Edward Dodson Vouches for Rebecca Rowlett, 1840

Virginia: Mecklenburg County to wit:

I Edward Dodson a Justice of the peace in the County aforesaid, do hereby certify that I was well acquainted with said William Rowlett and Rebecca his wife, both of whom sometime in the year 1833, removed from Chesterfield to Mecklenburg County. That said william Rowlet in his life time, often mentioned to me that he was a soldier of the Revolution, and that he made an application for a Pension in the county of Chesterfield. That his Pension Certificate never had been received by him.  That since his death, I know that due search and inquiry has been made to recover the came.  That said William Rowlet died in the County of Mecklenburg the 2nd day of June, 1839, and that the said Rebecca Rowlet is his widow, and still remains his widow.

Ewd  Dodson JP

Source: Revolutionary War Pension application #26412


1840: The Declaration of Rebecca Rowlet, Revolutionary War Pension Documents

State of Virginia: Mecklenburg County  to wit:

On this 18th day of August, 1840, before the subscriber, a Justice of the peace in and for the County aforesaid, personally appeared Rebecca Rowlet a resident of said county and state, who being first duly sworn according to law, makes the following Declaration:

That she is the widow of William Rowlet formerly of Chesterfield County, and late of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, who was an applicant for a Pension under the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. That her said husband, at the time of application for a Pension, was a resident of Chesterfield County, and his Declaration presented in the court of that county, and thence forwarded to the Pension office.  That shortly after the said William Rowlett with his family , removed to the county of Mecklenburg, where he resided until the 2nd day of June, 1839, the day of his death.  That during the lifetime of said Willaim Rowlett, she honestly believes, the said Pension Certificate never was received, which she understands issued, or was admitted on the 24th of May, 1833, and sent to Petersburg, Virginia.  That due search and inquiry has been made for said certificate, and that it cannot be found.

She further declares that she is the widow of the said identical William Rowlet of Chesterfield County, Virginia, to whom said Pension Certificate issued  the 24th May, 1833, and the only person entitled to the amount allowed said William Rowlet, from the 4th March, 1831, to the 2nd day of June, 1839, the day of his death .

Rebecca  X Rowlett

her mark

Sworn to and subscribed before me the day and year last mentioned.  I further certify, that she is a credible person, and her statement un? to full confidence.

Given under my bond this 18th day of August, 1840.

Will C Wall JP


Rowlett-Dodson Wedding

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.

The Marriage Bondsman of Sarah Jane Rowlett: Mr. William G. Coleman

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?

The Marriage of James H. Dodson and Sarah J. Rowlett

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