Rebecca Eulelia Dodson Sayles: Sunday’s Obituary

"Lilly" Rebecca Eulelia Dodson Sayles

Born on 15 August 1856 in Regiment 22 of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Lillie Dodson was one of ten children:  Greene, Virginia, Harvey, Henry, Dora, Molly, Adlaide, Rebecca Eulelia (Lillie), Edward, and William Rowlett (Bud).  Her parents, James H. and Sarah Jane Rowlett Dodson, farmed land just off the Boydton Road south of The City.

Mr. Dodson was a planter and slave owner.  Miss Rowlett moved with her parents from (Chesterfield County, Virginia) and settled on land adjoining the Dodson plantation.  They were united in marriage in (1844) in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

Mr. Dodson built the old Dodson home and moved into it when Lillie was three years old, about 1859.  She said she could remember walking across from the “Old House,” climbing over the felled trees, carrying her dolls.  The house had not been completed, and as the War soon started, he never did finish it.

Mr. Dodson gave each of his children a tract of land for a homestead.  He gave the Dodson house and a certain number of acres to the three unmarried daughters, Dora, Molly and Lillie.

…Soon after moving to Virginia with his parents in 1870, Clifton Sayles paid court to Lillie Dodson (a neighbor girl).  Her parents were still living, and twas too soon after “The War between the States: ended; feelings still ran high.  For Clifton’s father, Ira Sayles, had been a Captain in the Federal Army, and Lillie’s brother, Greene Dodson, had been killed while serving in the Confederate Army; consequently Lillie’s parents did not favor the suit, and Clifton married another girl.

This wife, Anna McCullough, died sometime after the census date of 1900, and Clifton again paid court to Miss Lilly, who had remained single.

Clifton Duvall Sayles, born April 11, 1851, in Alfred, N.Y., and Rebecca Eulelia (Lillie) Dodson were united in marriage January 9, 1901 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  Born to this union:  Anna Florette, born December 4, 1901.

At the time of her marriage, Lillie traded her share in the home with Ed, for his share, called the “Old House” tract, and she later sold it.  Ed, Dora and Molly remained single and continued to live at the Dodson home until their deaths in the 1920s (at which time the land was bequeathed to the adopted son, George Strickland.)

George …was a real son to them.  He continued to care for and look after them untill their final illnesses and deaths.  He called Ed “Master Ed” and said Aunt Dora and Aunt Molly and called their sister Aunt Lillie.  In appreciation of the love and care George bestowed on (them) Ed Dodson deeded George Ricks Strickland the old Dodson home place.

Around 1920, George Strickland drove a wagon over to the Sayles home and paid court to Florette.  They were married September 28, 1921 in the Baptist parsonage in Chase City, Virginia by the Rev. H. L. Williams.  Four sons were born to this union:  George Sidney, Clifford Ricks, Paul Warren, and Norman Scott.  The family survived the depression by returning to the Dodson farm.

At around the same time, Clifton Sayles died, leaving Lillie a widow;  she moved in with her daughter and nephew to help raise the four boys–and made certain that cookies were a regular part of their diet.

from left: Sidney, George Strickland, Paul, Florette Sayles Strickland, Norman, Clifford, Lillie Dodson Sayles

Source:  Strickland, Anna Florette.  Some Genealogical Facts of the Strickland-Sayles Family.  Chase City, VA: Handwritten, March 1976.

Advent Calendar: The Christmas Tree

December 27, 1958

Remember icicles?   Not the ones dripping from the front porch eave but those magical, petroleum-based wonders wrapped around 8″x12″ cardboard.  After the lights were twined round the freshly cut tree and the ornaments were carefully hung, these thin slivers of silver were flung with little finger glee.  The tree shimmered!

George Strickland, Age Five

I celebrated my fifth birthday with a dinner of mashed potatoes and peas, shared with my friend Lewis B, from Virginia Heights Baptist Church.   A grand occasion to celebrate the full five fingers I could wave whenever someone asked how old I was.

George R. Strickland celebrated the five finger salute in September of 1896, and five months later he was an orphan. At five years eight months he said good-bye to siblings Norman (10), Polly (9), and Maude (7) as they left for Oxford Orphan Asylum. Luther (12) went to live with a relative, James and Amarita F Bowden, of Cedar Rock, Franklin County, NC. Cleo (16), Eugene (3) and George moved with Grandma Coppedge and her son, Oliver J. (16) into the home of her eldest son, William J. Coppedge, Cypress Creek, Franklin County, NC.
When George was 6 years old later in 1897, Grandma Coppedge worked with her brother, William F May, to get George placed at Oxford Orphan Asylum, too. December 12, 1898 little boy George reunited with Norman, Polly and Maude at the Oxford institution.
George had the comfort of this family for a brief time before his siblings began to find new “homes”, beginning with Polly’s placement in Mr. WJ Whitehurst’s home in Bethel, NC in April of 1899. “Polly was an obedient, well disposed little girl.”
Older brother Norman left in September of that year to live in Hillsboro, NC with Mr. James H. Parrish. “He was always a dutiful boy. He had a sweet disposition and, we believe, had within him the elements of a man.”
Laurah Maud left Oxford a month later in October 1899, to live with the family of Albert Earnhardt, “who was much pleased with her and adopted her.”

George lived at the Orphan Asylum for another two years, when he was taken to the “home of E.G. Dodson, Oak View, Va. He was a bright little fellow and will do well.”

It seems so sad today, seeing how close they lived in this era of Google maps and interstate highways.  But for them these short distances proved to be impermeable barriers, taking much time and energy to remove.

Oxford Orphan Asylum: An application of George R Strickland, 1897

We had always understood that Granddaddy Strickland had been admitted to the Masonic Oxford Orphanage because his daddy was a Mason. As I reread the Oxford documents and surfed the ‘net I could find no reason to believe that was accurate. In fact the Mason signing the letter of recommendation was a William F. May, Secretary of the Central Cross Lodge, No. 187, Franklin County, North Carolina. Said W. F. May turns out to be Laura May Coppedge’s brother. Laura Coppedge was Virginia Ann Elizabeth Coppedge Strickland’s mom, and was the individual who orchestrated the children’s living arrangements after Sidney and Virginia (Bettie)’s deaths just 3 weeks apart in February of 1897. The application to the orphanage was started in November of 1897, witnessed by William May, and approved by the Master Of the Lodge, W. A. Moose, who stated that the “child, with proper training, its future is bright.”

In June 1898 William F. May, Secretary, wrote this letter from Spring Hope, NC to the Superintendent of Oxford Orphan Asylum, Oxford, NC.
Dear Sir and Bro, Enclose you find application for James Ricks Strickland its contents you can see.
The children has a small farm unincombered rents for about $90.00 per year. Those that have to look after and care for the children are willing that the income of said place should go eqully apportioned to the several children but the administrator of said estate has no power he claims to thus distribute the income if this is not the information your count wants please inform us and we will give all at once if in our power.
We deem this a worthy application and trust you give it your careful attention.
They have no relatives that are able to care for them. Done in open Lodge, by order of the WM The day and date above written.
Witness my hand and seal
WF May Sec of Central Cross Lodge No. 187

From the contact I have had with Strickland descendants, there is a bit of mystery as to why no Strickland relatives came forward to help with the children. But that is another story……