George Dodson (1702 – after 1756), Disappeared Without a Trace, 52 Ancestors #145

Ancestors born in the early 1700s and earlier in colonial America become increasingly more difficult to trace. The Dodson line is no exception. The Dodson family does have an ace in the hole however, and that’s the compiled research of the Reverend Silas Lucas, published in a 2-volume set titled The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia – A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants.

Reverend Lucas includes information from an earlier manuscript by the Reverend Elias Dodson titled Genealogy of the Dodson Families of Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties in the State of Virginia which was written about 1859. The Reverend Elias may have confused the various Raleighs, unfortunately for my line, but he can be forgiven for doing so 100 years after the fact. He was also somewhat ambiguous about the various Georges. Certainly his manuscript in conjunction with the extracted and transcribed historical records is the only avenue one would ever have to sort through these families today. Dodsons are pretty much like rabbits and all of the cute baby rabbits have the same names, generation after generation.

Much of the information about George Dodson comes from Reverend Lucas.

Between 2000 and 2015, I visited many of the Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee counties involved, including historical societies, courthouses, museums, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina State Archives and Jamestown, and I came away with little that Reverend Lucas had missed. To date, there doesn’t seem to be anything relevant in the Virginia Chancery Suite Index either, except, wouldn’t you know it, Pittsylvania County records aren’t indexed yet. When I visited Pittsylvania County a decade or so ago, their chancery suits were an abysmal mess and they allowed anyone to paw through them, opening bundles with no prayer of ever getting the right documents back in the right packet. It was a horrible and sad state of affairs and I’m positive that their chancery records, if they ever do come online, will be incomplete at best.

North Farnham Parish, The Home of the Dodsons

George Dodson was born on October 31, 1702 in Richmond County, Virginia, according to the North Farnham Parish Records, the son of Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham.

George Dodson married Margaret Dagord, 6 years his junior, daughter of Henry Dagord, on April 20, 1726, also according to the North Farnham Parish Records.

George’s father, Thomas Dodson, wrote his will in 1739 and died either in 1739 or 1740, leaving George “150 acres of land whereon the said George Dodson is now living.” Like many other colonial sons, George had set up housekeeping on some of his father’s land, likely with the anticipation that he would clear it, farm it and one day inherit the fruits of his labor.

In both 1746 and 1751, George Dodson was shown on the Richmond County quit rent rolls, a form of taxation. Thank goodness for taxes!!!

In 1756, George and Margaret Dodson sold their 150 acres to William Forrister and apparently moved on.

Richmond County Deeds 11-421 – Date illegible, 1756. George Dodson and wife Margaret of North Farnham Parish to Robert Forrister of same for 16 pounds and 4000 pounds of a crop of tobacco, 150 acres being a tract of land whereon they now dweleth, beginning at the mouth of William Everett’s spring branch, William Forrister’s line, the Rowling? Branch.. Witnesses: John Hill, Gabriel Smith, Ja. (x) Forrester.

Recorded April 2, 1756 and Margaret Dodson relinquished dower.

Now, if we just knew where William Everett’s spring branch was located, or William Forrister’s land or the Rowling Branch, which is probably Rolling Branch. I have not done this, but utilizing the property records of William Everett and William Forrister and bringing them to current, if that is possible, might well reveal the original location of the Dodson land. Absent that information, let’s take a look at what we can surmise.

The Forrister Property

We do have something of a juicy clue. In 1723, one Dr. William Forrester who lived in the Northern Neck area of Richmond County made a house call to the Glascock Family who lived on Glascock’s Landing on Farnham Creek which connected with the Chesapeake Bay. Something went very wrong, and Dr. Forrester was murdered. However, the subsequent testimony says that, “Gregory Glascock being examined saith that on the 5th of November last about midnight he set off in a boat with his father, Thomas Glascock from their Landing on Farnham Creek…”

George Dodson would have been 21 years old. This murder and the subsequent escape of the Glascock’s had to be the topic of discussion in every family, in church and at every public meeting for months, if not years.

george-dodson-northern-neck

By Ali Zifan – Own work; used a blank map from here., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44344137

The Northern Neck of Virginia is described as the northernmost of the 3 peninsulas on the western short of the Chesapeake Bay, bounded by the Potomac River on the north the Rappahannock River on the south. It encompasses Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland Counties today, as shown on the map above.

dodson-northern-neck

On the bottom right areas of this survey map from 1736/1737, above, you can see Richmond County. On the contemporary map below, you can see Farnham Creek intersecting with the Rappahannock River. Farnham Creek begins in the upper right hand corner and looks to travel about 5 miles or so southeast to the Rappahannock, marked by the red balloon.

george-dodson-farnham-creek

It’s not far across the neck to the Potomac and the Chesapeake.

george-dodson-neck

Another William Forrester testified in his Revolutionary War pension application in 1836 that in 1779 or 1780 the enemy had landed on Indian banks or Glasscock’s warehouse in the Rappahannock River.

george-dodson-indian-banks

Indian Banks Road is shown by the red balloon, above, very close to Farnham Creek.

We encamped at Leeds town where the Companys remained for upwards of 6 weeks – Leeds town is a small village located between the Rappahannock and Potowmac [sic: Potomac] rivers. the object in placing us at that point was that we might aid in repelling any incursion which might be made by the enemy from either river. We remarched from Leeds town to Richmond Courthouse under the Command of Captain Harrison from thence to Farnham Church & from thence to Indian banks Glasscock’s Warehouse. The cause of our returning to the latter point was the information received of the approach of the enemy up the Rappahannock river. We remained for some time precise period not remembered. We marched to Farnham Church from thence & were discharged at the expiration of 3 months the term of our enlistment.

The North Farnham Parish Church on North Farnham Church Road, below, was built in 1737 and has been restored several times.

george-dodson-north-farnham-parish-church

On the map below, we find Indian Banks Road very close to Farnham Creek. The North Farnham Church and Indian Banks are both shown at opposite ends of the blue line on the map below.

george-dodson-church-to-indian-banks

Clearly, the Forrester family lived in this area, and so did the Dodsons who were their neighbors. Based on the two stories about the Forrester family, one from 1723 when Dr. Forrister was murdered, and the second from the Revolutionary War almost 60 years later, the Forrester family didn’t move. They still lived near Glascock’s Lansing on North Farnham Creek and the Rappahannock, and this is likely where George Dodson lived too, given that William Forrister was his neighbor and bought his land.

The French and Indian War

For the most part, Richmond County was spared the brunt of the French and Indian War which lasted for 7 years, beginning in 1754. However, men from Richmond County did belong to militias and furnished supplies to Washington’s army. Unfortunately, none of those militia lists remain today, at least not that I could find, so we don’t know if George Dodsons or his sons, perhaps, were involved.

French and Indian war

By Hoodinski – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30865550

Moving On

In 1756, George and Margaret Dagord Dodson were not youngsters. George would have been 54 and Margaret, 48. Their children ranged in age from Lazarus who was 28 years old and probably already married, to daughter Hannah, about age 9, born about 1747. Hannah may have died by 1756, because nothing is known of her after her birth is recorded in the church records.

George may have decided that moving was a “now or never” proposition, because their older children were of marriage age. Unless they wanted to leave their older children behind, if they were going to move, they should sell now and take them along while they still could – before the children became settled as adults into the area and wouldn’t want to leave.

The problem is that we don’t know where George and Margaret went.

George’s siblings went to Faquier County and joined the Broad Run Baptist Church there, but there is no sign of George on the list of members when the church was constituted in December of 1762, nor in any subsequent records with the exception of a 1770 rent roll.

In 1762, Thomas Dodson of Faquier County, George’s brother, released his right to his claim on the estate of his father, Thomas, to his brothers; Greenham Dodson of Amelia County, Abraham, Joshua and Elisha of Faquier County…but no George. Was this just an oversight?

Where was George, and why wasn’t he mentioned in this list? Was this an omission, or had he passed away? If he passed away, wouldn’t Thomas release his rights to George’s heirs? Or perhaps, just those siblings mentioned purchased Thomas’s portion of their father’s estate and George did not.

Between 1759 and 1761, George’s son, Raleigh was probably living in King William County, as he was noted in one court record, but there is no mention of George. Raleigh is also missing after that until he appears witnessing a deed in Halifax County in 1766 between Thomas Dodson and Joseph Terry. But again, no George.

Many researchers think that George joined his siblings and their children in Pittsylvania and Halifax County, Virginia, after 1766 when many Dodsons from the Broad Run congregation moved south. That’s possible, but there is no George with a wife Margaret before 1777 when George would have been 75 years old, and there were eventually many George Dodsons. George was certainly a popular name in the Dodson family.

Pittsylvania County, Virginia Records

The earliest record we have of a George Dodson in Pittsylvania County is a 1771 land grant for 400 acres to George Dodson, next to John Madding, and on Birches Creek, the location where so many other Dodsons settled. Tracking this land forward in time through deeds would tell us whether this belonged to our George, who likely died not terribly long afterwards, or to another George Dodson.

george-dodson-1777-document

However, there is another tantalizing tidbit. On February 8, 1777, George Dodson, Margaret (X) Dodson and Thomas Wyatt witness a deed of sale from Thomas Dodson to John Creel, for negroes. Seeing this saddened my heart, although we have absolutely no indication that our George owned other humans. Still, it reminds us of the ingrained institution of slavery that George would have witnessed on a daily basis.

Based on earlier transactions, the conveyor would have been “Second Fork Thomas,” either the son, brother or or nephew of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord. If this George was our George Dodson, he was likely a witness because he lived close or was nearby when the sale was consummated. This would suggest that George lived near the Birches Creek land an area gently sloping and partially wooded, shown below.

george-dodson-second-fork-birches-creek

This area falls between Highway 360, known as the Old Richmond Road, and the bottom of the map in the satellite view, below.

george-dodson-second-fork-map

This photo of an old building was taken at the intersection of Oak Level and River Road in Halifax County, an area that would have been very familiar to George if he lived long enough to make it to Halifax County near the Pittsylvania County border.

george-dodson-old-building

George and Margaret Dodson who witnessed that 1777 deed of sale may have been ours.  It was originally thought that this George and Margaret may have been the Reverend George Dodson whose wife’s name was Margaret too and also lived in Pittsylvania County. However, he is married to Eleanor in 1783 and didn’t marry Margaret until after that, according to Rev. Lucas. Therefore, the George and Margaret in 1777 cannot be the Reverend George and his wife, unless the other Reverend George Dodson’s wife was also named Margaret. Little is known about the other Reverend George Dodson.  Does everyone have to be named George and be a Reverend?

The George Dodson who died in 1825 was married to Margaret at the time he died.  She may not have been his first wife.  George’s children were born beginning about 1765 and marrying from the 1780s to 1812. This George and Margaret were not an older couple, so this is not the George Dodson who married Margaret Dagord.

In 1777, George Dodson begins a series of land transactions on Birches Creek which runs near and across the border between Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties. Furthermore, from this time forward, several George, Lazarus, Raleigh and Thomas Dodsons have a long intertwined series of relationships and transactions. We know that the Lazarus and Raleigh in these transactions aren’t ours, because George’s son, Raleigh Dodson left for what would become Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1778 when he sold his land in Caswell County and took his son, Lazarus Dodson, with him. That much, we know for sure!

Sorting Georges and Margarets

Reverend Lucas says that the Rev. Elias Dodson tried to straighten out the George’s apparently, saying the following:

  • Thomas and Elizabeth Rose Dodson were the parents of “Lame George the Preacher.”

The Thomas Dodson married to Elizabeth Rose is the son of Thomas Dodson who was married to Mary Durham and was the brother to George. Thomas, George’s brother’s will was probated in 1783 in Pittsylvania County.

  • Greenham Dodson was the father of “George the Preacher.”

Greenham was the brother of George Dodson and disappeared from Pittsylvania County records after 1777.

  • On page one of his manuscript, the Reverend Elias provides a list of the children of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, but he only lists three of their children: Lazarus, Fortune (Fortunas) and David.
  • “Peggy married the 1st time Fortune Dodson, son of George on the first page of this book.”

Peggy is a nickname for Margaret. Peggy is the daughter of Elisha and Sarah Averett Dodson. Elisha is our George’s brother, making Peggy and Fortunas 1st cousins. Fortunas appears in the records in 1776 when he writes his will and in 1777 when the will is probated. Nothing is known of Fortunas between his birth in 1740 and his death in 1776, except that he married and was having children by 1766.

Elisha, Peggy’s father, was a member of the Broad Run Baptist Church. In December of 1762, Elisha and wife Sarah were “dismissed to Halifax.” This would suggest that George’s son Fortunas and Elisha’s daughter Peggy were in the same place by 1766 or so in order to have married and be having children. Was our George Dodson in Halifax by 1766, or was Fortunas traveling with his brothers or maybe living with his uncle, Elisha.

The following chart shows the complex intertwining of the various George, Margaret and Raleigh Dodsons, along with a few other twists and curves.  Click to enlarge.

george-dodson-chart-2

  • Lame George the Preacher, son of Thomas Dodson and Eleanor Rose, had wife Eleanor in 1779 and 1783. His known children are not the same as the George who died in 1825.
  • George who died in 1825 had wife Margaret at that time.  He may or may not have been the son of George and Margaret Dagord. The daughter of the George who died in 1825 married a Thomas Madding in 1798. John Madding owned land next to 1771 land grant to George Dodson.
  • Rachel, daughter of Rev. Lazarus Dodson married a Thomas Madding according to Lazarus’s 1799 will.
  • George the Preacher, son of Greenham, and George born in 1737 may have been conflated in the records.  We know that Greenham had a son George who was a preacher.  We don’t know what happened to George Dodson and Margaret Dagord’s son, George.
  • George born in 1737 may not have been the same George that died in 1825.
  • George, either the son of Greenham or the one born 1737, had wife Elizabeth when he lived in Patrick and Henry County in the later 1780s and 1790s. He apparently moved back to Pittsylvania County in the 1790s
  • George the Preacher, if he is not the same person as George born in 1737, could have had a wife named Margaret.
  • A Rolly Dodson has a land grant in 1765 on Smith River near Falls Creek which is in Patrick and Henry Counties (today) on the same river and creek as Lambeth Dodson patented land in 1747.  Lambeth was a brother to Thomas Dodson who married Mary Durham.  The Smith River area is about 20 miles further west than the Birches Creek area of Halifax/Pittsylvania County where the Dodson clan who arrived in the 1766 timeframe would settle.  No further info about this land patented by Rolly has been found in any county. This Rolly may not be directly connected to the Birches Creek group, or he may simply have arrived a year before the rest, sold the patent without registering it as a deed and moved east later when they arrived.
  • The Rolly above may not be Raleigh born in 1730 who bought land in Caswell Co., NC in 1766.
  • We know there is another Raleigh and Lazarus because in 1777 they take an oath of allegiance in Pittsylvania County.  Parts of Pittsylvania would later become Patrick and Henry Counties.
  • There is confusion stating that the wife of Second Fork Thomas was the daughter of Lame George, the Preacher, which is very unlikely as this chart is drawn and as reported by Rev. Lucas.
  • It’s possible that Second Fork Thomas is actually Thomas, the son of Thomas who was married to Elizabeth Rose, who could then have married his first cousin, the daughter of Lame George.
  • Needless to say, the Thomases, Georges, Raleighs and Margarets are confused and confusing in Halifax and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

I tried to sort through the Peggy/Margaret scenario, but find the recorded facts to be somewhat suspect. If Fortunas died in 1776, he could have had an infant child. Assuming he did, the 3 other children would have been born between 1770 and 1774. That means Peggy would have been born in roughly 1750 at the latest.

If Peggy remarried to Raleigh Dodson Sr.’s son, Raleigh Jr., several years her junior who was born about 1756, and then had an additional 4 (documented by Raleigh’s will) or 6 children (oral history), one as late as 1790, Peggy would have been 40 or older when she had her last child. That’s certainly possible. One fly in this ointment is that Raleigh Jr.’s wife in Hawkins County in 1806 appears to be Sarah, not Peggy.

However, the Raleighs in Hawkins, Giles and Williamson County of the same generation all seem to be confused with conflicting information, so I would not bet any money on the accuracy of which Raleigh Peggy married after Fortunas died. There are at least two, if not 3, Raleighs of the same generation. One died in Giles County, TN in 1815, one in Williamson County, TN in 1836 who was (apparently) married to a Margaret and the Raleigh of Hawkins County who disappears after 1808. Reverend Lucas thinks that the Raleigh who was married to Peggy in Pittsylvania County, and Raleigh who sold land in April of 1806 in Pittsylvania County was the son of Raleigh Sr. However, the Raleigh that is the son of Raleigh Sr. is noted as “of Hawkins County” when he sells land in February of 1806 in Hawkins County, two months before the Raleigh in Pittsylvania County sold his land there.

Did Peggy, who is very clearly married to a Raleigh Dodson in 1791 when she and her siblings sell her father’s land, marry a different Raleigh?

Based on the 1777 loyalty oaths sworn, we do know for sure that there is at least one other Raleigh in Pittsylvania County at that time, because George’s son Raleigh Sr. is living in Caswell County, NC, and Raleigh Jr. would have been living with his father, barring any unusual circumstances. The Reverend Elias Dodson attributes a son “Rolly” to Rev. Lazarus Dodson, brother of Raleigh Sr., but Rev. Lazarus’s will in 1799 does not reflect a son by that name, by any spelling.

By 1766 when the Dodsons migrated en masse from Faquier County to Halifax and Pittsylvania County, our George would have been 64 years old. He had long surpassed his life expectancy at that time of 37 years, and George may simply have sold his land in 1756, at age 54, and died without purchasing additional land elsewhere. Not all records from this timeframe exist. Several counties have burned records between the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, not to mention courthouse fires. George could have moved to a county whose records don’t survive today, but the most likely place for George to be found, if he was living, was with his siblings and children in Farquhar County and then in Halifax and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

George’s Children

George’s children are recorded in the records of the North Farnham Parish Church. It’s a good thing, because without a will or estate records for George, we would have no information.

  • Mary 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
  • Fortunatus Dodson born March 31, 1740
  • Hannah Dodson born May 2, 1747
  • David Dodson probably born after 1740 if he is the son of George as identified by the Reverend Elias Dodson. However, he in not recorded in the North Farnham Parish Church records.

For more information about the children of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, please see Margaret Dagord’s story.

DNA

I keep hoping that I’ll be included in a DNA Circle at Ancestry for George Dodson. Ancestry Circles are formed somewhat mystically, kind of like when the Circle fairy sprinkles fairy dust on your ancestors, you might receive one.

Ancestry does discuss how Circles are formed, in generalities. Circles are supposed to be formed when you have 3 or more individuals whose DNA matches and you share a common ancestor, but suffice it to say, I’m not included in a George Dodson Circle yet, even though I match or have matched 16 other people who share him as an ancestor. A few of the individuals I have matched in the past are no longer shown on my match list.  However, I still match 13 people who share George with me in our trees, as indicated by those green leaf Ancestor Hints.

The chart below shows my DNA+tree matches to descendants of George Dodson who married Margaret Dagord. I’s interesting, in light of the confusion about George, the son of George Dodson and Margaret Dagord, with absolutely nothing concrete about whether son George even lived, that 9 different people claim him as their ancestor, although their individual trees are highly disparate. One match claims “Second Fork” Thomas, who wasn’t a son of George Dodson and Mary Dagord at all. Still, my DNA matches theirs and we share George Dodson and Mary Dagord in our trees – however accurate or inaccurate those trees might be.

Match Predicted Relationship Relation-ship Child of George Shared cMs Confi-dence At FTDNA or Status
Cindy 4th cousin 7C David 32, 2 segments High
Claude 5-8th cousin 7C George 18.7, 1 segment Good FTDNA largest segment 39.19 cM
Beverly 5th-8th cousin 7C1R George 10.6, 1 segment Mod
DT Lazarus gone
Prince 5th-8th 6C1R George 8.1, 1 segment Mod
GD 5th – 8th 6C1R George 6.2, 1 segment Mod
Lou 5th-8th 7C George 15.8, 1 segment Mod
Lumpy 5th-8th 7C Fortunas 9.6, 1 seg Mod
LW 5th – 8th 7C George 9.1, 1 segment Mod
WT 5th-8th David gone
Erin 5th – 8th 7C George 7.5, 1 segment Mod
Missouri 5th-8th George gone
William 5th – 8th 7C Lazarus 7.3, 1 segment Mod
Brian 5th-8th 7C Lazarus 7.5, 1 segment Mod
Sybil 5th-8th 7C Thomas “Second Fork” 7.5, 1 segment Mod
Jack 5th-8th 7C George 6.5, 1 segment Mod FTDNA largest segment 19.31cM

Note that with the two people who are also found at Family Tree DNA, the largest segment size is very different. Unfortunately, as we all know by now, there is no chromosome browser at Ancestry, so I’ll just have to do the best I can without that tool.

Ancestry is known for stripping out sections of DNA that they feel is “too matchy” utilizing their Timber program, so I wanted to see if any of these matches at Ancestry could be found at Family Tree DNA who has a chromosome browser and provides chromosome matching information. In some cases, Ancestry users utilize their name as their user name, so are readily recognizable when you search at Family Tree DNA within your matches. I found two of my Ancestry matches at Family Tree DNA.

Claude has also tested at Family Tree DNA and his results there shows the single longest segment to be a whopping 39cM. The fact that Ancestry stripped this out made me wonder if perhaps that segment was found in one of the pileup regions, so I took a look.

george-dodson-ftdna-segments

The segment on chromosome 5 is a total of 39.19 cM. The next largest segment is 3.44 cM and found on chromosome 16. There is no pileup region on chromosome 5, so the missing 20.49 cM has nothing to do with a known pileup region. Apparently, there were enough people matching me on this segment that Ancestry felt it was “too matchy,” indicating a segment that they interpreted as either a pileup or an ancestry because we share a common population, and they removed it. That’s unfortunate, because as we’ll see, it’s clearly a relevant Dodson segment.

I moved to my Master DNA spreadsheet where I track my chromosome segments and do triangulation, and sure enough, this same segment has been preserved nearly intact in other Dodson descendants as well. You can see that one individual whose surname today is Durham carries a large part of this segment. Followup may indeed indicate that this segment came from the George Dodson’s mother, Mary Durham.

george-dodson-match-segments

A second individual who matches me at Family Tree DNA is Jack. We share 19.31 cM on chromosome 4 at Family Tree DNA, but the match disappeared entirely at Ancestry for awhile, then returned with only 1 segment of 6.5cM matching. My match to Jack is shown on the Family Tree DNA chromosome browser, below.

george-dodson-jack-segments

We may have lost George after 1756 on paper, but George really isn’t lost. Clearly, identifiable parts of George Dodson’s DNA have been handed down to his descendants. He is us.

Summary

We are fortunate to have any information at all about George. Were it not for the North Farnham Parish Church records, we wouldn’t know the date of his birth, the names of his parents or the name of his wife.

Our only other direct tie to the past is, of course, George’s father’s will where he leaves George land.

I wish we had more than the barest snippets about George’s life. We lose him entirely after 1756 when he sells his land in Richmond County, with the possible exception of that tantalizing February 8, 1777 deed in Pittsylvania County where George and Margaret are witnesses to a sale. Of course, we don’t know if that George and Margaret are married to each other, and we don’t know the name of the wife of at least one of the other George Dodson’s living in that area.  We do know that the George who died in 1825 was married at that time to a Margaret, and if she was his only wife, they were having children beginning in about 1765 and lived in the Halifax/Pittsylvania County area. That couple is not our George and Margaret.  So the 1771 land grant to George and the 1777 George and Margaret pair could well NOT be our George. But then again, it could. If it is, he is a hearty 74 years old in 1777, looking towards his three quarter of a century mark birthday that October 31st.

In my heart of hearts, I suspect that our George died sometime after he sold his Richmond County land in 1756 and before the 1766 Dodson migration to Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties. I think he really did disappear without a trace. No records, no will or estate, no oral history, nothing – except his DNA carried by his descendants today.

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.

Raleigh Dodson (1730-c1794) of Dodson’s Ford; Ferryman, Surveyor and Stone Dresser, 52 Ancestors #143

Can I tell you a secret?  I’ve been dreading and putting off writing this article because I’ve gathered information on Raleigh for so long, it’s in so many places and it’s not the least bit organized.  I hate messes like this, and Raleigh, truthfully, was a mess.

And even more discouraging, Raleigh wasn’t always a mess.

I had transcribed close to 200 pages in a MSWord document over 3 or 4 weeks while visiting Tennessee during multiple trips.  Notes made in courthouses during the day were transcribed at night on my laptop in hotel rooms.

I swear, I thought I transferred those files to my desktop at home – but I obviously did not – because after my laptop was stolen, those transcribed pages were no more.  Now, the saving grace, if there is one, is that I printed parts of those transcriptions which were in the files with some of the notes – and I made copies of some of the deeds at courthouses.  And if you’re wondering if I threw the original notes away after I transcribed them – yes – for the most part.  So, every time I have an anti-packrat moment and tell myself it’s OK to throw something away – I think of situations like this.

After that, for me, to even think about Raleigh was to feel very discouraged.  I can’t go back and recover much of what was lost.  Thankfully, I still have the most important parts and I think I’ve been able to reconstruct most everything relevant – although it felt like it took forever and it was far from joyful. But now it’s done and Raleigh’s life is in order – or as much order as I can give him more than 220 years after he departed this life. Now that I think of it, it’s pretty amazing that we can reconstruct any of  someone’s life nearly 300 years after their birth – as they traipsed across frontiers.

The bad part about doing original research is that you have to sort through a lot of chaff to find any wheat – and I’m reasonably confident that it’s just the chaff that is missing – because thankfully it was the wheat that I printed to use the following day when I returned to the courthouse.

And the answer to the next question you’re about to ask is yes, I do carry a printer (and also a scanner) with me when I travel. Most courthouses won’t allow scanners or photography of the books, but you just never know what else you’ll run across in other locations.

Bookends

We have the bookends of Raleigh’s life pretty well documented – birth and death.  The problem is that I wasn’t happy with that, and I had to go to Hawkins County and try to find his land.  And while it should have been relatively easy, scattered records, burned records and quirky turns made the task much more difficult than I expected.  Truthfully, with Dodson Creek, Dodson Ford, Dodson Creek Church and Dodson Creek Cemetery, how tough could this be – really?  The answer is, much more difficult than I anticipated.

It doesn’t help any that many of Hawkins County’s records burned in the Civil War, including marriage records and wills.  After the war ended, some of the wills were re-transcribed from the original wills that survived, but of course there are no probate dates or other information.  And not all wills survived.  Enough to make a genealogist tear their hair out.

In the First Families of Tennessee, Rawleigh Dodson is recorded as born in 1730, died circa 1794 in Hawkins Co., TN, married Mary unknown, settled in Sullivan County in 1786 and the proof of such settlement is a land grant.  Now, why couldn’t I just enter this into my genealogy program and leave well enough alone?

Because, I’m me and I just can’t.  There is so much more to our ancestors than their birth and death dates – and I had to get to know Raleigh.  I wanted to unravel his life, walk in his footsteps and on his land.

Come along with me and we’ll visit Dodson Ford – and it’s not a car dealership either!  But first, we visit North Farnham Parish in Richmond County, Virginia and travel with Raleigh along the way.

In the Beginning…

The North Farnham Parish Register records Rawleigh’s birth.  Michelle Goad extracted the information, as follows:

Born, Dodson, Rawleigh, son of George and Margaret Dodson, 18 January 1730.

The North Farnham Parish Episcopal Church as it stands today is believed to have been built about 1737.  It has been restored, although it was used as a stable during the Civil War.

North Farnham Church

Raleigh probably watched this church being built.  Maybe he even helped carry tools to the workers.  A 7 year old boy would have probably thought that was fun.  Maybe they let Raleigh pound a few nails too.

The church is located in Farnham, Virginia, in Richmond County on North Farnham Church Road (County Route 692) at its intersection with Cedar Grove Road (County Route 602) about 5 miles from the Rappahannock River.

raleigh-farnham-map

Raleigh’s parents surely lived someplace in the satellite image below.

raleigh-farnham-satellite

This area was settled quite early, being on a neck of land between the Potomac River, the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay, northeast of Richmond.  Maryland lies across the Potomac. This part of Virginia is flat and relatively unremarkable, sporting salt and pepper fields and woods.

raleigh-chesapeake

Given that the parish register included dates preceding 1737, the current building was obviously not the first church building.

Raleigh lived near this location for his entire childhood and perhaps part of his adult life.

In 1739, Raleigh’s father, George, was left “150 acres of land whereon this said George Dodson is now living” in the will of George’s father, Thomas Dodson.   This land is described as being “at the mouth of William Everett’s spring branch adjoining William Forrister and the Rowling? Branch,” when George and Margaret Dodson of North Farnham Parish sold the land in 1756 to William Forrester.

This also tells us that Raleigh knew his grandfather, and probably quite well, given that they lived on his land.  Raleigh would have been about 9 when his grandfather died.  A hard lesson for a young boy about life and death.

Raleigh’s marriage record has not been located, but it’s likely that he married someone who lived near his family in Richmond County, probably sometime around 1754 or 1755.

There is one piece of evidence that suggests Raleigh was living in Prince William County, VA around 1759 to 1761.  There is a court case, Raleigh Dodson vs John Webb in trespass with the notation that the defendant has a special parlance granted him.  Prince William order book 1759-61, p 241.

raleigh-1755-map

You can see, on the 1755 map above that Prince William County in the upper left to the left of the big A isn’t far from Richmond County on the “neck” in the lower right between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers.  A more contemporary map from FamilySearch is shown below.

raleigh-prince-william

Raleigh may have attended the Broad Run Baptist Church in Fauquier County, formed from the southern portion of Prince William County in 1759, when a person whose name has been interpreted as “Roby” Dodson had an infant taken into the care of the church on October 9, 1763.  The infants name, interpreted as “Shier” could be a misread of Toliver or Oliver.  At any rate, we hear no more of “Roby” and “Shier,” and if Roby was Raleigh, we hear no more of him either.

The path from Richmond County to Broad Run, about 100 miles in a wagon, was only an interim stopover for the Dodson families.

raleigh-richmond-to-prince-william

Many of the Dodsons who found their way to Halifax County, Virginia were dismissed from Broad Run between 1763 and 1766.

raleigh-broad-run

The Broad Run Church, above, was founded as a Baptist church in 1762, which meant it was a church of dissenters.  At that time in Virginia, the Anglican church was the only legal church, meaning the only church recognized by law, and membership was mandatory.

Many Dodsons are found in the Broad Run Baptist Church records, but Raleigh is absent.  He would have been required by law to attend the Anglican church, but that doesn’t mean he attended or participated. He might have preferred to pay the fine.

Raleigh’s next appearance would be in Halifax County, Virginia. This trip was about twice as far, and through some rough mountains near Lynchburg, although they may have chosen the route through Farmville instead.

raleigh-prince-william-to-halifax

In 1766, Raughley Dodson and Lazarus, probably his brother, witnessed a deed from Joseph Terry to Thomas Dodson for land on the second fork of Birches Creek, Halifax County, VA Deed book 6-363. This Thomas or his son Thomas, the records are unclear, would thereafter be known as “Second Fork Thomas.”

Raleigh also had a brother Thomas.  The Reverend Silas Lucas identifies Second Fork Thomas as Thomas, the son of Thomas Dodson who married Elizabeth Rose, who was the brother to Raleigh’s father, George.  Therefore, if this is accurate, Second Fork Thomas, born about 1730, would have been Raleigh’s first cousin, not his brother or his uncle.  However, I’m not convinced that the records for Raleigh’s brother, whom nothing is known about, and Raleigh’s uncle Thomas, and Raleigh’s first cousin Thomas haven’t been conflated, especially given that “Second Fork Thomas,” according to Lucas, didn’t die until 1816 in Hawkins County, TN.

raleigh-thomas-dodsons

Thomas Dodson, thought to be “Second Fork Thomas” eventually lived near Raleigh on the north side of the Holston River in Hawkins County.  It’s unclear what happened to Raleigh’s brother, Thomas, although he could certainly be the Thomas in Hawkins County. The Dodson family is incredibly difficult to sort accurately.

Dodson’s Ordinary

Today, the original Dodson Ordinary in Halifax County is a historic site called Carter’s Tavern, located on the main road from South Boston to Danville across the road from Arbor Church, shown on the map below.

raleigh-arbor-church-map

The Dodson Ordinary has a rich and vibrant history of being a stage coach stop and sporting the ghost of a man killed in the building.  The original proprietor, Joseph Dodson, was born in 1724 to Thomas Dodson and Elizabeth Rose. This would mean that Joseph was Raleigh’s first cousin.

Joseph arrived in Halifax County in 1766, along with several other Dodson men, probably including Raleigh, and purchased the land on Toby Creek that would become the Dodson Ordinary.

Joseph Dodson died in 1773, leaving the plantation to his wife and son, Joseph.  The same year Joseph died, he sold land, along with “Second Fork Thomas,” in Halifax County.

raleigh-carter-tavern-sign

raleigh-dodson-ordinary

Restoration work within the Tavern revealed the name of Thomas Dodson etched in the fireplace stone mortar, along with a date of 1767.  Given that Joseph bought the land in 1766, it makes sense that in 1767, he would be building a house.  We’ll never know whether the etcher was Raleigh’s brother Thomas, or Joseph’s brother Thomas, or Joseph’s son Thomas, who would have been about 20 in 1766.  I’m betting on Joseph’s son!

Raleigh assuredly knew Joseph well and probably visited the Dodson Ordinary many times as the Ordinary was a regional location of commerce and a stage coach stop, along with a tavern, of course.  Judging from later records, Raleigh probably never met a drop of whisky that he didn’t like, and business transactions in that day were often agreed upon in taverns which were social gathering places for men!  I suspect liquor greased a lot of business deals.

raleigh-top-of-the-world

Across the road from Dodson’s Ordinary, the view is spectacular to the north, across the area of Birches Creek, called the “Top of the World” by local people. On a clear day, you can see the Peaks of Otter, about 70 miles distant as the crow flies.

Directly across the road from Dodson’s Ordinary and east a few hundred feet, local legend tells us that a revival was held under a bush where the Arbor Church is located today.

raleigh-arbor-church

We find the following information about Arbor Church:

The Arbor Church congregation is one of the oldest congregations in Halifax County. In the Spring of 1785 William Dodson, a missionary Baptist preacher held a revival under a bush arbor near Carter’s Tavern. As a result of that revival Arbor Baptist Church was organized with 35 charter members and Mr. Dodson as the first preacher. Mr. Samuel Dodson, owner of Carter’s Tavern donated a triangular lot of about 2 acres on which a log building was erected. The base of the triangle bordered River Road with the apex at a rock spring down the hill. Mr. Dodson said he gave the land that way so that the church would have a continuous supply of water.

In the picture, below, you can see the edge of Dodson’s Ordinary, later named Carter’s Tavern, on the right, and the church is the white building behind the trees on the left.

raleigh-tavern-and-church

Many of the Dodson family members who relocated to Halifax County had been members of Broad Run Church in Fauquier County, including the Reverend Lazarus Dodson, Raleigh’s brother, who was living in this area by 1767 and founded the Little Sandy Creek Church on the Dan River, which runs near the Virginia/North Carolina border.

The southwestern portion of Halifax County and the southeastern portion of Pittsylvania County became the center of Dodson family life in Virginia.  These counties bordered Caswell County, NC on the south, and the Dodsons spilled over into Caswell as well.

Raleigh Buys Land on Country Line Creek

In the winter of 1768, Raleigh bought into the American dream – land.

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 Hugh Kelly, Henry Hicks and Henry Willis.  (Orange County Deed book 2-160)

raleigh-halifax-to-country-line

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

country line creek

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

Raleigh and his wife Mary sold their 50 acres of land on the south side of Country Line Creek on July 5, 1778 to Clement Gann (being purchased of John Robinson) and evidently moved to Hawkins County, TN about this time.

Given that Raleigh’s deed says on the south side, I’d wager that his land was where Country Line runs east to west, as opposed to the area where it runs more north to south.

We don’t know where on Country Line Creek Raleigh lived, but this is where NC62 crosses Country Line, just south of Yanceyville today.  You can’t actually see the creek, but you can pull off and fish, apparently.

raleigh-country-line

This area is very heavily wooded.  The 1860 census taker added notes about Caswell County, and he describes Caswell County as rolling and hilly as the streams are approached.  He then says, “The roughest areas are those along Country Line Creek.”  Raleigh probably lived along the portion of Country Line Creek shown below.

raleigh-country-line-satellite

In 1777, the heads of household had to take an oath of allegiance to support the Colony of Virginia against the crown.  Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson’s oaths were recorded in Pittsylvania county.  Oaths taken by George Carter included Elisha Dodson, George Dodson (possibly Raleigh’s father), Lazarus Dodson, Rolly Dodson, Thomas Dodson, George Hardy Jr., Joshua Hardy, William Hardy, Charles Lewis and John Lewis.  A Lewis family researcher says this looks like the “Mine Branch” Lewis family and then using Roger Dodson’s survey book,  we can determine that the location of George Carter’s land was south of Mine Branch near Double Creek in Pittsylvania County.

There is no way to tell if this is our Raleigh and his son Lazarus, but given that our Raleigh is living in Caswell County in North Carolina, this is likely not our Raleigh or his son, Lazarus who would have been about 17.  This is more likely Raleigh’s brother, the Reverend Lazarus Dodson, who did indeed live in Pittsylvania County.  The Rev. Elias Dodson names one “Rolly” as the son of Rev. Lazarus, which makes more sense than our Raleigh who was living in NC swearing an oath of this type in Virginia.

Raleigh obviously left for what would become east Tennessee sometime between July of 1778 when he sold his Caswell County land, and May of 1779 when Rawley Dodson and Dodson’s Creek are both mentioned in Washington County land warrant 1382.

After Raleigh had left Caswell, the name of Rawley Dodson shows up there once again in matters pertaining to the estate of John Moore, Jr. (1786-1791).  A list of accounts included the name of Rawley Dodson in Caswell Co., will book C, June court 1792.

raleigh-caswell-to-hawkins

East Tennessee

The area where Raleigh settled in present day east Tennessee was originally the Washington District, then Sullivan County, North Carolina, then in 1784 the highly political and volatile rogue State of Franklin, then in 1786 Hawkins County, North Carolina, then in 1790 the Territory South of the Ohio River which then became Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1796 when Tennessee became a state.  Raleigh lived in all of these places without moving an inch.  The boundaries moved around him, and not without a great deal of drama either.  Raleigh must have been in a constant state of emotional upheaval!

raleigh-1796-map

On the 1796 map above, Washington County is shown as land south of the Holston, with Hawkins County just across the river.  Hawkins C.H. means Hawkins Courthouse, which is today’s Rogersville.

Elijah Chissum had a ferry across the Holton River and Dodson Ford crossed just beneath Hawkins Courthouse too.

From the book Tennessee Land Warrants, Vol 4 Part 1:

Page 60 – 407 (291) March 10, 1780 Elijah Chisum enters 100 acres on the left fork of Dodson’s Creek, border begins at a bent below the first row of nobs and runs down the creek.  Warrant issued on June 18, 1780 by John Adair and the warrant was assigned August 16, 1788 by Elijah Chusum to John Cox (Thomas King, witness) 100 acres surveyed June 12, 1787 by Rawleigh Dodson, James Bunch and Reason Kartin, chain carriers, grant 527 issued Nov. 26, 1789

The above warrant tells us that Raleigh was a surveyor.  Another grant tells is that Elijah Chism’s line bordered Evans’ line, a neighbor of Raleigh.

From the book Valid and Invalid North Carolina Warrants in Tennessee by Dr. A. B. Pruitt:

Page 48 – Washington County warrant 1382 to Rowley Dotson for 150 acres on Dotson’s Creek and joins tract where said Dotson lives, warrant issued May 21, 1779 and warrant issued October, 24, 1779 by John Carter, Book 28, page 121

The entry book for John and Landon Carter, entry takers for “Washington Co., NC, now Tennessee,” shows a warrant, 1783, dated May 21, 1779, directing the surveyor of Sullivan County to “lay off for William Payne 150 acres on the Holston River adjoining a tract of land known as the ‘burnt cabin’”.  This land was surveyed on April 28, 1787 for Rawleigh Dodson by Rawl Dodson, deputy surveyor.

Did Raleigh survey his own land, or was Rawl Dodson, in this case, Raleigh Jr.?  It’s interesting that his nickname may have been Rawl.

The State of NC issued grants to Raleigh Dodson for two tracts of 150 acres, both apparently entered before Hawkins County was created in 1786; grant #1481 for 150 acres on the left fork of Dodson’s creek and #1489 for 150 acres on the south side of Holston River.  Dodson’s Creek, no doubt named by or for Raleigh Dodson, is a branch of the Holston River on the south side of the river and nearly opposite the town of Rogersville.  Dodson’s Ford was located near the mouth of Dodson’s Creek where the Indians’ Great War Path and Trading Path crossed the Holston River.

raleigh-1780-dodson-ford

“Dodson Ford -1780” is marked on this historic map, courtesy of the Hawkins County Archives.

The location of Dodson Ford was at one time was marked by a Tennessee Historical marker, although the marker was reportedly hit and then stolen years ago and never replaced.  The land around Dodson’s Ford is some of the most beautiful in east Tennessee.

raleigh-land

Above, the Dodson land looking south from across the Holston River. This is one of my favorite photos, because it conveys the flavor of the land and I think, the spirit of the frontiersmen, and women, who first settled these rolling hills along the river.

raleigh-holston

Looking upstream towards Dodson Ford from the mouth of Honeycutt Creek on the Holston River.  The Ford was about the location of the pillar on the right bank of the river in the distance.

raleigh-1789-grant

Raleigh’s 1789 land grant, above, is for 150 acres in Hawkins County on the south side of the Holston on Dodson’s Creek on the left fork above Evans line.  Beginning on a beech tree running thence:

  • West 110 poles to a white oak (1815 feet)
  • Then north 220 poles to a pine (3630 feet
  • Then east 110 poles to a stake (1815)
  • Then south 221 poles to the beginning (3646.50 feet)

This was granted at Fayetteville, NC on November 26, 1789.

Another grant was entered by both Lazarus and Raleigh, both granted the same day, November 26, 1789. (Click to enlarge.)

raleigh-1789-grant-2

Raleigh’s grant reads, “150 acres in Sullivan County on the south side of Holston River lying between Dodson’s Creek and a former entry including a spring at the head of Dodson’s creek, beginning on Lazarus Dodson’s line,” then metes and bounds, as follows:

  • Pine running thence along the same south 40 degrees east 100 poles to a hickory (1650 feet)
  • Then south126 poles to a post oak (2079 feet)
  • West 186 poles to a stake then (3069 feet)
  • North 35 east 236 poles to the beginning (3894 feet)

Lazarus’s grant reads as follows:

300 acres in Sullivan on the south side of Holston lying on both sides of Dodson’s Creek beginning on a red oak,

  • Then with a conditional line between John Sanders and said Dodson running thence along the same south 65 degrees west 240 poles to a poplar and black gum (3960 feet)
  • South 50 poles to a white oak (825 feet)
  • Rawley Dodson’s line
  • Thence along same south 40 east 140 poles to a white oak thence (2310 feet)
  • East 140 poles to a stake then (2310 feet)
  • North 200 poles to the beginning (3300 feet)

Raleigh’s deed, as it turns out, becomes quite important later in the story, as this is the land that Raleigh actually lived on and leaves to his son, Raleigh.  Raleigh Sr.’s son, Lazarus, lived right next door.  Father and son filed for and obtained their land at the same time.

Interestingly, the last sentence says “the said Rawley Dodson shall cause this grant to be registered in the registers office of said Sullivan County within 12 months from the date hereof otherwise the same shall be void and of no effect.”

So the grant was only the first step.  If you didn’t register the deed, the grant didn’t matter.

Page 124-798 (681) – Rolly Dotson enters 300 acres on the south side of Holston River and on both sides of Dotson’s Creek, border, begins on Dodson’s line on a branch at a white oak marked D, runs along said Dodson’s line and up the branch.  Duplicate warrant issued Sept., 28, 1792.

I’d love to find that tree with a “D.”

Between Raleigh and Lazarus’s main grants, they owned 600 acres, just under a mile by a mile square on the west side of Dodson’s Creek.  That doesn’t count Raleigh’s 1791 purchase of the Honeycutt land, which was an additional 163 acres.  Lazarus’s land actually crossed Dodson Creek and abutted John Sanders land, on the east side.

On the map below, the blue arrows approximate Raleigh’s grant, and the red includes the approximate land that Lazarus and Raleigh held together.  After Raleigh bought the Honeycutt land, those red arrows on the left would have moved over by Honeycutt Creek on the Holston. A one mile by one mile square of land is 640 acres and one Pole is 5.5 yards or 16.5 feet.There are 5,280 feet in a linear mile.

raleigh-land-boundaries

We know that Raleigh’s land included Dodson Ford which was the extension of the present day Old Persia Road/Tennessee 66 where it merged with Old Tennessee 70.  The old highway marker for Dodson Ford used to be located at this intersection.

So, Where was Dodson Ford?

We can pretty well place where Dodson Ford was located.

You can’t see the old road today on the satellite image, but you can see the old bridge just the other side of where Old Tennessee 70 intersects with Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

raleigh-old-road

A local man told me that the old bridge there was built where Dodson Ford used to cross.  The only part of the old bridge you can see today is the pilings near the south bank and in the river.  Arnott’s Island is the teardrop shaped island to the right of the old bridge.

Old Tennessee 66 was Old Persia Road which intersected with Old Tennessee 70 and Crossed the Holston where it ended, at Dodson’s Ford.  What we don’t know for sure is exactly where Dodson Ford was located, but we do know approximately, within a few hundred feet.

Based on what we know about our Raleigh’s deeds and the neighbor’s deeds, we now know that Raleigh Dodson and Lazarus owned land primarily west of Dodson Creek, top red arrow shown on the map below, including Dodson Ford which crossed the Holston River.

raleigh-ford-location

George Kite owned the land where the Kite Cemetery is located today and is also where Evan’s station was located, probably at the intersection of what is today Dodson Creek coming from the east and Louderback Creek on the south, marked by the bottom red arrow on the map above.  Of course, George Kite sold part of his land to Louderback, which is how that Creek obtained its name.  The old Kite house is very near the Kite Cemetery, which is the green square just below the Kite arrow.

On the satellite image below, you can see the location of the mouth of Dodson Creek, to the far right, Arnott’s Island, the bend in old Tennessee 70 where the Sanders Cemetery is located, marked by the red arrow a the bottom.  the scars from the old road that led to the old bridge across the Holston, likely where Dodson Ford was as well, are marked by the two arrows at left.

raleigh-dodson-ford-map

The location of the Ford itself was likely very close to where the old 66/70 bridge across the Holston was eventually built, which has now been torn down and dismantled, except for the bases.

raleigh-dodson-ford-pilings

We could call these the ghost sentinels of Dodson Ford – remnants of the past, standing watch today.

The TVA Authority land acquisition map from 1943 shows the old bridge over the Holston at this location labeled Tennessee 66 and Tennessee 70, confirming that Old 66 was indeed Old Persia Road.

And it would make sense that the bridge over the Holston, whenever it was built, was built at or near where the old Dodson’s Ford used to be located.  After all, the Ford was located at the easiest place to cross the river.

raleigh-tva-map

I wish someone had told me that there WAS a TVA land acquisition map when I first started trying to piece Raleigh’s land history together, because it would have been a LOT easier to work backwards through contemporary deeds than trying to work forward from land grants.

We Interrupt Raleigh’s Life to Bring you the Revolutionary War

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.

Both Lazarus and his father, Raleigh Dodson served in the Revolutionary War.

Their Revolutionary War service is documented in “North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts, Index to Soldiers residing in Washington and Sullivan County, 1781-1783.

NC Army Acct

Both Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson are listed.

nc army acct detail

After finding this tantalizing nugget, I contacted the NC Archives and eventually, visited, in order to obtain the original records.

According to pay records found in the NC Archives, in Raleigh, NC, Lazarus Dodson served in the Revolutionary War in August of 1783.  That is likely the date of his discharge, so he may have served earlier in the year.

Laz dodson rev war pay record

In 1783, an Act authorizing the opening of a land office for the redemption of specie and other certificates was passed, and all soldiers holding specie or certificates were enabled to redeem them by taking land in exchange, at a rate fixed by the state of North Carolina.

laz dodson rev war auditor record

Believe it or not, there were two holes punched in this document, reflecting how it has been stored.

Raleigh and Lazarus Dodson both served in the Revolution and are both found in the Morgan district which includes the land that would become East Tennessee.

raleigh rev war record

A second Rolley Dotson is found in the Hillsboro district (auditors Mebane and Nichols), which is the area of NC below Halifax/Pittsylvania in VA.  We know that our Raleigh was in East Tennessee prior to this time, but that this part of Tennessee was still North Carolina.

district auditors

The auditors and their corresponding districts found in the archives helped define which Raleigh was which.

nc rev war districts

We don’t know exactly who Lazarus and Raleigh served under, nor what they did when they were in service.  I wonder if they joined Col. Campbell on the march against the Cherokee in 1780/81, or if they fought at King’s Mountain in October of 1780, as did many men from this area.  Unfortunately, there is no roster for either event, but they are the most likely campaigns for men from Hawkins County to have participated in.  Colonel Arthur Campbell was involved in both, camped at Dodson Ford in late 1780 on his way destroy the Cherokee towns and was probably related to Charles Campbell, Raleigh’s neighbor on Dodson Creek.

Raleigh’s Life Resumes in Hawkins County After the Revolutionary War

In 1786, Raleigh signed the petition seeking the formation of Hawkins County along with his sons, Lazarus and Toliver.  Unfortunately, the original petition seems to be missing.

Raleigh is mentioned in numerous land warrants, nearly all of which were issued in the Dodson’s Creek area and subsequently assigned or sold to others.  I have limited the information here to the land Raleigh actually kept, because that is the most informative to us about Raleigh’s life.

In June 1791, Raleigh purchased a tract of 163 acres at a sheriff’s sale, formerly the John Honeycutt property, which adjoined the property of Elisha and Lazarus Dodson and included Honeycutt Creek.

June 6, 1791 – Thomas Berry sheriff of Hawkins County, to Rawley Dodson for 111#, 163 acres in Hawkins County on the south side of the Holston River including two plantations beginning on the river bank, Elisha Dodson’s line, Lazerus Dodson’s line, being a tract of land sold by execution the property of John Honeycutt.  Registered July 5, 1799  Liber E – 194

In December of 1808, Raleigh’s son, Raleigh, conveys Raleigh’s grant land to James Breeden, then Breeden sells the land to Daniel Seyster:

We know both Breeden and Seyster lived in the immediate area, because in 1801, a deed from James Breeden to Daniel Seyster described that land as being on Dodson Creek near Evans Station adjoining lands of George Kite, Breeden and Dodson’s line.

Stations were called such at that time because they were generally fortified homes in which other residents could take shelter, and of course, defend, in case of Indian attack.  This tells us that one of the early stations was indeed on Dodson Creek, and near the Kite land.  At least one old Kite home still stands, or did in 2009, within view of the Kite Cemetery.

raleigh-kite-cemetery

The Kite Cemetery includes the progenitor, George Kite’s grave and overlooks both the old Kite home and Dodson Creek.

raleigh-kite-cem-old-trees

This cemetery is named the Kite Cemetery, because George Kite is buried here, along with many of his family members, but there are also many unmarked graves.  The cemetery could have been in use before 1796 when George Kite arrived on the scene.  In fact, it may have originally been the Evans Cemetery. Early pioneers had to be buried someplace.

The photo below shows the old Kite home.

raleigh-kite-house

George Kite was the original Kite settler in Hawkins County, arriving about 1796.

raleigh-kite-dodson-creek

Dodson Creek runs in front of the Kite Cemetery, in the field across the road.

raleigh-dodson-creek-2

You can see the old Kite house in the distance below, across the roof of the newer home.

raleigh-kite-house-from-cemetery

In 1796, in deed book 1, page 196, George Kite purchased 600 acres from George Kiger (later written as Kizer and Kiser) on the south side of the Holston on Dodson Creek, formerly Honeycutt Creek, including Evans station.

In 1812, George Kite sells to Thomas Haynes half of the 200 acre tract from NC to John Gransby granted on November 27,1762 and that John Evans conveyed to Kite.  So we know that the Kite land is the original Evans Station land.  Eventually, Thomas Haynes’ descendants include Dru Haynes, after whom Dru Haynes Road is named today, running along the east side of Dodson Creek.

In 1813, George Kight Sr. sells 200 acres to Henry Louderback described as lying on both sides of the west fork of Dodson Creek on Evans old line on the southeast side of the creek.  Today’s Louderback Creek was originally known as Dodson Creek.

raleigh-kite-cem-map

An 1826 deed refers to the heirs of Daniel Cyster, deceased.  One John Dodson obtained a grant that bordered Cyster’s land and refers to Mark Mitchell’s land grant.

In 1806, Raleigh Jr. sells his father’s land.

January 29, 1806 – Rawleigh Dodson to James Breeden, both of Hawkins County for $500, 150 acres in Hawkins County on the south side of Holston, Lazarus Dodson’s line (refers to the original grant 537, dated Nov. 26, 1781 and registered in Hawkins County March 2, 1793), witness Richard Mitchell, Thomas Murrell.

Followed by:

To all whom these presents…I, Mary Dodson, widow and relict of Rawleigh Dodson decd do for a valuable consideration relinquish and quit claim my right, title…to the before described tract of land this <blank> day of 1806.  Witness Thomas Murrell, William (x) Jeffer, Rawleigh Dodson ack Feb 1806 and proved by William Jeffer and Raleigh Dodson registered August 20, 1806.

And then in deed book 6, page 139:

April 2, 1806 – James Breeden having bought of Raleigh Dodson a tract where on said Dodson now lives on the south side Holston River, 150 acres beginning in old line of Lazarus Dodson acd February 24 last by Dodson and Sarah Dodson in Hawkins court to said Breeden with John Saunders hereby assigns his interest in said land under a bond for $6000.  Witness Mark Goldsberry, Co? Foster

John Saunders signs off because this is Raleigh’s original land and John is married to Raleigh’s daughter.

August 20, 1806, transaction date January 29, 1806 – James Breeden from Raleigh Dodson 4-154 for $500 grant 537, 150 acres, original grant lines – Begin at Lazarus Dodson’s line run along same, east 100 poles to hickory, south 126 poles.

December 2, 1808 – Raleigh Dodson to James Breeden, for 150 pounds, the land lying below Dodson’s Ford on the south side of Holston beginning on the river bank at an elm and white walnut sprout on Elisha Dodson’s line, then with said line south 10 east 140 poles to a dogwood sapling and white oak on Lazarus Dodson’s line then north 70 east to Dodson’s Creek then north 94 poles to a white oak on the bank of the river then down the meandering of the river to the beginning.  Warranty and defending….as far as they may not interfere with the land of John Saunders and William Lawson…tract of land conveyed to my father at sheriff’s sale and I the said Raleigh Dodson having the said land devised to me do make over and convey my said right…”

Even though this deed is dated in December, it is submitted at the November Court and witnessed by A. Campbell and Thomas Jackson and ordered to be recorded.

raleigh-breeden-1808-deed

The January 1806 deed is very important, because it is the actual land Raleigh lived on, according to his will.  This deed tells us that Raleigh actually lived west of Dodson Creek, on the Holston, which makes sense when piecing the deeds of others in the neighborhood together.  We also know that Dodson Ford was on the west side of Dodson Creek, near but apparently not at the mouth of Dodson Creek, because the deeds never refer to the mouth of the creek.  This meshes with the 1808 land description.

Charles Campbell and Michael Roark lived in-between Raleigh Dodson and George Kite on Dodson Creek..  I would love to know exactly where.  There are three nice branches which would have been spring fed to the west of Dodson Creek and those branches are likely where Charles Campbell and Michael Roark lived.

One of those branches has this old bridge over Dodson Creek, leading to the field where the spring branch would be.  I suspect that Charles Campbell lived here.

raleigh-dodson-creek-campbell

Charles Campbell’s granddaughter married Raleigh Dodson’s grandson a generation later in Claiborne County. Relationships forged between families on Dodson Creek lasted for generations, even as those families continued the ever-westward migratory movement to new locations.

Raleigh’s Will

Raleigh seems to have still been actively engaged in his business in September of 1792.  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

Clearly sometime between September of 1792 and July of 1793, it became clear to Raleigh that his days were numbered.  Thank goodness he had a will, because we would have been quite lost without this record.

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.  The date of probate is not known, but indications are that he was 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 join patent with Thomas Jackson referred to in Raleigh Dodson’s will, the land he left to his son James.

raleigh-will-page-1

raleigh-will-page-2

Raleigh’s will, above, was recopied into the will book after the Hawkins County courthouse burned in the Civil War.  The name Menasco was apparently misspelled or misinterpreted as Manafee.  An easy mistake to make, given that there were Manafee families in the county in the 1860s, and James Menasco had left in 1795 for Georgia after his wife died, so the name Menasco was unfamiliar in the county in the late 1860s.

Raleigh’s Wife, Mary

Raleigh Dodson does not name his wife in his will, but left to her his whole estate both real and personal during her lifetime “after which I leave to my son Rawleigh the plantation on which I now live and another piece adjoining”.  The adjoining land was that obtained from the sheriff in 1791.  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)

Giles County, Tennessee, Court records show that 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, may have gone with her son Raleigh Jr. to Alabama and then to Giles and Williamson Counties, TN.  There is one Raleigh Dodson on the Giles County tax list in 1812. Given that the court record says, “Mary Dodson, widow,” implying that she is the widow of Raleigh, whose estate she is being appointed administrator of, I am extremely doubtful that this is our Mary, widow of Raleigh who died in approximately 1794 in Hawkins County.  Raleigh’s estate had been resolved for years by 1815 and there was no need to appoint an administrator in Giles County. Furthermore, our Raleigh’s wife Mary would have been 85 or 86 by this time, a very unlikely candidate to be an estate administrator.

The Amis Store Ledger

In 1775, the grandparents of Davy Crockett settled in the Watauga colony in the area in what is today Rogersville near the spring that today bears their name. After an Indian attack and massacre, the remaining Crocketts sold the property to a Huguenot named Colonel Thomas Amis.

In 1780/1781, Colonel Amis built a fort at Big Creek, on the outskirts of the present-day Rogersville which was then in Sullivan County, NC.

That same year, about three and one-half miles above downtown Rogersville, Amis erected a fortress-like stone house around which he built a palisade for protection against Indian attack.  This is known as the Amis Stone House, shown below and here.

amis-house

The next year, Amis opened a store; erected a blacksmith shop; and built a distillery. Amis also eventually established a sawmill and a gristmill. From the beginning, Amis kept a house of entertainment which was also a stagecoach stop, a place for travelers to rest and spend the night as well as locals to gather.  Of course, it was a tavern too.

Built as a defensive garrison in addition to a trading post, the upper part of the house originally had rifleports instead of windows.  This speaks to the environment on the Holston in 1780 and 1781, when Raleigh Dodson and Thomas Amis began doing business.

Year’s later, Amis’ daughter Mary recalled that she frequently wakened to hear Indians grinding their knives and tomahawks on her father’s grindstone.

The view from Amis House is beautiful and is the vista Raleigh would have seen, overlooking Big Creek Valley.

raleigh-view-from-amis-house

By Brian Stansberry – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41895021

Thomas Amis also kept an account ledger book which is, thankfully, still in existence.  This is one of the only documents that shows who lived in this area in the early years.

Raleigh Dodson had an account with Amis.  The record book begins in 1782 with Raleigh’s account, as follows:

  • Oct 12, 1782 – to balance in settlement
  • November 20, 1782 – laying grubbin ghoe
  • April 8, 1783 – beating out plows
  • April 24, 1783 – 1 fish gigg, laying bar plow and coulter, 1.5 lb iron and mending gigg, sharpening plow, making Dutch plow
  • December – work on picks
  • January 3, 1784 – 1 gallon whisky
  • April 26, 1784 – whisky
  • Half Gallon whisky to Shelton
  • September 4, 1785 – balle in settlements
  • February 28, 1786 – half cow, 5 quarts whisky
  • December 24, 1786 – 1 gal whisky
  • January 20, 1787 – 1 pint whisky, half pint whisky
  • Undated – 3 pints whisky, half pint whisky
  • February 7, 1787 – 3 pints whisky
  • February 14, 1787 – half gallon whisky
  • March 8, 1787 – 1 quart whisky, 1 hank silk, to season mare, half pint whisky
  • May 5, 1788 – half pint whisky, 3 yards calamanco (a thin glossy woolen fabric often with stripes or checkered designs – you can see several examples here)
  • May 6, 1788 – 1 stock trist
  • 2 ballads(?)
  • July 10, 1788 – 1 pint whisky, sharpening plow
  • Sept 29, 1788 – 2 half pints whisky
  • October 28, 1788 – half pint whisky
  • November 5, 1788 – half pint whisky
  • March 24, 1789 – half pint fun (rum?)
  • April 12, 1789 – 1 quart whisky, half pint whisky, 1 quart whisky
  • July 5, 1789 – 1 gallon whisky
  • September 10, 1789 – 1 quart whiskey and jug
  • July 4, 1789 – 3 pints whisky

Mr. Rawly Dotson Credit

  • By Mabice (havice?)
  • By 1 skin
  • By 1 grindstone
  • By bale charged in new acct
  • By 24.25 bushels corn
  • By 2 days work

1788

  • March 28 – by 22 bushels corn
  • May 21 – By 2 days work
  • May 22 – by 5 bushels corn from W. Bell
  • October 10 – by 3 days work dressing the mill

1789

  • June 4 – by dressing mill
  • 10.6 carried to page 105

To balance brought forward from folio

  • June 22 – 4 gallon whisky, 1.25 gallons whisky

1789

  • August 4 – 1 bottle and whisky
  • Sept. 3 – 1 quart whisky
  • Sept 24 – half gallon whisky
  • Sept 25 – to shoeing horse for son James
  • Oct. 6 – making bar plow and finding iron, pinting (pointing) coulter, 3 quarts whisky from Sanders, half pint whisky, half pint whisky, three half pints whisky

1789 – Mr. Rawly Dotson credit

  • Aug. 14 – by cash
  • October 10 – by 2 bushels rye, by 206.5 pounds beef
  • Oct. 22 – by 1 peck wheat brought by William Payne Jr.
  • Oct 23 – by 10.5 bushels rye
  • Carried to folio 6 – 18.4

Mr. Rawly Dotson debit

1789 balance brought forward from folio

  • Nov. 4 – half pint whisky, 3 pints whisky, half pint whisky, half pint whisky
  • Nov. 9 – half pint whisky
  • Dec. 4 – making 33 nails and finding iron
  • Dec. 24 – 2 gallons whisky

1790

  • Jan 18 – half pint whisky, to ball in settlements, 2 half pints whisky, 2 pints whisky
  • Jan. 22 – to 15 paid for hackle, to one gander
  • April 23 – to able in whiskey

1789 – Mr. Rawly Dotson credit

  • Nov. 4 – by dressing mill, by 1 bushel rye
  • Nov. 9 – by one grindstone
  • Dec. 24 – by 2.25 bushel corn

1790

  • January 18– by 1 deerskin, by credit ammisted from 65 folio, by balee to charged to new acct
  • Jan. 22 – by 253 lb. port
  • 10.4 carried to folio

There are also much more abbreviated accounts for Talifero and Elisha in 1783 and Oliver and Lazarus in 1794.  Raleigh does not name a son, Elisha, in his will, but I would not be at all surprised to discover that Elisha had simply been omitted because his father had already seen to his inheritance and Elisha didn’t owe his father any debts.

Raleigh’s account tells the story of a farmer, and one who was probably very glad to have a resource to sharpen his plow blades, work on his picks and shoe his son’s horses.  I do wonder if the Shelton mentioned was the father of Raleigh’s granddaughters mentioned in his will.  It’s too bad there is no first name with Shelton.  A recheck of the Amis store accounts doesn’t show any Sheltons on the list of creditors.

Raleigh was also apparently a fisherman, judging by the fact that his fish gigg had to be mended which probably meant that he hit a rock when spearfishing.  Anyone carrying a fish gigg was in danger of being mistaken for the devil himself. Some giggs looked like pitchforks, and some looked more like barbed rakes. The photo below is from a museum and may well have looked similar to Raleigh’s gigg.

raleigh-fish-gigg

By Charlez k – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7439566

Obviously, the Dodson family diet was varied with beef, wild game and fish.

It might appear that Raleigh drank a lot of whiskey.  I really do have to wonder if he had what would be termed today, “a drinking problem.”  However, given his ferry business, it’s also conceivable that Raleigh was selling whiskey, by the shot probably, to clients.  If he was a smart man, and one must presume he was simply to survive on the frontier, he would also have offered food and lodging to guests who needed to cross the river, along with livery service, taking care of and stabling their horses for the night.

So Raleigh’s whiskey may not have been all for himself…or maybe it was.

It seems that Raleigh traded “dressing the mill” for some of his purchases.

What is “Dressing the Mill”?

A mill used for grinding corn and grain must be dressed, usually once a year by a millstone “dresser.”  The stones ground themselves flat with usage, and the dresser would separate the upper and lower stones, and carve furrows in the stones in a prescribed pattern.  These furrows or grooves helped to direct the corn or other grain into and  through the millstones.

The furrow design is shown below.

raleigh-dressing

By Stevegray at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=728078

Dressing was often done in the dead of winter, or when the mill was otherwise closed to safeguard the secrets of crafting the mill.  This would also be the time when farmers like Raleigh would be less busy in the fields, so had time to dress the millstones.

The metal tools used to carve the furrows would often become imbedded in the mill dresser’s forearms.  Itinerant dressers would travel the countryside looking for temporary work, and the miller would ask the dresser to “show your mettle” which means rolling up his sleeves and showing his forearms to see if they looked slightly blue from an accumulation of iron splinters.  Of course, having these splinters didn’t mean you were a good dresser, only that you had some experience.

The photo below shows a contemporary stone dresser.

raleigh-stone-dresser

By Rasbak – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4492066

You can see a short video here.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/1rod/3610810417/

So, in addition to being a land speculator, a ferryman, a surveyor, a farmer and a fisherman, Raleigh was also a stone dresser.

Religion, or Lack Thereof

We don’t know anything about Raleigh’s religious beliefs, except that he was not a tee-totaller.  However, there is evidence of religious activity on the frontier, in churches in Hawkins County, and Raleigh is conspicuously absent – just as he is from the Broad Run Baptist Church .

The County Line Church in Hawkins County was constituted as “North on Holston” in March 1792 and while there are many Dodsons in evidence, Raleigh isn’t among them.  This church may have been too distant, being located on the north side of the Holston on the county line border between Hawkins and Grainger Counties.

However, the Big Creek meeting house that first met in June 1790 was held in what I believe was the location of the Amis Store.

Regardless, the “South Holston” appears in the Holston Association minutes in August of 1791 and included Jesse Dodson, William Murphy and George Evans as messengers.  In October 1792, there is a reference to Deader Creek Church whose messengers were the same William Murphy and George Evans as listed with Holston River, and I strongly suspect that “Deader Creek” is actually Dodson Creek – George Evans being the George Evans of Evan’s Station.

Of course, just because Raleigh didn’t take a leadership role as a messenger to the association didn’t mean he wasn’t a church member.  We do know that at least one of Raleigh’s son’s, Lazarus, took a leadership role in the Gap Creek Baptist Church in Claiborne County by 1805.

Raleigh’s brother, Lazarus, was a Baptist minister in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, as well.

Where is Raleigh Buried?

The good news, and bad news, is that there are few cemeteries in this area.  The Dodson Creek Cemetery, which was the location I initially suspected, is too far east and wasn’t established until 1831.  The deed is hanging on the cemetery fence, and the establishment date is on the stone, so obviously a lot of people ask.

raleigh-dodson-creek-cem

After working the deeds both forwards and backwards, in summary, I’ve found the following information about Raleigh’s land.  Remember, in the beginning when I told you Raleigh was messy – well, this is it!

  • Raleigh died in roughly 1794, leaving his home tract (presumed to be 150 acres and not the 300 acres total) and adjoining tract (or 163 acres) to son Raleigh.
  • Son Raleigh sold Raleigh’s original land to James Breeden on January 29, 1806, with Raleigh’s wife releasing her dower rights.
  • In 1816, James Breeden sold to James Saunders 120 acres of land on Dodson Creek.
  • In 1818, James Breeden sold 200 acres, 2 tracts of land to Samuel Smith, below Dodson Ford, abutting both Elisha Dodson and Lazarus Dodson’s lines.

Unfortunately, neither of these Breeden deeds match the 150 acres that Raleigh Dodson owned, but in the end, it doesn’t matter, because of what eventually happens.

  • James Sanders is the father of John Ross Sanders, born in 1815, and who inherited the land that his father James owned. John Ross Sanders is buried in the Sanders Cemetery, located at the bend in Dodson Ford Road (today Old Tennessee 70) directly “above” the Dodson Ford and where the old bridge was located.  The location of the cemetery is shown below, in green.

raleigh-sanders-cem-map

  • In 1844, James Sanders sold 184 acres to John R. Sanders at the mouth of Dodson Creek adjacent land of Peter Smith and others. John Ross Sanders dies in 1861 and is buried on his land.  His widow, Martha sells the land in 1874 to her daughter, Lucy, and son-in-law, James H. Vance, who are also buried in the Sanders Cemetery.
  • In 1818, Samuel Smith sold 160 acres on Dodson Creek to Henry Chesnutt described as below a large spring running into the creek, the road from Dodson Ford to Campbell (although Campbell is not clear) along said road to Smith’s meadow, across the bottom field, the Holston river below the mouth of Dodson Creek.
  • In 1819, Henry Chessnut sold to John A. McKinney 160 acres at Dodson’s Ford, west ?, south Dodson Creek leads from Dodson Ford to Knoxville, heirs of Samuel Smith, black walnut below mouth of Dodson Creek.

Unfortunately, this Chesnutt sale makes tracking Raleigh’s land even more difficult, because Lazarus sold his land adjoining Raleigh’s and John Sanders to James Chesnutt, so the Chesnutt family is deeply interwoven into this area.

  • In 1855, Charles A. McKinney and John Netherland, executors of the estate of John A. McKinney, sold to John Reynolds for $750 the land on the south side of Holston on the waters of Dodson creek adjoining land of John Reynolds, Peter Smith and others, begin at a black oak, west on the bank of Dodson Creek below the spring S46W134 poles to oak on bank line then with line 40W154p to road leading from Dodson’s Ford to Knoxville then with said road NE112P along said road to upper end meadow owned by John Reynolds at end of ditch made by John McKinney then on ditch north across bottom to walnut to bank of sluice then across sluice and NW to lower end of island at sycamores then up river to upper point of island then across sluice to SE course to mouth of Dodson creek, to then to the beginning, 163 acres – including the island immediately below Dodson’s Ford, half of which the said John Reynolds now owns.

This 163 acres is probably the same 163 acres that Raleigh purchased in 1791, adjoining his original land grant tract.  Below Dodson’s Ford would have meant downriver.  Dodson Ford would have been on Raleigh’s original land grant, not the land he bought in 1791.

Chili Sanders said that some of the islands washed away years ago in a flood. If these islands still exist today, they would include Arnott’s island and it would put Dodson’s Ford above Arnott’s Island, at the mouth of Dodson Creek – which is not mentioned in Raleigh’s deeds.  So it’s likely that Dodson’s Ford was actually just below Arnott’s Island today – and those other islands indeed washed away.

  • A clue to where John Reynolds obtained his land is found in this 1835 deed from James Smith wherein he deeds the land his father Samuel Smith died with, on the Holston River between Honeycutt Creek and Dodson creek – only the land of the heirs of Joshua Smith below and John A. McKInney above, and others, about 290 acres, half part James Smith is entitled to until death of his mother and then entitled to half of all land, which would be 109 acres all of which I sell my interest in.
  • In 1841, John Reynold sells some land to John Leonard and in 1855, John Leonard sells land to Valentine D. Arnott adjoining Peter Smith’s land, Isaac Louderback and others.

The land along Dodson Creek became unbelievably divided and convoluted. Many deeds don’t include the number of acres which makes identifying the land, unless there are metes and bounds that can be matches to earlier deeds, nearly impossible.  Samuel Smith died and his heirs had intermarried with the Chesnutts, Sanders, Reynolds and other local families.  People lost their land.  Land became divided between heirs.  Heirs bought other heirs land.  Divorces and remarriages happened. In at least one case, a deed was ordered to be recorded, and never way.  And of course, the courthouse burned during the Civil War.  Other than all of that, the land was easy to track.

However, eventually, the land coalesces once again.  By 1943, the Arnott and Bradshaw families owns all of this land in question.  As it turns out, the Arnott family sold the land to the Bradshaws, so all of this land at one time belonged to the Arnott family.

  • In a 1936 deed from J. F. Arnott to R. M. Bradshaw, the road crossing the bridge is referred to as 66 and 70 and the road from Rogersville to Greenville (70) and the road from Rogersville to Bulls Gap (66). It also refers to a deed from Hugh Chesnut and wife.
  • On December 26, 1889, Hugh Chesnutt and wife sold to W. D and J. F. Arnott 109.75 acres adjoining the land of John R. Sanders…Dodson’s Creek…Dru Haynes corner, stake in Dodson’s Ford road…tract from R. H. Reynolds to Hiloh Chesnut.
  • 1884 deeds from Hugh Chesnut and wife refer to one third undivided interest in land on Dodson Ford Road.
  • In 1895, Hugh Chesnutt and wife Hilary, W. H. Reynolds and wife Lucy, John R. Sanders, Nola Sanders and Mary Wolsey Smith share in three tracts of land – one of which is the John Ross Sanders land, the second appears to be on Dodson Creek but further north, near the Kites and D.L. Haynes and the third is their interest in the estate of John R. Sanders, decd.

Eventually, all of these people would sell to the Arnott family, according to the 1943 map.

It’s telling that in 1850, John Ross Sanders neighbor is Valentine Arnott.

raleigh-1850-hawkins-census

Therefore, all pointers suggest, strongly, that the John Ross Sanders cemetery is also where his father, James Sanders who reportedly died in 1863 is buried as well.

If indeed this is the land owned by Raleigh Dodson, it’s also likely where he is buried too.  Family cemeteries didn’t tend to disappear entirely, they tended to enlarge and were sometimes “renamed” to reflect the surname of the next family that owned the land.

raleigh-sanders-land-map

The John Sanders property is located on the east side of Dodson Creek on Sanders Road, shown above.  The original home is gone now, but there does not appear to be a cemetery on that land either, so John Sanders and Nellie are probably buried in the Sanders Cemetery on Old Tennessee 70 – the little green spot at left.

The Sanders cemetery is also located on the only readily available high ground.  The land on the north side of the road, formerly called Dodson Ford Road, between the railroad and the Holston River is too low and floods.  No family would bury someone where their grave would flood.

The only other reasonable possibility would be the Kite Cemetery, which is significantly further south, or possibly a now lost cemetery.

My bet is that not only is Raleigh buried in the Sanders Cemetery, but he lived on this land as well. He would assuredly have lived as close as he could to Dodson Ford, with quick access to the Holston, but far enough away that his home didn’t flood.  The Sanders Cemetery and surrounding land fits the bill exactly.

Sanders Cemetery

When I visited Hawkins County in August 2009, it was beastly hot, but Chili Sanders, a local firefighter and also a descendant of Raleigh Dodson, was kind enough to take me up to the Sanders Cemetery early one Sunday morning, while the temperature was only in the 80s, before it got hot.

FindAgrave has mislabeled the Sanders Cemetery as the Reynolds Cemetery and shows no internments, which is incorrect on both counts.

However, cemetery information obtained at the Hawkins County archives shows the Sanders Cemetery, #158, correctly and with directions.  “Take Highway 70 south from Rogersville, turn left after crossing the Hugh B. Day Bridge.  Cemetery is located on hill to the right after the railroad crossing.”  That’s exactly right.

When I visited in 2009, the cemetery was almost impenetrable, and were it not for Chili knowing exactly where to go and how to get in, finding and accessing this cemetery would have been nearly impossible.  Ok, scratch nearly.

raleigh-sanders-cem

This is the entrance and this is partway up the “hill” at the bend in Old Tennessee 70 just east of the railroad track.  We climbed the fence and hiked up the hill.  Chili assured me he had the property owner’s permission, and believe me, I prayed that he did and they didn’t forget.  Thankfully, everyone knows Chili, so long as they didn’t shoot first.  Overgrown cemeteries on private property in remote mountain locations in Appalachia are not someplace you really want to be discovered by unhappy property owners.

raleigh-john-ross-sanders

The earliest marked burial is John Ross Sanders who died in 1861.

raleigh-john-ross-sanders2

This grave is probably marked because John’s wife, Martha, didn’t pass away until 1911.  She outlived John by 50 years and two months and remarried to a Smith.

raleigh-chili-sanders

Chili Sanders standing above the grave of James H. Vance born February 5, 1807 and died in 1884.  James was the son-in-law of John Ross Sanders and married to John’s daughter, Lucy. I look at Chili and wonder if he looks anything like Raleigh Dodson.

raleigh-james-vance

There are very few gravestones, but the cemetery itself is not small.

raleigh-sanders-cem-2

raleigh-sanders-cem-3

There are many unmarked graves beneath the vegetation. You can see and feel them, meaning the sunken ground, and sometimes see the fieldstones peeking through the vegetation.

raleigh-sanders-cem-4

I tripped over a few fieldstones buried in the underbrush which were in all probability, gravestones, and felt awful.  I wonder if that was Raleigh trying to get my attention.  “Hey, I’m here!!!”

raleigh-sanders-cem-5

Thank goodness there were no snakes.

raleigh-sanders-cem-6

Some portions of the cemetery were simply inaccessible.

raleigh-sanders-cem-7

I would very much like to set a Revolutionary War stone for Raleigh in this location, near Dodson’s Ford, on land he assuredly owned. It pains my heart that Raleigh doesn’t have a gravestone.

Raleigh’s Children

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

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

Elisha is not named in Raleigh’s will, and is entirely speculative, based on the fact that he appeared with Raleigh and his children and owned land adjacent to both Lazarus and Raleigh.  If Elisha is Raleigh’s son, Raleigh had obviously already provided for him, and he owned Raleigh no debts to be forgiven.

  • Elisha Dodson (speculative)

If Elisha wasn’t Raleigh’s son, who was he?

You can read more about Raleigh’s children in Raleigh’s wife Mary’s article.

DNA

One of the traits that seems to be inherited by Dodson descendants is the love of genealogy.  Perhaps the fact that the Reverend Silas Lucas devoted so many years to Dodson research, so it’s relatively easy to track your lines has something to do with the popularity of Dodson family genealogy.

There also seems to be a disproportionate number of Dodson autosomal DNA matches as well.  I’m not sure if this is because the early Dodson’s were very prolific, producing a large number of descendants today, or if the Dodson DNA is particularly hearty (nah), or if the fact that the Dodson Lucas genealogy legacy produces a lot of trees, enabling people to connect their trees after DNA connects their genes. Probably the result of the first and third options.

At Ancestry.com, I have 387 DNA matches with whom I share a common ancestor is a tree.  Of those, 11 descend from George Dodson and Margaret Dagord through 5 separate sons.   Thirteen DNA matches descend from George’s parents, Thomas Dodson and Dorothy Durham through 5 separate sons.  Two descend directly from Raleigh through son, Toliver and son James.  I’m not counting my direct cousins through my own line.

That’s 7% of my matches from the Dodson line alone, which is a bit high, considering that I have 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and Raleigh is one generation beyond that at my GGGGG-grandfather.

I think this is proof positive that a well-researched genealogy, in print, in one form or another, has a HUGE effect on the number of DNA-plus-tree matches you’ll receive on that line. It’s also evidence of why accurate research is so important.  Otherwise, everyone will put erroneous information into all their trees, and then will believe that because they match so many other people with the same trees, that they must all be correct and DNA confirms the genealogy.

That’s isn’t the case.

Ancestry matches your DNA and then, if you have a common ancestor identified in both your trees, even if they are erroneous in the same way, displays your common ancestor for you to view.  So just be wary of common mistakes and assuming that a DNA match validates genealogy as written.  It doesn’t.  You can both simply be wrong in the same way – and this most often happens when people copy trees without individually scrutinizing and verifying information and documentation.

raleigh-common-ancestor

It’s fun to see how you connect to common ancestors.

In Summary

Raleigh led an incredible life.  He lived in 3 states plus the wild State of Franklin and the Territory South of the Ohio.  He lived on and helped forge at least two frontiers.  When Raleigh moved to the Holston River in what would become Hawkins County, he was approaching the half-century mark, and in addition to homesteading, he would yet fight in the Revolutionary War.

Raleigh was clearly a multi-talented jack-of-all-trades; a skilled ferryman, a land surveyor and a stone dresser, in addition to being a hunter, fisherman and a farmer.  Of course, everyone on the frontier was a farmer, or you didn’t eat.

In addition to those skills, Raleigh was a Patriot and served in the Revolutionary War.  When Raleigh was discharged in 1783, he was certainly not a young man at age 53. He served with his son, Lazarus.  Lazarus and Raleigh were apparently very close.  Not only did they serve in the war together, they also applied for side-by-side land grants and lived on the Holston River between Honeycutt Creek and Dodson Creek together until after Raleigh passed away, probably in 1794.

Raleigh apparently did not apply for land as payment for his Revolutionary War service, but his son, Lazarus did.  Raleigh appeared to be quite savvy and didn’t seem like a man to leave much laying on the table in terms of what was due to him, so I wonder if there are transactions yet to be found, or he sold his Revolutionary War land claim before it was registered in his name.

A decade after his discharge, Raleigh was writing his will in Hawkins County on Dodson Creek where he and his son, James, made a final land sale in 1794.

Sometime after that, Raleigh passed away and his son, Raleigh, and his wife, Mary, lived on his land for the next dozen years, when the scene fades to black in 1808.

Today, Raleigh’s descendants still live along Dodson Creek – Chili Sanders being descended through daughter Nellie who married John Saunders/Sanders.

raleighs-turkeys

Chili was gracious enough during my visits to invite me to visit his home and allowed me to photograph his land – the same land that John Saunders owned which was obtained from Raleigh. So this was originally Raleigh’s land.  If you look closely, you can see turkeys in the distance, at the bottom of the hill, across the fence line. Raleigh probably looked out and saw turkeys too, and deer, and bobcat, and fox and wolves. Raleigh would have thought this was his lucky day!  “Hey Mary, turkey for dinner!”

This land wouldn’t have been cleared when Raleigh settled here, but Raleigh and his sons and son-in-laws, and their descendants for generations have cleared the land and forged a life from what was once unbroken wilderness – along Raleigh’s namesake Dodson Creek.

Indeed, Raleigh “showed us his mettle.”

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.

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.

Mary, Mary (Dodson Redmon) Quite Contrary, 52 Ancestors #140

This article isn’t about my ancestor, at least not directly, but it’s about the daughter of my ancestor, Lazarus Dodson, who popped up on a census quite unexpectedly. Not only did that mean I had to go looking for her, and she wasn’t particularly easy to find, but I had to try to discern if Mary Dodson really was the daughter of Lazarus – or if she was perhaps the child of his wife, Rebecca, and was just known by the Dodson surname.

Records that should exist don’t, and I found myself calling her Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. But then, given how difficult Lazarus and his father were to track, Mary probably comes by it honestly.

In the process of discovery about Mary, yet another daughter, Sarah, was discovered. For Heaven’s sake, how many more are there?

Through those two families, more information surfaced (Ok, was excavated), and because of all of that, we may just have figured out where Lazarus is buried. Maybe. Mary still isn’t telling all of her secrets, but I’m positive that she knows! After all, she stood by the grave that October day in 1861 as the clods of dirt fell onto Lazarus’s coffin and the grey clouds of misery swept overhead, engulfing everyone in their path.

But before I begin this series of twists and turns in the ancestor labyrinth, I want to give credit where credit is due.

First and foremost, I have to say, I love my friends, family and blog subscribers, because between them, they have found things I missed, found things I never knew existed, and inspired me to dig deeper. They are also indirectly responsible for me getting nothing productive done this week. My Christmas tree isn’t up, gifts aren’t wrapped and I’ve been eating leftovers and canned soup for days. Tonight I’m splurging on pizza. That’s what happens when genealogists get wrapped up in a “mission.”

If you’re laughing, it’s because you’re a genealogist, because our families probably don’t see the humor…

My friend, Tom, sent me the deed shown below, which started everything. Fifteen hours later, I realized I was hungry, and tired, very tired. But wow, what a day “visiting” Pulaski County, Kentucky. And that was just on day one!

You might think there isn’t much here in this one deed, but this was just the launching pad I needed. Come along as we work our way through the records and discover more about Mary Dodson, presumed daughter of Lazarus Dodson, my ancestor.

The Deed

mary-dodson-1861-deed

Between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Dodson his wife of Pulaski County KY and Sarah Chumbly and Mary Dodson of the other part. Sum of $4000 paid to Lazarus Dodson in hand – sold to Sarah Chumley and Mary Dodson tract of land the one whereon I now reside together with all of the appertainces hereunto belonging containing 50 acres more or less lying in Pulaski County and bounded as follows to wit. Beginning on a dogwood and sycamore on White Oak Creek and on a branch thereof thence up the same to the mouth of the Grabel Branch thence up the same eastwardly to the old Patten line near said Grabeal’s field then with said line westwardly to C. Chamberlain’s grass lot thence with said Chamberlains line some 30 poles to a maple on William Rainwater’s

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line thence with said line southward to the main branch thence down the same with the meanderings thereof to the beginning and said Lazarus Dodson doth bind himself and heirs to forever warrant…but said lands are not to pass into their possession until after the death of said Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca his wife then they are to have free and full possession thereof. August 9, 1861. Signed by Lazarus with his mark and by Rebecca.

The note in the left margin says “Delivered to? William Redman 24 March 1865”

The clerk registered this deed on the 10th of August, 1865.

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The first thing I thought was how odd that the deed was signed in August 1861 and not recorded until in 1865, but then I realized what had been happening in Kentucky between 1861 and 1865 – the Civil War. No one was interested in registering a deed – if they even could register deeds. They were simply interested in surviving. They would register deeds later if they survived.

In this case, Lazarus signed the deed in August, died in October and the Confederate forces set up camp either near or on his land in November, followed a couple months later by the infamous battle of Mill Springs (Logan’s Crossroads.) This family was busy, distracted and, I’m sure, fearful. This does tell us that the house where the deed resided during the Civil War didn’t burn to the ground. I’m betting that was the home of William Redman and Mary Dodson or perhaps the home of Lazarus’s wife, Rebecca Dodson, if they weren’t all living together during this time.

I can’t help but wonder, did those pioneer women take up arms to guard the homestead from marauding soldiers from both sides?  I bet so.  They probably didn’t have a lot of time to grieve Lazarus’s passing.  But I digress…

This deed description is important for 2 reasons. First, for all the names that it provides. Neighbors are important when trying to bring deeds to current and locate properties.

Second, the description in essence creates a rough image for us of what the land looked like and who lived on which side. I’ve drawn a very rough approximation, below.

mary-dodson-rough-land

We can see that this land has to be in a location on White Oak Creek where you move north to the mouth of a branch, then east on that branch then west and south to the main White Oak branch.

Topozone shows several cemeteries on White Oak Creek, but no Graebel or Grabel branch, or Graebel anything.

Given the deed to Mary and Sarah who were clearly adults in 1861, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps the marriage year of 1839 was incorrect for Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman. Lazarus’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell, died before 1830. But Mary and Sarah, assuming Sarah is his daughter too, were not Elizabeth’s children based on the 1838 death of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, and the subsequent estate which individually lists Elizabeth’s children/heirs.

Mary Dodson is found living with Lazarus and Rebecca in 1860 and she was born in the early/mid-1830s, depending on which date you use. Clearly, before 1839.

dodson-1860-pulaski-census

Is Mary Dodson the daughter of Rebecca Freeman Dodson?

My friend sent me the original marriage document between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman, as I had previously been working with a transcription. I suspected the year might have been incorrectly transcribed, but the transcribed document turned out to be accurate alright.

mary-lazarus-and-rebecca-marriage

You can see on the last entry on the page that Lazarus and Rebecca obtained their marriage license on June 21st 1839 and Thomas Davis married them on June 29th, 1839. (You can click to enlarge any graphic.) I’ve never been so disappointed to confirm that a record was accurate before.

Now, of course, the question is who was the mother of Mary Dodson, and possibly Sarah. And are Mary and Sarah sisters?

1850

I desperately need to find Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1850 census, and I’ve tried every way to Sunday to find them, all to no avail. Either they missed the census or the name is so terribly butchered that it’s unrecognizable – and possibly someplace I’m not looking.

One surprising piece of information is that the deed index tells us that Lazarus bought his land in Pulaski County in 1857, just 4 years before deeding it to Mary and Sarah. I had supposed that Lazarus had been in Pulaski County since about 1833 and had long owned land. Obviously not.

1860

In 1860, we found Lazarus and Rebecca living with Mary Dodson, but the 1861 deed strongly suggests that “they” had another child, Sarah who had married a Chumley, and was perhaps widowed? Why else would Lazarus and Rebecca leave land to her, even under the guise of a purchase? How would a “spinster daughter” and possibly a “widow daughter” come up with $4000 to purchase the family farm from their parents?

My friend Tom sent this the next morning. I think he and I both spent that day “in Pulaski County.”

mary-sarah-dodson-and-william-chumley-marriage

Indeed, Sarah Dodson, by another spelling, Datsan, had married William Chumley in 1846 in Claiborne County, which implies that Lazarus himself was probably living in Claiborne in 1846. Huh??? Not at all what I thought, given that he left the state back in 1833 and then faced back taxes, a lawsuit and a judgement between 1835 and 1837.

Lazarus married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County in 1839, so maybe Lazarus came back and lived back in Claiborne for some time. The Chumley family lived near Lazarus’s land beneath Cumberland Gap and otherwise intermarried with the Freeman family, so this does make sense.

I checked the 1840 census, again, but there are only two Lazarus Dodsons in the entire country, and both are age 30-39. Lazarus was 45 in 1840, not to mention the rest of the family doesn’t match either.  So Lazarus remains missing in both 1840 and 1850.

Mary’s Marriage

We don’t find Mary Dodson in the 1870 census, but that’s because she married on July 28, 1864 to William Redman in Pulaski County.

mary-dodson-marriage

Mary Dodson gives her age as 32, so born in approximately 1832, depending on whether Mary had had her 1864 birthday yet, and her birth location is given as Claiborne County, Tennessee.

So now we know when and where Mary was born. This information probably brackets dates for Lazarus Dodson’s arrival in Pulaski County from sometime between 1846 when Sarah married in Claiborne to sometime before 1857 when he purchases land in Pulaski County.

Lazarus has to have been married a second time between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman, unless Elizabeth didn’t actually die and those children living with her parents in 1830 weren’t the Dodson children. However, neither Mary nor Sarah were mentioned in John Campbell’s 1838 estate record as having been Elizabeth’s heirs, and Lazarus Dodson is stated as Elizabeth’s heir’s father, so we know that neither Mary nor Sarah are Elizabeth’s children.

Therefore, Lazarus had remarried by 1830 or 1831, given Mary’s birth in 1831/1832, but the marriage record is not found in Claiborne County. Why did Lazarus and his second wife not raise his children by Elizabeth Campbell?

1870

In 1870, we do find Rebecca Dodson and Sarah Chumley living with one William Dodson, age 23. William would have been age 13 in 1860, born in 1847 in Tennessee, so a child at home if he were the son of Rebecca and Lazarus. Who is this William Dodson, married to Eliza? How is he tied in, and where did he go?

Also, one David W. Dodson is living with the Dunsmore family next door.  Surely this isn’t just a coincidence.  Who is he?

This isn’t an ancestor labyrinth, it’s a maze!

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This census tells us that Sarah was born in 1833 in Tennessee, the year that Lazarus, according to an 1861 deed filed in Claiborne County, sold land to David C. Cottrell in Claiborne County. It may only be coincidence, or not, that the land Lazarus sold was originally patented to one Robert Chumbley.

Another Twist in the Maze

The 1860 census for Pulaski County, Kentucky solves the riddle of the identity of William Dodson, born in 1846, along with David Dodson, born in 1856.

Both men are the son of John C. Dotson, also Dodson, and Barthenia. This John Dodson is the son of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, and Barthenia is Barthenia Dobkins.

This census tells us that John Campbell Dodson was living in Kentucky by 1854 when son John was born – although we don’t know that he was living in Pulaski County that early.

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Both John and Barthenia seem to have disappeared by 1870.  There are several John Dodson or Dotsons listed as Civil War soldiers.  It’s certainly possible that he perished in the war, which would explain why his son David is living with another family in 1870 as farm labor.

The fact that John moved to Pulaski County, was living with his father and clearly interacted with that family in a positive fashion tells us that Lazarus did not lose touch entirely with his children in Claiborne County.

I wonder if the fact that Lazarus had children by his first marriage is why he “sold” the land to Mary and Sarah, rather than granting a deed of gift.  A sale can’t be contested, but a deed of gift as the only valueable item of inheritance certainly could be.

The Chumley Connection

In 1850, William Chumley and wife Sarah are living in Pulaski County and are noted as having been married within the year. Sarah’s age of 19 puts her birth year in 1831. It also means that if she indeed was married in 1846, she was age 15. Unusual, but not impossible.

mary-1850-pulaski-census

They are not living among the surnames found in the deeds of Lazarus Dodson later. At first, I thought this might not be the same family, but it is.

In 1860, Sarah and William Chumley are living in Russell County, KY, on the same page with other Chumbley family members. Her age of 30 puts her birth in about 1830.

William and Sarah Chumley still have no children, but living with them is Elizabeth Kissee, age 6. This Elizabeth is probably the Elizabeth that Sarah later remembers in her will.

mary-1860-pulaski-census

Immediately following the 1870 census, we find Sarah’s will executed and probated.

It’s odd for Sarah to have died before the age of 40, and had no children. I wonder if she had some type of disease or disability.

In May of 1870, Sarah makes her will in Russell County. It is filed with the court in September 1870, so Sarah has apparently died by then, just weeks after the census. The actual 1870 census document date is August 11, 1870, but the census is supposed to be taken “as of” June of the census year. It’s possible that Sarah was dead, or quite ill, by August 11, given that she was “week in body” on May 20 when she made her will. There was no occupation listed on the census which is odd for an adult, even if the occupation is “keeping house.”

mary-sarah-chumley-will

Sarah Chumbly week in body but of good sound mind…to Elizabeth Carea (Cazea?) one bed beding and furniture also one cow and calf. Second to my 2 neaces and one neffu the now living children of my sister Mary Redman all the balance of my effects after paying my berrial expenses and debts if any. I appoint William Redman by brotherinlaw my executor with my will annexed. May 20, 1870. Signed by Sarah Chumley with her mark. Witness Linsey Walter (his mark) and John Johnson.

The will was recorded Sept 23, 1870.

Based on her will, it’s very clear that Mary Redmon is Sarah’s sister and she was obviously close to her sister and brother-in-law, both. Who is Elizabeth Carea or Cazea? I suspect she is the same Elizabeth Kissee that is living with Sarah in 1860.

It’s very unusual that Sarah never had any children, given that she was married for 24 years, from 1846 to 1870.

In another odd turn of events, it appears that Sarah’s husband, William, died on May 10, 1870, just 10 days before Sarah wrote her own will and obviously before the effective date of the census.

In the Russell County, KY probate records, William’s estate records begin on page 32, including the inventory and estate sale, and there is not one Dodson or Redmon on the list of purchasers.

At William’s estate sale, Sarah bought several things including farm tools, so she apparently wasn’t planning on dying right away.

Rebecca Dodson in 1880

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In 1880, Rebecca Dodson, Lazarus’s widow is still living and with her is granddaughter Martha Redmon, listed as such. Of course, at that time in the census, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone listed as a step-grandchild. And given that Rebecca Freeman Dodson likely raised both Mary and Sarah after their mother’s death when they were just young girls, Rebecca was the child’s “grandmother” anyway.

Given that there were no other children evident in the deed signed by Lazarus just before his death, it appears that he and Rebecca did not have children either, or at least none that lived, although if Rebecca was 39 when she married, that might have been too late in life.

Unfortunately, we don’t know when Rebecca died, although it was between 1880 and the 1900 census when she would have been right at 100 years of age.  Rebecca’s death is not recorded in the Kentucky death indexes. Nor do we know where she is buried, although it clearly has to be someplace near where she lived and is probably beside Lazarus.

It’s worth noting that Rebecca’s neighbor in 1880 is Charles Chamberlain, mentioned in the 1861 deed as a neighbor whose property lines abut Lazarus’s.

Mary Dodson Redmon’s Burial

After much gnashing of teeth, I finally discovered where Mary Dodson Redmon is buried, and as fate would have it, the Lee Cemetery is right beside a branch of White Oak Creek, the Creek mentioned in the deed that Lazarus conveyed to Mary and Sarah back in 1861.

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Mary’s daughter, Martha, married William Harrison Rainwater (1863-1909). And it just so happens that one William Rainwater owned the land bordering Lazarus’s land in 1861. Given these names, it looks very much like this family in essence stayed right where they were planted in 1857.

Lee Cemetery is located on Lee Cemetery Road, which is not noted on Google maps as such.

According to the 1900 Pulaski County census, Mary Dodson was born in July 1833 in Tennessee.

mary-1900-pulaski-census

Family members report her birthdate to be both June 15th and July 15th, with the year ranging anyplace from 1830 to 1837 in various trees, with no supporting documentation. I suspect that since Mary reported her own birth information in 1900 as July 1833, that is probably most accurate. It would make sense for children to be born approximately 2 years apart as well, so perhaps Sarah in was born in 1831 and Mary in 1833.

Mary Dodson’s husband, William Perry Redmon apparently knew he was going to die, because he made a will in 1887. People of that time and place did not make wills “just in case” but waited until they knew they were going to need a will imminently. Again, another gift from my friend, Tom.

mary-william-redmon-will

To wife Mary Redman my home and tract of land lying on the south and west side of the Columbia Road and also the 50 acres on the north east side of said road known as the Owens farm. Also a boundary on the opposite side of the rode from my house beginning at the former of the field at the Marsee line on a black oak at the corner of new ground thence with the cross fence to the James Redman’s spring then down the branch to the Columbia road to have for her lifetime and at her death I want my sons Thomas Redman and Melver Redman to have all the land described above.

To wife, bay horse and sorel mare and cattle and sheep and hogs and all my household and kitchen furniture. My wagon and all my farming tools of any description and bees also my corn and meete on hand.

I want my land divided equally between my two boys giving them equal number of acres dividing it north and south and I give Melver this end where I know live and my clock I give to my daughter Sarah Redman one bed bedding and one side saddle and one chist.

I give Martha A. Rainwater my cubbard at Mary’s death.

I give Melver my dun mule and John the black mule and I give Melver my fan mill I give my son John the land known as the Rha Becka Dodson

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Farm.

I give to Charity Redman the land upon which she now lives to hold during her life on widowhood and at her death I want her children that she has by James Redman to have said land.

I give to my grandson Volantes Dodson two dollars also my two grandchildren Jacob G. Price one collar and Amanda E. Price one dollar. I also furnish Charity Redman my gray mare to have to make her crop this season then the mare is to be returned to Mary to hold as her own and I give to my wife Mary all by debts that coming to me out of these debts my daughter Sarah is to have $65 and if not paid out of these debts out of my hole estate if necessary to pay for that amount of meny that I owe her as guardian.

On testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand this the 9th day of January 1887.

Signed William Redman by his mark and witnessed by D. M. Cooper and A. McWilliams

William’s will was submitted to the January 1887 court.

This will tells us that Lazarus Dodson’s land, phrased as the “Rha Becka Dodson Farm” went to John Redmon in 1887. This also tells us that William Redmon’s lands were on both sides of the Columbia Road. Today, the “Old Columbia Road” remains visible and marked and 80 is now the original old Columbia Road elsewhere.

I would like to see if I can determine what happened to the Rebecca Dodson Farm once John Redmon owned it, but the grantor deed index for Pulaski County for this timeframe has not been imaged online.

According to FindAGrave, the son John would be John Franklin Redmon (1866-1929) who was born and died in Pulaski County, so he may well have kept this land his entire life. In fact, it’s certainly possible that it’s still in the same family.

I have made inquiries to descendants both who posted memorials on FindAGrave which includes a granddaughter, as well as on Ancestry, but no luck yet with replies. I’m hopeful that someone, someplace knows where his land or farm was that John Franklin Redmon inherited from his parents, and that I can locate it today.

Mary Dodson Redmon died on July 2, 1903, but her death is not recorded in the Kentucky Death records, or at least it’s not indexed.

FindAGrave does not indicate if there is a headstone or not, but Mary Dodson’s birth date is given as June 15, 1827, although the 1900 census shows her birth year as 1833. I suspect 1832 in her marriage record or 1833 is accurate, especially given that Lazarus Dodson’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell Dodson’s last child was born in 1827.

Volantus Dodson, age 9, is shown as the son of William Dodson, living just 2 houses away from Rebecca Dodson in 1880. Volantus is the son of William, age 38, who has apparently remarried to a 19 year old Mary since the 1870 census when William was newly married to Eliza.

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If you’re scratching your head, so was I.

The only way Volantus being William Redmon’s grandson makes any sense at all is that William Redmon’s daughter from his first marriage was the Eliza who married William Dodson and had son Volantus before she passed away. Checking Pulaski County marriage records, this is indeed the case. Eliza Caroline Redmon married William Dodson in December of 1868.

mary-eliza-redmon-marriage

Eliza Redman, age 24 in 1870, so born in 1846, had to be William Redman’s daughter from his first marriage, because William Redman didn’t marry Mary Dodson until 1864.

Therefore, Mary Dodson’s step-daughter married her half-brother’s son, William, who was Mary’s half-nephew. No blood relation, but I had to draw this out on paper to be sure.

These families are incredibly intermarried and interconnected.

Volantus is later shown as William V. Dodson and he also marries a Mary who becomes Mary Dodson. Too many Mary Dodson’s!!!

Cemetery Triangulation

Out of other options at this point, I decided to “borrow” a genetic genealogy technique and resort to “cemetery triangulation.”

I know this sounds odd, but hear me out on this one.

We have the following information:

  • We know the names of adjacent property owners for Lazarus Dodson in 1861.
  • We know that Mary Dodson married William Redman/Redmon and where she is buried.
  • We can also find neighbors in the census in 1860, 1870 and 1880 when Lazarus and then Rebecca are still living.
  • Rebecca retained right to the land for the duration of her life, so she was likely still living on this land in 1880.
  • We can track some individuals forward and backward in time through both deed and probate records
  • We have burial records at FindAGrave.
  • We have Google maps to look at the current location both in terms of maps, satellite images and for some roads, street view.

Unfortunately, not all of the deed records are imaged online at Family Search for Pulaski County. Some indexes are, and some deed books are, but not all. So, we will use what we can, then we’ll resort to FindAGrave and Google maps.

Do I sound like a desperate genealogist? Well, I am. And I want credit for this new term too, “cemetery triangulation,” born of desperation.

First let’s look at the deeds.

The Deeds

In 1857, John McWilliams sold the land to Lazarus Dotson that was subsequently conveyed to Mary Dodson and Sarah Chumley in 1861, effective after Rebecca Freeman Dodson’s death.

Sarah Dodson Chumley died in 1870, before Rebecca Freeman Dodson, which would leave the land to her sister, Mary Dodson Redmon. Mary’s husband, William Redmon, left the Rebecca Dodson farm to his son John Franklin Redmon.

The balance of the deeds below represent my attempts to trace this land, and failing that, the land of the neighbors, forward or backward in time, hoping to find additional descriptions with landmarks are locatable today. Tracking the neighbors land, especially when you know which side the land lays on directionally from your ancestor’s land is extremely useful and has been responsible for me being able to actually locate my ancestor’s land several times. Let’s see if this works in Pulaski County.

The lines mentioned in the Lazarus Dodson deed were:

  • White Oak Creek
  • William Rainwater
  • C. Cornelius line and grass lot
  • Graebel, Grabel’s field and Graebel’s branch

We find the following information about individuals whose purchase or sale of land falls on the right side of 1861, and who either are or may be the neighbors in question. In some cases, I’ve moved a generation forward in time to attempt to determine the location of family land or when I noticed a sale between two of the families mentioned (Rainwater to Graebel for example).

Year Grantor (seller) Grantee (buyer) Book Location Imaged Online Cemetery
1857 John McWilliams et al Lazarus Dotson 17-609 No Unmarked burials
1850* Nelson McWilliams John and Benjamin McWilliams, sons of Nelson 14-158 On White Oak Creek purchased from William N. McWilliams Yes Unmarked grave, lives one house from Lazarus
1854 Nelson McWilliams John McWilliams 17-9 No
1844 Charles Chamberlain John M. Weddle 12-339 mtg No No Chamberlains
1857 C. Chamberlain A. J. James 17-561 No
1857 Charles Chamberlain Fontain T. Fox 17-672 No Foxs in White Oak, quite a bit south
1853 Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain Solomon Weddle 18-72 40 acres, Pucket Place, White Oak, west side Weddle Spring branch, Daws corner, Daniel McDaniel line, Charles & Elizabeth Chamberlain quitclaim Yes Solomon Weddle in Chesterview, Daws are in Science Hill
1880 C. Chamberlin Charles F. Poff 30-483 No No Chamberlain or Poff
1873 Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain Jacob Castle 25-350 No Castles in Science Hill, distant
1873 Jacob and Rhoda Grabeel Rhoda Adams 25-485 No Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, Rhoda in Collins Cemetery
1885 Jacob and Rhoda Grabel William H. Neece 35-69 No Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, William H. Meece in Lee Cemetery
1889 LB and Rosetta Rainwater William P. Grabeel 38-289 No, pg 759 of index Wm Patterson Grabeel buried Science Hill, Rainwaters in New Hope

*Earliest McWilliams Grantee Deed – He says be purchased of William N.? McWilliams, but there is no deed in the index.

The earliest McWilliams graves, which are in the 1890s, are in the Woodstock Cemetery, near Woodstock, northeast of Somerset, not near Lazarus’s land. The early McWilliams must have been buried elsewhere, probably in unmarked graves.

Cemetery Sleuthing

Now that we know who we are looking for, let’s check the cemeteries for the following information:

  • Burials of individuals listed
  • Burials of other early family members of the surnames listed, especially if the individuals listed can’t be found
  • Oldest marked burial in the cemetery, indicating which cemeteries are older versus newer
  • Patterns relative to burials from the oldest census records of neighbors
  • Family cemeteries
  • Locations

Refer to the chart above for the relevance of the individuals mentioned and the cemetery name, if known.

Lee Cemetery

Lazarus’s daughter, Mary Dodson Redmon, other Redman/Redmons and William H. Meece (died 1924) are buried in the Lee Cemetery. The earliest death date on a marker in this cemetery is 1874 for a Redmon, but there is reportedly an Ann Poor Lee who died in 1809 buried there, wife of a Revolutionary War soldier, with no marker. There are some other obviously early burials in this cemetery and several stones with no date, so it’s certainly possible that Lazarus Dodson is buried there as well. This cemetery seems to be a small community cemetery, still in use, based on the number of families and surnames buried there, especially early and when compared with the census.

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Kentucky 80 looking down Amy Lane towards the cemetery.

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The 1860 census shows several neighbors of Lazarus Dodson. Interestingly enough, William Rainwaters is shown 4 census pages away, so not terribly far, but that may indicate that he lived on another road. We don’t know the order the census taker took. However, other neighbors whose families are buried the Lee Cemetery are shown adjacent to Lazarus.

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Nelson McWilliams, whose son sold Lazarus his land and who lives two houses from Lazarus in 1860, lies someplace in an unmarked grave. I suspect Nelson’s grave is in this cemetery.

Thomas Lay, Lazarus’s neighbor, unknown birth and death dates on the stone, but according to the census, born in 1836, is buried in the Lee Cemetery.

If John Campbell Dodson and wife Barthenia died in Pulaski County between 1860 and 1870, they are probably buried here too.

Andersons and Weddles are found in Lee Cemetery as well. Most of the early neighbor families are not found with markers in any cemetery, not until after the Civil War and often not until the 1890s and after 1900.

Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery

William H. Rainwaters, born in 1831 and died in 1871, likely the William Rainwater whose land abuts Lazarus, is buried in Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery. Some Chumbleys are buried here too. In 1870, William H. Rainwater is living among the Comptons, Gassitts, Meeces, McWilliams, Dunsmores and Andersons, the same families who are buried in the Lee Cemetery.

Maybe even more importantly, William Rainwater is living 4 houses from William Dodson where Rebecca Freeman and Sarah Chumley are living.

William’s son Lubantus B. sold land to the Graebel family. Lubantus is buried in New Hope, not far from Hopeful.

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New Hope

William Harrison Rainwater and wife Martha Ann Redmond (Redman, Redmon) Rainwater are buried in the New Hope Cemetery. So are L.B. and Rosetta Rainwater who sold land to William P. Grabeel.

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Weddle

John M. Weddle is buried in the Weddle cemetery.

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Mt. Zion

The earliest Daws are in Mount Zion Cemetery in Science Hill and they died after 1900.  Early family members are clearly buried elsewhere. Castles are at Science Hill as well.

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Chesterview

Solomon Weddle 1822-1890 is buried in the Chesterview Cemetery

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Collins

Rhoda Adams died in 1878 and is buried in Collins Cemetery.

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Rainwater

The oldest Rainwater burials are at the Rainwater Cemetery near Roberts and Wolf Creek Road.  The oldest burial in this cemetery is 1825.

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Grabeel

Grabeel Family Cemetery is a small family cemetery with 3 marked burials east of 80 just slightly, and close to Lee Cemetery.

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Jacob is likely whose land abutted Lazarus Dodson’s.

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Cemetery Triangulation

Now that we know where the various players are buried, or where their family members are buried, let’s see how these cemeteries look connected together on a map. I’ve omitted the most distant cemeteries where the most distantly connected burials are found. This sort of reminds me of the 3 legged shape of the triskelion.

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You can see here that these cemeteries are all in an area about 2 miles north to south and about 3 miles east to west.  On the map below, you can also see all of the branches of White Oak Creek.

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The cemetery with the most closely related burials, both in terms of Mary Dodson Redman being buried there, and in terms of neighbors, is the Lee Cemetery, located at the lower right end of the blue cemetery trail. The second most meaningful is probably the Graebel family cemetery, located just north of the Lee Cemetery, because Graebel is noted as a neighbor of Lazarus with abutting property lines.

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It’s probably also worth nothing that most of the time, people live on what were “main roads” at the time, which are generally still main roads today. Columbia Road is mentioned in William Redmon’s will, which is 80 today, and is likely the road where Lazarus lived.

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The next cemetery north at the crossroads of 80 and the Cumberland Parkway today is where Solomon Weddle is buried who bought land from the Chamberlains in 1853. The Chamberlain land abutted Lazarus’s land in 1861, although obviously not the land they sold in 1853. This provides a general location of where these families lived.

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The other cemeteries are too far north and too far west to fit well with the White Oak Creek land description.

Current Map Stream Plus Deed Description

Utilizing two different tools, let’s compare the deed description from Lazarus Dodson’s 1861 sale to the current day map of the streams. The current town of Nancy is marked below and the various branches of White Oak Creek can be seen to the left of Nancy, along with the entire area covered by the cemeteries and other geographic locations we’ve discussed above and will be discussing, below.

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Based on the cemetery geographic configuration and the number of burials, the burials would strongly suggest that Lazarus’s land was very near, or perhaps even under, the Lee Cemetery.

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Looking again at the deed description, we see that Lazarus’s line moves north to the mouth of a branch of White Oak Creek owned by Graebel, then east, then west to Chamberlain, then south to the main branch.

So there has to be an intersection of a branch on the north side of Lazarus’s land.

Unfortunately, there are two distinct branches of White Oak Creek, both with intersections, shown on the map below.

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Both intersecting Ys of those branches are found south of present day Nancy, which based on the cemeteries and burials, seems to be too far south.

The Lee Cemetery is located on Amy Road, red arrow below. The cemetery is located on an extension of the right branch of White Oak Creek, roughly half a mile north of Nancy.

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However, there is no branch to the right of this branch that would allow for the Graebel branch, at least no branch that is showing today.

However, moving north up the western branch of White Oak Creek, we see that there is indeed a branch that extends to the east, crossing 80 and ending by E. Waterloo. If indeed Lazarus’s land was on south of this branch, it would his land would be bordered roughly by Warner Road on the south, White Oak Creek to the west and the unnamed branch on the north, shown with blue arrows. The area of 50 acres that Lazarus owned, if it were square, is roughly 1,500 feet by 1,500 feet, the area shown inside the blue arrows. Of course, Lazarus’s land was clearly anything but square – but at least this gives us an idea of size.

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How does the land approximated by the blue arrows line up with cemeteries?

The Lee Cemetery is the red arrow in the lower right corner.

The Grabeel family cemetery is the red arrow in the center between Warner and Old Columbia Road east of 80.

The Chesterview (Weddle burial) cemetery is the red arrow at top left at the interchange of 80 and Cumberland Parkway.

There are three cemeteries about equally far north of the 80/Cumberland Parkway exchange, but the earliest and closest burials of neighbors are represented by the Grabeel and Lee Cemeteries.

The cemetery, census and deed triangulation shows the best fit for Lazarus’s land is someplace between the Lee Cemetery and the blue arrows. This technique has narrowed the location of Lazarus’s land to roughly a mile northwest to southeast, roughly along 80 (Old Columbia Road) and roughly half a mile from 80 to the southwest.

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Taking a Drive

Let’s take a drive using Google Street View and see what this area looks like. We are surely on Lazarus’s land, we just don’t know exactly where. This area would have been familiar to Lazarus and his family.

Let’s start on what is today 80, just north of Nancy, where the Old Columbia Road separates from the current road to the right. Of course, the old road is the original road, and the newer road used to be the original road too. Unfortunately, we can’t “drive down” the smaller roads, including Old Columbia Road, because the Google cars don’t travel on dirt, gravel or roads without center line markings. Sadly, that means we can’t visit the Lee Cemetery.

Below – 80 north of Nancy where the old road separates to the right.

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This part of Kentucky is pretty flat, flatter than the land on Tiprell Road in Claiborne County, perhaps giving us some idea of what attracted so many Claiborne County families to Pulaski County.

Below, just south of Amy Lane. The Lee Cemetery is probably behind that clump of trees.

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Below, looking left (west) off of 80 just south of Warner Road.

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Below, looking west on Warner Road. This could well be Lazarus’s land.

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On 80, north of Warner Road where the road crosses one of the branches of White Oak Creek at the source. This could be one of the eastern branches in Lazarus’s deed.

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The very northern tip of White Oak Creek where Fawbush Road crosses the source. This is probably north of Lazarus’s land based on the description.

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The Battle of Mill Springs

I cannot leave Pulaski County without at least touching on the Battle of Mill Springs, also known as the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads.

Lazarus Dodson died in October of 1861, and in a way, it was just in time. Major battles of the Civil War were fought on both of the pieces of property he owned in his lifetime.

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His land just beneath the Cumberland Gap was the site of fighting and the Cottrell soldier’s encampment at Butcher Springs. In fact, a Civil War map is how we located the homestead, exactly. The house and two barns were drawn on the map. Battles raged for the Gap itself, and Lazarus’s former land was repeatedly devastated by the warfare. The Gap changed hands three times during the war. Lazarus probably never knew about any of this since he died early in the war.

As irony would have it, Lazarus’s son-in-law, John Y. Estes fought on this land, for the Confederates. It’s unclear whether Lazarus maintained any connection with his children living in Claiborne County.  His daughter’s step-son fought and died for the Union, and his own son, John Campbell Dodson is reported to have fought in the Civil War as well, but I have been unable to find documentation.

Lazarus’s land in Pulaski County, Kentucky didn’t fare much better with Confederate General Zollicoffer setting up his winter camp near Nancy in Pulaski County in November 1861, a month after Lazarus’s death. The battle of Mill Springs took place on January 19, 1862, with union forces appearing to have advanced across Lazarus’s land.

Lazarus had only been buried for 3 months and his family certainly would have been involved, whether by choice or not.

At least 671 soldiers from both sides died that day, most being buried on the battlefield in what is now the Mill Springs National Cemetery, located on the battlefield. Looking at those burials on FindAGrave, almost every local surname is represented. It’s hard not to fight when the battle is in your back yard.

Mary Dodson Redmon’s step-son’s stone is found in the Mill Springs Cemetery, having died fighting as a Union soldier. Truly families were irreconcilably torn apart by this war.

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The town of Nancy, today, was then called Logan’s Crossroads. The Battle of Mill Springs is also called the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads. The map below is a Civil War era map showing the Union (blue) and Confederate forces (red).  It’s surprising to me how much of the area was still wooded.

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Looking at a contemporary map, with the battle field located by the red balloon, you can see that Old Robert Port Road is still listed by the same name. What is today 235 is the old Mill Springs Road. What is today 80 is the old Somerset Road.

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The Battlefield itself is located just half a mile or so south southeast of Nancy. In this wider perspective, you can see the landmarks discussed earlier.

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The battlefield includes the National Cemetery where the war dead are interred.

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Many names of local people are included in the National Cemetery. Almost every family is represented. William Redmon’s son, William Perry Redmon(d), from his first marriage is one of the casualties. He died March 17, 1864. His memorial marker resides in Mill Springs today, but where his body rests is unknown. Probably near where he fell in battle.

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Another of William Redmon’s sons fought as well, but wasn’t killed in Battle.  William fought as well, for a Kentucky Confederate unit. Wars not only devastated the countryside, they devastated families. This would have been a sorrowful and terrifying time for these families.

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DNA

Remember, as much as we think Mary Dodson is Lazarus Dodson’s daughter, we really don’t have confirmation. How I wish that 1861 deed from Lazarus had said, “my daughters,” but it didn’t.

It will take autosomal DNA testing of Mary’s descendants and having them match to Lazarus’s proven descendants to confirm or at least lend credence to the fact that Mary is Lazarus’s daughter. Let’s hope that someday, someone from Mary’s line tests at Family Tree DNA where we have autosomal data from several of Ruthy’s descendants to compare as well as DNA through Lazarus’s son, Lazarus.

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Mary Dodson’s great-grandchildren would be half third cousins to Buster and Mary, who have DNA tested, and they would be related more distantly to several other descendants who have also DNA tested. However, 90% of third cousins match, so the odds are very good that if Mary Dodson was the half-sister to Ruthy Dodson or her full brother, Lazarus Dodson, Mary descendants would match some of the descendants from Lazarus’s first marriage to Elizabeth Campbell.

In Summary

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We will likely never find Lazarus’s grave, but we know he has to be someplace in this picture, and if I had to make an educated guess, I would suggest that he is buried in the Lee Cemetery, someplace near his daughter, Mary Dodson Redman/Redmon.

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Photo by Terry Hail.

And speaking of Mary, someone was kind enough to send me a photo.

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Mary Dodson Redmon, above.

This is particularly interesting to me, because while I don’t have a picture of Lazarus Dodson, I do have a picture that we believe is Ruthy Dodson Estes, proven to be Lazarus’s daughter and presumably Mary Dodson’s half sister.

We are not positive that this photo, below, is Ruthy Dodson Estes, but the photo was found in Uncle Buster’s picture box, along with that of John Y. Estes, her husband, and their son, Lazarus Estes. Uncle Buster, Ruthy’s great-grandson, said that he believed this was Ruthy and that he had been told she had red hair.  Ruthy suffered from debilitating arthritis, and you can see that this woman’s hand is disfigured.

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A friend was kind enough to clean this picture up for me.

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Comparing the photos of Ruthy Dodson Estes to the photo of Mary Dodson Redmon below, do these women look like they could be half-sisters?

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Lazarus Dodson (1795-1861), Under the Radar?, 52 Ancestors #139

Lazarus Dodson was born in 1795, probably in what is now Hawkins County, Tennessee, to Lazarus Dodson Sr. and his wife, Jane, whose name we don’t know.

The Dodson family had settled on land on what is now Dodson Creek in Hawkins County by 1787, before Tennessee was even a state. Hawkins County was formed in 1787 in what was then North Carolina from Sullivan and Greene Counties, although the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia, on Hawkins County’s north border, remained in dispute for years. Dodson Creek was on the south side of the Holston River, so safely in North Carolina.

Dodson Creek

Beautiful pool at the bend in Dodson Creek where it leaves the road.

Charles Campbell and his sons, John and George also lived on Dodson Creek. John Campbell, born about 1782, married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins, the daughter of Jacob Dobkins who lived just down the road near White Horn.

dodson-ford-to-white-horn

The Campbell and Dodson families lived near Dodson’s Ford, located at the mouth of Dodson Creek near the power plant today.  The Dodson homestead would have been on the high ground, approximately at the location of 621 Old Tennessee 70, while the ford itself crossed the river, just above that location.  The land between the homestead and the river was low and prone to flooding.

This beautiful scene overlooks both the Campbell and Dodson lands from a vantage point across the Holston River.  Their lands are directly behind, beneath and beside the power plant.  This is beautiful country.

Hawkins view of Campbell land

Raleigh Dodson, the father of Lazarus Dodson Sr. manned and owned the ferry crossing the Holston River at Dodson Ford.

Indian war path

The road from Old Prussia Road to where the ferry crossed no longer exists today, but if you extend the line along Dodson Creek from the intersection of Old Tennessee 70 and Old Prussia Road along the west side of Dodson’s Creek, crossing the river near Arnott’s Island, that’s the general path.

dodson-ford-location

According to local history, this was also the Great War Path, and the Indians used to camp at the mouth of Dodson’s Creek, in the area not plowed today. Locals find artifacts and firepits there.

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It probably looks much the same today as it did then, except for the fields.

holston river at dodson ford

Bull’s Gap was the next major stop and it was about 12 miles on south, just past White Horn. Everyone traveled these main roads, and everyone, including Jacob Dobkins and his daughters would stop at Raleigh Dodson’s house (and probably tavern/store) after crossing the river.

In 1797, Lazarus Dodson Sr. moved to the White Horn branch of Bent Creek, very near Jacob Dobkins.

Claiborne County, Tennessee

Around 1800, this entire group of families moved from Hawkins County to what would become Claiborne County in 1801, including Jacob Dobkins, John and George Campbell along with their Dobkins wives and Lazarus Dodson and his wife, Jane. John Campbell would have married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins about 1795 and George’s brother, married Jane’s sister, Elizabeth Dobkins, about the same time – both daughters of Jacob Dobkins. Lazarus Dodson Sr. was a neighbor. He could have been otherwise related, by virtue of his wife, Jane, whose surname is unknown. We also don’t know the surname of Raleigh Dodson’s wife. There seems to be some connection to the Lea family, both in Virginia and in Tennessee. These early pioneer families could well have been related before moving to Dodson Creek.

Lazarus Dodson Jr. would have been about 5 years old when his parents moved to Claiborne County. Lazarus probably attended school in the same one room building that also functioned as a church on his father’s land.

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That church still exists today, on the banks of Gap Creek, on land owned by Lazarus.

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In Claiborne County, Jacob Dobkins, John Campbell and George Campbell settled not terribly far from each other, but Lazarus Dodson settled several miles away, just below the Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs, shown on the Civil War map, below. The location of Cotterell is the farm sold to David C. Cotrell by Lazarus Dodson in 1833 and confirmed in 1861. Present day Tiprell Road was called Gap Creek Road at that time, and Back Valley Road runs southwest from Patterson’s Smith Shops which is the intersection of 25E and Back Valley Road Today

camp cottrell civil war map

In the photo below, I’m standing in the Cottrell Cemetery located on the road just above the Cottrell home. In the photo, looking southeast, you can see the church standing today in the location of Patterson’s Smith Shops.

Me in Cottrell Cemetery

Below, the same cemetery, but looking west over Lazarus’s land.

cottrell cemetery

Today, Lincoln Memorial University, in the background below, owns the cemetery as well as part of the original Dodson land.

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Does one of the many fieldstones mark the grave of Elizabeth Campbell, the wife of Lazarus Dodson, Jr.? Did he have children that died and were buried here – children that never lived long enough to be recorded in their grandfather, John Campbell’s estate settlement papers in 1841?

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As I stood in the cemetery the sweltering June day that we set Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s DAR marker, honoring his Revolutionary War Service, I couldn’t help but wonder if this old tree had been young when Lazarus Dodson Jr. was a young boy, scampering through the fields here too.

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On the map below, Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s land was located at 1595 Tiprell Road on the upper left, Jacob Dobkins lived on what is now Al Campbell Lane (ironically) and John Campbell’s land was at the location with the red balloon on Little Sycamore Road. George Campbell’s land was located near Jacob Dobkins’, just slightly to the west.

dodson-cumberland-map

Both Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of John Campbell and Jane “Jennie” Dobkins, would have grown up in Claiborne County, but how they managed to “court” at that distance is unknown. The identity of Jane, the wife of Lazarus Dodson Sr. might be a clue, but we don’t know who she was. A church affiliation might be another clue, although Lazarus helped found Gap Creek Church near his home and Jacob Dobkins and John Campbell likely attended church at Big Springs in Tazewell or a smaller congregation closer to their home, if the now defunct church on Little Ridge behind John Campbell’s house had yet been established at that time.

Regardless of how, Elizabeth Campbell and Lazarus Dodson Jr. did court, and did marry about 1818 or 1819, based on the birth date of March 1, 1820 for their oldest child.

Unfortunately, Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Lazarus Dodson Jr. are both functioning as adults in Claiborne County and they are difficult to tell apart. In 1819, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Sr., sells his land near the Cumberland Gap, but in 1826, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Jr., repurchases the same land. Families, family dynamics and politics have never been simple!

In May 1819 Lazarus Dotson and Abner Lea, both of Claiborne Co., sold to William Hogan of Lee Co., VA by $5000 bond a tract of 640 acres. This deed was witnessed by Martin Beaty, William Jones and David Dodson (Claiborne deed E-366). The deed does not say Lazarus Sr. or Jr., but there is no indication that Lazarus Jr. had purchased this land, so the presumption has to be that Lazarus Sr. sold the land he obtained in 1810. The witness David Dodson may be the one who moved to McMinn Co TN and was likely another son of Lazarus Sr.

Alabama Indian Trader

At one point in time, about 1819 or 1820, Lazarus and his wife, Elizabeth Campbell, went to Alabama. This was a somewhat confounding turn of events, until you consider the multiple pieces of evidence that indicate the involvement of the Dodson family with Indians.

The first piece of evidence is that Lazarus Dodson’s father, Lazarus Sr., is reported in a later land survey to have been encamped with the Indians in what was then Sullivan and became Hawkins County, at the mouth of Richland Creek in the winter of 1781/1782.

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The mouth of Richland Creek was located just above an island, as seen above. You can see, on the map below, that in 1787, Richland Creek was located deep in Indian Territory, about 50 miles east of Rogersville and another 40 or so south of Arthur which is located on the south end of Tiprell Road where Lazarus Dodson eventually settled.

Elisha Wallen, the longhunter and first white man to settle in this country, built a cabin near the mouth of Richland Creek in 1775, before he pulled up stakes and moved to Cumberland Gap, near where Lazarus settled about 1800.

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There is no trace of the Indians or their encampment today. Lazarus wouldn’t recognize it. I bet that island at the mouth of Richland Creek is full of artifacts, some of which could have been left by Lazarus Dodson.

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Second, we find Lazarus’s father, Raleigh settling on the Great War Path, in Hawkins County, where the Indians traveled and camped.  Clearly, Lazarus Sr. know the Indians well.  Keep in mind that we don’t know who either Raleigh or Lazarus Sr.’s wives were.

The third piece of evidence is that Jesse Dodson, probably Lazarus’s brother, is living inside the Indian boundary just beneath the Cumberland Gap in 1797.  He was assessed for 1 white poll, but was then excused from tax when the Grainger Court released the Sheriff from the collection of taxes. At this time, the only people excused from taxes were Native people. This begs the question of whether Jesse was part Native and/or whether his wife was Native as well.

However, the failure to collect taxes may have been an issue of jurisdiction instead of heritage. Apparently these people were living beyond the treaty line on Indian land and were not within the jurisdiction of Grainger County. Claiborne County was not formed until 1801.

On the 1795 map below, you can see the Indian boundary line, just west of the Kentucky Road where it intersects with Cumberland Gap. This same Indian Boundary line is referenced in Lazarus Dodson’s deeds. 560 of the 640 acres Lazarus owned of this land was conveyed to him in 1810 by Abner Lea, thought (but unproven) to be Lazarus’s brother-in-law. The acreage amounts don’t match, but keep in mind that two Claiborne County deed books, H and L, from this timeframe are entirely missing.

1795 map claiborne co

If this Jesse Dodson living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 is the son of Lazarus Sr., then he preceded his father to Claiborne County by a couple of years and may well have settled on the land where Lazarus eventually lived, which was indeed, just inside the Indian Boundary line and was originally Cherokee land. This might well explain why Lazarus selected the land that he did, given that the rest of the people he moved with settled several miles to the southeast in a group.

Jesse Dodson and Mary Stubblefield Dodson joined the Big Spring Baptist church in Tazewell “by experience” in March 1802. They received letters of dismissal from the church in Nov. 1805, but Jesse returned his letter in May 1806, indicating he had returned. Apparently in early 1807 Jesse got into a dispute with the church over a theological question which continued through Sept. 1807 when the question was dismissed. In Aug. 1808, Jesse was “excluded” from the church for “withholding from the Church”. He is not again found in the records of Claiborne County. We know this Jesse Dodson is not the son of the Reverend Jesse Dodson whose son, Jesse Jr. was born in 1791. We otherwise don’t know who this Jesse is, other than perhaps the Jesse who was living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 who was possibly the Jesse who was subsequently licenses to trade with the Indians.  Yes, I know there are works like perhaps and possibly here, but this is the best we can do.

On June 20, 1811, Jesse Dodson was licensed to trade with Indian tribes in Madison Co., Alabama. Descendants of this man have the oral tradition that he was an Indian Trader. He was said to be the oldest son of a large family of boys. Once when the Indian trader returned from one trip and was preparing to leave on another, the father implored his older son to take along his younger brother. The trader refused, saying the boy was so inexperienced that he would be killed by Indians. The father was adamant and insisted, so the trader relented and took the boy along. He has killed by Indians before the trader’s eyes. From then on there were hard feelings between the Indian Trader and his father. This is a tradition which may have grown with the telling over the generations, but there could be some grains of truth in the tale. If would certainly be interesting to know for sure if Jesse the Indian Trader is the son of Lazarus Dodson Sr.

Jackson County, Alabama

The land that became Jackson Co., Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory and was occupied by the Cherokee until they gave it up by treaty on Feb. 27, 1819. It is certainly possible that Jesse Dodson, Indian Trader of the Mississippi Territory, was a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr., who, himself was camping with the Indians in the winter of 1781/1782. Indeed, Lazarus Sr. did appear to have a family of mostly boys and the name Raleigh is conspicuously absent from a list of descendants, perhaps indicating a death.

1819 is also the year that Lazarus Dodson Sr. sold his Claiborne County land and when several of his children apparently went to Alabama.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with why Lazarus went to Alabama, but it can’t be ignored either.

Andrew Jackson was Major General in the Tennessee Militia. He was ordered to New Orleans to fight the British in January 1813. He was ordered to disband his troops (2500) and return to Tennessee when he reached present day Natchez, Mississippi. No pay or provisions for his men and they had to forage their way back 500 miles to Tennessee. Some people stayed in Alabama. Jackson returned and defeated the Creek Indians (Red Sticks) at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on May 27, 1814. The Indians were forced to cede 23,000,000 acres to the Federal Government. Mississippi became a State in 1817 and Alabama in 1819. Many of the militia from Tennessee returned to Tennessee, packed up their belonging, and returned with their families in two wheel carts to “Squat” on the Indian Lands in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The squatters were given title to the lands by the States. Some of the “Civilized” Creeks were also allowed to “keep” their lands.

I checked land records maintained by the state and the BLM and find no Lazarus Dodson. However, there are many entries for Dodson men during and after this time.

I initially discounted the oral history that Lazarus had gone to Jackson County, Alabama, but his son, John Campbell Dodson shows that he was born in Alabama repeatedly – in the 1850 census, in the 1860 census and on his Civil War papers.

Lazarus Dodson Jr. was just slightly too young to be involved in the War of 1812, having been born in 1795, and his father Lazarus Sr., probably slightly too old, having been born about 1760. I did check Kentucky’s War of 1812 veterans, just to be sure, given that Lazarus Jr. lived there from about 1833 until his death in 1861 – and there is no listing for Lazarus Dodson by any spelling.

Return From Alabama

Elizabeth Campbell Dodson died sometime between 1827 when the last child was born and 1830 when the Dodson children are living with their Campbell grandparents.

Lazarus Dodson is once again active in Claiborne County, beginning in 1826 (according to an 1826 deed that may have been “doctored” and wasn’t registered until 1829) but consistently from mid-1827 through 1833 when Lazarus sells his land to David Cotterell and apparently moves to Pulaski County, Kentucky. By this time, Lazarus Dodson Sr. has died, so we know the Lazarus after 1826 is Lazarus Dodson Jr. who had married Elizabeth Campbell and later, Rebecca Freeman.

If Elizabeth died in Alabama, the reason for Lazarus’s return is evident. What was Lazarus to do with 4 children under the age of 7 or 8? Elizabeth may have died after returning to McMinn or Claiborne County. If so, she died before 1830 when the children were living with their grandparents.

Truthfully, I suspect that Elizabeth died after Lazarus returned to Tennessee. Otherwise, if Elizabeth had born a child in 1827 and died shortly thereafter, I suspect the child would have died too. Who would have nursed that child during the 200 mile, or minimum 10 day trip, from Alabama to Claiborne County, TN? Lazarus obviously couldn’t.

Cumberland Gap, Again

In 1826 Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s estate is being referenced in the September McMinn County court notes where Lazarus (Jr.) is one of several “gardeans of the estate” of Lazarous Dodson, deceased.

Abner Lea and Others Obligation to William Dodson: State of Tennessee McMinn County. Know all men by these presents that the Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson and Eligha (sic) Dodson and William Dodson and Jessee Dodson and Lazrus Dodson and held and firmly bound in the penal sum of two thousand dollars which payment will and freely to be maid now(?) and each of us do bind our selves our heirs executor and administrators to the abounded signed sealed and delivered this day and date above written. This is our obligation is as such that has the above abound to appoint Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to be the gardeans [guardians] of the estate of Lazarous Dodson dc’d also we authorize the said Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to make to William Dodson a deed of Conveyeance to the part of land granted to the said William Dodson North East Quarter of Section 11 Township 5 Range first east of the meridian. Also that we confirm the sale made on the 13 day of May 1826 we also agree to give unto the heirs of David Dodson a certain piece or parcel of land designated to David Dodson by Lazarus Dodson dec’d be it further understood that this is to be there part and all that they are entitiled to by us, where unto we have set our hand and quill this 11 day of September 1826. Abner Lea, Oliver Dodson, Eligha Dodson, Lazarous Dodson, Jesse Dodson

Witnesses: Landford and Rhodes William Dodson

In Sept. 1826, William Hogan living in McMinn Co., TN. sold to Lazarus Dodson and John Pace of Claiborne Co., for $3500, a tract of 640 acres adjoining Peter Huffakers field, a compromise line between Hogan, Aaron Davis and William Jones, excepting four acres heretofore conveyed to the said Huffaker and two acres donated by Hogan to the Baptist Church, including the meeting house and also a donation to the Trustees of the Washington School, including the schoolhouse. This deed was not certified by oath in Claiborne County court until April term of 1829 and not registered until October 20, 1829. This is registered in Claiborne County on pages 285 and 286.

dodson-1826-deed

dodson-1826-deed-2

This has to be Lazarus Jr. since Lazarus Sr. is dead and this land appears, based on earlier and later deeds, to be the original land that Lazarus Sr. owned. Did Lazarus Jr. repurchase his father’s land because of sentimental reasons, or because it was a great deal? Maybe some of both? Was this land still in the family. Was Hogan related? If so, how? So many questions!

On June 4, 1827, Lazerus Dodson made a deed of mortgage to Augustine P. Face (Pace) in McMinn County, but the land was located in Claiborne County, TN. (McMinn County Court Minutes, B/124)

At the October Claiborne County court session in 1829, the Sheriff, John Hunt, and Luke Tierman, a merchant from Baltimore, Maryland registered a judgement recovered by Daniel Rogers against Willliam Hogan. This judgment went up for auction and was specifically stated to be “the very tract of land William Hogan then lived on and the same he bought of Lazarus Dodson.” This was sold at auction with Tierman winning the land for $5 and then Sheriff Hunt conveys the 540 acres to John Tierman.

dodson-1829-tierman

dodson-1829-tierman-2

dodson-1829-tierman-3

This photo is taken on Tiprell Road looking north towards the mountain on the land that was owned by Lazarus.

dodson land tipprell road

This land is quite beautiful on up the mountain a bit.  Gap Creek runs alongside the road.

tipprell-road

Older Cottrell descendants indicate that Lazarus’s barn and perhaps a log structure (home?) was located in what is now this clump of trees, in the clearing to the right, just beneath the location of the Cottrell home on the Civil War map. The cemetery, as the crow flies, is just on the other side of the trees on the top of the hill, but you can’t get there from Tiprell Road today.

Given where the Civil War fighting occurred, this scene looks bucolic today, but it certainly wasn’t then. Lazarus didn’t live long enough to know about the fighting that would take place during the Civil War on the land he and his father once owned, but his daughter Rutha Dodson’s husband, John Y. Estes, would fight on these very grounds.

dodson-barn-land

I don’t know, but I’m guessing that somehow Lazarus Dodson is connected to William Hogan, given the multiple appearances of Hogan and Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Jr. together. Furthermore, it looks like there may have been something “funny” going on with this 1826 Dodson/Hogan land transaction that was not registered until 1829 at the same court session where Rogers judgment and Tierman’s auction winning of the land, somehow intertwined, are also registered.

How was this ever resolved, with two men, Tierman and Lazarus Dodson both appearing to own the exact same land? I’ll never know, but it does not appear to have gone to court again. Given the agrarian economy where almost everything seems to have been litigated, that in and of itself is amazing.

In 1827 Lazarus appears in the Claiborne County court minutes for the June session as the security for Andrew Chumbly in the case the State vs Andrew Chumbly. Thereafter Lazarus appears in the court minutes, serving as juror in September 1827, sued for debt by Moses Ball in March 1828 (Ball was awarded damages in Sept. 1828), ordered to a road jury in Dec 1829, serving as juror in March 1830, as constable in March 1831, after which Lazarus Dodson’s name disappears from court records until March 16, 1835 when John Hunt, sheriff and collector of public taxes lists Lazarus Dodson on his list of “persons being removed out of my county or insolvent so their poll tax cannot be collected for the year 1833 or 1834”.

Based on an 1861 deed, we know that Lazarus Dodson sold the land on present day Tiprell Road to David C. Cotterell in 1833.

1861, May 6 – Lazrous (sic) Dodson formerly of Claiborne Co, TN but now of Pulasky Co. KY to David C. Cotterell for $100 “to me the said Lazarous Dodson paid in the year 1833 having then sold to David Cotterell a tract of land on Gap Creek known as the Robert Chumbley land who had entered said land and sold and assigned said entry over to me and when the grant issued it came out in said Chumley’s name and afterwards was assigned by my request to said Cotterell”…beginning at a white oak two poles below Walker’s line, crossing Gap Creek, etc…his mark Lazarus Dodson. Wit Lewis Chumbley, Andrew Chumbley   Ack May 6, 1861 by Lazarus Dodson by appearance before James Allcorn, clerk of Court in Pulaksi Co., KY. Registered Oct 13 1870 Claiborne Co., TN

Note that the above item took place just 5 months before Lazarus died.

If Lazarus Jr. bought the land in 1826 for $3500, why did he sell it for $100 in 1833?  Or was this only a portion of what was sold?  Where is the deed for the rest?  Is that deed in the lost deed books?  The indexes remain, but they don’t show this land sale.

This survey shows Robert Chumley’s 100 acres of land.

robert-chumley-survey

The name of Lazarus Dodson is on a list of free male inhabitants, 21 and upwards, of Claiborne County in 1833.

The foregoing records suggest that Lazarus was living in Claiborne Co., in 1830, though he is not found there on census records for that year, or anyplace else for that matter. It is possible he lived in the household of another family, although at that time one could not serve on a jury if you weren’t a while male landholder over the age of 21.  If Lazarus owned his own land, and we know he did, then why wasn’t he listed on the census?

The following records indicate that Lazarus left the county again for a few years beginning in 1833, returning to marry his second wife, Rebecca Freeman, on June 29, 1839.

On to Kentucky

In 1835, we find a Hawkins County record that states that Lazarus is not a resident of the State of Tennessee.

May 7, 1835 – John A. McKinney vs David C. Cotterall, John Pace and Lazarus Dodson – the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson are not residents of this state…ordered that they make appearance at Rogersville on the first Monday of Nov next term or complaintants bill will be taken pro confesso and a copy of order to be published in the Abington newspaper and on motion of said complainant leave is given him to take depositions of the def, Dodson subject however to all just exceptions.

Nov. 3, 1835 – they failed to appear.

Sept. 18, 1837 – ord by court that the clerk and master ascertain the amount if interest due on $87.50 being half the amount of the obligation executed by the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson to the complainant.

Sept. 1837 – cause came for final hearing by responses made that Cottrell by an agreement made with the compl pending this suit has assumed to pay the sum of $100 which at that time was half of the obligation and he was bound to do with as the foot of the agreement with Pace and further that Dodson is liable to pay the complainant the remaining half of said obligation with interest in the amount of $118.56 with interest from this date until paid.

In 1839, Lazarus Dodson married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County. I wonder if he married someone else in-between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman. In that time and place, being single for several years is indeed unusual.

Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman Dodson have not been located on the 1850 census. They are not on the census of Pulaski Co., KY that year. The children of Lazarus and Elizabeth Campbell Dodson appear to have been raised after Elizabeth’s death by their Campbell grandparents. Lazarus, their father, left the area by about 1833, when the youngest child was only 6 years old, but these children were clearly raised in Claiborne County, married there and established homes.

I wonder what prompted Lazarus to move to Pulaski County, Kentucky, and if it had anything to do with the Hawkins County suit and the two years back taxes owed? Was Lazarus flying below the radar, as best one could in that time and place?

If he was living in Kentucky, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in 1839 in Claiborne County? There are far more questions about Lazarus’s life than we have answers.

John Campbell’s Death

In 1838, Lazarus Dodson’s former father-in-law died. Since Elizabeth Campbell, Lazarus’s first wife was also deceased, her portion fell to Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children.

In 1839, Lazarus is listed as receiving settlement from the estate of his father-in-law John Campbell.

In 1841 Wiley Huffaker was appointed by the court of Claiborne Co. as guardian of the minor heirs of Lazarus Dodson and of Elizabeth Dodson, decd. This was relative to the settlement of the estate of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, who died in 1838. The children received land, slaves and cash from their grandfather’s estate which was first rented and then sold for their benefit. The guardianship records continue until Dec. 1845 when the final settlement was made with Lasrus Dotson, the youngest heir, who would be Lazarus the third. This also confirms the birth year of Lazarus (the third) as 1827, given that he would have turned 18 in 1845.

Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children’s names were taken from the records relative to the estate of John Campbell, their grandfather, when a guardian was appointed for them relative to their inheritance. The children of Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell were:

  • Ruthy Dodson, born March 1, 1820 who married John Y. Estes in 1841 in Claiborne County, died in 1903 and is buried in the Venable Cemetery in Little Sycamore.
  • John Campbell Dodson, born 1820-1821 in Alabama, married Barthenia Dobkins in 1839 in Claiborne County and died after 1860.
  • Nancy Ann Dodson born about 1821, married James S. Bray in 1840 in Claiborne County and died between 1852 and 1860.
  • Lazarus Dobkins Dodson was born in 1827 (between 1822-1828 according to the census,) married Elizabeth H. Carpenter in 1845 in Claiborne County and died in 1885 in New Madrid County, Missouri.

One More Child?

Mary Dodson was living with Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1860 census. Her birth predates Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca by 8 years. Was she a child of a wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman? Did Lazarus have a second wife we know nothing about?

dodson-1860-pulaski-census

Mary Dodson died sometime after 1860 and is not found in the Kentucky death records.

While Mary’s birth in 1831 is before Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca in 1839, Mary is not listed in the estate settlement for Elizabeth Campbell, so she is clearly not Elizabeth’s child. It’s possible that Mary is not Lazarus’s child at all. We have no further information about Mary, and she remains a mystery.

Lazarus’s Death

Kentucky implemented very early death records, although they are fragmented and often incomplete.

lazarus-1861-pulaski-co-ky-death

However, we are fortunate that Lazarus is listed (last row, above), and his death record provides both his birth year AND his parents’ names! Well, except for his mother’s surname, of course.  We’re not THAT lucky!

dodson-lazarus-1861-death

dodson-lazarus-1861-death-2

Lazarus Dotson or Dodson is listed as white, age 66, male, married, a farmer and died on October 5, 1861 of “breast disease.” He was born in 1795 in Virginia and both resided and died in Pulaski County, Kentucky. His parents were Lazarus Dodson and Jane, both born in Virginia.

In a female, I would presume breast disease to be breast cancer, but in a male, breast disease is a bit of a mystery.

What Needs to be Done?

We don’t know where Lazarus is buried, nor do we know where he lived. Deed work, which might identify where Lazarus lived, has not been done in Pulaski County. We also don’t know if he had a will, probate or inventory records.

I contacted the Pulaski County Historical Society, hoping I could hire a researcher to do the deed work for me, with no luck. If anyone has any Pulaski County genealogy resources, either books or feet on the ground, please let me know.

DNA

Deed and records research in Pulaski County isn’t the only missing piece of the puzzle.

To date, no male Dodson from this line has Y DNA tested. If you’re a male Dodson from this line, please get in touch with me. I have a DNA testing scholarship for you!

However, just because we don’t have the Dodson Y DNA doesn’t mean we are dead in the water entirely. Let’s see what autosomal DNA can tell us about Lazarus.

I have one cousin who descends from this line, through one of Lazarus Jr.’s children. She is my only known cousin who descends through another child of Lazarus Jr.. I have several cousins who descend from the same child that I do.

One of the challenges faced in this particular line is that Jacob Dobkin’s daughters, Jennie and Elizabeth, married Campbell brothers, John and George, respectively.

dodson-dobkins-campbell-marriages

At least’s it’s widely accepted that John Campbell and George Campbell were brothers, both sons of Charles Campbell, from a variety of relatively convincing but less than cast-in-concrete evidence. What we don’t have, and probably never will have, is exact proof that John and George were brothers.

John and George Campbell’s Y DNA matches, but that’s not proof they were brothers, only that they share a common ancestor someplace back in time. Since they married sisters, one could expect the descendants of both men (and their Dobkins wives) to share at least some DNA.

This happens to be important because we have autosomal DNA from descendants of George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins as well, but because brothers married sisters, we can’t use the DNA from the George Campbell line to differentiate the DNA of the John Campbell descendants.  Nor can we use the fact that these descendants match to prove that George and John were brothers, because we know they married sisters, which could be why the DNA from descendants of both lines matches.

Nothing frustrating about this, right???

The cousin, Mary, that descends from Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell through their youngest child, Lazarus, matches me on four locations of 5 cM or greater.

dodson-mary-me

This is pretty exciting.  You can see the orange segments on the chromosome browser below.

dodson-mary-chr-browser

Given that we match on 4 segments, I was very hopeful that some of my DNA and Mary’s would triangulate with another known cousin, but it didn’t, except for my half-sister’s granddaughter, which is a relative too close for meaningful triangulation.

Triangulation, of course, is when three different cousins who descend from the same ancestor have DNA in common, meaning that all three match each other on the same segment. This indicates that the DNA segment descends from that common ancestor.

Since my DNA doesn’t triangulate, are there perhaps other pieces of Campbell and Dobkins DNA that still exist in descendants and can be proven to come from these ancestors?

The Power of Cousins

While Mary is the only cousin descended from Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, through another child, there are LOTS of other cousins who are descended  through the same child of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell that I descend from through daughter Ruthy Dodson.  Additionally, one cousin, William P. descends through George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins.

I manage a number of kits for cousins. I’ve downloaded their matches and sorted to see which of the various cousins might match Mary.

Lo and behold, look at this!  Jackpot!

dodson-cousin-mary-matches

Several cousins match Mary, and look, several segments in the red squares, triangulate between cousins, and Mary, as well. We know this is either Campbell, Dodson or Dobkins DNA, we just don’t know which. Even removing the Dodson DNA, hypothetically, without people who descend from either the Dobkins line, but not the Campbell line, or vice versa, there is no way to tell which is which.

Of the cousins above, William P. descends from George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins, while the balance all descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes. Those segments that triangulate between William P. and anyone else MUST be from the Campbell/Dobkins lineage, and not the Dodson line, because William P. does not descend from the Dodson line.

dodson-dobkins-campbell-line-2

Therefore, the triangulated match on chromosome 2 between Mary, Iona and William P. descends through the Campbell/Dobkins line and not Lazarus Dodson.  Not only that, but it’s a huge segment of 44 cM for double 4th cousins that has descended for five generations. Unfortunately, we just proved that this isn’t Lazarus’s DNA, but the rest could be.

Stacy’s match to Mary, Carol and Charlene on chromosome 12 is quite interesting. Let’s take a look.

Stacy is my half-sister’s granddaughter, so the common ancestor between Stacy and me is my father. In this case, we know unquestionably that my father carried the portion of chromosome 12 that Stacy carries, but that I did not inherit that segment.  This tells me that I inherited DNA from my father’s mother’s side on that segment.  That’s useful to know, even if it is via the back door through process of elimination.

Obviously, Carol, Mary and Charlene inherited that segment from their common ancestor(s).  Both Carol and Charlene descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes through her son, Lazarus Estes. Carol and Charlene’s lines diverge at Lazarus, but Charlene descends from my father’s brother.

dodson-cousin-mary-pedigree

While the chart above shows that Mary, Stacy, Charlene and Carol all 4 received the same segment of Elizabeth Campbell or Lazarus Dodson’s green DNA on chromosome 12, it doesn’t really show the full effect.

dodson-cousin-mary-green-pedigree

We know that all of these family members in green inherited this exact same DNA segment, and passed it along to the bottom generation. In this group, I’m the odd person out – having not received the green DNA from my father, while my sister did.

While these are not my matches that happen to triangulate, they are indeed my cousins and this triangulated DNA is that of my ancestors that I just don’t happen to carry.

Thank goodness for the power of cousins and the staying power of DNA for 7 proven generations!!!

A Mystery Man

Despite being able to piece some of Lazarus Dodson’s life together, we have gaping holes and many unanswered questions.  I just have the feeling that there is a very big piece of Lazarus’s life missing, some key event or cornerstone element – possibly surrounding the property beneath Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs.  If we had that piece of information, perhaps the rest would fall into place and make sense.

Was his marriage license to Elizabeth Campbell lost in Claiborne County? That’s certainly possible.

When did Lazarus go to Alabama, and why? How long did he stay?

Did Elizabeth die in Alabama or back in Tennessee?  In McMinn County or Claiborne?

Why did Lazarus repurchase his father’s land in 1826, or 1829?

What was going on with that land transaction? There are certainly some oddities.

What relationship did Lazarus have with the Pace, Hogan and Lea families?

What about that lawsuit in Hawkins County he never showed for?

If he sold his land when he left, in 1833, why did he have unpaid taxes in 1835 for 1833 and 1834?

Why did Lazarus leave his children in Tennessee with their grandparents when he left for Kentucky about 1833? His oldest would have been 13 and his youngest about 6.

For that matter, why did he leave his children with their Campbell grandparents by 1830, and where was he in 1830?

Who is Mary Dodson born in 1831?  Who was her mother?

Did Lazarus have a second wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman that we know nothing about?

Did Lazarus ever pay what was owed according to the court in 1837, or is that perhaps part of the reason he went to Kentucky in the first place?

If Lazarus was living in Kentucky in 1839, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County, TN?

Where was Lazarus Dodson in the 1840 and 1850 census?

Why did Lazarus actually sign the deed in 1861? Was this a remnant of the “odd” land transactions surrounding that piece of ground on Tiprell Road that remained since 1826 or maybe even earlier, with his father in 1810 and 1819?

This leaves me with a feeling that there was something odd going on, and perhaps Lazarus Dodson was flying a bit beneath the radar. Perhaps Pulaksi County, Kentucky Records would be enlightening.

Elizabeth Campbell (c1802-1827/1830) and the Alabama Frontier, 52 Ancestors #138

Elizabeth Campbell’s birth year is known only through the ages of her children. Daughter Ruthy Dodson was born on March 1, 1820. It’s believed that Elizabeth married shortly before that time to Lazarus Dodson who was born in 1795. Therefore Elizabeth was probably born sometime between 1795 and 1802.

Elizabeth was raised on Little Sycamore Road in Claiborne County, Tennessee by her parents, John Campbell and Jane “Jenny” Dobkins.

Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, purchased this land in 1802 when the family moved from near Dodson Creek in Hawkins County.  Elizabeth could have been born in Hawkins County and moved to Claiborne as a toddler, or born right here in this house.

Campbell house

The Campbell house still stands today beside Liberty Baptist Church and beneath Liberty Cemetery where John Campbell and Jenny Dobkins are probably buried.

Liberty cemetery

Looking down from the cemetery, which is on the top of the “hill” behind the house, which is really a mountain, you can see the top of the Campell home.

Campbell house from cemetery

The current owners told me about the secret room under the foundation. Did Elizabeth play there as a child?

Campbell foundation

Elizabeth assuredly carried water from the spring.

Campbell spring

A natural spring provided clean drinking water for the family and would have been one of the primary reasons John Campbell selected this location. It would have been the children’s job to fetch water in a bucket. These old trees were likely standing when Elizabeth dipped into the fresh cool water emanating from the stones that mark the spring, even yet today.

Campbell spring 2

Viewed from a different direction, you can see that it wasn’t far from the spring to the house. The spring, here, is the ditch at the base of the trees.

Campbell property

The original steps that Elizabeth climbed still remain, as does the original doorway. The cabin underneath is made of logs.

Campbell step

We also know that Elizabeth’s children visited the same spring, trod the same land and probably jumped off of this same step, following in their mother’s absent footsteps.

Elizabeth may have married in this house as well.  Elizabeth probably married Lazarus Dodson in about 1818 or 1819, because their child Martha “Ruthy” was born on March 1, 1820, with another child following shortly thereafter.  Ruthy consistently shows her birth in Tennessee in every census from 1850 through 1910, as do her children.

We know very little of Elizabeth’s life between her birth and death. What we do know is quite interesting, albeit less than concrete.

The family lore from several lines includes the persistent story that Elizabeth and Lazarus went to Jackson County, Alabama after their marriage. I’ve always been skeptical of this story, because their children are found in Claiborne County, Tennessee, exactly where both Lazarus and Elizabeth are found as children. But, as it turns out, I was wrong.

The land that became Jackson Co., Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory and was occupied by the Cherokee until they gave it up by treaty on Feb. 27, 1819. It’s known that the Dodson family had been involved with trading with the Indians since at least 1797 and that one Jesse Dodson was an Indian trader, licensed in 1811. It is certainly possible that Jesse Dodson, Indian Trader of the Mississippi territory, was a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr., meaning a brother to Lazarus Dodson Jr., who married Elizabeth Campbell. Lazarus Dodson Sr. was himself camping with the Indians in Sullivan County in the winter of 1781/1782.  You can read more about the Indian trader story in the article about Lazarus Dodson, Sr.

The area on the map below labeled 101 is the Jackson County, Alabama land ceded by the Cherokee in 1819, bordering Tennessee, about 200 miles from Claiborne County. The area marked 203 was not ceded until the Indian removal in 1835. Additional maps and cessations can be viewed here.

1819-alabama-ceded-land

Given that at least one of Elizabeth’s children was born in Alabama in 1820 or 1821, and possibly more were born there, Elizabeth was actually living on a frontier. Alabama was made a territory in 1817 and became a state in 1819.

The Cherokee ceded land in 1816 and 1819 but retained the land just to the east of Jackson County. The Cherokee were their neighbors, and if the Dodson family was trading with the tribe, they were working among them on a daily basis.

The next hint that we have about Elizabeth is that Lazarus reappears in the Claiborne County Court notes in June of 1827. We know that his father, Lazarus Sr., died in 1826, so this 1827 appearance is most likely Lazarus, husband of Elizabeth. If this is the case, it’s possible that Lazarus and Elizabeth returned to Tennessee together and she died in Tennessee between 1826 and 1830.

It’s also possible that Elizabeth died in Alabama in 1827, prompting Lazarus’s return.

Thankfully, Elizabeth inherited from her father, John Campbell’s estate and because she was already deceased, her heirs are listed and inherit her portion. John Campbell died in 1838 and Elizabeth’s children are listed as minor heirs in 1840, 1841 and 1842.

          State of Tennessee, Claiborne County Court, October term 1842. page 280.

            GUARDEAN SETTLEMENT MINOR HEIRS, ELIZABETH DODSON, DECEASED.

            I, Wiley Huffacker, Guardean to John C., Nancy, Ruthy, and Lazarous Dodson minor orphans of Elizabeth Dodson, deceased, do make and present to your worships the following report, or settlement, to wit.

            To amount in my hands as reported to your worships at July term 1841, $120.08 3/4. Interest on same from July 1841 to September 1842, $7.81. Recd. of George Campbell rents for 1839 & 1840, $5.50. Interest recd. on G. Campbells note, date above, $0.27. Rents recd. of Wm. Fugate for the 1841, $3.00. Do – Do of Wm. Campbell for the year 1841, $3.00. Do – Do of Jacob Campbell for the year 1841, $2.12 1/4. Total: $141.79 1/4.

            Notes taken for sale of land as per decree of the Circuit Court, to wit. :

One note on Jacob Campbell due 1st. July 1843, $27.54. Due on 1st January 1844, $27.54. do on Wm. Campbell, due 1st January 1843, $78.44. Do on same due 1st January 1844, $78.44. sub total: $211.96, Total: $353.75 1/4.

            September 1842 recd. as administrator on auction sales of negroes by order of Circuit Court, $116.04. Total Amount: $469.79 1/4.

            Paid attorney Sawyers for advice, $5.00. Guardian bond to clerk Neil, $0.75. For attending to the whole business as Guardian, making and recording this settlement & &. $14.25. total: $20.00., yet due: $449.79 1/4.

            Guardian entitled to credits as follows, to wit: Paid Gray Garret my part expenses selling land, $1.00.

            John C. Dotsons rect. 26th Sept. 1842, in full his share $112.46.

            James S. Brays rect. 31st Dec. 1841 $63.90. Do – do for rents for 1841, $1.50. Due 3rd Oct. 1842 for balance in full, or his wife’s share in my hands as guardian, $47.06.

            John Y. Estes rect. dated 5th Sept. 1842, $54.35. Do – do rents for the year 1841, $1.50. Do – do order for what ballence may be in my hands as guardian, amt. $56.61.

            Total amount due the heirs, after expenses, $449.79 1/4.

            Vouchers filed to the amount of $338.38. balance, $111.41 1/4.

            Leaving yet in my hands, one hundred eleven dollars & fourty one cents which is each heirs share & which is due & owing to Lazarous Dotson, the youngest heir. The other three having received their whole share as appears from the vouchers on file. Which settlement was presented to the court at October term 1842 & by the court examined & ordered to be filed and recorded, being received by the court. Wiley Huffacker, Guardean.

Elizabeth apparently died sometime between the birth of her last child in 1827 and 1830 when her 4 children appear to be living with her parents in Claiborne County, TN.  Her father, John Campbell is show on the 1830 census, below.

1830-claiborne-county-campbell-census

John Campbell’s household has 4 small children living with he and his wife.

I do not find Lazarus Dodson, Elizabeth’s husband, in 1830, although there is a Lazarus Dotson in Pickens Co., Alabama but he is 40-50 years of age, along with his wife, and they have 6 children, 4 males and 2 females, which does not match our Lazarus and his known children.

Lazarus Dodson served on a jury in Claiborne County in March of 1830, so we know he was living there at that time and serves in both 1829 and 1831 as well. Perhaps he was living with another family in 1830.

I suspect that these are the Dodson children living with John Campbell, and that Elizabeth had passed over by then. Lazarus probably brought them back from Alabama and left them with their grandparents because he couldn’t farm and watch 4 small children too – all 4 being under the age of 10. If Elizabeth died in 1827 or 1828, those children would have all been under the age of 7 or 8.  The youngest children probably had no memory of their mother.  If Elizabeth knew she was dying, it must have broken her heart to leave her young children.

I would wager that wagon ride from Alabama to Tennessee was one long, sorrowful, journey. The children would not have known their grandparents and their mother had died. It’s possible that the first John Campbell and his wife, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins knew of their daughter’s death was when Lazarus showed up in a wagon, without their daughter and with 4 children. For that matter, they may not have known that Elizabeth had borne 4 children.

What a terribly bittersweet homecoming. The excitement of seeing the wagon, and who was driving, and then the agony of discovering that their daughter was not inside.

Snippets of confirming information about Elizabeth and Lazarus living in Alabama come from their children.

Elizabeth’s son, John Campbell Dodson, born in 1820 or 1821 shows himself to have been born in Alabama in the 1850 Claiborne County, TN census and 1860 Pulaksi County, KY census. His Civil War military records confirm that was well.

john-dodson-1850-claiborne-census

However, Elizabeth’s daughter, Nancy Ann was born in 1824 in Tennessee according to the 1850 Claiborne County, TN census.  She died before the 1860 census, but her son, Thomas Bray, in 1900, shows his mother as born in Tennessee.

Elizabeth’s son Lazarus is shown living beside his sister Nancy Bray in 1850, also born in Tennessee.  The 1860 census in Pulaski County, Kentucky and the 1880 census in Madrid Bend, Fulton County, KY also show that he was born in Tennessee.

Nancy Ann and Lazarus, the youngest children, may not remember living in Alabama, if, in fact, they did.

1850-bray-dodson-census

One thing we know for sure, Lazarus Dodson was absent from Claiborne County between 1819 and at least 1826 when either he or his father repurchased the land beneath Cumberland Gap.  He was back for sure in mid-1827 when he appears in the court notes.  Lazarus’s wife, Elizabeth would have been with him, wherever he was.

I believe that Lazarus Jr. purchased the land on Tiprell Road in 1826, previously sold by his father in 1819, given that the land was not mentioned in nor sold from his father’s estate and Lazarus subsequently swears that he sold that land in 1833.  Lazarus may have purchased the land, then gone back to Alabama to retrieve his family, returning by the summer of 1827.

If Elizabeth died in Alabama, the location of her grave is unknown to us.

If Elizabeth died in Claiborne County, she would be buried either in the cemetery on Lazarus’s land, known as the Cottrell Cemetery today, or in Liberty Cemetery above her father’s house (if the cemetery was in use that early), or possibly in the Campbell cemetery on Jacob Dobkins’ original land.  Regardless, I’ve visited her grave one time or another, and she was assuredly buried among family, regardless of which cemetery was her final resting place.

Elizabeth’s known children were:

  • Martha “Ruthy” Dodson (1820-1903) who married John Y. Estes
  • John Campbell Dodson (1820/1821-after 1860) who married Barthena Dobkins in 1839
  • Nancy Ann Dodson (c1824-1852/1860) married James S. Bray
  • Lazarus Dobkins Dodson (1827-1885) married Elizabeth Carpenter

DNA

Elizabeth’s mitochondrial DNA would be passed down from her mother to her, unmixed with any DNA from her father. Women pass their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on. That means that anyone who descends from Elizabeth, her mother, or her mother’s sisters, through all females to the current generation, carry her mitochondrial DNA. In the current generation, the testers can be either males or females.

Mitochondrial DNA is particularly important in these old families, because we really don’t know much about the female lines quite often. We may think they are of European origin, but sometimes they are Native, and vice versa. Mitochondrial DNA testing removes all question. Because it’s always passed intact, meaning never mixed with the father’s DNA, it remains clear for many generations, showing us the history of that one single line back into distant times.

Elizabeth had only two daughters, who had the following daughters who would be candidates to provide descendants who could test today for Elizabeth’s mitochondrial DNA.

Ruthy Dodson (1820-1903) married John Y. Estes – daughters:

Elizabeth Ann Estes (1851-1946) married William George Vannoy and lived in Montague Co., Texas. She had daughters

Doshia Phoebe Vannoy (1875-1972) married James Hutson and had daughters:

Audrey Lee Hutson (1917->2006) married Alfred Long

Opal Hutson (1900-197?) married Grady Murphy

Lizzie Lucille Hutson (1907-?) married a Luttrell

Eliza Vannoy (1871-1925) married Joe Robert Miller and had daughter:

Nell Miller (1902-1991) married William Jackson, daughter:

Reba Jackson (1926-2010) married John Webb

Nancy Ann Dodson (1821-1852/1860) married James S. Bray – daughters:

Mary Bray born circa 1848

       Rhoda Bray born (1852-1921) married William Hunter Wood, daughters:

Nannie Harger Wood (1883-1975) married Harry Barr Ross

Bertha L. Wood

      Carline Bray born circa 1838

If you descend from Elizabeth Campbell through all females (bolded above) to the current generation and are the first person who steps forward willing to DNA test, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.  In the current generation, you can be either male or female, so long as you descend through all females.

The 1709ers – German Palatinates – 52 Ancestors #137

I’m betting that a lot of you don’t know who the 1709ers were. I didn’t until I discovered I was descended from 1709ers, and then became immediately and compulsively interested in these people, their travels, travails and fate.

As luck and irony would have it, synchronicity smiled on me one day. I like to think that some favor I paid forward just got paid back. This was a big one.

A woman, Doris, was my “room angel” at a conference where I was speaking about DNA years ago – ironically, the Palatinate of America conference.  Doris contacted me after reading an article I wrote about X chromosome mapping and said that she had identified the parents of my Barbara Kobel who I had mentioned in the article as an “end of line” person – in other words – a brick wall. Indeed, Doris was correct, and she pointed me towards Jacob Kobel and his wife, Anna Maria. I have since added another 5 generations to this previous brick wall based on information that began with her kind note and information that she included. I can’t thank Doris enough! She’s an angel alright!

Doris told me that Jacob Kobel was part of the 1709 Palatine Immigration. The next question I had for her was “what was that?” The answer came in the form of a Wiki article and a couple of books, the best of which was “Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York” by Philip Otterness, a history professor at Warren Wilson College.

Who Were the German Palatines?

The German Palatines were natives of the Electorate of the Palatinate region of Germany, although a few had come to Germany from Switzerland, the Alsace, and probably other parts of Europe. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th, the Palatine region was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.

The “Poor Palatines” as they came to be called were some 13,000 Germans who arrived in England between May and November 1709 in response to a false rumor that the Queen was giving free land in America. Their arrival in England, and the inability of the British Government to integrate them, caused a highly politicized debate over the merits of immigration. The English tried to settle them in England, Ireland, and the Colonies. The English transported nearly 3,000 in ten ships to New York in 1710. Many were first were assigned to work camps along the Hudson River to work off the cost of their passage.

The Palatinates had left Germany believing that the English Queen was giving land in America in return for settling there. It wasn’t true, but the Germans didn’t discover that until after arriving in either Rotterdam or London, and then many refused to believe it. In fact, decades later, many were still trying to obtain their free land to which they were just sure they were entitled.

The 1709ers received their nickname because that’s the year they arrived, en masse, in London, descending on a city that was not prepared for them.

The first boats packed with refugees began arriving in early May 1709. The first 900 people were given housing, food and supplies by a number of wealthy Englishmen. The immigrants were called “Poor Palatines”: “poor” in reference to their pitiful and impoverished state upon arrival in England, and “Palatines” since many of them came from lands controlled by the Elector Palatine. The majority came from regions outside the Palatinate and often against the wishes of their respective rulers, they fled by the thousands down the Rhine River to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where the majority eventually embarked for London.

Within a few days another 800+ Germans had crowded together in miserable rooms in St. Catherine’s parish in London. This was just the beginning of the tidal wave.

1709er-tower

In 1598, St. Katherine’s was described as “inclosed about or pestered with small tenements and homely cottages” and it remained so a hundred years later when its inhabitants consisted “of weavers and other manufacturers and of seamen and such who relate to shipping and are generally very factious and poor.” The parish, on the City’s east side just beyond the Tower had long been a community of poor English families and foreigners.  You can see the neighborhood to the right of the tower, both above and below.  The 1709ers would have fit right in were it not for the fact there were so many of them.

1746 London Map

Throughout the summer of 1709, ships unloaded thousands of refugees, and almost immediately their numbers overwhelmed the initial attempts to provide for them.

They were initially crowded into St. Katherine’s, also written as St. Catherine’s, today known as St. Katherine’s by the Tower.

At that time, these accommodations were tenements by the docks in an unsavory area. Having entirely overrun all buildings available, they lived in tents in squalid conditions and the local London people came to view them as entertainment.

By summer, some were moved to the fields and barns of Blackheath and Camberwell, now part of metropolitan London. A Committee dedicated to coordinating their settlement and dispersal sought ideas for their employment. This proved difficult, as the Poor Palatines were unlike previous migrant groups — skilled, middle-class, religious exiles such as the Huguenots or the Dutch in the 16th century.  The 1709ers, by contrast, were rather unskilled rural laborers, neither sufficiently educated nor healthy enough for most types of employment. Their health wasn’t improving by living in those squalid conditions, either.

The Germans already in London now realized that the queen had never planned to settle them in America and had been completely unprepared for their arrival. Now all they could do was to wait for the queen to determine their fate. They tried to make life as normal as possible. A woodcut of one the German camps at St. Katherine’s published in 1709 shows the women cooking and hauling wood while the children sleep next to the tents. This woodcut is part of an article describing the state of the Palatines.

1709ers

Some worked on surrounding farms. Some men joined the British army. The rest lived off of English generosity and the Queen.

In 1709, when the Palatinates were living at St. Katherine’s by the Tower, a beautiful church and hospital were located there as well, known as St. Katharine’s Church. The 1709ers would have worshipped in this church that was by that time already nearly 600 years old. Sadly, this church was destroyed in 1825 when the area was razed to build the St. Katharine Docks.

1709er-st-katherines

This map below shows the area to be destroyed to build the docks. You can see the church and cloisters and surrounding small streets and houses.

An intensely built-up 23 acre site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital and church of St. Katharine. Around 11,300 inhabitants, mostly port workers crammed into insanitary slums, lost their homes.  Of course, only property owners received compensation and that didn’t include the tenants.

I shudder to think about more than 11,000 people crammed into 23 acres, what it would have looked and smelled like, but this map gives us some idea what this area would have been like with 16,000 Palatinates in tents in this same region, in addition to the residents.

1709er-st-katherines-map

You can see, on the current Google map below that the entire neighborhood was replaced by docks.  The water in the dock area looks dark, but you can see the boats moored today.

st-katherines-today

Life Gets Worse

Soon an alternate image of the “poor Palatine refugees” emerged. A physician wrote:

”I wish you the recovery of your health and a better neighborhood than the palatines, which I fear have infected your pure air. Our country has whole loads of them and call them gipsies, not knowing the language and seeing their poor clothes.”

Gypsies were often portrayed in Britain as parasitic intruders who invaded civilized societies while maintaining their own closed and mysterious communities. In 1711 gypsies were described as “this race of vermin.”

By the beginning of August, the people of London had visited their camps and the “poor Palatine refugees” had not lived up to their billing. Rather than being fit objects of charity, they had become, in the words of an anonymous pamphleteer, “a parcel of vagabonds, who might have lied comfortably enough in their native country, had not the laziness of their dispositions and the report of our well-known generosity drawn them out of it.”

Life was bad and getting worse for the German families. Many had been reduced to begging in the streets. Others were shipped back home. England became desperate to get rid of this group of people they hadn’t wanted nor invited and who couldn’t support themselves. When the opportunity to send the entire group to New York and Pennsylvania arose, they were all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity and send them on their way.

On To America

In mid-April, 1710, almost a year after the first migrants had arrived in London, a convoy bearing the 3000 Germans and New York’s Governor Hunter left England.

Jacob Cobel (Kobel), a miller, age 27, reported to be a Catholic, his wife and a son aged one half, were in the 4th group of arrivals in England in 1709 according to the London Lists. He had left Hoffensheim-Sinsheim. This is somewhat remarkable in that he was reported to be Catholic AND that he continued to immigrate to America. Most Catholics, in fact, all that the English knew about, were returned to Holland. I am not convinced that he was Catholic. If he was, how he and his family evaded deportation is both unknown and miraculous.

In 1710, Jacob along with his wife and child continued on to America, in fact, settling eventually in a location that would be named after him, Cobleskill, NY.

The postcard below shows Cobleskill Creek in Coblesill, NY. This is likely Jacob’s mill creek. He was documented as being a miller in the US as well.

1709er-cobleskill-creek

Jacob Cobel’s wife was Anna Marie Egli and they had daughter Maria Barbara after their arrival in the US. Maria Barbara married Johann Jacob Schaeffer, a member of another 1709er Palatinate family. His parents were Johan Nicholas Schaeffer and Maria Katherine Suder from Relsburg, Germany.

However, the story doesn’t stop here. It does however, skip forward some 304 years, to September 2013.

St. Katherines Today

My husband, Jim, and I were visiting London. We only had 2 and a half days.

On the day of our arrival, after finally finding our hotel, walking from a train station pulling heavy bags, we discovered that the travel agent had not made the reservation for the correct days. We had to find a different hotel. With the help of the hotel, we were able to do so, but it took a couple of hours that we didn’t have to spend. We missed any possibility of the tour I had so been looking forward to. Our next two days were already spoken for. With all of the frustration and disappointment, I just wanted to cry. Things were not going as planned. What to do?

After getting settled, we regrouped, and realizing we only had part of the afternoon, we decided to visit a couple of quilt shops I had found online. The hotel was gracious and called us a taxi, and a few minutes later our driver arrived, ready to take us anyplace we wanted.

On the way to the first of three quilt shops, we told him about our travel snafu and the tour we had hoped to take. One of the places I was really looking forward to seeing was the Tower of London so I could, from there, hopefully, see St. Katherine’s by the Tower. My ancestors, the 1709ers, “camped” there and I wanted to visit that area – or at least see it from a distance.

Our driver, whose name was Said, was beyond wonderful, and he wove a tour into the quilt shop visits. We spent the most wonderful afternoon with this gentleman and he took me directly to places that were on no canned tour.

Of course, with his London driving experience, he knew exactly how to get to all the best places.  That travel snafu turned out to be a lovely gift in disguise!

From this area on the Thames near St. Katherine’s, you can see Tower Bridge, located beside the Tower of London.  St. Katherine’s is between the Hermitage Park, where I’m standing in this photo, and the Tower Bridge.  St. Katherine’s begins on the other side of the brown building, to the far right in this photo, about half way between me and the bridge. This gives you an idea of how small the neighborhood of St. Katherine’s actually was. Google maps shows the area of St. Katherine’s to be roughly 1000 feet by about 700 feet.

London Bridge

In the most ironic twist of fate, today, this area has once again been redeveloped and is now comprised of very high-end, upscale condos, some directly on the Thames and some on the Marina. My ancestors wouldn’t recognize it.

1709er-st-katherines-redevelopment

Beautiful buildings on what is now a beautiful setting.

1709er-st-katherines-dock

You don’t have to look too far though to see some of the warehouses that were adjacent to the docks. There are still warehouses a block off of the waterfront. You can see them behind Said’s car, waiting patiently for me to get my ancestor-fix.

Said's Mercedes

The city walls, a remnant shown below behind the men at the bus stop, would have still been intact when the 1709ers were there, but not much remains today. I love these old brick streets too.

1709er-london-city-wall

The old ship ties still exist at St. Katherine’s docks. These were at one time used to tie the large cargo ships to hold them secure while they were loaded and unloaded.

1709er-st-katherine-ship-tie

You can still read “St. Katherine by the Tower.”

St Katherines by the Tower

I had to pinch myself to believe I was really standing here where my ancestors stood. Truthfully, between being sleep deprived after an all-night flight, followed by the hotel debacle, this unplanned experience felt entirely surreal.

1709er-st-katherine-park

This area has been made into a lovely waterfront park which includes the docks of course, and the historic Dickens Inn, shown with the red hanging baskets, above.  What a transition from how cramped and miserable this area was in 1709 and how spacious and lovely it is today.  The 1709ers would be shocked and probably mortified at all of that “wasted space” that they so desperately needed.

st-katherines-park

The redeveloped park where I’m standing, is located in the area between the green “St. Katharine Docks and The Dickens Inn on the current map above, in the lower right hand quadrant.  You can click to enlarge.  On the old map, this would have been just in front of the St. Catherine’s church – a place certainly familiar to the 1709ers who were assuredly praying daily for deliverance of some sort.

1709er-st-katherine-condos

The photo above is difficult to see because I took it through glass, but it shows pictures of the inside of the condos or apartments that are for sale in the area, all for over half a million pounds – and those are the cheap ones.

It’s somehow a supreme irony that the former poorest area, the waterfront tenement slums, are now the posh area. This is the third life of St. Katherine’s. I guess that is the very meaning of redevelopment.

I was so very grateful to Said for taking me to where my ancestors camped.  It brought history to life in a very memorable way.

I’d love to know more about these families before their arrival in England.  In particular, I’d like to know more about their deep ancestry, before the advent of surnames.  Where did they come from?  Who were their people?  Were they Celts or Saxons or maybe Huns before they were Germans seeking refuge?  Y DNA testing can give us those answers, but we need a male from the surname lines in question to test.

DNA Projects and Participants

Given that I certainly can’t test my Y DNA (females don’t have Y DNA) for the 1709er lines, I need to find males who descend from these family lines to test. Y DNA is always passed from father to son, generally along with the surname. The best way to start that search is to check the projects at Family Tree DNA, along with YSearch.

I checked the Family Tree DNA Y database and discovered no Cobel, Kobel or derivative surname, so I started the Kobel/Coble Y DNA project. While this project was initially focused on Kobel/Coble males, anyone who descends from a Kobel/Cobel line is welcome to join. Fortunately, we do have a Coble male from Jacob Kobel’s line, and he matches other Coble males as well. I would invite and encourage any Kobel (or similar spelling) male to join. I’ll be writing about Jacob Kobel’s line soon.

Viewing the Shafer project, it does appear that the 1709er Schaeffer line has probably tested and is a subgroup of haplogroup U106. I say probably because it’s a line believed to connect to my line, from a group that went to NC. Still, I’d much prefer to test someone from my own proven line, just in case. You can view the grouping of men that match, in yellow, below.

shafer-dna-project

There are no projects for either Egli, Suder or Sonsst. There are apparently 8 people with the Egli surname who have tested, but the only one I could find in any project was from France. One Suder has apparently tested, and no Sonssts. Sonsst could easily have been corrupted into something I wouldn’t recognize today. YSearch showed several people with either the Egli surname or Egli in their pedigree charts, but nothing that would suggest that they connect to the Egli family from Hoffensheim-Sinsheim.

Hopefully, someone, someplace is researching these family lines and will pass the word. I’m offering a Y DNA testing scholarship for a male carrying the surname and descending from these various 1709er family lines. If you qualify, please contact me.

  • Johann Peter Schaeffer (born c1640) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Michael Suder (born c 1650 or earlier) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Marx Egli (born probably 1664 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany
  • Han Sonsst (born probably 1680 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany