Sarah Jane Rowlett and James Henry Dodson were married in 1844 by the Rev. John B. Smith. Contemporary accounts describe the reverend as a fiery evangelist, and the churches with which he was associated 1830-1846 had several “Gracious Revivals of Religion.” The wedding of Sarah and James was held at the time Rev. Smith was pastor of Concord Baptist Church, and since this church was not far from the Dodson place (now on Hunter’s Lane) I imagine the couple exchanged their vows in this community meeting house. In attendance, perhaps, were the groom’s parents, Edward and Mary (Green) Dodson, and siblings William Edward, John Lewis , Mary Frances, Minerva, and Benjamin F; the bride’s mother, Rebecca (Edward Short) Rowlett, and her half-sister’s son, William G. Coleman; along with the odd aunt and uncle. James, age 29, would have taken this 18 year old wife to help manage his growing estate, and together they would raise 10 children, including Rebecca Eulelia.
Sarah Jane Rowlett was the daughter of Rebecca and William Rowlett, a southern planter holding land in both Chesterfield and Mecklenburg counties, Southside Virginia.
From Revolutionary War Pension application documents I know that William Rowlett (b. 13 August 1755) took Rebecca to be his wife in 7 May 1825, and was in poor health when applying for the pension in 1833 at the age of 77. Today I found a source online with Rowlett wills transcribed; though I need to confirm with original documents someday, this text offers details that fit, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
William Rowlett 26 March 1836 Chesterfield County.
To my wife Rebecca, plantation for her natural life; negroes should be kept together on plantation. To daughter Sarah Jane Rowlett, plantation after her mother’s death. If she dies before she reaches the age of twenty one, then to grandson William G. Coleman.
Executor grandson William G. Coleman
In 1799 a Sally Rowlett married one Thomas Coleman in Mecklenburg County, bond paid by William Brown, consent given by William Rowlett, father. Thomas was named as the son of Cluverius Coleman. This event coincides with the fact that William Rowlett lived in Mecklenburg County for thirty years after the Revolutionary War before returning to Chesterfield county for another 20 years. He died 2 June 1839 in Mecklenburg County.
It is quite possible for Sally Rowlett to be the daughter of an earlier marriage, and that her son could be William G. Coleman, the same William G. Coleman serving as executor in 1836, and posting the marriage bond for his mom’s baby sister, Sarah Jane Rowlett in 1844.
Still to address is the mystery of William, Rebecca and Sarah Jane’s relocation to the Mecklenburg County land, where they no doubt met up with Mr. James H. Dodson, a neighbor. (1864 Gilmer map of Mecklenburg county) And what happened to the Chesterfield County land?
I have received Family Lore Treasure #, well, at least #6: a book of Mecklenburg County, Virginia Marriages 1765-1853, compiled by John Vogt and T. William Kethley, Jr. Thank you, cyber-buddy Kevin Lett , for parting with your resources via Ebay!
Within the cover of this data-packed book are names and dates. Just names and dates. But as I am learning, even little morsels of information can be key ingredients to a family’s story. I have my Grandmother Strickland’s hand-written genealogy, but resources like Virginia Marriages provide the confirmation and missing data that make the stories handed down authentic.
And so I find the story of James Henry Dodson and Sarah Jane Rowlett, my great-great-grandparents, residents of Mecklenburg County, Virigina. They were married on 6 December 1844, when James was a 29 year old property owner (1840 Census) and Sarah was a young 19 year old (census derived age). As was custom a bond of up to $150 was given by William G. Coleman, relationship to Sarah unknown, to the county court clerk to show good faith that there was no lawful cause to prevent the marriage. The marriage license was then presented to Minister John B. Smith. In 1844 fifty-five marriages were performed throughout the county, with 14 of them being conducted in the month of December.
New leads: William G. Coleman, John B. Smith
To be explored: Parents of James and Sarah, and the families arrival in Mecklenburg County