Margaret Dagord (1708-?) of North Farnham Parish, 52 Ancestors #147

Margaret Dagord (Dagod, Doggett, Doged, Doget, Dogged, Dogett, Dogget and probably a few more) was born in North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, VA on April 30, 1708 to Henry Doggett (Dagod) and an unknown wife. She was married on April 30, 1726, her 18th birthday, in the same location to George Dodson, son of Thomas Dodson.

I can’t help but wonder if there is any significance to the fact that she married on her 18th birthday. Was that the age in Virginia in 1726 that a female could marry without her father’s permission? The records I could find say that the age of majority and also to marry without approval for males and females was 21, although I’m sure I’ve seen otherwise. Margaret’s father or a male in the family would have had to approve and post bond. Did Margaret’s father not approve of the marriage? Were there extenuating circumstances? On the other hand, maybe the fact that Margaret married on her 18th birthday is purely circumstantial or celebratory with no other inferences at all. We’ll never know. So many questions with no answers.

dagord-marriage

I’m not really sure how Margaret came to be called Margaret Dagord instead of Margaret Doggett or Dagod, given the marriage transcription above.  Nonetheless – that is how she is known within the Dodson family, so that is how I’m referring to her, even though it looks for all the world to me that she should be called Margaret Doggett.

Cheryl Sendtko, on her website reports that Margaret’s surname and that of her father are recorded numerous ways in the North Farnham Parish Registers, and that the surname is probably a variant of Doggett. She also states that Henry came from Scotland before 1649. I have not found this information elsewhere nor have I been able to verify, but I’m researching with the hope of doing so. I’m aware that the website contains unsourced and some incorrect information, but all information can serve as a clue for additional research.

Clearly, Margaret Dagord grew up near where she was born and married a local boy in the same location. George Dodson was about 6 years older than Margaret Dagord, so when she was in grade school, he would have been a bit older. They were not likely playmates as children, but had probably always known each other.

As George matured into a young man in his early or mid-20s, Margaret was probably a vivacious teen and the attraction blossomed. This was the typical age and time for young people to marry at that time in Virginia, and marry they did.

Clearly, Henry, Margaret’s father, assuming he did not pass away, also lived in the same region.

To discover more about Margaret Dagord’s family, Lancaster, York, Old Rappahannock and Richmond County land and court records need to be checked closely for any of the variant spellings of Dagord.

Richmond County was formed in 1692 from Old Rappahannok County which was formed in 1656 from Lancaster County. These early county records may hold clues before Richmond County.

The Early Church

North Farnham Parish was originally constituted as Farnham Parish in about 1656 in Old Rappahannock County. North Farnham Parish was created about 1683 when South Farnham was also created, splitting the parish in half.

The current North Farnham Parish Church was built about 1737, so clearly, there was an earlier church someplace, if not in the same location. What little we do know about the earlier church comes from the book, “Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia: In Two Volumes” written by William Meade in 1861 which discusses that there was indeed an earlier church and as a bonus, describes the typical burial vaults used by the Northern Neck families.

dagord-meade-article

dagord-meade-article-2

Margaret would have been baptized in that original church whose foundation was only left in 1861 when Meade was gathering historical information and writing.

I sure wish we knew where that original church was located today, and I can’t help but wonder if there was a cemetery adjacent or if all burials were in vaults on family land. What few references I could find, and none with pictures, indicated the vaults were in private family cemeteries or were the cemetery. I wonder if the water level was too high to bury people in the ground.  The old burial vaults all seem to have deteriorated and collapsed today.  Of course, they would have been more than 300 years old and their shape was an arch.

dagord-map

If the original church was half way between the present-day church, at the red balloon, and Warsaw, the county seat, the church would probably have been someplace near Emmerton and where the highway crosses Totuskey Creek, northwest of Emmerton.

Margaret and George in Richmond County

Margaret Dagord and George Dodson lived in Richmond County, much as their parents did, for the first 30 years of their married life. They settled down on land owned by George’s father, Thomas Dodson. They likely cleared this land, built a cabin and farmed the land until Thomas’s death in 1739 when he leaves them “150 acres of land whereon the said George Dodson is now living.”

If Thomas Dodson’s funeral was held in a church, it would have been held in the new North Farnham Parish Church, built two years earlier in 1737. Margaret and George would have stood in this very building for Thomas’s funeral services.

george-dodson-north-farnham-parish-church

The North Farnham Parish Church building, having been refurbished a few times, and used as a stable during and several decades prior to the Civil War, still stands today.

The births of the children of George and Margaret are also recorded in the North Farnham Parish Register, as follows:

  • Mary Dodson born December 21, 1726
  • Lazarus Dodson born October 7, 1728
  • Rawleigh Dodson born February 16, 1730
  • Thomas Dodson born May, 25, 1735
  • George Dodson born October 31, 1737

It was about the time of George’s birth that the new North Farnham Parish Church was built.

  • Fortunatus Dodson born March 31, 1740
  • Hannah Dodson born May 2, 1747

Children were born to colonial couples about every two years, and sure enough, true to form, Margaret had a baby every other year or so, until the gap between 1740 and 1747.

We don’t really know for sure if the birth date given in the North Farnham Parish Registers is actually a birth date, or if it is a baptism date. If a child was born and died, that birth is likely not registered. It’s very unlikely that Margaret had no children between 1740 and 1747 when at least 2 children would have been expected to have been born.

The Reverend Elias Dodson, writing in 1859 indicates that a David Dodson, later found in Pittsylvania County, VA, alongside many of Margaret’s children, was born to Margaret Dagord and George Dodson as well. If that’s accurate, David was certainly born after 1740, because there were no available birth spaces before 1740.

Margaret would have been age 32 in 1740, and age 39 in 1747. We could expect her to have additional children in approximately 1749 and possibly 1751 and 1753. Most women stopped having children sometime in their early/mid 40s.

In other words, there are two children missing in 1743 and 1745 and at least 2 missing between 1749-1753, and possibly more.

I don’t know if the North Farnham Parish Register records are missing or incomplete during this timeframe. If so, then those births may have been recorded and subsequently went missing.

If the records are complete, but these births are missing, then the children probably died before the births were recorded, or before they were baptized.

The Chicken or the Egg

Margaret was born into the Anglican Church and her family as well as the Dodson’s were clearly active. However, that doesn’t mean by choice, necessarily.

Citizens at that time in Virginia were required to be church members and to attend church regularly, upon penalty of a fine for every missed Sunday service. Holding any public office required one to be a church member in good standing. Church vestries handled many government functions including moral breaches, such as adultery, and took care of the poor. The churches owned “glebe land” purchased with tax money for the support of the minister and the poor in the care of the church.

By the 1760s, dissenting religions of both Methodists and Baptists were taking hold as itinerant preachers rode and preached wherever they could. One could join a dissenting church, but one still had to pay taxes to the Anglican church until the 1780s. Dissenters were also barred from public office, and in many ways, treated as second class citizens. Often the dissenters formed an enclave unto themselves.

By 1786, after the revolution, Virginia passed a Religious Freedom Act crafted by Thomas Jefferson and the disadvantages inherent in attending a dissenting church disappeared.

We know that in Richmond County, the Dodson family was involved with the North Farnham Parish Church where their births and marriages are recorded. We don’t know if George and Margaret left that church before selling their land in 1756. Could they have sold their land with the intention of moving west where their children could find land too, and joining the dissenting Baptists? That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that they moved west, but did not join the Baptists, even though their children did.

Was the move a reaction to the dissenting religion, or was founding the Broad Run Baptist Church in 1762 a result of missionaries on the frontier after the Dodson family sold their land and moved west?

It’s most likely that the Dodsons had already moved when the Baptist circuit riding preachers came through a few years later in the early 1760s and inspired the entire family, and many of their neighbors.  1756 was probably on the early side for the move to be inspired by religion, but we can’t say for sure.

Selling Land

In 1756, George and Margaret sell their land in Richmond County, with Margaret signing the deed, and go…someplace…but we don’t know where. At that time, their oldest children were probably already married and having children – or ready to marry. Land on the Northern Neck of Virginia was limited, and there was likely little room for expansion. Many people were moving further west where land was both plentiful and cheap.

George Sightings

After George and Margaret sold their land, most of their children moved to Faquier County, VA, but we lose George, Margaret and their son, Rawleigh, in the process. Our only hint is that there is one George Dodson on the Faquier County rent roll in 1770, but none before and none after. That George could be any one of the other three known Georges as well as the George married to Margaret Dagord. There are no Georges in Faquier County before or after in any records.

The next George sighting is in Pittsylvania County with a land transaction in 1771, although again, we don’t know which George. Rawleigh, George and Margaret’s son, appeared with his siblings in Halifax County in 1766. Rawleigh’s siblings, but not Rawleigh, were dismissed from the Broad Run Church in Fauquier County.

Margaret’s daughters, Mary and Hannah Dodson either died or married as we lose them entirely.

Margaret and George’s son, George Dodson born in 1737 could be the George in 1771, but who knows with a name like George Dodson. The good news is that George Dodson was obviously well thought of which is why there were several George Dodsons in the next generation. The bad news is that there were several George Dodsons and it’s impossible to tell them apart, or even exactly how many different George’s there actually were.

The Migration

There has been a lot of speculation and no conclusive facts about what happened to George and Margaret. In 1756, George was about 54 and Margaret was 48. They could have sold their land and one or both of them died during or after a move.

They could have moved elsewhere – meaning away from Richmond County but not to Faquier County with at least some of their children.

They could have moved to Faquier County, but not joined the Broad Run Baptist Church, a dissenting church at that time.

One hint may be the fact that in 1762, Thomas Dodson of Faquier County, George’s brother, released his right to his claim on his father’s estate to George’s brothers; Greenham Dodson of Amelia County, as well as Abraham, Joshua and Elisha of Farguier County. George Dodson isn’t mentioned.

George’s omission could have been due to any one of four things:

  • An oversight
  • A feud
  • George’s siblings together bought Thomas’s share, but George did not
  • George is dead and Thomas chose to relinquish his share only to his living male siblings and not to George’s heirs

Even if Thomas had relinquished part of his share to George’s heirs, that still wouldn’t tell us if Margaret was living, because at that time, a widow was due one third of her husband’s estate, but if George was already deceased when Thomas relinquished his share, George’s share of Thomas’s portion would not have fallen into George’s estate, which would have been assessed immediately after his death. Instead, the funds would have gone directly to George’s children. Colonial wives got left out…a lot.

George and Margaret Confusion

To make matters worse, there is a great deal of confusion surrounding multiple George Dodsons in Pittsylvania and Halifax County, Virginia where many of the Dodson families wound up in the 1760s and after. At least one George MAY have been married to a Margaret in 1777, but we’re really not sure. One George was for sure married to a Margaret in 1825 when he died, but that George and Margaret lived way too long to be the couple we are looking for. Margaret Dagord Dodson was born in 1708. However, the George and Margaret of 1825 may have been the George and Margaret of the 1777 land transaction who could have been the same George as the 1771 land transaction.

I just love the woulda, coulda, shouldas in the form of “may have been” and “could have been.”  Not.

I discussed the various George and Margaret possibilities ad nauseum in George Dodson’s article, so if you have a bad case of insomnia, read that article. Guaranteed, all those George’s will put you to sleep!

After 1756, the best we can do is to tell the story of Margaret through her children.

Margaret and George’s Children

Mary Dodson – born on December 21, 1726, just 8 months after Margaret married George on April 20th. While I’m not passing any judgement on George and Margaret in terms of pre-marital behavior, I am interested in Mary’s birth because it may have been premature. Based on a conception calculator, for Mary to have been born a full term 40-week baby, she would have been conceived between March 26 and April 3. Today, a baby that is a month early stands a wonderful chance of survival, that wasn’t necessarily true in 1726.

We don’t hear any more about Mary, so it’s certainly possible that she died.

However, since the next child isn’t born for 22 months, it’s unlikely that she died immediately, or the next child would have been born 9 or 10 months later, not 22. So, if Mary died, it probably wasn’t due to a premature birth. It would certainly have been tragic if Mary survived a premature birth but then died of something else anyway.

Death was a regular visitor to colonial couples who lost many children, often half of the children born to them.

Lazarus Dodson – born October 7, 1728, Lazarus Dodson was a Baptist minister at the Sandy Creek Church in Pittsylvania County, VA. He married Alice Dodson, his first cousin, the daughter of Thomas Dodson and Elizabeth Rose. In 1763, Lazarus was a member of the Broad Run Baptist Church in Faquier County and was dismissed to Halifax County, the part that later became Pittsylvania County. He may also have been a minister in Faquier County. Lazarus died in 1799, leaving a will written on May 2, 1795 and proven on Sept. 16, 1799. His heirs were his widow Alice, 5 daughters, Elizabeth, Rachel, Rhoda, Margaret and Tabitha, and 2 sons George and Elisha. Another son, Rolly, is attributed to this couple by the Rev. Elias Dodson, but not mentioned in the will.

Rawleigh Dodson – born Feb. 16, 1730, Rawleigh Dodson married a wife named Mary whose surname is unknown. Raleigh was in Halifax County by 1766. Rawleigh purchased land in Caswell County, NC, across the border from Pittsylvania County, VA, which they subsequently sold in 1778 to move to the Holston River settlement that was then in western North Carolina, but would eventually become Hawkins County, TN. Raleigh, a Revolutionary War Veteran, died about 1794, leaving a will dated July 20, 1793. Raleigh and Mary had 4 sons, Rawleigh (Jr.), Lazarus, Tolliver and James, and 3 daughters Margaret, Eleanor (Nellie) and a daughter who was deceased by 1793 but who had married a Shelton and had 2 daughters.

George Dodson – born Oct. 31, 1737 in Richmond County, VA and recorded in the North Farnham Church Parish Register. Unfortunately, there are so many George Dodsons in Pittsylvania and Halifax County, Virginia, that it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart. I created a chart detailing what we do know in George Dodson’s article. There is a George Dodson who died and whose will is recorded in Pittsylvania County in 1825 who could possibly be the son of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord. Until we have some proof that the George who died in 1825 is George and Margaret’s son, I’m very hesitate to attribute any additional information to him, because I feel it will just make a confusing situation even moreso.

Fortunatis (Fortune) Dodson – born March 31, 1740 in Richmond County, married Margaret Dodson, his first cousin, the daughter of Elisha and Sarah Averitt Dodson. After his death, Margaret, his widow married one of the Raleigh Dodsons. Fortune is first recorded in Pittsylvania County with the other Dodson families. His will was dated Oct. 2, 1776 and was probated May 22, 1777, leaving his widow, one son, David and three daughters, Lydia, Sarah and Deborah.

David Dodson (possibly) – born after 1740, in Richmond County (if he is Margaret and George’s child) and is reported by the Rev. Elias Dodson to have married Betty, the daughter of Second Fork Thomas Dodson – although based on the ages and generations of the individuals involved, that is somewhat doubtful if Second Fork Thomas is who we think he is. David is in Pittsylvania County by 1773 and eventually migrated to Pulaski County, KY by about 1800, then on to Maury County, TN where he apparently died sometime before 1816. His wife may have been Elizabeth, enumerated on the 1820 census with children. He had at least 6 sons, Fortunatus, Asa, Abner, David, Joseph and Absalom and two daughters, Ann and Elizabeth.

Hannah Dodson – born May 2, 1747 in Richmond County, VA and recorded in the North Farnham County Parish Register. We have no further information about Hannah, so she may have died.

For two of Margaret and George’s sons, Lazarus and Fortunatis, to have married their first cousins, they would have to have been living nearby, close enough to court.  Lazarus married the daughter of Thomas Dodson and Elizabeth Rose and Fortunatis married the daughter of Elisha Dodson and Sarah Averett.  The 1762 deed from Thomas to his siblings tells us that both of these men were living in Fauquier County at that time, which also means that Fortunatis and Lazarus were probably living in Fauquier County at that time as well, before they married, which implies that would have been while they were living with their parents.  Single men generally didn’t live alone before marriage.  The only way Lazarus and Fortunatis would NOT have been living with their parents is if their parents were deceased and they were living with other family members instead. So, the logical conclusion is that either Margaret and George were deceased or they were living in Fauquier County or very close by.

Was Judith Kenner a Daughter of Margaret Dagord?

Virginia is full of mysteries – in part because so many records are missing that it leaves us with something that looks like historical swiss cheese.

We know that many of the early colonial Virginia families migrated across the country together, county by county and then state by state as the ever-moving frontier line inched further westward. Most often, if you find one family member, you’ll find more.

Raleigh Dodson, Margaret Dagord’s son moved to Hawkins County in 1778. Another Dodson, Elisha was there very early as well and owned land amid Raleigh and his sons. The identity of this Elisha still escapes Dodson researchers.

Across the Holston river from Raleigh lived one Thomas Dodson who had purchased land by 1792. This Thomas could well have been Raleigh’s brother, but we just don’t know.

Another player on the Hawkins County frontier was Rodham Kenner. Rodham is clearly involved with Raleigh Dodson, witnessing his will. Raleigh made Rodham co-executor with his son, Lazarus, a position of trust likely given only to a family member or exceptionally close friend.

It’s certainly reasonable that one could and would make their brother-in-law their executor. The brother-in-law would have nothing to gain personally, so there would be no conflict of interest, and being of the same generation, they probably had a long history together – especially if the families had bonded journeying and establishing homes on the frontier.

Family on the frontier often made the difference between life and death.

In addition to Rodham witnessing Raleigh’s will, he also witnessed the sale of Raleigh’s land in November 1808, by Raleigh Jr.

There is some evidence to suggest that Judith Kenner, wife of Rodham Kenner is the daughter of Margaret Duguard. Is Duguard yet another spelling for Dagord? It certainly could be. The deeper I dug, the more seemingly conflicting information I found.

Margaret Dugourd, by whatever spelling, is a very unusual name. How many of these women could there be in Virginia? And what are the chances of two children of two different Margaret Dagord/Duguard’s winding up being near neighbors on the Holston River in Hawkins County in the late 1700s?

Let’s take a look at what we have.

The Quandry About Judith Kenner

Judith Kenner wrote her will November 16, 1819 and died March 3, 1833 in Hawkins County, TN, stating that she is the daughter of Margaret Duguard.

Her husband was Rodham Kenner, although there were multiple Rodham Kenners.

Rodham Kenner witnessed the will of Raleigh Dodson in Hawkins County in 1793. Raleigh Dodson appointed “my son Lazarus and my neighbor Rodham Kenner my executors.”

The Rodham Kenner Ford is located just above the Dodson Ford, where Raleigh Dodson had a ferry business, on the Holston River.

According to FindAGrave:

The Rodham Kenner Cemetery is located on the north bank of the Holston River near a site formerly known as the “Rodham Kenner Ford”. The location is on the site of the original Rodham Kenner Plantation, which was established before Tennessee Statehood [1796]. Publications of the DAR verify that this is the last resting place of Rodham Kenner, and possibly many other family members. Unfortunately, extended usage for pasture has caused most of the headstones to be overturned by cattle.

Unfortunately, the location is not marked on a map on FindAGrave and instead it says:

Plot: Private Cemetery in disrepair; North side of Holston River, on bluff not far from power plant. Cattle have overturned some headstones, but a few remain upright.

The FindAGrave memorial shows Rodham Kenner married to Malinda Payne.

Judith Kenner’s will was written on November 16, 1819, with the following extracted section:

Gave to my mother Margaret Duguard the use or profits of all my estate real & personal during her life, provided nevertheless that the same shall be under the care and management of my executor from the time of my death and during the lifetime of my mother. Gave to daughter Lucy Beverly Winston the use of my negro girl Mary during her life, and after the death of my daughter Lucy, I give my said negro Mary and Mary’s increase to my granddaughter Margaret Winston. Gave to son Lawrence Sterns Kenner one horse, one bed and furniture, and one Beaufat. Gave to daughter Judith Cardin one bed and furniture. Gave to daughters Lucy Beverly Winston and Judith Cardin all my wearing apparel to be equally divided. Gave to grandson William Winston Kenner the tract of land whereon I now live containing 110 acres by estimation. Gave to grandson Roaham Beverly Kenner my negro girl Eliza and her increase. Gave the residue of estate real and personal to grand children, equally divided. Names “my worthey friend” William Simpson of Rogersville executor. Signed Judith Kenner. Wits. Hezekiah Hamblen, George McCollough

Summary:

  • Margaret Duguard – mother
  • Lucy Beverly Winston – daughter
  • Margaret Winston – daughter of Lucy above
  • Lawrence Sterns Kenner – son
  • Judity Cardin – daughter
  • William Winston Kenner – grandson
  • Roaham Beverly Kenner – grandson

Clearly, if our Margaret Dagord Dodson is Judith Kenner’s mother, she is not still living in 1819 at age 111, or at least it’s very doubtful – but was this will transcribed into the will book from the original, and then from the will book correctly?

Think you’re confused? Wait till you read this next item.

1821, 12 Oct: Judith Kenner of the state of TN of the 1st part, and Mackenzie Beverly of Caroline Co., VA of the 2nd part, and Wm. Gray of the town of Port Royal of the 3rd part. M. Beverley instituted a suit against the representatives of Rodham Kenner in the county court of Westmoreland for the purpose of recovering damages for a fraud supposed to have been practiced upon the said Beverley by said Rodham Kenner in his lifetime. That suit is pending and undetermined and the said Judith Kenner is entitled to the estate and effects of the said Rodham by virtue of his will, duly recorded in Westmoreland, and is about to remove part of the same out of the state. Said Beverly obtained a ne exent against Judith KENNER & who has a balance in the hands of one Leroy Boulware of 200 pounds VA currency, which she devised from the will of her brother, Rodham KENNER. Judith Kenner wishes that, in case the said M. Beverley shall recover damages against her said brother’s representative, that the same shall be secured to the said Beverley, she does grant to Gray, in consideration of $1 paid by William Gray, her right in the claim and tenement which she has in her hands of Peter Boulware, that is to say 100 pounds VA currency due 1 Jan next, and the 100 pounds due 1 Jan 1823, and does also sell her interest in the hands of one Thomas Dillard for the years 1822 and 1823, which annolment amounts to 42 pounds VA currency, which said sums she is entitled to by her brother Rodham’s will. The said Wm. Gray is to collect the rents as soon as they are due & to lend them out to some responsible person will pay the interest. The aforesaid conveyance is upon the express condition that in case McKenzie Beverly shall recover against the said Rodham Kenner’s representatives, that William Gray shall pay over and satisfy the said judgments and all costs thereon out of the monies to be recovered of the said Leroy Boulware and Thomas Dillard. But in case Beverly loses the suit, that then these presents shall cease and be void. And it is expressly understood by Judith Kenner and McKenzie Beverley that this conveyance is not to affect the merits of the suit. Signed by Judith Kenner, McKenzie Beverly, Wm. Gray. Wits. James Gray, Richard C. Corbin, Corn’s Tuomey, Daniel Turner. Should there be a balance left in the hands of the trustee after satisfying the said McKenzie Beverly, should he recover the suit, the balance is to be paid over in full to us Judith Kenner on her order, and if the said Beverly should lose, the full amount is to be paid over to Judith Kenner on her order. Signed William Gray. Wits. James Gray, Corns. Twomey, Dn’l Turner.

It looks for all the world like Judith Kenner was a Kenner by birth, given that her brother was Rodham Kenner, and she married a Kenner. However, if she was born a Kenner, then how is her mother Margaret Duguard? Or did her mother remarry perhaps after Judith’s father died? In which case, Judith Kenner is NOT the daughter of Margaret Dagord who married George Dodson. I’m still scratching my head. I feel like I need a roadmap and a score card.

And then:

1829, 13 Feb: Judith Kenner of Hawkins Co., TN made her wilI. Gave to two grandsons Rodham Kenner and William W. Kenner all my land containing about 300 acres, their heirs and assigns in fee simple, to be equally divided when William W. Kenner comes of age. Gave to said grandsons William W. Kenner and Rodham Kenner one negro woman called Eliza together with her offspring, equally divided, when William W. Kenner cones of age. Gave to said grandson Rodham Kenner my walking cane, marked on the head with Rodham Kenner, also my silver table spoons. Gave to said grandson William W. Kenner my silver watch, also I give and bequeath unto the said William W. Kenner my silver teaspoons. It is my desire that my negro man called Martin shall be sold and one half of the money to be put in the hands of my grandson William 0. Winston for the special benefit of his mother, my daughter Lucy, and the other half to be equally divided between my two grandsons Columbus Carden and Joseph Carden, children of my daughter Judith Carden, to be put out on interest till Joseph comes of age. In case one of them should die, the whole of said half to go to the survivor. Gave to all my grand children all my claims and interests in the State of Virginia, to be equally divided between them, share and share alike whenever settled. Gave to granddaughter Beverly J. Carden the bed and bed furniture on which I lay. It is my desire that my negroes called John, Nann & Caroline shall remain on the place whereon I now live, that all my stock and household furniture and farming utensils shall be kept together and nothing sold till the time herein after mentioned, and it is my desire that Lucy Winston my daughter shall take possession & live on the place & the house whereon & wherein I now reside till William W. Kenner comes of age or so long as my said daughter Lucy sees fit to reside on said place till the coming of age of said William W. Kenner, it is also my desire that my negro woman Eliza with her children shall remain on the said place, together with John, Nann & Caroline and assist in making provisions for my two grandsons Rodham Kenner and William W. Kenner and my daughter Lucy Winston till William W. Kenner comes of age, and it is my desire that all things be kept together on said place by my daughter Lucy just in the situation as I leave them till William W. Kenner comes of age, and then my old negroes John, Nann & Caroline are to always find a home on the place whereon I now live or live with whomsoever of my daughters or grand children they see fit, that when said William comes of age it is my desire that all my stock and household furniture be sold and out of the proceeds of said sale, I give and bequeath unto my grand daughter Margaret Findley $60.00, unto my grandson John G. Winston $60.00 & unto my grandson Columbus Carden $60.00, and after paying over the said sums, I give and bequeath unto my daughters Lucy Winston & Judith Carden the residue of said proceeds. Appoints William Simpson executor, revoking all former wills. Signed Judith Kenner. (1a) Will proved by oaths of witnesses 0. Rice, G. W. Huntsman

Summary:

  • Rodham Kenner – grandson
  • William W. Kenner – grandson underage
  • William O. Winston – grandson
  • Lucy Winston – daughter
  • Columbus Carden – grandson
  • Joseph Carden – grandson underage
  • Judith Carden – daughter
  • Beverly J. Carden – granddaughter
  • Margaret Findley – granddaughter
  • John G. Winston – grandson

The Judith Kenner with the 1829 will is clearly the same woman who wrote the 1819 will. Obviously, she thought she was going to die, and didn’t.

The will book in Hawkins County burned during the Civil War, and the wills were recopied from originals into a will book sometime later. Of course, the probate dates and estate information were burned, but at least the individual wills were preserved.

I have compiled information about the Kenner family from the Hawkins County Tennessee wills, from FindAGrave and from WikiTree, one of the few genealogy websites that allows and encourages the copying of free form text like wills, and citing sources.

If this is accurate, the following tree shows the interrelationships of Judith Kenner. Judith is married to the Rodham Kenner noted in green. Just like George Dodsons, there seem to be a plethora of Rodham Kenners too.

kenner-tree

This does indeed show Judith’s mother as Margaret who was apparently living in 1819, but not in 1829 and had apparently remarried to a Duguard by 1819, because if Judith’s father was living and her mother had not remarried, she would have been called Mrs. Rodham Kenner or Margaret Kenner if a widow – never by her maiden name.

If George Kenner (see tree) was born about the time of Rodham Kenner’s death, then his eventual wife, Margaret, would have been born about the same time, meaning about 1733. This means that she would not have had daughter Judith Kenner before 1750 or 51, at the earliest.   Therefore, Judith Kenner’s mother, Margaret, referenced as Margaret Duguard, born about 1733 is not our Margaret Dagord born in 1708. These two Margarets are an entire generation offset. I’d actually much rather for this relationship to be impossible than ambiguous.

Whew, what a time unraveling that knotted up ball of twine.

Margaret’s Mitochondrial DNA

Now for the bad news. Because Judith Kenner is NOT the daughter of our Margaret Dagord, the mitochondrial DNA of our Margaret Dagord appears to be deader than a doornail.

Mothers contribute their mitochondrial DNA to each child, but only the females pass it on. So to find Margaret’s mitochondrial DNA today, we would need to track it through all females from Margaret to the current generation, where the DNA recipients can be male.

We know that Margaret had daughters Mary and Hannah, but either they both died or married and are lost to us in time.

Now that we know that Judith Kenner wasn’t Margaret’s daughter, either, that pretty much ends our possibilities.

I mentioned in the beginning of this article that Cheryl Sendtko indicated that Dagord was spelled numerous ways in the North Farnham Parish Registers, but in searching those records at both Ancestry and MyHeritage, I didn’t find any surnames that began with Dag or Dog, so I’m not sure quite what Cheryl was seeing or perhaps she was referencing what others had said previously.

I do know that the North Farnham Parish Church registers have been indexed, but there are comments that the quality of the original records was poor, and that they were apparently transcribed from a copy of a copy.  Sometimes you just have to be happy that anything survived!

I was searching for any other births to Henry Dagord, by any surname variant. I even looked up all Henry’s by first name with nothing resembling Dagord beginning with either Dag or Dog. I was hopeful of discovering that Margaret Dagord had a sister, but I was unable to find any record of another Dagord birth. One thing is for sure, if Henry Dagord’s daughter, Margaret, was born in North Farnham Parish in 1708 and married there in 1726, there is little question that they lived there between 1708 and 1726. Someplace, Margaret likely had siblings.

Focused research needs to be done in Virginia.

Acknowledgements

Much of the information about the early Dodson lines, specifically prior to Raleigh, comes from the wonderful two volume set written by the Reverend Silas Lucas, published originally in 1988, titled The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia – A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants.

I am extremely grateful to Reverend Lucas for the thousands of hours and years he spent compiling not just genealogical information, but searching through county records in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and more. His work from his first publication in 1958 to his two-volume set 30 years later in 1988 stands as a model of what can and should be done for each colonial family – especially given that they were known to move from state to state without leaving any type of “forwarding address” for genealogists seeking them a few hundred years later. Without his books, Dodson researchers would be greatly hindered, if not entirely lost, today.

Using X and Mitochondrial DNA Charts by Charting Companion

Charting Companion by Progeny Genealogy interfaces with many genealogy software programs to produce lovely charts and graphs not available within the genealogy software applications themselves. I first installed Charting Companion when I used PAF and was very glad to see that it interfaces with RootsMagic too, the software I switched to when PAF was no longer supported. RIP PAF😦

Over the past couple years, Charting Companion has implemented DNA focused reports. I covered their first report, the X Ancestor Chart when it was first introduced, but they have since added mtDNA charts, and most recently X Descendant Charts. I love these reports and how useful they are to the genealogist.

It’s important to understand that both your mitochondrial DNA and the X chromosome have special inheritance paths and therefore, special uses for genetic genealogy research. I wrote about the X chromosome here and here.

The article 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is a brief description of the various kinds of DNA testing available to genetic genealogists, and who can test for which kind.

X Chromosome Inheritance Path

In males, the X chromosome is only inherited from the mother, because the father gives the male a Y chromosome, which is what makes the male, male. In females, the father contributes his X chromosome to his daughter, as does her mother. However, the father only received an X from his mother – so you can see that the inheritance pattern for the X chromosome is not the same as other chromosomes where all children receive 50% of their inherited DNA from each parent.

Because of this unusual inheritance pattern, you can easily tell whether an autosomal match that shares an X chromosome could descend from the ancestor you think they might. If you’re a male and you think an X match comes through your father or one of his ancestors – think again, because it can’t.

Here’s my hand-drawn chart of the ancestors that portions of my X chromosome could have descended from.

X Chart0001

Now that I have charting companion, I no longer have to hand draw this chart. Charting Companion does it quickly and easily for me. And it’s much, MUCH neater!

x fan

The X chromosome is tested as part of an autosomal DNA test, but not all vendors report X matches. Ancestry does not provide information about the chromosomes where you match anyone, so at Ancestry, there is no way to know if you match someone on the X chromosome. Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder test does test for and report X chromosome matching and so does GedMatch if you upload your raw data files from any vendor.

Mitochondrial DNA Inheritance Path

Mitochondrial DNA is not passed to the children from males. Females pass their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on.

This pedigree chart below shows the Y and mitochondrial DNA inheritance path for a brother and sister. Both siblings received their mother’s mtDNA, which reaches back in time directly up the matrilineal line ONLY.

Y and mito

The great news is that since the mitochondrial DNA is never admixed with the father’s DNA, it’s a direct pipeline that informs us about the matrilineal line for hundreds and thousands of years back in time.

The bad news is that in order to find out about the mitochondrial DNA of another ancestor in your tree – meaning all of your ancestors that don’t have red circles in the chart above, you must find someone descended from a female through all females to the current generation, which can be a male. Testing for mitochondrial DNA is available through Family Tree DNA.

Let’s say you want to find out about the mitochondrial DNA of your father’s mother to fill in one of the haplogroups in your DNA pedigree chart. You would need to locate an individual to test who carries your father’s mother’s mitochondrial DNA. Your father can test, if he’s living and willing. If your father is deceased, and he had no siblings, and his mother is deceased with no siblings, you’re going to have to go on back up that tree until you find someone with living descendants who descend through only females to the current generation, which can include males.

Charting companion makes finding those descendants easy.

Getting Started

You can purchase Charting Companion at this link. And for those of you wondering, no, I don’t have any financial interest in Charting Companion or Progeny Genelaogy, nor is this a paid article, nor do I receive any commission or kickback or anything like that if you purchase this product, nor am I related to or know the owner. I don’t accept or write any articles for pay from anyone or any company, ever, and never have. I did, however, receive a free update to the Charting Companion software I had already purchased, but you will too if you have already purchased version 6.

After installing Charting Companion, which is painless (I had to install the latest upgrade for this article), Charting Companion opens the file you indicate, which is typically your production file for your genealogy software. You’ll select the person you want to be reflected as the source or center of your charts or reports in the yellow Name field, shown below. In my case, I selected Barbara Dreschel to be the person around whom the reports will center.

In case you’re wondering, “Babbit” was her nickname and J1c2f is her mitochondrial DNA haplogroup.  The only effective way I’ve discovered to maintain haplogroup information is as a middle name, so that’s what you’re seeing.

chart-drechsel

Next, you’ll select the type of report that you want to create.

You’ll want to click on the “Charts and Reports” tab and for the X chromosome charts, you’ll want to select either the Ancestor Charts, or the Descendant Charts.

chart companion

Net, you’ll select the X version, which is located under “color” because the proper people are colorized in pink and blue.

Ancestor chart options

Ancestor X Charts

Ancestor charts generally start with you and work their way back in time.   My X version shows which ancestors I inherited my X chromosome from. This can be very helpful when evaluating matches. In some cases, you cannot have a match to a particular person on the X chromosome from the particular line in question.

Ancestor charts come in two flavors, one is a traditional ancestor chart, the fan version shown earlier in this article, and the second version is a pedigree chart.

x pedigree 1

x pedigree 2

These charts make it easy to see who you could have received your X chromosome from – so X matches must be from the pink and blue colored ancestors and cannot be from ancestors whose boxes are not colored.

For example, if I match a descendant of John Y. Estes, located at the top of the pedigree chart, above, on the X chromosome, I know the common ancestor that I received the X DNA from is NOT John Y. Estes, because I couldn’t have inherited any X DNA from him. That’s easy to discern, because there is no coloration in John Y.’s box. So an X match to a descendant of John Y. Estes is not FROM John Y. Estes. It’s either a false match or the matching X chromosome is from another common ancestor. Of course, that doesn’t mean we both aren’t descended from John Y. Estes – it only means that our X match is not from John Y.  I wrote about false matches here.

When I receive an X match to someone and we’re trying to find a common ancestor, I suggest that my match print this same chart for themselves and that will help them determine which ancestors or ancestral lines we might potentially have in common.

Descendant X Charts

Recently Charting Companion announced a new tool, Descendant X Charts. On these charts, the ancestor is the focus and the descendants who inherited their X chromosome are colored either pink or blue. Part of the Descendant X Chart for Barbara Drechsel is shown below. You can click on any graphic to enlarge.

chart-descendant-drechsel

Descendant Charts look a little different than Ancestor Charts. Don’t be confused by the white box between Elnora Kirsch and her daughters. That’s just her husband, Curtis Benjamin Lore. While he contributes an X chromosome (with daughters) or doesn’t (with sons,) it’s not HIS X chromosome we’re tracking in this chart, it’s the X chromosome of Barbara Drechsel. Curtis would be shown either on his own ancestor chart, or you can create a Descendant X Chart for Curtis.

You might notice in this diagram that this family is particularly prone to not having children. Trying to find ANY DNA participants has been very challenging. However, when I do find them (fingers crossed) I’ll know immediately if they (and I) could possibly carry the X chromosome of Barbara Drechsel by looking at these charts. I’m someplace to the left on this chart, but off the edge of the graphic above.

My favorite Charting Companion charts are still the fan charts though, shown below, because they are compact and succinct and you can see everything on one chart on one page.

chart-descendant-fan

Mitochondrial DNA Charts

To find descendants who carry the mitochondrial DNA of any female, select the person whose mtDNA-carrying descendants you want to find. Then click on the Charts and Reports tab and select the Descendant Chart. You’ll then see various options at the top, where you’ll want to click on the Contents tab.

chart-mtdna-menu

Select Mitochondrial DNA. Note that you can also select the Y chromosome DNA, but that’s much more evident if you’re looking for a male, because the surname stays the same, so DNA testing candidates are generally rather obvious.

chart-mtdna-descendants

On the mtDNA Descendants Chart above, the people in pink and blue carry the mtDNA of Barbara Drechsel. The blue people, males, won’t pass it on to their offspring, but the pink people, females, will if they have offspring. You can see that many females in this family did not have children, so there are several dead ends for Barbara’s mtDNA, including one more daughter who is off of the right hand side of the page. On your computer, you can scroll and the printed reports allow you to overlap.

The Mitochondrial DNA Chart is a great tool to find out who carries the mitochondrial DNA of any ancestor.

Summary

I love tools that help people understand their DNA and how it’s useful to their genealogy. The X charts make seeing the X inheritance path so much easier than trying to explain in verbiage (or drawing by hand) – and provides an easy visual to quickly identify whether a particular ancestor could potentially be responsible for an X DNA match.

For mitochondrial DNA, the charting tool makes the task of finding appropriate descendants to test much easier. It can also work in reverse. If you want to know if a particular person is a candidate for testing for a specific ancestor’s mtDNA, it’s easy to see immediately if their box is colored pink or blue.

I especially love tools that are ubiquitous and run with almost any software package and that don’t require special plugins. Furthermore, I’m particularly enamored with vendors who listen to and take suggestions to heart from their customer base. No, this suggestion wasn’t mine, but the X Descendant Chart was implemented within a week of when it was suggested by a customer. Two weeks later, it was in production – and now all Charting Companion customers benefit. A big thank you to Pierre Clouthier at Progeny Genealogy.

Native American and First Nations DNA Testing – Buyer Beware

Native DNA in Feathers

This week, a woman in North Carolina revealed that she descends from the extinct Beothuk tribe in Canada as a result of a DNA test from a Canadian DNA testing company. This has caused quite an uproar, in both genetic genealogy and Native American research communities, and has been resoundingly discredited by geneticists.

People’s motivation for wanting to know if they have Native heritage generally falls into the following categories:

  • Curiosity and a desire to confirm a family story
  • Desire to recover lost heritage
  • Desire to identify or join a tribe
  • Desire to obtain services provided to eligible tribal members, such as educational benefits
  • Desire to obtain benefits provided to eligible tribal members, such as a share of casino profits

Questions about DNA testing to reveal Native ancestry are the most common questions I receive and my Native DNA articles are the most visited on my website and blog.

Legitimate DNA Tests for Native Heritage

There are completely legitimate tests for Native ancestry, including the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests for direct paternal (blue box genealogy line, below) and direct matrilineal lines (red circle genealogy line, below). Both Y and mitochondrial DNA have scientifically identified and confirmed haplogroups found only in Native Americans, as discussed in this article. Both Y and mitochondrial DNA at appropriate testing levels can identify a Native ancestor back in time thousands of years.

Y and mito

However, if the Native ancestor does not descend from the direct paternal or direct matrilineal lines, the only DNA test left is an autosomal test which tests all of your ancestral lines, but which can only reliably identify ancestral heritage for the past 5 or 6 generations in any of those lines due to recombination of DNA with the other parent in each generation. Autosomal tests provide you with percentage estimates of your ethnicity although they can vary widely between companies for various reasons. All three of these tests are available from Family Tree DNA as part of their normal product offering.

If you’d like to see an example of genealogy research combined with all three types of DNA testing for a Native Sioux man, please read about John Iron Moccasin.

Less Than Ethical DNA Tests for Native Heritage

Because of the desire within the consuming public to know more about their Native heritage, several specialty testing services have emerged to offer “Native American” tests. Recently, one, Accu-Metrics out of Canada has been highly criticized in the media for informing a woman that she was related to or descended from the extinct Beothuk tribe based on a match to a partial, damaged, mitochondrial sample from skeletal remains, now in housed in Scotland.

When you look at some of these sites, they spend a lot of time convincing you about the qualifications of the lab they use, but the real problem is not with the laboratory, but their interpretation of what those results mean to their clients – e.g. Beothuk.

Those of us who focus on Native American ancestry know unequivocally that “matching” someone with Native ancestry does NOT equate to being from that same tribe. In fact, we have people in the American Indian Project and various Native haplogroup projects who match each other with either Native Y or mitochondrial results who are tribally enrolled or descended from tribes from very different parts of the Americas, as far distant as Canada and South America.

Based on this 2007 paper, A Preliminary Analysis of the DNA and Diet of the Extinct Beothuk: A Systematic Approach to Ancient Human DNA, describing the analysis of the Beothuk remains, it appears that only the HVR1 region of the Beothuk skeletal remains were able to be partially sequenced. An HVR1 level only match between two people could be from thousands to tens of thousands of years ago.

According to Dr. Doron Behar’s paper, A ‘‘Copernican’’ Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root, dating haplogroup formation, haplogroup C was formed about 24,000 years ago, give or take 5,000 years in either direction, and haplogroup X was formed about 32,000 years ago, give or take 12,000 years in either direction. There are individuals living in Europe and Asia, as well as the Americans who fall into various subgroups of haplogroup C and X, which are impossible to differentiate without testing beyond the HVR1 region. A match at the HVR1 level which only indicates C or X, without subgroups, could be from a very ancient common ancestor, back in Asia and does not necessarily indicate Native American heritage without additional testing. What this means is that someone whose ancestors have never lived outside of China, for example, would at the basic haplogroup level, C, match to the Beothuk remains because they shared a common ancestor 24,000 years ago.

Furthermore, many people are tribally enrolled whose mitochondrial or Y DNA would not be historically Native, because their tribal membership is not based on that ancestral line. Therefore, tribal membership alone is not predictive of a Native American Y or mitochondrial haplogroup. Matching someone who is tribally enrolled does not mean that your DNA is from that tribe, because their DNA from that line may not be historically Native either.

Tribes historically adopted non-Native people into the tribe, so finding a non-Native, meaning a European or African haplogroup in a tribal member is not unusual, even if the tribal member’s enrollment is based on that particular genealogical line. European or African DNA does not delegitimize their Native heritage or status, but finding a European or African haplogroup in a tribal member also does NOT mean that those haplogroups were historically Native, meaning pre-Columbian contact.

Worse yet, one company is taking this scenario a step further and is informing their clients that carry non-Native haplogroups that they have Native heritage because a group of their clients who “self-identified” as “Native,” meaning they believe their ancestor is Native, carry that haplogroup. The American myth of the “Indian Princess” is legendary and seldom do those stories pan out as accurate with DNA testing and traditional genealogical research. Basing one client’s identification as Native on another client’s family myth without corroboration is a mind-boggling stretch of logic. Most consumers who receive these reports never go any further, because they have achieved what they sought; “confirmation” of their Native heritage through DNA.

A match, even in the best of circumstances where the match does fall into the proven Native haplogroups does not automatically equal to tribal affiliation, and any company who suggests or says it does is substantially misleading their customers.

From the Accu-Metric site, the company that identified the woman as Beothuk:

Native American linkage is based on a sample comparison to a proven member of the group, which identifies specific tribal linkage.

New for 2016: We can also determine if you belong to the 56 Native tribes from Mexico.

The DNA results can be used in enrollment, disenrollment, claiming social benefits, or simply for a peace of mind. We understand the impact that this testing service has on the First Nation and Native American community and we try to use our expertise for the community’s overall interests.

From Dr. Steven Carr, a geneticist at Memorial University in St. John’s (Canada) who has studied the Beothuk:

We do not have enough of a database to identify somebody as being Beothuk, so if somebody is told [that] by a company, I think we call that being lied to.

I would certainly agree with Dr. Carr’s statement.

According to the 2007 Beothuk paper, the Beothuk mitochondrial DNA fell into two of the 5 typical haplogroups for Native American mitochondrial DNA, C and X. However, only portions or subgroups of those 5 haplogroups are Native, and all Native people fall someplace in those 5 haplogroup subgroups, as documented here.

The Beothuk remains would match, at the basic haplogroup level, every other Native person in haplogroup C or X across all of North and South America. In fact, the Beothuk remains match every other person world-wide at the basic haplogroup level that fall into haplogroups C or X.  It would take testing of the Beothuk remains at the full sequence level, which was not possible due to degradation of the remains, to be more specific.  So telling a woman that she matches the Beothuk was irresponsible at best, because those Beothuk remains match every other person in haplogroup C or X, Native or not.  Certainly, a DNA testing company knows this.

Accu-Metrics isn’t the only company stretching or twisting the truth for their own benefit, exploiting their clients. Dr Jennifer Raff, a geneticist who studies Native American DNA, discusses debunking what she terms pseudogenetics, when genetic information is twisted or otherwise misused to delude the unsuspecting. You can view her video here. About minute 48 or 49, she references another unethical company in the Native American DNA testing space.

Unfortunately, unethical companies are trying to exploit and take advantage of the Native people, of our ancestors, and ultimate of us, the consumers in our quest to find those ancestors.

Reputable DNA Testing

If you want to test for your Native heritage, be sure you understand what various tests can and cannot legitimately tell you, which tests are right for you based on your gender and known genealogy, and stay with a reputable testing company. I recommend Family Tree DNA for several reasons.

  • Family Tree DNA is the founding company in genetic genealogy
  • They have been in business 16 years
  • They are reputable
  • They are the only company to offer all three types of DNA tests
  • They offer matching between their clients whose DNA matches each other, giving you the opportunity to work together to identify your common link
  • They sponsor various free projects for customers to join to collaborate with other researchers with common interests

When evaluating tests from any other companies, if it sounds too good to be true, and no other company can seem to provide that same level of specificity, it probably is too good to be true. No company can identify your tribe through DNA testing. Don’t be a victim.

These three articles explain about DNA testing, and specifically Native DNA testing, and what can and cannot be accomplished.

4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy

Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA

Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA

For other articles about Native American DNA testing, this blog is fully key-word searchable by utilizing the search box in the upper right hand corner.

Mary Dodson (c1730-1807/1808), A Touch of Luxury on Dodson Creek, 52 Ancestors #144

Mary Dodson, the wife of Raleigh Dodson is only mentioned two times by name.  I’m just grateful that both times, the name was the same.  Now, this doesn’t assure us that Raleigh wasn’t married twice, to two Mary’s, but we don’t have any evidence to suggest that.

Assuming that Mary was about Raleigh’s age, she would have been born about 1730.  Calculating the births of Mary’s children from known events in their lives, Mary’s oldest child’s birth would have been about 1751 or 1752.  Mary would have been roughly 21 or 22 at the time, so a marriage in 1750 or so would be suggested.

Raleigh’s parents were still living near Farnham Parish Church in Richmond County until 1756, so it’s reasonable that Raleigh married a young lady from the neighborhood. They probably courted in the neighborhood and flirted in church when they were supposed to be listening to the sermon. Maybe Raleigh stole a kiss out by the barn before he asked Mary’s father for her hand in marriage.

The North Farnham Parish Church Register of Births were extracted and published in the William and Mary College Quarterly, Volume 13, pages 139 and 180.  They have also been reproduced online here.

Various daughters named Mary born in the timeframe to possibly be Raleigh’s wife include:

  • Mary, daughter of James and Ann Thornton, born March 14, 1722-23
  • Mary Tarpley, daughter of William and Mary Tarpley, born Dec. 7, 1723
  • Mary, daughter of Moore and Margaret Fauntleroy, born February 28, 1725
  • Mary Beckwith, daughter of Marmaduke and Eliza Beckwith, born June 12, 1727.
  • Mary, daughter of James and Mary Tarpley born October 30, 1740 (implying that the child born in 1723 died)

The Mary born in 1740 is too late if Mary married Raleigh in roughly 1750.  There aren’t any people in Mary’s offspring or grandchildren named Moore, Fauntleroy, Tarpley, Marmaduke, Beckwith, Elizabeth, Eliza or Thornton.  Mary has a daughter named Margaret, grandson named William, but no son, William.  It sure would make attempting to identify a family easier if some of these unusual names were found among her children.

Of course, even if Raleigh and Mary were married in the North Farnham Parish Church, that doesn’t mean Mary was born there.  It goes without saying that the relevant records are missing.

If Raleigh and Mary were married in 1750 or 1751, their first child, a daughter, whose first name is unknown but married a Shelton was probably born about 1752.

In 1756, their first known son, Raleigh was born, probably someplace near North Farnham Parish Church.

Daughter Margaret, known as Peggy, would have been born about 1758 or 1759, either in Richmond County or perhaps Prince William.

Mary and Raleigh may have been living in Prince William County between 1759 and 1761 when Raleigh is mentioned in a lawsuit, but only once.

Mary’s sons, Oliver and Lazarus were both born around 1760, and they seemed to be close for their entire lives.  Lazarus conveyed land to Oliver’s children after Oliver’s death in 1819.  These men could both have been born in Prince William County.

By about 1763, Mary and Raleigh may have moved on to live near the Broad Run Baptist Church in Fauquier County, Virginia, founded as a dissenting church in 1762.  Several of the Dodson families, including Raleigh’s brothers who went on to settle in Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties in Virginia, border counties to Caswell County, North Carolina were dismissed from Broad Run, many together, in 1766.

The move to the Virginia/North Carolina border region in 1766 wasn’t trivial, with at least 5 children ranging in age from toddler to about 14.  It was about 300 miles and probably took about 30 days in a wagon. It’s very likely that a group of family members traveled together. The children probably thought it was a great adventure!

Raleigh is found witnessing documents in 1766 in Halifax County, Virginia, so they apparently settled there for at least some time.

On February 19, 1768, John Roberson and wife Margaret of Orange County, NC sold to Rolley Dodson of said county for 16# Virginia money 50 acres on the east side of the Country Line Creek.  Witnesses were Hugh Kelly, Henry Hicks and Henry Willis.

Why Mary and Raleigh bought land on Country Line Creek instead of in Halifax or Pittsylvania County, VA, with the rest of the Dodson clan, escapes me.  The land along Country Line was particularly difficult.  Even 100 years later, the 1860 census taker commented that the land along Country Line Creek was extremely rough.

raleigh-halifax-to-country-line

The map above shows Mary and Raleigh’s journey from North Farnham Parish, to Broad Run Baptist Church, to Halifax County, Virginia, and on to Country Line Creek.

Caswell County, NC was created from Orange County in 1777 and Raleigh’s land fell into Caswell. Orange County, North Carolina records need to be checked for Raleigh between 1768 and 1777.

country line creek

Daughter Nelly was probably born sometime in 1768, or perhaps a bit earlier.  She could have been born on Country Line Creek or perhaps someplace in either Halifax or Pittsylvania County in Virginia.

The Caswell County tax list for 1777 shows Raleigh assessed for property worth #172 in the Richmond District.

By about 1772, son James had arrived to join the family and would have been born in Caswell County.

Beginning in 1776, the beginning of the Revolutionary War was bearing down on Caswell County.  Local militia units were in place.  All able-bodied men were required to participate.  Raleigh would have been 46 years old, and we know that he did eventually serve in the war after moving to the western frontier, the part of North Carolina that eventually became Hawkins County, Tennessee.

On April 22, 1776, the Orange County militia unit that would become the Caswell County unit was formed and in late 1776, was headed out on the Cherokee Expedition.  For some reason, the unit was recalled – some say due to lack of wagons and pack horses.  It could have been during this time that Raleigh first saw the Holston River, if they got that far, and the land where he would eventually settle.  Or perhaps he simply heard about the opportunities for plentiful cheap land in this wild western part of North Carolina.

On July 5, 1778, Raleigh and his wife Mary sold their 50 acres of land on the south side of Country Line Creek to Clement Gann (the land being purchased of John Robinson) and evidently packed up a wagon and moved to what would eventually become Hawkins County, TN.  Fifty acres wasn’t much to farm and land grants for significantly more were available on the western frontier.  Raleigh proved to be an astute businessman.

The move to the Holston River from the Piedmont in 1778 was different from the move in 1766.  Mary was 12 years older, to begin with.  The 7 known children were now ages 6 to about 26. The oldest daughter had probably already married a Shelton, had children and already passed away.

What we do know about the married daughter is that she had 2 daughters by Mr. Shelton, Mary and Nancy, and Mary was old enough to witness Raleigh’s will in 1793.  That suggests that Mary was of age in 1793, so born in 1772, or earlier, which indicates that probably both Mary and Nancy were along with their grandparents in 1778 when they moved to the western frontier.

Mary’s unnamed daughter had likely already passed away back someplace on Country Line Creek, given that she only had two children.  Mary would have stood at her daughter’s grave, her arms around those two granddaughters, who probably reminded Mary every time she looked at them of the daughter she lost.

It must have been very hard for Mary to leave the graves of her children behind, and she surely did that, at least once.

mary-dodson-caswell-to-rogersville

The trip west would have taken more than a month and crossed mountain ranges.  This was a much different trip that through the winding gently sloping foothills of the Piedmont.  Wagons didn’t have brakes in those days, the inclines were steep and the trip itself was risky, and that’s without the threat of Indians. Once the mountains begin, around Martinsville, just west of Caswell County, they never end.

mary-dodson-lovers-leap

This particular area, called Lover’s Leap, for obvious reasons, is the “best” way to get from Caswell County to the west.  I have driven this many times in a Jeep, and I always PRAY that there is no logging truck behind me with brake trouble, no one coming the other way with a death wish, because there is no place to go except “over” and no logging truck in front of me that loses its load.  It’s a beautiful vista but a frightening journey. Every time. And that’s in a modern vehicle WITH brakes.

By 1778, we know that Mary and Raleigh were settled on the Holston River on Dodson Creek, where they would live for the rest of their lives.

holston river at dodson ford

They did not purchase land that was already cleared, but applied for land grants.  That meant of course, that Mary, Raleigh and all of the children helped fell trees, build a cabin and prepare the ground for at least a garden that first year. In the photo above, I’m standing on Raleigh and Mary’s land, peering out through the overgrowth at the Holston. It probably looked a lot the same then, except perhaps denser.

In the photo below, taken from across the Holston River on the north side, looking south, Raleigh’s land where he lived is located to the immediate right of the TVA plant smokestacks. Raleigh also owned the land where the TVA plant is located, but gave that land to his daughter Nellie and son-in-law, John Saunders.

mary-dodson-land-across-holston

The next photo is standing on the north side of the Holston, looking across onto Dodson land.

mary-dodson-holston

Raleigh patented land in Sullivan and then Hawkins County, at least 300 acres and purchased even more along beautiful Dodson Creek where it intersected with the Holston River.  While the county names varied on Raleigh’s land grants, it was the county lines that moved, not the people.  Raleigh and Mary settled on beautiful Dodson Creek, below, which still carries their name today.

mary-dodson-dodson-creek

Raleigh and Mary would have built a cabin when they arrived, much like the cabins of other pioneers in the area and set up housekeeping. Raleigh began his ferry business back and forth across the Holston, and farmed.

mary-dodson-michael-roark

Michael Roark was Raleigh’s neighbor on Dodson Creek.  This old photo of Michael’s cabin, built sometime after 1792, may have looked something like where Raleigh and Mary lived. Mary, I’m sure was quite familiar with Michael’s family and was probably close to Michael’s wife, Letitia Grigsby whose family also lived further up on Dodson Creek. They may have delivered each other’s children and assisted when ill.  Near neighbor women had to depend upon themselves because they had no one else on the frontier.

Raleigh Sr. was a successful surveyor, a ferryman operating ferrys across Dodson Ford on the Holston River, and worked as a stone turner in the local mill.  It goes without saying that Raleigh farmed, fished and hunted.  Everyone did, and Raleigh traded his corn, rye and wheat on account at the mill.  Two items he traded for were a hank of silk and calamanco, a glossy woolen cloth.

Mary’s life may have been much more robust on the frontier than it was back in Caswell County, at least after the Revolutionary War was over.  It appears that there was more money available and more opportunity.  However, all was not rosey, because as the war clouds loomed, so did the soldiers.

In October, 1780, the forces under Col. Arthur Campbell gathered at Dodson’s Ford before going downriver to the attack on the Overhill Cherokee towns of Chota, Talequah, Tallassee, and others.

This field lay between Dodson Ford on the Holston and the Dodson home. It’s likely where the soldiers camped, as it was flat and had access to water from Dodson Creek, behind the tree row. It would have been the perfect gathering point and muster ground.

dodson ford

Would the soldiers be successful?  What would the Cherokee do?  Dodson’s Ford was located on the old Warrior Path.  Would the Cherokee traverse the path, if they lost, killing every white person they could find?  And what about the Shawnee who were known to attack?  Would they take advantage of the situation, knowing the men in the settlement were absent?

Was Raleigh at home, or did he accompany Col. Campbell?  How about Mary’s son, Lazarus? Was Toliver old enough to go too, or did he stay home perhaps?  Mary had to be concerned when Lazarus was camped with the Indians in the winter of 1781/1782.  And why was Lazarus camped with the Cherokee before going “down to the Nation?”  The Revolutionary War was a time of great turmoil and anxiety on the frontier.

Raleigh and Lazarus both served from North Carolina in the Revolutionary War.  This part of Tennessee was still part of North Carolina at that time.  We know Raleigh was discharged in 1783, so he served from the Holston River, not from Caswell County.  Raleigh’s son, Lazarus served in the unit with him.  Both of their pay rosters were found in the North Carolina State archives.

Was Mary a patriot or a loyalist?  Patriots supported battling with the Indians and separating from England.  Obviously, the Patriots eventually won.  Loyalists supported remaining with England and supported the Indians, albeit mostly because the Indians were willing to fight the onslaught of settlers invading their lands.  Clearly Raleigh and Lazarus were Patriots, fighting for the cause. May be Mary just wanted the fighting and killing to stop, or maybe she felt strongly one way or the other.  Did Mary have a mind of her own or did she simply adopt Raleigh’s viewpoint as women of that time were expected to do?

Not long after that, in 1784, some of the residents in the part of North Carolina where Mary and Raleigh lived decided to form the rogue State of Franklin.

mary-dodson-state-of-franklin

By Iamvered – I, Iamvered, drew this map myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3868073

However, not everyone who lived there participated in the secession, nor agreed in practice or concept, so people living in that area in essence had two competing governments at the same time and no one really knew quite what to do. Emotions ran very high and assuredly, everyone had an opinion. Was there never to be peace?

In 1786, Raleigh, Lazarus and Toliver all three signed a petition for the formation of a new county to be taken from Sullivan. This new county was initially named Spencer County in the State of Franklin but would eventually become Hawkins County.  The verbiage in the petition provides a bit of perspective on the political climate, trials and tribulations faced by these hearty pioneers on the frontier.

        To the Honorable the General Assembly of N. Carolina —-

        We your petitioners, the inhabitants of Sullivan County, humbly sheweth that we have ever been disposed to have true allegiance to the Sate of N. Carolina being well attached to her government and revere her constitution, therefore we pray you to extend to us the benefits of civil law and continue us under your protection and relieve us from those intestine broiles that are aggitated among us by wicked and designing men, who are perverting your law and seducing your good citizens to withdraw their allegaiance from your government. As we view ourselves unequal to the task of supporting a separate government and are freely desirious of being continued under yours until such times that we may be separated with ease of convenience with your assistance and approbation. Should you at any time hereafter think it expedient to make a cession of any part of your vacant western territory for the payment of the National debt or other imports, agreeable to the requisitions of Congress, we pray you to continue your sovereignty and jurisdiction over us until such times that we may by our virtur, wisdom, experience, numbers and wealth inabled to conduct the affairs of government with credit and convenience to ourselves, to the honour of the parent state who gave their assent to our seperation, added strength to the union and gave ease to her people. We also pray you to take into consideration that indigeanes of our present circumstances and render to us every ease and indulgence that you in your wisdom and goodness may think consistent with the welfare and interest of your good citizens in general — and as sensitive measures have been used with those who have abused your powers and usurped your authority, we hope you will with the same spirit of uniminity consider the grievances of those who ever strove to support them — as our inclinations lead us to consult the welfare of our country and will enjoin us to defind our rights by a cheerful and stedy obedience to government and as the citizen depends on the wisdom and goodness of government.  We cannot doubt your prudence and leade to promote them. We also humbly conceive that when the precepts and powers of government are abused her Sovereignty and jurisdiction discarded, her public credit must sink and the private interest of the citizen can share no other fate, therefore that peace and tranquility may be restored, public credit and private interest revive.  We pray you to inforce your laws and exert the powers of government with a feeling sense of our sufferings. We supplicate you to whom the powers of government are given and beg your paternal interposition — and Whereas numbers among us look upon themselves to be considerabley injured by the precipitation and injurious proceedings of the Nominal Courts of the supposed State of Franklin. Many suits of law have commenced and judgment awarded against ___  _____. Seased and unlawfully sold to the greate prejudice of many your good citizens, we therefore pray you extricate us from every species of injustice there by devised against us as we have _____ of Society bound ourselves to the obedience of your laws. By them we expect to be protected in our rights. We also beg leniency, recommend to your mature consideration the vast extend of the County of Sullivan, which must undoubtedly render many inconveniences to the inhabitants thereof and for our eased convenience divide sd counties into two separate and distince counties as follows: (To Witt) Beginning where the boundery line between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of No Carolina crosses the North Fork of Holestons River, thence down Sd fork to its junction with Main Holeston, thence cross said River due South to the topp of dividing Ridge that divides the waters of French Broad River and Holeston River to French Broad River thence down Sd French Broad to its junction  with Holeston, thence down Holeston to its junction with the River Tinisee and thence down the same to the Such Whare Sd River runs through Cumberland Mountain, thence along the topp of the mountain to the afforesaid boundary line and thence along the same to the begn and

    We your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray —- <followed by list of signatures>

However, the war and political turmoil wasn’t the only challenge facing Mary.

It also appears from the Amis Store account books that Raleigh bought a lot, LOT of whiskey between 1782 and 1790.  Mary might have had a husband with a drinking problem.  If he had a drinking problem from 1782 to 1790, he likely had the same love of whiskey his entire adult life.  Perhaps this explains why we find no church records.

It’s also possible that Raleigh bought whiskey to resell to his ferry clients.

Raleigh seems to have still been actively engaged in his ferry business in September of 1792 and expected to remain so.  Published in the Knoxville Gazette, which was published in Rogersville in its early years, I found an ad for R. Dodson, dated Sept. 8, 1792 stating:

The public are hereby informed that there is a FLAT kept at Dodson’s Ford on Holston where constant attendance will be given to convey passengers across the river.  R. Dodson, Sept. 6, 1792

mary-dodson-dodson-ford

These two pilings from the old bridge crossed the Holston River either at or near the same location as Dodson Ford.

mary-dodson-dodson-ford-road

This is the closest location to the River of Dodson Ford Road on the south side of the Holston.  You can see the piling part way across the river and the landing on the north side.  The wires follow the same right of way.

Sometime between September of 1792 and July of 1793, it became clear to Raleigh that his days were numbered, and it would have been clear to Mary too.  Raleigh at 63 wasn’t old by today’s standards, but well beyond the average life expectancy of 37 at that time. Mary would have sensed that her life was about to change in unknown ways, and probably not for the better.  Widowed women often became dependent on their family for everything since they generally did not have the ability to farm for themselves and often owned nothing of their own.

Source: Hawkins County Wills:_ Page 145

In the Name of God, Amen. I, Rawleigh Dodson Sr. being in an infirm state of health but of sound mind and considering that I may shortly leave this life, I have thought it necessary to make this my last Will & Testament, revoking all former wills by me made, and in the first place I resign myself to the disposal of my Creator hoping for mercy & forgiveness. In respect of my Earthly affairs, To my wife I leave and bequeath my whole Estate real & personal to her use during her natural life, after which I leave to my son Rawleigh Dodson the plantation on which I now live with all the appurtenances, also one other piece of land joining, butted and bounded as appears by the patent in my name, also all my working tools, horses, except a motherless colt, three cows with their calves, one feather bed with the furniture, half the pewter, and one half pot mettal, also what hay I may have remaining. To my grandchildren Mary and Nancy Shelton, the remainder of my cattle equally divided, also the remainder of the pewter and pot mettal to be equally divided between them, and to Mary Shelton one bed and furniture, also the motherless colt, one cotton and one linen wheel and half the cards, the other wheel & cards to Nancy. There is a bond due me of fifteen pounds from Henry Rowan to be collected and my debts paid out of it. Peggey Manafee my eldest daughter having by her husband obtained credit for sixty pounds for which I have his note, I hereby direct my Executor to give up said note. My sons Lazarus and Tolliver I have done a Fatherly part by and hereby acquit them of all demands that I may have against them. My daughter Nelly the wife of John Saunders I consider I have done enough for, having given her husband the land he now lives on. My son James to whom I have (already) given several things, I now bequeath my claim on Thos. Jackson for share of some land to be obtained by a warrant by me given to said Jackson to be laid on the halves provided said warrant obtains a title for land. Warrant was for 300 acres. I also appoint my son Lazarus and my neighbor Rodham Kenner my Executors and do authorize and direct them to put this my said Will & Testament into effect. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal This 20th day of July A.D. 1793._Rawleigh x Dodson (seal) (his mark) _Test. Thos. Jackson Rodham Kenner Mary x Shelton (her mark)

Raleigh wrote his will on July 20, 1793 leaving his land to his son, Raleigh Jr.  The date of probate is not known, but indications are that he was still alive in Nov. 1794 when he and his son James sold tracts of 40 and 110 acres to Robert Brown (Hawkins deeds 2-328 and 2-329).  This land may have involved the joint patent with Thomas Jackson referred to in Raleigh Dodson’s will, which land he left to his son James.

Raleigh left everything to his wife in a life estate, which meant she couldn’t sell it, but she could use it for income for the balance of her life, and after that, the life estate went to whomever Raleigh left it to.  Raleigh did not name Mary by name in the will, but an 1806 deed provides that information.

By the time Raleigh wrote his will in 1793, we know for sure that one adult daughter who had married a Shelton had already died, probably several years previously.

Between the time Raleigh wrote his will and 1795, another daughter, Peggy, who was married to James Menasco died as well, leaving two children.

Mary endured a lot of grief in a short time.  You expect that you may one day lose your spouse, but you never expect to lose your children, especially not adult children.  Granted, at that time, death associated with childbirth claimed many women, but losing a husband and an adult daughter within a few months of each other is a heavy burden.

Mary would have been about 63 or so at this time, no spring chicken herself.  I’m sure that any of Mary’s children could have taken daughter Peggy Dodson Menasco’s two children to raise, but I have to wonder if Mary raised them?  That might have been considered a good fit, given that their father moved to Georgia and Raleigh had died. It’s unclear whether the children went with James or not.  If so, that would have been additional grief in 1795 for Mary.  She would clearly have known that she would likely never see those children again, watching, waving and sobbing as the wagon disappeared into the distance, headed south.

Raleigh Dodson Jr., sold his father’s patent land to James Breeden on January 29, 1806 and we find the following as well:

‘I, Mary Dodson, widow and relict of Raleigh Dodson, decd, relinquish and quit claim my right, title and interest to this land.”  (Hawkins deed 4-154)

I believe this is the last record we have of Mary Dodson.  She would have been about 76 years old in 1806.  Given Mary’s age, she would have had no choice except to quitclaim the land if Raleigh Jr. wanted to sell?  How would she have lived, farmed and supported herself without Raleigh Jr.? After that, we don’t know if Mary and Raleigh Jr. simply continued to live there, if they moved, or if Mary lived with a different child after Raleigh sold the land.

Raleigh sells additional land in December 1808 without Mary’s quitclaim, which could have been after Mary died and he was preparing to leave the area. The 1810 census does not exist for Tennessee and 1820 does not exist for Hawkins County.

Giles County, Tennessee, Court records show that a Mary Dodson, widow, was appointed administrator of the estate of Raleigh Dodson on September 7, 1815.

It has been speculated that the widow, Mary Dodson, from Hawkins County, may have gone with her son Raleigh Jr. to Alabama and then to Giles and Williamson Counties, TN.  Jackson County, Alabama was not a destination location until the Cherokee there ceded their land in 1819. The Cherokee did, however, cede land in Giles County in 1806.

There is one Rolla Dotson on the list of Intruders on Choctaw land in Giles County in 1809 and Raleigh Dodson is shown on the Giles County tax list in 1812. I am doubtful that the Mary in Giles County in 1815, widow, appointed as administrator of the estate of Raleigh Dodson, is the wife of Raleigh who died circa 1793/1794 in Hawkins County. Mary would have been about 85 years old in 1815, and if she were still living, it’s difficult to believe a court would appoint an 85 year old women as administrator of any estate. I believe these two families have been conflated because of similar names.  It is certainly possible that the Raleigh in Giles County was Mary’s son.

I suspect that Mary Dodson, wife of Hawkins County Raleigh Dodson, is buried right beside Raleigh, probably in the Saunders Cemetery on what was then called Dodson Ford Road, overlooking the Holston River where Mary spent the last 30 years of her life. I don’t think she would have wanted to be buried anyplace else.

raleigh-sanders-cem-2

Raleigh and Mary’s Children

Raleigh and Mary had several children, and were it not for Raleigh’s will, we’d have to do a lot of speculating.  Children as named in Raleigh’s will:

  • Grandchildren Mary and Nancy Shelton
  • Rawleigh Dodson Jr
  • Peggy Manafee (Margaret Dodson Manasco)
  • Lazarus Dodson
  • Toliver (Oliver) Dodson
  • Nelly, wife of John Saunders
  • James Dodson

Elisha, shown below, is not mentioned in Raleigh’s will.  This means that if Elisha is Raleigh’s son, Raleigh would have already taken care of Elisha’s inheritance and that Elisha did not own Raleigh any debts, or at least none that he mentioned or forgave.

  • Elisha Dodson (speculative)

Daughter Dodson (Shelton) – In Raleigh Dodson’s 1793 will, he makes bequests to his grandchildren Mary and Nancy Shelton, but no further information is given. Mary Shelton witnesses Raleigh’s will.  If Mary was of age when she witnessed the will, and her mother was 20 when she was born, that would put Raleigh’s daughter’s birth 41 years earlier, minimally, or 1752 or earlier.  There is no Shelton listed on the 1786 petition to form Hawkins County (although some names are illegible) and there is no Shelton on the Amis Store accounts beginning in 1782. This would suggest that Mary and Raleigh raised these girls, because Mary Shelton clearly had to be in close physical proximity to witness Raleigh’s will – likely tearfully standing beside her grandfather’s bedside as he slowly wrote the words with a quill pen that she would then witness that she had seen him write. 

The Dodson family has many interactions with the Shelton family in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Raleigh Dodson Jr. received in Raleigh’s will the plantation (after Mary’s death) on which Raleigh Sr. lived along with another abutting piece of land and other livestock and household goods.

Raleigh Jr. was born about 1756 in Virginia and Silas Lucas believes he died June 3, 1836 in Williamson Co., TN.  The Raleigh in Williamson County wrote his will Nov 26, 1828 and it was probated in October 1836.  He married as her second husband Margaret Peggy Dodson, daughter of Elisha Dodson and widow of Fortunatus Dodson.

Reverend Lucas tells us that Raleigh Jr. is on the tax lists of Pittsylvania Co., VA. which begins in 1782.  He purchased a tract of land there on April 16, 1798 from David Dodson.  Raleigh and wife, Peggy, sold this tract on April 15, 1806 which is about the time they permanently left VA.  I am not convinced that the Raleigh married to Peggy is the same individual as Raleigh’s son, Raleigh, whose wife’s name in the Hawkins County deeds is referenced as Sarah.

The biggest fly in that ointment is the fact that Raleigh Dodson, on January 29th, 1806 sold to James Breeden land in Hawkins County which was proven by Raleigh in February 1806 in Court.  In February 1806, Raleigh, “of Hawkins County” bought land as well.  It’s very unlikely that he and his wife returned to Pittsylvania County to sell his land in April of 1806. He would have sold it before he left because the journey over the mountains in a wagon was treacherous enough once. If he had not sold his land before he left, he would have appointed a power of attorney to sell his land.

Some researchers believe that Raleigh left Hawkins County after selling his father’s land in 1806 and wound up in Giles County, Tennessee, where he is on the list of Intruders on Choctaw land in 1809, on the tax list in 1812 and where one Mary Dodson, widow, was appointed administrator of the estate of Raleigh Dodson in September of 1815.

However, Raleigh sells additional land in Hawkins County in both November and December 1808, and there is a Raleigh Dodson on the Hawkins County 1809 tax list.

We don’t know what happens to Mary’s son, Raleigh Dodson.  It’s possible that he was the Raleigh who died in 1815 in Giles County or in 1836 in Williamson County, or perhaps he is simply unaccounted for.  There are no later records for him in Hawkins County after he sells his land.

Peggy, short for Margaret, was born before 1759 and apparently died sometime between when Raleigh wrote his will in 1793 and in 1795 when James Menasco sold his plantation and moved to Augusta, Georgia.  James remarried and died in 1803 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, leaving a will that mentioned his two children from Margarita Dotson as Juan, age 23 and Elinda, age 20.  John, born about 1779, settled in Giles County, Tennessee and was living there in 1809 as an intruder on Cherokee land.  Elinda may also have remained in Tennessee and eventually married.   

Lazarus Dodson, my ancestor, was born about 1760 in Virginia, married Jane and lived beside his father on Dodson Creek and the Holston River until after Raleigh passed away.  In 1797, Lazarus moved a few miles south, near Bull’s Gap, and by 1800, was living in Claiborne County, just beneath the Cumberland Gap.  He apparently went to Alabama in 1819 or 1820.  His children are referenced in deeds in McMinn County in 1826, Lazarus being noted as deceased.  You can read Lazarus’s story here.

Oliver (Toliver) Dodson settled in Anderson County, TN after selling his land in Hawkins County, from Anderson County, in 1805.  He was alive in 1806, but deceased by Oct. 16, 1819 when his brother Lazarus conveys land to his 5 children.

Oct. 16, 1819 – Lazarous Dodson of Claiborne Co. to William Dodson, Moses Stout, Willie Mullins, Henry Guttry, and Prudence Dodson, all of Anderson Co., for $1, 100 acres in Anderson Co. on Cane Creek by entry made by Lazarous Dodson, certificate #31 on Jan. 22, 1812, including the improvements where Oliver Dodson formerly lived.  Wit Elijah Jones, Jesse Dodson, John Cooper, John Lewalen. Proved Jan. session 1820.

The date of Tolliver’s birth is not known, but he would have been born prior to 1765 given that he was of age to sign the 1786 Hawkins County petition.  If he is by chance the “Schier Dodson son of Roby Dodson taken into the care of the Broad Creek church, then he was born before 1763, possibly in Fauquier Co., Va.  His name eventually evolved to Oliver by which he was known in adulthood.  Oliver died by 1819, probably in Anderson Co., TN.  The name of his wife is unknown.

On April 16, 1784 Tolapher Dotson entered for 5000 acres of Elk River for which a warrant was issued on Feb. 19, 1787.  He assigned the warrant to David Ross.

This transactions puts Oliver’s birth in 1763 or earlier.

Oliver first lived on Honeycutt’s Creek on the south side of Holston River in Hawkins County on a tract of land given him by Raleigh.  He sold this land in 1805 after he had moved to Anderson County. (Hawkins deed 4-135).  He purchased land in 1803, 265 acres in Anderson County from John Rhea and John Adair (Anderson deed A-61).  In 1806 he was on the tax list of Anderson County and was appointed to a road jury in the same year.  In 1819, Lazarus Dodson of Claiborne Co., assigned to the “heirs of Oliver Dodson” a tract in Anderson Co. which had been patented by Lazarus, but on which Oliver Dodson formerly lived.  Anderson deed E-135.  This Lazarus is not the father of Oliver, because Lazarus’s son, Oliver, was born in 1794 and died in 1875 in McMinn County.

The names of Oliver’s children have been gleaned from the deed records of Anderson Co., TN.

It would be presumed from this list of grantees that Oliver’s daughters were married to Willie Mulllins, Henry Guttry and Moses Stout.  We know little about Oliver’s four daughters.

  • Margaret Dodson married April 24, 1813 in Knox Co. TN to Moses Stout
  • Prudence Dodson evidently never married and was living in Calloway County, Kentucky in 1819
  • Daughter Dodson married Henry Guttry (Guthry, Guthrie) who lived in Claiborne Co. TN at one time
  • Daughter Dodson married Wylie or Willie Mullins

Oliver’s son, William Dodson, was born June 10, 1793 in Hawkins Co., TN and died May 11 or 12, 1872 in Jackson Co., Alabama, from tombstone and newspaper accounts of his death.  William and wife Mary are both buried in the Dodson Cemetery located at Lim Rock, Alabama.

mary-dodson-dodson-cemetery

William Dodson and his sisters inherited 100 acres in Anderson Co., TN located on Cane Creek near the town of Clinton from their father, Toliver.  In 1822, William deeded his one fifth share to Michael Spesart.  At the time, William Dodson was a resident of Decatur Co., AL, which is now an extinct county, existing only between Dec. 1821 and Dec. 1825.  William Dodson served as a justice of the peace in Decatur County being appointed Sept 7, 1824.  Earlier he had held this post in Jackson County being commissioned on Aug 4, 1820.  The 1830 census of Jackson County indicates that William and Mary Dodson had 1 son born 1810-1815 and 3 daughters born between 1820-1825 and 1 born between 1815-1820.

When land became available for patenting in Jackson County, William was granted several tracts between 1831 and 1837.  His land lay in Township 4 south range 4 east.  He also purchased land in 1831 from Woody Shelton and wife Sarah Shelton.  The town of Dodsonville, no longer in existence, was named for him.

Eleanor (Nelly) Dodson married John Isaac Saunders/Sanders and was probably born prior to 1768.  They lived on Dodson’s Creek on land given them by Raleigh in deeds 2-80 and 6-139.

mary-dodson-sanders-land

This land stretches from the mouth of Dodson Creek in the upper left hand corner of this satellite image today, including the land on the right of the creek.  This encompasses everything from the Holston River across the yellow areas which includes the original Sanders homestead on Sanders Road, up Dru Haynes Road to include the farm in the lower right hand corner, still owned by Raleigh’s and Nellie’s descendant today.

dsc05841

Silas Lucas reports that John Sanders was a Revolutionary War soldier, although I have been unable to confirm his service.  It’s possible John may have served with Lazarus and Raleigh, and if so, finding his records could be very enlightening.  Nellie and John had 3 known children.

  1. George Nathan Saunders born April 20, 1788, died January 1873 and married on April 7, 1805 in Hawkins County to Mary Grantham
  2. James Saunders died in childhood
  3. Tabitha Saunders married a Mr. Chestnut

The dates of Nelly’s son’s birth puts Nelly’s birth at 1768 or earlier.  I don’t know where Nelly met or married John Isaac Saunders, but there are many Saunders found in both Orange and Caswell County, NC.  We don’t know when Nelly died, but she may not have lived long after Raleigh’s death if she only had 3 children.

If this is the case, then Mary suffered yet another loss in the same time span.

It’s likely that Nellie and John are both buried in the Sanders Cemetery on the old Dodson Ford Road as well.

raleigh-sanders-cem

James Dodson was apparently one of the younger sons of Raleigh, though little is known of him.  He was apparently born before 1772 because Raleigh does not mention that he is a minor when he wrote his will in 1793.  Silas Lucas indicated that James appears to have been living in Hawkins County for a number of years and suggests that he left after 1830.  I find nothing referencing James between 1797 and the late 1820s when an entirely new generation of Dodson men were becoming established.

The land referenced in Raleigh’s will to be inherited by James was on Dodson’s Creek, the sales taking place in 1790 and 1794.  The 1799 tax list of Grainger County has a James Dodson taxed for 640 acres in Capt. David Shelton’s district.

Reverend Lucas provides information about possible James Dodsons in nearby counties, but Mary’s son James cannot be positively identified and there is nothing known about his descendants.

Elisha Dodson

There is no Elisha Dodson mentioned in Raleigh’s will, but Elisha appears very early in Hawkins County, owning land adjacent both Lazarus and Raleigh and having an account at the Amis store by 1783, meaning if he is Raleigh and Mary’s son, he would have been one of the older children, born in 1762 or earlier.  Elisha would be too old to be the son of either Lazarus or Toliver.  There is no evidence to prove that Elisha is Raleigh’s son, but given that he arrives concurrently with Raleigh and his sons and lives in the family grouping, this possibility needs to be considered.  If Elisha is not the son of Raleigh and Mary, who is he?

The Silent Babies

The children documented above are the children who lived until either 1793 or were mentioned in Raleigh’s will.  These children were born between approximately 1752 and 1772, over a period of roughly 20 years.  If Mary was born about 1730, or so, they would have bracketed the time from her marriage to the end of her child-bearing years.  However, this leaves several slots in the family vacant, which means those babies were born in the following locations and died sometime before adulthood or 1793 when Raleigh wrote his will, whichever came first.

1754 – Probably North Farnham Parish

1764 – Possibly Fauquier County, Virginia

1766 – Probably Halifax County, Virginia

1770 –Country Line Creek in Caswell County, NC

There could have been additional children.  Mary buried at least 4 children who never reached adulthood, if not more. In addition, Mary buried her Shelton daughter, daughter Peggy and possibly, daughter Nellie.

Hawkins County Stragglers and Confusers

In 1838, Raleigh Dodson is mentioned in the chancery court records of Hawkins County as a Deputy Sheriff in a suit between George W. Brown and others vs Margaret Surguine and others. Jack Goins, the Hawkins County archivist found this and graciously sent it my way.  It motivated me to see if this later Raleigh is a descendant of Mary and Raleigh Dodson who settled on Dodson Creek.

In this case, in 1838, Judge Williams fined a group for contempt of court for objecting to the Judge’s decision by taking land from a widow. Margaret Surgoine, widow of James Surgoine founder of the town of Surgoinsville, Tn.

It is ordered by the court that Raleigh Dodson the deputy sheriff of this county in attendance on the court be fined $2.50 for a contempt of this court in not keeping silence in the court room and that execution issue therefore.

Ordered by the court that Thomas Whiteside, John Easley, William M. Cocke, and Archibald Greene be each fined in the sum of $2.50 for a contempt of the court and that execution issue for the same.

This doesn’t seem to have hurt Raleigh’s career, because in 1850, Raleigh, age 46, is deposed and said that he levied an execution of a negro girl of Ellis Riggs to satisfy a Judgement in favor of Cisby Austin. He was still clearly acting in the capacity of a sheriff.

This Raleigh seems to be an interesting character.

In 1834, Raleigh receives a trust deed from Valentine Wolf for land on Clinch Mountain that included a grist mill and two stills and tubs belonging to the distillery.

And one last Raleigh entry, just to confuse things. In 1843 Raleigh sells land to a William Williams, but in the sale of the land, on which Raleigh lives, we see that Raleigh’s neighbors are Mastin Moore and various Stubblefield’s, which tells me this land was near the Hawkins/Grainger County line.  Mastin is the brother of my ancestor Nancy Moore who was married to John R. Estes and living in Claiborne County at the time. The Stubblefield family traveled with the Moore line and married in, although downstream of my ancestor.

So, just who is this Deputy Sheriff Raleigh?  Let’s see what we can determine by process of elimination.

We know that two of Mary and Raleigh’s sons moved away, Lazarus and Oliver, and through their estates, we have a list of their children.  Son Raleigh certainly appears to have moved away about 1809. The fourth and youngest son, James, is found in the records in 1797 selling land, but not afterwards, suggesting that he too probably left.

Mary and Raleigh Sr.’s son, Raleigh Jr. disappears from Hawkins County records not long after 1808 when he sells his father’s land, although there is a Raleigh Dodson on the 1809 tax list.

The name Raleigh does not reappear in Hawkins County until 1810 in Thomas Dodson’s will as an underage child, and then in 1827 when Willis Amis sells Raleigh Dodson land. The 1827 Raleigh is the son of Thomas Dodson based on a deed in 1829 where 4 people, including Raleigh and his mother Jamima and brothers Elisha and James sell land purchased by Thomas Dodson on Cedar Creek.

No later than 1792, there is a Thomas Dodson in Hawkins County who owns land at the same time Raleigh Sr. does. Thomas lived on the north side of the Holston River at the mouth of Blair’s Branch. In 1798 Thomas also bought land called “James King’s improvement” lying opposite the mouth of Tate Creek. In 1800, Thomas bought land on the waters of Cedar Creek.

Thomas is likely Raleigh Sr.’s brother or his first cousin. In Thomas’s undated will (Lucas indicates this was before 1810) he lists wife Jamina, children James, Sarah, Elisha and youngest son Rolly.  Also mentions that if “Thomas Robinson and John Robinson lives with his wife Jamima and behaves orderly and well” they are to have a horse and saddle when they arrive at age of 21.  Executors Jamina Dodson, James Johnson and Samuel Riggs.  Witnesses James Dodson, Richard Hellson (Hittson?) and Richard Robertson (Will book 1- page 149)

In 1810, William Dodson, son of Thomas, dies, apparently with assets and without heirs.  William’s father, Thomas, winds up with William’s estate. Thomas who has already “relinquished all my own personal estate to my children” distributes William’s assets among his children, listing his heirs as William Johnson, James Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Jesse Dodson, Samuel Dodson, Rhoda Hitson, Thomas Dodson’s descendants – except for one lot in Pulaski County, KY.  Proved in Court November 1811 (Deed book 6-475)

This suggests there are two separate Thomas Dodsons that are elderly or infirm at the same time in Hawkins County – one who made a will and one who did not and distributed his son, William’s assets through the deed. These men and these lands were all north of the Holston.

This leaves 2 unidentified Dodson men functioning in the Dodson Creek group, owning land on Dodson Creek.

There is a John Dodson by 1801 that is an adult and is functioning in the group on Dodson Creek south of the Holston, buying and selling land. He is likely the son of Elisha because we know he isn’t the son of Lazarus or Oliver and he is too young to be the son of James. He could also be the son of Raleigh Jr. He dies in 1838 owning land on Dodson Creek as indicated in his will. (Will book 1- page 152)

There is also a William Dodson functioning in 1797 in the Dodson Creek group. He has to belong to either Elisha or Raleigh Jr.  If Raleigh Jr. was born in 1756, he could have married by 1776, and could have had a son, barely of age, in 1797.  If Mary and Raleigh Sr.’s son is the Raleigh that died in 1836 in Williamson County, his only sons named in his will are Bird and Presley. If Reverend Lucas is right and Raleigh Jr. left Pittsylvania County in 1806, then neither John nor William can be his sons and that only leaves Elisha Dodson as their possible father. Unfortunately, we have absolutely no idea what happened to Elisha other than his property lines are still referenced in the 1806 deed.

One last land grant proves quite interesting.  In 1834 the State of Tennessee granted to Elisha Dodson land on the north side of the Holston, adjoining James Johnson and others, beginning on the north bank of the river below Dodson’s Ferry landing.  This tells us two things.  First, Elisha’s land abuts the land of James Johnson, mentioned in the will of Thomas Dodson as probably his grandson.  So this tells us that Thomas Dodson’s land was not far from Raleigh Dodson on the other side of the Holston River.  A generation later, Elisha, Thomas’s son, is patenting familiar land, directly across the River from Raleigh’s original land half a century earlier.

From all of this, we gather than the deputy sheriff Raleigh is the son of Thomas, who is probably the nephew of our Raleigh Sr.  So Deputy Sheriff Raleigh is not a descendant of Raleigh Sr., but likely his great-nephew, named for him in 1804, 10 years after Raleigh Sr.’s death.

DNA

All of Mary’s children would have received her mitochondrial DNA, inherited from her mother, but only her daughters would have passed it on.

Men don’t pass their mother’s mitochondrial DNA on to the next generation.  Only females do.

Mary only had three daughters, Nellie, Peggy and the daughter who married the Shelton.

Nellie’s only known daughter, Tabitha, married a Chestnut.  Hawkins County deeds might reveal his name if Chestnut deeds were read individually.  In 1850, there is a Tabitha Chestnut, age 67, married to Henry Chestnut living in Monroe County, Tennessee.  We don’t know if this is the correct Tabitha Chestnut, or not.

Mary’s daughter that married the Shelton had two daughters, Mary and Nancy.  Unfortunately, we don’t know any more about Mary or Nancy either.

Mary’s last daughter, Peggy, who married James Menasco, had one daughter, Elinda, born about 1782.

We’re striking out here, because nothing is known of Elinda either.

Hopefully, in time, descendants of these daughters, through all females to the current generation which can be male, will appear.

At this point, mitochondrial DNA is our only hope for finding a match and possibly, Mary’s family.  I know it’s a long shot, but it’s all we have, short of that miracle Bible on e-Bay or undiscovered records in some courthouse basement.

Summary

When I think of Mary, I think of her raising children, burying some, working in the fields with Raleigh and being a hostess to weary travelers who needed rest.  Her life must have been difficult on Country Line Creek, and it makes me wonder why they bought that land instead of land in Pittsylvania or Halifax County, VA where the rest of the Dodson clan settled.

The combination of a small plot of land, rough terrain and the Revolutionary War may have made Mary glad to leave – although the frontier must have been frightening in a different sort of way.

I know that Mary made her own fabric, because Raleigh’s will left both a cotton and linen wheel to Mary Shelton, his granddaughter, clearly named for Mary, along with half the cards, and the other wheel and the other half the cards to the other granddaughter, Nancy Shelton.  I don’t know, but I strongly suspect that Mary raised these girls after their mother’s death and they learned spinning from Mary.

When a man died at that time, all of the property, except for the wife’s clothes, were considered his – so he would have bequeathed Mary’s items when he died.  Mary owned nothing in her own right.  Obviously spinning wheels and cards were considered valuable.

Pioneer women didn’t just make their clothes, they carded the wool, cotton or flax, spun it into thread, died it and wove it into cloth, then made clothes for the entire family. Contemporary cards are shown below.

mary-dodson-cards

The carding process disentangles, cleans and intermixes the fibers to produce a rolag or tuft of fiber suitable for the next step, which is spinning, shown with the cards, above. Personally, I think this looks a lot like what I get when I brush the cats and dogs, and I think I’ve missed a golden opportunity now for decades.

mary-dodson-spinning-wheel

By Detroit Publishing Co. – Library of Congress REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LLC-DIG-ppmsc-09892, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3510030

This woman at her spinning wheel may have looked something like Mary Dodson as she spun.

mary-dodson-contemporary-spinner

A modern spinner spinning thread from rolag.  You can see the cards on the table

Mary probably spun and wove since she was a child at her mother’s knee, and was surely quite proficient.  If you weren’t, your children went naked!  Mary’s cherished spinning wheel was probably one of the few things that she brought in the very limited space of the wagon when she and Raleigh made the trip from Caswell County to the Holston River.

Every inch of cloth was valuable and absolutely nothing was wasted.  After the clothes became worn, they were either remade into something for a smaller person, or the salvageable pieces were recycled into a quilt – along with scraps leftover from making the clothes.

In March of 1787, Raleigh brought Mary a surprise, or at least I’m assuming it was a surprise.  A hank of silk.  I’m amazed that the Amis Store even had silk, but they did because Raleigh bought that, along with his typical whiskey.  Maybe these two purchases are related.

mary-dodson-silk-hank

A hank isn’t very much silk, as demonstrated above, but I’m sure, absolutely positive that Mary was thrilled.  This may have been the first silk she ever touched.  Were her hands rough from work and snaggedon the threads?  Did she work the silk into a woven design of some sort?  What did she make? Oh, how I’d love to know!

Did Mary order this from the store, or did Raleigh bring it home as a loving surprise, maybe for her birthday?  Had Mary suffered a loss and Raleigh was trying to offer comfort?  Or, was Raleigh in a heap o’ trouble and brought this home as a peace offering.

The only other similar item was just over a year later when Raleigh bought 3 yards of calamanco, a thin glossy woolen fabric.  Some calamanco had stripes, but other types were solid colors and was used in quilting.  This fabric was often died vivid red or blue.  I couldn’t find a copyright free image to include, but you can see examples here.

Mary would have been about 57 years old.  Was she having trouble weaving, or was this perhaps a lovely gift for the pioneer woman, a touch of luxury on Dodson Creek?

I can see Mary lovingly smoothing the beautiful red or blue calamanco as she spread it out in the sunshine to decide how she was going to use the luscious fabric, probably with granddaughters Mary and Nancy excitedly looking on.  I can see Mary weaving the soft, shiny silk into some beautiful heirloom, perhaps for those granddaughters.

I will leave Mary here, on a lovely day on the Holston River alongside bubbling Dodson Creek, in the sunshine with her granddaughters and her calamanco, joyfully planning something lovely together.  This is how I want to remember Mary.

Acknowledgements

Much of the information about the early Dodson lines, including Raleigh and Elizabeth’s children, comes from the wonderful two volume set written by the Reverend Silas Lucas, published originally in 1988, titled The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia – A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants.

I am extremely grateful to Reverend Lucas for the thousands of hours and years he spent compiling not just genealogical information, but searching through county records in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and more.  His work from his first publication in 1958 to his two-volume set 30 years later in 1988 stands as a model of what can and should be done for each colonial family – especially given that they were known to move from state to state without leaving any type of “forwarding address” for genealogists seeking them a few hundred years later.  Without his books, Dodson researchers would be greatly hindered, if not entirely lost, today.

Jane Dodson (c1760-1830/1840), Pioneer Wife on 5 Frontiers, 52 Ancestors #142

Jane Dodson was the wife of Lazarus Dodson who was born in about 1760 and probably died in either McMinn County or Claiborne County, Tennessee in about 1826. However, were it not for the 1861 death record of Lazarus and Jane’s son, Lazarus Dodson (Jr.), we would never have known Jane’s name.

Lazarus Jr. died in Pulaski County, Kentucky on October 5, 1861, just before fighting began there in the Civil War. Fortunately, for us, he has a death record and that record tells us that he was born in 1795 and that the names of his parents were Lazarus Dodson and Jane.

dodson-lazarus-1861-death

dodson-lazarus-1861-death-2

This is the only extant record of Lazarus’s mother’s name. Granted, there is no surname, but I’m just grateful for the tidbit we do have. How I do wish though that someone had thought to record her maiden name, because it’s unlikely at this point that we will ever know.

Getting to Know Jane Through Lazarus

What do we know about Jane? Most of what we know about Jane’s life is through Lazarus’s records – not an uncommon circumstance for a frontier wife.

The first positive ID of Lazarus Dodson Sr., Jane’s husband, was when he was recorded as having camped at the headwaters of Richland Creek (in present day Grainger County, TN) in the winter 1781/1782. Lazarus would have been approximately 22 years of age at this time, or possibly slightly older.

From the book Tennessee Land Entries, John Armstrong’s Office:

Page 105, grant 1262 – Dec. 4, 1783 – James Lea enters 317 acres on the North side of the Holston below the mouth of Richland Ck at a “certain place where Francis Maberry, Major John Reid, and Lazarus Dodson camped with the Indians at they was going down to the Nation last winter and opposite the camp on the other side of the river, border, begins at upper end of the bottom and runs down, warrant issued June 7, 1784, grant to Isaac Taylor.

The “Nation” referred to is the Cherokee Nation.

It has long been suspected that the Dodson and Lea families were intermarried or somehow interrelated, and it’s certainly possible that Lazarus’s wife, Jane, was a Lea. I almost hate to mention that possibility, because I don’t want to start any unsubstantiated rumors.

On the other hand, if an unattached Jane Lea were to be documented, of the right age, in the right place, she would have to be considered as a candidate. Keep in mind that we don’t know who Lazarus’s mother was either, so these families could have been intermarried before Lazarus came onto the scene.

It’s also possible that the only connection between the two families was that they were neighbors for more than a decade on the rough shores of Country Line Creek in Caswell County, North Carolina, before moving to untamed waters of the Holston River in what would become eastern Tennessee. Country Line Creek was described by the 1860 census taker almost a hundred years after Raleigh and Lazarus lived there as the roughest area in Caswell County. The area called Leasburg, in fact, was designated at the first county seat in in Caswell County in 1777, although it was a few miles distant from Country Line Creek.

The James Lea (1706-1792) family lived on Country Line Creek in Caswell County, NC, as did Raleigh Dodson, Lazarus’s father. This James Lea, according to his will, did not have a son James, nor a daughter, Jane – so it wasn’t his son who patented the land at the mouth of Richland Creek.

Due to the land entries, we know that both Lazarus and members of the Lea family were present in what would become Hawkins County at least by 1783, and probably earlier.

We don’t know exactly when Lazarus arrived in what was then Sullivan County, NC, but we do know that in 1777, men named Lazarus and Rolly Dodson are recorded as having given oaths of allegiance in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, bordering Caswell County, NC, an area where they were known to have lived, based on multiple records including their Revolutionary War service records. It’s unclear whether this pair is our Raleigh and Lazarus, but the fact that those two names appeared together is highly suggestive that they might be. However, they were not the only Raleigh and Lazarus males in the Dodson family or in this region.

If indeed this is our Lazarus, he was likely of age at that time, so he could have been born before 1760. This suggests that Lazarus was likely married not long after 1777.

Therefore, it’s likely that Raleigh along with Lazarus moved from the Halifax/Pittsylvania Virginia border with Caswell County, North Carolina to what was then Sullivan County, Tennessee sometime after July 1778 when Raleigh sold his land and before May of 1779 when Raleigh’s first tract was granted in what would become Hawkins County, Tennessee.

We know that Lazarus was clearly there by the winter of 1781/1782 and probably by spring of 1779 when his father first appears in the written records.

Sometime in the fall or winter of 1778, Raleigh and Lazarus, and Jane if she were married to Lazarus, would have navigated the old wagon roads from Caswell County to near Rogersville, Tennessee. Was Jane frightened, or excited? Was she pregnant? Did she have any idea what to expect? Was this, perchance, her honeymoon? If so, she probably didn’t care where she went, so long as it was with Lazarus. I remember those days of lovestruck early marriage. The words “to the moon and back” are in love songs for a reason!

The earliest record where we find Raleigh Dodson in what would become Hawkins County, TN is in a land warrant dated October 24,1779 which is a tract for Rowley Dotson for 150 acres joining another tract “where said Dotson lives,” that warrant being issued on May 21, 1779.

By 1780, the Revolutionary War had come to eastern North Carolina.

In October, 1780, the forces under Col. Arthur Campbell gathered at Dodson’s Ford before going downriver to the attack on the Overhill Cherokee towns of Chota, Talequah, Tallassee, and others.

Jane and Lazarus lived at Dodson Ford, and this would probably have been quite frightening for Jane. Could she see the soldiers from her cabin? Did she hear the talk about the expedition? Did Lazarus go along?  Colonel Arthur Campbell brought 200 additional men to the Battle of King’s Mountain, also fought in October of 1780.  Was Lazarus among those men too?  Unfortunately, there is no definitive roster for the Battle of King’s Mountain, only information gathered from here and there.

We know that both Lazarus and his father, Raleigh, served during the Revolutionary War, being discharged in August of 1783 in what was then western North Carolina. Both of their service records provide that information. We don’t know how long they served, but most men served in local militia units routinely.

We also know that in the winter of 1781/1782, Lazarus Dodson was camped on the Holston at the mouth of Richland Creek with Major John Reid “with the Indians,” before they “went down to the Nation,” meaning the Cherokee Nation.  Major Reid’s militia unit was form in 1778 and early 1779 at Long Island on Holston. The phrase, “with the Indians” is baffling, especially given that the militiamen destroyed the Indian towns.

One way or another, Jane was probably alone much of the time between when they settled on the Holston in late 1778 or early 1779 until August of 1783.  Those days, waiting for word about Lazarus were probably very long days, weeks and months, although during this timeframe, men often returned home between engagements if they could.

We don’t know if Jane was Lazarus’s first wife, or not – or whether he married her in Pittsylvania or Halifax County, Virginia, Caswell County, North Carolina or on the frontier in what would become Tennessee. Pittsylvania, Halifax and Caswell Counties bordered each other on the Virginia/North Carolina line, and the Dodson family was active in all three counties.

We do know unquestionably that Jane was the mother of Lazarus Dodson Jr. born in 1795, so she was assuredly married to Lazarus Sr. by that time.

In 1794, Raleigh Dodson, Jane’s father-in-law, died and in 1797, Lazarus moved within Hawkins County from near Dodson Ford on the Holston River to the White Horn Fork of Bent Creek near Bull’s Gap.

The 1800 census is missing, as is 1810, but we know that by 1800 Lazarus and Jane had moved once again were living near the Cumberland Gap, on Gap Creek, in Claiborne County. In 1802 Lazarus is recorded in the court notes of Claiborne County as a juror, which would indicate that he owned land there by then, a requirement to be on a jury.

Lazarus, and therefore most likely Jane as well, was a member of Gap Creek Baptist Church in Claiborne Co., which was located on Lazarus’ land. Lazarus is referenced in the minutes on Saturday, June 5th, 1805. Another church, Big Springs, in the same association, had asked for Gap Creek’s help with determining what to do about “a breach of fellowship with James Kenney and it given into the hands of members from other churches, to wit Absolom Hurst, Lazarus Dodson and Matthew Sims and they report on Sunday morning a matter too hard for them to define on for they had pulled every end of the string and it led them into the mire and so leave us just where they found us.”

I’m sure whatever that breach was, it was the talk of Gap Creek Baptist Church.

The only Lazrus Dotson or similar name in the 1820 census is found in Williamson County, Tennessee and is age 26-44, born 1776-1794, so too young to be our Lazarus who was born about 1760.

However, 1819 is when Lazarus Dodson sells his land on Gap Creek in Claiborne County, Tennessee and reportedly goes to Jackson County, Alabama for some time. So the 1820 census may simply have missed him. It’s also possible that Lazarus and Jane were living on Indian land in what is now Jackson County.

Or perhaps Lazarus and Jane were in transit. Lazarus’s nephew, William, son of Lazarus’s brother,Toliver, also known as Oliver, was living in Jackson County by early 1819 and lived there until his death in 1872. In fact, there is a now extinct town named Dodsonville named after William.

Two of Lazarus Sr’s sons apparently went with him to Jackson County; Lazarus Jr. and Oliver (not to be confused with Lazarus’s brother Oliver,) born in 1794. Lazarus Jr.’s son and Oliver’s son both claim to have been born in Alabama, Oliver’s son in 1819 and Lazarus Jr.’s son about 1821. If Lazarus Sr. was living in Alabama during this time, then so was Jane. It must have pained Jane to leave some of her children behind in Tennessee. No matter how old your children are, they are still your children.

Jane would have been close to 60, and she would have been packing up her household, for at least the third time, if not the fourth time, and moving across the country in a wagon. The distance from Claiborne County to Jackson County, Alabama was approximately 200 miles, which, at the rate of about 10 miles per day in a wagon would have taken about 3 weeks. I wonder if Jane got to vote in the decision to move to Jackson County. I’m guessing not.

Trying to wrap our hands around when Jane was born is made somewhat easier by the fact that she was recorded in the 1830 McMinn County, Tennessee census. Yes, I said Tennessee. Yes, she moved back. With or without Lazarus? We don’t know.

jane-1830-census

In the 1830 census, Jane Dodson is living alone and is recorded as being age 60-70, elderly by the standards of 1830 when the average life expectancy was a mere 37 years. This would put Jane’s birth year between 1760 and 1770. Therefore, Jane was likely married between 1778 and 1790. Those dates bracket the other information we have perfectly, but it doesn’t offer us any help in determining whether or not Jane was married to Lazarus before moving to the frontier, or after. Jane is not shown in the 1840 census, so either she has died or she is living with a family member where she can not be identified.

How Many Moves?

We know that Jane wasn’t born in eastern Tennessee in 1760 or 1770, because very few white families lived there then. Well, of course, this is assuming that Jane was not Native. I’m not entirely sure that’s a valid assumption, but without her mitochondrial DNA, we’ll never know for sure. Without any evidence, or even oral history for that matter, we’ll assume that Jane is not Native, although the fly in that ointment could be the record showing Lazarus camping “with the Indians.” Certainly not direct evidence about Jane, but enough to make you pause a bit and wonder, especially in a time and place when Indians were considered the enemy.

One way or another, perhaps as teenager or maybe as a bride, Jane probably moved from the relative security of the Piedmont area to the volatile frontier with Indians and soldiers coming and going for at least half a decade.

The soldiers destroyed the Cherokee villages in 1780 and early 1781, so the war on the frontier was far from over. The Revolutionary War was still being fought in many locations – and if Jane was married to Lazarus then, she spent that time in a cabin on the frontier along the Holston River, below, in what is today Hawkins County, Tennessee. Her cabin joined the land of her father-in-law, Raleigh, but he was gone fighting in the War too. Perhaps Jane spent a lot of time with her mother-in-law, Elizabeth, and her sister-in-law, Nelly Dodson Saunders whose husband John was serving as well. In fact, I’d wager that every able-bodied man was serving, so the women of Dodson Creek on the Holston River had better be able to defend themselves.

jane-near-dodson-ford

This photo was taken very near where Dodson Ford crossed the river, also the location where the Great Warrior Path and Trading Path had crossed for generations.

Lazarus served in the Revolutionary War and was discharged in 1783. That would mean that Jane likely waited at home, hoping that he would not be killed and leave her with some number of small children. At that time, women were either pregnant or nursing, so Jane could have been pregnant while he was at war.

We know that after Lazarus was discharged, he patented land in the western Tennessee counties, but it appears that Lazarus lived on Dodson and Honeycutt Creeks adjacent his father, Raleigh, during this time. That does not mean Lazarus and Jane didn’t perhaps move from one place to another, just not a great distance.

jane-dodson-creek

Dodson Creek, above, is beautiful, as is Honeycutt Creek, below. Jane and Lazarus lived between the two.

jane-honeycutt-creek

This old tree stands at the mouth of Honeycutt Creek and the Holston River.

jane-tree-at-honeycutt

Did Jane stand beneath this tree when it was small and watch for Lazarus to return?

In 1793 or 1794, Jane’s father-in-law, Raleigh, died and the family would have mourned his passing. Jane may have been pregnant at that time for either Oliver or Lazarus Jr. I’m quite surprised that there is no Raleigh among her children, although it’s certainly possible than an earlier Raleigh may have been born and died.

There is a hint that Lazarus may have moved to Greene County, TN and was living there in 1794, or at least a stud racehorse that he co-owned with his brother-in-law, James Menasco, was being advertised “at stud” in Greene County. I can just see Jane rolling her eyes over this great adventure.

Sadly, Lazarus’s sister, Peggy Dodson Mensaco died between 1794 and 1795 when James Menasco sold his land and moved to Augusta, Georgia. Jane would have stood in the cemetery a second time in just a few months as they buried her sister-in-law. I do wonder who raised Peggy’s two children. Was it Jane who comforted them at the funeral?

Oliver was born to Jane in 1794 and Lazarus in 1795.

In 1797, we know that Lazarus sold his land on Dodson Creek and moved to the Whitehorn Fork of Bent Creek, ten miles or so south in Hawkins County, but now in Hamblen County.

White Horn Fork of Bent Creek begins someplace near Summitt Hill Road, runs south, and then intersects with Bent Creek in Bull’s Gap. However, White Horn runs through an area called White Horn, following 66 the entire way, for about 5 miles, from the top of the map below to Bull’s Gap, at the bottom.

jane-white-horn-map

You can see on the satellite map of the region below that this is rough country.

jane-white-horn-satellite

This view of White Horn Creek, below, is from White Horn Road.

jane-white-horn-from-road

White Horn from a side road, below. The creek wasn’t large, but the water would have been very fresh. Water from the source of a stream was always coveted for its cleanliness.

jane-white-horn-side-road

A few years later, by about 1800, Lazarus and family had moved to Claiborne County, where they settled just beneath the Cumberland Gap on Gap Creek, shown below on Lazarus’s land where it crosses Tipprell Road today.

jane-gap-creek

Lazarus bought land early and by 1810 had patented additional land on Gap Creek.

jane-tipprell-road

Lazarus and Jane were likely living on or near this land the entire time they lived in Claiborne County, based on deed and church records. The Gap Creek Baptist Church, which stood on their land still exists today. Jane very probably attended this church, but of course it would have looked very different then, if it was even the same building, at all. It would have been a log structure at that time, as would their home.

gap-creek-church-cropped

In 1819, Lazarus sold out, again, and headed for Alabama. In Alabama, Jane and Lazarus would have settled in the part of Jackson County ceded by the Cherokee earlier that year, so perhaps someplace on what is now Alabama 79, then the main road from Tennessee into Alabama. It probably looked much the same then as it does today. Hilly and treed – for miles and miles and miles. I can’t help but feel for the displaced Cherokee. I wonder if Jane did as well.

jane-jackson-co.

The historic town of Dodsonville once existed in Jackson County, just beneath Scottsboro.

jane-dodsonville

Lazarus’s brother Oliver’s son, William, lived in Jackson County from 1819 until his death in 1872. He is buried in the Dodson Cemetery near Lim Rock, not far from historic Dodsonville, named for him. Dodsonville is probably under dammed Guntersville Lake, today.

By this time, I just feel weary for Jane. I’m sure she longed for a cabin where she could put down roots and didn’t have to sell out and pack up every few years to start over again with few belongings in an unfamiliar place with unknown dangers and strangers she didn’t know. I wonder if Lazarus was the kind of man that was always starry-eyed and enamored with the next great opportunity. Was life just one great adventure after another to him?

We know that in 1826, Lazarus Jr. (we believe) repurchased his father’s land back in Claiborne County, and that Lazarus Sr.’s land transactions, apparently having to do with his estate, were being handled in McMinn County. There is no will or probate for Lazarus Sr. in either Claiborne County or McMinn County, and the Jackson County records were burned in the Civil War.

Giving Lazarus Sr. the benefit of the doubt here, we’ll presume that Lazarus Sr. moved from Alabama directly back to McMinn County and did not first return to Claiborne and then move to McMinn. One way or another, they, or at least Jane, came back to Tennessee as did her sons Lazarus Jr. and Oliver.

Sometime between 1827 and 1830, Jane’s daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Campbell Dodson, Lazarus Jr.’s wife died. If Jane had not already returned to Tennessee, she may have returned in the wagon with Lazarus Jr. to help with his four children born between 1820 and 1827. However, by 1830, those children were living with their Campbell grandparents, who would raise them to adulthood, in Claiborne County. Perhaps the Campbell grandparents raised the children instead of Jane because they owned a farm and there were two of them and they were somewhat younger than Jane by at least a decade, if not more.  Jane, alone, would have had to handle 4 young children. Besides that, Jane’s other son, David had recently died too, leaving his widow needing help with her children as well.  Jane would have been approaching 70 by this time.

Lazarus Jr. returned to Claiborne County and is found in the records beginning in 1826 when he repurchased his father’s land. This is presuming that the land repurchase was by Lazarus Jr. and not Lazarus Sr. Lazarus Jr. remained in Claiborne County where he is found in the court notes from 1827 through about 1833 when he is recorded as being absent and owing taxes.

We know that in 1830 Jane lived someplace near Englewood in McMinn County. Liberty Hill Road runs between Englewood and Cochran Cemetery Road, so this view would have been familiar to Jane, then, too.

jane-liberty-hill-road

So Jane got to pack up for at least a 5th time and move back to Tennessee, and that’s if we know about all the moves, which is certainly not likely.

If Jane married Lazarus in 1778 or 1779, before they left Virginia, that means she got to make major moves at least 5 times between about 1780 and 1825, or roughly every 9 years. And those moves would have been while pregnant, nursing babies, with toddlers, and whatever other challenge or inconvenience you can think of.

In 1825 or so, Jane would have been 60-65 years old. The last thing most people want to do at that age is bounce around in a wagon with no shocks on rough rutty roads crossing mountains – relocating “one last time.”

jane-cumberland-gap

Cumberland Gap, from the summit, overlooking Claiborne County.

Perhaps Lazarus died mysteriously after suggesting “just one more move.”

Jane’s Children

We know beyond a doubt that Lazarus Jr., born in 1795, was Jane’s son, and we can presume that any children born after Lazarus were Jane’s as well since she was still living in 1830.

This 1826 McMinn County deed comes as close as we’re going to get to identifying Jane’s children.

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 de’d be it further understood that this is to be there part and all that they are entitled 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

Therefore, based on the above deed, and the information for each of the individuals below, I believe that Lazarus had 7 children that lived to adulthood, and therefore, Jane probably did as well. We know for sure that the youngest three are Jane’s children.

  • Jesse
  • Elijah
  • Mary
  • Oliver
  • Lazarus
  • David
  • William

Jesse Dodson was born by 1781 or earlier as he was of age in March 1802 when he served as a juror in Claiborne Co., TN at the March term and also the June term when he was designated as “Little Jesse Dodson.” Junior or “little” in this context meant younger, not necessarily “son of Jesse.” This designation was no doubt for the purpose of distinguishing him from Rev. Jesse Dodson, a much older man who was also a resident of Claiborne County at this time. Jesse, the son of Rev. Jesse Dodson was born in 1791, thus being too young to serve as a juror in 1802.

Prior to this, Jesse Dodson Jr. was “assessed for 1 white poll” and was was included “among those living within the Indian Boundary for the year of 1797 which the county court of Grainger released the sheriff from the collection of taxes.”

Apparently these people, it had been determined, were living beyond the treaty line on Indian land and were not within the jurisdiction of Grainger Co. This part of Grainger became Claiborne in 1801 and included the area beneath Cumberland Gap that Lazarus eventually owned and was living on by 1800.

Jesse Dodson and Mary Stubblefield Dodson joined the Big Spring Baptist church “by experience” in March 1802. They received letters of dismissal from the church in Nov. 1805, but Jesse returned his letter in May 1806. Apparently in early 1807 Jesse got into a dispute with the church over a theological question which continued on through Sept 1807 when the question was dismissed. In Aug 1808, Jesse was “excluded” from the church for “withholding from the Church.” He is not again found in the records of Claiborne Co.

On June 20, 1811, one Jesse Dodson was licensed to trade with Indian tribes in Madison Co., Alabama which borders Jackson County. Descendants of this man reportedly carry the oral tradition that he was an Indian trader. Jesse 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. The brother was killed by Indians before Jessee’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. 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.

A Jesse Dodson was on the 1830 census of Jackson Co., AL though the family statistics are puzzling. The household consisted of 2 males 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 20-30, 1 female under 5, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 30-40 and 1 female 50-60. This would not be Jesse Dodson the Indian Trader unless he were away from home on the date of the census enumeration or unless the census taker made an error in recording the statistics. We have no record of the children of this Jesse Dodson.

Elijah Dodson, based on the 1826 deed, was also a son of Lazarus Dodson Sr, although there were multiple Elijah Dodsons. Elijah appears to be connected in the records of Claiborne with Martin Dodson and Jehu Dodson who are not mentioned in the 1826 deed. Elijah was born in 1790 in Hawkins County according to information in the Oregon Donation land claims. He died in Yamhill Co., Oregon in 1859. His first wife was Mary, surname unknown, whom he married March 12, 1807 in “Clayborn Co, Tn.”. His second wife was Elizabeth surname unknown who died in the Autumn of 1854. They were married in September of 1848 in Polk Co., Oregon.

In the June 1805 term of court, Claiborne Co., TN, Elijah along with Jehu was appointed as a road hand to work on a road of which Martin Dodson was overseer. It was a segment of the Kentucky road from the top of Wallen’s ridge to Blair’s creek. In August 1814 Elijah proved a wolf scalp he had killed in 1814 and at the August term 1815 he served as a juror. There are no records of Elijah in Claiborne beyond this date.

It is possible that Elijah eventually went to Henry Co., Ohio and Clay Co., Missouri before moving to Oregon where he made a claim to land in Yamhill Co. on which he lived from Feb 1848 until his death. It is believed that two of his sons were with him in Oregon. The record stated that his first wife left 6 children.

Mary Dodson

Abner Lea is certainly an interested party in the 1826 deed from the heirs of Lazarus Dodson. Abner is reported (although unverified) to have been married to a Mary Dodson on November 15, 1796 in Orange County, NC. The list of Lazarus’s heirs, which apparently includes Abner Lea, strongly suggests that Mary, Abner’s wife, was the daughter of Lazarus Sr. Abner’s birth date is reported to be about 1770 in Caswell County, NC, so too young to be a brother-in-law to Lazarus Sr. and about the right age to have married his daughter.

In 1810, Lazarus purchased land from Abner Lea in Claiborne County. If this is the Abner Lea born in 1770, he was about 40 in 1810. Abner Lea’s brother was James Lea, born in 1767, and in the winter of 1781/1782, Lazarus Dodson was encamped on the land patented by one James Lea in 1783 at the mouth of Richland Creek where it intersected with the Holston River, in what is now Grainger County. A James Lea family is also found on Country Creek in Caswell County, near where Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson lived before moving to the Holston River in 1778/1779.

Nothing is known about descendants of this couple.

Oliver Dodson was born August 31, 1794 in Hawkins Co., TN and died December 8, 1875 in McMinn Co., TN. He married Elizabeth, surname unknown who was born March 16, 1795 in Virginia and died Aug 7, 1883 in McMinn Co., TN. Both are buried in the Mt. Cumberland Cemetery, McMinn County.

jane-oliver-dodson

The first records of Oliver in Claiborne County are found in the court minutes in August 1815 when he proved he had killed a wolf and collected the bounty for the wolf scalp.

On January 16, 1820, Oliver was relieved as road overseer of the Kentucky Road from where Powell’s Valley Road intersects the same at Wallen’s field to the state line at Cumberland Gap. At the August term 1820 he exhibited the scalp of a wolf he had killed in Claiborne in 1819. In June, 1824 he sued William Hogan for a debt and was awarded damages and costs.

Sometime before or after these events, Oliver spent some time in Jackson Co., Alabama. where one of his sons Marcellus M. Dodson claimed to be born in 1819. By 1830, Oliver was settled in McMinn Co, TN where he lived the remainder of his life.

A chancery suit filed in McMinn in 1893 involving the estate of Oliver Dodson gives us a list of his children and some of his grandchildren. The suit, chancery case #1282 Lazarus Dodson (his son) vs Mary Jane Reynolds stated that all were nonresidents of McMInn County except for Lazarus who files for himself and as administrator of Oliver Dodson and Mary Jane Reynolds. Some grandchildren lived in Knox Co., TN and the others lived in California, Texas, Missouri, Oregon, Montana, Georgia and other states.

David Dodson, based on the 1826 deed, is also a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr. David is not in the records of Claiborne County except for the one time when he witnessed the deed to William Hogan from Lazarus Dotson and Abner Lea in May 1819.

If it is the same David Dodson who later appeared in McMinn Co., TN, then he was probably born between 1790 and 1800. David Dodson (Dotson) died in McMinn County before the 1826 deed. David’s widow was Fanny Dotson born 1790-1800 according to the 1830 census of McMinn Co. with a household consisting of herself, 1 male 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 female under 5, 2 females 5-10. She is living beside Jane Dodson, the widow of Lazarus Sr. and also beside William Dodson.

The land referenced in the 1826 deed is roughly the Cochran Cemetery area, shown below, near Englewood in McMinn Co.

David Dodson who died on August 15, 1826 is reported to be buried in this Cemetery, although he is not listed on FindAGrave, so his grave is apparently unmarked. It appears that David and Lazarus may have died in very close proximity to each other relative to their death dates. Poor Jane apparently lost a husband and a son within a very short time. This makes me wonder if there was an illness that took them both.

cochran cemetery

William Dotson was living next door to Jane Dodson in 1830. His household consisted of 1 male under 5, 1 male 20-30, (so born 1800-1810) 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10 and 1 female 20-30. He was the administrator of the estate of David Dotson and seems a little old to be a son of David and Fanny, so could conceivably be a brother instead.

In 1826 in McMinn County, we find the land in Section 11, Township 5, Range first east of the meridian being conveyed to William by “guardians of the estate of Lazarus Dodson, deceased.”

jane-mcminn-1836

1836 McMinn County district map – The Rogers Connection – Myth or Fact by Sharon R. McCormack

If William is Jane’s son, and he was born about 1800, then she would have been about 30-40 at that time, and based on the birth years of her other children, closer to 40.

A William L. Dotson was appointed one of the arbitrators between the administrators of the estates of Thomas and William Burch, decd, in June of 1834. Thomas Burch died circa 1830 and had been the administrator of the estate of his father, William Burch, who died about 1828. One of the daughters of William Burch was Mrs. Aaron Davis, apparently, a former neighbor of Lazarus Dodson in Claiborne Co. Mentioned in Thomas Burch’s estate is a note against the estate of William Burch, decd and an unidentified piece of land in Claiborne Co. Aaron Davis was a member of Gap Creek Church of Claiborne Co. TN in 1818.

There were several William Dodsons in McMinn Co and it is not entirely possible to separate them without further records, but one of them was the son of Lazarus Sr.  William L. Dodson, believed to be the son of Lazarus, was born December 11, 1804 and died August 29, 1873. I sure would like to know what the L. stood for. Lazarus, or perhaps his mother’s maiden name?  William L. is buried in the Cochran Cemetery in McMinn County, along with Lazarus’s son David. It’s likely that Jane, Lazarus Sr.’s widow, is buried in the Cochran Cemetery as well, given that she was living adjacent to David and William in 1830, and William owned the land on which the cemetery stood.

It’s possible that Lazarus Sr. is buried in the Cochran Cemetery too, although based on the land purchase back in Claiborne County in 1826, it’s also possible that he is buried in Claiborne County or even back in Jackson County, Alabama. It has never been entirely clear whether the Lazarus that repurchased that Claiborne County land was Sr. or Jr. In any event, Claiborne County is where Lazarus Sr.’s marker rests today, set by descendants in 2011 in the Cottrell Cemetery on the land Lazarus once owned.

laz dodson marker

Unfortunately, Lazarus’s death date of 1826 was inscribed incorrectly as 1816, but by the time we saw the stone for the first time, it had already been set and it was too late to change the engraving.

Jane’s Other Children

If the children listed above are all Lazarus and Jane’s children, there were other children who were born and did not survive, given that children were typically born every 18 months to 2 years. The (approximate) birth dates of the children we can identify:

  • Jesse – 1781
  • Elijah – 1790
  • Mary – 1790+, so say 1792
  • Oliver – 1794
  • Lazarus – 1795
  • David – 1790-1800, so call it 1797
  • William – 1800-1810, so call it 1804 based on the cemetery record

This means there were children born in the following approximate years, in the following locations, that did not survive:

  • 1783 – probably on Dodson Creek
  • 1785 – probably on Dodson Creek
  • 1787 – probably on Dodson Creek
  • 1789 – probably on Dodson Creek
  • 1799 – probably on White Horn Branch
  • 1801 – in Claiborne County
  • 1803 – in Claiborne County

If Jane was 60-70 in 1830, she would have had to be closer to 70, or born about 1760 to be having children by 1781, so she would have been about 40 in 1800. It’s likely that she did not have any children after William born in 1804.

Of course, we don’t know when or where those children died, or were buried. It could have been where they were born or anyplace between there and McMinn County. One son could have been killed by Indians. If that is true, Jane must have been heartsick and I’d wager there were some rather unpleasant words between Jane and Lazarus, if indeed he encouraged Jesse to take the son who was killed along on the trading expedition.

All we know for sure is that no additional children were mentioned in the 1826 deed and unlike son David, they did not leave heirs. Given that Lazarus apparently did not have a will, or if he did, it has never been found, all of his living children or deceased children with heirs would have been mentioned in the deed.

If Jesse is Jane’s son and first child, that puts her marriage year at about 1780, so she either was married in North Carolina (or bordering Virginia) and her honeymoon was spent in a wagon bouncing its way to the new frontier, or she arrived to homestead on the Holston River with her parents, whoever they were, and soon thereafter married the handsome frontiersman, Lazarus Dodson. There were probably not many spousal candidates to choose from on the Holston River, so they were both probably very pleased to marry and begin their family.

Jane’s Death and Burial

Jane died sometime after 1830 and before 1840, based on the census. In 1830 she was living beside son David Dodson’s widow and William Dodson. Later deeds show that the land owned by William Dodson conveyed in the 1826 deed includes the Cochran Cemetery near present-day Englewood.

jane-cochran-cemetery-map

We know that William Dodson is buried there and David Dodson is reported to be buried there as well, along with several other Dodsons listed on FindAGrave. Jane seems to be surrounded by her descendants.

jane-cochran-internments-2

William L. Dodson, buried in the Cochran Cemetery, is shown on FindAGrave to be the son of Elisha Dodson and Mary Matlock. Elisha is shown to be the son of the Reverend Jesse Dodson, who was the preacher at Big Springs in Claiborne County. I don’t know if this is accurate, nor do I know what documentation was utilized for this information.

Unfortunately, both the Reverend Jesse Dodson and Lazarus Dodson Sr. were both functioning in Claiborne County at the same time in the early 1800s. I do find it odd that Jesse’s son, Elisha, who died in Polk County in 1864, would have a son, William L., living beside Jane and David Dodson, in McMinn County. It’s entirely possible that Elijah and Elisha, very similar names, have been confused and intermixed.

jane-cochran-aerial

The Cochran Cemetery, where Jane is probably buried is shown above and below.

jane-cochran-from-road

County Road 479 is Cochran Cemetery Road.

jane-cochran-cemetery-road

The terrain is hilly but not mountainous and these rolling hills are what Jane saw in her last few years, living in McMinn County.

jane-cochran-distance

Mitochondrial DNA

If Mary Dodson who married Abner Lea is indeed the daughter of Jane Dodson, and if there are descendants who descend through all females to the current generation, we could test that descendant to obtain the mitochondrial DNA of Jane.

Mothers give their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of children, but only females pass it on. In order to find Jane’s mitochondrial DNA we’d need to find a descendant through her one female child, Mary – assuming that indeed Mary is Jane’s daughter.

Jane has been theorized to be a Honeycutt, given that Lazarus lives on Honeycutt Creek and has some interest in land conveyed in 1810, a Lea based on continued interaction with that family, and a Native woman since Lazarus was encamped with the Native people in 1781/1782. That may not be terribly likely since the Cherokee towns were destroyed, but then again, love has never been hindered terribly by warfare – and married to a white man might be as safe as a Native woman could be at that time.

Finding the haplogroup of Jane’s mitochondrial DNA would at least put the Native possibility, as small as it is, to sleep one way or the other, forever. Native American haplogroups are distinct from European, African or Asian haplogroups.

If you descend from Jane Dodson through daughter Mary through all females to the current generation, which can be male, please let me know. I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Autosomal DNA – The Dog’s Leg 

Can autosomal DNA help?

Well, theoretically, yes. However, in actuality, for me, today, the answer is “not exactly” or at least not in the way I intended.

I need to warn you, before we start, that this section is the proverbial dog’s leg – meaning we start in one place, and through a series of twists and turns, wind up someplace entirely different.  I debated removing this section – but I decided to leave it because of the educational value and discussion.  “The Dog’s Leg” would actually be an apt description of my entire 37+ years doing genealogy.

So, if you’re up for a bit of an adventure on twisty roads, let’s go!!!

jane-dodson-chart

The first problem we encounter is that Jane is several generations back in the tree, even to the most closely related descendants that have DNA tested at Family Tree DNA where we have chromosome data to work with.

Son Lazarus Jr. carried half of Jane’s DNA, and with each generation, roughly half of Jane’s DNA from the previous generation was lost. Today, descendants would carry anyplace from 3.12% to less than 1% of her DNA, so the chances of carrying the same segment that matches other descendants is progressively smaller in each generation.

Furthermore, today, we have no way to tell which DNA that the descendants might carry is Jane’s DNA, even if it can be attributed to Lazarus and Jane and no common ancestor downstream. In other words, Jane’s DNA and Lazarus’s DNA combined in their children and to sort it back into Jane’s and Lazarus’s individually, we have to have the DNA of Lazarus’s ancestral Dodson line and Jane’s ancestral line to be able to sort their DNA into his and her buckets. Today, we have some people from Lazarus’s line, but obviously none from Jane’s, since we don’t know the identity of her parents or siblings.

To know whose DNA is whose, we’d need matching DNA from Lazarus Sr.’s siblings descendants, for example. That, we may be able to obtain. However, we don’t have that information about Jane.

For the record, the person labeled “Tester,” below, in red has not tested today. If they were to test, because they descend through Lazarus Dodson Jr. through a second wife, if that red tester matches any of the green testers, we would know for sure that their common DNA is that of Lazarus Jr. (and not his wife), assuming no other common ancestral lines, because the green testers and red tester descend through different wives of Lazarus Jr.

jane-dodson-chart-2

While this would help us identify Dodson DNA in Lazarus Jr.’s generation, which means that DNA came from Lazarus Sr. and Jane as a couple, it doesn’t help us identify Jane’s DNA.

What Can We Tell About Jane?

So, what might we be able to tell about Jane?

I have access to the DNA results for Buster and Charlene (above) at Family Tee DNA, in addition to my own DNA results, of course.

I checked my own results for any Honeycutt, using the match search filter. There were two, and both also shared other surnames that I share. No particular common ancestral line or location was evident.

I also attempted to search for the surname Lea, but unfortunately, one cannot request only a particular match string, so the matches included any first or surname that included “lea.” Even more difficult, the matching Ancestral Surnames column often didn’t extend to the “L” names, so I can’t tell whether the matching surname is Lea or something else that includes “lea.”

That’s disappointing.

Next, let’s try Dodson.

You can see an example of the Ancestral Surnames below and only 4 rows maximum are displayed, even when expanded. The first three matches didn’t make it to the D surnames. I’m hoping this problem, which is relatively new, will be fixed soon.

jane-ancestral-surnames

I have 21 matches for Dodson, with 15 having trees. Let’s see if any of these people share my Dodson line.

Match # Common Ancestors
1 George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, Raleigh Dodson’s parents
3 Greenham Dodson and Eleanor Hightower (brother to George Dodson who married Margaret Dagord), also a Campbell line
4 George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, also a Crumley line
5 No common ancestor shown, but have Dodson in their ancestor surname list (5 matches)
6 Not far enough back to connect (5 matches)
7 Greenham Dodson and Eleanor Hightower

Some of my Dodson matches list Dodson in their Ancestral Surnames, but I don’t find an ancestor with the Dodson surname in their actual tree.

Of the people who do have Dodson ancestors in their trees, I find 4 where I can identify the common ancestor, and all 4 are some number of generations before Lazarus Sr. or even his father, Raleigh. In one case, there is also another identifiable ancestor with a different surname (Crumley) and in another line, a common surname (Campbell) but no common ancestor.  However, I’m brick walled on Campbell and the Campbell line did marry into the Dodson line in Lazarus Jr’s generation.

These Dodson matches are exciting, and here’s my dream list of what I’d like to do next:

  • What I’d really like to be able to do is to select all 21 of my matches and create a grid or matrix that shows me the people who match in common with me and any of them. Those would obviously be people who do NOT carry the Dodson surname, because people who do carry the ancestral (or current) Dodson surname are already listed in the 21.
  • Then, I’d like to see a matrix that shows me which of all these people match me and each other on common segments – and without having to push people through to the chromosome browser 5 at a time.
  • I’d like to be able to sort through all of the ICW matches (both Ancestral Surnames and direct ancestors in trees) to see if they have Honeycutt or Lea, or any other common surnames with each other. Because if the common surname isn’t Dodson, then perhaps it is Jane’s surname and finding a common surname among the matches might help me narrow that search or at least give me hints.
  • I’d like to be able to see who in my match list matches me on any particular given segment. In other words, let’s say that I match three individuals on a specific chromosome segment. I’d like to be able to search through my matches online for that information.
  • I’d like to be able to sort through my Dodson matches list by specific ancestor in their tree, like Lazarus Dodson. Today, I have to search each account’s tree individually, which isn’t bad if there are a few. However, with a common surname, there can be many pages of matches.

In the following example, I match 3 other Dodson descendants on a large segment of chromosome 5. This match is not trivial, as it’s 32 to 39 cM in length and approximately 7500 to 9000 SNPs.  These are very solid matches.

jane-chromosome-browser

  • The green person (JP) is stuck in Georgia in 1818 with a female Dodson birth, so the common ancestor is unknown.
  • The yellow person (CA) descends from George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, Raleigh’s parents, through another child.
  • The pink person (JP) has no tree but shows Dodson, Smoot and Durham in Virginia which tells me these are the early generations of the Dodson line. Thomas Dodson’s wife’s birth name was Durham and they were parents of both George and Greenham Dodson.  Smoot comes through the Durham line.

These individuals match me on the following segment of chromosome 5.

jane-segment-matches

Lazarus and Jane are 6 generations upstream from me, so George Dodson is 8 and Thomas Dodson is 9. That’s pretty amazing that this relatively large segment of DNA appears to have potentially been passed through the Dodson line for this many generations.  Note the word potentially.  We’re going to work on that word.

Regardless of how early or how many generations back, these matches are clearly relevant AND have been parentally phased to my father’s side, both by virtue of the Phased Family Matching (maternal and paternal buckets) at Family Tree DNA and by virtue of the fact that they don’t match my mother.

The next question is whether or not these people match each other, so to answer that question, I need to move to the matrix tool.

jane-matrix

Utilizing the matrix, we discover that they DO match each other. What we don’t know is whether they match each other on that particular segment of chromosome 5, but given the size of the segment involved, and that they do match each other, the chances are very good that they do match on the same segment.

Of course, since the yellow match is unquestionably my line of Dodson DNA and because my common ancestor with this person is upstream of both Lazarus and Raleigh, then this matching DNA segment on chromosome 5 cannot be Jane’s DNA.

Therefore, I’d really like to know who else I match on this specific segment, particularly on my father’s side, so that I can see if there are any additional proven Dodson lineage matches on this segment.  This would allow me to properly assign the people who match me on my father’s side on this segment as being “Dodson line,” even if I can’t tell for sure who the common ancestor is.

That function, of course, doesn’t exist via searching at Family Tree DNA today, but what I can do is to check my Master DNA Spreadsheet that I’ve downloaded to see who else matches me on that segment.  If you would like to know how to download and manage your spreadsheet, see the Concepts Series of articles.

My Master DNA Spreadsheet shows 23 additional matches on this segment on my father’s side, 8cM or larger, with two, one at 32.96 cM indicating a common Durham lineage, and another at 33.75 cM indicating a Dodson lineage.  Therefore, this segment can reasonably confidently be assigned to the Dodson side of the tree, and probably to the Durham line – an unanticipated bonus if it holds.

jane-dodson-pedigree

I would need additional evidence before positively assigning this segment to the Durham line, given the distance back in time.  I would need to be sure my Durham match doesn’t have a hidden Dodson match someplace, and that their tree is fairly complete.

While this little exercise helps me to identify Dodson DNA and possibly Durham DNA, it hasn’t done anything to help me identify Jane’s DNA.

Of course, if I had matches to people with Honeycutt or Lea DNA, then that might be another matter and we would have a hypothesis to prove or disprove. Or, if I could search for common surnames, other than Dodson, among my matches trees and Ancestral Surnames.

I’m going to try one more cousin, Buster, who is generationally closer than I am to see if he matches a Honeycutt at Family Tree DNA, by any chance. Nope, no Honeycutt.

I also checked at Ancestry, just to see if I match anyone there who also descends from Lazarus Sr., and I do not. I do, however, match 2 people through Lazarus’s father Raleigh, 15 people through Raleigh’s parents, George Dodson and Margaret Dagord and 14 people through Raleigh’s grandfather, Thomas Dodson.

If I match this many, it sure makes me wonder how many from this line have tested and that I don’t match. Of course, at Ancestry, they have no chromosome browser or matrix types of tools (without building your own pseudo-matrix using the Shared Matches feature), so there is no way to discern if your matches also match each other and there is no way to know if they match you and/or each other on the same segments.

The Ancestor Library – My DNA Daydream

I dream of the day when we will be able to recreate the DNA profiles of our ancestors and store them in an “Ancestor Library.” That way, when I identify the DNA on chromosome 5, for example, to be that of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, I can assign it to that couple in the “ancestor library.” Then, if this segment on chromosome 5 is either partially or wholly Durham, I can move it up one generation and then to the Durham ancestral line in the library.

Let me explain what this “Ancestor Library” will do for us.

Let’s say we know that a piece of DNA on chromosome 1 that was inherited from Lazarus and Jane is not Dodson DNA, and let’s say we have ideal circumstances.  We know this DNA came from Lazarus and Jane because this large common matching segment is found in three descendants through three different children. We already know what the Dodson progenitor DNA in this location looks like, because it’s proven and already in the library, and our Lazarus/Jane DNA on chromosome 1 doesn’t match the Dodson DNA in the Ancestor Library. Therefore, by process of logical deduction, we know that this segment on chromosome 1 has to be Jane’s DNA. Finally, we have an identifiable piece of Jane.

Now, let’s say we can submit this sequence of Jane’s DNA into the “Ancestor Library” to see which “ancestors” in the library match that sequence of DNA.

There could be several of course who descend from the same ancestral couple.

We obtain our “Ancestor Library” match list of potential ancestors that could be ours based on Jane’s DNA segment, and we see that indeed, there is a Honeycutt line and our DNA matches that line. Depending on how many other ancestral lines also match, the segment size, etc., this would be sufficient to send me off scurrying to research Honeycutt, even if the results don’t “prove” beyond a shadow of a doubt who Jane’s parents were.  Ancestor Library matches most assuredly would give us more to work with on that magical day, sometime in the future, than we have to work with today. In fact, the Ancestor Library would actively break down brick walls.

Ok, I’ve returned from my daydream now…but I do wonder how many years it will be until that DNA future with the “Ancestor Library” comes to pass and we’ll be able to fill in the blanks in our family tree utilizing DNA to direct our records research, at least in some cases.

The Rest of the Story – My Secret

Ok, I’ll let you in on my secret. Truth is that I’ve been working on the Ancestor Library proof of concept for over 2 years now.  In November 2016, I gave a presentation at the Family Tree DNA Conference titled “Crumley Y DNA to Autosomal Case Study – Kicking It Up a Notch” about reconstructing James Crumley from 50 of his descendants.  Just to give you an idea, this is a partial reconstruction utilizing Kitty Cooper’s tools, not quite as she intended.

james-crumley-reconstruct

Just to let you know, ancestor reconstruction can be done. It may be a daydream today in the scope that I’m dreaming, but one day, it will happen. Jane’s ancestry may someday be within reach once we develop the ability to functionally “subtract out” Lazarus’s DNA from Jane’s descendants.

In Summary

I wish we had some small snippet of Jane’s voice, or even Jane’s identifiable DNA, but we don’t. All we can do is to surmise from what we do know.

We know that Jane moved from place to place, and apparently a non-trivial number of times.

Jane’s life can be divided into frontiers.

  • Birth to 1778 – 1780 – Virginia or North Carolina, probably
  • 1780 – 1797 – Holston River between Honeycutt and Dodson Creeks, present day Hawkins County, Tennessee
  • 1797 – 1800 – White Horn Fork, near Bull’s Gap, then Hawkins County, Tennessee, today, probably Hamblin County
  • 1800 – 1819 – Gap Creek beneath the Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County, Tennessee spanning the old Indian boundary line
  • 1819 – before 1830 – Jackson County, Alabama when the Cherokee ceded their land
  • 1830 – 1840/death – McMinn County, Tennessee

The longest time Jane spent in one place was about 19 years in Claiborne County where Lazarus was a member of the Gap Creek Baptist Church by 1805.  Jane was very likely a member there too, as it would be extremely unusual for a woman not to attend the same church where her husband was a member of some status.

It’s actually rather amazing that we were able to track Jane and family at all, considering the number of places they lived and given the distances that they moved. While we do hold onto them by the tiniest threads – surely we must know how many of the threads of the fabric of Jane’s life are now irrecoverably lost – like pieces of a quilt, frayed with wear and gone.

Jane had at least three children that lived, and probably a 4th since Oliver was born the year before Lazarus. She may have had 7 living children if all of Lazarus’s children were hers too – meaning she was Lazarus’s only wife. We have nothing to indicate that either Lazarus or Jane were married more than once, except for how common death was on the frontier. If all of Lazarus’s children were also Jane’s, then Jane likely had as many children that died as lived, presuming she was married for her entire child-bearing life. Losing every other child is a nightmare thought for a mother, especially today – but it was more or less expected before the days of modern medicine. Let that soak in for a minute.

One of Jane’s children may have been killed by Indians. If this is true, then that episode may have affected Jane’s relationship with her husband and potentially her son Jesse, too. Unfortunately, records during this time are scant and many are missing entirely. We will probably never know if Jesse, the Indian trader, was Jane’s son.

I hope that some day, in some way, we’ll be able to unravel the mystery of Jane’s surname. In order for that to happen, new records will either need to appear, perhaps in the form of a nice juicy chancery suit, or a family Bible needs to be found, or DNA technology needs to improve combined with some serendipity and really good luck.

In the meantime, I’ll remember Jane as the weary and infinitely patient frontier wife, repeatedly packing up and moving from one frontier to the next, for roughly 45 years, whether she really wanted to or not.

I will think of her gently caring for her grandchildren after Elizabeth Campbell Dodson died, perhaps wiping their tears as their mother was buried in a grave lost to time, not long after Jane lost her own husband, Lazarus and son David. 1826 and 1827 were grief-filled years for Jane, with one loss after another.  She buried far too many close family members.

I will think of Jane living in McMinn County in her final years, between her son David’s widow, Fanny, and their children, and son William’s family. Between those two families, Jane had 7 grandchildren living within earshot: 3 toddlers, 3 between 5 and 10 and one boy about 11 or 12. He was probably a big help to Jane and Fanny both.

I hope Jane’s golden years were punctuated by the ring of grandchildren’s voices and laughter as she gathered them around her chair in front of the fireplace on crisp winter evenings, or on the shady porch on hot summer days.  She would have regaled them with stories “from a time far away and long ago” about her journeys in wagons, across rivers before bridges and through wars into uncharted territory, where Indians and soldiers both camped in their yard at Dodson’s Ford more than 50 years earlier. I can hear her now, can’t you? “Why, they were right outside, chile.” Their eyes must have been as big as saucers. Grandma Dodson’s life was amazing!

I hope Jane’s death, when it came, was swift and kind. Ironically, she outlived her adventure-loving husband by at least 4 years and maybe more than 14. And I will always wonder if Lazarus died after suggesting to Jane that they move one more time!

Jane can never regret not having taken that leap of faith, not having followed the elusive dream, be it hers or his, or both, because it seems that they always went…well, maybe except for that one last time.

I surely hope Jane is resting in peace, because while her life is infinitely interesting to us today, with her progressive migrations to “the next” frontier, it appears that rest is probably not something Jane got much of during her lifetime.

The Genealogist’s Stocking

genealogist-stocking

As a genealogist, what do you want to find in your stocking this year? You don’t even have to have been good! No elf-on-a-shelf is watching – I promise!

  • Do you need a tool that doesn’t yet exist?
  • Do you need to learn a skill?
  • Do you need to DNA test a particular person?
  • Do you want to break down a specific brick wall?

Here’s what I want, in no particular order:

  1. A chromosome browser from Ancestry. Yes, I know this comes in the dead horse category and Hades has not yet frozen over, but I still want a chromosome browser.
  2. Resurrection of the Y and mtDNA data bases at Ancestry and Sorenson (purchased by Ancestry.) Refer to dead horse and Hades comment above.
  3. Tree matching at Family Tree DNA. (The request has been submitted.)
  4. A tool to find Y and mtDNA descendants of an ancestor who may have tested or be candidates to test at Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA is the only major company who does Y and mtDNA testing today, so this is the only data base/vendor this request applies to.
  5. To find the line of my James Moore, c1720-c1798 who married Mary Rice and lived in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties in Virginia before moving to Halifax County. I’d really love to get him across the pond. This is *simply* a matter of waiting until the right person Y DNA tests. Simply – HA! Waiting is not my strong suit. Maybe I should ask for patience, but I’ve already been as patient as I can be for 15 years. Doesn’t that count for something? Santa???
  6. To discover the surname and family of Magdalena (c1730-c1808) who married Philip Jacob Miller. Magdalena’s descendant has an exact mitochondrial DNA match in the Brethren community to the descendant of one Amanda Troutwine (1872-1946) who married William Hofacker on Christmas Day, 1889 in Darke County, Ohio.. Now all I need to do is extend Amanda’s line back far enough in time. I’m very hopeful. I need time and a little luck on this one.

I’d be happy with any one of the half-dozen “wishes” above, but hey, this is permission to dream and dream big – so I’ve put them all on my list, just in case Genealogy Santa is feeling particularly generous this year!

Tell us about your dream gift(s) in your genealogy stocking and what you need to make those dreams come true. What might you do to help make that happen? Do you have a plan?

For example, items 1-4 are beyond my control, but I have made my wishes known, repeatedly.  I’ve researched #5 to death, so waiting for that Moore match now comes in the “genealogy prayer” category.  But item 6 is clearly within reach – so I’ll be focused on Amanda Troutwine as soon as the holiday festivities are over.  Let’s hope you’ll be reading an article about this success soon.

So, ask away.  What’s on your list?  You just never know where Santa’s helpers may be lurking!!!

Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons and Mitochondrial DNA, The Forgotten Test

Mitochondrial DNA is probably the most under-utilized type of DNA available to genetic genealogists. Mitochondrial DNA is a special line specific to your mother, and her mother, and her mother, on up that tree of mothers. It’s not mixed with any DNA from the fathers, so it’s a pure periscope line that extends back in time indefinitely – much like the Y DNA for the paternal line.

Just as an example, as an administrator looking at the Estes surname project, I can see an order summary. For clarification, the Estes project welcomes males and females alike, along with men who are not Estes surname males, but who are Estes descendants through other lines.

So, of the first 16 project participants, 2 are female.  The columns titled HVR1, HVR2 and FGS are the available mitochondrial DNA test levels.

estes-order-summary

Only one, me, has had ANY mitochondrial DNA testing done. The rest have not.

By comparison, 14 (all the males) have ordered some level of Y DNA testing and 7 participants, almost half, have taken the autosomal Family Finder test.

By any measure, mitochondrial is way WAY behind.

Mitochondrial gets forgotten about, often, because it’s not as “in your face” as a male surname is to a male and doesn’t have the “pride factor” associated with it. In fact, you might hear men say something like, “Yea, proud to be an Estes (fill in your surname here),” but when was the last time you heard someone say, “Yea, proud to be a H2a1a!”? It loses something someplace.

Because the matrilineal line’s mitochondrial DNA doesn’t follow any surname, it doesn’t invoke that surname loyalty factor, but it is a rich source of information that is often neglected.

What can we learn from mitochondrial DNA?

Pretty much everything we can tell about Y DNA – except of course we’re not looking to see if we match a particular surname. We’re looking to see if we match someone with a common ancestor. But that’s not it, there’s a lot more.

Haplogroup and Migration Path

Your mitochondrial DNA haplogroup tells you which continent your ancestor was from, meaning Europe, Africa, Asia or Native American, or an ethnicity like Jewish, and the path they took out of Africa to arrive on that continent. You may think you know, already, but do you really? There are surprises and you’ll never know if you don’t test.

estes-migration-path

Haplogroup Origins help to extend this information and tells you where your fully extended haplogroup is found in the world. Fully extended haplogroup means your full haplogroup, H2a1a, as opposed to simply haplogroup H. You have to take the full sequence mtDNA test to obtain your fully extended haplogroup.

Matches Map

Your Ancestral Matches and your Matches Map tell you where your matches most distant ancestors lived. This is most effective for full sequence matching because those are your closest matches. In fact, I only recommend full sequence matching today. You should obtain all of the ancestral information available and the only way to do that is to test the entire mitochondrial region.

Those who follow my blog know that I’m haplogroup J1c2f, and while that doesn’t make anyone gush at parties, it does provide me with information I not only didn’t have, but there is no way other than DNA testing to discover.

My most distant known ancestor is from Germany around 1800, but look at my matches map.

estes-match-map

There is obviously a historical, or maybe not so historical, Scandinavian story. You can read about this discovery here.

Your matches are sitting there, waiting for you, but first you have to test.  After that, the genealogy to find a common ancestor may take some work, unless you simply get lucky – and some do.

If more people were to test and provide their most distant ancestor information and pedigree charts, there would be more easy matches with known ancestors!!!  Just saying…

Matches Never Stop

The great news is that your mitochondrial DNA results are fishing for you 24X7. In July 2013, I had 3 full sequence matches, shown below.

my matches J1c2f

Today, I have 16, and the more full sequence matches, the more granular and detailed the story. It’s like watching your ancestral story hatch, one match at a time. These people all share an ancestor with you, sometime, someplace. The fun is in unraveling that story.  What does it mean to you?  What information does it provide about your ancestors and their journey?

Proving Your Point

You can also use mitochondrial DNA to prove, or disprove, a specific type of historic relationship. Suppose you suspect two women are sisters. If you can find descendants of both women through all females to the current generation (which can be males) you can either prove those two women have a common matrilineal ancestor or that they don’t. In cases like this, mitochondrial DNA in conjunction with autosomal matching can be a very powerful tool.  Comparing multiple kinds of DNA, together, is available under the advanced tools.

Building A MitoTree

If you’re after quick answers, building your own mitotree isn’t for you, but if you’re willing to invest some elbow grease, you can figure out the ancestral pedigree chart of how your matches descended from your common ancestor, based on their mutations.

I presumed, based on the matches map locations, that I was fairly closely related to my match in Poland, because at that time, it was the only full sequence match outside of Scandinavia. I was wrong. That person descended in a parallel line from a common Scandinavian ancestor. So no need looking in those Polish church records hoping to discover something about my direct line ancestors because they aren’t there!

You can read about how to build a mitochondrial tree here. If you like puzzles, this is for you.

Finding Your Ancestor’s Surname

I like to obtain the haplogroups of all of my ancestors and build a DNA Pedigree chart. My ancestor, Magdalena married Philip Jacob Miller, but we don’t know her surname. We do know they were Brethren, and Brethren married within their own religion. We know where they lived, and to some extent, we know the other Brethren families in that region.

After I wrote my 52 Ancestors story about Magdalena with hopes of finding a descendant who carries her mtDNA, someone contacted me to say a woman with a tree on Ancestry fits the bill. Indeed she did, and she agreed to have her mtDNA tested.

She immediately had an exact full sequence match, in the Brethren community, and the match does NOT descend from Magdalena herself. Unfortunately, the match does NOT have her genealogy back far enough to discover the family who might, just might, be Magdalena’s family as well. However, I can research genealogy to extend her tree, and I will, come spring when the roads clear.

The only path to Magdalena’s surname, short of a family Bible appearing someplace, is DNA, because I’ve exhausted all other available records.

Can mitochondrial DNA save the day and pin point Magdalena’s family so that I can prove the relationship through records? Maybe. I’ll let you know as this story unfolds.

Don’t’ Forget Mother

Genealogy without DNA is incomplete. It’s the holiday season. Give yourself the gift of your mother’s matrilineal history. DNA testing is the gift that keeps on giving, and you can have it even if your mother has passed over and is watching from the other side. Everyone carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, males and females alike.

What is your Mom’s story?

Coupons

Monday is coupon day and today’s discounts are valid through Christmas Day.

Click here to redeem this week’s discounts, below, or to check your own account for your holiday discount! Remember, if you don’t use your discount, you are welcome to share the code and what the discount is good for in the comments.

Coupon # Good for What
R21KJIRD1RHE $10 Off Family Finder
R21JRK2D90UD $10 Off MTDNA
R21LXPSPJWHV $10 Off MTDNA
R21Y1XRAXOUP $10 Off MTDNA
R2196977ZHMW $10 Off MTDNA
R21SE3R8R2XR $10 Off MTDNA
R21MWF0HLUZF $10 Off MTDNA
R21W7K0A1LPC $10 Off MTDNA
R21LC4TFPVHZ $10 Off MTDNA
R21B79RJWDTK $10 Off MTDNA
R213OAY3S5AO $10 Off MTDNA
R21US5CWPH3M $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21RKK62EV41 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R214HLMPS4OE $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21YW9Y4RKIS $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21YTUN7BD03 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21488RL6GSW $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R2125065BPXK $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21MT47U4NLL $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21W1QQAM79T $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21OVQGO8STN $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21WRSO7F3ZK $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R215AOTRDP90 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21DUVRGYTBV $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21S2KCO1WZY $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R215P3vUUX4Q $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21ES0OKOX56 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21TIPQVRL4A $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21ONRH9DCHK $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R217AWUBTPI9 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21CH2C02NUF $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R21OEA4IRRMZ $15 Off MTDNA
R21GNE34D3G9 $15 Off MTDNA
R21K9NFN9X5X $15 Off MTDNA
R21IZSMW0CDX $15 Off MTDNA
R219VOCZBV3Q $15 Off MTDNA
R21A6R2P2GLT $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21J06GAS9LE $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21V8UMR0SK6 $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21B7U0MELXZ $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21EHU63FC6V $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R217BHDCZ77G $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21RWOFKOAYD $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21E7WXUHLHY $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21C6CKY59HC $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R210BNJFID7I $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21ILVD7JI5U $20 Off Y37, 67 or Y111
R21GBA78JSMH $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R217A7MC5NOU $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R21QKWCVAQ1 $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R21GBUHMWTDE $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R215QHR2265Q $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R21EINIT1HZQ $30 off Y-DNA 67
R21YD2SXSN6K $40 Off MTFULL
R2159NPBEXN2 $40 Off Y-DNA 111
R21UA8V0UL5Z $5 Off Family Finder
R21U8EWL156F $5 Off Family Finder
R215NOH7GOIX $5 Off Family Finder
R21N1DCZGK76 $5 Off Family Finder
R21UERLNDCK1 $5 Off Family Finder
R21RJ31S1DIM $5 Off Family Finder
R21FGUN8F5QZ $5 Off Family Finder
R21OV934OAYF $5 Off Family Finder
R21TBU2YISI9 $50 Off Big Y
R21AZC7JJP8P $50 Off Big Y
R21QMVEQ3F7G $50 Off Big Y
R21HW6R4LICY $50 Off Big Y
R21ULYZF8CQ $50 Off Big Y
R21YMTRR8A5I $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R215J89WRZYI $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R21EAHEWU4QC $75 Off Big Y