On This Day – What Were Your Ancestors Doing? – 52 Ancestors #170

Facebook is always “helping” me recall memories with a feature called “On This Day.” I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn back time and see what all of our ancestors were doing “on this day” in a particular year.

Then, I’d like to compare what my ancestors were doing on that day with what I’m doing on that same day, 100 years later. So, in a sense, I did.

This was an amazing exercise, because I learned something new about almost every single ancestor. Furthermore, focusing on just one day and their lives on that day, considering surrounding circumstances and events provides a very different perspective of your ancestors’ lives.

Select a special day, like your birthday, or a day you’re doing something exciting and remarkable.

First, take your picture. Nothing special, just “you” in your normal surroundings.

I took this selfie photo on my birthday, at home in my labyrinth, the day I wrote the second third of this article.

I also finished the 6th quilt sent to Houston for hurricane Harvey relief. If my descendants are reading this in yet another hundred years, they will have to search for that reference on whatever “Google” is in 2117.

Furthermore, and to add a bit of intrigue – a few hours before I published this article, which is about 15 hours before I actually leave for Dublin.  I just discovered that Hurricane Ophelia is headed for…are you ready for this…Ireland.  What, you say, a hurricane in Ireland?  Well, I assure you, I thought the same thing.  However, there is a history of devastating storms in Ireland, recently Hurricane Charley in 1986 and Hurricane Debbie in 1961. My ancestors would probably have weathered similar storms in more ancient times as well. I didn’t exactly intend to share this experience with my ancestors, but one way or another, it will be an adventure. The difference being, of course, that they didn’t have an early warning system.

Ophelia is anticipated to make landfall in Ireland on Monday, October 16th.  So, either Ireland will be a mess next week and I’ll have an unexpected adventure…or…my descendants won’t even be able to find mention of Ophelia in historical documents.  There’s just no telling what the future will bring, nor what we can find looking backwards at historical events.

It’s ironic with the proliferation of selfies and easy photos today that I have no photo, at all, of one ancestor who was alive in 1917.

The Grasshopper Theory

It’s worth stating the obvious, that on any given day, every single line of your ancestors had someone alive, because if there was a break in that line, you wouldn’t be here today, and all of the circumstances that occurred in that lifetime to connect your ancestors together wouldn’t have happened.

I think this is the genealogist’s version of the butterfly wing theory where a small change to one thing changes everything.

We’ll call this the grasshopper theory, in honor of what Facebook showed me today for “on this day.” I had a good laugh. The good news about Facebook is that the combination of easy access to cameras in phones today combined with social media, the routine and un-exceptional has become the norm. Nobody takes only “good” pictures anymore, only on special occasions. We take picture everyday, of the everyday occurrences in our lives.  As genealogists, these are the tidbits we long for about our ancestors lives, but are, of course, maddeningly elusive.

I guess the good news and the bad news is that no one in our ancestor’s time recorded anything as mundane as grasshoppers on a mum creating grasshopper descendants.

No one was taking pictures of our ancestor’s cat on quilt pieces, or their flowers, or even them. Oh, how I wish they had, because I’d love to have a direct bird’s eye view into what they loved, what their garden looked like, or even their cat or dog.

I would love to walk in my great-grandmother’s flower garden, or see the quilt she was working on.

I want to know about their everyday existence, in addition to defining moments like birth, marriage and death. I want to know about that elusive dash in-between, in as close to the first person as possible.

Will Facebook be the goldmine of genealogists a hundred or two hundred years from now?

However, since I can’t do any of those things, let’s see what I can do about doing an ancestral version of “On This Day.”

I selected 100 years ago on October 20th, about a month into the future from when I’m doing the actual researching. It just so happens that I’ll be doing something quite interesting myself on that day, speaking at Genetic Genealogy Ireland, in Dublin, not far from where some of my ancestors lived. I find that prospect quite exciting, so let’s see what my ancestors were doing on that day, October 20, 1917, 100 years ago.

Step 1 – Who Was Alive

The first step is to determine which of my ancestors were alive in 1917. There shouldn’t be too many, as it’s really not that terribly long ago.

A quick look at your pedigree chart in your genealogy software should help a lot.

My father was a couple decades older than my mother, so while my mother wasn’t born yet, my father was about 14, or 15, or maybe 16. His birth year was uncertain and somewhat pliable since he bent it to whatever he needed it to be at the moment.

His parents and all 4 of his grandparents were living on October 20, 1917. That’s a total of 7 of my ancestors on just my father’s side that were alive at one time. More than I expected.

On my mother’s side, she was just a twinkle in my grandpa’s eye. Her parents were obviously alive, and 3 of her 4 grandparents, plus one of her great-grandparents. That’s 6 on my mom’s side.

So, one by one, let’s see what we know about them and what they were doing on October 20, 1917.

Step 2 – World Events

What was going on in the world on October 20, 1917? How might these things be influencing the lives of my ancestors where they were living?

Let’s turn to newspapers.com and take a look.

America was at War, WWI, the war to end all wars, which didn’t, of course. That Saturday morning the headlines across the nation carried bad news.

Those ancestors who were in a location where newspapers were available assuredly knew about this. Radio broadcasting didn’t begin until after the war, in 1920, so otherwise, word would have traveled slowly.

In 1917, most homes didn’t have electricity. It wasn’t until 1925 that half the homes in the US had electricity, and those would have been in metropolitan areas. My ancestors, except one, all lived rurally.

My mother remembered her home without electricity when she was a child in Northern Indiana in the 1920s, but the nearby train depot had electricity in order to transmit morse code signals.

My ancestors in Appalachia wouldn’t have electricity until the 1950s, but even then few had phones – less than 25% in general and where my ancestors lived, a LOT less than 25%.

While people in big cities might have heard news on the day it happened, or within a day or two, people who lived more remotely probably only heard the really big stories, and then not until days after they happened. That’s almost incomprehensible today.

So while the Russian Revolution took place overseas, few in the US probably heard about it, and no one in Appalachia knew or cared.

Nor did they know or care that 10 Suffragettes picketed the white house in August in order to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to enable women to vote. Attacked by mobs, while police refused to intervene, the women were jailed. My ancestors, if they knew about this at all, probably viewed those women as rabble-rousers deserving of what they got when they petitioned for political prisoner status in October and were confined to solitary. Those brave women endured both torture and terror. It would be three long years before the battle for women’s right to vote was won, an event that would affect all women, everyplace in the US, but that three of my ancestors living in 1917 wouldn’t live to see.

As reported on October 20, 1917 by Washington (DC) Post.

But my ancestor who I would have thought the LEAST likely to take a stand…did!

Step 3 – On This Day

On this day, in 2017, I’ll be speaking in Ireland about genetic genealogy which helped me locate my McDowell line.  A couple days later, I’ll also be visiting the location where people who match my ancestor on paternal DNA lived a hundred years or so after my ancestor left for America.  A tiny crossroads area northwest of Dublin.  Not too many people moved TO that area, so it’s likely my ancestor lived there too.

On this day, October 20, 1917, as best I can determine, this is what my ancestors alive at that time were doing. I’ve tried to locate a photo for each person as well, as close to that time as I can find.

My Father

Name: William Sterling Estes

Birth Date: October 1, 1901, or 1902, or 1903, take your pick. He did, and added several more years too, as they suited him.

Age: 14, 15, or 16

Occupation: Army, private – he “fudged” his age to enlist and serve his country.

Location: On August 24, 1917, my father was transferred from Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, Indiana to Camp Custer at Battle Creek, Michigan.

Camp Custer was built in 1917, so this was a brand spanking new facility and where he would serve most of his Army career.

Love Life: My father was probably dating a young gal, Virgie Houtz, whom he would marry, decades later. Virgie lived in Dunkirk, Indiana. I suspect that after he left Fort Benjamin Harrison in central Indiana for Michigan that their romance cooled with distance. They both married others until he found her again and they married, in 1961, 43 years later.

Living Children: None yet, that I know of anyway

Deceased Children: None

Did you know this person? Yes, much later of course. He died when I was a child. this is the only photo I have of us together.

Local Events:

Neither Battle Creek nor Kalamazoo’s newspapers are online yet, but the Lansing State Journal headline for October 20th is shown below. Lansing is relatively close to Battle Creek.

Liberty Bonds are how the war was financed and subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty. On October 1, 1917 Second Liberty Loan offered $3.8 billion in bonds at 3% interest, redeemable after 10 years. R. E. Olds was synonymous with Oldsmobile.

Camp Custer was mentioned in the Wakefield (Michigan) News:

The Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press carried Camp Custer Notes too.

It appears that a contest was taking place among the soldiers for who could buy the most Liberty bonds to support the war.

Oh, and two days later, on Monday and Tuesday, a dedication ceremony for Camp Custer was to take place, so you know that my Dad was getting his dress uniform spiffed up for what was certainly a dressy affair with lots of dignitaries in attendance.

What Was Affecting His Life?

Newspapers are so interesting. We discover sewer plants under construction at Camp Custer and that soldiers are not supposed to visit Jackson, because there are, gasp, saloons there. And oh, umbrellas were not used at Camp Custer, considered too un-military. A war bond contest was underway, and Camp Custer was to be dedicated in just two days – so everyone was busy putting everything in perfect order.

As a young man, much younger than his official enlisted age, at some level he had to be somewhat frightened. Not only was he only 14 or 15, he had been abandoned by his parents and was now in jeopardy of being a child sent to fight in a man’s war. The only saving grace may have been that his brother Joe enlisted too, but it’s unknown if they were stationed in the same location.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, obtained through his first cousin. This tells us that my father’s direct paternal ancestors were European and probably Celtic.

mtDNA Haplogroup – H, obtained when only the HVR1 level was offered. I hope that someone from his matrilineal line tests eventually. This tells us that his ancestor was European, but we need a further test to learn more.

My Father’s Father’s

Name: William George Estes

Birth Date: March 30, 1873

Age: 44

Occupation: Farmer, maybe bootlegger

Location: Claiborne County, Tennessee

Living Children: 5

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, I never met him although he lived until I was in my teens.

Local Events:

The Claiborne Progress Newspaper was publishing in 1917, but those editions, if they exist, are not yet available. However, a scrapbook was found years ago having been contributed to the local library. I scanned the articles, mostly undated, and subsequently transcribed them, finding many interesting tidbits.

Electricity was not yet available in this part of the country. Travel was still by horse and something, usually a horse and wagon. Automobiles began to be mass produced in 1908. Some people did have cars. The newspaper in 1914 told us that cars traversed the Knoxville Pike, but I doubt that many in Claiborne County owned vehicles, and certainly not poor farmers.

In 1917, Tazewell had recently built a new train depot, and in doing so, several men stepped on nails, one of them subsequently passing away, probably from lockjaw or blood poisoning. Antibiotics and vaccines were still in the future.

What Was Affecting His Life?

William George, known as Will, having moved to Indiana sometime after the 1910 census as a tenant farmer had moved back to Claiborne County, Tennessee by 1917 and was establishing a life with a second wife, the cousin of his first wife with whom his first wife had caught him cheating. Yes, this is the stuff of soap operas.

In October 1917, Joice or Joicy Hatfield Estes was pregnant with her first child who would be born in March of 1918. So, in October of 1917, William George had a 24 year old wife, 20 years his junior, who was 4 months pregnant. He was probably pretty proud of himself.

His oldest son, Estel, had been married for 3 years, and William George had a 2 year, 4 month old grandson who would be older than Will’s new daughter that would be born the following March.

William George’s two other sons, William Sterling and Joseph “Dode” were enlisted in the Army to fight WWI. His eldest daughter, Margaret was 11 and living in Chicago with Ollie, his x-wife and his youngest daughter, Minnie, age 9, may have been living with a doctor in Rose Hill, Virginia, as a “servant” to care for the doctor’s ailing wife. I’m guessing that William George’s x-wife and daughters were mad as wet hens, at him, but I’m also guessing that William George didn’t much care. He had moved on.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, tells us that he connects with the other Estes men from Kent, England.

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2c, obtained through his sister’s grandson tells us that his mother was European, not Native American as had been rumored. The matches indicate that her ancestors were probably from the British Isles.

My Father’s Mother

Name: Ollie Bolton

Ollie, at left, with her daughter, Margaret in 1918 in Franklin Park, Illinois.  There was some discussion about whether this photo was actually Ollie or her mother, but since Margaret originally identified the photo, it makes sense that it’s Ollie.  However, I have never been entirely convinced.

The nose seems to be shaped entirely differently from other photos of Ollie.

Birth Date: May 5, 1874

Death Date: 43

Occupation: Divorced, unknown

Location: Probably Franklin Park, Illinois

Living Children: 5

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, she died 5 months before I was born. My mother cared for her when she was pregnant for me. So, indirectly, I was at her funeral.

Local Events:

Ollie had to have been thinking about her two sons who had enlisted in the military. The war was escalating. Would either or both of them see active duty? Would they survive?

What Was Affecting Her Life?

We know so little about Ollie after she left Indiana. What we do know is gathered in snippets and pieces.

I don’t have any idea how she supported herself and the girls, or at least Margaret. Minnie says she was sent to live with a doctor and his wife in Rose Hill, Virginia to help him take care of his invalid wife. Margaret lived with her mother in Chicago.

We have a photo of Margaret and her mother labeled Franklin Park, Illinois and dated 1918. I wish I had thought to ask Margaret what kind of work her mother did, and when, exactly, they had moved to Chicago.

There are also reports of a child named Elsie or Elsia, born with downs syndrome and who subsequently passed away. I can find no record of Elsia’s birth or death, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. If Elsia did exist, she would have been the last child born in Indiana before Ollie and Bill split, or, maybe Elsia arrived after the split. Regardless, based on what Aunt Margaret said, Elsia died in Chicago. Ollie would have been dealing with supporting herself and at least Margaret, if not Margaret and Elsia, in Chicago, alone, with no husband. A very tall order for a woman with very little education in that time and place.

Ollie’s family, including her oldest son and 2 year old grandchild lived in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

Did Ollie know that her brother, Samuel Bolton, had enlisted in the service too, just the month before? Was she able to see him one last time before he left for Europe? I hope so, because unless they shipped his body home for burial in 1918, she would never see him again.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Unfortunately, we only have Ollie’s base haplogroup, H. I would love to test someone who descends through all women from Ollie’s sisters or direct line of female ancestors in order to obtain additional information. Half of the women in Europe belonged to haplogroup H, so additional information would be very beneficial by providing hints as to where her ancestors were from.

My Father’s Paternal Grandfather

Name: Lazarus Estes

Birth Date: May 1848

Age: 69

Occupation: Farmer, huckster (peddler)

Location: Estes Holler, Claiborne County, Tennessee

The house had been near the two small trees in the foreground.

Living Children: 4

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, he died almost 40 years before I was born.

Local Events:

The war was preying on everyone’s minds.

What Was Affecting Their Lives?

Lazarus was aging and probably ill. I believe he carved his own headstone before his death, at least his name. It matches the other headstones that he carved for his children and grandchildren. Lazarus would pass away the following summer, just three months before his wife.

Lazarus lived at the end of Estes Holler, the patriarch, who cared for his aged mother, buried her, carved her stone and many thereafter. When his son, William George Estes’s cabin burned and their son along with it, it was Lazarus who buried the child. It was also Lazarus who took in his two grandsons, William Sterling and Joe Dode when they jumped freight trains back to Tennessee to find their grandparents when their parents were divorcing in Indiana. The family story says that neither parent wanted the boys and they arrived in Tennessee filthy and very hungry.

It was Lazarus who “ran William George out of Estes Holler for doing Ollie wrong” when he returned with his new young wife, his x-wife’s cousin, after abandoning the boys.

In 1920, William George was living in Claiborne County, but not in Estes Holler from the looks of the census. According to the family story, Lazarus told William George he would kill him if he came back, after abandoning his two sons – those boys just 10 and 12 who hopped a freight train to find their way home to their grandfather. Lazarus seemed to be a good man, always taking care of others.

In October of 1917, Lazarus was probably wondering what to do about his land when he died. His own mortality had to be weighing heavy on his mind. He would have been watching his ailing wife and knew that some of his children weren’t as stable and trustworthy as others. Sometime over the winter, Lazarus decided to deed his land to his daughter and neighbor, Cornie Epperson and her husband, but with instructions to pay the rest of his heirs cash.

Lazarus had a cow and a horse, because he reserved the right to pasture them on half an acre until his death.

On October 20th, Lazarus might have been watching the leaves change color and wondering if he would see them again. He woundn’t. Perhaps he walked to little graveyard behind his house or the one down the road behind the church to visit with the rest of his family who he would see again soon.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, obtained through his grandson not yet born at that time. The Big Y test that provided this haplogroup provided evidence that it’s unlikely that the Estes family descended from the d’Este family of Italy.

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t yet have Lazarus’s mtDNA haplogroup that he would have inherited from his mother’s direct matrilineal line. I have a scholarship for the first person descended from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male:

  • Lazarus’ mother, Rutha Dodson married John Y. Estes
  • Her mother, Elizabeth Campbell married Lazarus Dodson
  • Her mother, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins (born c 1780-1850/60) married John Campbell
  • Her mother, Dorcas Johnson (born c 1748-1831) married Jacob Dobkins (1751-1833)
  • Her mother Mary “Polly” Phillips (born c 1739) married Peter Johnson (born c 1715-1790)

 My Father’s Paternal Grandmother

Name: Elizabeth Vannoy, pictured above, with Lazarus

Birth Date: June 23, 1847

Age: 70

Occupation: Farm wife

Location: Estes Holler, Claiborne County, Tennessee

Lazarus’ and Elizabeth’s land.

Living Children: 4

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, she died almost 40 years before I was born.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Elizabeth and Lazarus were both aging. Both had lived through the Civil War and now the country was embroiled in yet another war. Both were assuredly worried about what would follow, if we would see war on our own soil, and how that would affect their children and grandchildren.

Elizabeth probably seldom saw her 5 grandchildren by her daughter Martha who died in 1911. Their father remarried and moved to Union County, TN.

Her son, William George Estes seemed to be the “wild child” of the bunch. He had moved to Arkansas and back. His cabin burned just a few yards from Elizabeth’s house, killing their young son in 1907. Sometime after the 1910 census, William George and family would move to Indiana, where his wife divorced him. From there, he moved back to Tennessee again, but his children from his first marriage dispersed to the winds. Two of those children were serving in WWI.

Only one of Elizabeth’s grandchildren through William George lived in Claiborne County. I hope that Estel visited Lazarus and Elizabeth and shared the joy of their baby boy, born in 1915.

Elizabeth’s daughter, Cornie lived right across the road and Elizabeth would have been close to Cornie’s 9 children. Cornie’s last child was born on June 4th, so Elizabeth would have been helping Cornie with the new baby.

Son Columbus, or “Lum,” had 4 children, but one of them died at birth in 1914 and was buried down the road by the church in the family area of the Pleasant View Cemetery. HIs daughter Mollie had just been born on August 9th.

Son Charlie and his wife had moved up to Hancock County, near the county line with Lee County. They had 4 children, with the most recent addition being added on June 8th. However, Elizabeth was probably quite worried about this baby, who wasn’t doing well. Three days after Christmas in 1917, that baby would be buried too.

A year and 5 days later, after Elizabeth buried Lazarus in July of 1918, she would join him.

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2c, obtained from her great-grandchild through Cornie, tells us that she was European. Her mother has been rumored to have been Cherokee Indian. Her mitochondrial DNA proves that at least her direct matrilineal line was not Native.

My Father’s Maternal Grandfather

Name: Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton

Joseph, pictured at left about 1913 or 1914 with son Dudley and granddaughter Elizabeth.

Birth Date: September 18, 1853

Age: 64

Occupation: Farmer

Location: Sedalia, Hancock County, Tennessee

Living Children: 9 or 10

Deceased Children: 2

Did you know this person? No, he died in 1920.

What Was Affecting His Life?

Joseph’s son, Samuel Bolton had just enlisted in the military to serve his county in WWI. Recruiting had been heavy in East Tennessee, appealing to the patriotism that runs deep in this part of the county. I don’t know if Dode, as he was called, tried to talk his son out of joining, but it didn’t matter, Sammy joined and by October 20th, would have been receiving training in Camp Sevier, SC. Sammy might have thought that was fun, and maybe Dode wasn’t terribly worried yet, but that time would come.

Sammy shipped out for Europe on a transport vessel in May 1918 and was killed in France on October 8, 1918.

Joseph’s son Estel Vernon Bolton, born in 1890, was serving as well. After the war, he would come home and live with his parents to help his aging parents.

Samuel and Estel were the youngest living children. The true baby, Henry, had already died.

Joseph’s daughter Ollie wasn’t doing terribly well either. She had married William George Estes, getting divorced in Indiana about 1915 and then moving to Chicago. Her two sons were in the military too. That’s 4 serving in the military for Dode to worry about.

Daughter Mary Lee who married Tip Sumpter had moved to Illinois and daughter Ida had moved to Kentucky, but that wasn’t terribly far.

Dalsey lived up the road in Jonesville, just across the border into Virginia, but son Charles had moved to Arkansas.

Joseph probably sorely missed the help from both Samuel and Estel on the farm. He had lost both of his helpers as they went to answer their patriotic calling. Only one would return.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-FGC62079, provided by Joseph’s brother’s great-great-grandson tells us that he descends from the very large haplogroup R in Europe. His deep ancestry as revealed by the Big Y test suggests that Joseph’s ancestors were from the British Isles and probably from western Europe before that.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Joseph would have received his mitochondrial DNA from his mother. Mother’s give their mtDNA to all of their children, but only women pass it on. I will provide a DNA testing scholarship for the first person who descends from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male.

Note: It’s the McDowell line that I’ve gone to Ireland to visit, right after my presentation in Dublin. Mary McDowell was the daughter of Michael McDowell, the son of Michael McDowell, the son of Murtough McDowell, who immigrated from Ireland and was living in Baltimore, Maryland by 1720. The Y DNA of Michael McDowell’s descendant matches that of the McDowell line from Northern Ireland, where I’ll be visiting in a few days.

My Father’s Maternal Grandmother

Name: Margaret Claxton

Surely a photo exists someplace of Margaret Claxton or Clarkson, given that she didn’t pass away until March 11, 1920. If someone has a photo of Margaret, I would surely appreciate a copy.

Birth Date: July 28, 1851

Age: 66

Occupation: Farmer’s wife

Location: Sedalia, Hancock County, Tennessee

Living Children: 9 or 10

Deceased Children: 2

Did you know this person? No, she died in 1920.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

You’d think with 9 or 10 living children that Margaret would have had a lot of grandchildren in and out of the house. Of Her children, Ollie was living in Chicago and Mary Lee was in Illinois too. Charles was in Arkansas. Elizabeth was in Ohio with her 9 children. Samuel and Estel were both unmarried and in the military.

That only left Dudley living in Hancock County, with 4 children. Dalsey lived in Lee County, Virginia, not terribly far with 6 children at that time, the newest child being born on December 16, 1916. Margaret probably enjoyed this new grandchild. I hope she got to see her grandchildren often.

Ida lived over the border in Kentucky, so Margaret probably didn’t get to see her often. Ida had no children, which may have been a heartache for both women.

Ollie’s son, Estel had married and lived in Claiborne County. He had a child that was just over 2 years old who I believe was Margaret’s first great-grandchild. Hopefully Margaret got to see this child from time to time as well.

Margaret surely worried about her two sons serving in uniform, and with good reason. Samuel may have gotten to visit while on leave the following May before shipping out for overseas, but after that, she would never seem him again on this side of death.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Margaret’s haplogroup is H, but we were unable to get a more refined answer. We need another person to test. Anyone who descends through any of Margaret’s daughters through all females to the current generation, which can be male, carries her mtDNA and is eligible to test. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone who descends from her daughters as described above, or from any of the women below through all females as well.

My Mother’s Father

Name: John Whitney Ferverda

Birth Date: December 26, 1882

Age: 34, 35 in December

Occupation: Retail hardware store owner and implement merchant, according to his WWI draft registration

Location: Silver Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana, beside the train depot.

The house, above, today where my mother was raised.  It’s behind my mother, in the photo below.

The hardware store, pictured below with John Ferverda in front, was a couple blocks from the house, near the crossroads in the center of town.

Living Children: 1

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? Yes, he died in 1960. I remember him eating peanuts and sitting in his chair.

Local Events:

The newspaper in Fort Wayne reported that the first hard blow of the war had been incurred. The President appointed a day or prayer.

While my ancestors in Tennessee probably knew nothing about this, the people a few miles west of Fort Wayne surely did.

John Ferverda would assuredly have known, and probably before the newspapers arrived. John had been the railroad station master and sent and received Morse Code messages. John’s brother still worked for the railroad, living across the street from both John and the depot. John and Roscoe were probably the first people in Silver Lake, or Kosciusko County, to know of breaking news. Want to be in the know? Be friends with John Ferverda.

What Was Affecting His Life?

On January 8, 1916 the newspaper in Rushville, Indiana had the following tidbit.

J. W. Ferverda, Big Four agent at Silver Lake and well known here has purchased a hardware store there in partnership with R. M. Frye. He has resigned his position with the railroad company. Mr. Ferverda married Miss Edith Lore of this city.

This is the only way that we knew when John bought the hardware store. Sadly, John would lose the store in 1922, selling out. He was too kind-hearted and granted too much credit that could never be repaid.

But in 1917, John would have been excited to build his new business.

In May, John’s youngest brother had graduated in the first commencement from Leesburg High School. Three of John’s brothers were serving in the military, very unusual for a Brethren family.

Y Line Haplogroup – John’s Y DNA haplogroup is I-Y210, European, consistent with John’s paternal lineage from the Netherlands.

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t have a sample of the mitochondrial DNA of John’s mother, Evaline Louise Miller. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first person descended from any of the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male.

  • John’s mother, Evaline Louise Miller married Hiram Ferverda
  • Her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz married John David Miller
  • Her mother, Fredericka Reuhle married Jacob Lentz
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolflin born 1755 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany, married Johann Adam Reuhle born 1764 same location.
  • Dorothea Heuback born 1729 in Endersbach, Wuertemberg, Germany and married Johann Ludwig Wolfin born 1732 in Asperg, Wuertemberg, Germany and died in 1805 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany

My Mother’s Mother

Name: Edith Barbara Lore

Edith with her husband, John Ferverda, probably about 1918.

Birth Date: August 2, 1888

Age: 29

Occupation: Not working outside the home, mother

Location: Silver Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 1

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? Yes, I remember her dress, apron and black ankle high shoes as she rushed to hug me when we arrived. That’s me on her lap.

Local Events:

In October 1917, Edith’s only child, a son, was just a month shy of 2 years old. Edith had visited her mother in August who had recently moved from Rushville, Indiana to Wabash. Edith’s father had died in 1909 and her mother had remarried in 1916. Edith had a new step-father who wasn’t terribly well liked, by anyone.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Edith’s grandfather, Jacob Kirsch, had passed away in May in Aurora. Her family was in flux. Her husband’s brothers were serving in the military, and while her husband, John, wasn’t, she was still the out of favor “non-Brethren” wife who was responsible for him marrying outside the faith.

The war brought rationing. In the Fort Wayne newspaper on this day, an article reveals that “a sugar famine is now upon the country and that the moment of America’s first self-denial has arrived.”

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2f, confirming a European origin of Edith’s German matrilineal line.

My Mother’s Paternal Grandfather

Name: Hiram Bauke Ferverda

Hiram, pictured above with all of his children. His wife, Evaline Louise Miller beside him, and John Ferverda second from right, last row. This photo was taken during WWI at the old home place near Leesburg, Kosciusko County. In the window behind the group is the banner, partially obscured, indicating that the family had 3 sons serving.

Birth Date: September 21, 1854

Age: 63

Occupation: Banker, farmer and street inspector

Location: Leesburg, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 11

Deceased Children: 0, which is pretty amazing

Did you know this person? No, he died 30 years before I was born.

Local Events:

Witten in 1919 in the “History of Kosciusko County:”

The family are members of the Church of the Brethren and Mr. Ferverda is a republican. He was at one time captain of the local Horse Thief Detective Association, and in now an inspector of the streets of Leesburg.

Well, ahem. The Horse Thief Detective Association was a local detective and law enforcement group of vigilantes formed about 1840. During this time in Indiana, near Wingate, horse stealing had become so rampant that folks had to completely give up the idea of farming. Arrests were nigh on nonexistant, so the men banded together to not only discover who was stealing the horses, but to apprehend them and put an end to it. They did, becoming relatively well respected, and also becoming investigators, police officers, judge, jury and executioner all in one – sometimes all in the same night or raid. Later in the early 1900s, they became heavily associated with the KKK and in the early 1920s, this group met its demise with the downfall of one of their leaders who was convicted of the murder of a woman. They primarily operated throughout Indiana, but also to some extent in surrounding states.

This is something I could have spent my entire life not knowing. So, how, I wonder did Hiram reconcile the Horse Thief Detective Association with his Brethren belief of non-violence? Let’s hope that “at one time” means that he was no longer associated with this group.

What Was Affecting His Life?

The war had to be weighing heavy on Hiram’s mind, as three of his sons were serving. All three came home.

It’s surprising that the Brethren church did not discharge Hiram given that his sons served in the military and Hiram clearly had to have taken an oath to be a public official, along with other highly un-Brethren activities.

Y Line Haplogroup – I-Y2170 – a haplogroup discovered during Big Y testing. This confirmed the Ferverda is European, and his closest matches are from Germany and Russia with Big Y matches also from Scandinavia. The Ferverda DNA and ancestors have been in that region for a very long time.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Hiram’s mother died in Holland, and her mtDNA line has not yet been tested. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first person to step forward who descends from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male:

  • Hiram’s mother, Geertje Jarmens de Jong born March 22, 1829 in Baard, the Netherlands, died October 3, 1860 in Terjerksteradeel, the Netherlands, married Bauke Hendrick Ferverda (Ferwerda) on May 14, 1853 in Baarderadeel, the Netherlands.
  • Her mother, Angenietje Wijtses Houtsma born August 12, 1802 in Leeuwarderadeel, the Netherlands, died after July 17, 1866 and married on May 22, 1824 in Baarderadeel, the Netherlands to Harmen Gerrits de Jong.
  • Her mother Lolkjen Ales Noordhof married Wijzse Douwes Houstma (1783-1825 Boxum, Friesland, the Netherlands.

My Mother’s Paternal Grandmother

Name: Evaline Louise Miller

Birth Date: March 29, 1857

Age: 60

Occupation: farm wife

Location: Leesburg, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 11

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? No, but she cared for my mother when she was sick as a child.

Local Events:

The war. How could she not think of the war everyday with 3 sons serving?

What Was Affecting Her Life?

The decisions affecting Brethren families had to have been tearing at the fabric of both family and churches.

This 7 page undated letter or article, written by Eva, with page 6 missing, tells us so much about how she thought. I suspect this was written about this time because of the refences to women’s education, rights and the focus on temperance which resulted in Prohibition beginning in 1919. Temperance is the issue that made the Brethren, as a whole, decide they needed to participate in government by voting, beginning in about 1912. Prior to that, the Brethren refused to participate in any form of government unless it was required for them to fulfill the Brethren mission in the world, which included voting and holding office.

Some Things Our Women Are Doing

Women in the olden times were in the main appendages of men. They were servants in some capacity and were not supposed to need any special intellectual training.

The women of olden times were not educated in the school as they are now. But now in our time, her real worth is more properly estimated and her education is held of equal importance with man. Education is power, and when rightly used, sharpens the mind, it kindles ambition and awakens self respict (sic). The intelligence of women is rapidly increasing. Women are graduating from our colleges, with equal honors with men. This enlarged intelligence of women should vastly increase the intelligence of our homes. Ignorance in the home never will promote its welfare. Ignorance in the mother is never any benefit to her children. Ignorance never made a womans work of any better quality. Ignorance in the women of a neighborhood never promoted the better interests of the neighborhood, the church, or Aid So. (Aid society). It does promote gossip, scandal, backbiting, jealousy, folly, coarseness, low life. Ignorance is on a level with these things and is the mother of them all. But woman’s day has come and with renewed womanhood, and Christian intelligence, are forefeared to do a good work wherever their lot shall be, in the home, the church, the S.S. or Aid.

We have noted women of old history who had great influence in private and public life, Miriam, sister of Moses aiding much in the deliverance of her people. Deborah who ruled and judged Israel. Hannah noted for her trust in the Lord, being the mother of Samuel.

In the time of Christ and the apostles, there were many noted women, zealous in their devotion to the new religion. The religion which opened new encouragements and hopes to women. The religion which placed women on and equivalent to men such as Paul in Romans 16th speaks of some good women in his day. He commends Phebe our sister who is a servant of the church. Also Priscilla wife of Aquila and Tryphena wife of Tryfanosa who labored much in the church. We have the Marys of Dorcar and we might name many more noted women.

Women can do great things. Think once of the crusaders, some women of our time. That awakening of moral conviction and spiritual power such as perhaps has both been known since the early days of Christianity. They came on bended knee and tearful eyes and prayed for all the guilty offenders, that they might repent and be forgiven. They lifted the cause to the throne of God and hold it there still. They made it his cause. They joined in with his church. This took the cause of temperance up to the summit level of practical Christian life, and made it what it all along should have been a high, holy, divine cause. All this some of our good Christian women have done and through their efforts we shall soon have worldwide temperance. What other women have done we can do and our women of today are doing things.

Our Sister Aid Society is doing great work. We have about 16,000 women engaged in the various activities of the Aid Society (page 6 missing).

The Lord gives us health so we can surely give one day every two weeks for this good work and we know we shall be blessed for every good deed we do. It is the little deeds we do which count for so much for a cup of cold water given in his name we shall be blessed. (rest missing)

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t have her son’s mitochondrial DNA haplogroup, which means we don’t have hers either, since her son inherited his mitochondrial DNA from Evaline.  Anyone descended directly from her through all females can test, as well as anyone descended from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be males.

  • Evaline’s mother, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz married John David Miller
  • Her mother, Fredericka Reuhle married Jacob Lentz
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolflin born 1755 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany, married Johann Adam Reuhle born 1764 same location.
  • Dorothea Heuback born 1729 in Endersbach, Wuertemberg, Germany and married Johann Ludwig Wolfin born 1732 in Asperg, Wuertemberg, Germany and died in 1805 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany

 My Mother’s Maternal Grandmother

Name: Ellenora “Nora” Kirsch

Yep, that’s Nora, with her daughters Eloise, Mildred, then Nora and Edith. Who would ever have guessed!

Birth Date: December 24, 1866

Age: 50, 51 on Christmas Eve

Occupation: Probably Housewife

Location: Wabash, Indiana

Living Children: 3

Deceased Children: 1

Did you know this person? No, but I would have liked to.

Local Events:

Huntington, Indiana wasn’t far from Wabash. The headlines everyplace included the new about the transport ship being torpedoed.

Having lived in Rushville her entire adult life, she may have also subscribed to the Rushville paper, if they had a service allowing the paper to be mailed distantly.

Nora must have worried because her family in Aurora still spoke German.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Nora’s life had changed incredibly in the past few months and years. Her first husband died of tuberculosis in 1909, followed by her daughter of the same disease in 1912. On October 28, 1916, she married Thomas McCormick and moved from Rushville to Wabash, Indiana shortly thereafter. In Rushville, she worked for a department store, then opened her own sewing, clothing construction and alternation business. Moving to Wabash would have changed everything.

Her first wedding anniversary was just a week away. Was she preparing a celebration? Was she already having regrets and second thoughts. She stayed with McCormick for years, never officially divorcing. He eventually left and she was much happier.

My mother remembers visiting Nora in Wabash where she always had a quilt frame hung with pully’s from the ceiling, so it could be raised and lowered.

I don’t know which quilt she was working on that that time, but I can assure you that she was working on some quilt. Quilters quilt for beauty, quilters quilt for hope, quilters quilt to help and quilters quilt when they need to work through something or don’t know what else to do.

We know for sure that she quilted from the 1880s through the 1930s. Her quilts, below, are hung at left and right, and my mother’s afghan inspired by Nora’s quilts is displayed in the center.

We also know that Nora gardened, from this photo from about the same time. I wonder if her gardens inspired the Climbing Vine and the Picket Fence quilts, above.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Nora’s haplogroup, J1c2f, the same one I carry today. Known as Jasmine, tracking haplogroup J has provided insight into ancestors that we can never reach through traditional genealogy.

My Mother’s Maternal Great-Grandmother

Name: Barbara Drechsel

My great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch, at left, her sister Mildred holding her first child born in 1922, then my great-great-grandmother Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, at right. A beautiful 4 generation photo. It’s amazing how happy Barbara looks considering the amount of tragedy she had endured in the past decade or so.

Birth Date: October 8, 1848

Age: 69

Occupation: Innkeeper, Proprietor

Location: Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana

Kirsch house to the right, the depot at left, above. This probably looks much the way it did when Barbara lived there.

The bar that was in the building in the 1980s when Mom, my daughter and I visited was the original.

Living Children: 6

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? No, but she was amazing. I like to think I have her spunk and gumption.

Local Events:

Floods, always floods. Aurora, Indiana sat on the bend of the Ohio River and flooded regularly. In the winter of 1917/1918, the Ohio flooded dramatically, causing ice dams to break which flooded Aurora. According to the newspaper, the properties looked like “scrambled eggs.” In the basement of the Kirsch House, you could still see the stains from the flood waters, decades later.

While the Kirsch House sat relatively high, on the North side of town, several blocks from the river, they were still badly flooded at least every few years. The train tracks were on even higher ground.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

I don’t know if Barbara was grief-stricken or relieved, or maybe some of each. Her husband, Jacob Kirsch, had died of cancer of the stomach on July 23rd. She had been taking care of a terminally ill husband for months, as well as running the Kirsch House, a combination hotel, pub and restaurant.

Barbara’s daughter, Carrie was ill with syphilis that would claim her life a few years later. Carrie had contracted that then-fatal disease from her wealth river-boat gambler husband who had already died a decade earlier.

Barbara’s daughter, Lou, worked with her mother after Lou’s husband had committed suicide in the garden behind the Kirsch House on Halloween night 1910. Barbara probably depended on Lou to help with the Kirsch House and with caring for Jacob when he was ill as well.

Barbara’s daughter Ida was in her 20s and hadn’t yet married. Ida also worked at the Kirsch House with her mother. After Ida and Lou both married in 1920 and 1921, Barbara would sell the Kirsch House and live with her daughter, Nora.

Nora had buried a husband and daughter in the past few years, had built her own retail and service business and then remarried in late 1916 to a man that was not liked by the family. Nora moved further away, to Wabash, Indiana. Barbara was very close to Nora’s daughters, her granddaughters, and they came to stay with Nora at the Kirsch House often.

Barbara’s sons Martin and Edward, in their late 40s, so too old to serve in the military, didn’t live close by, but she probably saw then occasionally since the Kirsch House was beside the depot and southern Indiana was well connected by rail. Her grandson, Edgard Kirsch registered for the draft and claimed an exemption for his father and mother who he claimed were dependents.

The Cincinnati newspaper carried headlines about the war. Barbara was born in Germany and the family spoke German. Certainly Barbara still had family in Germany, and may have written back and forth. She may have had aunts, uncles and first cousins still living.

We do know that the Kirsch family spoke German until this time, when they stopped and spoke only English, so that their loyalty would not be questioned. The war had to be on Barbara’s mind, both from the perspective of an American and also as a person with German relatives.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Barbara’s haplogroup descended to me through her female descendants. As more matches have accrued over the years, the amazing Scandinavian story of this haplogroup, found in Barbara’s mother in Germany about 1800 is emerging.

Your Turn

It’s your turn now to select a day, take your picture, and document what your ancestors were doing on that day?  What day will you select, and why?

Charles Dodson (1649-1706), Forcible Entry, 52 Ancestors #157

We know approximately when Charles Dodson was born, but we don’t know where and we don’t know who his parents are. According to a deposition recorded in March 1699, Charles says he is about 50 years old, so born about 1649 or 1650…someplace. I think that someplace was England, because Charles Dodson was literate and could write his name. If Charles was born in Virginia in 1650, his family would have to have been wealthy to afford a private tutor to teach their children to read and write. Certainly, judging from Charles’ own children, that didn’t happen…and Charles was a large landowner. Yet his two eldest sons signed their names with a mark. Charles grew up someplace where he received at least some schooling.

A search of Find-My-Past which focused on English records shows three Charles Dodson/Dotsons born in 1644, 1645 and 1646, but none later through 1655. Of course, all parish registers aren’t online. Find-My-Past also shows four London apprenticeships for Charles Dodson between 1661 and 1672 – so the name Charles Dodson apparently wasn’t terribly rare.

We have quite a bit of information about our Charles Dodson as an adult, and clues about other things. And we have rumors to evaluate as well. Charles Dodson is a very interesting man.

If Charles arrived with his parents, they would likely have been found someplace near where Charles emerged as an adult. Perhaps Charles arrived as a young man alone, maybe as an indentured servant, or perhaps with a young wife.

Changing County Boundaries

When researching Charles Dodson, I wanted to be quite thorough, so I began with the earliest records in the part of Virginia where Charles Dodson was first found. In fact, I started with records early enough to find any other Dodson male in early Virginia as well.

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 County was formed from York and then in 1652 Lancaster was formed from 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, on either side of the Rappahannock River.

This handy chart shows the early Virginia County formation and when surviving records exist for each county.

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.

The earliest mention of Charles Dodson is found in those records. Another Dodson, Gervais, found in Northumberland, Stafford and Westmoreland Counties had died by 1662, leaving a widow who remarried to Andrew Pettygrow. I found no connection between Gervais and Charles Dodson, no will or family information for Gervais, and no Gervais in the Charles Dodson descendants.

Northumberland County Oath

In 1652, all Tidewater Virginia residents that were not Native were required to take an oath of allegiance.

No Dodson, nor the allied families of Durham or Smoot are listed in the 1652 Northumberland County Oaths of Allegiance.

First Sighting

The first sighting of Charles Dodson is in the Old Rappahannock County deeds in 1679. Of course, then it wasn’t called Old Rappahannock County, just Rappahannock County and it’s abbreviated several ways within deeds. All documents included are from Old Rappahannock or Richmond County, depending on the date of the transaction, unless otherwise stated.

Deed Book Page 278 – July 10, 1679 between Peter Elmore of Rappae County, planter, and Charles Dodson, same, planter, and his heirs and assignes, as much plantable land as 3 tithables can tend in corn and tabb, with priviledge of leaving out for partuidge and further that said Dodson shall have the privilege of coopers and carpenters timber for the use of ye plantation for the term of 19 years from date hereof . (Further the said Elmore doth engage to furnish ye said Dodson with apple trees and peach trees suffichant to make an orchard both of apples and peaches) and further at the expiration of ye said terms the said Dodson is to leave a 30 foot dwelling house and a 50 foot tobacco house tennentable with all fencing in repairs that is at the expiration of the time. An further ye said Dodson to pay ye said Peter Elmore 50 pounds tobacco yearly during he said terme but if said Dodson chance to leave ye said plantation before the expiration of the said time that then ye said Peter Elmore shall have ye refusal before any other.

Signed Peter Elmore with mark and Charles Dodson. Witness William Smoote and Charles Wilson. Looks like it was registered July 7, 1680.

This deed puts Peter Elmore, Charles Dodson and William Smoot together quite early. It’s a rather unusual deed. It certainly suggests that Charles anticipated having either indentured servants or slaves if there was enough land for 3 people to work. This looks to be similar to a lease, for a period of 19 years, or until 1698.

In 1679, Charles would have been 29 or 30 years old, certainly too young to have boys old enough to be working on the plantation.

This was an investment for both men, because the trees provided by Elmore and planted by Dodson wouldn’t bear fruit for several years. Apple trees can produce in 3-6 years and pear in 2-4.

A 30 foot dwelling house certainly isn’t large by today’s standards. Many cabins in Appalachia were smaller, though, and yet they were referred to as “mansion houses.” It wasn’t unusual for a house to be 10 by 16 feet. A 30 foot dwelling house, by comparison, was large. It’s also worth noting that this would suggest that there was no house already existing on the land. This would tell us that Charles’ first home was probably one room width by 30 feet long, or maybe a fraction of that until he could afford to add on. It didn’t have to be 30 feet until 19 years later. Houses were often built in stages.

In the transaction between Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson, the tobacco house was referenced, 50 feet in length, ironically, larger than the house for the residents. The tobacco house would have been a special tobacco barn, constructed for the purpose of drying tobacco, an example shown below.

By code poet – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=407542

On many farms today, including the one I grew up on, the barns are still larger than the houses.

This arrangement was probably a good deal for both Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson – each man benefitting. Peter had someone working his land, planting valuable orchards, building houses and barns, and increasing the value of the land. Charles had access to a plantation large enough to support him and his family without having to actually purchase land. Sounds like a win-win situation, probably for a man with a willingness to work but no cash. Charles could have been an indentured servant himself, just finishing his indenture, which, among other possibilities would explain why he had no cash. But you have to hand it to Charles, he had a lot of spunk and was obviously willing to work hard!!!

The following year, Charles witnessed another transaction for Peter Elmore.

Deed Book Page 282 April 24, 1680 – Henry Dawson to Peter Elmore right in a bill of sale. Witnessed by William Dawson and Charles Dodson

Tobacco

Tobacco was the economic foundation of early Virginia as well as the currency. It was, however, a very labor intensive crop, but much prized in England, as this 1595 woodcut of the first known image of a man smoking tobacco shows. The bad news, for the English, is that tobacco could not successfully be grown there, necessitating importation.

Tobacco quickly depletes the land, requiring about 20 years for fields to lie fallow after a few years use, becoming known as “old fields” in regions where tobacco was farmed. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, a planter could plant tobacco for 3 years, then corn, with deeper roots, for 3 years, then nothing for 20 years. The field could then be used again, meaning that any given planter had to have enough land for it to be unused for tobacco for 23 of 26 years.

Each man, meaning planter, slave or indentured servant could work about 2 acres per year, although the work was backbreaking. That meant, in Charles Dodson’s case, to have 6 acres under production for tobacco at all times meant that he had to have a total of 54 acres, plus land for the house and other areas not farmable. Unfortunately, the 1679 transaction between Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson doesn’t say how much land is involved. Pesky details!

You can click to enlarge images.

The graph above shows a crop rotation example of keeping 6 acres of tobacco, enough for 3 men to tend, under production at all times.

Viewed another way, if a man had 54 acres of cultivable farmland, that means he could have 6 acres at any time under cultivation for tobacco and 6 for corn. Only being able to use one ninth of your land for your primary crop was a very land-intensive investment. Adding in the 3 years for corn production, you can still only use two ninths of your land at any one time.

Tobacco plants shown growing in the garden area of the Museum of Appalachia.

After the tobacco was started in trays, transplanted by hand, groomed, weeded and harvested, it had to be dried, graded and then packed into large wooden barrels or casks called hogsheads for shipping to England. The barrels would then be rolled down the roads from the plantations to the docks. Often in these areas, there would be roads called Rolling Roads, or Rowling Roads. Those were the roads utilized to transport the barrels to the ships – literally rolling them along their way. This means of course that the most desirable plantations were the closest to the river, also meaning that they might have docks where the ships could anchor, facilitating trading and commerce for the plantation owner. The bad news was that these areas tended to be swampy and the first to sustain damage when hurricanes and severe weather hit.

The cartouche on the lower right-hand corner of the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia, below, drawn in 1751, shows tobacco hogsheads being inspected and shipped overseas.

A hogshead was about 3 feet across and had to hold at least 100 pounds of tobacco. The tobacco in the hogshead was graded, and if the tobacco was found to be substandard, the entire hogshead was burned. This was an incredible incentive for planters to produce and ship only the highest quality tobacco.

Son Thomas is Born

The North Farnham Parish register tells us that son Thomas Dodson was born to Charles and Ann Dodson on May 15, 1681. This suggests that Charles was married by at least by sometime in 1680, if Thomas was his first child. However, it’s probable that son Charles Jr. was the first child, or first male child, of Charles Dodson and Ann, pushing the marriage date back to between 1671 and 1676, depending on when Charles Jr. was born.

Thomas is the only child directly attributed to Charles and Ann in the North Farnham Parish church records, which are known to be incomplete. The rest of the records that tell us about Charles’s children are his will written in 1703 and various deeds over the years.

Briery Swamp

Charles witnessed many deeds for neighbors during his lifetime.

Deed Book Page 310 – May 30, 1681 John Harding to Jane Elmore, daughter of Peter Elmore one black cow yearling. Signed with mark. Witness Charles Dodson and Jane Ellmore (signed with mark)

Deed Book Page 330-331 Oct. 23, 1681 from William Fantleroy and wife Katherin to David Fowler 2000 pounds aranoco tobacco in cask 230 acres on the north side of Rappahannock River on the branch of the head of Farnham Neck known by the name of the Briery swamp being part of a greater tract formerly granted to Ambrose Clary pat dates Sept 26, 1667 bounded on corner of John Ingoes below the house and running along the line of said Ingoes land north to a Spanish oak on the line of the aforesaid then N to red oak at a little below the bridge of ye Briery Swamp near Edmund Rylie then NW cross the Briery swamp to a corner tree then NW to another marked read oak by Moartico Creek and then along the old line of William Fantleroy dividend west crossing Briery Swamp to ye place of first began. Signed 1681. Wit Thomas Wills, Charles Dodson. Reg Jan 4, 1681 (82).

This deed witnessed by Charles Dodson puts him in the neighborhood of Briery Swamp.

Briery Swamp is believed to be Marshy Swamp in Richmond County, today. Sadly, the early patents, grants and surveys that do still exist for the Northern Neck do not include drawings of the land, just metes and bounds which make them very difficult to locate on a map today.

The tobacco grown and smoked by Native Americans was too harsh for the English palate. Orinoco (aranoco) tobacco seeds were transported from the Orinoco Valley in Spain and when planted in the rich bottomland of the Northern Neck peninsula, produced a mild yet dark tobacco which quickly became the English favorite.

I took these photos of tobacco flowering in Virginia a few years ago, not realizing at the time how connected my family was to that crop.

Charles Dodson and William Smoot are associated throughout their lives.

Deed Book Page 144-146 I William Smote of Rappahannock County, planter, do stand indebted unto Richard Ellet in the sum of 2400 pounds tobacco and caske to containe the same with all court charges and costs of surveying to be paid at some convenient landing in the parish of Farnham have received a valuable consideration for the same which payment truly to be made I the said William Smothe doe bind ourselves unto the said Ellet. The condition of this obligation is such that is the abovesaid Ellet should loose any part of his land by my survey being land bought of the above said William Smoote that the said Smoot shall make restoration of as much land to the sd Ellet as shall be taken away from him. Provided the said Smooth hath left 200 acres other ways to the said Smoote to restore to the Ellet the abovementioned tobacco and caske to containe the same and for the performance hereof I the aid Smoote to me my heirs and as witness my hand and seal this November 5, 1684. Signed. Witness Charles Dodson, John Ingoe by mark

It looks like the neighbors, William Smoot, John Ingoe and Charles Dodson are all signing as witnesses. It’s always good to know who the neighbors are, because families marry, immigrate and migrate with people they know.

Charles Buys Land

In 1679, Charles transacted with Peter Elmore to improve Elmore’s land, but six and a half years later, Charles had saved enough money to purchase 100 acres of his own.

Deed Book 7, pg 281-283 This indenture made this nine and twentieth day of December in the yeare of our Lord 1685 Between William Thacker and Alice his Wife, Daughter and heire of William Mathews, late of the County of Rappa. in Virginia, Plantr., deced, of the one part and Charles Dodson of the sd County of Rappa., Plantr., of the other part Witnesseth that they the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife for a valuable consideration to them paid have sold unto the sd Charles Dodson all that tract of land being in the Parish of Farnham in the sd County of Rappa: conteyning One hundred acres as by the survey and plat thereof may appear which said hundred acres is part and parcell of a Dividend of land conteyning Eleven hundred Forty and eight acres called or known by the name of Lilleys, lying and being in the County and Parish aforesaid formerly Pattented by the abovesd William Mathews as by the Pattent bearing date the Eighteenth day of November in the year of our Lord One thousand Six hundred Sixty and eight relation being had doth appeare, and the Deeds Pattents and whatsoever touching the same To have and to hold the sd One hundred acres of land with their appertinances unto the sd Charles Dodson his heires to the only proper use of sd Charles Dodson forever with all profitts in as large manner as expressed in the original Pattent of the whole Divident above specified and the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife warrant the said land unto sd Charles Dodson against all persons from or under them and shall acknowledge these presents within three Courts next after the date hereof in Court to be holden for the County of Rappa: aforesd In Witness where of the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife sett their hands and seales

Signed sealed and delivered in the presents of Richard Marshall, William Thacker his marke William Edmonds, Alice Thacker the marke of William Heard, Recognitr in Cur com Rappa. 3 die 9ber 1686 record xxiii die

Know all men by these presents that I William Thacker of the County of Lancaster in Virginia do constitute and appoint my true and well beloved friend, John Ford, to be my true and lawful! Attorney in my place to acknowledge unto Charles Dodson of the County of Rappa: one hundred acres of land in the aforesd. County and ratifying and allowing what my said Attorney shall act and doe in the same In Witness whereof I have put my hand and seale this first day of November 1686

Signed Sealed and delivered in the presents of us Henry Fulton, William Thacker his mark James Kille, Recordr. xxiii die 9hris 1686

This deed is a little more normal – an actual land sale. At Charles death, this is the land he is living on, referred to as “the new dwelling plantation with the 100 acres of land belonging to it” and bequeathed to son “Lambert” who is actually Lambeth.  Lambeth subsequently sells this land to his brother, Thomas, who leaves it to his son, Greenham, who, in 1746, sells it to Jeremiah Greenham (Richmond County Deed book 10-373.)  Tracking this deed forward from Jeremiah might help us locate this land today.

Deed Book May 1686 – Alexander and Elizabeth Newman to William Acers 200 acres part of a 600 acre dividend. Signed wit Thomas Carpenter and Charles Dodson.

Charles witnesses a transaction for neighbors in 1686, then buys 300 acres of additional land for himself in 1687.

Deed Book Page 386-387 – Oct 21, 1687 Samuel Travers and Frances his wife of Rappahannock to Charles Dodson of same, planter, for valuable consideration parcel in Farnham 300 acres by survey part of two dividents of land pat by Col. William Travers decd and commonly known as Traverses Quarter or Old Field and surveyed by one Edward Jonson as his platt dated Dec. 9, 1687. Dodson to pay all quitrents and services which shall become due. Signed by Samuel Travers and Frances his wife (mark) witness Raw. Travers, Elias Robinson (mark) Byran Mullican (mark).

Charles Dodson now owns 400 acres, plus the land under lease from Peter Elmore. Given our calculations, a planter must own 18 acres for one man to keep 2 acres under cultivation with tobacco at all times. Therefore, 400 acres would require about 22 men to work the land. Of course, some of that land would have been taken up by houses, barns and livestock. Other portions may have been too low to cultivate. Still, it was a lot more land than Charles Dodson and his family could work by themselves.

John Lincoln

Charles Dodson apparently had a close relationship or at least a relationship of some sort with John Lincoln. First, we find that John and Charles both assigned by the court to help mediate a dispute.

Court Order Book November 1, 1686 page 1 – ordered Charles Dodson and John Lincolne meet together at the house of Barth: Wood to state and audit ye accompts between Hugh Bell plt and ye said Wood deft and make report thereof to the next court and that the said Wood deliver to the said Wood all his working tooles that are in his custody.

Just a month or so later, John Lincoln dictates his will on Dec. 18, 1686, so his final illness must have come upon him unexpectedly.

Later, in an affidavit of witnesses to the making of the will, the comment was made that John Lincolne, the maker of the will, “would have no other but Charles Dodson as his executor although several insisted that he have his wife.”

And an affidavit by another witness, “John Lincoln…he did urge to have Charles Dodson to be his executor several times when his wife was named.”

Apparently Charles Dodson had other ideas, or there was something bothersome to him about the situation.

Court Order Book Jan. 5, 1686/87 – Charles Dodson in open court relinquished his right of executorship to the last will and testament of John Lincolne decd

Now, the subplots gets even more interesting, because less than 6 months later, which really wasn’t unusual for a remarriage in colonial Virginia, John Lincoln’s widow, Elizabeth, remarries to John Hill. Keep the name of John Hill in the back of your mind. You’ll meet him again in a few minutes.

Court Order Book, Page 22 May 4, 1687 This day John Hill as Marrying the Admistrx. of John Lincolne deced confest judgment to Henry Hartley for Sixteen hundred pounds tobb & caske according to Bill which this Court have ordered to be paid with cost of suit.

Court Order Book Page 160 April 3,1690 – Judgment is granted to William Colston against John HIll as Marrying Elizabeth, the Relict of John Lincolne, for five hundred & sixteen pounds of tobb: upon acct. of Clerkes fees, to be pd with cost of suit als exe.

In 1693, Chares Dodson is again involved with John Hill, this time as a witness to a deed where John Hill sells land on the Northumberland River that apparently shared a property line with the deceased John Lincoln.

Deed Book Page 198/201 Deed 21st day of 7ber 1693 John Hill and Elizabeth his wife planter and John Creele, both of Richmond Co planter, for valuable consideration 60 acres beginning at hickory path going to Bartholomew Woods and a path going to Walter Webb, corner tree of George Devenport and John Hill and along line, main branch of Northumberland River, line of John Linkhorne, 60 acres part of 800 acres patented by John Carpenter, Charles Carpenter and William West and part of it takenup John Hill relaction being thereunto had may more fully appears and the reversion and reversions, deeds, letters escrips touching or concerning the same. John and Elizabeth Hill by marks, Gilbert Croswell witness by mark, Mary Creele by mark and Charles Dodson signature.

Elizabeth Hill wife of John Hill gives power or attorney to John Rankin to acknowledge that she relinquished her dower in that parcel of land.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the Northumberland River on current maps.

It’s unclear whether there was one or two different John Hill’s living at this time. However, John Hill would marry the widow of Charles Dodson after his death. Given Charles Dodson’s close association with John Hill, I suspect that this is the John Hill that would be Charles’ wife’s second husband.

Charles As Estate Executor

Charles served as the executor of more than one estate. About the same time that John Lincoln died, so did Edward Johnson.

Will Book 29 January, 1686/7; Sworn to 27 February, 1686/7 & 2 March, 1686/7.  Edward Johnson of the County of Rappa & Parish of ffarnham. Very Sick of Body but of perfect mind & memory. I leave unto Wm Macanrico three Cowes & one heyfer & one yearling being upon the Plantacon of Ennis Macanrico & one Mare bigg with foale & one bed & what belongeth to it, and all other things that doth belong to me the above ad Cattle to be delivered in kinde when he Cometh to the Age of sixteen & the Mares to Run with encrease from the Day of the Date hereof and do make Charles Dodson my full Executr: to see this my Will fulfilled when my Debts is Satisfied & what is left to Return to Ennis Macanrico. Wit. Danll Everard, Alexander Duke, Peter Elmore

Court Order Book Jan 29, 1686/87 Edward Johnson will, Charles Dodson executor, Peter Elmore witness.

Apparently, all did not go smoothly.

Court Order Book Sept 6, 1687 Rees Evans vs Charles Dodson continued to next court.

Lancaster County Court 12th of October 1687 Whereas at the last Court helde for this County, upon the Peticon of Charles Dodson as Exer, of Edward Johnson (deced), it was then ordered that Agnis, the Wife of William Smith, formerly the Wife of Enis Meconico, late of the County (deced), should render up and deliver unto the said Charles Dodson qualified as aforesaid all that Estate of the said Johnson in her possession of what kinde soever both of goods chattells and Cattle for the use of William, the Sone of the said Meconico, to whome it was bequeathed as by the last Will and Testamt. of the said Johnson it doth appeare, a Probate threof accordingly was granted unto the said Dodson at a Court helde for the County of Rappahannock March the 3d. 1686 and hee haveing given sufficient security to this Court for the said Estate, for the use aforesaid, And the said Dodson complaineing to this Court that the said Agnis (in whose custodie the sd. Estate remaines) in contempt of the aforesd. Order doe therefore hereby order that the Sheriff of this County doe forthwith put the sd. Dodson in possession of all that Estate in her custodie bequeathed as aforesaid; And that the said Agnis bee sworne before the next justice truely to exhibitt the same. James Phillips, William Armes and Mr. John Wade or any two of them are ordered to apprize the said Estate and to bee sworne by the next Justice an Inventory thereof to bee exhibitted to the next Court

Charles in Court

Filing suit in colonial Virginia wasn’t so much a last resort as it seemed to be a way of life.

Court Order Book May 3 1688 order granted Francis Moore against Charles Dodson.

Court Order Book May 3 1688 Judgement granted to Nicholas Ward against Charles Dodson for 1000 pounds tobacco and caske upon obligation to be paid with cost of suit.

Charles Dodson served on a jury twice in 1688.

Going to court was as much entertainment as it was a necessity. Business was transacted and friendships cemented, and sometimes ended, I’m sure.

Sometimes men witnessed deeds of their family and neighbors. Other times, I think the witness was whoever happened to be at the pub, or at court the day the transaction happened to occur.

Deed Book Page 138-140 George Vinson to John Mills, James Gained and Charles Dodson (signature) witness.July 14, 1691

Deed Book Page 138-140 John Mills to William Richardson, John Hooper, Charles Dodson (signature) and Thomas Salsby witness Sept 12, 1692

In 1693, Charles purchases additional land.

Deed Book 2 Jan 1693/4 Samuel Travers and Frances his wife of Richmond Co to Charles Dodson, for 10000 lb tobo and cask, 500 acres, “being part of a patent granted to Mr Thomas Chitwood and George Haselock bearing Date 9th day of July 1662”. This land lying on the main branch of Totuskey Creek beginning white oak in the fork of the said branch…parcel of land sold by said Travers to Daniel Everett to head of another branch…crossing mouth of the same, adj land sold by said Travers to Dan’l Everett. Entry includes “either of our heirs in by from or under Col’n William Travers Father of me the said Samuel Travers”. Signed: Sam’l Travers, Fran Travers. Witness: Peter Hall, Gilbert Hornby (or Fornby), Mary x Wollard. Recorded 20 Jan 1693/4.

Order Book Page 108 Jan. 3, 1693/4 Ordered deed ack by Capt. Samuel Travers to Charles Dodson be recorded

This brings Charles’ land holdings to 900 acres plus the land he leases from Elmore. 900 acres would take 50 men to work the land, if all was farmable.

The Everett family is found adjoining the land of Charles’ grandson, George Dodson, when he sells his land in 1756 that he inherits from Charles’ son, Thomas. This same land would be owned by Dodson men for 3 generations.

Charles Junior Emerges in the Records

Charles Dodson Jr. is first found in conjunction with the 1693 transaction above, when Frances Travers signs power of attorney to John Taverner to relinquish her dower rights. Charles Dodson Jr. and Sr. both witness that transaction, suggesting that Charles Jr. is now age 21, but certainly no less than 16. Therefore Charles Dodson Jr. was likely born about 1672 or no later than 1677, pushing the marriage of Charles Dodson Sr. and Ann back to between 1671 and 1676.

Deed Book Jan. 2, 1693 Frances Travers assigns Power of Attorney to Mr. John Taverner to represent her in court to acknowledge “a certain parcell of land containing Fiver hundred acres sold by my Husband, Samuel Travers, unto Charles Dodson of this County by Deed and purpose. Charles Dodson Jr. signed with mark and Charles Dodson Sr. signed with signature. May 1, 1693

Another deed file the same day also shows Charles Jr. with his father and the Ann presumed to be his mother. Unfortunately, Charles Jr. also married an Anne whose surname is unknown, so it’s unclear whether the Ann below is Ann the mother or Anne the wife.

Deed Book Jan. 2, 1693 I Easter Mills of Richmond County in Virginia do constitute my truly & loving friend, Mr. Edward Read, of the abovesd County to be my lawfull Attorney for me as well in all respects as if myselfe were personally present to acknowledge a Deed made by my Husband, John Mills, & myself unto William Richardson of the abovesd. County of Richmond for One hundred Twenty & five acres of Land in the abovesd. County as Witness my hand and seale this first of May 1693 Easter Mills her marke

Being present Ann Dodson, Charles Dodson Junr., Charles Dodson Senr., Recorded: Cur Corn Richmond 17 die Maii 1693

Nancy, The Brown Cow

While Charles Dodson Jr. was old enough to witness transactions, his brother, Thomas was still a child. Thomas was born in May of 1681 according to the Farnham Church Parish records, making him about 12 when his father deeded him a brown cow named Nancy.

Deed Book Page 165 Charles Dodson convey to beloved son Thomas Dodson brown cow called by the name of Nancy marked with a crop and swallow forke on the left eare and a crop on the right eare together with all her female increase being in exchange with him my said son Thomas for one cow given him by his Godfather Peter Elmore. July 31, 1693 signed, wit William Ward and William Colston

This very interesting transaction tells us that Peter Elmore is Thomas’s godfather, but it does not say grandfather. Since a relationship was identified, if Peter Elmore was Thomas’s grandfather, it surely would have said grandfather, not godfather, since a grandfather is a blood relative and a godfather can be anyone, related or not. It does imply a close relationship between the families, but not necessarily a blood relationship.

This deed does cause me to wonder why the deed was filed at all. There was a cost associated with filing a deed, not to mention the aggravation. Why write this cow-swap up as a deed instead of just letting it be a barnyard transaction?

Clearly, there is something afoot or ahoof that we don’t and never will know.

Hurricane

The History of Northern Neck, Virginia tells us that The Royal Society of London reported that on October 29, 1693, “here happened a most violent storm in Virginia which stopped the course of ancient channels and made some where there never were any.”

Charles Dodson was probably very grateful that his land was not directly on the Rappahannock River.

Totuskey Creek and Ridge Road

These deeds put Charles’ neighbors on Totuskey Creek in proximity to Ridge Road.

Deed Book Page 29-31 May 20, 1694 William Richardson, planter, and Elizabeth wife to John Henly planter, for consideration 50 acres… Thomas Dusin line, part of dividend purchased of John Mills upon a main branch of Totuskey. Signed by marks, wit Ann Dodson signed with plus, Charles Dodson Jr signed with mark CD and Charles Dodson Sr signed.

Deed Book Page 29-31 May 20, 1694 Elizabeth Richardson POA to Thomas Dusin to ack Deed. Signed with mark, wit Ann Dodson by mark, Charles Dodson Jr by mark and Charles Dodson Sr.

Deed Book Page 32-35 June 1, 1694 William Norris and Elizabeth wife of Northumberland Co to Samuel Jones land purchased of Thomas Dusin 52 acres…line of John Ockley, divides land of William Richardson. Signed my mark, wit Henry Hartley, John Hill, John Hendley all signed with mark and Charles Dodson 94 (sic).

It’s interesting that Charles signed his name with the year.

Deed Book Page 32-35 June 1, 1694 Elizabeth Norris POA to Thomas Duzen to ack deed in court. Signed with mark, wit Henry Hartly, John Hill, signed with mark, and Charles Dodson.

Deed Book Page 35-37 June 1, 1694 Thomas Dusin and wife Susanna or Northumberland Co to William Norris paid and 2 hilling hoes to be paid yearly by the said Norris unto the said Duzen so long as he and his wife shall live and if either of them shall die then Norris shall pay but one hilling hoe and to give the said Dusin one falline axe…100 acres by estimation in Richmond Co on branches of Totuskey Creek adj land where said Dusin now lives. Beginning at red oak diving land of William Norris and Thomas Duzen up the branch to corner tree standing near line of William Mathews along Mathews line to the road then to another white oak by the road, then along a line of John Oakley formerly belonging to Thomas Madison then to a gum corner then across the Ridge Road, down line of William Richardson. Signed with marks, Henry Hartley witness, John Hill with mark, Charles Dodson 94 (sic)

I’ve never seen a hilling hoe as a form of monetary exchange before.

Deed Book Page 35-37 June 31, 1694 Power of atty Susan Duson of Richmond Co to appoint my trusty and well beloved friend William Richardson of same to be my attorney to acknowledge the above deed unto William Norris. Wit Henry Hartley, John Hirlly, Charles Dodson. Book 2, page 37

Deed Book Page 144-146 Thomas Dusin and wife Susanna 1600 pounds tobacco in case to Thomas Southerne tract 30 acres part of a patent granted to Thomas Dusin bearing date 21 7ber 1687 at the head of Totuskey branches beginning corner of Old Cone Path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneale along line divides the land of Mr. Spencer and above said Dewsins land, corner belonging to William Mathews, along line dividing land formerly belonging to John Henly and Dusin signed Feb. 26, 1694/5. Signed Wit William Norris, Elizabeth Norris by marks, Charles Dodson signed.,

Deed Book Susanna Dusin POA to William Norris to ack deed. Signed with mark. Wit Charles Dodson signed with mark, William Brokenbrough signed Feb 26, 1694/5

I wish I knew where the Old Cone Path was today.

Ridge Road (also known as 600) today runs from Richmond Road south to the intersection with History Land Highway in the southern part of the county.

Totuskey Creek, today is to the upper left, the spiderlike creeks.

However, we also know that Charles Dodson owned the land referred to as Rich Neck, north of Richmond Road (360), still along 600, probably still called Ridge Road at that time. 600 or Ridge Road dead ends on the north with Oldham Road.

Above, you can see the entire area from the village of Oldhams, past Rich Neck, crossing Richmond Road, on down 600 passing the spiderveins of feeder creeks of Totuskey Creek.

Matthew Ozgrippin and Forcible Entry

In 1695, Charles Dodson did something that sounds very un-Charles Dodson-like.

Court Order Book Page 82 – Aug. 9, 1695 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Osgrippin is dismissed the plt not appearing to prosecute.

Charles Dodson had some kind of a dispute with Matthew Ozgrippin or Ozgriffin. From the entry above, it looks and sounds like a “normal” suit in early Virginia, but it apparently escalated into something very different.

Court Order Cook Page 113 Jan. 1, 1695/6 Whereas it was represented to this court by a warrant from Capt. William Barber and verdict of a jury thereupon that a forcible entry was made upon Matthew Ozgrifin in his possession by Charles Dodson and for that the said warrant and declaration thereupon was by accident mislayed by the clerk and therefore said matter cannot come to trial. The court for prevention of any further force to be committed by the said Charles do order that the said Charles Dodson do give in bond with good and sufficient security for his good abarance towards the said Matthew Ozgrifin and said matter be returned next court.

And of course, as luck would have it, the papers were missing in a volatile case.

Court Order Book Page 121 March 4, 1695/6 Whereas a warrant and verdict of a jury together with other papers relating to a force committed by Charles Dodson and others upon the posession of Matthew Ozgrippen at last January court held for this county was conveyed away from the court table by Mr. Robert Brent amongst his books and other papers and the said Robert Brent being since dead and by reason of the badness of the weather and other accidents that the said clerk of court has not opportunity to procure them again and for that the said Charles Dodson hath not made his appearance at the said fort to answer the fact aforesaid…for prevention therefore of any other or further force to be committed the court ordered the sheriff do take the body of the said Charles Dodson into safe custody and him so to keep until he shall give bond with good security and sufficient security for his aberrance towards the said Matthew Ozgrippin and further ordered the clerk do use all effectual means for the recovery of the said papers.

And then the lawyer died.

And the weather was bad.

This is beginning to sound like a country and western song!!

Court Order Book Page 124 April 1, 1696 Warrant from under the hand of Capt. William Barber one of the majesties of the county granted unto Matthew Ozgrippin complaining that a forcible entry was made by Charles Dodson upon his possession, the sheriff was ordered to summon a good and lawful jury of the neighbourhood to make enquiry of the force committed, which said jury being impaneled and sworn returned with the following verdict, viz, “We of the jury find a forcible entry made by Charles Dodson and the verdict being returned to this court for judgment thereon, the court having fined the said Charles Dodson 1000 pounds of tobacco for the force committed as aforesaid.”

It appears that Charles did, indeed, commit forcible entry. From the previous statements, it sounds like he wasn’t alone.

Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Nonsuit granted to Matthew Ozgrippen against Charles Dodson, he not appearing, to be paid with costs of suit.

Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Nonsuit granted to Nicholas Liscomb against Charles Dodson, he not appearing to be paid with costs of suit.

Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Order granted against sheriff to Nicholas Liscomb for the nonappearance of Charles Dodson according to declaration.

Next, Charles doesn’t show up for court.

Court Order Book Page 143 June 4, 1696 Reference is granted between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and Charles Dodson def till next court.

If you thought this was over, it wasn’t. By now, Charles is probably hopping mad…again!

Court Order Book Page 143 June 4, 1696 action of waste brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Ozgripin is dismissed for that the plt hath not discharged the costs of a former nonsuit.

An action of waste addresses a change in the condition of a property brought about by the current tenant that damages or destroys the value of that property. Most likely, Matthew Ozgrippin was a tenant on one of Charles Dodson’s farms. It’s also possible that Charles has sublet the land he leased from Peter Elmore.

Court Order Book Page 144 June 4, 1696 Action of trespass brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Ozgrippin is dismissed for that the plt hath not discharged the costs of a former nonsuit.

Now, Charles is in trouble with the court for not paying the costs of the original suit.

Trespass in this type of situation would probably be related to nonpayment of rent or fees, or perhaps that Matthew was utilizing ground not included in his lease.

Court Order Book Page 144 June 4, 1696 Attachment granted to Charles Dodson against the estate of Nicholas Liscumb according to declaration returnable.

Court Order Book Page 151 August 5, 1696 – Mr. Joshua David appeared attorney for Charles Dodson.

Charles hires an attorney.

And least we’re going to finally find out what happened.

Court Order Book Page 151 August 5, 1696 Matthew Ozgrippen brought his action of trespass upon battery in this court against John Rankin, John Magill and Charles Dodson and declared that he and the said Matthew being the peace of our sovereign lord the Kings Majesty at or near his own dwelling house situate near the head of Maraticco Creek in the county aforesaid in the month of December last past and year of 1695 and the said John Rankin, John Magill and Charles Dodson assisting and abetting the said complaintant with force and arms and contrary to the peace and did assault and beat with his fists striking him several and divers blows so that the said compl was forced to retiree to his house for the better security of his life being then in danger and that the said Rankin, Magill and Dodson the said compl with like force and arms pursiing did break open the door of the said house and then and there the compl his wife and children did beat and bruise with several and divers wounds and other outrageous and unlawful actions did trespasses the said deft did to him then and there do and commit and throwing water on his bulked tobacao destroying his corn and from his said house the complt expelling and putting out whereby the comply sayeth he is damnifying and damage hath sustained to the value of 40,000 pounds tobacco which he prayeth judgement with cost. And the said Charles Dodson one of the deft aforesaid in proper person comes into court and sayeth that he is not guilty in manner and form as in and by the said declaration it is set forth and declared for trial thereof. Jury summoned and brought verdict, “We the jury find for the plt and that the plt is damnifyed 1500 pounds of tobacco with verdict the court have confirmed and order that the said Charles Dodson pay unto the said Matthw Ozgrippin 1500 pounds tobacco together with costs of suit.”

Matthew asked for 40,000 pounds tobacco and the court awarded him 1,500 pounds. This sounds like the kind of lawsuit where everyone walks away unhappy.

The head of Moratico Creek could be either of the two branches near the red pin. Farnham Creek is the large creek above and to the left of the pin.

Court Order Book Page 153 August 5, 1696 Matthew Ozgrippin together with William Norris this day in court did ack themselves indebted to William Tayloe in the sum of 3000 pounds tobacco to be paid unto the said Tayloe in case the said Matthew shall not answer an appeal from an order of the court granted unto him by Charles Dodson.

Court Order Book Page 154 August 5, 1696 Attachment granted last court against estate of Nicholas Liscumb to Charles Dodson according to declaration in continued.

Court Order Book Page 154 August 5, 1696 Foreasmuch as the sheriff of the county made appear to the court that he lawfully summoned John Rankin an evidence in the suit depending between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and John Magill. John Rankin and Charles Dodson def at the suite of the said Charles and the said John not appearing the court have fined the said John Rankin according to act of assembly and order that the same be paid unto the said Charles Dodson alias execution.

Apparently, Matthew sued the other two men as well, although he eventually drops at least one, stating that the “matter is in the past now.”  Not so with Charles Dodson.

Court Order Book Page 155 August 5, 1696 – Foreasmuch as the sheriff of the county made appear to the court that he lawfully summoned John Magill an evidence in the suit depending between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and John Magill. John Rankin and Charles Dodson def at the suite of the said Charles and the said John not appearing the court have fined the said John MaGill according to act of assembly and order that the same be paid unto the said Charles alias execution.

Court Order Book Page 171 Oct. 7, 1696 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Nicholas Liscumb dismissed the plt not appearing to prosecute.

Charles doesn’t show up, again, even though he is the plaintiff.

Court Order Book Page 195 Nov. 5, 1696 Petition of William Colston clerk ord that said Colston be allowed and paid out of the fines leveyed upon Charles Dodson for his force committed up on the possession of Matthew Ozgrippin 180 pounds tobacco being fees arising due to him in the prosecution of said force.

Court Order Book Page 244 June 3, 1697 Order brought against Charles Dodson by Matthew Ozgrippin dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

And so, the drama is finally over in June of 1697, almost two years after it started in court in August 1695, and 18 months after Charles committed forcible entry and apparently assaulted Matthew Ozgrippen.

This behavior of Charles is so aberrant from anything else we’ve seen that it calls into question why. I have to wonder if the problem was so outrageous that Charles resorted to equally as outrageous behavior.

Charles was about 45 years old in 1695, no spring chicken by any means and not likely to be a young hothead, lacking maturity. This type of behavior calls into question things like one’s daughter’s integrity, but Ozgrippen was married with children.

The what is disclosed, but never why.

We will clearly never know the true backstory, other than knowing that Charles was extremely angry for some reason and the two men with him appear to share Charles’ anger or outrage.

The Elmore Lease

According to the July 10, 1679 Elmore lease, Charles Dodson’s lease on Elmore’s land expired in 19 years, which would have been July 10, 1698.

At this time, Charles was supposed to have built a house and barn, planted orchards and fenced the area.

We don’t hear any more about this land, but if Charles vacated in 1698 as stipulated, that might explain his reference in his 1702/03 will to his new house on his plantation.

I’m sure when he was a young man first leasing that land, he never anticipated that 19 years later, he would be in the twilight years of his life.

Back to Normal Lawsuits

For the next year and a half after the Ozgrippin drama ends, Charles Dodson keeps a low profile. He doesn’t sue anyone, doesn’t get sued by anyone, doesn’t sit on a jury, doesn’t witness deeds and doesn’t appear in any court records, but in late 1698, he appears again.

Court Order Book Page 355 Nov. 4, 1698 Attachment granted to Charles Dodson against estate of Thomas Yates.

Court Order Book Page 373 March 1, 1698/9 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Thomas Yates dismissed, the plt not appearing to prosecute.

Court Order Book Page 387 March 3, 1698/9 Action brought by Charles Dodson against William Cambell is dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.

I’m beginning to wonder about this trend of Charles not showing up in court after filing suit. It is one way to have a suit dismissed, but we don’t see evidence of Charles doing this earlier. Does make one wonder.

Specifically, I’m wondering if Charles, in his mid-late 40s has suffered small strokes or maybe what today would be known as a traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries are known to create changes in behavior and impulsiveness. Something like being thrown from a horse could cause that kind of injury. That fact that he is suddenly not interacting with others as someone who has previously been trusted and responsible, after having done so for many years, makes me wonder if his neighbors were all aware.

The Deposition and More Goodies

Richmond Co., VA Miscellaneous Records, 1699-1724 TLC Genealogy Page 4 – Deposition of Charles Dodson Sr. aged about 50 years that about last April 16 being on board the Doublin Merchant in company with John Macgill he did hear the said John Macgill agree with Mr. Francis Moore, Merchant of the said shop, for a man servant named John Conner who had 6 years to serve by indenture and that the said Dodson read the said indenture and further says not. Signed Charles Dodson Recorded March 6, 1699

I called the Richmond County clerk’s office on 4-17-2017 and they don’t know where to look for this document. I was hoping to obtain a copy because it carries the actual signature of Charles Dodson. The Library of Virginia Chancery Records Index shows Richmond County chancery documents beginning in 1748.

Here, we find Charles Dodson in the company of John MacGill once again. Thank goodness for this deposition, which tells us approximately when Charles was born.

The Dublin Merchant with Francis Moore as Captain was a well know merchant ship that traveled back and forth from England and Ireland, transporting tobacco from Virginia and in return, bringing indentured servants.

At least one of those indentured servants worked on Charles Dodson’s plantation.

Court Order Book Page 408 June 7, 1699 Thomas Lane, servant to Charles Dodson, being presented.

When an underage servant became indentured, they were often presented to the court in order to have their age adjudged. This served two purposes. First, the length of the indenture sometimes was dependent on the age of the servant and second, their “legal age” as determined by the court also determined when the “master” had to start paying tithes on the servant, which typically happened for a white male at age 16.

Charles Dodson still “owns” part of this man’s time when his estate is filed in 1706, so apparently this man’s indenture was longer than the traditional 7 years.

Court Order Book Page 473 Sept. 7, 1699 Nonsuit granted against Charles Dodson Sr. to James Lovett the said Dodson not appearing to prosecute and to be paid with cost of suit.

Charles Dodson didn’t show up, AGAIN, and just about the time I think that maybe something is REALLY wrong with him, he’s on a jury. Go figure!!!

Court Order Book Page 485 Oct. 5, 1699 Mr. Charles Dodson on Jury

Of course, conceivably the jury member could have been Charles Jr., but it’s unlikely given that he didn’t yet own land and it the record doesn’t say Jr.

Court Order Book Page 510 Nov. 2, 1699 Order granted against the sheriff to Charles Dodson for nonappearance of William Cambell according to declaration. Attachment hereon granted to sheriff.

Court Order Book Page 510 Nov. 2, 1699 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Mathew Ozgrippin is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Not Ozgrippin again…4 years later. I’d wager Ozgrippin is still Charles Dodson’s tenant, even after their altercation.

Court Order Book Page 511 Nov. 2, 1699 Action brought by Charles Dodson Sr. against William Norris is dismissed the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Page 11 January 4, 1699/1700 Judgement granted to Charles Dodson assignee of John Bertrand against William Cambell for 531 pounds good tobacco in case upon bill to be paid with cost of suit.

Court Order Book Page 60 October 2, 1700 Ordered Mr. Charles Dodson Sr., Mr. Geo Davenport and Denis Commeron or any 2 of them some time between this and the next court to meet at the house of John Gill late decd (now of Henry Adcock) and inventory and appraise estate. Capt. John Tarply requested to administer oath.

Hmmm, I wonder if this is really John Gill or if it’s John McGill.

Court Order Book Page 68 Oct. 3, 1700 Order granted against the sheriff to William Norris, assignee of Charles Dodson for the non appearance of James Ritchins.

Court Order Book Page 82 – March 6, 1700/01 Judgement granted to William Norris assignee of Charles Dodson against James Kitchin for 450 pounds tobacco in caske upon bill to be paid with cost of suit.

Court Order Book Page 106 May 8, 1701 Order granted against sheriff to Capt. John Lancaster for the non-appearance of Charles Dodson, Sr.

Charles doesn’t show up for court again.

Court Order Book Page 128 Dec. 4, 1701 Action brought by Capt. John Lancaster against Charles Dodson Sr. is dismist ye plt not prosecuting.

Charles Writes His Will

Charles Dodson’s will was written on 11 January 1702/3 and probated on 6 February 1705/06 at North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Colony of Virginia. It’s rather unusual that a will would be written two years before the individual died, but apparently something happened to Charles, caused him to be injured or ill and anticipate that he was going to die, but then he recovered for about 3 years.

In The name of God amen, I Charles Dodson being sick and weake of body but in sound and Good disposing memory praise be given to God for the same do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and forme following that is to say first & principally I resigne my soul into the merciful hands of almighty God my Greator assuredly hoping through the merritts of my blessed Saviour to obtaine Remission of all my sins and my body I Committ to the Earth whence it was taken to be Decently buryed by the Discretion of my Executrix herein after named and as for the worldly Goods and Estate the Lord hath Lent me I dispose therof as followeth.

I Give bequeath to my son Charles Dodson the plantation formerly call Coll Travers quarter with a hundred and fifty acres of Land to him and to the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if the above Charles Dodson should dye without any male heirs that then the Land should Returne to the next heire of the Dodson.

Secondly. I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Dodson a plantation seated in a neck formerly called the Rich neck with a hundred and fifty acres of Land to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body forever and if the above said Thomas Dodson should dye without any male that then the Land should return to the next heire of the Dodson.

Thirdly. I Give and bequeath to my son Bartho: Rich’d Dodson the plantation that Thomas Reeves liveth on knowne by the name of oake neck with one hundred and fifty acres of Land binding upon the Land formerly belonging to Daniele Everard from the head to the foot to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body and if he should dye without male heires that then the Land to returne to the next heires.

Fourthly. I Give and bequeath to my son William Dodson the Plantation in hickory neck with one hundred and fifty acres of land to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if no male heire appeare then to Returne to the next heire of the Dodson the said Land to bind upon brother Bartho Richd Dodson Land from the head to the foot

Fifthly. I Give and bequeath to my son John Dodson two hundred acres of Land it being part of hickory neck and of Indian Cabin neck binding upon his brother William Dodson to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body and if the above said Wm Dodson should die without any male heire that then the Land Returne to the next of the Dodson

Sixthly. I Give and bequeath to my son Lambert Dodson my new Dwelling plantation with the hundred acres of Land belonging to it to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if no male heire appears that then the Land to Returne to the next of the Dodson.

Seventhly. I Give and bequeath to my Deare and Loving Wife Anne Dodson and my daughters Anne Dodson and Elizabeth Dodson all my moveable Estate of what kind soever within and without to be Equally Divided betweene them.

Eighthly. My desire is that none of the Land out of the name might be sold Except one Brother selleth to another and if no male appeareth by none of my sons then my Daughters may Inheritt the Land.

Lastly. And all the Rest and Residue of my Estate Goods and Chattells not herein before bequeathed after my Debts and funrall Expenses discharged I do give and bequesth unto my Deare and Loving wife Anne Dodson whome I do make sole Exectrix of this my Last will and Testament Revoking all other wills by me heretofore made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seale the 11th day of Jan. one thousand seven hundred two three. Charles Dodson Sen (Seal) Proved in Richmond County Court by the oath of Christopher Petty the 6th day of Febry. 1705 and by the oath of John Beckwith the 6th day of March following & Recorded.

signed Charles Dodson

Test J Sherlock CI Cur

Richmond County, Virginia – Wills

Charles will did not have any witnesses, which was rather unusual but perhaps suggested the will was made hurriedly, with the expectation that he might not live long.  The will was proven by Christopher Petty on February 6, 1705/06 and John Beckwith on March 6, 1705/06 even though they apparently did not witness the creation of signing of the will itself.

Charles Sells Land to Sons

Charles wrote his will on January 11th, but apparently 3 weeks or so later, he felt better and realizing that he was not going to die imminently, decided to deed the land he was leaving to both Charles and Thomas instead of waiting for nature to take its course. I would surely love to know what happened to Charles in January of 1702/03.

Deed Book Page 208-210 February 2, 1702 Charles Dodson of North Farnham Parish Richmond Co for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Charles Dodson Jr of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Charles Dodson Jr or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1702 Book 3 page 104

Deed Book Page 210-212 February 2, 1702 Charles Dodson of North Garnham Parish Richmond Co for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Thomas Dodson of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck that Charles Dodson Jr. now lives on. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Thomas Dodson or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1703 Book 3 page 105

The area called Rich Neck, today is about 8000 feet across the bottom of the arc created by Marshy Swamp

One mile square by one mile is 640 acres. This area is roughly that size, which means Charles Dodson’s 300 acre property would have encompassed about half of area, if his property were inside the arc. We know it did not fit inside the arc exactly, because a branch separates the land of the two brothers, but we know this is the general area because of the Oldham Community, Oldham Road, the Lyells community and the Lyells Chapel Baptist Church just beneath Rich Neck.

Charles son, Thomas Dodson eventually sold the land to the Lyell family and Thomas’s daughter married an Oldham. So, we know that we’re looking at Charles Dodson’s land, we just don’t know exactly where the boundaries were located. Running the deeds forward in time to current or until a landmark is recognized, such as a church, could locate Charles’ land exactly.

Court Order Book Page 221 Feb 3 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Thomas Dodson and ordered recorded.

Court Order Book Page 221 Feb 3 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Charles Dodson and ordered recorded.

Charles was adamant that this land was forever to be Dodson land, but that determination made it particularly difficult for his sons to sell the land, to anyone, for any reason, except their brothers.

The Rest of Charles Land

We know that Charles Dodson owned at least 600 acres in total, based on the deeds we have found. Deeds equaling 300 acres are missing.

Charles’s will indicates that he owned 900 acres of land that he left to his sons, as follows:

  • 300 acres – Rich Neck, 150 each to Thomas and Charles Jr.
  • 150 acres – Oak Neck, to Bartholomew Richard
  • 150 acres – Hickory Neck, to William
  • 200 acres – Indian Cabin Neck, to John
  • 100 acres – new dwelling plantation, to Lambert

Other than Rich Neck, I’ve been unable to locate the other descriptions on a current map, today, but tracking the land forward in time through sales might be able to determine locations. We do know, generally, that Charles land fell in the following region along Totuskey Creek and its branches including Rich Neck.

At least one of these fields, or probably several, near Rich Neck belonged to Charles Dodson.

Interestingly, the land that eventually belonged to Charles Dodson, according to this map in the book “Richmond County, Virginia 1692-1992 A Tricentennial Portrait” by Robert R. Harper for the Richmond County Tricentennial Commission, was occupied by the Rappahannock Indians until between 1674 and 1676.

Charles Cheats the Grim Reaper

Just when you think the curtain is drawing on the last act, it isn’t, after all.

Court Order Book Page 332 June 7, 1704 Ordered Charles Dodson, William Smoote and George Devenport or any 2 of them appraise estate of James Gilbert. Sworn plus Mary Gilbert executrix.

Charles is apparently still trusted enough to be ordered to appraise an estate inventory and to serve on a jury.

Court Order Book Page 336 June 7, 1704 William Smoote and Charles Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book Page 344 Aug. 2, 1704 Will of Thomas Southerne and proved by oaths of Christopher Petty and Charles Dodson

Charles’s sons, now in their 20s, and neighbor Thomas Durham, somewhat a legendary bad boy, seem to be misbehaving together.

Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 Charles Dodson Jr and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.

Court Order Book Page 34 February 7, 1704/05 Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.

Looks like they recruited Peter Elmore too.

Court Order Book Page 75 October 4, 1705 Will of Eve Smith presented to the court by son Abraham Goad with oaths of William Dodson, Charles Dodson Sr. and Anne Dodson.

Court Order Book Page 83 October 4, 1705 Action brought by William Lambert against Charles Dodson is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Charles Dodson’s Estate

Some time between October 4th 1705 and February 6th 1706, Charles Dodson died.

Court Order Book February 6, 1705/06 Will of Charles Dodson proved by oath of Christopher Petty

Court Order Book Page 137 March 6, 1705/06 Will of Charles Dodson proved by   oath of John Beckwith.

Charles’s wife remarried to John HIll before July 3.

Court Order Book Page 171 July 3, 1706 Upon petition of John Hill and Anne his wife, exec of the will of Charles Dodson decd ordered that John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard Whtie or any 3 of them meet at the house of John Hill and inventory and appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. All sworn plus John Hill and Anne, his wife.

Charles Dodson estate inventory was filed with the court on Oct. 17, 1706, as follows:

  • Feather bed and bedstead and parcel of sheets and one blanket and one rugg – 0600
  • One flock bed and paire of blankets one sheet and rug and bolster and bedstead – 0500
  • One saw and six reep hooks and one paire of old pestells holsters and one old chest and one old bill book – 0200
  • Eight chairs – 0800
  • Two wooden chairs – 0100
  • One chest of drawers and table – 1000
  • Two chest – 0250
  • One small table couch – 0150
  • One warming pan two paire of tongs and one box iron – 0200
  • One pair hilliards – 0250
  • One super table cloth and 12 napkins – 0200
  • Four old napkins and one old table cloth – 0050
  • One feather bed curtains and valens one blankett one pair of sheets and two pillows – 1100
  • A parcel of old books – 0150
  • Ole looking glass and lantron? – 0050
  • One old flock bed 2 blankets rug bolster and pillows – 0400
  • 2 spinning wheels – 0150
  • 3 pots 3 pothooks and 3 pot hangers one spit and one iron pestell – 0450
  • 99 weight of pewter – 0950
  • One bellmettle pestle and mortar 0 0700
  • 7.5 pounds of brass – 0130
  • One servant man 3 years and 8 months to serve – 2200
  • One pare of small hilliards and two smoothing iron and two cutting knives and skewers – 0150
  • One mare and two horses – 2400
  • Parcel of old iron – 0100
  • Pair of cart wheels – 0060
  • Old crosscut saw – 0150
  • One saddle and pillow or pillion – 0120
  • 3 cows and 3 years old – 1800
  • One cow and calfe – 0500
  • 6 two yeare olde – 1200
  • One steere of 5 years old – 0500
  • 2 barren cows and heifer and one calfe – 1400
  • 3 old sheep – 0300
  • 3 lambs – 0200

Total 18780

Signed John Rankin, William Smoot and Richard R. White (his mark)

William Smoot was there in the beginning, and he was there in the end too.

I absolutely love estate inventories, because they tell us exactly what was in the household and on the farm when the man died. Inventories included everything owned by the couple, because the man was presumed to own all property except for the wife’s clothes and any land deeded to her, explicitly stating without the husband’s involvement, after their marriage. The wife was entitled to one third of the value of the estate unless he provided for more in his will. However, the actual value was established by the sale of the inventory items, not by the inventory itself.

Charles’ estate is remarkable in a few different ways. First, because there are no slaves – and this man owned 900 acres of land before he gave 300 acres to his oldest sons, leaving him with 600 acres. How did he farm this land? Perhaps he first had tenants, like Ozgrippin and then his sons began farming as soon as possible.

Second, there are no plows, axes, wagons or carriages. There is only one man’s saddle and no woman’s saddle. Perhaps Charles last 100 acres where his new house was built wasn’t an active plantation.

There were a total of 3 horses, and no oxen. Oxen worked the fields. Clearly, Charles Dodson was not farming. I suspect he leased land to others and accepted a percentage of the crops as payment. In the vernacular of the day, Charles had certainly achieved the American Dream.

Of the estates I’ve worked with in the Northern Neck families, this is the first one with any hint of opulence. The table cloth and 12 napkins would have certainly been for entertaining. There is also an old table cloth and a couch, which is certainly not a piece of furniture of necessity.

There were a total of 10 chairs, but only three beds, and only one was a feather bed. One of the beds had bed curtains,

By Allot rené – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19091796

I remember on a tour of a period home several years ago being told that bedcurtains were both for privacy and warmth.

Servants came and went in the bedchamber, and Charles Dodson had at least one servant, although we really don’t know if this man, Charles Lane, worked in the house or on the farm. I’m betting, on the farm, where labor translated into tobacco, the currency of early Virginia – except Charles estate didn’t include any tobacco. Perhaps it had not yet been planted for 1706.

One bed was a feather bed, considered a luxury, but the second and third were a flock beds. Flock was a bed filled with flocks or locks of coarse wool or pieces of cloth cut up finely, according to the dictionary. I found a wonderful article about beds and bedding here, including pictures.

A bedstead was considered to be the bed without the mattress, typically with slats or rope beneath the mattress, reaching from side to side of the bedstead.

A bolster was a stuffed cylinder of fabric that lay beneath the bottom sheet beneath the pillows at the top of the bed.

Blankets were woolen, but bed rugs, although none survive today, were decorative for on top of the blankets.

A warming pan typically means a pan to warm the bed, generally filled with rocks and heated in the fireplace.

However, there are no chamber pots listed.

A smoothing iron was a clothing iron, heated in the fireplace and then used to iron the clothes. Little did I realize I actually own a child’s replica smoothing iron, at least I think it’s a child’s replica.

Above, the base of one iron and a second, smaller iron that is about two and a half inches long, assembled. Below, the smaller iron comes apart into two pieces, the bottom for heating and the top for putting on the bottom so that, hopefully, the ironer’s hands won’t be burned.

This iron did not descend through my father’s family line, so it certainly isn’t Charles Dodson’s.

The spinning wheels certainly weren’t tools used by Charles, but the looking glass may have been a shared resource. Looking glasses were scarce and status symbols.

Charles had cattle and sheep, but no pigs.

There were no kettles or cooking utensils listed other than the 3 pots, although pothooks were accounted for. There were no plates, although the 99 pewter could include plates. Forks would not have been pewter.

There were also no candleholders or other utensils.

And lastly, there was no tobacco, which is what makes me think that Charles leased or rented his land – probably to his sons.

Do you ever ask yourself what you would want from an ancestor’s estate?

In this case, I think I would want the parcel of old books. That, I think, might be the key to understanding more about Charles. I did notice that there is no Bible, although he might have already passed that on. His son, Charles Jr., died 10 years later and there is no Bible in his inventory either.

More than I’d like to own any one thing, I think I’d just like to turn back time and visit Charles’ plantation. Heck, as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like to visit with Charles and Ann in their home and sit with the family at one of the dinners. Yep, that’s what I’d like.

I wonder how many generations back in time Charles knew, and what he knew about his ancestors. Clearly, he would have been able to tell us something about the family in England.

Ann Dodson Remarries

There is no marriage record for Ann Dodson, but by the time Charles estate was ordered to be inventoried in July of 1706, she had already remarried to John Hill. Quick marriages in colonial America were common and in the interest of all parties concerned. The Dodson and Hill families had known each other for years, and there are many documents that include both Charles Dodson and John Hill. Charles would probably have been very pleased, although it appears that not everyone was.

Court Order Book Page 267 April 3, 1707 Action brought by Thomas Dodson against John Hill marrying the Executrix of Charles Dodson, is dismist, Plt. not prosecuting.

Whatever the issue with Thomas, it was settled out of court.  I do wonder if he was upset about his mother remarrying or about something within the estate.  There does appear to be quite a bit missing.

Court Order Book Page 267 April 3 1707 Action brought by Catherine Gwyn executor of the last will and testament of John and Elizabeth, executors of the last will and testament of Charles Dodson, decd, is dismissed plt not prosecuting. (verified text of above in transcribed text)

Court Order Book Page 275 May 7 1707 John Hll and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson confest judgement to Katherine Gwyn exec of will of Majr David Gwyn for 8 pounds 19 shillings and 8 pence 3 farthings and 731 pounds of sweet sented tobacco due upon balance of accounts ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 281 May 8 1707 Imparlance granted in suite between John Harper plt and John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decd, till next court.

Court Order Book Page 292 July 3 1707 John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decd, deft for 500 pounds of tobacco upon balance of accounts, def pleaded they owed nothing and plt asked time to next court.

Court Order Book Page 303 Sept 4 1707 Judgement granted to John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson, decd, for 405 pounds tobacco due by account proved by oath of plt ordered paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 323 Dec 4 1707 John Hll and Anne his wife exe of will of Charles Dodson decd against John Harper dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Page 40 June 2 1709 Judgment granted to John Davis Sr. against John Hill and Anne, wife, exec of Charles Dodson decd for 136 pounds tobacco due by account ordered paid with costs.

There were quite a few people bringing suit to collect debts, which is quite unusual if the executrix agrees that the debt is valid.

Prices in Virginia

Charles Dodson died in early 1706, and his estate was valued in English pounds. However, the true money of the early Virginia economy was most often tobacco. People paid their debts with tobacco, paid for land with tobacco and paid court costs and taxes with tobacco.

In the court records, I discovered 1709 prices, regulated by the court, for various items, mostly alcohol, which was considered to be totally indispensable, and items like pasturage for your horse and a night’s lodging.

1709 prices county to entertain and sell at:

  • Gallon rum 10 s or 12 tob
  • Quart English beer 15 s of 15 tob
  • Quart of punch, one third rum and good sugar 12 s or 12 tob
  • Good dyet 12s or 12 tob
  • Pasturage or fodder 24 hours 03 s or 3 tob
  • Pottle of corn 3 s or 3 tob
  • Quart of Medera Wine 2 s 6 d or 3 tob
  • 1 night lodging 3 s or 3 tob
  • Small beer p gallon 7 s 1/2 or 7 /.2 tob

It’s interesting to compare items in Charles estate to see what that item could have purchased according to the 1709 prices, which were probably roughly the same as 1706 prices.

Son, Charles Dodson Dies

Ten years after Charles Dodson Sr., dies, his son, Charles Jr. dies as well, just two weeks after the birth of his daughter, Mary. It’s obviously a very sad day for the Dodson family. I believe, but am not positive, that Ann Dodson Hill is still living.

Charles Dodson Jr.’s wife, Anne, surname unknown, does not remarry, so we can tell the estates apart by the fact that Charles Sr.’s wife is now Ann Hill.

The year before Charles Jr. died, he absented himself from church. He certainly could have been ill. In 1715, Charles Jr. would have been in his early 40s.

Court Order Book Page 22 June 1, 1715 Charles Dodson to be summoned to answer the presentment of the grand jury against him for absenting himself from divine service at the church for a month past in the parish of Farnham.

Court Order Book Page 325 July 7, 1715 Charles Dodson being summoned to answer presentment of the grand jury against him for not going to church for one month, but not appearing when called, it is ordered that he be fined 50 pounds of tobacco and that he pay the same to the churchwardens of the Northfarnham Parish with costs.

Given the following land entry, it appears that the reason Charles wasn’t in church is that he was ill, gravely so.

Court Order Book Page 250 Charles Dodson, Farnham Parish, will July 8, 1715, probated May 2, 1716, son Charles all land between spring branch and the branch that parts by land from the land of Thomas Dodson, son Furtunatus all land below by spring branch. Wife Anne, ex: wife; wits Bartholomew R. Dodson, George Petty

Charles Jr.’s will was probated in May, 1716.

Will Book Page 468 May 1, 1716 Last will of Charles Dodson decd presented into court by Ann Dodson, his executrix, who made oath and proved by Bartholomew Richard Dodson, one of the witnesses.

Ann Dodson, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and William Hanks came into court and acknowledge their bond for the said Ann Dodson’s just and faithful administrator of the estate of Charles Dodson, decd.

Joshua Stone, Thomas Dew, William Stone and John Fenn or any 3 of them to appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. All sworn by oath and Ann Dodson.

Court Order Book Page 473 May 2, 1716 Judgement granted Mathew Davis against Ann Dodson executrix of Charles Dodson decd for 456 pounds tobacco due by bill which is ordered to be paid out of the estate, with costs.

Will Book Page 506 June 6, 1716 Appraisement of estate of Charles Dodson decd ordered recorded.

Will Book Page 268 and 269 – Pursuant to an order of the court dated the 2 day of May 1716…being sworn to inventory and appraise all and singularly effects of Charles Dodson as was ? to by executrix Ann Dodson:

  • 2 cows and calfs – 4.0.0
  • 2 barron cows – 3.10.0
  • 1 heifer and 3 yearlings – 3.0.0
  • 2 cow and calf – 2.0.0
  • 5 piggs 7 shotes and 2 old sows – 1?.5.0
  • 16 sheep – 3.15.0
  • 2 iron potts 60 – 0.10.0
  • 1 brass cottoll 2 – 0.0.8
  • 28 ? old putor – 0.7.0
  • 1 pr of floams? and a grato – 0.0.2
  • 6 bowls and 1 tray – 0.7?.2
  • 6 wooden trenchers 0.0.6
  • 2 spinning whells – 0.4.0
  • 2 wedges old pestill spit and pott rack – 0.4.0
  • 1 table 2 chests and a box – 0.7.0
  • 1 old cush? And runlotts – 0.3.0
  • 4 bottols a pail and pig on att – 0.3.6
  • 4 old hoes and 2 axes att – 0.1.0
  • 1 feather bed boosted and cord att – 0.17.6
  • 1 small flock ditto at – 0.5.0
  • 1 old chalf bed and 2 old blankets at – 0.2.0
  • 1 old chamberpot att – 0.0.1

Total inventory estate of 12.14.7

Inventory was taken by Joshua Stone, Thomas Dew and William Stone

The crops of tobacco that was growing at ye time of this document being ye first day of August amount to 129.6

The thing I find most surprising about Charles’ Jr. estate is that, compared to his father, he didn’t have a large estate at all, and he owned no slaves. Indentured servants were typically listed too, with the number of years they had yet to serve. Charles owned 150 acres of land and had owned that land since 1702. How was he farming without either slaves or indentured servants given the intensive labor requirements of tobacco?

Court Order Book Page 20 July 5, 1716 Case between William Gantleroy Gent and Ann Dodson executrix of estate of Charles Dodson, decd, deft, at deft motion an imparlance is granted her till next court.

Court Order Book Page 37 August 2, 1716 Judgement granted William Fantleroy gent against the estate of Charles Dodson in the hands of Ann Dodson, administratrix of Charles Dodson’s estate for 694 pounds tobacco said Fantleroy making oath in court that the same is justly due which is ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 43 August 2, 1716 William Barber action of debt against Ann Dodson, executrix of will of Charles Dodson, decd, for 900 pounds of good sound merchantable tobacco and caske due by bill is dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.

The next entry is quite interesting, given that John Hill is married to Charles Jr.’s mother.

Court Order Book Page 43 August 2, 1716 John Hill his action of case against Ann Dodson executrix of the will of Charles Dodson decd for 313 pounds tobacco due by account is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Given that there was no prosecution, it looks like they settled their differences out of court.

Court Order Book Page 71 October 4, 1716 William Barber his action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of the will of Charles Dodson, decd, is dismist the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Page 72 John Naylor action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of will of Charles Dodson decd dismissed plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Page 93 Feb. 7, 1716/17 John Naylor action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of will of Charles Dodson, decd, for 468 pounds of sweet scented tobacco upon balance of a bill is dismissed plt not prosecuting.

In March 1718/19, Ann Dodson dies too. This couple died relatively young. Their youngest child, Mary, wouldn’t turn 4 until in July of 1719.

Will Book Page 78 March 4, 1718/19 Will of Ann Dodson decd presented in court by Charles Dodson, her executor and proved by oath of Bartholomew Richard Dodson.

Motion of Charles Dodson executor of will of Ann Dodson decd his account against decd estate is admitted to record.

Will Book Page 107b – Account: March 31, 1719. An account of what tobacco I have paid for the estate of Ann Dodson, decd. To: funeral charges; burying of my sister, Mary Dodson; Thomas Reed, Mr. Newman Broockenbrough, Capt. Woodbridge, John Simson; Jeames Foushe: Total 1890. Per me – Charles Dodson. At the motion of Charles Dodson this account was AR at April 1, 1719 R. Court

Except Mary never turned 4. Instead, she died the same month as her mother.

The Sons Attempt to Sell

Charles Dodson Sr. intended to keep his land in the family, but in reality, he hobbled his son’s choices by allowing them to sell only to each other and not outside the family. Was this intentional, to keep them in Richmond County, or was this an unintended consequence of his good intentions?

Was there a son in particular that Charles worried might squander his fortune?

In 1720, the sons and their sons begin to attempt to dispose of the land inherited from Charles Dodson Sr. by “leasing” land for 3 natural lifetimes.

Deed Book Page 522-523 July 8 1720 John and Charles Dodson to Robert Matthews, all of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, 4000 pounds tobacco for the term of 3 natural lifetimes and the longest liver of them a tract in Farnham Parish now in posession of Christopher Petty and ye land of Bartholomew Richard Dodson on branche of Totaskee containing 100 acres being half of 200 acres Charles Dodson father of aforesaid John and grandfather of Charles Dodson gave to John Dodson by his last will. Three natural lives to wit Robert Mathews, Sarah Mathewes and Joana Mathews and the longest liver of them paying every year the usual rent due and one ear of Indian corn yearly unto the aid John and Charles Dodson if demanded. Signed both by mark, Charles with C, wit Thomas Reeve and George Petty.

John and Charles Dodson bound unto Robert Mathews for 8000 pounds tobacco…obligation to perform and keep all ye convenants and agreements. Signed with markes wit Thomas Reeve and George Petty July 2, 1720

Deed Book Page 21 May 5-6 1734, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and wife Elizabeth of Weecomoce (Wicomico) Parish in Northumberland County to Thomas Dodson of North Farnham Parish in Richmond County for 4500 pounds tobacco, 150 acres lying between the Oke neck and Hickory Neck Branch in Richmond county which land (is part of 500 acres that) [part in parenthesis lines out in transcription] was formerly sold by Capt. Samuel Traverse to Charles Dodson, father to the said Bartholomew Richard Dodson. Land is bounded by Daniel Everit. Signed by him, her mark, Wit Thomas Legg, H Miskell, Jeremiah Greenham, Rec May 6 1734

DNA

DNA has become an important genealogical tool. The Dodson Y DNA Project at Family Tree DNA tells us that there are least three distinct Dodson lineages in the US today.

One group is haplogroup I from Talbot County, Maryland, whose ancestor died in 1745, and two other groups are haplogroup R. The largest group is the Charles Dodson descendants. There are also several “dangling Dodsons” with no matches today.

No Dodson males that match the genetic profile of Charles Dodson have yet taken the Big Y test, which would help establish deep ancestry, but two have taken some level of SNP testing and have tested R-P25 and R-L2.

Male haplogroups are shown on trees, similar to pedigree charts.

The haplotree looks a lot like a pedigree chart for a very good reason. Mutations happened just like children are born and are recorded the same way, as descendants of the “father” SNP in question.

The Dodson line is confirmed to be R-M269, the most common haplogroup in Europe with almost half the European men carrying this haplogroup. Let’s just say that our distant ancestors were very successful in terms of reproducing and colonization. SNP R-P25 is upstream, or a grandfather to R-M269, but R-L2 is not, being found several generations downstream

Haplogroup L2 is known to be historically Celtic, but it is widely scattered today as shown by this SNP map at Family Tree DNA.

Of course, we know that the Celts settled in the British Isles at one time, so we expect to find L2 in both continental Europe and across the channel, which we do.

Ancestry has a nice feature that allows you to look for clusters of surnames based on various census and other records, both in the US and England.

The Dodson surname distribution in Scotland in 1841 was very small, as shown above.

However, the Dodsons were much more widespread in England in 1891, with the most pronounced region being in the northern portion of the country, primarily Yorkshire and Lancashire and a small area surrounding London where the population is very concentrated.

The surname origin indicates that Dodson is a patrronymic form of Dodd, meaning Dodd’s son, of course.

From the above pages, you can view all immigration records for Dodsons.

This could be very useful, because if a Charles Dodson descendant matches one of the descendants of these people, whose immigration location is known, on a segment proven to be “Dodson,” that’s a huge hint as to the ancestral location of the family.

Unfortunately, these individuals would show up under “Dodson” matches at Ancestry, but not under Charles Dodson, because they don’t descend from him, so no leaf hints.

However, the surname search should work.

The possible Dodson link wouldn’t be any of the people with the green leaf hints indicating that we share a common ancestor in our trees, such as the first two matches shown below.  We would find descendants of these immigrants in the matches without green leaves, such as the third match, below.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that this IS the Dodson family, but there is a match.  Let’s see what that match has to say about their Dodson ancestor.

Lewes, Sussex, not where the majority of the Dodsons are from in England.

The only way to know for sure if this match is valid, and if the common DNA is from Dodson ancestors would be for the match to transfer either to Family Tree DNA or Gedmatch (or preferably both) where we can match and triangulate to other known Dodson descendants utilizing a chromosome browser to confirm the source of the DNA.

Where is the Charles Dodson Line From?

We don’t know. There are four ways to tell.

One way is to find the record of Charles birth in the existent records, and somehow prove that Charles in the church record is the Charles that is later found as an adult in the Northern Neck. Of course, it’s possible that Charles was not in fact born in England, which puts a fly in that ointment. The good news is that now we know that Charles was born within a year or so of 1649, which at least provides us with a reasonable birth range.

A second way is to have a Y DNA match to someone who knows that their Dodson came from a particular small village in England, and search the records in and near that location.

A third way would be to find someone descended from one of the Dodson immigrants from known locations, discover they have autosomal DNA tested (or test them), that there are no other common lines, and that a segment match to that person triangulates to other proven Dodson descendants.

A fourth way is to find a Dodson autosomal DNA match that is NOT descended from Charles, who knows their ancestral Dodson location in England and does not share any other lines.  If that person’s matching segments triangulate to known Charles Dodson line segments, that’s a good indication and could lead us to a Dodson male to Y DNA test to confirm.

Y DNA matching would be so much easier and absolutely indisputable evidence. We need Dodson men from England to Y DNA test!

Mary Durham (1686 – c 1746), Scandals and Scoundrels, 52 Ancestors #152

Mary Durham, daughter of Thomas Durham and Dorothy Smoot was born June 5, 1686 in North Farnham Parish in what was then Old Rappahannock County, Virginia.

Most of what we know about Mary Durham is related to her husbands, mostly her first husband by whom her children were born, Thomas Dodson.

Mary grew up along Totuskey Creek, red pin below, on the peninsula of land in Virginia known as the Northern Neck, surrounded on three sides by water; the Rappahannock River, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. It was then and remains rather insular. At that time, the economy was driven by tobacco.

Neighbors Married Neighbors

Based on deeds of her father as well as her brother, husband and husband’s father, it appears that Mary’s parents were neighbors with her husband’s parents, and she married the boy from across the fence. Mary and Thomas probably saw each other during their daily life, and on Sunday’s dressed up for church at North Farnham Parish, although the current church wasn’t built until 1737. Mary and her family would have attended the original church, located a few miles north of the present-day church, in a now forgotten location.

We don’t really know how Mary dressed or much about her lifestyle, but in general, the colonial Virginians attempted to keep up with the styles in England. The Durham family was not poor, but they also weren’t aristocratic. The lady above is fashionably dressed in 1700 in England. All I can say is that I hope it was winter with all of that fabric. She would have sweat to death in the summer, and washing machines were still an invention of the future.

Mary was quite young when she married Thomas Dodson. Their marriage was recorded on August 1, 1701 in the North Farnham Parish parish register. Mary was all of 15 years old, specifically 15 years and almost 3 months. That’s awfully young to marry, even in colonial Virginia. Thomas Dodson was all of 20 years old, young for a colonial male to marry too.

Of course, that raises the question of why they married so young. The first thought would be pregnancy. We can’t really rule that in or out, but here’s what we do know.

The first child recorded in the Farnham Parish Church registry for Mary and Thomas was George, born on October 31, 1702, a year and almost 3 months after their marriage. That means Mary did not get pregnant until they had been married 6 months. That too is unusual, as effective birth control did not exist at that time and there was no reason in that time and place not to begin a family immediately.

However, there’s son Thomas Dodson Jr. whose birth is not recorded in the Farnham Church register, which is known to be incomplete. Typically, the first male child is named after the father. If Thomas Jr. was the first child born to Mary and Thomas, then Mary would have to have been VERY pregnant when she married Thomas, in order for there to be enough time to have Thomas Jr., conceive George and give birth to him in October of 1702.

Mary’s son, Thomas Dodson Jr.’s birth is unrecorded, but he was married before 1725 to Elizabeth Rose, suggesting he was born before 1705.

If Thomas was the second born, who was the first born, George, named after, and why?

Land

In February 1702/03, Thomas Dodson’s father, Charles Dodson, deeded land to Thomas. A month earlier, Charles had written his will and included that same land for Thomas. He apparently decided to go ahead and deed the land before his death. On the same day, he also deeded land to son Charles Dodson and indicated that Charles was already living on his land – so it’s likely that Thomas was too.

The land deeded to Thomas was half of Charles Dodson’s 300 acre tract and the half that brother Charles lived on was called Rich Neck. The other half is the land Thomas received, separated from Rich Neck by a branch of the creek.

In the article about Thomas Dodson, we identified where Rich Neck was located.

At age sixteen and a half, with a four month old baby, if not two children, Mary was now the mistress of a plantation.

Scandal

In 1708 and 1709, and probably somewhat before and after, the Durham family was embroiled in a whopper of a scandal. In 1699, Thomas Durham, Mary’s father, had “purchased” an indentured servant named Anne Kelly. She was almost exactly Mary Durham’s age, 14 at that time, as judged by the court. I don’t know if the girls would have been allowed just to be girls, at least part of the time, or if their class difference would have kept them apart, even though they lived under the same roof.

However, Anne Kelly and Mary’s brother, Thomas Durham Jr. had no problem with class differences, it appears, at least not initially. In 1708, Anne was brought before the court, presented by her “master, Thomas Durham Sr.,” charged with fornication and bringing a bastard child into the world. Keep in mind that indentured servants were prohibited from marrying before their indenture was complete, so if they engaged in any intimate activity and a child resulted, the child was legally prevented from being legitimate because of their mother’s indentured status.

Anne refused to reveal the name of the father, and was fined and sentenced to jail. We’ll never know of course, if Anne was protecting someone, or if she was fearful. One way or another, she was certainly vulnerable.

Dorothy Smoot Durham, Thomas Durham Sr.’s wife came into court that same day and paid Anne’s fine, preventing Anne from having to spend time in jail. Why Dorothy performed this brave feat is unknown. It could have been out of the goodness of her heart. It could have been because she knew the identity of the father, or it could have been because she did not want to have to deal with an infant whose mother was in jail, and a servant who couldn’t serve. Regardless, Dorothy did what she needed to do – and reading between the lines, what her husband would not..

Just 10 months later, Anne Kelly was back in court again with another “bastard child,” but this time she told the court that both children were begotten by Thomas Durham Jr., Mary’s brother – although he would only have been 17 or so when the first child was conceived, if not younger. Given that there was only 10 months between Anne’s first court appearance the her second, for the second child, it’s feasible that the first child was born perhaps a year before she was actually brought into court initially. If so, then Thomas Durham Jr. would have been 16.

The second time Anne was fined, it wasn’t Dorothy that intervened, but Thomas Dodson, Mary’s husband. He paid Anne’s fine, and it appears from the court record that Anne was already serving at Thomas Dodson’s house. In any event, after her original indenture, Anne was obligated to serve additional time working for Thomas Dodson because he paid her fine. The added time to an indenture for each child was 5 years, typically, and the indenture for the fine might have been 5 years as well.

So, in addition to her own family, Mary had Anne living with them with her two children that were Mary’s nieces or nephews. In 1710, this means that Mary had at least 4 children under the age of 10 in the household and possibly as many as 8.

What is that Chinese blessing/curse? “May you live in interesting times.” Certainly these days were, especially in light of the fact that Thomas Durham Jr. married the neighbor girl, Mary Smoot about 1710 while Anne Kelly was still indentured to the family, serving extra time and raising HIS two children to boot. I’d wager Anne was none too happy for various reasons which would have added more drama to Thomas Durham’s wedding when he married Mary Smoot, related to his mother.

So 1708, 1709 and 1710 would have been very interesting years in the Durham family as well as at the Dodson’s plantation next door.

Mary’s Father Dies

In 1711, Mary’s father apparently became ill and wrote his will on August 4th, 3 days after Mary would have celebrated her 10 year wedding anniversary. In Thomas Durham’s will, among others, he mentions daughter Mary Dodson and her son, Thomas Dodson. We now know unquestionably that Thomas was born before August of 1711 and probably named after Thomas Durham, his grandfather.

We can guess, based on the average of one child every other year that Mary had born 5 children by this time. However, given what we know about the rest of her children, and who was living in 1739 when Thomas Dodson made his will, the children born between the first two sons and 1710 or 1711 died. There would have been three children whose names are unknown today that Mary gave birth to and buried, if not as children, then within her lifetime, before Thomas Dodson wrote his will in 1739. Many children died in an age with no inoculation’s and no antibiotics.

Daughter Alice Dodson’s birth is unrecorded, but about 1729, she married William Creel who was born in 1712, so we’ll count her as being born about 1712 as well.

Thomas Durham, Mary’s father, did not die until 1715, with his will being probated in June of that year. This suggests that he was ill from 1711, 4 years. Thomas would have been about 55 when he died, certainly not old by today’s standards.

Mary would have been 5 months pregnant for daughter Mary when she buried her father. She would have stood at her father’s grave beside her mother with at least three living children, if not more. It would have been a sad day in later winter or spring.

I wonder if Anne Kelly joined the family, bringing Thomas Durham Sr.’s two illegitimate grandchildren, if they were still living, to his funeral.  If so, I’d bet you could cut the tension with a knife between Anne Kelly, Thomas Durham Jr. and his wife who probably had at least one child herself by this time.

Births and Remarriage

Daughter Mary Dodson was born a few months later on October, 5 1715. We know she lived because her father’s will in 1739 mentions her as Mary Oldham.

In February 1716, just 8 months after Mary’s father’s will was probated, her mother, Dorothy remarried to Jeremiah Greenham. This marriage was apparently not a negative turn of events, because the Dodsons and Durhams and Greenhams appear in many documents together. Even more telling is that Mary Durham and Thomas Dodson named a son Greenham, so obviously Jeremiah Greenham was much loved. Greenham Dodson was born sometime between the 1716 marriage and 1720, so let’s assign him to the 1717 slot, given that he was married by 1740.

That means that son David, who wrote a will with a possibly pregnant wife in 1740 would have likely been born about 1719.

A child who would have been born about 1721 is missing, so was probably born and died at some point before Thomas Dodson wrote his will in 1739.

Son Abraham Dodson was born April 4, 1723 in North Farnham Parish. He married Barbara, surname unknown and moved to Faquier County where he died in 1768.

The Next Generation

Mary’s son, Thomas Dodson Jr. was apparently married in 1724, because on February 21, 1725, Mary’s first grandchild, a grandson, Joseph was born to Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth Rose. Mary was pregnant herself at that time, so her grandson Joseph would be older than her own two youngest children.

Son Joshua Dodson was born May 25, 1725 in North Farnham Parish, three months after her first grandchild was born.  Joshua was living in Faquier County in 1762 with wife Ruth when the Broad Run Church was constituted.

On April 30, 1726, George Dodson left the fold and married Margaret Dagod. That December, a daughter, Mary, named after her grandmother of course, was born to George and Margaret. I wonder if Mary felt particularly close to her namesake granddaughter.

Mary’s last child, Elisha, was born in 1727 when she was 41 years old. Mary had been bearing children for 25 years, a quarter century, risking death with each birth, for herself and the child as well.

Elisha Dodson was born February 22, 1727 in North Farnham Parish. He married Sarah Averitt (Everett) whose parents were William and Margaret Everett.

Four days apart in October of 1728, Mary’s second and third grandchildren arrived, son Lazarus to George Dodson and Margaret Dagod and son Thomas to Thomas Dodson and Elizabeth Rose. What a week that must have been!!! Babies and toddlers everyplace in the Dodson family, as the next generation had begun in earnest.

The Westward Movement Begins

In December 1733, Thomas Dodson Sr, wife Mary, Thomas Dodson Jr. and his wife Elizabeth sold land on the main swamp of Totuskey to Johnathan Lyell. That land sale is actually very helpful, because just below Rich Neck, today, there is a Lyell Church and about 3 or 4 miles northwest of Rich Neck is a Lyells crossroads. This deed which was originally the Thomas Durham Sr. land helps us to locate where this family group lived. You can click to enlarge the map below.

Mary signs this deed with her mark, an M, indicating that she cannot write her name. Education for women in terms of reading and writing was deemed unimportant and unnecessary for women in colonial America.

After this land sale, Thomas Dodson Jr. moved to Prince William County, the part that became Faquier County in 1759 and was a founding member of the Broad Run Baptist Church in 1762.

The Broad Run Church was about 105 miles from Rich Neck, but 100 miles in a wagon was about a 10 day journey, or a couple days if you were just riding a horse. By stage, at least two days, if not 3. Mary may not have seen Thomas’s family again. Perhaps he returned for an occasional visit by horseback. I hope so, for Mary’s sake, but it was very unlikely that his family came along.

Daughter Alice married William Creel about 1729 and by 1746, they too were buying land in Prince William County.

Blindness

About this time, Mary’s son Elisha experienced a devastating eye injury that blinded him for life. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know from the Reverend Elias Dodson who wrote about the Dodson family about 1860 that Elisha was blind from an accident or event dating from Elisha’s childhood. I have to wonder what could have been so devastating as to blind him entirely, not just in one eye. Measles, uevitis and trachoma are all 3 diseases known to cause blindness. Some type of accident could have as well, but I suspect an accident would have been more likely to only blind one eye.

Death, Death and More Death

Daughter Mary would probably have married about 1735 and son David, about 1737 or 1738, given that he had one child in 1739 when Thomas Dodson wrote his will.

On February 7, 1739/40, Thomas Dodson penned his will saying he was sick and weak of body. He left Mary the plantation along with all of the negroes and moveable estate during her natural life. He does not say anything about reducing her inheritance to one third or a child’s portion that if she remarries. Clearly, he loved Mary dearly and provided for her as best he could.

Thomas leaves land and other items to their children. Thomas’s will is the only way we know about son David, because David’s birth is not found in the North Farnham Parish register, nor is his marriage, and he lives in another county.

Thomas does not pass away immediately after writing his will. His death is shown in the North Farnham Parish register as occurring on November 21, 1740. Thomas was apparently ill between February and the end of November when he died. Mary would have cared for him for these nine months. Ironic, nine months to bring a child into the world and nine months to usher Thomas to the other side.

Mary’s heart must have been sick with worry and grief. Her son, David, living in Prince William County, wrote his will on April 27, 1740, just 2 months and 20 days after his father wrote his will. David’s will was probated three months later on July 28th, so before Thomas’s death. In February, when Thomas Dodson wrote his will, he left 20 shillings to his granddaughter, the daughter of David Dodson, but two months later, when David wrote his will, the daughter was apparently deceased, because David leaves his slaves to his wife during her lifetime and then to his child, “if my wife should prove to be with child.” I wonder what caused the deaths of David’s child, and David himself, and if they died of the same thing. I wonder if wife Amey was with child, and if so, what happened to Amey and the child.

Of course, communication at that time was by letter, and if the people involved did not read and write, they would have had to have someone write the letters for them, as well as read them when received. News traveled slowly, so the granddaughter may have already died when Thomas Dodson wrote his will. Regardless, that child was dead by the time David Dodson wrote his will, and we don’t know if David’s wife was with child, nor what happened to her. Clearly, Mary couldn’t go to help, had she known, because she had her hands full at home. Mary’s youngest child would have been 12. At least the children were old enough to be of assistance. I would wager that during this time Mary spent many tearful nights alone by the fireplace after everyone else went to bed.

As the months and years rolled on, after Thomas’s death, more grandchildren were born in the rhythmic two year cycle of pregnancy and birth. I hope Mary enjoyed those children in the bright sunshine of the Northern Neck summertime.

Was Robert Galbreath A Scoundrel?

Mary’s life seems to have taken a downturn after Thomas’s death. Thomas’s will was probated on March 2, 1740/41 with Mary and son, Greenham, as executors.

Mary received the plantation with son Elisha inheriting it after her death. We don’t have any record of what happened to that plantation, unfortunately.

Thomas Dodson’s estate inventory should be interesting, if it is detailed, because all items were deemed to have been owned by the man when he died. Therefore all kitchen items, bedding, cloth, spinning wheels, and anything owned by the “couple” or the “woman,” except her clothes and unless it was specifically deeded to her, without him, was legally the mans and inventoried as part of his estate. Even though this practice of exclusive male spousal property ownership, by today’s standards, is barbaric, it does serve to give us a peephole into their lives.  Looking at a man’s estate inventory tells us how the entire household lived.

Eighteen months after Thomas’s death, on September 29, 1743, Mary Durham Dodson married Robert Galbreath and sure enough, lawsuits followed – just 10 months later. Robert Galbreath or Galbraith is not a known name in the neighborhood. One wonders where he came from and how Mary met him and became familiar enough to marry.

On July 3, 1744, in chancery court, Greenham Dodson files on behalf of himself as executor of the estate of Thomas Dodson, and others, against Robert Galbreath. (Court Record Book 11-406)

On May 7, 1745, the suit was resolved and the court decided that the petitioner, Greenham Dodson, should “take possession of the coverture, according to the intention of the testators will” and that he should use it for the benefit of Mary Galbreath during her coverture. Robert Galbreath refused to give security and was ordered to pay costs. (Court Record Book 11-458)

I checked the Virginia Chancery Suit index site for Richmond County, and either those records never made it to the State Library, or they aren’t online yet. I would love to see the entire case file for this suit. More specifically, I want the juicy tidbits. What was the problem? Was Mary in danger, and if so, why? The court’s position is rather extreme, as these judgements go in early Virginia – especially given that women in essence lost rights and property to their husbands when they married. The only saving grace was that at least the land owned by Thomas Dodson wasn’t owned by Mary in fee simple, so Galbreath couldn’t dispose of it, as it was a life estate to go to Elisha at Mary’s death. The balance of the moveable estate that Thomas left, not so. Galbreath would have had the legal right to do anything he wanted with everything not left to someone other than Mary. For the court to remove that right from a colonial male would have been a decision not reached lightly and only due to a serious problem.

That suit doesn’t sound friendly at all, and it wasn’t resolved between July of 1744 and May of 1745 by the parties involved, as is often the case. The term coverture means the legal status of a married woman, considered to be under her husband’s protection and authority. Perhaps the Dodson children felt that Robert Galbreath was utilizing the estate of Thomas Dodson for himself, not for Mary. Mary would have been 57 years old.

This entry is the last record of Mary. After that, the screen goes dark. I worry, posthumously of course, that Mary was in danger or ill and not taken care of in the last months of her life.

I feel good about the fact that Greenham took a stand and was sticking up for his mother, whether it was for the benefit of his mother or whether it was to preserve his father’s estate. Regardless, someone was looking out for Mary’s interests, which were the same as the Thomas Dodson estate’s interests, and was willing to go to court to do so.

We don’t know what happened next. Divorce was unheard of, but Greenham could have “had a man to man talk” with Robert, as it appears that Robert might have hightailed it back to Lancaster County. Mary could simply have continued to live on the land in Richmond County, until she died and the land fell to Elisha, as Thomas’s will indicated. Son Elisha would have been 13 when his father died, so a young man that within just a few years would have been able to run the plantation quite effectively.  By 1744 Elisha would have been 17 and in 1745, 18 years old.  He didn’t need Galbreath to run Thomas Dodson’s plantation.

Following the Trail to Prince William County

In 1746, both Greenham Dodson and William Creel, husband of Alice Dodson Creel are buying land in Prince William County. I feel that Mary likely died about this time, being the impetus for several of Mary’s children to pull up stakes and move west, with nothing holding them in Richmond County any longer.

Elisha would have turned 20 in 1747. Apparently moving west was more attractive than living on the family plantation, because he too moved to Prince William County, although we don’t know when, other than it was before 1762.

Galbreath’s Death

Robert Galbreath died 4 years after Greenham filed and won the suit, but with no mention of a wife. Does that indicate that Mary had died by this time? Did Mary move with Robert to Lancaster County? Or maybe after the suit, she moved with her children to Prince William County? Or did she live with George Dodson in Richmond County, or remain on her own plantation? We’ll never know.

Abstracts of Lancaster County, Virginia Wills 1653-1800 by Ida J. Lee

Galbreath, Robert. Will. 10 Oct. 1749. Rec. 9 March 1749. Cousin, Richard Weir; Ezekiel Morris; Margaret Carter. Extr. Cousin Richard Weir. Wits; Isaac White, Michael Dillon. W.B. 14, p. 274.

Inventory of above, returned by Isaac White, admr 11 May 1750. W.B. 14, p. 285.

Suit: Isaac White, Pltf. vs Katherine Jones, Defd. Robert Galbreath had made a gift to his daughter-in-law Katherine Carter, since intermarried with Humphrey Jones. Dated 29 Sept. 1752. Rec. 18 June 1753. W.B. 15, p. 139.

The end of Mary’s life may have been difficult, at best. I hope her children sheltered her from whatever storms she encountered.

Mary Durham and Thomas Dodson’s Children

Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham were married on August 1, 1701. Some of their children are well documented, and others are virtually unknown.

George Dodson had a son, Rawleigh born in 1731. The name Rawleigh was shared in Richmond County by Rawleigh Travers, a family member of the Travers family that Charles Dodson, father of Thomas, bought land from, Rawleigh Downman, neighbors of the Dodsons, and Rawleigh Chinn, the son of Alice Smoot born in 1642 who married a Chinn. Alice Smoot was Mary Durham’s aunt. Sir Walter Raleigh may have popularized this name in the early 1600s. I’ve always wondered where the name Rawleigh came from in the Dodson family. Perhaps this is a clue.

  • Thomas Dodson Jr.’s birth is unrecorded, but he was married before 1725 to Elizabeth Rose, suggesting he was born before 1705. About 1733, Thomas moved to Prince William County, the part that became Faquier in 1759 and was a founding member of the Broad Run Baptist Church in 1762. In 1766, Thomas moved to Halifax County, wrote his will in 1779 and died in 1783. In later years, in Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties, the records of various Thomas Dodsons are intermingled and confused.
  • Alice Dodson’s birth is unrecorded, but about 1729 she married William Creel, born in 1712. They had children, one being John Creel born in 1732. Daughter Alice Creel was mentioned in Thomas Dodson’s 1739 will. By 1746, William Creel was buying land in Prince William County and in 1757, William died with Thomas Dodson (Jr.) being one of the men to appraise his estate. His wife was listed at that time as Anne, with Alice apparently having died sometime between 1739 and 1757.
  • Mary Dodson born October 5, 1715 had married an Oldham by the time her father wrote his will in 1739. Nothing more is known about this line.
  • David Dodson’s birth is unrecorded. His wife’s name is Amey, surname unknown. David died in Prince William County in 1740, his will dated April 27th that year and probated in July. He left his wife the use of his slaves and then to his child if his wife should prove to be with child. Thomas Dodson left 30 shillings to his granddaughter, the daughter of David Dodson, but nothing more is known of this child. She probably died between the time that Thomas Dodson wrote his will in 1739 and David Dodson’s will in 1740. Either that or David omitted his daughter from his will, or the David who died in 1740 is not the son of Mary Durham and Thomas Dodson.
  • Greenham Dodson’s birth is unrecorded, but he was married to Eleanor Hightower by 1740, meaning he was probably born 1715-1720. In 1746, Greenham sold his land in Richmond County and moved to Amelia County. He had moved to Halifax County by 1772 and in 1777, a Greenham Dodson signed a loyalty oath.

I have always wondered about the genesis of the name, Greenham. Jeremiah Greenham married the widow Dorothy Durham in 1716, probably not long before Greenham Dodson’s birth to Thomas and Mary Durham Dodson. Jeremiah would have been Greenham Dodson’s step-grandfather and possibly also his godfather.

  • Abraham Dodson was born April 4, 1723 in North Farnham Parish. He married Barbara, surname unknown and moved to Faquier County by 1762 where he died in 1768.
  • Joshua Dodson was born May 25, 1725 in North Farnham Parish and was living in Faquier County with wife Ruth in 1762 when the Broad Run Church was constituted. Joshua may have lived in Halifax County on his way to Surry County, NC where he settled and may have died there before 1790. It’s also possible that he moved on to South Carolina.
  • Elisha Dodson was born February 22, 1727 in North Farnham Parish. He married Sarah Averitt (Everett) whose parents were William and Margaret Everett. He was left land after his mother’s death, by his father’s will, but there is no record of the disposition of the land. By 1762, he was in Faquier County when his brother, Thomas, released his claim on his father’s estate. In 1774, Elisha moved on to Halifax County where he died in 1796 or 1797. According to the manuscript of the Reverend Elias Dodson, Elisha was blind due to an eye injury as a child.

All of Mary’s sons eventually moved from Richmond County. Thomas Jr. first in 1733 when he sold his land and move to Prince William County, the part that became Faquier in 1759. His siblings would follow over the years.

David left before 1740. Greenham left in 1745, after he filed and won the suit against Robert Galbreath on behalf of his mother and his father’s estate. Did Mary perhaps die at this time or shortly thereafter? Was her ill health what caused Greenham to file suit? Was Robert not caring for her properly? Did Mary’s death free Greenham to move to Prince William County in 1746 along with Mary’s daughter Alice Creel as well? Did Mary’s three youngest sons move with their siblings at this time, or did they stay in Richmond County until later? There is no record of land ownership to help unravel that question.

Given the 1745 lawsuit and the fact that both Greenham, who was obviously looking after his mother’s interests, and daughter Mary left for Prince William County in 1746, I suspect Mary died between 1745 and 1746.

Mary’s son George sold his land in 1756 in Richmond County and appears to have been the last to leave, although we don’t know what happened to George and Margaret after that sale, because they are never recorded elsewhere.  Their children, by virtue of who they married, had to have been living nearby their Dodson cousins. Two of George’s children married other Dodson family members..

In 1762, Thomas Dodson of Faquier County, 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. Brother George is notably absent and is not found again after selling his Richmond County land in 1756. One could presume that Mary has died by 1756 – otherwise it’s unlikely that George would have sold and left his mother. By 1762, when Thomas relinquished his right to his share of his father’s estate, and with all of her sons gone from Richmond County, Mary was assuredly buried in the churchyard beside Thomas Dodson.

In 1745, Mary would have been 59 years old, in 1756, age 70 and in 1762, 76 years old.

Where is Mary Buried?

Both Mary and Thomas Dodson died after the new Farnham Parish Church was built in 1737, although their children died before the new church was constructed.

They could have been buried where earlier family members rested but the most likely location for their burial is the cemetery behind the church.  There are no marked graves from this early date. The other possibility of course is that there was a family cemetery, now lost to time, although family cemeteries did not seem to be prevalent in this part of Virginia at this time.

It looks like there is room for lots of unmarked burials in this location.

Mary’s Grandchildren

Eventually, Mary’s 9 children that lived to adulthood would give her a total of 47 known grandchildren, and probably many more. We don’t know how many children Alice Dodson Creel or Mary Dodson Oldham bore. Furthermore, we know that more than 47 had to have been born. Using the known children’s births and a reproductive span of 24/25 years for each woman, giving them the opportunity to have approximately 12 children, spaced 2 years apart, assuming all children lived long enough to nurse for the first year (in many cases, effectively preventing conception of another child,) we calculate that at least 37 additional grandchildren were born and died.

If you add the 47 grandchildren we know about, the 37 that had to have been born and died, and 20 additional births through Alice and Mary, if they survived beyond 1739 when they were recorded in their father’s will, that’s 104 grandchildren.

Of the 34 grandchildren for whom we have documentation, 21 were born in Mary’s lifetime. Two of Mary’s children didn’t begin having children until about the time she died, or after. Mary’s son, George remained in Richmond County and had several children that Mary would have been close to, as he lived on land adjacent to Mary.

Son Thomas left in 1733, taking his grandchildren, aged 8 and under, along with him. That must have been difficult for Mary, seeing her grandchildren leave and knowing she might well not see them again. Mary’s daughters Alice and Mary would have been marrying about that time though, so perhaps those grandchildren that we don’t know about helped to sooth the ache in Mary’s heart. We also don’t know if Alice and Mary remained local or left as well with their husband’s while Mary was still living.

What we do know is that son George stayed, with his children who were probably very close to Mary. Son Greenham stayed until between 1745 and 1746. Mary would have known his children as well. Abraham, Joshua and Elisha were only just beginning their families in the mid-1740s when Mary was aging and probably died.

Mary’s grandchildren’s births spanned roughly half a century, from 1725 to about 1772.

Mary probably had at least one great-grandchild when she died, although she wouldn’t have known the child. Grandson Joseph who was born in 1725 had son Thomas in about 1746, beginning the next generation. Unfortunately, Thomas Jr. had moved to Farquier County in 1733, so unless Mary went along as her sons moved westward, she would never have gotten to hold her great-grandchild.

At least 8 grandchildren died within Mary’s lifetime, meaning that except for David who lived distantly, she would have stood at the funerals and gravesides of 7 grandchildren, and probably 5 of her own children as well. Plus her parents, in-laws, husband and probably at least some of her siblings and their children as well.

Not an easy life, by any means.

Life and Death in Colonial America

I created the chart below to visualize what the “typical” family looked like, in terms of birth, survival and death of children. Mary Durham and Thomas Dodson’s children are listed across the top. The ones in red died or are slots in which we know children would have been born. Mary’s grandchildren are listed in the columns under each child, the red ones known to have died or are unfilled slots – silent sentinels to children who were born and died with no record that they existed except for the blank spot on the chart.

Mary’s two daughters married, but their descendants have never been traced. If the daughters lived after their father’s 1739 will, they would have had additional children as well, not shown below. You can click to enlarge the image.

  • ? Before the name means I’m uncertain if this child is in this family. If not, another child would have filled that slot.
  • ? After the nickname means I’m uncertain if that is this person. For example, there are multiple candidates for “Second Fork” Thomas and the various George nicknames are confused.
  • ? After a first name means that the person’s surname is unknown.
  • Reverend Silas Lucas was unable to differentiate between the later generations of George Dodsons – there is a significant amount of confusion regarding who married whom.
  • Green = my lineage
  • Red = young deaths or children unaccounted for in the birth order, probably born and died
  • No birth years are known for Greenham’s children – placed at 2 year intervals based on estimated marriage and birth dates of their childen, and continued for 25 years.
  • Thomas Dodson wrote his will in 1739 and died in 1740.
  • Mary Durham Dodson was living in 1745, but in 1749 when her second husband Robert Galbreath wrote his will, she is notably absent, although they may have been living separately.
  • Grey = children who married cousins

Just looking at the amount of known red – that’s a lot of death. At that time, it was considered normal to lose roughly half your children before they reached adulthood.

Looking at this another way, the death of 6 of the children of Mary Durham Dodson reduced the number of descendants a few generations downstream by half, which is literally thousands. Just in the first generation, had those children lived to fully reproduce, that would have been another 72 grandchildren for Mary.

Taking a look at this phenomenon in a chart, you can see the potential in the reduction of descendants with just one missing child, or conversely, the potential addition of descendants in a few generation with just one added child. I stopped around 1900, because that’s the timeframe that birth control became popular and family sizes began to shrink.

Five surviving children per generation is certainly reasonable. Ten is likely too optimistic.

It’s no wonder, though, with that number of descendants in just one generation why people with heavy colonial ancestry have high numbers of autosomal DNA matches.

Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA, which could tell us a great deal about Mary’s heritage on her direct matrilineal line is MIA. Why is it MIA? Women pass their mitochondrial DNA to each of their children, but only female children pass it on. In order to find Mary’s mitochondrial DNA, we would need to test a descendant of Mary through all females to the current generation, when males are eligible as well.

And of course, it’s the two daughters that we don’t know anything about.

If anyone has done research on the daughters, Alice Dodson married to William Creel, or Mary Dodson who married an Oldham, please speak up. Not only can we update their information, but we may be able to find an appropriate person to test for Mary’s mitochondrial DNA. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first eligible person.

Summary

Mary’s was probably a typically colonial wife, albeit marrying very young. Depending on the family social standing, Mary’s life could have ranged from helping in the fields to overseeing the household and the “domestics” inside. We do know that at least by the time Thomas Dodson died, he did own slaves in addition to at least one indentured servant during his lifetime. Most of the labor would have been for the growth and harvesting of tobacco, and not for household labor. Their “plantation” was probably modest. The Northern Neck was not Tara and they did not own one of the mansion houses.

Mary’s life was probably defined by church and children. While church attendance was mandatory, and men were fined for non-attendance, religion seemed to sooth the heart of those who endured devastating losses. And pretty much everyone who had children experienced devastating losses. In Mary’s case, probably 5 or 6 children died in her lifetime, possibly more, not to mention several grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and her husband. Death is a part of the cycle of life, but that’s an awful lot of death to endure, at least by today’s standards.

Yet, Mary continued to function. She had more children. She went to church and when necessary, she went to the cemetery which was certainly a place far too familiar.

The early cemeteries, whether on plantations or in churchyards are lost to time. Few stones exist on the Northern Neck for people who were born before the mid-1800s. The location of the early Farnham Parish Church is lost to us today, too, and that may have been where family members were buried before the present church was built in 1737. Plantations, and all farms then were considered plantations, may have had their own cemeteries, now reclaimed by Mother Nature or development.

In many ways, the fact that the Northern Neck is a peninsula and not easily accessible has protected it from development, so the unmarked and unknown graves of the colonial planters may still remain unmolested as they rest in peace on one of the first American frontiers.

Thomas Dodson (1681-1740), Planter on Totuskey Creek, 52 Ancestors #151

Thomas Dodson’s birth on May 15, 1681 to Charles Dodson and wife, Anne, is recorded in the North Farnham Parish register. At the time of Thomas’s birth, this part of Virginia, now Richmond County, was Old Rappahannock County.

Thomas’s birth was just 74 years after the founding of Jamestown, and Jamestown was still the colonial capital of the colony of Virginia – very early in the history of America.

The part of Virginia where Thomas was born, the Northern Neck began to be settled in about 1735.

In 1692, Old Rappahannock County was dissolved and the portion of Old Rappahannock where the Dodson family lived became Richmond County where Thomas spent his life. Fortunately, the Richmond County records are for the most part, intact.

I must say that these records, especially the court orders, have been key into not just identifying Thomas by his birth and death dates, and maybe marriage and children’s births thrown in for good measure – but by the rhythm of daily life in colonial Virginia. All males attended court which was, other than church, the only entertainment in pre-electronic America. Church every Sunday was mandatory. The regular births of children and deaths of neighbors and family members. The plantations, the tobacco, the spats recorded in those old notes. Life was much richer than those birth and death dates.

I’ve grouped items in a few cases, but mostly, I’ve used these records to walk through Thomas’s life in order, to give us a flavor today for what his life was actually like. Oh, how I wish we had something, anything, that he actually wrote that would shed light on how he thought and what he was like. But Thomas couldn’t write. The closest we can get is to create our vision of Thomas by his actions and those he was closest to.

Thomas’s Mother

Thomas’s mother’s name was Ann or Anne, but her surname is unknown, although I have seen it listed several times as Elmore. However, I have never seen any documentation behind the Elmore surname. Sometimes, surnames attached to trees are copied and pasted so many times that people just assume that they have to be accurate because they are “all over the place,” but copying a tree repeatedly has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the fruit of the tree. Copying it 1000 or 2000 times doesn’t make it any truer – just more plentiful.

Because I was bound and determine to end the mystery of Elmore, if it was at all possible, I embarked on a research trip and indeed, I solved the mystery. I’ll tell Ann’s story in her own article, but suffice it to say here that her surname was not Elmore. Thomas Dodson’s mother’s surname remains a mystery.

Nancy the Cow

The first record involving Thomas Dodson occurred when Thomas was 12 years old, which is a bit unusual. However, this recorded deed seems to be a preemptive strike or a reaction perhaps to criticism for the exchange of one cow for another. Yes, a cow.

1692-1694 Richmond County, VA, Deed Book 1; Antient Press: (Page 165)

I Charles Dodson do give & convey unto & with my beloved Son, Tho: Dodson, one brown Cow called by the name of Nancy marked with a crop & swallow forke on the left Eare, & a crop on the right tare, together with all her female increase being in Exchange with him my sd Son, Thomas, for One Cow given him by his Godfather, Peter Elmore, To have & to hold unto him the said Thomas his Executrs: Admstrs: or assignes together was aforesaid from me my heirs forever, And I do hereby warrant the sd Cow together with all her female increase unto him the sd Thomas his Executrs: &c. of & from the claimes of me the sd Charles, my Executrs; &c. & all & every other persons what so ever, In Witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand & seale this 31st day of July Ano: 1693 Sealed & delivered in presence of us Wm Ward, Charles Dodson Wm. Colston Record Richmond Co. 31st die Julii 1693

I do have to wonder why they traded cows, and why the trade was recorded and not just done without fanfare. I’m sure there’s more to this story that we’ll never know. Recording deeds was not free, nor convenient, so there had to be something else.

This deed probably explains where the Elmore surname attached to Anne originated, but Godfather does not mean that Thomas’s mother was an Elmore. Godfather simply means that Peter Elmore, who it turns out, was another neighbor, stood up with Charles and Ann Dodson when baby Thomas was baptized in the North Farnham Parish church in 1681.

How Many Thomas’s Were There?

Seldom do we find records of children in court or land records, unless their parents die or the transaction is unusual, like Nancy the cow.

The early mention of Thomas caused me some concern, because I began to wonder if there was more than one Thomas. Was Thomas really a minor, or were there two Thomas Dodsons?

Two or more Thomas Dodsons in the same records at the same time might become intermixed. I assembled the early records and was greatly relieved to see that in spite of that fact that there were several Charles Dodsons, other than Thomas Dodson Sr.’s son, Thomas Jr., there were no other Thomas Dodsons during this timeframe to muddy the waters. Charles Dodson and Thomas Durham were neighbors, and I do wonder if perhaps Thomas Dodson was named for Thomas Durham. Ironically, if so, Thomas Dodson married Thomas Durham’s daughter, Mary.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.

On the pedigree chart above, the individuals in green are my ancestors. The ones in tan are the various Charles Dodsons. Fortunately, there was only one Thomas in the records before his son, Thomas Jr., came of age in about 1725 when he married Elizabeth Rose.

Marriage

Twenty years and three months after his birth, on August 1, 1701, Thomas Dodson married Mary Durham, daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Smoot Durham, their neighbors in what had become Richmond County, VA. Age 20 is on the young side for a male to marry at that time, but perhaps the fact that his father was willing to give him land helped secure the deal.

According to a 1723 deed, the land of Thomas Durham conveyed to Thomas Dodson was marked by the corner tree of Charles Dodson. This tells us that the Dodsons and Durhams were neighbors and Thomas Dodson literally married the girl next door.

The book, “Virginia Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800” found on Ancestry provides us with additional information.

Thomas Received Land From His Father

When Thomas first appears in deed records as an adult, he had recently married and would have been looking to establish a homestead.

Thomas Dodson’s father wrote his will on January 11, 1702/1703 in which he leaves to Thomas “a plantation seated in a neck formerly called the Rich Neck with 150 acres of land to him and the male heires lawfully begotten of his own body forever and if the above said Thomas Dodson should dye without any male that then the land should returned to the next heire of the Dodson.“

Just a few days later, Charles deeded adjacent tracts of land to Thomas and his brother Charles. It might appear that Charles was rushing to get his affairs in order. Was Charles ill, thinking he would die soon?

P 210-212 Feb. 2, 1702 Deed of Gift. Charles Dodson of North Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Thomas Dodson of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck that Charles Dodson Jr. now lives on. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Thomas Dodson or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1703 Book 3 page 105

Court Orders Page 221 Feb. 3, 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Thomas Dodson and ordered recorded.

Sons Born

The first child born to Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham recorded in the parish books, which are known to be incomplete, is George Dodson born in October of 1702. However, it makes more sense that son Thomas Dodson, whose birth is unrecorded, would have been born first and named after his father. If that is true, then Thomas would have been born almost immediately after their marriage, August 1, 1701, for Mary to have gotten pregnant again and had George in October of 1702. The more reasonable scenario is that Thomas was born about 1704, but that begs the question of who George Dodson, firstborn, was named after?

Given that we don’t know who either Charles nor Ann’s father was, George could have been a family name on either side.

Church Non-Attendance

During this time, the court order books are full of people being “presented” to the court for not attending church. The Anglican church was the official church of the crown in Virginia and attendance was mandatory. Non-attendance was prosecuted and fines levied. One would ask themselves why a man would not attend church, knowing the consequences. When you find groups of men, known to be associated, one wonders if their non-attendance was a religious or a political statement, or something else perhaps – but what?

Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.

Court Order Book Page 34 February 7, 1704/05 Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.

Thomas’s Father Dies

Charles Dodson’s will was proven in court on February 6, 1705/6, two years after he wrote it.

Thomas Can’t Write

Aside from Thomas’s noncompliance with church attendance, his life appears to be very “normal” for the time and place, with Thomas occasionally being summoned, along with other men, for occasional civic duty.

Court Order Book Page 111 February 6, 1705 Petition of Christopher Petty that he might build or erect a mill on a run or water course of Totuskey and having only and on one side it was ordered by the aforesaid court that Peter Elmore and Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson should layout and value one acre of land on the opposite side which accordingly we the subscribers have done to the best of our judgements and do value said acre to be worth 20 shillings. Signed Peter Elmore, his mark, Charles Dodson his mark and Thomas Dodson his marke,

This record tells us that Thomas Dodson cannot sign his name, and therefore, very likely cannot read. One record extractor recreated the “marks” of the people who signed, and Thomas always signed with a “T.” Thomas’s father, Charles Dodson always signed his name – so probably was literate. The Charles Dodson in this record is Thomas’s brother, Charles, who also signed with a mark.  The Dodson boys never learned to read or write.

Thomas’s Mother Remarries

We know that Thomas’s father died around January of 1705/06, because Charles’ will was probated on February 6th of that year. Generally, wills were probated between 30 and 90 days after the individual died, meaning at the next county court session.

Estates and remarriages are almost always interesting, and thankfully, produce records when conflicts arose. Thomas’s mother, Ann, remarried not long after Charles death, to John Hill, according to court records.

On July 3, 1706, the court ordered that John Hill and his wife Anne, executrix of the last will and testament of Charles Dodson dec’d meet at the house of said John Hill and ordered that John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard White inventory and appraise all the estate of the said Charles Dodson. Court Order Book 4-171.

This would suggest one of two things. Either John Hill moved into the home of Charles Dodson and Ann when he married widow Ann Dodson, or someone else is living in the Charles Dodson home and Charles’ remaining estate had been taken with Ann to John Hill’s house. Lambeth Dodson, the son to whom Charles leaves his new plantation would only have been 16, not old enough to work the plantation alone.

Thomas is Ill

Court Order Book Page 198 Oct. 2, 1706 Thomas Dodson summoned to appeare as one of the last grand jury and not appearing was fined according to law and it now appearing to this court that Thomas Dodson was sick at the time when the grand jury made their appearance it is thereupon ordered that the fine be remitted.

Apparently, not long after his father dies, Thomas is ill as well. Charles Dodson died when he was 57 and when Thomas was 25. A sad time with a father gone too soon.

By the spring of 1707, things got interesting.

Ejected

Court Order Book Page 261 April 3 1707 Ejection firma depending in this court between James Greenehead plt and Thomas Dod deft is dismissed plt not prosecuting.

Plt is short for plaintiff and def or deft for defendant.

This record is copied exactly from a transcript, not the original. I believe this is Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson. There is a John Dodd in Richmond County, but never did I encounter a Thomas Dod.

An ejection firmae, according to “A Law Dictionary” by Henry Campbell Black, is an ejection of ejectment of farm. The name or a writ or action of trespass which lay at common law where lands or tenements were let for a term of years, and afterwards the lessor, reversioner, remainder-man or any stranger ejected or ousted the lessee of his term, terme or farm. In this case the latter might have his writ of ejection, by which he recovered at first damages for the trespass only, but it was afterwards made a remedy to recover back the term itself, or the remainder of it, with damages. It is the foundation of the modern action of ejectment. Ejectment is the action which lay for the recovery of the possession of land and for damages for the unlawful detention of its possession.

This certainly sounds like an adversarial situation. Ironically, Thomas Dodson’s mother-in-law, as a widow in 1715, would marry Jeremiah Greenham.

Thomas Dodson Sues His Step-Father

On April 3rd in 1707, Thomas Dodson was having a particularly bad day, because in addition to the ejectment, above, he files suit against his step-father as executor of his father’s estate after marrying Thomas’s mother, then apparently drops the suit.

Court Order Book Page 262 April 3 1707 Action brought by Thomas Dodson against John Hill marrying the executrix of Charles Dodson is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

This probably means that there was some issue with Charles Dodson’s will or estate and after filing the suit (although we don’t have the filing itself) the parties came to an agreement. Charles Dodson’s estate was fairly straightforward, as he left land to sons and conveyed that land to Thomas before his death, making this suit very curious. Charles left the rest of his “moveable estate” to his wife and daughters, who did not file suit.

Trespass

On June 2, 1708, Thomas (X) Dodson and Bar’t Rich’d Dodson witnessed a complaint of damages on trespass of land involving James Toone, John Fan and John Miller.

At that time, trespass generally meant that one man was somehow infringing upon the land or resources of another, as in cut down his tree in the forest, not trespass as we think of it today. The men generally disagreed about where the property line was located, which were much less defined then than they are now.

Fornication

Not only was a family squabble occurring in the Dodson family between Thomas and his step-father and maybe his mother, but it appears that Thomas’s wife’s Durham family was having some high drama of their own as well that spilled over to Thomas Dodson. Keep in mind that the Durhams are neighbors of Thomas Dodson, in addition to being his in-laws.

Court Order Book Page 372 July 7, 1708 Anne Kelly, servant to Thomas Durham, bring brought before the court by her master for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and said Anne refusing to confess who was the father of the child, the court have ordered she be committed to the county goale there to remaine until such time as she shall confess who is the true father of her child and it is also ordered that she serve her master or his assignes after he time by indenture custome or otherwise shall be fully expired according to law in compensation for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

Note that the county goale was how jail was spelled at that time.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7 1708 This day Dorothy Durham for and on the behalf of her husband Thomas Durham confessed judgement to the church wardens of Northfarnham parish to the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco the same being the fine of Anne Kelly for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child which is ordered to be paid with costs.

So Anne Kelly won’t tell who the father is, but Dorothy, Thomas Durham’s wife, won’t let her go to jail. Hurray for Dorothy – stepping up. I’d love to have been a mouse in that house.

Anne Kelly was indentured to the Durham family when she was just 14, in June of 1699, and fresh off the boat, literally. She was brought into court to have her age adjudged to determine the length of her indenture.

Nine years later, Anne is still indentured, now with a child, and 23 years old. Generally, servants are required to serve an additional 5 years if they have a child while indentured. Plus they are fined for fornication, even though they are not permitted to marry, and if they or someone can’t pay the fine, they are jailed. She was brave to not tell, but who was she protecting? Or was Anne afraid?

Eight months later, we discover the identity of the father.

Court Order Book Page 4 March 2, 1708/9 Anne Kelly came into court and made oath that Thomas Durham Jr. is the true father of 2 bastard children borne of her body in the time of her service with his father, Thomas Durham the elder. Upon motion of the Queen’s attorney ordered that Thomas Durham Jr. be summoned to next court to enter into bond with security for the indemnification of the parish and what charge may acrew to the parish for or by reason of the children aforesaid.

Thomas has to enter into a bond, but not pay a fine. A bond is only confiscated if the child becomes a financial burden to the church. So, in colonial Virginia, the woman is fined and sentenced for fornication, but the man is not. Apparently the fact that “it took 2” didn’t matter, or perhaps a certain level of morality was expected of women but not men.

Court Order Book Page 5 March 2, 1708/09 Anne Kelly servant to Thomas Dodson being this day brought before this court for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child the court have ordered Anne Kelly to serve Thomas Dodson or his assignes according to law after her time by indenture or otherwise is fully expired, in consideration of his paying her fine for committing the offence aforesaid.

Court Order Book Page 5 March 2 1708/09 Thomas Dodson confest judgement to the churchwardens of North Farnham parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco being the fine of Anne Kelley for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and it ordered that he pay the same with costs.

I had to read this twice. It appears that while Anne Kelly is indentured to Thomas Durham Sr., she is working for Thomas Dodson going to work additional time for Thomas Dodson after her indenture to Thomas Durham is completed because Thomas Dodson paid her fine.

So, I have to ask, where the Hell is Thomas Durham Jr. in all of this????? Why isn’t he paying the fine? Why isn’t he stepping up?

As it turns out, Thomas was a minor, although that’s clearly not an excuse.

Thomas Durham Jr. was born on June 27, 1690, meaning that in 1708 he was 18 years old. Anne was 5 years older than Thomas Jr. who had been 17 (or younger) when Anne got pregnant, the first time, depending on when she actually had the child. The second time, in March 1709, when Anne had borne 2 children by Thomas, he was just shy of 19 and she was about 24 – and by then she was facing at least 10 more years of servitude to Durham (plus whatever was left of her original time) plus some servitude time to Thomas Dodson as well – probably another 5 years. This means that Anne Kelly would have served at least until she was 39 if not 44, adding in the first fine that Dorothy Durham paid.

Indeed, the crime of fornication was expensive…for the woman. The male involved, as we will see shortly, was free to live his life unencumbered.

Back to Boring Old Land

After all that fornication excitement, these land records are just outright boring!

Court Order Book Page 55 B – In obedience to an order of court dated June 2, 1709 wherein it was ordered that a jury should go upon the land in difference between James Tone by his nearest friend John Fan, plt and John Miller, def, to survey according to the most known and reputed bounds thereof the land aforesaid, we by the named jury underwritten met upon the land and find the def a trespasser and that said deft has committed damage upon the said land to the value of 5 shillings sterling. July 5, 1709 signers include Bar: Richd Dodson, Thomas (T his mark) Dodson

Court Order Book Page 14 April 2, 1712 Christopher Petty and Thomas Dodson, processioners appointed for one of the precincts of Northfarnham Parish have made returns that Robert Downeman has refused to procession the land of William Downeman Sr. and Hugh Cambell being undecided, it is ordered that the sheriff summon a jury of the most able and antient freeholders to lay out and survey the land of William Downeman and Hugh Cambell.

Processioners were men appointed to periodically review the property lines with all parties concerned within the parish. This was to reduce conflicts and gain agreement by all to the location of those lines. Antient is an obsolete spelling of ancient.

I can just see these men tromping around in the swamps.

Thomas’s Dodson’s Father-In-Law Dies

Thomas Durham, Thomas Dodson’s father-in-law, wrote his will in 1711, but did not pass away until 1715, when his will was probated in June.

Will Book page 210 – Thomas Durham, North Farnham Parish, will August 4, 1711, probated June 1 ,1715, wife Dorothy the plantation, after her death to son Thomas and Mary his wife, son John, dau Mary Dodson, grandson Thomas Dodson, ex: wife; no witnesses.

In Thomas Durham’s 1711 will, he specifically mentions his daughter, Mary Dodson and her son, Thomas Dodson, which would be the son of Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham.

Alice Dodson Born

Daughter Alice was probably born about 1712.

Thomas’s Brother and Wife Die

In addition to Thomas Dodson’s father-in-law’s death in May of 1715, Thomas’s brother was ill, apparently for several months, and died as well. Sadly, Charles’s daughter, Anne was born on July 16, 1715, 8 days after Charles wrote his will but before his will was probated in May of 1716 by his widow.  They had a newborn child, a very sick husband and a questionable wife, as she wrote her will in 1718 and died in 1719, leaving several orphans. It appears that daughter Anne died too, because nothing more is known of her and she is not mentioned in her mother’s will.

We don’t know who raised Thomas’s brother’s children, but given that there were several Dodson siblings, they along with the wife’s siblings were the most likely candidates.

Court Order Book Page 250 – Charles Dodson, Farnham Parish, will July 8, 1715, probated May 2, 1716, son Charles all land between spring branch and the branch that parts by land from the land of Thomas Dodson, son Furtunatus all land below by spring branch. Wife Anne, ex: wife; wits Bartholomew R. Dodson, George Petty

The Thomas Dodson family would have been greatly aggrieved and making regular trips to the cemetery, wherever that was.

Mary Dodson Born

Daughter Mary Dodson was born October 5, 1715, in the midst of the Durham and Dodson deaths.

This must have been a terribly emotional time.

Thomas’s Mother-In-Law Remarries

In February 1715/16, Thomas Dodson’s mother-in-law remarries to Jeremiah Greenham.

David and Greenham Dodson Born

Sons David and Greenham Dodson were both probably born between 1715 and 1720. Greenham, probably named for Jeremiah Greenham would have been born sometime after Jeremiah married Dorothy in February of 1715/16.

Thomas as Appraiser

Court Order Book Page 143 Oct. 7, 1719 Ann Ayes formerly Ann Elmore and made oath that Peter Elmore Jr. departed this life without making any will and giving security for her administration of the estate.

John Harris, Hugh Harris, Christopher Petty and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Peter Elmore. All sworn plus Ann Ayres.

Will Book Page 135 Peter Elmore estate appraised and signed by John Harris, Thomas Dodson (T his mark) Hugh Harris Nov. 4, 1719

While all we see here are the court records, keep in mind that Peter Elmore was Thomas Dodson’s godfather and the Dodson neighbor, probably for his entire life.

Ann Elmore, Peter’s daughter had married Robert Ayres, so she is clearly not Ann Dodson, wife of Charles.

John Hill

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 Frances Hill wife of John Hill relinquished right of dower in piece of land sold by her husband unto Thomas Creele and ack last Jan court.

We have no way of knowing if this John Hill is the same John Hill as Ann Dodson married in 1706, but the Dodson family involvement with this John seems to suggest so. If that is the case, then between 1706 and 1722, Ann Dodson Hill died and John remarried to Frances.

John Hill and Frances Hill, relict of Robert Reynolds, decd came into court and made oath that Robert Reynolds departed this life without making any will so farr as they know or believe and on their petition and giving security for their just and faithful administration of the decds estate, certificate granted them for obtaining probate.

John Hill, Frances Hill, Caron Brannon and James Neale came into court and ack bond for John Hill and Frances Hill admin of estate of Robert Reynolds, decd.

Thomas Dodson, Christopher Petty, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Thomas Scurlock or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Robert Reynolds decd. All sworn plus John and Frances Hill, the admins.

Jeremiah Greenham

Court Order Book Page 38 – April 4, 1722 George Davenport, John Mills, Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Thomas Welch. All sworn and also Elizabeth Welch, executrix.

Thomas Dodson and his wife’s step-father Jeremiah Greenham apparently get along well, as they are paired numerous times in various affairs.

Bridle Road

Court Order Book Page 40 April 4, 1722 Upon motion of Thomas Dodson and others ordered that Mr. Travers Downman forthwith cause a sufficient bridle road to be cleared round his plantation into the Ridge Road.

That bridle road is probably a real road today, if we just knew where the Ridge Road was, we might be able to find some candidates along Totuskey Creek.

On the map below, the Ridge Road is marked with the red pin. Downman’s land may have been towards Moratico, at the bottom of this picture, below the red pin. Today, Ridge Road, Richmond Road and History Land Highway are paved, and the rest of the roads are still dirt.

Totuskey Creek is the spider-like structure to the upper left of the red pin on the left side.

There are several small roads intertwined with Totuskey Creek.

This picture is facing Totuskey Creek at its closest point to Ridge Road. I don’t know if this was the Dodson land, but Thomas was assuredly familiar with this land.

More Estates Appraised

As men aged, they were perceived to be wiser, or just perhaps more experienced. When possible, estate appraisers consisted of the deceased person’s largest creditor, a person related to the widow to represent her interests and someone unconnected with the deceased but a county resident familiar with prices of goods. Finding someone “unconnected” in a community where everyone knew everyone well, and many families were intermarried must have been challenging. I suspect that many times the third man was really a respected member of the community. These three men would agree, with their various interests, on the value of the estate, so the process was deemed to be fair to all involved.

Court Order Book Page 202 Robert Reanolds estate inventory signed by Christopher Petty, Thomas Dodson and Thomas Skourlock April 4, 1722

Court Order Book Page 209 Inventory of Thomas Welch signed by Jeremiah Greenham, George Devenport and Thomas Dodson May 2, 1722

Court Order Book Page 124 Nov. 6, 1723 Thomas Dodson sworn on grand jury.

Abraham Born

Son Abraham Dodson was born in April 1723.

Thomas Buys Land From His Brother-in-Law

1720-1733 Richmond Co VA Deed Book 8; Antient Press: (Page 240

This indenture made the Tenth day of December Anno Dm. 1723 Between Thomas Durham of County of Richmond of one part and Thomas Dodson Senr. of County aforesaid of other part; Witnesseth that Thomas Durham in consideration of sum of Five shillings of lawfull money of England to him in hand paid by Thomas Dodson Senr., do by these presents bargaine and sell unto Thomas Dodson Senr. his heirs a parcel! of land containing One hundred acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall sitaute in County of Richmond and bounded; Begining at a Spanish Oak corner tree of Charles Dodson, being part of a Pattent formerly granted to Wm: Thatcher by the Maine Branch of Totoskey, and extending thence S. 12 degrees W. 122 perches to a Mulberrie tree, thence S. 54 degrees E. 98 by a red Oak, corner tree, thence E. N. E. 34 perches by a red Oak, thence No, 24 degrees E. 104 perches to a Poplar in said Maine Branch, thence down said Branch its severall courses to the first station; Together with all Timber trees and other trees with all prof itts comodites and priviledges; To have and to hold the hundred acres of land and premises unto Thomas Dodson Senr, his heirs dureing the full term of one year paying therefore the Rent of one Eare of Indian Corn on the Feast Day of the Birth of our Lord God next ensueing if lawfully demanded, to the end that by vertue of these presents and of the Statute for transferring uses into possession, Thomas Dodson Senr, may be in the actuall possession of the land and premises and thereby enabled to take a grant of the inheritance thereof to him and his heirs; In Witness whereof the parties abovesaid to these presents interchangeably have set their hands and seals the day and year first above written

Signed Thomas and Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker and Jeremiah Greenham

Dec 10, 1723 between Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr of Richmond Co. 5000 pounds tobacco received by Thomas Dodson Sr certain parcel of land formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date 25th of 9ber, 1692, containing 100 acres bounded (same as lease above). Signed Thomas Durham, Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham

This land appears to be the same as above, but the payment amount/method is different. The extractions are taken from two different sources.

Dec. 10, 1723 Mary Dodson appeared in court and released her dower

This deed or deeds provide a lot of information. First, the deed locates the land on Totuskey Creek for Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson and Thomas Durham Sr. Second, this tells us that Thomas Durham Jr., the man who impregnated the indentured servant, twice, did not marry the servant, but instead married Mary Smoote in about 1710, a year or so after the second child was born of Anne Kelly.

Thomas Durham’s involvement with Anne Kelly and her two children was apparently done. By 1723, Anne might have been raising those children, now teenagers and serving several more years to Thomas Dodson in payment for her “sin” and his payment of HER fine for fornication, but Thomas Durham skated free, married and is living the life of his choice while living very near to Anne Kelly, probably next door, as she suffers the permanent consequences of their “fornication.”

At a Court held for Richmond County the sixth day of May 1724, Thomas Durham came into Court and acknowledged this his Deed unto Thomas Dodson Senr. which was admitted to Record

The mouth of Totuskey Creek is shown above, where it intersects with the Rappahannock River. We know that the Dodsons lived someplace on the main branch of Totuskey Creek. Farnham, to the right down 3 (History Land Highway) is the location of the North Farnham Parish Church.

Much of the area remains low and swampy today.

The photos above and below are Totuskey Creek near its intersection with highway 3, named the History Land Highway. Minus the houses and modern reminders, this area probably didn’t look a lot different then. Swamp where it was too wet for trees, then woods and fields where they could be cleared.

We don’t know exactly where Briery Swamp was located on the Totuskey, but we do know that there was a North Branch. Other family names with deeds reflecting Briery Swamp were Mills, Goad, Headley, Lawson, Downman and Griffin.

Judging Workmanship

It appears that perhaps Thomas Dodson was selected for a peacekeeping role, perhaps reflecting a respected position within the community. At age 43, he had already outlived the average life expectancy for that time of 37 years old.

Court Order Book Page 154 May 7, 1724 In action between Robert Schofield plt and Mary Dalton deft by consent of both parties that Thomas Dodson and William Hanks appointed between now and next court and view the work done by the plt for the deft and report whether in their opinion it be done in a workmanlike manner and the suit continued.

Court Order Book Page 173 Sept 2, 1724 Thomas Dodson Sr and Jeremian Greenham sworn on jury.

Joshua Born

Son Joshua Dodson was born in May 1725.

Stafford County Land

Stafford County, Virginia Deed Book J, 1722 – 1728; {Antient Press}: pp 340-346

This indenture made 13th January and Last day January 1726 between Jeremiah Greenham of County Richmond and Parish of North farnam sawyer of one part and Thomas Dodson and Greenham Dodson, Planters of the above said county Witnesseth Jeremiah Greenham in consideration sum ten shillings of good is lawfull money of great Britain by deeds of lease release hath granted all that tract of land between the Branches of Potomack and Accakeek runs in the Parish Overwharton containing 316 acres being the Moyety of 632 acres of land granted in Joynt Tenancy to one Thomas Leechman and one William Williams and the said 316 acres was also made over by less & reless dated 9th July 1714 unto Jeremiah Greenham the aforesaid 632 acres granted to Leachman & Williams was by a deed from the Proprietors office dated 21st July 1710 and the aforementioned 316 acres is bounded … beginning at a corner marked red oak standing by the Path that leads from the head of Accakeek run to Capt. Mountjoys Mill being one of the corner trees mentioned in the said Deed .. to corner marked gum tree standing by the said Path .. to corner marked Pine standing in the line of land survey’d for James Harvey thence along Harvey’s line .. thence East to the stony lick branch to corner marked black oak standing in the said bank being marked for a Dividing tree between Leechman and Williams by Mr. George Crosby Sr.. & Mr. John Addams persons well acquainted with the said land Indifferently chosen by the said Leechman and Williams to make a division between them in manner may appear by an agreement Division in writeing duly executed dated 13th June last past ..

Presence Thos. Humston, Jere: Greenham

Rawleigh Travers

At Court held for Stafford County 8th February 1726 Jeremiah Greenham acknowledged this deed lease and release’.. admitted to record.

I wonder why Jeremiah Greenham sold this land to the Dodson brothers. Furthermore, I wonder if Dorothy was now deceased, because she did not relinquish her dower right in the land.

I could find no record of children for Jeremiah Greenham.

Stafford County was north of Richmond County, along the Potomac, but not far.

This area appears to be a Nature Preserve today, unless their land was further inland.

The head of Accokeek Creek seems to be in the area just Northwest of Ramoth in the upper left corner of the map below, and the branches of the Potomac are just below that location, so perhaps this is where Thomas’s land fell.  There is no record of what happened to this land.

Back in Richmond County

Clearly, Thomas Dodson never lived on the land in Stafford County, as he continued to function in Richmond County, often serving on the jury or appraising estates for neighbors that have passed away.

Court Order Book Page 272 March 3, 1725/26 Thomas Dodson action of debt against Adam McLeroy dismissed the plt not prosecuting.

This is the only record where Thomas sued for debt, which compared to other planters, was rather amazing.  However, he obviously wasn’t averse when necessary.

Page 308 October 5, 1726 Will of Peter Elmore decd presented by Charity Elmore his executrix who made oath and proved by Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Thomas Dodson, two of the witnesses.

Bartholomew Richard Dodson, Thomas Dodson, John Oldham and James Oldham or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Peter Elmore. All sworn plus Charity Elmore, executrix.

Elisha Born

Elisha Dodson was born in February of 1727.

Another Estate

Court Order Book Page 338 April 5, 1727 Thomas Scurlock, Thomas Dodson, William Everitt and Abraham Goad or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Petty, decd. All sworn.

This William Everitt is probably the father of Sarah Everett who married Thomas’s son, Elisha. When Thomas’s son, George sold the land in 1756 that his father, Thomas, left to him, it abutted the land of a William Everett.

John Hill Dies

Court Order Book Page 399 April 3, 1728 Last will of John Hill decd presented by Frances Hill, executrix and oath of James Wilson and John Hightower, two witnesses.

Frances Hill, John Hightower and Lambert Dodson came into court and ack bond for Frances Hill’s administration of will of John Hill decd.

Thomas Scurlock, Thomas Dodson, John Hightower and Bartholomew Richard Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Hill. Oaths admin to all 3 plus Frances Hill.

Is this the same John Hill that was married to Ann Dodson? Given the family association with Thomas Dodson and two of his brothers, I would guess so. He obviously remarried.

More Jury Duty

Court Order Book Page 599 Sept. 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book Page 602, 603 Sept. 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury to hear case for “tending of second for tobacco.”

I’m not entirely clear was “tending of second” was, but Hening’s Statutes discuss it in 1730 and it seems to be related to practices involving the pruning and care of plants to increase the quality of the tobacco as opposed to the yield. Thomas wasn’t accused of this, but obviously someone was and it wasn’t a trivial offense.

Court Order Book Page 603 September 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury, twice.

Court Order Book Page 604 September 2, 1731 John Dodson is security for John and Ann Elmore.

Court Order Book Page 605, 606 September 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury, twice.

Court Order Book Page 644 May 3, 1732 Thomas Dodson, Sr, Jeremiah Greenham and John Hill on grand jury.

Family Squabble

Court Order Book Page 625 March 2, 1731/32 Thomas Dodson Jr. pl vs Lambert Dodson deft 2747 pounds tobacco due by account, the def being called and not appearing on the motion of the plt judgement is granted him against the def and John Gibson his security for the aforesaid sum and costs unless def appears at next court and answers the action.

Court Order Book Page 5 Nov. 7, 1732 Thomas Dodson Jr. vs Lambert Dodson continued till next court.

Court Order Book Page 12 Nov. 7, 1732 Thomas Dodson Jr. plt vs Lambert Dodson def for 2747 pounds tobacco due by account being called and not appearing the judgement of the March court is again confirmed.

It looks like the family has another squabble between Thomas Jr. and his uncle. This is the first mention of Thomas Dodson Jr. in the record books. Ironically, it isn’t the uncle claiming his nephew owes him, but the other way around.  Furthermore, Lambert never shows up in court and the case is found for Thomas Jr.  This one is a head scratcher too.  Thomas Jr. would have been about 32 at this time, so clearly old enough to be farming or functioning as a “planter” and conducting business.

Thomas Jr. Buys Land

Deed Book 8, p.660 August 6, 1733 Abraham & Winifred Daile and Ellinor Southorn to Thomas Dodson Jr. 30 acres formerly belonging to Daniel O’Neal. Rec. August 6, 1733

Father and Son Sell Land

Deed Book Page 12 Lease and release Dec 6-7, 1733 from Thomas Dodson Sr and Mary his wife and Thomas Dodson Jr and Eliza his wife all of NFP to John’n Lyell of same in consideration of a negro woman to be delivered to said Dodson as soon as any comes to Virginia to be sold as the said Dodson Jr. wished about 130 acres in NFP and bounded by Charles Dodson by the main swamp of Totuskey. The other 30 acres of land is bounded by old Cone path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneal, a line of trees that divides the land of Mr. Spencer and the land of Thomas Dusin, corner oak formerly belonging to William Matthews, along Matthews line the land formerly belonging to John Henly. Of the 130 acres, 100 acres formerly belonged to Abraham Marshall by a deed dates 25 9ber 1692 and from thence conveyed to Thomas Durham and by the said Durham sold to Thomas Dodson Sr. The other 30 acres was formerly sold by Thomas Dusin to Thomas Southern by deed dated 21 7ber 1687. Signed Thomas Dodson Sr his mark T, Mary her mark M, Thomas Dodson Jr, Elizabeth her mark, wit Robert Reynolds and George Gibson and William Creel Rec April 1, 1734

This hurts my heart. Until now, we had no evidence that Thomas Dodson was participating in the slave trade, but now we do. Raising tobacco was a very labor intensive endeavor. There weren’t enough people to do the work, and indentured servants, if they weren’t worked to death, eventually had to be freed. Not so with Africans, although there weren’t enough slaves arriving either. Native people were being enslaved by this time as well, as evidenced by a 1711 record in Richmond County, although not having to do with the Dodson family.

Court Order Book Page 170 Mary Dodson wife of Thomas Dodson Sr and Eliza Dodson wife of Thomas Dodson Jr both of NFP appoint friend Henry Miskell of same POA to ack 130 acres land which was sold by our husbands to Mr. John’s Lyell of same by deed dated today. Signed Dec. 7 1733 both by mark. Wit Robert Reynolds (Renold) and George Gibson, William Creele Rec April 1, 1734

Court Order Book Page 170 Thomas Dodson and Thomas Dodson Jr. came into court and ack their deeds of lease and release for land unto Jonathan Lyell.

Court Order Book Page 171 April 1, 1734 Henry Miskell by virtue of power of attorney from Mary Dodson and Elizabeth Dodson the wives of Thomas Dodson and Thomas Dodson Jr to him in that behalf made relinquished the said Mary and Elizabeth’s right of dower in the land conveyed in the deeds unto Jonathan Lyell.

Women often did not want to attend court, so they would appoint a male, who was going to attend court anyway, to be their power of attorney and give their word, on their behalf, that they did indeed relinquish their dower right in the land.

There is a Lyell church at Rich Neck in Richmond County, the green area just below Rich Neck on the map below.  A crossroads named Lyells if located about 3.5 miles, as the crow flies, to the northwest of Rich Neck, at the intersection of Oldham’s Road and King’s Highway (History Land Highway.) The Lyell family was certainly located in this area.

Another Neighbor Dies

Court Order Book Page 170 April 1, 1734 John Oldum, Thomas Dodson, Richard Brown and John Flynt or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Robert Mathews. All sworn plus Sarah Mathews and James Oldum, executors.

Every time we see an estate record, we know that one of Thomas’s neighbors, and probably his friends, has died. Thomas Dodson’s daughter, Mary, married an Oldham.

Thomas Buys Brother Bartholomew Richard’s Land

Deed Book 9 Page 21 May 5-6 1734, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and wife Elizabeth of Weecomoce (Wicomico) Parish in Northumberland County to Thomas Dodson of North Farnham Parish (NFP) in Richmond County for 4500 pounds tobacco, 150 acres lying between the Oke neck and Hickory Neck Branch in Richmond county which land (is part of 500 acres that) [part in parenthesis lines out in transcription] was formerly sold by Capt. Samuel Traverse to Charles Dodson, father to the said Bartholomew Richard Dodson. Land is bounded by Daniel Everit. Signed by him, her mark, Wit Thomas Legg, H Miskell, Jeremiah Greenham, Rec May 6, 1734 and Elizabeth Dodson relinquish dower.

Based on the 1702 will of Charles Dodson, Bartholomew inherited the land at Oak Neck and William inherited the land called Hickory Neck, from their father. I wonder if Oak Neck and Hickory Neck are near Rich Neck, the land inherited by son Thomas.

Charles Dodson Sr. obviously felt very strongly about the land that he left his sons. However, he made it very difficult for them to move on, because he stipulated that they could only leave it to heirs of their body, or sell it to their brothers, assuring that it would always stay in the family. The sons attempted to honor his wishes.

Court Order Book Page 181 May 6, 1734 Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Elizabeth wife ack deed for lease and release to Thomas Dodson.

Power of Attorney

Obviously, Thomas Dodson was already in court this day.

Deed Book 9 Page 25 Jane Lawson of Christ Church Parish in Lancaster County, Power of Attorney (POA) to Thomas Dodson to ack in Richmond County court a deed dated today for 450 ac to Robert Mitchell of St. Mary White Chapel in Lancaster County. Deed made my me, John Steptoe Jr and Joanne, his wife. Signed May 4, 1734 wit Tobias Phillips, John Brown rec May 6 1734

Court Order Book Page 182 May 6, 1734 POA from Jean Lawson to Thomas Dodson proved with oath of Tobias Phillips and John Brown, witnesses.

Court Order Book Page 182 Thomas Dodson by virtue of a POA from Jane Lawson to him ack the same Jane Lawson’s deed for land and the livery of seizen thereon until Robert Mitchell and John Steptoe Jr and Johanna his wife.

Court Order Book Page 186 May 6, 1734 Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book Page 393 May 3, 1736 – Henry Miskell, William Deavenport, John Hightower and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Ogleby decd. Sworn along with Margery Ogleby admin.

Fortunatis Dies

Court Order Book Page 600 May 1, 1738 Thomas Dodson, William Everett, George Glascock and John Hightower or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Fortunatus Dodson, decd. All sworn, plus Alice Dodson admin.

Fortunatus was Thomas Dodson’s nephew, son of his brother Charles who died more than 20 years before.

Thomas must have thought to himself that the next generation was beginning to pass on. By this time, Thomas was 57 years old and Fortunatis would have been about 38, having married Alice Goad a dozen years earlier.

Page 622 July 3, 1738 Thomas Dodson on jury.

Surveyor

Court Order Book Page 632 July 4, 1738 Thomas Dodson appointed surveyor of the highways for this ensuing year of the Coach Road from Richard Oldums to the lower end of the county and ordered he clear the same according to law. A coach road would have had to have been a substantial road in good repair to be able to handle the width of a coach and team of horses without vibrating the passengers to death.

Court Order Book Page 638 July 4 1738 Thomas Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book 1738/1739 – Page 81 – Thomas Dodson, William Everitt, James Tarpley and Richard (B?) or any 3 of them to appraise estate of James Oldham decd. All sworn plus Juney and John Oldham, execs.

Again, we don’t know exactly where the Oldham family lived, but there is a location called Oldhams, just a mile or so from Rich Neck.

If Thomas was responsible for the road from Oldham’s to the southern end of the county, that would mean from Oldham’s on Road 600 to what is now 360, intersecting with Ridge Road, also road 600, and on south. There were only two roads that traversed the county north to south. Given that we know that this road, now 600, was called the Ridge Road, perhaps the Coach Road was the other road, running closer to the Rappahannock that is today called either the King’s Road, a holdover from colonial times, or History Land Highway.  Thomas was responsible for one or the other.

Thomas Dodson’s Will

Thomas Dodson wrote his own will on February 17, 1739/40 when he was only 58 years old. The will was probated on March 2, 1740/41.

In The Name Of God Amen I Thomas Dodson of North Farnham p’ish in Richmond County Being sick and Weak of Body but in Perfect since and Memory do make and ordain this to be my Last Will and Testam.t in manner and forme –

Impri I lend to my Wife Mary Dodson my Plantation whereon I now Live and the Land thereto Blonging with all my Negroes and Moveable Estate dureing her Natural Life –

Item. I give to my Son Thomas Dodson Five Shill’s to be Paid by Ex’rrs

I give to my Son George Dodson and his heirs for Ever one hundred and fifty Acres of Land whereon he ye sd George Dodson is now Liveing

I Give to my Son Greenham Dodson and his heirs for Ever the Whole Tract of Land I bought of Lambarth Dodson –

I give to my Sone Elisha Dodson & his Heirs for Ever the Plantation whereon I now Live and Land Land therto Belonging after my Wife Mary Dodsons Decease –

I Give to my Daughter Alice Creel One Negroe Girl named Sarah –

I give to my Daughter Mary Oldam one New Suit of calica Cloaths –

I Give to my Son Greenham Dodson one Negroe man Named Harry –

I GIve to my Son Abraham Dodson one Negroe Woman named Bess and one Negroe Boy named Joe –

I Give to my Son Josha Dodson one Negroe woman Named Sue and one Negroe Boy named Dick –

I give to my son Elisha Dodson one Negroe Girl Named Nan –

I give to my son Greenham Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Abraham Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Joshua Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Elisha Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I Give to Granddaughter ye Daughter of David Dodson Twenty Shill’s

All the Remaining Part of My Estate be the same more or Less I give to be Equally Divided between three of my sons: Vist Abraham Dodson Joshua Dodson & Elisha Dodson

I Likewise ordain and Appoint my Wife Mary Dodson and my son Greenham Dodson to be the true and Lawful Exr.s of the my Last will & Tesatament as Witness my hand and seal this 17th Day of February 1739

(S) Thomas (T his mark) Dodson (Seal)

Wits: H. Miskell, John (X) Hightower, Charles Dodson

Thomas’s will removes all doubt about his participation in the slave trade. He owned at least 7 slaves, and potentially more.  While at the time, owning slaves was clearly a sign of prosperity for the slave owner and “normal” in that society, today, seeing these records causes no small amount of anguish.  All I can say is that I hope he was a kind and generous man.

The death of Thomas Dodson is recorded in the North Farnham Parish Records as November 21, 1740. Typically wills are probated within 90 days, at the next court, so the probate date of March 2, 1740/1741, which is the current year of 1741, makes sense. At that time, the new year did not begin until March 25, March 2 would have been considered 1740 at that time, but is 1741 today.

Richmond County Will Book 5 p.380 – Thomas DODSON, inv; 6 Apr 1741. p.387 – Thomas DODSON, f.inv; 3 Aug 1741.

Will Book 5 has not been transcribed.  I have written for a copy of Thomas’s inventory.  I hope it’s long and detailed! I will add it here when it arrives.

Thomas left multiple tracts of land:

  • To wife Mary, “the plantation whereon I now live and the land thereto belonging” and at the death of Mary, the plantation should go to son Elisha Dodson
  • To son George Dodson, “150 acres of land whereon the said George Dodson is now living
  • To son Greenham Dodson “the whole tract of land I bought of Lambarth Dodson.”

Unfortunately, there is no record of what became of the land Thomas left to Elisha, which would have informed us of where Thomas actually lived at that time.

One of the first two tracts, according to Reverend Silas Lucas, is the Travers land. That land, called Rich Neck, was sold by the heirs of Thomas Dodson to Charles Lovelace, date no specified but apparently in Richmond County. In later years, the heirs of Lovelace sold the land back to James Boothe Dodson, son of Charles.

If today’s Rich Neck is the same Rich Neck as the references on a contemporary map, I’ve found it!!!

It’s surrounded by Marshy Swamp, which could well have been the Briery Swamp of the 1600s and early 1700s. Marsh Swamp has mill ponds and we know that Briery did as well.

There certainly is a north branch of Marshy Swamp, so I’m thinking this fits the bill quite nicely and I don’t see any other candidate waterways that fit all of the criteria, including a location named Rich Neck and Lyell Church.  I do believe these dots are connected!

The satellite view shows that indeed, there is farmland surrounded by the Creek which is a branch of Totuskey.

Unfortunately, 619 does not have Street View, so I can’t “drive down” it remotely.

Here’s Richmond Road where it crosses Marshy Swamp

Thomas’s Estate Didn’t End With the Will

After Thomas’s death, his widow, Mary Durham Dodson married Robert Galbreath on September 29, 1743 and sure enough, lawsuits followed – just 10 months later.

On July 3, 1744, in chancery court, Greenham Dodson files on behalf of himself as executor of the estate of Thomas Dodson, and others, against Robert Galbreath. (Court Record Book 11-406)

On May 7, 1745, the suit was resolved and the court decided that the petitioner, Greenham Dodson, should “take possession of the coverture, according to the intention of the testators will” and that he should use it for the benefit of Mary Galbreath during her coverture. Robert Galbreath refused to give security and was ordered to pay costs. (Court Record Book 11-458)

That doesn’t sound terribly friendly. The term coverture means the legal status of a married woman, considered to be under her husband’s protection and authority. Perhaps the Dodson children felt that Robert Galbreath was utilizing the estate of Thomas Dodson for himself, not for Mary. Mary would have been 57 years old.

I checked the Virginia Chancery Suit index site for Richmond County, and either those records never made it to the State Library, or they aren’t online yet. I would love to see the entire case file for this suit.

Where was Thomas Dodson Buried?

We don’t know where Thomas Dodson was buried, but he may be buried at the North Farnham Parish church.

You can see that there is a cemetery behind the North Farnham Parish Church, built in 1737, just a few years before Thomas died. Thomas may have helped to build this church.

DNA

The Dodson DNA is quite interesting. While I have not been able to find males close to me genealogically to test, I’m quite fortunate that several Dodson males who descend from this line have already tested. And thankfully, their Y DNA matches each other, so we know that the Dodson Y DNA lineage looks like. I’m incredible grateful for projects at Family Tree DNA, because without projects, there would be no avenue to “find” our ancestor’s DNA lineage, at least not without being able to find someone to test. Projects allow us to leverage the combined tests of others for our own genealogy. Hopefully, we’re reciprocating in kind by joining appropriate projects with our own tests.

As it turns out, there is more than one line of Dodsons, genetically speaking. To begin with, there are haplogroup I Dodsons and two haplogroup R Dodson groups, plus additional Dodsons who don’t match anyone. Charles Dodson’s line is haplogroup R, or more specifically, R-M269.

Charles County, Maryland lies directly across the Potomac River from the Northern Neck, but the Dodson family descended from John Dodson who settled there is NOT the same Dodson family. This isn’t what I would have expected.

The Dodson Y DNA project has several members. The DNA project itself can be found at this link, and a description of some of the lineages can be found at this link.

These lineages as listed on the website include two individuals who descend from Charles Dodson (1645-1705) through son Thomas (1681-1740) and his son Thomas (1707-1783), in blue and yellow, above.

Both men descended through Charles’ son Thomas have marker value of 13 at DYS439, in red above, which could be a line marker mutation. What we don’t know is when this mutation occurred in this line. In fact, it could have been anyplace from Thomas Sr. through Isaac.

Kit 17119 – Charles – Thomas – Thomas – Joseph – Caleb – Isaac – William – (plus 3 more generations)

Kit 24573 – Charles – Thomas – Thomas – Joseph – Caleb – Isaac – John – (plus 5 more generations)

Kit 8571 – Charles – Thomas – George – Lazarus – Elisha – (plus several generations)

The one additional individual, kit 8571, who descends through Thomas has only tested to 12 markers. However, we’re in luck because marker 439 is contained within that panel and carries a value of 14.

Therefore, we know that the mutation to 13 occurred someplace below Thomas Sr. and between Thomas Jr. and Isaac. Thomas Sr. did not carry this mutation, because the descendant of his son George does not have the mutation. Therefore 439=13 is NOT a line marker mutation for Thomas Sr.

What Does the Dodson DNA Look Like?

The Dodson DNA project documents that many of Charles Dodson’s descendants have tested and together, form the genetic Y DNA STR signature of the Northern Neck, Richmond County, Virginia line in America.  STRs are short tandem repeat markers, meaning those shown in the results below.

As you can see, in many cases, there is no question about the original marker value, because there are no mutations and all of the descendants match. In other cases, for other markers, there are several mutations. Mutations from the “normal” value for the group of participants is shown by colorized cells.

We can reconstruct the original STR markers of Charles Dodson’s DNA by determining the most common values.

The Dodson project was one of the early projects established, so people have tested at all different levels. The lower levels, such as 12 markers, are less useful. Additionally, few have uploaded Gedcom files, which makes determining who is descended from which of Charles’ sons somewhat difficult.

I have utilized the information listed on the Dodson public project page, shown above, to create the chart below, listing the original Charles Dodson value for each marker, plus the percentage of the time this marker is found in haplogroup R-M343, which is R1b. This will inform us of any unusual or rare marker values for the Dodson lineage – forming in essence a Dodson rare marker genetic signature that should suffice to isolate Dodson men from others. Markers that appear in less than 10% of the people who carry this haplogroup are bolded.

Allele Location Dodson Value % in R-M343 (R1b)
393 13 91
390 24 60
19 15 9
391 11 67
385a 11 87
385b 13 11
426 12 98
388 12 98
439 14 2
389-1 13 71
392 13 86
389-2 29 63
458 16 18
459a 9 95
459b 10 81
455 11 97
454 11 98
447 25 69
437 15 85
448 19 78
449 28 11
464a 15 80
464b 15 71
464c 17 48
464d 17 69
460 10 probably, or 11 19 (10) or 74 (11)
GATA H4 11 71
YCA II a 19 95
YCA II b 23 81
456 16 40
607 15 70
576 18 42
570 17 57
CDY a 36 30
CDY b 39 22
442 11 12
438 12 94
531 11 92
578 9 97
395S1a 15 93
395S1b 16 96
590 8 99
537 10 90
641 10 98
472 8 100
406S1 10 85
511 10 85
425 12 100
413a 22 15
413b 23 89
557 16 73
594 10 96
436 12 99
490 12 97
534 17 8
450 8 97
444 12 73
481 22 60
520 20 85
446 13 76
617 12 91
568 11 95
487 13 92
572 11 88
640 11 95
492 12 73
565 12 88
710 33 16
485 15 84
632 9 98
495 16 87
540 12 85
714 25 31
716 26 93
717 19 88
505 12 80
556 11 94
549 12 33
589 12 92
522 10 52
494 9 98
533 13 22
636 12 91
575 10 100
638 11 97
462 11 95
452 31 9
445 13 6
GATA A10 14 8
463 23 5
441 13 83
GGAAT 1B07 10 92
525 10 85
712 20 31
593 15 98
650 18 33
532 14 23
715 24 62
504 17 56
513 12 72
561 15 87
552 24 77
726 12 99
635 23 80
587 18 92
643 10 83
497 14 92
510 17 71
434 9 96
461 12 80
435 11 98

Summary

Thomas Dodson’s life was probably very typically colonial. Thomas wasn’t aristocracy, wasn’t a Burgess or man representing the government in Virginia, but he wasn’t poor either. He inherited land and bought more, raising tobacco and amassing enough to leave each of his sons a plantation. He was an up-and-comer. He had indentured servants as well as slaves – unfortunately, the norm for a successful planter in Virginia of that time. He was a man making his way in a new land, in rather uncharted territory. Many of his children would continue the legacy and push on to new frontiers.

Thomas wasn’t just a planter. He took an active role in the community.  At various times he was a processioner, a surveyor, a bondsman and many times, a juror and estate appraiser.  Yes, once or twice, he was on the wrong end of the stick as well.  Perhaps he sewed a few wild oats, but apparently not nearly as many as his brother-in-law, young Thomas Durham Jr.

Thomas Dodson would have heard about England, the old country, and the King or Queen, but he was born in the new colony of “Virginny” and probably couldn’t relate to a place and aristocracy he didn’t know. He was part of the first generation of people thoroughly “American.” He was born a generation after the tenuous establishment of Jamestown and almost 40 years after the 1722 Indian raid that nearly destroyed the English settlement.

Thomas died less than a half century before the American Revolution and before the French and Indian War. Thomas and his generation began the foundation of what would, some 40 years after his death, become the United States of America. Thomas became the transition between the fledgling colony clinging to the coast by establishing a thriving tobacco-based economy that would expand and evolve into the foundation for an independent country, something for which his grandchildren stood firm and would fight.

Acknowledgements

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

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

Sources

  • Richmond County Virginia Marriage References and Family Relationships 1692-1800 by F. Edward Wright
  • Richmond Co., VA Miscellaneous Records, 1699-1724 TLC Genealogy
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1692-1695 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1695-1701 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1701-1704 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1705-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Abstracts of Land Records of Richmond County, VA 1692-1704 by Mary Marshall Brewer
  • Richmond Co., VA 1714-1715 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Deed Abstracts Richmond Co., VA 1715-1718 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond Co., VA 1719-1721 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Richmond Co., VA 1721-1725 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Richmond County VA Deeds and Bonds 1721 and 1734 by TLC Genealogy
  • Richmond County VA Deeds and Bonds 1734 and 1741 by TLC Genealogy
  • The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814 and Lunenburg Parish 1783-1800 Richmond County, Virginia Compiled and Published by George Harrison Sanford King 1966
  • Marriages of Richmond County, VA 1668-1853 by George Harrison Sanford King
  • Wills of Richmond Co., Va 1699-1800 by Robert K. Keadley, Jr
  • Richmond Co Will Book 4 1717-1725 by TLC
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1692-1694 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1694-1697 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1698-1699 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1699-1701 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1702-1704 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1704-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1705-1706 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1707-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1708-1709 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1711-1713 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1714-1715 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1716-1717 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1718-1719 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1722-1724 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1724-1725 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1726-1727 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1728-1729 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1729-1730 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1731-1732 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1732-1734 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1732-1739 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1735-1736 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1737-1738 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County, Virginia Court Orders 1721-1752 An Every Name Index by TLC Genealogy

Note that at the Allen County Public Library multiple books were rebound together and sometimes the title did not accurately reflect the contents. I searched all of the Richmond County books available which their catalog reflects includes contiguous dates.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Deed

mary-dodson-1861-deed

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

mary-dodson-1861-deed-2

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

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

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

mary-dodson-1861-deed-3

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

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

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

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

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

mary-dodson-rough-land

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

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

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

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

dodson-1860-pulaski-census

Is Mary Dodson the daughter of Rebecca Freeman Dodson?

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

mary-lazarus-and-rebecca-marriage

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

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

1850

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

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

1860

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary’s Marriage

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

mary-dodson-marriage

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

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

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

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

1870

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

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

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

mary-pulaski-1870-census

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

Another Twist in the Maze

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

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

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

mary-john-dotson-1860

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

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

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

The Chumley Connection

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

mary-1850-pulaski-census

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

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

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

mary-1860-pulaski-census

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

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

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

mary-sarah-chumley-will

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

The will was recorded Sept 23, 1870.

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca Dodson in 1880

mary-1880-pulaski-census

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

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

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

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

Mary Dodson Redmon’s Burial

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

mary-lee-cemetery-map

mary-dodson-findagrave

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

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

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

mary-1900-pulaski-census

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

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

mary-william-redmon-will

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

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

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

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

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

mary-william-redmon-will-2

Farm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These families are incredibly intermarried and interconnected.

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

Cemetery Triangulation

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

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

We have the following information:

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

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

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

First let’s look at the deeds.

The Deeds

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

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

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

The lines mentioned in the Lazarus Dodson deed were:

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

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

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

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

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

Cemetery Sleuthing

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

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

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

Lee Cemetery

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

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Kentucky 80 looking down Amy Lane towards the cemetery.

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

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

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

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

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

Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery

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

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

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

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New Hope

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

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Weddle

John M. Weddle is buried in the Weddle cemetery.

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Mt. Zion

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

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Chesterview

Solomon Weddle 1822-1890 is buried in the Chesterview Cemetery

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Collins

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

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Rainwater

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

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Grabeel

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

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Jacob is likely whose land abutted Lazarus Dodson’s.

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Cemetery Triangulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Map Stream Plus Deed Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taking a Drive

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

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

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

mary-old-columbia-road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Battle of Mill Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mary-battle-of-spring-mill-map

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

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

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

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

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

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DNA

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

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

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

In Summary

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

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Photo by Terry Hail.

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

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Mary Dodson Redmon, above.

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

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

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

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

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