This article isn’t about my ancestor, at least not directly, but it’s about the daughter of my ancestor, Lazarus Dodson, who popped up on a census quite unexpectedly. Not only did that mean I had to go looking for her, and she wasn’t particularly easy to find, but I had to try to discern if Mary Dodson really was the daughter of Lazarus – or if she was perhaps the child of his wife, Rebecca, and was just known by the Dodson surname.
Records that should exist don’t, and I found myself calling her Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. But then, given how difficult Lazarus and his father were to track, Mary probably comes by it honestly.
In the process of discovery about Mary, yet another daughter, Sarah, was discovered. For Heaven’s sake, how many more are there?
Through those two families, more information surfaced (Ok, was excavated), and because of all of that, we may just have figured out where Lazarus is buried. Maybe. Mary still isn’t telling all of her secrets, but I’m positive that she knows! After all, she stood by the grave that October day in 1861 as the clods of dirt fell onto Lazarus’s coffin and the grey clouds of misery swept overhead, engulfing everyone in their path.
But before I begin this series of twists and turns in the ancestor labyrinth, I want to give credit where credit is due.
First and foremost, I have to say, I love my friends, family and blog subscribers, because between them, they have found things I missed, found things I never knew existed, and inspired me to dig deeper. They are also indirectly responsible for me getting nothing productive done this week. My Christmas tree isn’t up, gifts aren’t wrapped and I’ve been eating leftovers and canned soup for days. Tonight I’m splurging on pizza. That’s what happens when genealogists get wrapped up in a “mission.”
If you’re laughing, it’s because you’re a genealogist, because our families probably don’t see the humor…
My friend, Tom, sent me the deed shown below, which started everything. Fifteen hours later, I realized I was hungry, and tired, very tired. But wow, what a day “visiting” Pulaski County, Kentucky. And that was just on day one!
You might think there isn’t much here in this one deed, but this was just the launching pad I needed. Come along as we work our way through the records and discover more about Mary Dodson, presumed daughter of Lazarus Dodson, my ancestor.
Between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Dodson his wife of Pulaski County KY and Sarah Chumbly and Mary Dodson of the other part. Sum of $4000 paid to Lazarus Dodson in hand – sold to Sarah Chumley and Mary Dodson tract of land the one whereon I now reside together with all of the appertainces hereunto belonging containing 50 acres more or less lying in Pulaski County and bounded as follows to wit. Beginning on a dogwood and sycamore on White Oak Creek and on a branch thereof thence up the same to the mouth of the Grabel Branch thence up the same eastwardly to the old Patten line near said Grabeal’s field then with said line westwardly to C. Chamberlain’s grass lot thence with said Chamberlains line some 30 poles to a maple on William Rainwater’s
line thence with said line southward to the main branch thence down the same with the meanderings thereof to the beginning and said Lazarus Dodson doth bind himself and heirs to forever warrant…but said lands are not to pass into their possession until after the death of said Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca his wife then they are to have free and full possession thereof. August 9, 1861. Signed by Lazarus with his mark and by Rebecca.
The note in the left margin says “Delivered to? William Redman 24 March 1865”
The clerk registered this deed on the 10th of August, 1865.
The first thing I thought was how odd that the deed was signed in August 1861 and not recorded until in 1865, but then I realized what had been happening in Kentucky between 1861 and 1865 – the Civil War. No one was interested in registering a deed – if they even could register deeds. They were simply interested in surviving. They would register deeds later if they survived.
In this case, Lazarus signed the deed in August, died in October and the Confederate forces set up camp either near or on his land in November, followed a couple months later by the infamous battle of Mill Springs (Logan’s Crossroads.) This family was busy, distracted and, I’m sure, fearful. This does tell us that the house where the deed resided during the Civil War didn’t burn to the ground. I’m betting that was the home of William Redman and Mary Dodson or perhaps the home of Lazarus’s wife, Rebecca Dodson, if they weren’t all living together during this time.
I can’t help but wonder, did those pioneer women take up arms to guard the homestead from marauding soldiers from both sides? I bet so. They probably didn’t have a lot of time to grieve Lazarus’s passing. But I digress…
This deed description is important for 2 reasons. First, for all the names that it provides. Neighbors are important when trying to bring deeds to current and locate properties.
Second, the description in essence creates a rough image for us of what the land looked like and who lived on which side. I’ve drawn a very rough approximation, below.
We can see that this land has to be in a location on White Oak Creek where you move north to the mouth of a branch, then east on that branch then west and south to the main White Oak branch.
Topozone shows several cemeteries on White Oak Creek, but no Graebel or Grabel branch, or Graebel anything.
Given the deed to Mary and Sarah who were clearly adults in 1861, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps the marriage year of 1839 was incorrect for Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman. Lazarus’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell, died before 1830. But Mary and Sarah, assuming Sarah is his daughter too, were not Elizabeth’s children based on the 1838 death of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, and the subsequent estate which individually lists Elizabeth’s children/heirs.
Mary Dodson is found living with Lazarus and Rebecca in 1860 and she was born in the early/mid-1830s, depending on which date you use. Clearly, before 1839.
Is Mary Dodson the daughter of Rebecca Freeman Dodson?
My friend sent me the original marriage document between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman, as I had previously been working with a transcription. I suspected the year might have been incorrectly transcribed, but the transcribed document turned out to be accurate alright.
You can see on the last entry on the page that Lazarus and Rebecca obtained their marriage license on June 21st 1839 and Thomas Davis married them on June 29th, 1839. (You can click to enlarge any graphic.) I’ve never been so disappointed to confirm that a record was accurate before.
Now, of course, the question is who was the mother of Mary Dodson, and possibly Sarah. And are Mary and Sarah sisters?
I desperately need to find Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1850 census, and I’ve tried every way to Sunday to find them, all to no avail. Either they missed the census or the name is so terribly butchered that it’s unrecognizable – and possibly someplace I’m not looking.
One surprising piece of information is that the deed index tells us that Lazarus bought his land in Pulaski County in 1857, just 4 years before deeding it to Mary and Sarah. I had supposed that Lazarus had been in Pulaski County since about 1833 and had long owned land. Obviously not.
In 1860, we found Lazarus and Rebecca living with Mary Dodson, but the 1861 deed strongly suggests that “they” had another child, Sarah who had married a Chumley, and was perhaps widowed? Why else would Lazarus and Rebecca leave land to her, even under the guise of a purchase? How would a “spinster daughter” and possibly a “widow daughter” come up with $4000 to purchase the family farm from their parents?
My friend Tom sent this the next morning. I think he and I both spent that day “in Pulaski County.”
Indeed, Sarah Dodson, by another spelling, Datsan, had married William Chumley in 1846 in Claiborne County, which implies that Lazarus himself was probably living in Claiborne in 1846. Huh??? Not at all what I thought, given that he left the state back in 1833 and then faced back taxes, a lawsuit and a judgement between 1835 and 1837.
Lazarus married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County in 1839, so maybe Lazarus came back and lived back in Claiborne for some time. The Chumley family lived near Lazarus’s land beneath Cumberland Gap and otherwise intermarried with the Freeman family, so this does make sense.
I checked the 1840 census, again, but there are only two Lazarus Dodsons in the entire country, and both are age 30-39. Lazarus was 45 in 1840, not to mention the rest of the family doesn’t match either. So Lazarus remains missing in both 1840 and 1850.
We don’t find Mary Dodson in the 1870 census, but that’s because she married on July 28, 1864 to William Redman in Pulaski County.
Mary Dodson gives her age as 32, so born in approximately 1832, depending on whether Mary had had her 1864 birthday yet, and her birth location is given as Claiborne County, Tennessee.
So now we know when and where Mary was born. This information probably brackets dates for Lazarus Dodson’s arrival in Pulaski County from sometime between 1846 when Sarah married in Claiborne to sometime before 1857 when he purchases land in Pulaski County.
Lazarus has to have been married a second time between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman, unless Elizabeth didn’t actually die and those children living with her parents in 1830 weren’t the Dodson children. However, neither Mary nor Sarah were mentioned in John Campbell’s 1838 estate record as having been Elizabeth’s heirs, and Lazarus Dodson is stated as Elizabeth’s heir’s father, so we know that neither Mary nor Sarah are Elizabeth’s children.
Therefore, Lazarus had remarried by 1830 or 1831, given Mary’s birth in 1831/1832, but the marriage record is not found in Claiborne County. Why did Lazarus and his second wife not raise his children by Elizabeth Campbell?
In 1870, we do find Rebecca Dodson and Sarah Chumley living with one William Dodson, age 23. William would have been age 13 in 1860, born in 1847 in Tennessee, so a child at home if he were the son of Rebecca and Lazarus. Who is this William Dodson, married to Eliza? How is he tied in, and where did he go?
Also, one David W. Dodson is living with the Dunsmore family next door. Surely this isn’t just a coincidence. Who is he?
This isn’t an ancestor labyrinth, it’s a maze!
This census tells us that Sarah was born in 1833 in Tennessee, the year that Lazarus, according to an 1861 deed filed in Claiborne County, sold land to David C. Cottrell in Claiborne County. It may only be coincidence, or not, that the land Lazarus sold was originally patented to one Robert Chumbley.
Another Twist in the Maze
The 1860 census for Pulaski County, Kentucky solves the riddle of the identity of William Dodson, born in 1846, along with David Dodson, born in 1856.
Both men are the son of John C. Dotson, also Dodson, and Barthenia. This John Dodson is the son of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, and Barthenia is Barthenia Dobkins.
This census tells us that John Campbell Dodson was living in Kentucky by 1854 when son John was born – although we don’t know that he was living in Pulaski County that early.
Both John and Barthenia seem to have disappeared by 1870. There are several John Dodson or Dotsons listed as Civil War soldiers. It’s certainly possible that he perished in the war, which would explain why his son David is living with another family in 1870 as farm labor.
The fact that John moved to Pulaski County, was living with his father and clearly interacted with that family in a positive fashion tells us that Lazarus did not lose touch entirely with his children in Claiborne County.
I wonder if the fact that Lazarus had children by his first marriage is why he “sold” the land to Mary and Sarah, rather than granting a deed of gift. A sale can’t be contested, but a deed of gift as the only valueable item of inheritance certainly could be.
The Chumley Connection
In 1850, William Chumley and wife Sarah are living in Pulaski County and are noted as having been married within the year. Sarah’s age of 19 puts her birth year in 1831. It also means that if she indeed was married in 1846, she was age 15. Unusual, but not impossible.
They are not living among the surnames found in the deeds of Lazarus Dodson later. At first, I thought this might not be the same family, but it is.
In 1860, Sarah and William Chumley are living in Russell County, KY, on the same page with other Chumbley family members. Her age of 30 puts her birth in about 1830.
William and Sarah Chumley still have no children, but living with them is Elizabeth Kissee, age 6. This Elizabeth is probably the Elizabeth that Sarah later remembers in her will.
Immediately following the 1870 census, we find Sarah’s will executed and probated.
It’s odd for Sarah to have died before the age of 40, and had no children. I wonder if she had some type of disease or disability.
In May of 1870, Sarah makes her will in Russell County. It is filed with the court in September 1870, so Sarah has apparently died by then, just weeks after the census. The actual 1870 census document date is August 11, 1870, but the census is supposed to be taken “as of” June of the census year. It’s possible that Sarah was dead, or quite ill, by August 11, given that she was “week in body” on May 20 when she made her will. There was no occupation listed on the census which is odd for an adult, even if the occupation is “keeping house.”
Sarah Chumbly week in body but of good sound mind…to Elizabeth Carea (Cazea?) one bed beding and furniture also one cow and calf. Second to my 2 neaces and one neffu the now living children of my sister Mary Redman all the balance of my effects after paying my berrial expenses and debts if any. I appoint William Redman by brotherinlaw my executor with my will annexed. May 20, 1870. Signed by Sarah Chumley with her mark. Witness Linsey Walter (his mark) and John Johnson.
The will was recorded Sept 23, 1870.
Based on her will, it’s very clear that Mary Redmon is Sarah’s sister and she was obviously close to her sister and brother-in-law, both. Who is Elizabeth Carea or Cazea? I suspect she is the same Elizabeth Kissee that is living with Sarah in 1860.
It’s very unusual that Sarah never had any children, given that she was married for 24 years, from 1846 to 1870.
In another odd turn of events, it appears that Sarah’s husband, William, died on May 10, 1870, just 10 days before Sarah wrote her own will and obviously before the effective date of the census.
In the Russell County, KY probate records, William’s estate records begin on page 32, including the inventory and estate sale, and there is not one Dodson or Redmon on the list of purchasers.
At William’s estate sale, Sarah bought several things including farm tools, so she apparently wasn’t planning on dying right away.
Rebecca Dodson in 1880
In 1880, Rebecca Dodson, Lazarus’s widow is still living and with her is granddaughter Martha Redmon, listed as such. Of course, at that time in the census, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone listed as a step-grandchild. And given that Rebecca Freeman Dodson likely raised both Mary and Sarah after their mother’s death when they were just young girls, Rebecca was the child’s “grandmother” anyway.
Given that there were no other children evident in the deed signed by Lazarus just before his death, it appears that he and Rebecca did not have children either, or at least none that lived, although if Rebecca was 39 when she married, that might have been too late in life.
Unfortunately, we don’t know when Rebecca died, although it was between 1880 and the 1900 census when she would have been right at 100 years of age. Rebecca’s death is not recorded in the Kentucky death indexes. Nor do we know where she is buried, although it clearly has to be someplace near where she lived and is probably beside Lazarus.
It’s worth noting that Rebecca’s neighbor in 1880 is Charles Chamberlain, mentioned in the 1861 deed as a neighbor whose property lines abut Lazarus’s.
Mary Dodson Redmon’s Burial
After much gnashing of teeth, I finally discovered where Mary Dodson Redmon is buried, and as fate would have it, the Lee Cemetery is right beside a branch of White Oak Creek, the Creek mentioned in the deed that Lazarus conveyed to Mary and Sarah back in 1861.
Mary’s daughter, Martha, married William Harrison Rainwater (1863-1909). And it just so happens that one William Rainwater owned the land bordering Lazarus’s land in 1861. Given these names, it looks very much like this family in essence stayed right where they were planted in 1857.
Lee Cemetery is located on Lee Cemetery Road, which is not noted on Google maps as such.
According to the 1900 Pulaski County census, Mary Dodson was born in July 1833 in Tennessee.
Family members report her birthdate to be both June 15th and July 15th, with the year ranging anyplace from 1830 to 1837 in various trees, with no supporting documentation. I suspect that since Mary reported her own birth information in 1900 as July 1833, that is probably most accurate. It would make sense for children to be born approximately 2 years apart as well, so perhaps Sarah in was born in 1831 and Mary in 1833.
Mary Dodson’s husband, William Perry Redmon apparently knew he was going to die, because he made a will in 1887. People of that time and place did not make wills “just in case” but waited until they knew they were going to need a will imminently. Again, another gift from my friend, Tom.
To wife Mary Redman my home and tract of land lying on the south and west side of the Columbia Road and also the 50 acres on the north east side of said road known as the Owens farm. Also a boundary on the opposite side of the rode from my house beginning at the former of the field at the Marsee line on a black oak at the corner of new ground thence with the cross fence to the James Redman’s spring then down the branch to the Columbia road to have for her lifetime and at her death I want my sons Thomas Redman and Melver Redman to have all the land described above.
To wife, bay horse and sorel mare and cattle and sheep and hogs and all my household and kitchen furniture. My wagon and all my farming tools of any description and bees also my corn and meete on hand.
I want my land divided equally between my two boys giving them equal number of acres dividing it north and south and I give Melver this end where I know live and my clock I give to my daughter Sarah Redman one bed bedding and one side saddle and one chist.
I give Martha A. Rainwater my cubbard at Mary’s death.
I give Melver my dun mule and John the black mule and I give Melver my fan mill I give my son John the land known as the Rha Becka Dodson
I give to Charity Redman the land upon which she now lives to hold during her life on widowhood and at her death I want her children that she has by James Redman to have said land.
I give to my grandson Volantes Dodson two dollars also my two grandchildren Jacob G. Price one collar and Amanda E. Price one dollar. I also furnish Charity Redman my gray mare to have to make her crop this season then the mare is to be returned to Mary to hold as her own and I give to my wife Mary all by debts that coming to me out of these debts my daughter Sarah is to have $65 and if not paid out of these debts out of my hole estate if necessary to pay for that amount of meny that I owe her as guardian.
On testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand this the 9th day of January 1887.
Signed William Redman by his mark and witnessed by D. M. Cooper and A. McWilliams
William’s will was submitted to the January 1887 court.
This will tells us that Lazarus Dodson’s land, phrased as the “Rha Becka Dodson Farm” went to John Redmon in 1887. This also tells us that William Redmon’s lands were on both sides of the Columbia Road. Today, the “Old Columbia Road” remains visible and marked and 80 is now the original old Columbia Road elsewhere.
I would like to see if I can determine what happened to the Rebecca Dodson Farm once John Redmon owned it, but the grantor deed index for Pulaski County for this timeframe has not been imaged online.
According to FindAGrave, the son John would be John Franklin Redmon (1866-1929) who was born and died in Pulaski County, so he may well have kept this land his entire life. In fact, it’s certainly possible that it’s still in the same family.
I have made inquiries to descendants both who posted memorials on FindAGrave which includes a granddaughter, as well as on Ancestry, but no luck yet with replies. I’m hopeful that someone, someplace knows where his land or farm was that John Franklin Redmon inherited from his parents, and that I can locate it today.
Mary Dodson Redmon died on July 2, 1903, but her death is not recorded in the Kentucky Death records, or at least it’s not indexed.
FindAGrave does not indicate if there is a headstone or not, but Mary Dodson’s birth date is given as June 15, 1827, although the 1900 census shows her birth year as 1833. I suspect 1832 in her marriage record or 1833 is accurate, especially given that Lazarus Dodson’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell Dodson’s last child was born in 1827.
Volantus Dodson, age 9, is shown as the son of William Dodson, living just 2 houses away from Rebecca Dodson in 1880. Volantus is the son of William, age 38, who has apparently remarried to a 19 year old Mary since the 1870 census when William was newly married to Eliza.
If you’re scratching your head, so was I.
The only way Volantus being William Redmon’s grandson makes any sense at all is that William Redmon’s daughter from his first marriage was the Eliza who married William Dodson and had son Volantus before she passed away. Checking Pulaski County marriage records, this is indeed the case. Eliza Caroline Redmon married William Dodson in December of 1868.
Eliza Redman, age 24 in 1870, so born in 1846, had to be William Redman’s daughter from his first marriage, because William Redman didn’t marry Mary Dodson until 1864.
Therefore, Mary Dodson’s step-daughter married her half-brother’s son, William, who was Mary’s half-nephew. No blood relation, but I had to draw this out on paper to be sure.
These families are incredibly intermarried and interconnected.
Volantus is later shown as William V. Dodson and he also marries a Mary who becomes Mary Dodson. Too many Mary Dodson’s!!!
Out of other options at this point, I decided to “borrow” a genetic genealogy technique and resort to “cemetery triangulation.”
I know this sounds odd, but hear me out on this one.
We have the following information:
- We know the names of adjacent property owners for Lazarus Dodson in 1861.
- We know that Mary Dodson married William Redman/Redmon and where she is buried.
- We can also find neighbors in the census in 1860, 1870 and 1880 when Lazarus and then Rebecca are still living.
- Rebecca retained right to the land for the duration of her life, so she was likely still living on this land in 1880.
- We can track some individuals forward and backward in time through both deed and probate records
- We have burial records at FindAGrave.
- We have Google maps to look at the current location both in terms of maps, satellite images and for some roads, street view.
Unfortunately, not all of the deed records are imaged online at Family Search for Pulaski County. Some indexes are, and some deed books are, but not all. So, we will use what we can, then we’ll resort to FindAGrave and Google maps.
Do I sound like a desperate genealogist? Well, I am. And I want credit for this new term too, “cemetery triangulation,” born of desperation.
First let’s look at the deeds.
In 1857, John McWilliams sold the land to Lazarus Dotson that was subsequently conveyed to Mary Dodson and Sarah Chumley in 1861, effective after Rebecca Freeman Dodson’s death.
Sarah Dodson Chumley died in 1870, before Rebecca Freeman Dodson, which would leave the land to her sister, Mary Dodson Redmon. Mary’s husband, William Redmon, left the Rebecca Dodson farm to his son John Franklin Redmon.
The balance of the deeds below represent my attempts to trace this land, and failing that, the land of the neighbors, forward or backward in time, hoping to find additional descriptions with landmarks are locatable today. Tracking the neighbors land, especially when you know which side the land lays on directionally from your ancestor’s land is extremely useful and has been responsible for me being able to actually locate my ancestor’s land several times. Let’s see if this works in Pulaski County.
The lines mentioned in the Lazarus Dodson deed were:
- White Oak Creek
- William Rainwater
- C. Cornelius line and grass lot
- Graebel, Grabel’s field and Graebel’s branch
We find the following information about individuals whose purchase or sale of land falls on the right side of 1861, and who either are or may be the neighbors in question. In some cases, I’ve moved a generation forward in time to attempt to determine the location of family land or when I noticed a sale between two of the families mentioned (Rainwater to Graebel for example).
|Year||Grantor (seller)||Grantee (buyer)||Book||Location||Imaged Online||Cemetery|
|1857||John McWilliams et al||Lazarus Dotson||17-609||No||Unmarked burials|
|1850*||Nelson McWilliams||John and Benjamin McWilliams, sons of Nelson||14-158||On White Oak Creek purchased from William N. McWilliams||Yes||Unmarked grave, lives one house from Lazarus|
|1854||Nelson McWilliams||John McWilliams||17-9||No||“|
|1844||Charles Chamberlain||John M. Weddle||12-339 mtg||No||No Chamberlains|
|1857||C. Chamberlain||A. J. James||17-561||No||“|
|1857||Charles Chamberlain||Fontain T. Fox||17-672||No||Foxs in White Oak, quite a bit south|
|1853||Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain||Solomon Weddle||18-72||40 acres, Pucket Place, White Oak, west side Weddle Spring branch, Daws corner, Daniel McDaniel line, Charles & Elizabeth Chamberlain quitclaim||Yes||Solomon Weddle in Chesterview, Daws are in Science Hill|
|1880||C. Chamberlin||Charles F. Poff||30-483||No||No Chamberlain or Poff|
|1873||Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain||Jacob Castle||25-350||No||Castles in Science Hill, distant|
|1873||Jacob and Rhoda Grabeel||Rhoda Adams||25-485||No||Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, Rhoda in Collins Cemetery|
|1885||Jacob and Rhoda Grabel||William H. Neece||35-69||No||Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, William H. Meece in Lee Cemetery|
|1889||LB and Rosetta Rainwater||William P. Grabeel||38-289||No, pg 759 of index||Wm Patterson Grabeel buried Science Hill, Rainwaters in New Hope|
*Earliest McWilliams Grantee Deed – He says be purchased of William N.? McWilliams, but there is no deed in the index.
The earliest McWilliams graves, which are in the 1890s, are in the Woodstock Cemetery, near Woodstock, northeast of Somerset, not near Lazarus’s land. The early McWilliams must have been buried elsewhere, probably in unmarked graves.
Now that we know who we are looking for, let’s check the cemeteries for the following information:
- Burials of individuals listed
- Burials of other early family members of the surnames listed, especially if the individuals listed can’t be found
- Oldest marked burial in the cemetery, indicating which cemeteries are older versus newer
- Patterns relative to burials from the oldest census records of neighbors
- Family cemeteries
Refer to the chart above for the relevance of the individuals mentioned and the cemetery name, if known.
Lazarus’s daughter, Mary Dodson Redmon, other Redman/Redmons and William H. Meece (died 1924) are buried in the Lee Cemetery. The earliest death date on a marker in this cemetery is 1874 for a Redmon, but there is reportedly an Ann Poor Lee who died in 1809 buried there, wife of a Revolutionary War soldier, with no marker. There are some other obviously early burials in this cemetery and several stones with no date, so it’s certainly possible that Lazarus Dodson is buried there as well. This cemetery seems to be a small community cemetery, still in use, based on the number of families and surnames buried there, especially early and when compared with the census.
Kentucky 80 looking down Amy Lane towards the cemetery.
The 1860 census shows several neighbors of Lazarus Dodson. Interestingly enough, William Rainwaters is shown 4 census pages away, so not terribly far, but that may indicate that he lived on another road. We don’t know the order the census taker took. However, other neighbors whose families are buried the Lee Cemetery are shown adjacent to Lazarus.
Nelson McWilliams, whose son sold Lazarus his land and who lives two houses from Lazarus in 1860, lies someplace in an unmarked grave. I suspect Nelson’s grave is in this cemetery.
Thomas Lay, Lazarus’s neighbor, unknown birth and death dates on the stone, but according to the census, born in 1836, is buried in the Lee Cemetery.
If John Campbell Dodson and wife Barthenia died in Pulaski County between 1860 and 1870, they are probably buried here too.
Andersons and Weddles are found in Lee Cemetery as well. Most of the early neighbor families are not found with markers in any cemetery, not until after the Civil War and often not until the 1890s and after 1900.
Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery
William H. Rainwaters, born in 1831 and died in 1871, likely the William Rainwater whose land abuts Lazarus, is buried in Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery. Some Chumbleys are buried here too. In 1870, William H. Rainwater is living among the Comptons, Gassitts, Meeces, McWilliams, Dunsmores and Andersons, the same families who are buried in the Lee Cemetery.
Maybe even more importantly, William Rainwater is living 4 houses from William Dodson where Rebecca Freeman and Sarah Chumley are living.
William’s son Lubantus B. sold land to the Graebel family. Lubantus is buried in New Hope, not far from Hopeful.
William Harrison Rainwater and wife Martha Ann Redmond (Redman, Redmon) Rainwater are buried in the New Hope Cemetery. So are L.B. and Rosetta Rainwater who sold land to William P. Grabeel.
John M. Weddle is buried in the Weddle cemetery.
The earliest Daws are in Mount Zion Cemetery in Science Hill and they died after 1900. Early family members are clearly buried elsewhere. Castles are at Science Hill as well.
Solomon Weddle 1822-1890 is buried in the Chesterview Cemetery
Rhoda Adams died in 1878 and is buried in Collins Cemetery.
The oldest Rainwater burials are at the Rainwater Cemetery near Roberts and Wolf Creek Road. The oldest burial in this cemetery is 1825.
Grabeel Family Cemetery is a small family cemetery with 3 marked burials east of 80 just slightly, and close to Lee Cemetery.
Jacob is likely whose land abutted Lazarus Dodson’s.
Now that we know where the various players are buried, or where their family members are buried, let’s see how these cemeteries look connected together on a map. I’ve omitted the most distant cemeteries where the most distantly connected burials are found. This sort of reminds me of the 3 legged shape of the triskelion.
You can see here that these cemeteries are all in an area about 2 miles north to south and about 3 miles east to west. On the map below, you can also see all of the branches of White Oak Creek.
The cemetery with the most closely related burials, both in terms of Mary Dodson Redman being buried there, and in terms of neighbors, is the Lee Cemetery, located at the lower right end of the blue cemetery trail. The second most meaningful is probably the Graebel family cemetery, located just north of the Lee Cemetery, because Graebel is noted as a neighbor of Lazarus with abutting property lines.
It’s probably also worth nothing that most of the time, people live on what were “main roads” at the time, which are generally still main roads today. Columbia Road is mentioned in William Redmon’s will, which is 80 today, and is likely the road where Lazarus lived.
The next cemetery north at the crossroads of 80 and the Cumberland Parkway today is where Solomon Weddle is buried who bought land from the Chamberlains in 1853. The Chamberlain land abutted Lazarus’s land in 1861, although obviously not the land they sold in 1853. This provides a general location of where these families lived.
The other cemeteries are too far north and too far west to fit well with the White Oak Creek land description.
Current Map Stream Plus Deed Description
Utilizing two different tools, let’s compare the deed description from Lazarus Dodson’s 1861 sale to the current day map of the streams. The current town of Nancy is marked below and the various branches of White Oak Creek can be seen to the left of Nancy, along with the entire area covered by the cemeteries and other geographic locations we’ve discussed above and will be discussing, below.
Based on the cemetery geographic configuration and the number of burials, the burials would strongly suggest that Lazarus’s land was very near, or perhaps even under, the Lee Cemetery.
Looking again at the deed description, we see that Lazarus’s line moves north to the mouth of a branch of White Oak Creek owned by Graebel, then east, then west to Chamberlain, then south to the main branch.
So there has to be an intersection of a branch on the north side of Lazarus’s land.
Unfortunately, there are two distinct branches of White Oak Creek, both with intersections, shown on the map below.
Both intersecting Ys of those branches are found south of present day Nancy, which based on the cemeteries and burials, seems to be too far south.
The Lee Cemetery is located on Amy Road, red arrow below. The cemetery is located on an extension of the right branch of White Oak Creek, roughly half a mile north of Nancy.
However, there is no branch to the right of this branch that would allow for the Graebel branch, at least no branch that is showing today.
However, moving north up the western branch of White Oak Creek, we see that there is indeed a branch that extends to the east, crossing 80 and ending by E. Waterloo. If indeed Lazarus’s land was on south of this branch, it would his land would be bordered roughly by Warner Road on the south, White Oak Creek to the west and the unnamed branch on the north, shown with blue arrows. The area of 50 acres that Lazarus owned, if it were square, is roughly 1,500 feet by 1,500 feet, the area shown inside the blue arrows. Of course, Lazarus’s land was clearly anything but square – but at least this gives us an idea of size.
How does the land approximated by the blue arrows line up with cemeteries?
The Lee Cemetery is the red arrow in the lower right corner.
The Grabeel family cemetery is the red arrow in the center between Warner and Old Columbia Road east of 80.
The Chesterview (Weddle burial) cemetery is the red arrow at top left at the interchange of 80 and Cumberland Parkway.
There are three cemeteries about equally far north of the 80/Cumberland Parkway exchange, but the earliest and closest burials of neighbors are represented by the Grabeel and Lee Cemeteries.
The cemetery, census and deed triangulation shows the best fit for Lazarus’s land is someplace between the Lee Cemetery and the blue arrows. This technique has narrowed the location of Lazarus’s land to roughly a mile northwest to southeast, roughly along 80 (Old Columbia Road) and roughly half a mile from 80 to the southwest.
Taking a Drive
Let’s take a drive using Google Street View and see what this area looks like. We are surely on Lazarus’s land, we just don’t know exactly where. This area would have been familiar to Lazarus and his family.
Let’s start on what is today 80, just north of Nancy, where the Old Columbia Road separates from the current road to the right. Of course, the old road is the original road, and the newer road used to be the original road too. Unfortunately, we can’t “drive down” the smaller roads, including Old Columbia Road, because the Google cars don’t travel on dirt, gravel or roads without center line markings. Sadly, that means we can’t visit the Lee Cemetery.
Below – 80 north of Nancy where the old road separates to the right.
This part of Kentucky is pretty flat, flatter than the land on Tiprell Road in Claiborne County, perhaps giving us some idea of what attracted so many Claiborne County families to Pulaski County.
Below, just south of Amy Lane. The Lee Cemetery is probably behind that clump of trees.
Below, looking left (west) off of 80 just south of Warner Road.
Below, looking west on Warner Road. This could well be Lazarus’s land.
On 80, north of Warner Road where the road crosses one of the branches of White Oak Creek at the source. This could be one of the eastern branches in Lazarus’s deed.
The very northern tip of White Oak Creek where Fawbush Road crosses the source. This is probably north of Lazarus’s land based on the description.
The Battle of Mill Springs
I cannot leave Pulaski County without at least touching on the Battle of Mill Springs, also known as the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads.
Lazarus Dodson died in October of 1861, and in a way, it was just in time. Major battles of the Civil War were fought on both of the pieces of property he owned in his lifetime.
His land just beneath the Cumberland Gap was the site of fighting and the Cottrell soldier’s encampment at Butcher Springs. In fact, a Civil War map is how we located the homestead, exactly. The house and two barns were drawn on the map. Battles raged for the Gap itself, and Lazarus’s former land was repeatedly devastated by the warfare. The Gap changed hands three times during the war. Lazarus probably never knew about any of this since he died early in the war.
As irony would have it, Lazarus’s son-in-law, John Y. Estes fought on this land, for the Confederates. It’s unclear whether Lazarus maintained any connection with his children living in Claiborne County. His daughter’s step-son fought and died for the Union, and his own son, John Campbell Dodson is reported to have fought in the Civil War as well, but I have been unable to find documentation.
Lazarus’s land in Pulaski County, Kentucky didn’t fare much better with Confederate General Zollicoffer setting up his winter camp near Nancy in Pulaski County in November 1861, a month after Lazarus’s death. The battle of Mill Springs took place on January 19, 1862, with union forces appearing to have advanced across Lazarus’s land.
Lazarus had only been buried for 3 months and his family certainly would have been involved, whether by choice or not.
At least 671 soldiers from both sides died that day, most being buried on the battlefield in what is now the Mill Springs National Cemetery, located on the battlefield. Looking at those burials on FindAGrave, almost every local surname is represented. It’s hard not to fight when the battle is in your back yard.
Mary Dodson Redmon’s step-son’s stone is found in the Mill Springs Cemetery, having died fighting as a Union soldier. Truly families were irreconcilably torn apart by this war.
The town of Nancy, today, was then called Logan’s Crossroads. The Battle of Mill Springs is also called the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads. The map below is a Civil War era map showing the Union (blue) and Confederate forces (red). It’s surprising to me how much of the area was still wooded.
Looking at a contemporary map, with the battle field located by the red balloon, you can see that Old Robert Port Road is still listed by the same name. What is today 235 is the old Mill Springs Road. What is today 80 is the old Somerset Road.
The Battlefield itself is located just half a mile or so south southeast of Nancy. In this wider perspective, you can see the landmarks discussed earlier.
The battlefield includes the National Cemetery where the war dead are interred.
Many names of local people are included in the National Cemetery. Almost every family is represented. William Redmon’s son, William Perry Redmon(d), from his first marriage is one of the casualties. He died March 17, 1864. His memorial marker resides in Mill Springs today, but where his body rests is unknown. Probably near where he fell in battle.
Another of William Redmon’s sons fought as well, but wasn’t killed in Battle. William fought as well, for a Kentucky Confederate unit. Wars not only devastated the countryside, they devastated families. This would have been a sorrowful and terrifying time for these families.
Remember, as much as we think Mary Dodson is Lazarus Dodson’s daughter, we really don’t have confirmation. How I wish that 1861 deed from Lazarus had said, “my daughters,” but it didn’t.
It will take autosomal DNA testing of Mary’s descendants and having them match to Lazarus’s proven descendants to confirm or at least lend credence to the fact that Mary is Lazarus’s daughter. Let’s hope that someday, someone from Mary’s line tests at Family Tree DNA where we have autosomal data from several of Ruthy’s descendants to compare as well as DNA through Lazarus’s son, Lazarus.
Mary Dodson’s great-grandchildren would be half third cousins to Buster and Mary, who have DNA tested, and they would be related more distantly to several other descendants who have also DNA tested. However, 90% of third cousins match, so the odds are very good that if Mary Dodson was the half-sister to Ruthy Dodson or her full brother, Lazarus Dodson, Mary descendants would match some of the descendants from Lazarus’s first marriage to Elizabeth Campbell.
We will likely never find Lazarus’s grave, but we know he has to be someplace in this picture, and if I had to make an educated guess, I would suggest that he is buried in the Lee Cemetery, someplace near his daughter, Mary Dodson Redman/Redmon.
And speaking of Mary, someone was kind enough to send me a photo.
Mary Dodson Redmon, above.
This is particularly interesting to me, because while I don’t have a picture of Lazarus Dodson, I do have a picture that we believe is Ruthy Dodson Estes, proven to be Lazarus’s daughter and presumably Mary Dodson’s half sister.
We are not positive that this photo, below, is Ruthy Dodson Estes, but the photo was found in Uncle Buster’s picture box, along with that of John Y. Estes, her husband, and their son, Lazarus Estes. Uncle Buster, Ruthy’s great-grandson, said that he believed this was Ruthy and that he had been told she had red hair. Ruthy suffered from debilitating arthritis, and you can see that this woman’s hand is disfigured.
A friend was kind enough to clean this picture up for me.
Comparing the photos of Ruthy Dodson Estes to the photo of Mary Dodson Redmon below, do these women look like they could be half-sisters?
Thank you so much.
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