The Dodsons Cross County Lines: Surname Saturday

In the summer of 1772, Edward Dodson cast a shadow into my future as he set out from Amelia County, Virginia.  The young man crossed the Meherrin River and continued on into Mecklenburg County, passing the farms of Samuel Dedman, William Wills Green, and John Hyde to assess the red soil along the little fork of Allen’s Creek.  Edward walked the tract’s perimeter with the owner. Finding the rolling, timbered hills fit for his needs, the aspiring farmer handed John Glassock five shillings, current money of colonial Virginia.

The Mecklenburg County Court convened once a month in the settlement that would one day become Boydton some 5 miles south. Residents used the court day as a social occasion, and  traveled from their farms to conduct business, swap stories, and trade goods.  Glassock and two friends, James Brown and Peter Burton, were among the folks who gathered on that August 10th, 1772.  The court ordered county clerk, John Talborne to duly record that John Glassock

…Doth give Grant Bargain, Sell Alien assigns and confirm to the Said Edward Dodson and his heirs. & Assigns for ever one certain tract or Parcell (sic) of Land Containing Ninety five acres lying and being in the County of Mecklenburg on the Little fork of Allens Creek…

Brown and Burton bore witness to the verity of the transaction.

Meanwhile Edward Dodson returned home to plan his emigration to Virginia’s remote interior.  On the last day of April 1773, Edward took possession of his “parcell”, perhaps with his wife, Francis, already pregnant with their first child Sarah.

Five shillings purchased the first acres of land that would remain in the Dodson family for six generations.  The story meanders, like a creek, into the 20th century.


Edward and Francis Dodson moved from around Amelia to a farm situated between the Meherrin River and Jefferson Falls on the Roanoke River. A General Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America. (1776). digital image: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection,


Glassock to Dodson, Mecklenburg County (VA) Deed Book 3-433; Microfilm #32533, Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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. 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!  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:

Elizabeth Dodson Beavers,
Nancy (Ann) Dodson Roffe,
and Francis. 

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

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:

John (dec’d)
Lettice H
Rebecca W
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.