr. has died, so we know the Lazarus after 1826 is Lazarus Dodson Jr. who had married Elizabeth Campbell and later, Rebecca Freeman.
If Elizabeth died in Alabama, the reason for Lazarus’s return is evident. What was Lazarus to do with 4 children under the age of 7 or 8? Elizabeth may have died after returning to McMinn or Claiborne County. If so, she died before 1830 when the children were living with their grandparents.
Truthfully, I suspect that Elizabeth died after Lazarus returned to Tennessee. Otherwise, if Elizabeth had born a child in 1827 and died shortly thereafter, I suspect the child would have died too. Who would have nursed that child during the 200 mile, or minimum 10 day trip, from Alabama to Claiborne County, TN? Lazarus obviously couldn’t.
Cumberland Gap, Again
In 1826 Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s estate is being referenced in the September McMinn County court notes where Lazarus (Jr.) is one of several “gardeans of the estate” of Lazarous Dodson, deceased.
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
In Sept. 1826, 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 deed was not certified by oath in Claiborne County court until April term of 1829 and not registered until October 20, 1829. This is registered in Claiborne County on pages 285 and 286.
This has to be Lazarus Jr. since Lazarus Sr. is dead and this land appears, based on earlier and later deeds, to be the original land that Lazarus Sr. owned. Did Lazarus Jr. repurchase his father’s land because of sentimental reasons, or because it was a great deal? Maybe some of both? Was this land still in the family. Was Hogan related? If so, how? So many questions!
On June 4, 1827, Lazerus Dodson made a deed of mortgage to Augustine P. Face (Pace) in McMinn County, but the land was located in Claiborne County, TN. (McMinn County Court Minutes, B/124)
At the October Claiborne County court session in 1829, the Sheriff, John Hunt, and Luke Tierman, a merchant from Baltimore, Maryland registered a judgement recovered by Daniel Rogers against Willliam Hogan. This judgment went up for auction and was specifically stated to be “the very tract of land William Hogan then lived on and the same he bought of Lazarus Dodson.” This was sold at auction with Tierman winning the land for $5 and then Sheriff Hunt conveys the 540 acres to John Tierman.
This photo is taken on Tiprell Road looking north towards the mountain on the land that was owned by Lazarus.
This land is quite beautiful on up the mountain a bit. Gap Creek runs alongside the road.
Older Cottrell descendants indicate that Lazarus’s barn and perhaps a log structure (home?) was located in what is now this clump of trees, in the clearing to the right, just beneath the location of the Cottrell home on the Civil War map. The cemetery, as the crow flies, is just on the other side of the trees on the top of the hill, but you can’t get there from Tiprell Road today.
Given where the Civil War fighting occurred, this scene looks bucolic today, but it certainly wasn’t then. Lazarus didn’t live long enough to know about the fighting that would take place during the Civil War on the land he and his father once owned, but his daughter Rutha Dodson’s husband, John Y. Estes, would fight on these very grounds.
I don’t know, but I’m guessing that somehow Lazarus Dodson is connected to William Hogan, given the multiple appearances of Hogan and Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Jr. together. Furthermore, it looks like there may have been something “funny” going on with this 1826 Dodson/Hogan land transaction that was not registered until 1829 at the same court session where Rogers judgment and Tierman’s auction winning of the land, somehow intertwined, are also registered.
How was this ever resolved, with two men, Tierman and Lazarus Dodson both appearing to own the exact same land? I’ll never know, but it does not appear to have gone to court again. Given the agrarian economy where almost everything seems to have been litigated, that in and of itself is amazing.
In 1827 Lazarus appears in the Claiborne County 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 September 1827, sued for debt by Moses Ball in March 1828 (Ball was 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 Lazarus Dodson’s 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”.
Based on an 1861 deed, we know that Lazarus Dodson sold the land on present day Tiprell Road to David C. Cotterell in 1833.
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. Wit Lewis Chumbley, Andrew Chumbley 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., TN
Note that the above item took place just 5 months before Lazarus died.
If Lazarus Jr. bought the land in 1826 for $3500, why did he sell it for $100 in 1833? Or was this only a portion of what was sold? Where is the deed for the rest? Is that deed in the lost deed books? The indexes remain, but they don’t show this land sale.
This survey shows Robert Chumley’s 100 acres of land.
The name of Lazarus Dodson is on a list of free male inhabitants, 21 and upwards, of Claiborne County 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, or anyplace else for that matter. It is possible he lived in the household of another family, although at that time one could not serve on a jury if you weren’t a while male landholder over the age of 21. If Lazarus owned his own land, and we know he did, then why wasn’t he listed on the census?
The following records indicate that Lazarus left the county again for a few years beginning in 1833, returning to marry his second wife, Rebecca Freeman, on June 29, 1839.
On to Kentucky
In 1835, we find a Hawkins County record that states that Lazarus 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…ordered 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.
In 1839, Lazarus Dodson married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County. I wonder if he married someone else in-between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman. In that time and place, being single for several years is indeed unusual.
Lazarus Dodson 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 by about 1833, when the youngest child was only 6 years old, but these children were clearly raised in Claiborne County, married there and established homes.
I wonder what prompted Lazarus to move to Pulaski County, Kentucky, and if it had anything to do with the Hawkins County suit and the two years back taxes owed? Was Lazarus flying below the radar, as best one could in that time and place?
If he was living in Kentucky, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in 1839 in Claiborne County? There are far more questions about Lazarus’s life than we have answers.
John Campbell’s Death
In 1838, Lazarus Dodson’s former father-in-law died. Since Elizabeth Campbell, Lazarus’s first wife was also deceased, her portion fell to Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children.
In 1839, Lazarus is listed as receiving settlement from the estate of his father-in-law John Campbell.
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. This also confirms the birth year of Lazarus (the third) as 1827, given that he would have turned 18 in 1845.
Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children’s names were taken from the records relative to the estate of John Campbell, their grandfather, when a guardian was appointed for them relative to their inheritance. The children of Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell were:
- Ruthy Dodson, born March 1, 1820 who married John Y. Estes in 1841 in Claiborne County, died in 1903 and is buried in the Venable Cemetery in Little Sycamore.
- John Campbell Dodson, born 1820-1821 in Alabama, married Barthenia Dobkins in 1839 in Claiborne County and died after 1860.
- Nancy Ann Dodson born about 1821, married James S. Bray in 1840 in Claiborne County and died between 1852 and 1860.
- Lazarus Dobkins Dodson was born in 1827 (between 1822-1828 according to the census,) married Elizabeth H. Carpenter in 1845 in Claiborne County and died in 1885 in New Madrid County, Missouri.
One More Child?
Mary Dodson was living with Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1860 census. Her birth predates Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca by 8 years. Was she a child of a wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman? Did Lazarus have a second wife we know nothing about?
Mary Dodson died sometime after 1860 and is not found in the Kentucky death records.
While Mary’s birth in 1831 is before Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca in 1839, Mary is not listed in the estate settlement for Elizabeth Campbell, so she is clearly not Elizabeth’s child. It’s possible that Mary is not Lazarus’s child at all. We have no further information about Mary, and she remains a mystery.
Kentucky implemented very early death records, although they are fragmented and often incomplete.
However, we are fortunate that Lazarus is listed (last row, above), and his death record provides both his birth year AND his parents’ names! Well, except for his mother’s surname, of course. We’re not THAT lucky!
Lazarus Dotson or Dodson is listed as white, age 66, male, married, a farmer and died on October 5, 1861 of “breast disease.” He was born in 1795 in Virginia and both resided and died in Pulaski County, Kentucky. His parents were Lazarus Dodson and Jane, both born in Virginia.
In a female, I would presume breast disease to be breast cancer, but in a male, breast disease is a bit of a mystery.
What Needs to be Done?
We don’t know where Lazarus is buried, nor do we know where he lived. Deed work, which might identify where Lazarus lived, has not been done in Pulaski County. We also don’t know if he had a will, probate or inventory records.
I contacted the Pulaski County Historical Society, hoping I could hire a researcher to do the deed work for me, with no luck. If anyone has any Pulaski County genealogy resources, either books or feet on the ground, please let me know.
Deed and records research in Pulaski County isn’t the only missing piece of the puzzle.
To date, no male Dodson from this line has Y DNA tested. If you’re a male Dodson from this line, please get in touch with me. I have a DNA testing scholarship for you!
However, just because we don’t have the Dodson Y DNA doesn’t mean we are dead in the water entirely. Let’s see what autosomal DNA can tell us about Lazarus.
I have one cousin who descends from this line, through one of Lazarus Jr.’s children. She is my only known cousin who descends through another child of Lazarus Jr.. I have several cousins who descend from the same child that I do.
One of the challenges faced in this particular line is that Jacob Dobkin’s daughters, Jennie and Elizabeth, married Campbell brothers, John and George, respectively.
At least’s it’s widely accepted that John Campbell and George Campbell were brothers, both sons of Charles Campbell, from a variety of relatively convincing but less than cast-in-concrete evidence. What we don’t have, and probably never will have, is exact proof that John and George were brothers.
John and George Campbell’s Y DNA matches, but that’s not proof they were brothers, only that they share a common ancestor someplace back in time. Since they married sisters, one could expect the descendants of both men (and their Dobkins wives) to share at least some DNA.
This happens to be important because we have autosomal DNA from descendants of George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins as well, but because brothers married sisters, we can’t use the DNA from the George Campbell line to differentiate the DNA of the John Campbell descendants. Nor can we use the fact that these descendants match to prove that George and John were brothers, because we know they married sisters, which could be why the DNA from descendants of both lines matches.
Nothing frustrating about this, right???
The cousin, Mary, that descends from Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell through their youngest child, Lazarus, matches me on four locations of 5 cM or greater.
This is pretty exciting. You can see the orange segments on the chromosome browser below.
Given that we match on 4 segments, I was very hopeful that some of my DNA and Mary’s would triangulate with another known cousin, but it didn’t, except for my half-sister’s granddaughter, which is a relative too close for meaningful triangulation.
Triangulation, of course, is when three different cousins who descend from the same ancestor have DNA in common, meaning that all three match each other on the same segment. This indicates that the DNA segment descends from that common ancestor.
Since my DNA doesn’t triangulate, are there perhaps other pieces of Campbell and Dobkins DNA that still exist in descendants and can be proven to come from these ancestors?
The Power of Cousins
While Mary is the only cousin descended from Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, through another child, there are LOTS of other cousins who are descended through the same child of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell that I descend from through daughter Ruthy Dodson. Additionally, one cousin, William P. descends through George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins.
I manage a number of kits for cousins. I’ve downloaded their matches and sorted to see which of the various cousins might match Mary.
Lo and behold, look at this! Jackpot!
Several cousins match Mary, and look, several segments in the red squares, triangulate between cousins, and Mary, as well. We know this is either Campbell, Dodson or Dobkins DNA, we just don’t know which. Even removing the Dodson DNA, hypothetically, without people who descend from either the Dobkins line, but not the Campbell line, or vice versa, there is no way to tell which is which.
Of the cousins above, William P. descends from George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins, while the balance all descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes. Those segments that triangulate between William P. and anyone else MUST be from the Campbell/Dobkins lineage, and not the Dodson line, because William P. does not descend from the Dodson line.
Therefore, the triangulated match on chromosome 2 between Mary, Iona and William P. descends through the Campbell/Dobkins line and not Lazarus Dodson. Not only that, but it’s a huge segment of 44 cM for double 4th cousins that has descended for five generations. Unfortunately, we just proved that this isn’t Lazarus’s DNA, but the rest could be.
Stacy’s match to Mary, Carol and Charlene on chromosome 12 is quite interesting. Let’s take a look.
Stacy is my half-sister’s granddaughter, so the common ancestor between Stacy and me is my father. In this case, we know unquestionably that my father carried the portion of chromosome 12 that Stacy carries, but that I did not inherit that segment. This tells me that I inherited DNA from my father’s mother’s side on that segment. That’s useful to know, even if it is via the back door through process of elimination.
Obviously, Carol, Mary and Charlene inherited that segment from their common ancestor(s). Both Carol and Charlene descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes through her son, Lazarus Estes. Carol and Charlene’s lines diverge at Lazarus, but Charlene descends from my father’s brother.
While the chart above shows that Mary, Stacy, Charlene and Carol all 4 received the same segment of Elizabeth Campbell or Lazarus Dodson’s green DNA on chromosome 12, it doesn’t really show the full effect.
We know that all of these family members in green inherited this exact same DNA segment, and passed it along to the bottom generation. In this group, I’m the odd person out – having not received the green DNA from my father, while my sister did.
While these are not my matches that happen to triangulate, they are indeed my cousins and this triangulated DNA is that of my ancestors that I just don’t happen to carry.
Thank goodness for the power of cousins and the staying power of DNA for 7 proven generations!!!
A Mystery Man
Despite being able to piece some of Lazarus Dodson’s life together, we have gaping holes and many unanswered questions. I just have the feeling that there is a very big piece of Lazarus’s life missing, some key event or cornerstone element – possibly surrounding the property beneath Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs. If we had that piece of information, perhaps the rest would fall into place and make sense.
Was his marriage license to Elizabeth Campbell lost in Claiborne County? That’s certainly possible.
When did Lazarus go to Alabama, and why? How long did he stay?
Did Elizabeth die in Alabama or back in Tennessee? In McMinn County or Claiborne?
Why did Lazarus repurchase his father’s land in 1826, or 1829?
What was going on with that land transaction? There are certainly some oddities.
What relationship did Lazarus have with the Pace, Hogan and Lea families?
What about that lawsuit in Hawkins County he never showed for?
If he sold his land when he left, in 1833, why did he have unpaid taxes in 1835 for 1833 and 1834?
Why did Lazarus leave his children in Tennessee with their grandparents when he left for Kentucky about 1833? His oldest would have been 13 and his youngest about 6.
For that matter, why did he leave his children with their Campbell grandparents by 1830, and where was he in 1830?
Who is Mary Dodson born in 1831? Who was her mother?
Did Lazarus have a second wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman that we know nothing about?
Did Lazarus ever pay what was owed according to the court in 1837, or is that perhaps part of the reason he went to Kentucky in the first place?
If Lazarus was living in Kentucky in 1839, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County, TN?
Where was Lazarus Dodson in the 1840 and 1850 census?
Why did Lazarus actually sign the deed in 1861? Was this a remnant of the “odd” land transactions surrounding that piece of ground on Tiprell Road that remained since 1826 or maybe even earlier, with his father in 1810 and 1819?
This leaves me with a feeling that there was something odd going on, and perhaps Lazarus Dodson was flying a bit beneath the radar. Perhaps Pulaksi County, Kentucky Records would be enlightening.
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I have read that men also get breast cancer.
Yes, they do, but it’s very rare. I was wondering if this phrase meant something else in that time and place. Maybe like heart disease.
Yes, I agree. It would seem that diagnosing a man with breast cancer at that time would not be something they would understand, or even believe possible.
Very interesting blog, Roberta. Regarding the 1827 mortgage deed made by Lazarus Dodson to “Augustine P. Face (Pace)” I believe that is Augustine Pryor Fore. Fore had formerly lived in Greene County and Jefferson County. He purchased land in McMinn County about 1822. My relative John L. Erwin married Fatima Dodson about 1837 in McMinn. They lived in Cherokee County Alabama by 1850.
Very interesting. Thank you.
I’m interested to talk about Dodson autosomal DNA, what’s the best way to get in touch? Curious to see if we can muster any evidence that your Dodsons have any connection with Dodsons that settled in Fayette County, Illinois after migrating fromTennessee with suggested Virginia roots. Feel free to email.
Could Mary Dodson have been Rebecca Freeman’s daughter … just recorded on the census with her step-father’s name?
That’s certainly possible. It would be a big help if I could find them in 1850.
Really enjoyed revisiting the Western Virginia area through your story. I was able to roam the Clinch/Holston area near Big Stone Gap a few years ago. The family who adopted me had ties to the Cherokee Bob Benge who terrorized the area for years until he finally was killed in 1794, I believe. Glad your family avoided Cap’n Benge!
My cousins Ancestry go back through Bob Benge!
Do you have the rest of John Campbell’s childrens’ names?
Do you have any other of John Campbell’s children’s’ names.? Donna Campbell Goodiwn
There are several links in the article to the John Campbell article I wrote. Or you can search the blog for John Campbell. It’s fully searchable.
I really like the work you do and share. I hope you agree to let me use some of your public research if it fits in my lines. The Campbell, Butcher & Pepper families were of Lee County, VA. Elisha Pepper I and John Campbell were killed by the Indians as they were of the Home Guard.They will tie in with your families.
had a DNA test for $99 done with FTM [don’t understand any of it] and would like to know what test would be most helpful. Your stories are wonderful and I know take a lot of time and effort.
On Sun, Dec 11, 2016 at 12:46 PM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:
> robertajestes posted: “Lazarus Dodson was born in 1795, probably in what > is now Hawkins County, Tennessee, to Lazarus Dodson Sr. and his wife, Jane, > whose name we don’t know. The Dodson family had settled on land on what is > now Dodson Creek in Hawkins County by 1787, before ” >
Hi Wanda, I’m assuming your test is with Family Tree DNA. FTM used to be software and never sold tests. There is only one way to learn about autosomal DNA, and that’s to dive in. Sign on to your account and see who you match. That’s step 1. From there, you just have to work each match to see how you match them. I have written several articles that should be helpful. Furthermore, both Jennifer Zinck and Diahan Southard offer tutoring classes that help you get your feet wet and understand.
Mary Stubblefield Dodson may have descended from Robert Loxley Stubblefield and Sarah Easley. Sarah was my 6th great-grandmother. She descended from the Huguenot Robert Easley (1658-1711). Due to something called “Pedigree Collapse” it appears that I have three separate lineages that can be traced to him.
Hi Roberta! Great article. You put a lot of work into this. I have Lazarus Sr as a son of Rawleigh Dodson, grandson of George Dodson, Grt grandson Of Thomas Dodson & grt grt grandson of Charles Dodson. I recently reviewed several dozen other Dodson/Dotson that migrated to Pulaski County Ky in late 1790’s early 1800’s. Have not found a reason?
I too wonder what the draw was in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Might need a road trip in the spring:)
Roberta, I am on your e-mail list & really enfoy your writings & expertise. I have a couple instances where 2 people (both abt 50cM) match me on chromosome 11.on Family Tree What hint is this giving me? Ed
You need to see if they also match each other, then look for a common ancestor.
I believe this Dodson line is related to mine. First: haven’t researched my Dodson line in great depth. My 4 x Great Grandmother was Dorcas Dodson, daughter of Joshua and Ruth (MNU) Dodson. She married James Ballinger. Joshua’s parents were Thomas and Mary (Durham) Dodson. Thomas was the son of Charles Joseph and Ann(MNU) Dodson. I know this line connects to the Claiborne County TN Dodson line in some way. Again, have not done much research on this branch of the family tree.
There is a series of two books about the Dodson family written by the Reverend Silas Lucas that are the foundation of the Dodson line research. You might find them helpful.
Thanks. I’ll check those out. I’ve found some information online, but always like to have more information adding people to my tree. I do have DNA connections to Dorcas Dodson, Joshua Dodson and Thomas Dodson, but the more information the better. 🙂
Thanks for the reference. My daughter-in-law is from a line of Dodsons in Sneedville, TN (Hancock Co, in the same area as Claiborne) — Santa Dodson was born their on Christmas, 1924. Unfortunately I do not have any DNA data for them. Maybe I can convince my daughter-in-law to test sometime.
Finding a Dodson male would be wonderful. And I love the name, Santa.
I have Rachael MNU b-1685 d-17814 in my tree!
Raleigh (Rolley) Dodson and John Payne witnessed the Will of my 5x great-grandfather, William Thornhill, Sr. who died 30 Nov 1789, Hawkins County, North Carolina, now Tennessee. William Thornhill died while on a trip away from his home and family in Bedford County, Virginia. His Will was first seen in the Hawkins County Court, and it was then sent to Bedford, Virginia Court. I have a copy of the original Will, and some of the following probate papers. Part of the probate papers are missing. Like you, I do not know the maiden name of his wife.
I have long wondered where William Thornhill died, and what he was doing there? Were the men who witnessed his Will relatives, friends, traveling partners, or people he met by chance? Thanks to your post, there is a slight possibility that William may have died at Dodson’s Ford. This is the best hint I have had on the location of one of the men who witnessed the Will, and I did research them. Thank you!
I have researched the people who lived in Pulaski County, Kentucky for over twenty years. The families were/are greatly entwined, so you are most likely a distant cousin. I went there, and I do not know it’s attraction, other than that was where relatives lived. I also visited the old Hawkins County, Tennessee. I have a public tree at Ancestry.com, and there are Dodson in it. My direct mt-DNA line was in early 1800’s, Pulaski County, Kentucky. I tested the full mt-DNA at Family Tree DNA, and I have now sent for a Family Finder kit. One of my exact matches was a Campbell of Washington County, Tennessee. You are welcome to contact me.
There are a surnames people mentioned in their messages in my tree. My husband’s direct Y-DNA line was in the same area. I have one large tree because I suspected the people in different lines were interrelated. Some of my information predates that I have seen given here. You are welcome to search my tree. I hope it helps.
Well, I have to tell you, the Pulaski stuff is about to make me pull my hair out. However, I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling.
This is wild speculation, but given that Raleigh had the ferry at the ford, I wonder if your ancestor had a water accident of some sort, or a horse kicked him or something of that nature.
The Pulaski County research is not simple, and you cannot rely on other people’s research because there are errors. This is a remarkably cohesive group of people who continued to be entwined when they, in groups, later relocated, starting new clusters. I found it necessary to do cluster research, which takes forever, with hair pulling.
I saw John Payne mentioned at another place in your Dodson posts. There were Payne in Bedford County, Virginia, but I have found no relationship so far. I do not know William Thornhill’s occupation, but I do have one documentation that he was involved with distributing food to a Revolutionary War widow that was financed by the government. He may have been in Hawkins County on official business. I would not have wanted to take that trip on horseback at his age! He was originally from Culpeper County, and not a young man when he died. His oldest sons were grown, and four of his son’s had gone west by the time his probate was settled a few years later, with sixty some pages of documents, and other linked cases in Virginia Chancery Court. It was a legal mess. The court cases are on-line, which is a hint for everyone. Three sons were in Missouri when it was a territory. My line of Thornhill was later in Missouri entwined with descendants from Pulaski County, Kentucky. There was some kind of link.
It would be very helpful to know the maiden names of these men’s wives. As soon as the weather permits, I am traveling to my elderly aunt’s house to do her Family Finder test. Since she is one generation closer to the source and in the correct relationship, her results should be revealing. My son’s test came back yesterday, and was interesting, but some of the linked genealogy research was not correct, which is a problem. There was almost 2,000 matches, but the closest were with my double second cousins’ descendants who I met years ago, and relatives of my father, not this research line. When certain surnames repeatedly show up in other people’s research, one has to know there is a relationship somewhere. When all three Family Finder tests are finished, I will look at them in more detail.
Interesting read. Wouldn’t we like to know where Lazare was and what he was doing. Great research.
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Nice article. I wish I’d found it years ago, After reading it, I’m sure we are related somehow. My Dodson ancestors have been living in Arkansas since the 1890’s; when my gg grandparents settled in Drew County, after moving around a bit within the state. There is definitely something amiss concerning the Dodson genealogy encompassing this entire line. I have traced my Dodson roots back to the Paint Rock valley (Estill Fork – Township 1 S Range 4 E) in western Jackson County, Alabama as well as Franklin County, Tennessee; due north of Jackson County. Just a little farther than a stone’s throw across the state line in Franklin County, TN, there is a small valley that is named Dodson’s Cove. You can find it on google maps. The 1850 census of Jackson County shows a John C. (Claiborne) Dodson living with his wife Lydia (Burke? or Cline?). Both are age 44. One page over in the same household is another John Dodson and his wife Elizabeth (both 73 years old) along with my ggg grandfather Pleasant Riley Dodson(22) and his siblings; (Raleigh) Rolly Newton(18), Sarah(15), Samuel(14). In the same household there is also another Elizabeth Dodson(24) and under her, what looks like a Siena Dodson(14); though this name has been transcribed several different ways, including Luena. Who is this Elizabeth and (Siena?)? Being placed out of typical census order means she is most likely not a child of John C. Is she perhaps a widowed daughter-in-law of John and Elizabeth? A few census pages down the road is James P Dodson and his wife Martha J (both age 26). Children are Mary C.(7), Sarah F.(6), Lucinda(4) and Lavina(1). Surely these two households are related somehow. Who are John and Elizabeth Dodson, both born in 1777? Also found in the 1850 census of Jackson County is Solomon(25) and Malinda(26) along with their children Susan(6), James(4) William(3) and Isaac(1). They are living near Skyline. The 1850 census in Franklin County, Tennessee has a mysterious Z. R.(39) and Agnes(38) Dodson with children – John(14), Carroll(9), Sarah Ann(8) and Susan(9 – out of order by age). Last but certainly not least, there is William Dodson(56) and his wife Mary(53) living right next door to a widow named Elizabeth King(45) and her children. Above, I mentioned that Pleasant Riley Dodson is my ggg grandfather. His wife was Margaret Adeline King, daughter of John and Sophia King. These families were all neighbors and must have relied heavily upon one another to survive. I have studied the relationships, marriages and extended families of every single one of their descendants. I have looked at moving patterns, studied maps, looked at names of many neighbors found in census schedules and literally looked at thousands of online genealogical and burial websites. Whenever I research my Dodson line, and my research has been extensive, I can’t help but notice similarities in names, places and timelines. Unfortunately I also see many errors made by others online and I probably have a few errors myself. But after scouring all resources available to me, I have yet to make a solid connection with my Dodson family tree and the generally accepted Dodson family history that is found all over the internet. I wonder how and why my Dodson’s got left behind and lost their heritage. I’m sure there is a good reason, but somebody out there must know the truth and I’ll never give up trying to bridge this gap. There is much more I could add to my comment, but it’s starting to turn into an article. I’ll leave it at this: If anyone knows something I don’t, please share it and let the world know who we are. These Jackson County, Alabama Dodson’s and their descendants deserve to take their place in history!
If you can find a male Dodson, the first thing to do is a Y DNA test.
Funny you should say that. I was just wondering if any of them would be approachable, if I were to show up with a swab. They are all pretty tough… Hopefully I can get this done, so wish me luck and many thanks!
If you’re going to do the Y DNA test, do the Family Finder at the same time.
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Roberta, I just shared this on my Chumley Family Tree Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Chumleyfamilytree0624/
I encouraged everyone of the good work you do and the information you share on the history and people of Claiborne County Tennessee. I am amazed of your talent and knowledge, please keep up the good work.
Thank you. I hope someone else finds it useful too.