Follow (me to this site) Friday: footnote Adds More Than Footnotes to Your Family History

Another brick wall in tracing the Dodson family had been hit. My Grandmother Strickland’s Genealogical Facts of the Strickland Family plunked the family down at the Civil War.  Great. Just great.

How did they get to Mecklenburg County, Virginia?  What resources could they count on?  How did they meet prospective spouses?  Why did they stay when so many residents of southside Virginia were moving on west?

Discovering an online source of original documents has been one of the most important moments in my budding genealogical life.  Footnote.com has diverse collections with new offerings being added regularly.  The footnote viewer is by far the best image viewer anywhere.  Stumbling onto this digital archive I whimsically started searching the Dodson side. Lo! and behold! A pre-Civil War document popped up in the Revolutionary War Pension Records.  When viewed it became clear that this was just one piece of a 75 page file, filled with family information from the 1840s and 1850s.

Here’s what you can find out:

A pension for Revolutionary War soldiers and their widows was granted by Congress in 1832.  Young men fighting in the Revolution were by then elderly men needing lots of neighborly attestation and official witness.  Elderly men died and their widows petitioned to receive the awarded funds; their claims of marriage also needed neighborly attestation AND male family intervention since women could not own property or evidently handle money.

In the pension application pulled by my Dodson query were details about William Rowlett and Rebecca his wife–both mentioned in my Grandmother Strickland’s family history as the parents of Sarah Jane Rowlett Dodson who married James H. Dodson in 1844.  The Edward Dodson attesting to the validity of William’s claim of service and Rebecca’s identity was both neighbor and Justice of the Peace in Mecklenburg County.  Further footnote documents, newspaper articles and register reports suggest that this Edward Dodson is my great-great-great-grandfather.  In later papers James H. Dodson acts as agent for his mother-in-law, Rebecca Rowlett.  These are my peoples! This file records some keystone information, in addition to personal details.

I LOVE footnote!  The site’s multiple collections can be sorted by time frame, name, place, and date; and the search engine, though requiring some patience, is quite good. Within the viewer an historian can read documents and make annotations and/or comments so that subsequent readers get even more from the document. The site also has the capacity to store, organize and share your family’s documents, including your uploaded photos and documents.

Follow me to footnote.com!  But be prepared to get lost in time!

Dodson : Surname Saturday

We, descendants of George and Anna Florette Strickland, are of the “Dangling Dodsons”, those Dodsons for whom there is  no definite connection to the lineage of Charles Dodson, Sr. of Richmond County, Virginia–the progenitor of many, many American Dodson branches.¹

Our American connection begins with a William Dodson, Sr. and his wife Elizabeth, most probably from England and most definitely early settlers of Henrico County, Virginia.  In 1688 William Dodson and James Franklin transported eight negroes into the colony. Under the Colonization Act an individual was due certain acreage based on the number of persons for whom passage was paid.  Thus the men were granted 360 acres on the north side of  Swift Creek, in Bristol Parish, (later Dale Parish, Chesterfield County) which they subsequently divided between them. William (before 1668-1746) and Elizabeth had three children, William II, Thomas and Stephen.  William and Thomas both remained in Chesterfield County, while Stephen (?-1755) migrated with an unknown wife to Amelia County, Virginia where together they had two known children, Edward, Sr. and John.

By 1772 Edward, Sr. moved to Mecklenburg County, Virginia where he purchased 95 acres on the little fork of Allen’s Creek adjoining John Hydes spring branch.  On 31 January 1785 he purchased from Alexander Boyd an additional 280 acres near the first tract.  This ancestor died before 11 January 1808 when a deed¹ was recorded in Mecklenburg County transferring his heirs’ title to the 375 acres to his wife Frances during her natural life.  The nine children from this union were:

Sally,
William,
Elizabeth Dodson Beavers,
Martha,
Nancy (Ann) Dodson Roffe,
John,
Edward,
Mary
and Francis. 
 
 

Edward, Jr. then married and had eight children with an unknown wife(wives).²

Stephen,
Sarah,
Martha,
Frances,
Lettice,
Rebecca,
William,
and Edward, the third, who married Mary Green in 1814.  

Just a wee bit of a problem with this scenario.

On 21 September 1812 a will ³ was presented to the Mecklenburg County court for a Francis Dodson in which he/she listed the following children:

Edward
Stephen
William 
John (dec’d)
Francis
Lettice H
Rebecca W
Sarah
Martha
Elizabeth Hudson
Ann Roffe
Polly Rowlett
 
 
 

 The last list of children combines the first two lists.  What’s up with THAT?  One conclusion is that Rev. Silas Lucas invented a generation of Edwards.  Another conclusion is that the 1812 Will lists names without properly identifying children from grandchildren, and the Register Reporter listed an assumption not a fact.  My d kay s conclusion is that I don’t have enough information to make a conclusion.

I need transcriptions!! Lots and lots of transcriptions!  Then cross checks with tax and census lists.  Ultimately I will have to create a name index with associated dates…..take road trips……conduct on-line searches……request documents from Mecklenburg County…….and use my Stress Reduction Kit frequently!

Someday I will have a solid connection with this Edward Dodson of Amelia County. For now I have to be content starting my register report with Edward the Younger, who married Mary Green, daughter of William Willis Green, on 7 June 1814, the Rev. James Meacham presiding in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

to be continued………..


¹,² Williams, Sherman. The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia: a History and Genealogy of Their Descendants. Easley, SC: Southern Historical, 1988. Print.

³ Register Report, “Descendants of Francis Dodson” by the Cox family.