Henry Dagord or Dagod or Maybe Doggett (c 1660/1683 – after 1708), 52 Ancestors #150

Very little is known about Henry Dagod or Dagord except that he was the father of Margaret Dagod or Dagord born in North Farnham Parish in Richmond County, Virginia on April 30, 1708. The North Farnham Parish register record does not tell us who Henry’s wife is, and there are absolutely no other records in Richmond County that can be attributed to Henry Dagord. Not one. Nada.

In fact, we’re not even sure of his surname.

In the document, “The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814 and Lunenburg Parish 1673-1800, Richmond County, Virginia” compiled by George Harrison and Sanford King and published in 1866, they record Margaret’s surname as Dagod, not Dagord. This is the first and to my knowledge only publication of the North Farnham Parish registers, so we’re just going to have to trust their interpretation.

The publication “Married Well and Often: Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800,” available at Ancestry shows the Dodson/Dagod marriage as well.

dagord-marriage

These folks obviously thought that Dagod was a misspelling of Doggett, and there were Doggett families in the area. They may have been right – and they may have been wrong.

However, for some reason, within the Dodson family, Margaret’s surname has always been listed as Dagord, not Dagod or Doggett, either one. The great irony is that no place in these records or the Richmond County records does Dagord, spelled as such, ever appear.

Speaking of the North Farnham Church Register, the original parish register no longer exists and apparently hasn’t for about 200 years or so. We’re working with a disintegrating (but now preserved) leatherbound alphabetized transcription housed at the Virginia State Archives that includes records from 1663 to 1814. It’s these records, already alphabetized and transcribed once that were transcribed a second time by Harrison and King in 1866.

These records can very effectively be used in conjunction with the existing marriage records from the area which exist beginning in 1668. Neither set of documents appears to be complete. Pages are missing from the North Farnham Parish register. At least three sets of page numbers have been added at different times (pen, ink and crayon) and are not in sync with each other, not to mention that it’s obvious in an alphabetized list when sections or pages are missing.

In 1663, North Farnham Parish was still Farnham Parish which was split between north and south in 1684. North was north of the Rappahannock River, now Richmond County and South was south of the river, now Essex County.

Another challenge is the spelling of the Dagord surname. It may not be Dagord, and whatever it was, it could certainly have been spelled myriad ways. I found variations that included Dagod, Doggett, Doged, Doget, Dogged, Dogett, Doggett, Daggett…you get the idea. So I looked for every somewhat similar record beginning with Da and Do. The good and bad news both is that there really weren’t many records at all.

I thought sure that perhaps researchers hadn’t researched thoroughly, so I undertook that task, perusing not just Richmond County, but also the preceeding counties from which Richmond was formed. I checked Lancaster, York, Old Rappahannock and Richmond County land, probate and court records closely.

I did not check Essex County records since Essex was located across a mile-wide river, which would not have placed Margaret Dagod in close enough proximity to George Dodson to get to know each other well enough to marry, given that the Dodsons lived on or near Totuskey Creek in Richmond County.  A ferry ride would have been the most expedient way to cross the Rappahannock River, and ferries were not free.

Old Rappahannock County, Virginia

northern-neck

Settlement in the Northern Neck of Virginia, shown above as the neck of land that today includes the counties of Westmoreland, Northumberland, Richmond and Lancaster, began about 1635 when the area was part of York County, one of the original counties formed in 1634. St. Mary’s and St. Charles Counties in Maryland are just across the Potomac River, on the north side of the neck.

In 1619, the area which is now York County was included in two of the four incorporations (or “citties”) of the proprietary Virginia Company of London which were known as Elizabeth Cittie and James Cittie.

In 1634, what became York County was formed as Charles River Shire, one of the eight original shires of Virginia.

During the English Civil War, Charles River County and the Charles River (also named for the King) were changed to York County and York River, respectively. The river, county, and town of Yorktown are believed to have been named for York, a city in Northern England.

York County land records and probate began in 1633.

In 1648, Northumberland was formed from York and then in 1652 Lancaster was formed Northumberland and York. Land records in Northumberland began in 1650 and probate in 1652.

Old Rappahannock County (not to be confused with the current Rappahannock County) was formed in 1656 from Lancaster County, VA. Land records begin in 1656 and probate in 1665. In 1692, old Rappahannock was dissolved and divided into Essex and Richmond Counties.

Old Rappahannock County was named for the Native Americans who inhabited the area, Rappahannock reportedly meaning “people of the alternating (i.e., tidal) stream.” The county’s origins lay in the first efforts by English immigrants to “seat” the land along the Rappahannock River in the 1640s. The primitive travel capabilities of the day and the county’s relatively large area contributed to the settlers’ hardship in travel to the county seat to transact business, and became the primary reason for the county’s division by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1691 to form the two smaller counties of Essex and Richmond.

According to the library of Virginia, old Rappahannock wills are with the Essex County wills, although they have been transcribed and published separately.

Richmond County was formed in 1692 from Old Rappahannock, with land records beginning in 1692 and probate in 1699, although many records are lost for unknown reasons.

You would think that at least some Dagord (or similar surname) records would be found in the following locations:

dagord-old-counties

If Margaret Dagod/Dagord was born in 1708, her father would have been living in the parish at that time, and again in 1726 when she married George Dodson. It’s very likely that Margaret’s parents lived nearby the Dodson family in Richmond County that entire time. Let’s see what the records tell us.

Northumberland County

The Northern Neck counties of Virginia are blessed by a series of books, by county, written by F. Edward Wright titled “Marriage References and Family Relationships.” Each county has one of these books, and they do intertwine somewhat. The author has assembled the various records from marriages, wills, deeds and other resources to piece these families together.

In the “Family” book for Northumberland County, we find the following:

  • Benjamin Doggett son of Rev. Benjamin and Jane Gerrard Doggett, married before 1712.
  • John Doggett died by 1740, widow Mary.
  • William Doggett/Dogged married Elizabeth, surname unknown, and had children beginning in 1770. If William didn’t move from someplace else, this family was in the vicinity since the early 1700s but had almost transactions at all in county records.

Interestingly, the Reverand Bejamin Doggett was the rector at the Saint Mary’s Whitechapel Church in present day Lancaster County from 1670-1682 when he died and is buried there, marked by the red pin below, not far from Farnham, where the North Farnham Parish Church is located.

dagord-doggett-white-chapel

The Dodson family lived on Totuskey Creek, between Kennard and 614 in the upper left of the map, probably on or near the main road, “3,” about 18 miles distant from Saint Mary’s.

There was nothing in early York or Lancaster County records, so apparently Reverend Doggett immigrated after that portion of Lancaster had become Old Rappahannock. I did not check later records in those counties.

There is no record of the Reverend Benjamin Doggett having a son Henry, and his sons were too young to have sons having children by 1708.

Richmond County

The North Farnham Parish Registers hold the following records:

  • Isaac Doggett and Elizabeth Churchwell, married in 1729.
  • Ann, daughter of John and Mary Doggitt born October 1725.
  • John Doged son of Isaac Doged born in 1730.
  • Samuel Doged son of Isaac and Elizabeth Doged born June 1733.

Absolutely nothing for Henry or any other births anyplace close to Margaret’s in 1708, nor are there records in the 1600s.

Richmond County is fortunate in that a book has been published that provides an every name index for court orders from 1721-1752. No, that’s not early, but it will help nonetheless and covers the time in 1726 when Margaret Dagord married Charles Dodson.

We find the surname spelled Doged, Doggett, Doggitt and Doghead. First names include Isaac, Ann, Richard and that’s it.

The Richmond County “Family” book provides the following:

  • Isaac Doggett married in December 1729 to Elizabeth Churchwell, children John and Samuel.
  • John Doggitt married Mary, surname unknown, daughter Ann born in 1725.
  • Richard Doggitt/Doged married before October 1727 to Ann, only daughter of Thomas Ascough.

As I checked the extant records for all of the early counties plus Richmond County records, including court order books, there were very few records for any spelling of this surname, and absolutely none for Henry, with one exception.

1649

Henry Dagord, by that spelling, is mentioned in one 1649 record.

I found this tantalizing record at Ancestry, which told me that there was a record, but exactly nothing about the content.

dagord-ancestry

As it turns out, Google is my friend. I found the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography online.

dagord-virginia-magazine

The following will of Walter Walton is the sole mention of Henry Dagord.

Walter Walton. Will 30 November 1649; proved 17 August 1650. Mr. Alexander Ewes and Mr. Richard Lawson to be my executors in the behalf of my mother, Johane Walton, living in Spoford in the parish of Spoford, Yorkshire, England. They to pay all my debts demanded in this my voyage in the adventure now in Verginney bound for Maryland, and I give power to John Underhill and Benjamin Cowell of the said ship to receive what is due me. One servant that I brought over sold for twelve C tobacco. Henry Dagord for one sute and cloke three C tobacco. John Smith, a passenger, 30 lbs tobacco. Simon Asbe 27 ft tobacco. Nathaniel Foord 9 lb tobacco. Mr. Walker 374 lb tobacco. Henry Dagord 9 lb tobacco. Witnesses: Thomas May, Peter Walker, John Addams, Miles Cooke, Richard ?. Proved by Richard Lawson, with power reserved.

Unfortunately, this record doesn’t tell us WHERE Walter Walton’s will was proved, but I found the will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, in England.

Was Henry Dagord sailing on the same ship, the Adventure, as Walter Walton? Was Henry an indentured servant to Walter Walton?

Is the Henry Dagord in this record the same Henry Dagord who had daughter Margaret in 1708?

If Henry Dagord was age 15 in 1649, he would have been 84 in 1708 when Margaret was born. That’s not very likely.

A child or teen would not have ordered a suit and cloak, so it’s likely that the Henry Dagord in this record was an adult, making him older than 84 in 1708.

This Henry Dagord might have been the grandfather of Margaret Dagord, but it’s very unlikely that he was her father. Furthermore, based on this record, we really don’t know if the Henry Dagord referenced was even in the colonies. Walter may have been referencing a debt incurred by a man in England. We just don’t know.

One online tree shows a Henry Dagord born in 1749 in Cane, Scotland, but no source and I can find no records to suggest this. Furthermore, even if a Henry Dagord was born in Cane, Scotland, connecting the dots and proving that he was the same Henry that immigrated would be required as step one. A newborn would hot have been ordering a suit and cloak, so a Henry born in Scotland in 1749 cannot be the same man mentioned in Walter Walton’s will. Step two would be finding a way to prove Henry DaGord’s connection to Margaret some 59 years later. Unfortunately, there just aren’t any records that connect those dots. That’s why so many brick walls remain in these early colonial genealogies.

Mystery

One of the big mysteries is how a man in Virginia in this timeframe can remain almost entirely non-existent in records. I must admit, given the court order books, deeds, wills and the parish register, Richmond County and its preceding counties are quite record-rich – at least by comparison to other counties. It’s hard to believe that Henry Dagord or Henry by whatever Dag… or Dog… surname, was entirely transparent. The only circumstance I can think that would lend itself to this situation would be if he was an indentured servant. The problem with that, of course, is that indentured servants weren’t married, didn’t have children, and sold themselves into bondage for a few years to earn their passage – delaying the rest of their life until their stint in servitude was complete.

Henry clearly was married, did have children and lived in Farnham Parish from at least 1708 to 1726, assuming Henry was alive that entire time. Daughter Margaret had to live close enough to the Dodson family to court.

Henry clearly didn’t own land, never got subpoenaed to court for anything, went to church every Sunday (or he would have been subpoenaed to court) and never witnessed any document for anyone. In fact, were it not for the North Farnham Parish Church Register and Margaret’s birth and marriage, we wouldn’t even know Henry existed.

Most Virginia families that intermarried had various types of social interactions with one another.  They were neighbors, often, and witnessed deeds for each other, for example.  There is not one record of any Dagod or similar surname associated with any Dodson or closely affiliated family.

The Dodson and Dagod families may have been from different social strata.  It may be very relevant that Margaret married on her 18th birthday and her first child was born 8 months and one day after her marriage to Charles Dodson.  While the Dodson family, who did own land and appeared to be more successful than Henry Dagod would have been very unhappy about their son marrying into a poorer class, they probably would not have forbid it because of the pregnancy. Legally, if Charles was of age, the family couldn’t prevent the marriage. So perhaps this pregnancy was planned as a method for two young lovers to be allowed to marry.  Stranger things have happened! If that was the case, it certainly worked quite effectively.

The other possibility, of course, is that Henry was not entirely white – which would also explain his apparent poverty as well as his absence from court records. However, if Henry was not white, meaning not all white, it would be extremely unlikely that his daughter would be marrying a Dodson male – although the pregnancy might have been a contributing or deciding factor there too. Virginia criminalized marriage between whites and Indians in 1691, but omitted the word “Indian” in similar 1705 legislation, leaving the law to apply only to whites and blacks/mulattoes.

How I wish we could peek back into time and be a fly on the wall. Who was Henry Dagod?  Or Dagord?  Or Doggett?

The Best We Can Do

The very best we can do for Henry is to use his daughter’s birth year as an anchor point and figure his age ranges from that.

I’m going to use the assume word a lot, which I dislike doing, but it’s the only choice we have.

First, I’m going to assume Henry’s wife was about his age or maybe as much as 5 years younger than he was. This would have been typical for the time.

If Henry was newly married when Margaret was born, he would probably have been age 25, which is about the age young men married at that time.

But let’s say he was only 20, to get the fullest range. If that was the case, he would have been born absolutely no later than 1688.

If Henry’s wife was at the end of her childbearing years, age 43 or so, and Henry was the same age, he would have been born about 1665. If he was 5 years older than his wife, he would have been born about 1660.

The range we have for Henry’s birth is 1660-1688 and more likely 1660-1683.

Indentured servants were not allowed to marry. If Henry was an indentured servant in 1708 and had gotten a female pregnant, the child would not have carried his surname. This tells us that by the time Margaret was born, Henry was married to her mother.

This also suggests that Henry could have been an older parent, because if he served an indenture before marrying, he could well have not married until later than normal for unfettered males. Indentured servants after release were often poor, never owning land. There is no evidence that Henry ever owned land, which is somewhat unusual in and of itself in Virginia, the land of opportunity and available land.

We have absolutely no idea when Henry died. All we know positively is that he died sometime after Margaret was conceived, and probably after her birth, but I don’t know if the register would have said if the father was dead by the time the child was born. Many marriages don’t list any parents, but I didn’t see any that mentioned deceased parents.

DNA

Unfortunately, because of the difficulty identifying either Henry Dagod/Dagord himself, or even the surname exactly, DNA identification is quite difficult.

At Family Tree DNA, a feature exists to see if:

  • Anyone by the surname you are searching has tested and…
  • If a surname project exists.

Simply click here, then click on the projects tab in the upper left hand corner.

dagord-project-search

You will then see the above screen, where you can browse alphabetically for surname projects. I generally prefer entering the surname into the search box, at upper right. However, in this case, because I want to look for projects by several spellings, I’ll just look under the Ds for surname projects.

Unfortunately, there is no Dagord or Doggett project or anything similar. However, with so little information about Henry, it would be nearly impossible to confirm that any Dag… or Dog… surname originating from Richmond County, VA is this line.

Next step, I’ll look further to see if anyone by the surnames of Doggett or Daggett has individually tested.

I entered the surname Doggett in the Project Search box in the upper right, because I want to see if any individuals by that surname have tested. This is different than looking for surname projects. Good news, there are 14 people who have tested who currently carry the Doggett surname, although some maybe females.

dagord-surname-search

There are also 15 Daggetts who have tested.

dagord-daggett-search

This looks to be a really good opportunity to start a surname project that includes both surnames, plus Dagord, of course. Anyone interested?

Autosomal DNA

I’d love to see if I share autosomal DNA with anyone descended from any of these lines. If I do, it could indeed confirm that Margaret was really a Doggett or Daggett.

If a Doggett or Daggett surname project existed, I could join that project and search for any matches within that project. If I matched with someone in the Doggett/Daggett project, that would be significant, assuming we don’t share any other genealogy. You just never know what might break down that brick wall. Since there is no project to join, and not everyone joins projects anyway, there are other methodologies to utilize.

Autosomal DNA might, just might, provide the link I need, although the connection is several generations back in time. However, if you don’t look, you’ll never find, so here goes!

dagord-pedigree

In order to discover whether or not I share any DNA with anyone who has Doggett or Daggett lines, I searched for those surnames (and variant spellings) in my match list in Family Finder. The red arrow is the search bar where I entered Doggett.

dagord-match-list-search

Surprisingly, I did find two Doggetts, and glory be, one shows Ann Doggett who is indeed from Lancaster County, Virginia, born in 1700. My match’s tree shows that she married George Reeves.

dagord-ann-daggett

I checked the tree of my match, Jason, and we don’t seem to have any other ancestors in common, at least none that are evident – so maybe our common ancestral surname is Doggett.  But there are more things to check before we can reach that conclusion.

Master DNA Spreadsheet

Next, I checked my Master DNA Match Spreadsheet to see which segments over 5cM where Jason and I match and I also match to other people. There is one larger matching segment at just under 8cM on chromosome 16.

It’s possible that I’ve already triangulated some of the other people who match on that same segment in terms of our common ancestor.

Sure enough, there were 32 other people with whom I match on all or part of that same segment where I match Jason. You can see the example below from my Master DNA Spreadsheet where I match 5 individuals on the exact same segment, including Jason.

dagord-master-matches

Some matches turned out to be from my mother’s side, so I eliminated those. My mother tested, so that was easy to do.

Unfortunately, I have not triangulated this group, meaning worked on discovering and assigning a common ancestor, so now is a good time to work on this exercise.

The first thing I did was to see if any of the people who share any portion this segment with me are on my list of Dodson matches by typing Dodson in to the Family Finder search. They were not.

dagord-surname-list

Next, I checked every single individual that matches me in Family Finder (on the same segment where I match Jason) to view their matching surname list and view their tree, shown above. Surnames, at right, are taken only from surnames entered specifically by the tester, NOT from the direct ancestral line in their tree, so you need to check both their Ancestral Surnames and their tree. It’s a bit tedious, but can pay off big time.

dagord-jemima-dodson

Sure enough, look here. This person does not show up in a Dodson search, because the Dodson surname is not listed in the ancestral surnames list, but viewing their tree reveals….you guessed it, a Dodson.

Now, this doesn’t mean our match is necessarily attributed to Dodson DNA, which could include Doggett DNA of course. But it’s a great first step to build that case.

Of the 26 individuals, I found the following:

  • 10 had no trees and no ancestral surnames listed. Very frustrating.
  • 12 had trees and/or surnames, but I didn’t see any evident family lines.
  • One listed Derham, as opposed to Durham – but their Derham was directly from Ireland and did not immigrate into Virginia. This appears not to be related although the connection can’t be ruled out entirely.
  • Jason was the Doggett match
  • One had Jemima Dodson in their tree.
  • One had a Dobson, consistently spelled in that manner, that immigrated from London. This does not appear to be relevant.

Unfortunately, I could not find any other Dodson or Doggett/Daggett family lines in this match group.

Master Cousin Match List

As a secondary tactic, I turned to the big guns – my master cousin list. I haven’t written about this tool before.

I download the matches of each cousin whose test I’ve paid for (and who have granted permission) and combine them into one humongous spreadsheet file. This allows me to sort by matches to all of the cousins at one time. Therefore, I can see who, of my cousins, also matches Jason, as illustrated in the example below.

dagord-cousin-match-group

While this is just an example, you’ll note that all of these people match Jason on chromosome 2. Some people match Jason on the same segments. While this example shows only small segments, the premise is the same. The next step would be to see if the cousins who match Jason on the same segments also match each other on those segments too. That’s triangulation. However, if I’m not included in the triangulated match group, then it’s not triangulation for me on those segments. It would, however, shows that these families do descend from a common ancestor – especially with larger segments of 5cM or over.

Looking at who one individual (like Jason) matches consistently can be a powerful hint as to which family line they are associated with.

I looked through my master cousin list for all of the 26 people who I match on the same segment with Jason, which means I sorted by matchname and then looked to see which cousins, if any, the individual matches.

I found the following interesting information on the Master Cousin Match List spreadsheet for the 26 matches to Jason:

  • 11 people match me only and none of my cousins on the master cousin list
  • Two match different Crumley family members, which do not include a Dodson. line. However, I did spot Mercers in Richmond County, a name that married into the Crumley line although there is no evidence that it’s the same line. It’s also possible that we have a “buried” Dodson marriage in the Crumley line, as we don’t know the surnames of all the wives.
  • 4 match my Vannoy cousins which do not have a known Dodson or Doggett link. This might suggest that the link between Jason, me and our match group is NOT through Dodson or Doggett. However, the Vannoy line also includes the Crumley line, which is the same issue as discussed above.
  • 5 match cousins who descend from the Dodson line but who also descend through the Vannoy/Crumley line.  Elizabeth Vannoy is my great-grandmother.

Last Resort

As a last resort, I checked my “oldest” cousin, Buster, who is a generation closer to the ancestors than I am. In Family Finder, he too has a Doggett match, Daniel, who descends from Richard Doggett and Ann Ascough, son of Rev. Benjamin Doggett and Jane Garrard. However, Buster’s match, Daniel, also has a Smoot line, as do both Buster and I. The Smoots married into the Durham line which married into the Dodson line. Daniel’s Smoot line is not the same as my and Buster’s Smoot line, but it’s from just across the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in the same timeframe. Clearly, it could actually be the same Smoot line, given that both Smoot lines run into brick walls at the same time. Hey, maybe this is a clue that we weren’t actually looking for! No problem – I’ll take it!

Where Are We?

Buster’s match, Daniel, had not yet tested when I did the cousin match downloads, so I need to do those downloads again to be able to check for him. This takes quite a bit of time because there are several.

I should probably individually search the FTDNA accounts of all of my cousins descended from the Dodson line for Doggett and Daggett.

The master cousin matches to a common individual aren’t definitive proof. They point to common matches between groups of people suggesting family lines, meaning they point the way towards more meaningful research. They provide hints, albeit sometimes very compelling hints.

The matches on the same segments within a match group might be proof – if they also match each other AND have a common ancestor or ancestral line.  We’re not quite there yet.

The only definitive proof would be triangulation – hopefully with people whose lines are complete back to the common ancestor. Otherwise, there can be common DNA from other unknown lines. I have this problem in my own pedigree chart with Lazarus Dodson who married Jane, surname unknown, with Rawleigh Dodson who married Mary, surname unknown, and with Charles Dodson who married Ann, surname unknown. Right there are three opportunities for unknown families and their DNA to enter into my genetic line. It’s likely, of course, that these men married women from the neighborhood, so it’s very likely that Ann, Charles Dodson’s wife, is from the Northern Neck of Virginia, unless he married her before immigrating. It’s likely that anyone who I match from this same time period is also going to have a few brick walls, so it’s very difficult to definitively assign colonial DNA to a specific ancestor.

In cases like this, I don’t like to decide that triangulation has occurred with only 3 people. I think the further back in time, the less solid the pedigree charts, the more proof you need. Of course, the further back in time, the less likely you are to match with descendants and the smaller the matching DNA segments. So while you need more proof, proof is increasingly difficult to garner.

In terms of triangulation, we do have the Jemima Dodson line, me with a Dodson ancestor and Jason with a Doggett ancestor, all matching on the same segment, although the person with Jemima Dodson in their tree does not have a full overlap of the entire segment, making their matching portion smaller – about half the size of the match between me and Jason. Is it a legitmate match? I don’t know.

The bottom line is that we don’t know if Dagord/Doged was Doggett or Daggett or unrelated. The answer seems tantalizingly close. It feels within reach. Daggett or Doggett is not a common surname, so more than one random match seems unlikely. Yet, Buster and I both have a different Doggett match. However, I’ve seen the unlikely happen more than once. Genealogy seems to delight in leading me down the primrose path just to laugh and say, “just kidding” at the end when I’m standing in the brier patch instead, wondering how I got there. Now, I’m justifiably suspicious of anything and everything without proof.

Maybe if I download the cousin matches again the newer matches will provide the answer. Maybe if I check all my cousins for Doggett/Daggett matches. Maybe if someone else tests, the answer will be there tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. My fingers are crossed that Doggett and Daggett descendants from Richmond County that are not related to the Dodson, Durham or Smoot families will test – and that we’ll find some definitive triangulated matches. I’d love to know if Dagod is really Doggett or Daggett.

And while I’m at it, I’d think that those families would want to know if Doggett is Daggett too – or maybe Y DNA testing has already provided that answer. If so, the answer is not at Ysearch today.

If you descend from one of the Dagod, Doggett or Daggett families from close to Richmond County, or a similar surname, and have DNA tested, let me know. Let’s see if we match.

Sadowski WWII Scrapbooks Salvaged From Trash Heap, 52 Ancestors #149

In the 2015 Memorial Day article, Frank Sadowski, My Almost Father, I shared the story of the man my mother was engaged to before his untimely death in WWII, killed in action on April 19, 1945.

Frank Sadowski

I thought when I finished that article, and hit the publish button, Frank’s story was complete. After all, Frank was killed 70 years earlier, now almost 72 years ago.

But Frank’s story wasn’t yet over. In fact, in many ways, that was a new beginning.

Chapter 2

Exactly a month later, Frank’s nephew, Curtis, found me in a moment of spontaneous serendipity when on a whim he typed Frank’s name into Google and discovered my article.

A month after that, in July 2015, I met Curtis and his wife, Janet, half way between where we live and gave Curtis the original photos of Frank and Frank’s father, Curtis’s grandfather. The family photos had all disappeared, so Curtis was extremely grateful for those two, shown above and below.

Frank Sadowski and father

During the visit with Curtis, I also returned Frank’s class ring to the Sadowski family – the ring my mother had cherished her entire life. Certainly not a decision I reached without a lot of soul-searching.

Frank's ring in box

With mother gone, the ring would have faced a lonely dead end in my family, especially after I join mother on the other side. Frank’s ring belonged with the Sadowski’s…in particular…one special person – and I was on a journey to make that happen.

Now this sounds all matter-of-fact, dry and boring today, but let me assure you, it was anything but. In fact, I cried my way across Indiana that hot July day in 2015. Not only was I about to return Frank’s ring, 70 years later, but I was also “driving through my life,” places I hadn’t visited in years. Where Mom last lived, the farm where my brother, John, lived, past the restaurants where we all met and shared meals on Sunday after church. I passed near where Mom and John both died and are buried and drove through the Indiana of both my and Mom’s childhood – past tractors and corn fields, inhaling the smell of Indiana summertime – all of which brought intense memories rushing back. Every landmark brought fresh tears. All of those things, plus the errand I was on combined into a huge emotional swirley to become a bleary-eyed tornado. I certainly didn’t anticipate any of that. I turned on the radio to divert my mind…only to hear songs that reminded me of…yep…mother and life in Indiana.

Word to the wise – never listen to country music if you’re already crying. It doesn’t help a bit, but you can at least cry with the radio blaring and sing along with the sobbing songs.

Emotional avalanche or not, that trip was destined to be.

At Christmas 2015, when Bert, Curtis’s son was home on leave, Frank’s ring went to Bert who is today serving in Kuwait with a medical unit in the Army. That’s when I published the article, Frank’s Ring Goes Home.

When Bert put that ring on his finger, I felt closure. I knew the ring was where Mom and Frank would have both wanted it to be, protecting Bert, with a future in the Sadowski family.

I thought the Sadowski book was closed for sure then, but it wasn’t.

Chapter 3

A week ago, I received another one of those very unexpected messages on my blog. The kind that makes you blink to be sure you’ve seen what you thought you saw. You read it a second and then a third time, then sit in utter shock for a few minutes, trying to decide if it’s for real. The Sadowski’s seem to produce this kind of unexpected phenomenon.

Joan Mikol, who shall forevermore be referred to as “the angel,” was walking her dog a dozen years or so ago, in Chicago, when she spotted some scrapbooks in the trash. It looked like a home was being cleaned out and there were bags and bags of trash waiting for the trash truck, but one of the bags had popped open and scrapbooks were peeking out.

Curious, Joan stopped and took a look. She saw what appeared to be old letters, and then looking closer, noticed that they were from WWII.  Joan couldn’t leave them in the trash. Having lost a family member in that war, Joan gathered them up and took them home.

Then, Joan read the letters, one by one. She sobbed. Her husband couldn’t read them.

Joan didn’t quite know what to do with the scrapbooks, so her sister took them to California for 5 or 6 years and for awhile, considered writing a book. She didn’t, and once again, the scrapbooks came back to Illinois. Thankfully!

Joan contacted a museum in Washington DC who was hesitant to accept them and encouraged her to try to find the family. They suggested she type Frank’s name into a search engine – which is exactly what Joan did and found my article. Next, Joan contacted me.  You can click to enlarge Joan’s message, below.

scrapbook-e-mail

As you’ve probably guessed already, in a very kind and loving gesture, Joan returned the scrapbooks to the Sadowski family.

scrapbook-joan

This is both a beautiful and a heartwrenching story, and I’d like to share it with you.

But before this most recent chapter unfolds, let’s step back in time some 70 years and take a look at how the scrapbooks became lost in the first place.

The Aftermath

Frank’s death was devastating for the Sadowski family, a loss they collectively and individually never recovered from. According to Curtis, it was like someone extinguished a flame and the light never came back on.

When Curtis and I were discussing how Frank’s death dramatically affected so many lives, because in an unmistakable way, Frank’s death affected me too – Curtis quite succinctly said, “We’ve all grown up in the shadow of the same man.”

The three Sadowski children were very close in age, with Frank having been born in 1921, Margie in 1922 and Bobbie in 1924.

Frank’s mother, Harriett, dreamed that all 3 of her children would marry and all live in the Sadowski home together, raising their families under one roof. Not only was that not to be, but two of the Sadowski children never had children and the only one to remain at home was Margie who cared for her parents.

After Frank’s death, the Sadowski family tried to rebuild their lives, but their world was clearly divided into two halves, as was my mother’s. Before Frank’s death, and after. Harriett blamed Frank’s father for encouraging Frank to enlist. Harriett didn’t want either of her sons to serve. She had visited a fortune teller before the war who told her that two sons would serve, but only one would come home. Frank’s father probably blamed himself. At one point after Frank’s death, his parents nearly divorced.

Frank’s brother, Edmund Robert Sadowski, known affectionately as Bobbie, was also serving in the military at the time that Frank was killed and experienced what we today know as survivor guilt. Frank’s father, Dr. Frank Sadowski Sr., a general practice physician, begged Bobbie to come home, sending him letters filled with myriad reasons why he, medically, shouldn’t be serving and encouraging him to seek a medical discharge.

Bobbie finished his tour and eventually did come home, much to the relief of his parents and sister, Margaret Rita Sadowski, known as Margie.

Mother met Margie about 1942 or 1943 when they were both dancing with the Dorothy Hild Dancers at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, then a swanky upscale lakefront property where featured acts like Bing Crosby performed. The dancers opened for those acts, and when less famous names weren’t on the marquee, their dance programs were the entertainment.

Dorothy Hild Dancers

Bobbie came home the war, married in the early 1950s and started a family. Margie never had children, but that wasn’t the life she had planned.

On December 10, 1952, Margie obtained a marriage license and had a civil marriage ceremony, but never the Catholic wedding her husband promised. In fact, before the all-important church wedding could occur, he abandoned Margie and then, when she divorced the cad, the Catholic Church excommunicated her, so Margie lost both, plus her dreams. Margie did not do well with any of this and spent time “hospitalized” out of state as she tried to recover. At that time, this type of medical event was termed a “nervous breakdown” and both the breakdown and the “failed” secret marriage followed by divorce and excommunication were colored by shame and embarrassment, to be hidden away and never discussed, ever.

One of the ways that Margie dealt with the losses in her life was by volunteering at the St. Mary of Nazareth hospital where her father treated patients as a physician.

scrapbook-margie-1957

In 1956 Margie was a featured speaker for the annual luncheon and in 1957, she received a special award for more than 1000 hours of volunteer work through the women’s auxiliary. Looking at the photos above, with Margie at right, you can see that this was truly a dress up and wear gloves social event. Margie was truly a beautiful woman, inside and out.

Despite the fact that Margie, for the most part, never “worked” outside the home, she had a degree from Northwestern University in Chicago.  In the 1941 Steinmetz High School Yearbook, she is quoted as saying she wanted to dance professionally and obtain a music degree. Margie accomplished both goals. She played the piano and had a beautiful voice, in addition to dancing. Margie’s photo from the 1941 yearbook is shown below.

scrapbook-margaret-1941-yearbook

Margie lived in the family home, caring for her aging parents and with Frank’s ever present photo. Curtis tells that Frank’s mother placed his photograph dead center on top of the grand piano in the living room and that Frank’s eyes followed you everyplace you went in the room, the silent sentinel watching everything, always, never resting.

On June 18, 1971, Frank’s mother, Harriett died after a long illness.

scrapbook-harriett-1971

I’m sure that Margie and her father struggled after Harriett’s death. Harriet had been an invalid for years, and Margie had probably taken over household duties years before. By this time, Margie was just shy of 50 years old and Dr. Frank was 83 and still practicing medicine.

Margie’s life would change dramatically in the not too distant future.

Murder

Just when you think this story couldn’t possibly get any sadder, it does.

scrapbook-frank-murder

Published Dec. 6, 1971, Chicago Tribune

Dr. Sadowski practiced at a time when doctors dispensed their own prescriptions. Furthermore, doctors still made house calls with their infamous black bags – something doctor Sadowski continued to do, often not returning home until 9 or 10 at night after a full day seeing patients in his office.  He would then smoke a cigar and have a beer with a raw egg before turning in.

scrapbook-doctor-bag

By Sandrine Z – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Everyone knew the local doctors, and when the doctor arrived at your house carrying his black bag, the entire neighborhood knew someone was “too sick” to go to the doctor’s office. Often, doctors of that generation made house calls until they retired or died, but the next generation didn’t, of course.

I recall when I was growing up that you never went to a pharmacy – in fact – there weren’t pharmacies. No need. The doctor had everything you needed and you left the doctor’s office with a small while envelope, about 2 by 3 inches, if not smaller, with instructions for how to take the medication written on the outside with the medicine on the inside.

Apparently, others knew that too. According to the family, drug seekers broke into Dr. Sadowski’s office when he was alone completing paperwork, demanded drugs and beat the good doctor when he refused their demands. At 83, Dr. Sadowski, a former wrestler, was no slouch and could still take his sons arm-wrestling. He put up a good fight, but was outnumbered. Did they simply land a lucky punch?  We’ll never know, but that beating eventually proved fatal.

Dr. Sadowski didn’t die right away. He lingered for a couple months in the hospital, finally having a stroke that took him. By that point, it was probably a blessing. He was severely injured, more so than the articled indicated.  And in case you’re wondering, two men were tried for murder but not convicted. It’s difficult for the prosecution when the victim who is the only one who can positively identify the perpetrators dies. The defense argued, of course, that it wasn’t their clients who beat the doctor, and that the beating didn’t kill the doctor, the stroke did – and that the stroke was unrelated to the beating. That was before the days of DNA evidence, of course.  The trial might have an entirely different outcome today.

The family, who attended the trial daily, said that when the judge dismissed the charges he said, “Well, he was an old man anyway.”  They found that comment both incredibly inhumane as well as unbelievable.

scrapbook-frank-sr-obit

Published Feb. 7, 1972, Chicago Tribune

During the time that Margie’s father was in the hospital, she met a man named Ray Stehl whose family member was also in the hospital and also died. After Margie’s father died, she married Ray within months. She also inherited the Sadowski family home.

scrapbook-estate-sale

For some reason, the estate auction wasn’t held for another 6 years, in September of 1978.  While the property itself was apparently included in the sale, the home was not sold.

The Memory Keeper

It was Margie that lovingly assembled the scrap books.

scrapbook-franks-letter

Each letter was carefully centered and its envelope exactly centered on the facing page or above the letter, if there was space.

scrapbook-envelope

I’d wager she read those letters over and over again. Maybe they were her link to sanity, or comfort when she had none other. These scrapbooks were Margie’s way of memorializing Frank’s life.

Frank wrote letters home to his parents and to Margie as well. She kept all of those letters, mounting them in the scrapbook, plus included other family memorabilia like her grandfather’s naturalization papers.

Frank Sr. wrote letters to son Bobbie when he was in the service, and Bobbie brought those letters home. Margie included them in the scrapbooks too.

It’s easy to tell what Margie felt was important by what she included in the scrapbooks.

Frank’s personal effects were never returned after his death, including any letters he had in his possession. It took Frank’s father 4 years of constant fighting to have Frank’s body returned. I can’t help but wonder if the body shipped home was actually Frank’s, but it really doesn’t matter now and it didn’t matter then if it brought the family comfort.

Talk about an open wound. I hope the family had some semblance of closure when they finally buried Frank and had a funeral in 1949.

The family never forgot and never stopped grieving. I don’t believe they ever healed.

In 1973, Margie placed a memorial in the newspaper on Frank’s death date, April 19th – 28 years after he died.

scrapbook-1973-memorial

Later that same year, she memorialized her parents’ 54th wedding anniversary.

scrapbook-1973-anniversary

And Frank’s birthday in 1974.

scrapbook-1974-birthday

Her father in 1975.

scrapbook-1975-memorial

Her mother in 1981.

scrapbook-1981-memorial

Margie continued to place memorials for Frank and her parents. In a sense, this is the social equivalent of posting to your Facebook page, except newspaper memorials weren’t free and required advance planning and thought.

In 1996, Bobbie passed away, having blessed Frank and Harriett with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, even if they didn’t all live under the same roof as Harriett had once hoped.

Haunting

After Dr. Frank’s 1971 death and their marriage later that year, Margie and Ray lived in the Sadowski home, referred to by the family as “the big house.”  By all reports, the house was extremely haunted.  The home, originally build in 1896, shown below as it appears today on Google Maps Streetview.

scrapbook-2350-north-oak-park-avenue

The Sadowski children and grandchildren report that they saw shadowey figures walking up to the attic, heard footsteps on the second floor when no one was there and continually heard voices in the house, just out of earshot. Neighbors reported repeatedly seeing a woman watching them from the sewing room in the tower. That house was anything but peaceful.

Eventually, Margie and Ray couldn’t stand the haunting anymore, purchased a motor home and lived in the back yard. Sometime later, they moved to the home that Ray inherited, about 10 blocks away, but still owned the Sadowski home although it sat fully furnished, just like it always had been, but abandoned in time. It was burglarized in 1972 while Margie and Ray were on an extended honeymoon, and ransacked, taking Margie and her brother Bobbie and his children years to straighten out entirely.

The ironic part of this equation is that Margie took the Sadowski scrapbooks with her to Ray’s house, because where Joan found them in the trash was on North Luna Street in the Jefferson Park area where Ray lived, not in the 2300 block of North Oak Park Avenue where the Sadowski home was located.

Even in her later years, those scrapbooks obviously meant a lot to Margie. I wonder what happened to Frank’s picture on the piano and the other family photos as well.

Margie’s Death

Margie died in April of 2004.

scrapbook-margie-death

Joan Mikol tells us that she found the scrapbooks in about 2005, so very near Margie’s death.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Ray died on March 31, 2008.

As her husband, Ray inherited all of Margie’s estate. The Sadowski family was not informed of Ray’s death and his family disposed of his possessions and estate however they saw fit. Ray had no children.

So, now you know the rest of the story…how Frank’s letters came to be found on a trash pile some 60 years after his death a few blocks from the family home. I’m betting Margie turned over in her grave. That’s not all that got thrown away. All of the family photos bit the dust too – all of them. All the family had left were memories of those eyes, watching them from the piano.

Frank’s Voice

These scrapbooks give Frank one last chance to speak. His letters give shape and a personality to the man who died 72 years ago. They also give a contemporary voice to other family members, allowing everyone memorialized in the scrapbook to speak from the other side of the grave.

I can’t help but wonder what was in the letters Frank had in his possession when he was killed in Okinawa. You know as a GI he coveted each letter from home, and especially from his girlfriend, my mother.

And since I’m wondering, I wonder what became of the letters that Frank wrote mother. I know she would never have thrown them away. Given that I never saw them, not as a child nor as an adult – nor at her death – I know beyond any doubt that they were either lost or thrown away by someone else – not mother. I’m sure they were extremely personal and probably quite intimate. Aside from professing their deep love for one another, the letters probably discussed their dreams for their future together, their wedding and their eventual family.

I suspect Frank’s letters to mother were disposed of in a fit of jealousy. Mother told me that my father was insanely jealous of Frank, even though Frank was dead and had been a decade before I was born. Maybe the jealousy was so intense because Frank was dead – and died a hero. You cannot compete with a ghost that someone still loves, and I’m sure in many ways no one could or ever did live up to Frank in mother’s eyes.

Mother must have grieved the loss of those letters too. She, like Margie, probably read them repeatedly, seeking any shred of solace. Another part of Frank taken from her, ripped from her very heart.

The Scrapbooks Go Home

On the morning of February 22, 2017, following a sleepless night due to adrenaline and excitement – Curtis drove from southern Illinois and I drove from Michigan on a grey but unseasonably warm winter day. We met Joan at a McDonalds in Portage, Indiana where she gave us the scrapbooks.

scrapbook-mcdonalds

Bless Joan for salvaging what little can be recovered of Frank’s all-too-brief life. My mother too, plays a part in those letters – albeit a bit role.

scrapbook-joan-with-books

Curtis’s wife, Janet, is going to scan all 4 scrapbooks and share the images. I started to read one letter, written near Christmastime just four months before Frank’s death, and teared up immediately. I stopped, because blubbering for hours in a McDonalds reading scrapbooks is unacceptable – especially times 3 people and 4 scrapbooks. They would have called the men with the white coats and the butterfly nets to come and get us.

Instead, Curtis, Janet and I had a lovely visit, for about 3 hours. I love e-mail, but visiting in person is just so much fun!

scrapbook-me-and-curtis

Were it not for that bullet, Curtis and I would have been first cousins. We’d be comparing our DNA results. I’d be part Polish and those scrapbooks that include a few early letters from 1917, written in Polish, would have made my heart quicken and skip a beat.

Curtis and I aren’t biologically related, but our families are certainly indelibly entwined, a kinship, for lack of a better word, formed by the same tragic death almost 72 years ago, before either of us was born.

I never knew before these scrapbooks surfaced that Frank was killed on only his 4th day on that particular medical unit assignment. Frank had previously been ill with malaria and injured his foot with an ax. Oh, that the malaria had been just a little worse or his foot injury had been severe enough to disqualify him from active duty. As a medic, Frank dove, under fire, to rescue an injured soldier, only to be killed himself. I wonder if the other soldier survived, and if so, if he or his family had any idea what Frank sacrificed. Or did those two soldiers die together on the battlefield that day?

The fourth day.

The. Fourth. Day.

And VE Day was just a month away. VJ Day was just 4 months after that. The war was ending. How horribly tragic, in every sense of the word.

Frank came so close to NOT dying.  Four days one way, a few seconds perhaps on the battlefield, a few weeks in the other direction and Frank wouldn’t have died. But he did and that bullet irreversibly changed the lives of so many people, snuffing out possibilities in an instant. Giving me a different father a decade later.  Making Curtis and I only partners on this bittersweet co-journey and not cousins.

Gratitude

Curtis, Janet and I parted so incredibly grateful for Joan’s generosity and that our reunion was for such a wonderful occasion. A homecoming of the best kind – beyond anything we could ever have imagined in our wildest dreams.

I hope Mom and Frank were watching. Maybe somehow they helped. I can see them smiling and applauding – the young Frank and mother, happy, back in 1944 before Frank left the last time.

After I have an opportunity to read and digest the letters, you’ll be hearing Frank’s voice. I promise you, there will be a Chapter 4 – thanks to Joan and the generosity of the Sadowski family.

Thank you Joan, from the bottom of our hearts.  You’ve assuredly earned your halo!

Curtis, Janet and Roberta

scrapbook-curtis-me-janet

Andreas Kirsch (1772-1819) of Fussgoenheim, Bayern, Germany, 52 Ancestors #148

Andreas.

Such a beautiful name. I’ve loved it since I first saw the name as part of our family history, although that first time was in such a sad context.

When researching the Kirsch family in Ripley County, Indiana, I ran across a cemetery listing for the child, Andreas Kirsch, by himself in a long-abandoned cemetery. I wondered to myself, was this child “ours,” and why was he all alone?

The child, Andreas Kirsch, was born right after the immigrants, Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert arrived in the US in 1848. Andreas was recorded in the 1850 census with his parents in Ripley County, Indiana, but died in 1851 or so, still a toddler. He is buried in the “Old Lutheran Cemetery” near Milan, the location of a Lutheran Church founded by German immigrants, probably a log cabin, long gone now and remembered by none.

Lutheran lost church cemetery

The only reminder is a few old gravestones, including Andreas’ now illegible marker. Andreas is buried alone, with no other family members close by. After the church was abandoned, the family attended church elsewhere, and eventually, the parents died and were buried near Aurora near where their son, Jacob Kirsch, lived.

Andreas Kirsch stone

Andreas was the youngest son of Philip Jacob Kirsch, whose father was an earlier Andreas Kirsch…a man who never left Germany. The younger Andreas was named after his grandfather nearly 30 years after the elder Andreas died.

fussgoenheim-sign

Philip Jacob Kirsch’s father, Andreas Kirsch was born on August 10, 1772 in the village of Fussgoenheim, in Bayern, Germany to Johann Valentine Kirsch and Anna Margaretha Kirsch. We don’t have his baptismal record, but he was probably baptized as Johann Andreas Kirsch.  At that time, German men had a first “saints” name, typically Johann, followed by a middle name that was the name by which they were called. It’s not unusual to see them referred to by only their middle name and last name.  I have only seen records that refer to Andreas as Andreas, so that’s what we’ll call him.

Kirsch was Andreas’ mother’s name before she married his father, so yes, both Andreas’ parents were Kirschs. And yes, they were related on the Kirsch line, second cousins once removed, both descendants of Jerg Kirsch, a man born about 130 years before Andreas and who founded the Kirsch line in Fussgoenheim.

kirsch-lineage

Andreas married Margaretha Elisabetha Kohler or Koehler sometime before December 1798 when their (probably first) child was born, also in Fussgoenheim. If this isn’t their first child, it’s the first child that we know survived. Unfortunately, the church records don’t appear to be complete.

Equally as unfortunately, there were multiple men named Andreas Kirsch living in Fussgoenheim at the same time, so figuring out who was who was challenging, to say the least. Family records failed me. It was church records that saved me. Fortunately, Germans recorded almost everything in the church records. If you missed a birth, you’d have another opportunity to glean information about the child’s parents when they married, or died, and perhaps at other times as well.

Philip Jacob Kirsch and his wife, Katharine Barbara Lemmert weren’t the only people from the Kirsch family to immigrate to Indiana. Philip Jacob Kirsch’s sister, Anna Margaretha Kirsch married Johann Martin Koehler and the two families immigrated together and settled in Ripley County, Indiana.

Another family who immigrated with the Kirschs, on the same ship, and is found living beside them in Ripley County in the 1850 census is the Andrew (Andreas in German) Weynacht family. The Weynacht’s are also found functioning as Godparents for Kirsch baptisms in Fussgoenheim. I’m not sure how, but the Weynacht family is surely related in one or perhaps several ways. Often children were named for their Godparent, so I wonder if Andreas Weynacht was the Godfather to baby Andreas Kirsch when he was born and christened in the now-forgotten Lutheran church in Ripley County, just weeks after these families arrived from Germany. So perhaps Andreas Kirsch was named after his grandfather with his name given by his godfather as well. At that time, it was the Godparents’ responsibility to raise the child if something happened to the parents.  This would have been very important to immigrants to a land where they knew no one nor the language.  All they had was their circle of immigrants.

The marriage record from the Fussgoenheim Lutheran Church of Andreas Kirsch’s daughter, Anna Margaretha Kirsch to Johann Martin Koehler in 1821 states that Andreas Kirsch is deceased by this time.

kirsch-anna-margaretha-to-johann-martin-koehler

Translated by Elke, a German interpreter and my friend, back in the 1980s, the record says:

Johann Martin Koehler, farmer, single, 24 years 11 months born and residing in Ellerstadt son of Philipp Jacob Koehler son of Peter Koehler farmer in Ellerstadt, present and consenting and his wife who died in Ellerstadt, Maria Katharina Merck and Anna Margaretha Kirsch, single, no profession 17 years 7 months born and residing here daughter of the deceased Andreas Kirsch and his surviving wife Elisabeth Koehler, present and consenting.

Witnesses Ludwig Merck (brother of Maria Katharina, his mother), farmer in Ellerstadt 10 years 6 months old uncle of the groom, Peer Merck, farmer, from here, 43 years old, uncle of the groom (his mother’s other brother) and Johannes Koob, farmer, from here 70 years old, uncle of the bride and Mathias Koob, farmer from here, cousin of the bride.

You might be wondering if Johann Martin Koehler who married Anna Margaretha Kirsch was related to Anna Margaretha’s mother, Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler. Why, as a matter of fact, yes. Johann Martin Koehler’s father was Philip Jacob Koehler, brother of Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler, making Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler first cousins, shown in yellow below.

Are you getting the idea that these families in Mutterstadt were all heavily intermarried?

koehler-intermarriage-2

And because I wasn’t confused enough, the son of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler Sr., shown above in green as Johann Martin Koehler born in 1829, married his mother’s youngest sister, his aunt, Katharina Barbara Kirsch born in 1833. One of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler’s other children, Philip Jacob Koehler married Anna Elisabetha Kirsch, but she wasn’t as closely related. These families married and intermarried for generations, using the same names repeatedly, causing massive confusion trying to sort through the families and who belonged to whom.

Noting the relationships mentioned in the 1821 marriage record, if Johannes Koob was Anna Margaretha’s uncle, he had to be either a sibling of one of Anna Margaretha’s parents (Andreas Kirsch or Anna Margaretha Koehler) or the husband of a sibling of one of her parents.

We know that Anna Margaretha (Andreas’ wife) was a Koehler, not a Koob, so Johannes had to be the husband of one of Anna Margaretha’s aunts through either her mother or father. However, checking the church records, we only find that Andreas’s Kirsch’s siblings married Koobs, but no aunts married to Koobs. However, the records do show a Mathias Koob married to one Anna Elisabetha Koehler. I’m confused. Could the good Reverend have been a bit confused too by all of the intermarriage? Is something recorded incorrectly? If so, which information is incorrect?

A second record confirms that Andreas Kirsch married Margaretha Koehler. Philip Jacob Kirsch’s marriage record, shown from the original church record as follows:

Kirsch Lemmert 1829 marriage

It translates as:

Today the 22nd of December 1829 were married and blessed Philipp Jacob Kirsch from Fussgoenheim, the legitimate, unmarried son of the deceased couple, Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Koehler and Katharina Barbara Lemmerth the legitimate unmarried daughter of the deceased local citizen Jacob Lemmerth and his surviving wife Gertrude Steiger, both of protestant religion.

This tells us that by 1829, both Andreas and his wife, Margaretha had passed away.

This marriage record and translation is further confirmed by this record at FamilySearch.

kirsch-lemmert-marriage

We know from Anna Margaretha Kirsch’s 1821 marriage record that her father, Andreas had already passed away by that time. We discover his death date through a record from Ancestry.

andreas-kirsch-death

Ancestry has select deaths and burials, 1582-1958 and Andreas Kirsch’s burial date is listed as May 22, 1819 in Fussgonheim with his wife listed as Margaretha Elisabetha Kohler. That’s now three independent confirmations that Andreas Kirsch’s wife was Margaretha Elisabeth Koehler.

Generally, burials are recorded in the church record, because that’s when the minister was involved. People died a day or two before they were buried.- never longer in the days before refrigeration, at least not unless it was winter.

Why Are These Three Records So Important?

There was a great amount of confusion surrounding who Andreas Kirsch married, and for good reason.

The church records show that the Andreas born in 1772 and married to Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler died before 1821.  Andreas’ wife’s name is again confirmed by the 1829 marriage record, followed by discovering Andreas’ own 1819 death record.

However, a now deceased cousin and long-time researcher, Irene, showed the coup[le as Johannes Andreas Kirsch married to Anna Margaretha Koob.

Walter, another cousin, showed Andreas’ wife as Anna Margaretha Koob, his occupation as schmiedemeister – master smithy. Andreas is noted as Johannes II “der Junge” in Walter’s records, so there may be some generational confusion.

As it turns out, Walter wasn’t entirely wrong – but he wasn’t entirely right either. That couple did exist – but the husband wasn’t our Andreas Kirsch.

There was an Anna Margaretha Koob married to a Johannes Kirsch. Their son, Johannes Kirsch married Maria Catharina Koob. Anna Elisabetha Kirsch, daughter of Johannes Kirsch and Maria Catharina Koob married Philip Jacob Koehler (shown in the Koehler pedigree chart above,) son of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler, and moved with the immigrating group to Ripley County, Indiana. It’s no wonder people living more than 100 years later were confused.

Two additional cousins, Joyce from Indiana and Marliese, who still resided in Germany, also showed that Andreas was married to Anna Margaretha Koob, born in 1771 and who died in 1833, instead of to Margaretha Elizabetha Koehler. Marliese indicated that this information was from family records.

The death record of Anna Margaretha Koob shows her husband as Johannes Kirsch Senior, not Andreas Kirsch – but I didn’t have this record yet at that time.

koob-anna-margaretha-1833-death

I began to wonder if I was losing my mind and if the original record I had was wrong – or for the wrong person with all of the same name confusion. However, the marriage record for Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert clearly said that Andreas Kirsch was his father and Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler was his mother.  Philip Jacob and Katharina Barbara are my ancestors, and the Lemmert family was from Mutterstadt, so not heavily intermarried with the Kirsch line – meaning that mistaking this couple for any other couple was a remote possibility.  Furthermore, the church records indicate that they and their children all immigrated, and Katherina Barbara’s obituary in Indiana gives her birth location – so it’s unquestionably the same couple. Their 1829 marriage record is very clear, but still, I was doubting.

Mistakes do sometimes happen and at that point, it was 4 researchers who I respected with the same information, against one, me, with one church record. Was the church record somehow wrong?  Elke, my friend and interpreter said no, it wasn’t wrong, and dug harder and deeper and searched for more records, eventually finding the second  marriage record from 1821 that also indicated Andreas Kirsch’s wife was Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler.

Before additional records surfaced, given these conflicts, I struggled with knowing what to believe. Now, given three different church records that show Andreas as married to Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler, it would take a lot to convince me otherwise. I am so grateful for those German church records.

Church records also tell us that Andreas Kirsch’s brothers married Koobs, but that Andreas did not.

  • Johann Adam Kirsch married Maria Katharina Koob.
  • Johann Wilheim Kirsch married Katharina Barbara Koob.

This could have been the source of the “family memory” in Germany in the early/mid 1900s that Andreas Kirsch was married to a Koob. The family history recanted that the Kirsch brothers were married to Koob twin sisters. These Koob/Kirsch marriages could also have been some portion of the source of the confusion in the 1821 marriage record as well, especially if the reverend was new to the area or didn’t know the family history.

And of course, it seems that all women were named either Maria, Katharina, Barbara or Elizabetha, sometimes with a Margaretha thrown in for good measure. Men almost always had the given name of Johann or Johannes and were generally called by their middle name, which was the same as many of their cousins of course. You could have shouted “Andreas” in the middle of the main street in Fussgoenheim, been heard to each end of town, and at least one person would probably have answered from each household.

DNA and Endogamy

To make this confusing situation even more difficult by rendering autosomal DNA useless, these families all resided in the small village of Fussgoenheim and the neighboring village of Ellerstadt, and were likely already very intermarried and had been for 200 years or so by the time our family immigrated. This is the very definition of endogamy.

Not to mention that Germans aren’t terribly enamored with DNA testing for genealogy. Most of the families in Germany feel they don’t need to DNA test because they have been there “forever.” No need to discover where you are “from” because you’re not “from” anyplace else.

The only difference between Fussgoenheim and other German villages is that the church records are complete enough in Fussgoenheim to document the amount of intermarriage. Limited numbers of families meant little choice in marriage partners. Young people had to live close enough to court, on foot – generally at church, school and at the girl’s parents home. You married your neighbors, who were also your relatives at some level. There was no other choice. Endogamy was the norm.

Y DNA

Autosomal DNA is probably too far removed generationally to be useful, not to mention the endogamy.  However, I’d love to find out for sure if a group of Kirsch/Koehler descendants would test.  Being an immigrant line, there are few descendants in the US, at least not as compared to lines descending from colonial immigrants in the 1600s.

On the other hand, Y DNA, were we able to obtain the Kirsch Y DNA, would be very useful. Y DNA provides us with a periscope to look back in time hundreds and thousands of years, since the Y chromosome is only inherited by men from their fathers. The Y chromosome is like looking backwards through time to see where your Kirsch ancestor came from, and when, meaning before Fussgoenheim. Yes, there was a “before Fussgoenheim,” believe it or not.

Andreas Kirsch didn’t have a lot of sons.  Only two are confirmed as his sons and had male children.

  • Johann Adam Kirsch was born on December 5, 1798, married Maria Katherina Koob and died in 1863 in Fussgoenheim, noted as a deceased farmer. Family documents suggest he was one of the wealthiest farmers in the valley. Johann Adam had sons Andreas born in 1817, Valentine born in 1819, Johannes born in 1822 and Carl born in 1826, all in Fussgoenheim. It’s certainly possible that some of these men lived long and prospered, having sons who have Kirsch male descendants who live today.
  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married Katharina Barbara Koob. This person may not be a son of Andreas. The relationship is assumed because this couple acted as the godparents of the child of Philip Jacob Kirsch. This may NOT be a valid assumption. It’s unknown if Johann Wilhelm Kirsch had male children.
  • Philip Jacob Kirsch, the immigrant to Indiana did have several sons, all of whom immigrated with their parents to Indiana. Philip Jacob Kirsch born in 1830 never married. Johann William Kirsch married Caroline Kuntz, had two sons, but neither had sons that lived to adulthood, ending that male Kirsch line. Johannes, or John, born in 1835 married Mary Blatz in Ripley County, Indiana and moved to Marion County where he died in February 1927. John had sons Frank and Andrew Kirsch. Frank died in August, 1927 and left sons Albert and John Kirsch. Philip Jacob’s son, Jacob, had son Martin who had a son Edgar who had no children. Jacob also had son Edward who had son Deveraux “Devero” who had son William Kirsch, who has living male descendants today.

I am very hopeful that eventually a Kirsch male will step forward to DNA test. DNA is the key to learning more about our Kirsch ancestors before written records. If you are a male Kirsch descending from any of these lines, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Summary

Fortunately, we finally confirmed who Andreas married – Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler. Andreas, if he is watching, is probably greatly relieved that we have him married to the correct wife now…or maybe he’s just amused.

Looking back, Marliese’s family in Germany reestablished communications with the Kirsch/Koehler family in Indiana during the 1930s and shared her family genealogical information. By that time, the Kirsch/Koehler families here had no information on the historical family back in Germany.

These families maintained some level of interaction, writing letters, for the next two generations. I think that the family genealogy information from Germany, much of it from family memory, was inadvertently in error relative to Andreas Kirsch’s wife. The German family members graciously shared their information with various researchers in the US, who shared it with others. Therefore, the original “remembered” information was incorrect in exactly the same way when gathered some 50 years later from descendants. I don’t know how the US researchers would have obtained the identically incorrect information otherwise. That was before the days of online trees that could easily be copied and even before the days of the LDS church’s microfilmed records, which is where I found the records for Elke to translate in the 1980s. Of course, there are even more records available today through FamilySearch and Ancestry.

Sadly, my Kirsch cousins have all passed on now. I would love to share this with them. I’m sure they would be grateful to learn that we know unquestionably, confirmed by three individual church records, who Andreas married. That was a brick wall and sticking point for a very long time.

Andreas did not live a long life. He was born in 1772 and died in 1819, at the age of 46 years, just 3 months shy of his 47th birthday. Surely, at that age, he didn’t die of old age. Perhaps one day, we’ll obtain the actual death record from the church which may include his cause of death. Some churches were religious (pardon the pun) about recording as much information as possible, including causes of death and scriptures read at the funeral, and others recorded the bare minimum.

I’m grateful to know Andreas a little better. I like to think he was rooting for me as I searched for accurate records. I hope that someday, a record will be found to tell us a little more about his actual life – like his occupation, perhaps. Hope springs eternal!

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

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

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

dagord-marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Early Church

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

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

dagord-meade-article

dagord-meade-article-2

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

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

dagord-map

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

Margaret and George in Richmond County

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

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

george-dodson-north-farnham-parish-church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chicken or the Egg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selling Land

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

George Sightings

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

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

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

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

The Migration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George and Margaret Confusion

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

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

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

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

Margaret and George’s Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was Judith Kenner a Daughter of Margaret Dagord?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s take a look at what we have.

The Quandry About Judith Kenner

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

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

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

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

According to FindAGrave:

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

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

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

The FindAGrave memorial shows Rodham Kenner married to Malinda Payne.

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

And then:

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

kenner-tree

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

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

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

Margaret’s Mitochondrial DNA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focused research needs to be done in Virginia.

Acknowledgements

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

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

How Jacob Kirsch Lost His Eye, 52 Ancestors #146

I already wrote about Jacob Kirsch in the article, Jacob Kirsch (1841-1917), Lynching Saloonist With a Glass Eye, but as you might have already guessed, some new and very interesting information has come to light. I not only want to document this portion of Jacob’s life – this man was anything but dull – but I want to share how I discovered this information with you. You may discover something very interesting too.

Jacob is Living in an Antique Shop

This entire chapter in Jacob’s ancestor journey started less than 10 days ago with a message from an Ancestry user, Linda. She didn’t match my DNA, but she had found something even more valuable. I know you don’t believe that I think anything is more valuable than DNA, but Linda had found a picture of my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Kirsch, taken in 1891.

jacob-kirsch-1891

Linda found this photo, plus one of Jacob’s daughter, Ida Kirsch Galbreath, in an antique shop in Brownstown, Indiana, about 70 miles west of Aurora, Indiana where Jacob lived.

ida-kirsch-galbreath

The photographs were not displayed together, but Linda took pictures of them with her phone and decided to see if she could find their family. All I can say is “bless you Linda.”

Fortunately, the names and in Ida’s case, her birth and death years were written on the front.

Linda, genealogy angel-in-human-form, went home and promptly got on Ancestry, found my tree, and sent me a message. Thankfully, I actually received the message too.

Within an hour, Linda had e-mailed me the pictures she had taken with her phone and I was frantically trying to find the phone number of the antique shop. The shop, it turns out, had changed owners, and names, and phone numbers. Linda went back, on my behalf, to find a current phone number. Talk about a genealogical act of kindness – times two.

The Missing Trapshooting Champion Article

Jacob Kirsch owned the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana and when I was researching for his article and that of his wife, Barbara Drechsel, I was very fortunate to meet a gal named Jenny who is associated with the Historical Society in Aurora. Jenny was immensely helpful, and we became friends, finding additional common ground in our genealogy work and quilting.

Sometime after I published Jacob’s original story, January 31, 2016, but several months ago, either Jenny or I made a discovery. I think Jenny made the discovery, but neither of us can find hide nor hair of this discovery now. To say I’m mad at myself would be a massive understatement.

One of us found an article about Jacob Kirsch being a champion trapshooter. We remarked that we were surprised, because Jacob was missing one eye. Not only did this (now missing) article say he was a champion, but his team won the tri-state championship. He was a member of the Cincinnati Gun Club.

I had no idea Jacob was a trapshooter until I saw that now-missing article. In fact, I didn’t really know what trapshooting was, and discovered that it’s competitive shooting with a shotgun at clay pigeons that are launched aerially. They used to use live birds released from “traps” which is how the name trapshooting originated.  In the late 1800s, glass balls and then clay pigeons replaced live birds, thankfully.

Jenny religiously reads the old newspapers from Aurora, Indiana, so I’m thinking she may have found that article there. It was clearly a newspaper article, and I remember seeing it.

When I saw Jacob’s photo, I immediately thought the photo had to be Jacob and his trapshooting gun, even though I’ve never seen a trapshooting gun.  I wanted to reread the article to verify what it said, but I couldn’t find that article.

I sent Jenny a note. She remembered, but she couldn’t find anything either. So both of us, the only two people who would have been remotely interested, have now come up entirely empty handed.

So either Jenny and I had coordinated dreams, or I’ve lost the article. How could that have happened given that Jenny and I e-mail and message – leaving a trail for both of us?

Re-Researching the Article

If that article could be found once, it could be found again. Or so I thought.

Jenny and I, last year, were discussing how we thought Jacob had lost his eye before the Civil War because Jacob’s obituary said he couldn’t pass the physical so he served in the Civil War as a cook and teamster instead of as a soldier.

We knew, beyond a doubt, from two people who had met him in person that he had a glass eye when he was an old man – and liked to pop it out and scare the local kids – who all came round the Kirsch House to watch him pop his eye out and run away screaming.  Jacob never disappointed them!

Can you tell which of his two eyes is the glass eye in this closeup of the 1891 picture?

jacob-1891-closeup

Even closer…

jacob-1891-very-close

I think it’s his left eye.  What do you think?

The fact that Jacob was missing an eye was one reason why I was initially surprised when that trapshooting championship article appeared, because I initially assumed that lack of two eyes would make someone a poor shot – or at least significantly challenged. And my presumption was that the military thought so too – given that he couldn’t pass his physical. Turns out I was wrong on both accounts.

Well, let me tell you what – presume and assume are one and the same. I don’t know why Jacob couldn’t pass his military physical, and now, I’m not sure that is even true – but I can tell you that it wasn’t because of his missing eye. Because Jacob’s eye wasn’t missing then.

How did I figure that out? I began with Google. I Googled a variety of terms, but finally “Jacob Kirsch Trapshooting Cincinnati” turned up a direct match…that sent me to Newspapers.com.

Newspapers.com is a subscription site. I’m not a subscriber – or I wasn’t. I am now.

There is nothing a genealogist won’t do to glean that tidbit, that sure thing, about an ancestor behind a paywall – especially at midnight when the only thing standing between them and their ancestor is a credit card number.

Found at Newspapers.com

Years ago, I was a Newspapers.com subscriber, and not once did I ever find anything useful. They kept telling me how many new newspapers they had brought online, but none of those mattered for my ancestors. I let my subscription lapse long ago.

However, Newspapers.com has imaged and indexed many new newspapers since then, including the major Cincinnati newspapers. Aurora, Indiana, where Jacob lived, is just a hop, skip and a jump from Cincinnati, 30 miles downtown to downtown, a short ride on the train – and the Kirsch House that Jacob owned was located beside the train depot. Today, Aurora is functionally a Cincinnati suburb with many commuting back and forth to work.

The first article I found indeed confirmed that I had not been dreaming that Jacob was a crack shot. In the following article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jacob Kirsch, J. C. Small and H. Hill from Aurora were listed as a team in this national competition.

Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio – Monday, October 31, 1898

jacob-kirsch-1898-article

Ok, I’m redeemed and my sanity is still at least somewhat intact. I was feeling validated by now, my subscription justified, although that still isn’t the original article that told about Jacob winning a tri-state championship. Furthermore, I wondered about the outcome of this particular event.

I searched for the phrase “Cincinnati Gun Club” and the date of November, 1898.  I discovered that the surname OCR (optical character recognition) doesn’t always work.  However, I was able to find 2 or 3 articles about who won the competition.  Jacob Kirsch’s name was in the first article, but the OCR scanning hadn’t picked it up.

The first thing I discovered is that the club boasted that they had 2500 live pigeons in large cages, all of whom would be killed for this event – making it not a shooting competition, but a pointless blood sport.  The pigeons wouldn’t even be consumed, just used and discarded in a bloody mutilated pile – many probably not dead and still suffering.

This saddens me greatly.  Ironically, events like this are part of what led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon.  The last passenger pigeon, died, ironically, in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.  Wonderful, my ancestor directly participated in a species becoming extinct. Now there’s something to be proud of…

On Friday, Jacob Kirsch participated in Event #3 where there were 15 targets (meaning pigeons) and he placed 4th, hitting 12 of the birds.  I hope the other 3 flew far away and never returned.  Then, in Event #8, he placed third, hitting 8 of 10 pigeons.  On Saturday, he didn’t place at all.  I did notice that the purse was noted as $700 cash plus a silver trophy worth $300.  The entrance fee for each event was $1.50.

Learning that Jacob killed live birds for sport with no thought about the inhumanity of his actions certainly dampened and colored my perspective of his accomplishments. And this, even after he had been shot himself, so it’s certainly not like he didn’t know what it felt like. Yet, he continued and obviously enjoyed the carnage.

Regardless, I wanted to know about Jacob, and I’m learning – the positive and negative. It’s just not at all what I expected.

Utilize Different Search Criteria

Becoming frustrated and a bit disheartened, I changed my search criteria to “Indiana” instead of Cincinnati, Ohio and found this.

Indianapolis News – July 25, 1917, also the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel – July 26, 1917

jacob-kirsch-trapshooter-death

There it is – the fact that they won the tri-state championship. This article from 1917 says that championship was more than 20 years ago. We know that event wasn’t the 1898 event at the Cincinnati Gun Club, so it must have been earlier.

Expand the Net

A little later (in the night, like about 3 AM) I decided to check one more thing. Just one more search and I’ll go to bed. That should be the genealogists’ rallying battle cry!

Jacob’s daughter, my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch moved with her husband Curtis Benjamin Lore to Rushville, Indiana and I decided to search for the name Kirsch there. I mean, you never know…right?

Aug 22, 1889 – Rushville Republican, Rushville Indiana

jacob-kirsch-trumbower-shot

Ouch!!! I never expected to find anything like this. It makes sense that Jacob would have some sort of target practice available nearby…but at the hotel, beside the train depot with the passenger platform being between the Kirsch House and the depot building?

In the photo below, the Kirsch House (today) is the red building at right with the yellow sale or lease sign in the window and the refurbished depot can be seen at left. The old Kirsch House building is up against the property line on the right side, so the only location available to shoot would have been the garden area to the rear of the Kirsch House which is actually L shaped, between the depot and the Kirsch House.

jacob-kirsch-house-and-depot-area

The driveway area between the Kirsch House and the depot, at that time, was the platform where passengers waited to board the train and where merchandise was loaded and unloaded onto horse-drawn wagons. A busy place indeed with lots of activity.

In the satellite view below, you can see that the only place with any space for shooting would be the small area of grass immediately behind the L-shaped Kirsch House.

jacob-kirsch-house-depot-aerial

Shooting in that area doesn’t seem very safe to me. And apparently it wasn’t, although not dangerous to the people I expected.

I surely wonder if J. E. Trumbower died. The Indianapolis News carried an article too, but they only said Trumbower was shooting with a target rifle and inflicted a dangerous wound.

No wonder the Kirsch House is supposed to be haunted. Between this and Jacob’s son-in-law who intentionally shot (and killed) himself in the courtyard area behind the hotel on Halloween night.

More Tidbits

A thorough examination of every single Kirsch, Kirch, Kirsh match in the Cincinnati papers revealed more interesting tidbits about Jacob’s life.  By the way, newspapers spell horribly – just FYI.

Cincinnati Daily Star – November 5, 1879

Miss Mary Cramnier of St. Louis, sister of Jacob Kirsch, of the Kirsch House and of Mrs. Koehler, of Lawrenceburg, who came to attend the funeral of Martin Koehler, will be a guest of relatives for two weeks.

Jacob’s sister, Mary, came home for the funeral of their brother-in-law. Martin Koehler was married to Katharina Barbara Kirsch, Jacob’s sister. I have already confirmed that Mary Kirsch Cramer/Kramer and Katharina Barbara Kirsch Koehler were Jacob’s sisters, but at one time, I would have willingly bled for this information.

Cincinnati Daily Star – March 24, 1880

Jacob Kirsch, of the Kirsch House is a candidate for Councilman in the First Ward.

Cincinnati Daily Star – Thursday Evening, May 6, 1880

jacob-kirsch-john-dreckler

This very short newspaper entry in which Drechsel or Drexler is misspelled as Dreckler answers a very long-standing question. John is the brother of Jacob Kirsch’s wife, Barbara. John was born in 1856 and we find him on early census records, but then he disappears. He was 23 when he died. I wonder where he is buried. And I wonder why his parents didn’t bring him back to Aurora for the funeral and burial. So many unanswered questions. Furthermore, why weren’t his parents or sisters listed in the article? Surely John’s parents and sisters attended his funeral, along with Jacob and Barbara. They would likely have ridden the train from Aurora together.

Unfortunately, John Drechsel is the only male to carry the Drechsel Y DNA, so this article confirms that I can stop looking for his line with the hopes of Y DNA testing.  This Y line is now dead to us, barring an unforeseen discovery back in Germany.

Cincinnati Daily Star – Wednesday Evening, March 24, 1880

Aurora, Indiana – Jacob Kirsch of the Kirsch House is a candidate for Councilman in the Third Ward.

I had no idea Jacob was politically involved. Not only that, but according to this next article, Jacob was a Democrat. And look, Jacob’s shooting buddy, Joe Small was a Republican. Some of this commentary about “municipal muttons” leads one to believe politics might not have changed a lot since then.

Cincinnati Enquirer – Sunday, June 5, 1881, page 12

jacob-kirsch-1881-article

Just look at this next tidbit.

March 3, 1887 – Indianapolis News

jacob-kirsch-1887-article

As luck would have it, I discovered a newspaper article in Aurora when I visited in the 1980s about this lynching, but just imagine if I had never known. Furthermore, given that Jacob held political office – this would have been even extra juicy and newsworthy.

Why, oh why, cannot the Aurora newspaper be indexed at Newspapers.com?????

Imagine what else we might find.

August 7, 1905 – Daily Republican, Rushville, Indiana

Miss Ida Kirsch who has been the guest of Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Lore returned home today to Aurora, Indiana.

Nora’s sister, Ida, whose photo was found in the antique shop with Jacob’s, went visiting. Ida would have been 29 years old and she wasn’t married. An “old maid” in the terms of the day. However, her labor and presence would have been very valuable to her mother at the Kirsch House. She was a much beloved family member and lived until 1966, age 90.  I never heard anyone say one negative thing about “Aunt Ida.”  Quite the opposite, actually.

May 10, 1907 – Daily Republican, Rushville, Indiana

Jacob Kirsch of Aurora, who has been here this week at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. B. Lore and family, of West Second Street, returned home yesterday.

These articles generally say “Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch” if the wife is along, so I suspect Barbara stayed home to run the Kirsch House while Jacob visited, or perhaps Jacob chaperoned the Lore granddaughters on a return trip home. According to the Rushville paper, the Lore granddaughters visited their grandparents in Aurora quite often. I know my grandmother, Edith Lore, was very close to her grandparents and spent a lot of time at the Kirsch House.

The Rushville paper, which has been indexed by Newspapers.com, has a quite healthy social section that told who was visiting whom, and from where. According to the numerous listings involving the Lore family, only one makes mention of Jacob visiting. I would wager that it was difficult for him to get away from the Kirsch House for any extended period of time.

This visit occured right after his son-in-law, Curt Lore, had typhoid and was not expected to live. Perhaps Jacob visited Curt to share his wisdom about survival against all odds.

The Bombshell

Then, this bombshell, a “special dispatch,” caused me to inhale sharply and catch my breath.

Cincinnati Enquirer Friday Morning – October 28, 1892

jacob-kirsch-shot-in-face

This was just so difficult to read. It has a ring of disbelief, given that Jacob is my ancestor, and I never knew about this. An event that disfigured Jacob, nearly killed him and literally blew his eye out – and my mother never heard this story? Jacob’s granddaughter, Edith Lore, who lived at the Kirsch House while she was attending business school in Cincinnati was my mother’s mother.  My grandmother’s sister, Jacob’s granddaughter Eloise Lore lived until well after I was an adult and helped me with my genealogy – and she either never knew this story or never thought to mention it. Maybe she thought it was common knowledge and everyone already knew.  I surely didn’t.

I was dumbstruck.

This story has even more implications from subtle messages, after one recovers from the initial shock.

  • This article entirely negates the theory of Jacob losing his eye as a child and not being able to fight in the Civil War because he was blind in one eye.
  • Did you notice how they referred to Jacob? Captain. This is the one and only time I have ever seen this, but it strongly suggests military service. In fact, they refer to him that way twice.
  • Jacob’s wife filed for a widow’s Civil War Pension after Jacob died in 1917 and swore he had served. She would have had first hand knowledge as she knew him at the time. They married in 1866.
  • Perhaps this reference, in addition to the information in the Civil War pension application helps to validate Jacob’s Civil War service.
  • This article also says that Jacob had won many valuable prizes through his marksmanship. Surely he would never been able to shoot again, if he even lived, which was clearly doubtful at the time.
  • But Jacob did live, until 1917 when he died of stomach cancer.
  • In the antique shop photo, I was just sure that Jacob’s left eye was the glass eye, because it looks “funny” in the photo.
  • But guess what, the antique shop picture was taken in 1891 and Jacob lost his eye in 1892, so the antique shop photo precedes his devastating accident.  Yes, that question I asked you about whether or not you could tell which eye was glass in the 1891 photo was a trick. (Sorry.)  However, I surely thought the glass eye was his left one before I discovered that he hadn’t lost his eye until the following year  This illustrates how easily we can see something we’re looking for – even if it isn’t there.
  • Even more remarkable, Jacob not only recovered, but it was AFTER this accident that he won the tri-state championship, assuming that the “more than 20 years ago” comment in his 1917 death announcement wasn’t actually more than 25 years before.
  • Regardless of when he won the tri-state championship (yes, I’m still mad at myself about that article being missing), he was clearly able to participate in the 1898 Cincinnati Gun Club national event as part of the team representing Aurora – so he certainly was still a good shot even though he didn’t win – 6 years after this devastating accident that resulting in him losing his eye. That’s amazing!

There is only one reasonable photo of Jacob after this time, and it’s one of two photos taken the same day.

Jacob Kirsch family photo crop

One photo is a group family picture (above) which helps to date the event, and the second, a closer photo of just Jacob and wife Barbara is shown below.

Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel

One can’t really see Jacob’s face well, although you can tell that his eyes don’t look the same. I’m guessing that his left eye is the glass eye, but it’s really difficult to tell – and yes, I’m positive this was taken after the accident. No trick, I promise.

closeup-of-jacob-kirschThis photo was taken after Jacob’s youngest granddaughters were born in 1899 and 1903, probably after Jacob’s brother who lived with them died in 1905 (since he’s absent in the family photo) and before Jacob’s son-in law, Curt Lore (present in the family photo) became ill in early 1909 and died in November, so sometime between 1905 and late 1908, probably 1907 or 1908 based on the apparent age of the youngest child. More than a dozen years after Jacob’s accident.

The accident must have surely disfigured Jacob’s face badly, with a blast powerful enough to remove his eye and affect the jugular vein area – both. I’m surprised he didn’t bleed to death. Amazingly enough, his obituary never mentioned this accident, nor his trapshooting – even though his death notice in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne papers only mentioned his fame as a trapshooter.

I marvel sometimes at the things about our ancestors lives that would be so fascinating…if we only knew them.

That Danged Article

I do not want to even admit this, but ahem….look what I found…just after I finished all this research.

The Hamilton Ohio Evening Journal – July 25, 1917

Jacob Kirsch death

Yep, that’s the original article – you know, the one I couldn’t find. It was, um, errrr, let’s just say hiding in plain sight. However, had I not been desperately searching for this doggone slippery article online again (where I never did find it), I wouldn’t have found any of this additional information about Jacob, his wife’s brother’s death, Jacob’s public service, his political party affiliation, his bloody hobby or how he lost his eye.

And it all started with Linda’s genealogical act of kindness and two photos in an antique shop.  Thank you so much, Linda!!!

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.