of Dawson, Texas
Submitted by Carl W. Matthews
The Railroad had reached Corsicana in
1880 and began moving across Western Navarro Co., Texas through Corbett
and Purden, across Richland Creek and
the Akers Bottom, up the hill a mile or so South of where Dr. George Washington
Hill had built the "Old Trading Post" in 1848, and just North of
where Brit Dawson had built his imposing two storied home ten years
later. It was 1882 and Sam Frost and two of Brit Dawson's sons had
already planned and surveyed a town located a mile or so West of the Dawson
home. There would be a depot and a wide main street.
Commercial structures were planned on both sides of the railroad and residential
lots would surround the area of commerce. The Town would be named Dawson.
DAWSON IN ENGLAND AND IRELAND
The Dawson Family name, prominent in English history, was first found c1611 in
Westmoreland County of Northwest England in a community called "Acorn
Bank." Sir Richard Dawson lived there with his daughter
whose name was Juliana. Mary Dawson, daughter of
William Henry Dawson, Vicount of Carlow, married 1753 Archibald Mervin
Thomas Dawson, Lord Mayor of York, married Elizabeth Hutton in 1703, daughter of
Thomas Hutton of Popleton. Edmond Dawson lived with his daughter,
Isabella, at Warton in Lancastershire. All locations were in the
Northwest of England and near the Irish Sea.
Thomas Dawson , brother of Sir Richard Dawson, arrived in North Ireland 1633
where he purchased lands located, probably in Co Antrim, from D & G Phillips
and constructed Dawson Castle. Thomas Dawson married
Arabella Upton, served as Commissioner of the Irish Muster of 1683, was a Member
of Parliament from Co. Antrim, and died n 1695.
His brother, Joshua Dawson, apparently, settled in Co Wicklow in the area of
Londenderry. Joshua served as a Member of Parliament from
Wicklow, was Secretary of State in 1710, and died in
1727. His son, Arthur Dawson, Esq., served as a
Member of Parliament from Londonderry, was Baron of the Exchequer in 1742,
married Jane Oreil of Shanes Castle, and died 1775. His
brother, William Dawson, married Sarah Newcomen (widow of Col. Dawson of
Tipperary) and they had a son, Arthur. Sister, Mary Dawson, married
Henry Hamilton, who was a Member of Parliament.
Arthur Dawson (1743-1822) married in 1775 Catherine Paul, daughter of George and
Ariminta Paul of Monck. One Paul Family from the Londonderry area
settled in Virginia. Ann Paul , sister of Audley Paul, was
married in 1769 to Gen George Matthews who, with his brother, Sampson
Matthews, served under George Washington during the American
Revolution. Children of Arthur and Catherine Paul Dawson were George
Robert Dawson; Henry Dawson who became Dean of St. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin;
Arminta Dawson; Maria Dawson who married Henry Remmic of Dublin; Louisa Dawson;
and Isablla Dawson who married Richard Cane, Esq. of Dublin.
The Dawson Family of Ireland was prominent in the Plantation Areas of North
Ireland, but was, also, prominent among families in the South of
Ireland, particularly in the areas of Dublin and Tipparary.
DAWSONS COME TO AMERICA
Capt. Anthony Dawson is recorded as having settled in the Albemarle Sound area
of North Carolina in 1693 and substantial settlements of the family were
recorded soon thereafter in Edgecome County. Albemarle Sound is a large
estuary located fifty or sixty miles south of the mouth of the James
River of Virginia. More Dawson families settled in the areas of the
New Bern and New River estuaries located in Craven and Onslow counties.
These settlement suggests that these Dawsons were from the English branches of
the family rather then having arrived there by way of Ireland, though they could
have migrated from Ireland. Regardless, they were sufficiently affluent to
create large plantations and to expand their holdings as the family
grew. Capt. Anthony Dawson probably arrived in the Albemarle Sound
area with other settlers and established his holding some fifteen or twenty
miles inland. The William Arrington family settled a few miles to
the north in what is now Northhampton Co. One of the Arrington daughters,
apparently, married a Mr. Bugg and their son married one of the daughters
of Brittain Dawson who died in 1795 in Richmond Co, Georgia.
The Dawsons were, apparently, fond of creating settlements adjacent to
estuaries. Col. Anthony Dawson had first settled in the area of the
Albamarle Sound estuary. Later, more Dawson settlements were found
adjacent to the Newbern and New River estuaries, both located a short distance
down the coast from Albermarle Sound. The date of settlement in Craven and
Onslow counties is not known, but they were, probably, made at some point after
the Edcombe area settlement.
The undated will of William Arrington of Northhampton Co reveals
relationship with the Dawson. John Dawson and Nathan Williams served as
executors of his will. Henry Dawson had witnessed the will.
The names of Dawson, Arrington, and Williams surface in the late 1700's in
Richmond Co. Georgia.
The Dawson Family of Richmond Co Georgia may have had roots in
Northhampton Co NC.. The undated will of William Arrington of
Northhampton Co was listed in Wills of North Carolina. Sons were Briggs
and William Arrington who received the plantations. Executors were John
Dawson and Nathan Williams. The will was witnesssed by Henry Dawson.
William Arrington Buggs shows up in Richmond Co. Georgia as the favorite
grandchild of Brittain and Sabra Dawson. His mother was, probably, a
daughter of William Arriangton.
1693 Capt. Anthony
Dawson was in the Albemarle Sound area, not far from the areas occupied by
later Dawson families.
EDGECOMBE CO NC is one county South of Northhampton.
1749 Col. J Dawson Exec. for Will of Joseph Howell ..
1748 Will of John Dawson was filed
wife was Mary.
Sons were John, Demey, Sollomon.
Daughters were Patience & Martha
1758 Henry Dawson was wit. for Will of William Kinchen
ONSLOW & CRAVEN COS were accessed by estuaries similar to Albemarle
1774 Christopher Dawson witnessed Will of Richard Graves in Craven Co
Richard Graves b. 1730 Wife: Hannah
d. Mary SEE RICHMOND CO, GEORGIA
Geneaolgical "HUNCH" - The Brittain Dawson family in
Richmond Co Georgia in the late 1700's had lived in the coastal areas of Georgia
with the Arringtons, Graves, and other families. A thorough check of that
area is in order.
John Dawson died in Edgecombe Co NC in 1748. He had married Mary and
their children were listed as John Dawson, Demey Dawson, Sollomon Dawson,
Patience and Martha Dawson. John Dawson had been a leader among his
peers and had served as a Member of the General Assembly and in the General
Court at Edenton in 1737.
Henry Dawson served as executor of the will of William Kinchen of Edgecombe Co
in 1758. No mention was made of a wife. His children were
John, William, Martha, Elizabeth, and Temperance. Kinchen Dawson was
found in Richmond County Georgia in 1820. One of the Dawson boys
must have married one of the Kinchen daughters.
Col. J. Dawson was executor of a will in Edgecombe Co in
1749. Joseph Howell had died and left his wife,
Margaret with Joseph, Thomas, Mary, Murphy, and Martha. The
Howell family is, also, found in Richmond Co Georgia in the late
1700's. A daughter of Brittain and Sabra Dawson married a Howell and
lived in Richmond Co. Georgia.
The earliest reference to Dawsons in Craven Co was when "F" Dawson
served as a witness to the will of Robert Boyd whose wife was Sarah and his
children were Francis Boyd and Sarah Boyd.
Christopher Dawson served as a witness to the will of Richard Graves of Craven
Co. in 1774. Richard Graves was born in 1730 and his widow was
Hanna. His children were Thomas Graves and Mary Graves.
Richard's brother, Thomas Graves, had sons Richard Graves and Francis
Graves. This family was prominent in Richmond Co Georgia ten years
Dawson family members from North Carolina listed as having served in The
American Revolution included:
Benjamine Dawson, Henry Dawson, Hy Dawson, two John Dawsons, Isaac Dawson,
Levi Dawson, Matthew Dawson, and Penelope Dawson.
When interior Georgia began to be settled, particularly in the Savannah River
area, many familiues from Rowan Co. North Carolina and Augusta Co. Virginia made
their way there. Other families were newly migrated from North
Ireland by way of Charleston and the Scotch-Irish settlement of
Williamsburg. The names found in legal documents of Richmond Co
were to found a century later at Dawson, Texas.
General George Matthews had fought with George Washington and was captured
by the British after having been wounded at Germantown. After his
release from a British prison ship in New York harbor, he was assigned to the
command of General Nathaniel Greene which was located in South Carolina.
During his tour of duty in the South General George Matthews purchased a sizable
acreage on Goose Pond, northwest of present day Augusta, Georgia and settled
there in 1784. The area became known for its wealthy families
and large plantations.
The Brittain Dawson Family was there before 1781 and some Dawson Family
members, probably, reside there today. The history of early Richmond Co. Georgia
is filled with names of families who migrated there from Virginia and the
Carolinas, and, perhaps, some who came directly from North
Ireland. Most interesting is the fact that many of those
names were to be found a century later in Western Navarro Co.
Texas. Richmond Co Georgia names included Graves, Love,
Wilkinson, Culbreath, Wallace, Curry, McMillan, Pendergast, Sykes, Murphy,
Turner, Wilkerson, Wilson, Ward, Barron, Parrish, Sidwell, Hull, Matthews,
Skinner, Lawrence, Hoge, Savidge, Sims, Silbert, Calhoun, Cook, Clemons,
Fullerton, Flint, McCullough, Odom, Robertson, Scott, Talliferro, Wells,
Lee, Loveless, Wright, and Walker.
The trail of many of those families did not go directly from Richmond Co.
Georgia to Western Navarro Co Texas, but included intermediate stops
across Alabama, Missisissippi, Middle Tennessee, and Southeast
Texas. Some relatives and friends who had been left behind in
Virginia and the Carolinas, who never lived in Richmond Co. Georgia, were to be
found in the intermediate locations of Maury Co. Tennessee; Iuka, Tishimonga Co.
Mississippi; Morgan, Calhoun, and Lawrence Counties in Alabama.
Brittian Dawson, Grandfather of Brit Dawson, was in Richmond Co. Georgia as
early as 1781 when he served as executor for the will of his friend Chaplan
Williams who had lived in Effingham Co. Other legal documents bear witness
to the actions of Brittian Dawson from 1781 until his death in 1795.
A deed recorded December 26, 1785 states that Brittian had given a slave to his
Grandson whose name was William Arrington Buggs, perhaps a Christmas
gift. When Sarah (Sabra) Dawson, widow of Brittain, died in 1817,
she left her home to William, stating that all her children were already
comfortable in their own homes.
Several other legal documents involving members of the Dawson Family give
indication that they were more than "a little' affluent. (Richmond
Dawson was given a grant of 987,000 acres in Montgomery Co Georgia, a county
that had only 407,680 acres (Near Vidalia, GA)
Charles Dawson, who died in 1795, sold Rev. Loveless Savidge a lot in Augusta
where the Baptist Church of Christ was erected. Charles Dawson had
purchased 1000 acres on McBeans Creek in Richmond County in 1789 and 300
additional acres on Spririt Creek in 1792. Richmond Dawson
sold 114,000 acres of land on the Canouche and Ogeeche Rivers in 1794 to John
Cobb, "Late of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and now of Augusta,
Sarah (Sabra) Dawson was probably the second or third wife of Brittain
Dawson . All children of Brittain Dawson MAY have included….NOT
PROVEN: Charles Land owner who died in 1795 Richmond Had land transaction in
Dread m. 1800 Elizabeth Patterson,
probably daughter of Gideon Patterson David No record of marriage
Elizabeth m. Howell
(Joseph Howell died in 1749 Edgecomb Co NC. Wife
s. Joseph and Thomas Howell
d. Mary, Murphey, Martha
m. John Harwood
m. Mr. Beal
Sarah m. Henry Greenwood
Jonas B m. Polly Brantley Phillips
(Polly Dawson m. Gen Valentine Walker) Widow or
Henry C m. Daughter of George W Darden
James Lived in Greene County
(William C Dawson of Greene Co served as Governor of Georgia 1798-1856
He served the un-expired term of John Coffee plus two of his own
He was born in Greene Co. and died at Greensboro He was a
1845 - Named Judge of Ocmulgee Circuit
1853 - Became US Senator
John E Lived in Wilkinson County, Georgia - Wife Margaret 1782-1806 -
Married Kizzia in Alabama 1808
Mary Margaret m. Charles Arrington Buggs
Grace m. Mr. Rowell
Dread Dawson had married in 1800, a date which would estimate his birth as
c1780. He would have been thirty-seven in 1817 when his
Mother's will was probated and when, in all likelihood, the sizable estate was
divided. Dawson family tradition states that Dread migrated from
Richmond Co Georgia in 1817 to Alabama.
This was a time when the vast territories of Western Georgia. Alabama and Mississippi..were opened for settlement. Land was sold for as
little as one-half cent per acre to those who were made aware of the
opportunity. General George Matthews, who had led the settlement of Richmond
County, had served three two year terms as Governor of Georgia by 1800 and had
an active role in the settlement of the Western Georgia
Territories. The Dawson Family, without doubt, was one of the
most influential in all of Eastern Georgia and it must be assumed that their
close friendship with General George Matthews would have given them knowledge of
the low prices of the lands to the West and an opportunity to purchase large
The Dread Dawson Family prospered in Alabama.. Dread Dawson was a successful
Planter who owned many acres of land and was said to have owned more than one
hundred slaves. Brit Dawson was said to have been born on that
Alabama Plantation July 15, 1817. The site
of the Dread Dawson Plantation has not been identified, but it may have been in
the Southeastern portion of what became the State of Alabama and may have
expanded into Florida where his son, Brit Dawson, was born.
John Dawson and others associated with Richmond Co. Georgia were found there in
the early 1800's and John Dawson filed a sizable claim there for Indian
depredations. More, the 1850 Census Navarro Co Texas .shows
Britt Dawson b. 1820 in Florida.
Dread Dawson disposed of his Alabama holdings in 1825 and migrated to Mexican
Texas in the area of present day Jasper County, Texas. Many American
families were eager to acquire the rich and inexpensive land located in the
Mexican province that was just across the Sabine River, the boundary that
divided Mexican territory from the Louisiana Purchase Territory owned by the
United States. The area settled by Dread Dawson and his family was sixty
or seventy miles up the Neches River, north of Port Arthur, Texas.
The Dawson family remained there for eight years and, probably, continued to
increase their holdings. It was in 1833 that Dread Dawson succumbed to the
lure of even more inexpensive land and made still another move, this time to
Robertson's Colony which was headquartered at Fort Franklin. The Dread
Dawson family was said to have settled several miles west of Fort Franklin in an
area on the Brazos River known as Milam's settlement. Sterling Clack Robertson,
son of Tennessee pioneers who had grown rich with land expansion, had received
permission to settle a vast area of Mexican Texas with eight hundred
families. He had led the initial group there by horseback in 1830 and
another group by boat in 183l. Dread Dawson, probably, went from the
Jasper area to Robertson's Colony for an inspection trip at some point between
1830 and 1833 and moved his family there in 1833.
Young Brit Dawson was nineteen when Sam Houston issued a call for volunteers to
serve in an army to free Texas from Mexico. Brit Dawson, under the command
of Col. Robertson, is said to have joined Houston's group while they
camped on the West Bank of the Brazos and engaged in training. Meanwhile,
Santa Anna, the Mexican Dictator, continued his march up the Texas coast without
serious interruption until he mounted an attack on the Alamo. When
conditions were more favorable Sam Houston moved his army into position and,
when the time was right, made his attack on Santa Anna at San Jacinto. The
brief, but decisive battle, resulted in the capture of Santa Anna, capture of
the Mexican Army, and Freedom for Texas. It is said that Brit Dawson gave
a good account of himself at San Jacinto.
Brit Dawson may have been at San Jacinto, but no documentation exists to
that being fact. The only Dawson name appearing in the
official report was Nicholas Dawson who served as a 2nd Lt under the
command of a Capt.A Roman and with a group that may have been from the Beaumont
area. His relationship to the Dread Dawson family
is not known.
Gen. Sam Houston issued a formal report dated April 25, 1836 to President David
G Burnett of The Republic of Texas. General Houston's report provides a
lengthy and detailed narration of how the battle was planned and
executed. He included in the report a list of those who
participated, those killed, and those wounded. A thorough check of the
names included finds no mention of Brit Dawson. In fact, few, if any,
names of individuals known to have resided in Robertson's Colony were found in
the list. There was a reason why.
One report stated that when Sterling Clack Robertson returned from his trip to
Tennessee to his colony near Christmas 1835, he began, immediately, to organize
a company of men to help his long time friend, Sam Houston. Brit Dawson
was, no doubt, in that group. The report stated that Robertson led
his men to Houston's training camp on the West side of the Brazos River and
joined Houston's army. Meanwhile, Indians, realizing that many men of the
settlement had left, began to raid the homes and villages to the North.
When Houston learned of the Indian raids he dispatched Robertson and his men to
protect the frontier. Robertson had served under General Andrew Jackson in
the War of 1812 and had learned the necessity of obeying military orders.
He and his men responded immediately to the Order of General
Houston. They would miss San Jacinto by ten days.
Brit Dawson did have opportunity to participate in fighting Indians. The
"Morgan Massacre" occurred near present day Marlin, Texas on New Years
Eve 1839 and when word of the incident reached Fort Franklin men of the village
formed a group to retaliate. Brit Dawson was among that group who
responded to give chase to the savages. The Indians, led by the old
Andarko Chief, Jose Maria, were found and a vicious hand to hand fight
began. The list of men who participated included Brit Dawson, Joseph
McCandless, William Fullerton, G W Morgan, Eli Chandler, Andrew McMillan, R H
Matthews, John Marlin, and others. William Fullerton, who had fought
at San Jacinto in 1836 and whose brother settled at Libert y Hill near Dawson,
was one of several men who died in the battle.
After the Victory at San Jacinto Brit Dawson was said to have assisted his
father with the cattle farming operation. Three years passed and he was out on
the prairie attending a herd of cattle as they fed on the lush grasses. A
wagon train appeared in the distance and Brit Dawson rode across the prairie to
meet the newcomers. The wagon train included the Walker family from
Mississippi and their beautiful daughter, Elizabeth. Brit Dawson,
now twenty-two years of age, lost no time in seeking her hand and they were
married in 1839. (The fact is that William Walker and some of
his sons were already living in the Franklin area. His wife and other
members of the family were expected to join them by wagon train and Brit
Dawson was an early greeter. However, it makes for a good story.)
Brit and Elizabeth Dawson continued to live near Fort Franklin and had three
Sarah Dawson who would marry George Rogers.
W Henry Dawson who would marry Susan Fullerton.
Elizabeth Dawson who would marryDavid Spence
All three children, with their families, settled in Western Navarro County.
Elizabeth died shortly after the birth of the third child and Brit Dawson was,
without doubt, devastated by the loss of his wife. He left his three
children with his Mother and began moving a small herd of cattle to the North in
search of better grazing areas. He was camped on Battle Creek in 1847,
approximately fifty miles North of Franklin. The little creek had been
given its name in 1838 when a group of surveyors had been savagely killed by
Indians not far upstream from where Brit Dawson was camped.
Few families were living in the area at that time. The William Richey
family had settled several miles to the West on the headwaters of Richland
Creek. Some early historians stated that William
Richey was living in the area at the time of the Battle Creek Massacre or soon
thereafter. Those statements were based on stories that Susannah
Cannon, a step-daughter of William Ritchey, had gathered the bones of the men
killed in the massacre and piled them under a large oak tree, perhaps the
one where the monument stands today.
Ethan Melton had built a cabin on the North side of Richland Creek. Dr.
George Washington Hill would open a Trading Post several miles North in 1848,
but he was still at Franklin in 1847.
The Richey family was from Giles County, Tennessee and had come to Robertson's
Colony early. The Richey and McCandless families had purchased Giles
County land from Sterling Robertson in 1830. Annie Richey, who would later
marry Issac Lee, was born in 1830. Her mother died and William
Richey married the Widow Cannon. Later, they joined Robertson at his
Colony, scouted the area north of Fort Franklin, and selected their Leagues of
Land near the headwaters of Richland Creek. The McCandless family,
who were residents near Wheelock, received a grant in the same area, but
did not settled there until 1854 and 1858.
Brit Dawson had known the Richey family at Fort Franklin and rode over for a
visit. Brit Dawson needed some help managing the herd and sought
William Richey's assistance. William Richey had a step-daughter whose name
was Susannah Cannon..and she was pretty. The story has
been related by family members that Brit Dawson spent more and more time at the
Richey place where "serious courting" began in 1848.
It was on November 2, 1848 that Brit Dawson rode to the County Seat in Corsicana
and obtained a Marriage License. He returned to the Richey place by way of
Ethan Melton's store at Dresden where he purchased a "side-saddle" as
a wedding gift for Susannah. They were married at the Richey home and
immediately rode the fifty miles to Franklin to visit his parents. The
newlyweds remained to visit for a month and to permit Brit Dawson's three
children to get acquainted with their new mother.
Brit and Susannah Dawson and the three children moved into a three room log
cabin that William Richey helped build on a land grant Brit Dawson had
acquired. Ten children were born there to Brit and Susannah.
Nancy Dawson who married Alex Berry
Mary Dawson who married Blake Lee
William Dread Dawson
David Dawson who married Jan Randolph
Louise Dawson who married Don Dickson
Amanda Dawson who married first Jim Dickson
married second Tom Fread
Anna Dawson who married John David Lawrence
Emma Dawson who married William Lawrence
Britton C Dawson who first married Alice Bolden
Married 2nd Nora Whitley
Elijah Frank Dawson
When the sixth child was born to Brit and Susannah the three room cabin,
obviously, became much too small for the Dawson family and in 1859 work was
begun on a new home..larger and more grand than any other in the area. Brit
Dawson hired a Mr. Berger to build the new house. Tom Lee and
his family had arrived from Georgia in 1858 and settled near the Brit Dawson
home. Brit Dawson needed someone to take ox carts to Houston and haul
lumber for the new house. Tom Lee had three boys, Jim, John, Blake.
Jim Lee was hired as driver for one of the wagons. Blake remained behind
and courted Brit's daughter, Mary, and married her. Jim Lee is remembered
as living behind and west of the old school. John Lee lived in east Frog
The new Brit Dawson home was framed with heavy beams joined by means of mortise
and tendon rather than nails and contained ten rooms. Fluted columns rose
two floors from the concrete porch that spanned the front of the
house. The balcony over the front porch, cleverly designed by Mr. Berger,
was suspended by chains secured to heavy beams in the attic. The
chains were, later, replaced with steel rods. The long rear porch faced South
and on the far end was a well with bricked sides. The water was cold and
sweet and many weary travelers who journeyed the dirt road that ran in from of
the house stopped to quench their thirst.
Alva Taylor, a Navarro Co. Texas Historian, wrote the following concerning the
construction of the Brit Dawson home.
In 1859 Britton Dawson hitched up several wagons with oxen and drove to Houston,
Texas to purchase lumber to build a two and one-half story house.
The trip was a long and tedious journey. There were no roads to travel, no
bridges with which to cross rivers and streams. To cross a river with a
wagon load of lumber, they would unhitch oxen at the river bank, swim the oxen
across and with a long wire cable tied to the wagon, the oxen would drag the
wagon across. After the lumber was brought in, a carpenter, Mr.
Berger was employed to build the house. Mr. Berger, with the help of a few
slaves, built the house in two years. It was called "The Big
House" and had ten rooms, four upstairs and four downstairs, and two in the
attic which were never finished Each room was 18 feet square. The
house was so well put together that today the two stair steps do not
squeak. All windows and doors open and close with ease.
The ceiling over the stairs is covered with rawhide and painted. The
house had 108 window glassed, 12 glasses to the window. On the north
side of the house is the kitchen, spinning room, and the servants
quarters. The fireplace was built of native rock taken from the battle
creek nearby. These rocks were ground smooth by slaves to make them
fit. Each piece of timber in the house was hand cut and joined together by
mortising. On the front of the house was the long porch, one on each
story. The porch was 50 feet long and 28 feet wide.
Amanda Dawson was born while Mr. Berger was constructing "The Big
House" and was said to have been so tiny at birth that Mr. Berger commented
that she would not live. Brit Dawson made a $l,000.00 bet with Mr.
Berger that Amanda would live. Mr. Berger lost that bet and is said to
have paid Brit the wager. Amanda lived a long and useful life, married
twice and bore
several fine children. "Aunt Mandy" and her second husband,
"Uncle Tom" Fread, lived for many years on the West side of Dawson's
Main Street. The two story house on the North and across the street was
occupied by Dr. H. L. Matthews until his death in 1924.
"Aunt Mandy" enjoyed sitting on her front porch on Dawson's Main
Street in the afternoons and I often stopped by for a visit on my way home from
school. Her fingers would be busy with sewing or snapping green beans, but
she would talk about the times when she was a little girl living in "The
Big House." Once, she told me about several Indians riding up into
their front yard. She and her Mother and several small children were alone
and were frightened. The Indians dismounted, walked up the steps of the
porch, and without uttering any word, entered the house. She stated
that the Indians walked throughout the house..upstairs and down. The
Indians never touched them or any object in the house. When the Indian's
curiosity was satisfied they exited the house, mounted their ponies, and road
After the Civil War Yankee soldiers occupied the area in and around
Spring Hill. It was remembered that they frequently stopped by "The
Big House" for a home cooked meal. "Aunt Darcus," the
Dawson's faithful cook, would prepare the food and the Yankees would eat their
fill. They would feed their horses at the barn. Then,
would curse Brit Dawson for being a
"rich old Southerner."
Brit Dawson was, indeed, a "Rich Old Southerner." He was said to
have had the largest herd of cattle in all of Navarro County. He is
recorded as having sold 15,000 head of cattle in 1886 to a Mr. Hubby and his
associates. The price was $7.00 per head. $105,000,00 in 1886
would translate into several million today. And Brit Dawson had more
cattle and he had accumulated large land holdings.
One of his "cowboys" was Adolphus "Dolph" Martin who had
been born a slave in Kentucky in 1856. He had lived for a time at
Daingerfield in East Texas and had arrived at Spring Hill in
1878. Dolph was said to have "branded all day for Brit Dawson
and branded all night for Dolph Martin." Dolph was a fine
horseman who, also, rode as a jockey for George Washington Savage, operated a
cotton gin, became a major land owner, and raised a fine family.
Several members of his family are buried at Spring Hill
Cemetery. His son, Lewis Martin, born 1900, lived in Dallas,
and died there in October 1999.
One by one his children married and each one was given a large plot of land
nearby. Brit Dawson was said to have stood six feet three and weighed two
hundred forty pounds. He was remembered as having had a loud, booming voice.
That voice was so powerful that, some said, he could stand on the balcony of
"The Big House" and be heard by his children at their homes some
J M Polk wrote about Brit Dawson in 1914 in The North and South American
Review. Polk was son of Thomas M Polk, son of William Polk, son of
Ezekiel Polk born 1776 nine miles from Mecklenburg Co. NC
Courthouse. He had arrived in Navarro Co. Texas in 1858.
Corsicana was the County Site and Brit Dawson and Jimmy Little were there when
court was in session and as usual they took on a little too much
"booze." It was cool weather and Jimmie Little and Brit Dawson
were put in the same bed at the hotel. During the night when the whiskey
began to get "cold" Little became very restless, and Dawson says to
him the next day: "Little, I would as soon try to sleep with a young
mule as you. What was you dreaming about?" "Well, I thought I
was an unmarked yearling and Brit Dawson was after me with a cow whip."
Polk mentioned Capt. Winkler's Confederate company camped 1861 near the
old Battle Creek Church , near where the town of Dawson now stands.
He recounted that the company was mustered at Harrisburg and went to New Orleans
via Beaumont, Niblett's Bluff, and New Iberia, La. They went from New
Orleans to Richmond. Polk moved his family to South America after
the loss of the war by the South and remained there for ten years before
returning to Navarro Co. Texas.
Brit Dawson died September 4, 1903 and was buried beside his wife, Susannah, in
the Family Cemetery just North of "The Big House." He had
lived eighty-six exciting years and had witnessed changes he could never have
imagined as a child. He had lived in the Territory of Alabama, Mexican
Territory, The Republic of Texas, and in the Thirty-eighth State of the United
States Texas. His Father had fought in the War of 1812 and he had
joined Sam Houston's army and fought Indians. He had driven ox carts and
ridden trains pulled by huge steam locomotives.
His son, Britton C. Dawson, lived in "The Big House" until his death
in 1907 and his widow," Miss Nora ", continued to live
there. I never observed Miss Nora on the streets of
Dawson. Some said that she was a recluse. Children spoke in hushed
tones that "Miss Nora was a Witch." I had always been
attracted by "The Old Dawson Place," but had never visited
there. My Father had talked about how he and other boys had wrestled in a
fighting ring that E. O. (Buster) Zeanon had constructed in one of the upstairs
rooms, but that had been may years before. Buster Zeanon had married Mary
Spence, daughter of Elizabeth Dawson who married David Spence.
I was nine years old in 1934 and our milk cow had developed some type of
sickness after the new calf was born. My Father had "doctored"
cattle all his life and instructed me to gather some mistletoe which he
had seen on some trees growing on the road below the "Old Dawson
Place." He explained that the mistletoe had medicinal properties that
would make our cow well. The early morning had been crisp and cool, but
the afternoon sun was shining brightly. As I returned by the "Old
Dawson Place" I was thirsty and decided to stop and seek a drink of water.
I cautiously knocked and the lady inside cracked the door and asked if she could
help me. It was "Miss Nora," but she didn't look like any witch
I had ever seen in books. She told me help myself at the well at the end
of the porch and I did. I was preparing to leave when "Miss
Nora" appeared with a tray that held fresh home baked bread, butter, some
home made grape jelly, and "sweet milk."
"Miss Nora" said that I looked like I might be hungry, and that was
the understatement of the year. I was..always hungry! I had eaten an
early lunch, but it was now almost four in the afternoon. "Miss
Nora" and I sat on the edge of the porch while I ate the food she had
offered. She wanted
to know who I was. Yes, she had known my Grandfather and my Father. She
told me that she had lived in the house for a long time and that her husband was
the son of the man who had built the house. I told her that my Father had
spoken of being there when he was a boy. Yes, she remembered.
"Miss Nora" wasn't a witch at all. She was just a lonely lady
who wanted to have someone sit beside her, eat her bread and butter and grape
jelly, and talk awhile. She inquired if I would like to see the inside of
the house and I did. Everything inside was old. The beds, the
chairs, the wood stoves, the lace curtains, the area carpets, the dishes all
looked like something from a museum. "This is the Edison," she
said. I had never seen an Edison, but I decided the instrument must have
been an "old time" phonograph. This one had cylinders instead of
flat records and I was pleased when she offered to play the machine with the big
horn protruding from the wooden box.
"Miss Nora" carefully turned the crank to wind up the mechanism,
placed one of the many cylinders in position, and activated the machine.
Music came out of the huge horn and "Miss Nora" smiled when I
expressed my pleasure.
We went upstairs and there was the fighting ring my Father had mentioned.
The heavy ropes surrounded the square mat and there was a bell nearby. I
could imagine my Father and several other local boys wrestling as a group
against "Bo Zeanon." "Miss Nora" led me out on the hanging
balcony and pointed to the iron rods which held the balcony in place. I
looked down on the yard below and could imagine Indians riding up on their
ponies, their bodies almost naked..their faces painted. I could almost
see the Yankee soldiers as they rode their horses up to the house and demanded
to eat the food that "Aunt Darcus" had prepared. I could almost
hear Brit Dawson "booming" his voice across the fields to summon some
of his children.
The autumn sun was beginning to fade as I left "Miss Nora" and
"The Big House." My afternoon had been exciting. I had
been introduced to a part of American history that few others were permitted to
experience. And I had found a new friend. I was walking the dirt
road toward home, almost to the Corsicana Hiway..and looked back.
"Miss Nora" was standing on the porch. She waved "Goodby"
and I waved back. I never saw her again. "Aunt Nora" died the
next year 1935.
DAWSON FAMILY - BRITISH ISLES
1632 W Dawson
Camorse m. Jane Lawson (Dawson?)
1650 (No name) Dawson, Ripon, MC
1662 William Henry Dawson, Vicount of Carlow
d. Mary Archibald Mervin
Edmond Dawson Warton, Lancashire
1703 Thomas Dawson Lord Mayor of York
m. 1703 Elizabeth dau. Thomas Hutton, Popleton
1768 Thomas Dawson Tanfield
d. Charlotte Barbara m. George Hutchinson
1773 Richard Dawson York m. Anne Gee
CASTLE DAWSON - NORTH IRELAND
Family established 1611 Acorn Bank, Westmoreland in
Sir Richard Dawson, Acorn Bank, Westmoreland
Thomas Dawson purchased Dawson Castle lands in Ireland 1633 from G & D
(Plantations of Ireland: Robinson
Sir Thomas Phillips obtained 3000 +- in County Londonderry
near Limavady and Castle Dawson.)
s. Thomas ( d-1695)
Commissioner of Irish Muster 1683
MP from Co Antrim
m. Arabella Upton
s. Joshua, Esq. ( - 1727) MP
Sec. of State 1710
s. Arthur , Esq. ( -1775)
Baron of Exchequer 1742
m. Jane Oriel of Shanes Castle
s. William m. Sarah Newcomen (Wid of Col Dawson, Tipperary)
(Tipperary is in South and may have been settled by the Dawson family
prior to 1600)
d. Mary m. Henry Hamilton, MP
Nephew Arthur Dawson, Esq. (1743-1822)
m. 1775 Catherine Paul Dau. George & Ariminta Paul, Monck
(Gen George Matthews married Ann Paul 1766,
a sister of Audley Paul who had married Jane Matthews
Parents of Ann & Audley were John and Jane Linn Paul of
Donegal, a community across the River Foyle from
Henry Dean, St Patricks, Dublin
Maria m. Henry Remmis, Dublin
Isabella m. Richard Cane, Esq. Dublin
1781 Walter Dawson Carrickmacross, CoDown
d. Sarah Anne m. Oliver Wise (3rd Marriage)
DAWSON BIRTHS & MARRIAGES IN IRELAND
Co. Armagh 1747 Elioner Lee b.
Co. Antrim 1742 Arthur m. Jane Oriel
1712 Edward b. William ( -1739)
1750 Elizabeth b. William of Belfast
1759 James b. Richard of Carnmony
1764 James m. Elizabeth Caruthers of Belfast
1771 Edward b. Samuel
Co. Down 1750 Elizabeth m. Edward Hull
(Hull family found Richmond Co GA)
Dublin 1701 Anne b. William & Anne
1712 Anne b. John & Margaret
1712 Arabella b. Joshua & Mary
1715 Catherine b. John & Grisdel (Grizzel?)
Co. Fermanagh 1775 John b. Samuel & Margaret Graham
Co. Londonderry 1653 Arthur b. Samuel
1659 Anne m. Thomas Williams
1719 Arthur b. Joshua
1745 Arthur b. William & Sarah Newcomer
1796 Arathaminta m. Arthur
(Note: Family names of Evans and Lee were found
Co. Tipparary 1774 Col. D m. Sarah Newcomer
Note: All of the above were in Northern Ireland (Ulster) with the
exception of the marriage of Col. Dawson to Sarah Newcomer in Co. Tipparary. Tipparary
was settled early by Thomas Matthews, who became the First Duke of York.
MISC. DAWSON INFO
Palm Beach Fl City Library
1693 Anthony Dawson, Albemarle Co NC
1696 Capt. Anthony "Justice"
No date John Dawson m. Charity, dau of John Alston
John Dawson Member General Assembly of North Carolina
Present, General Court at Edenton NC 1737
Wit. will in Edenton 1753
Wit. will in Bertie Co 1726
Wm J Dawson Bertie Co NC Owned five slaves 1791
Thomas Dawson Wit. will in Chowan Co 1732
John Dawson Jr Posted bond Guildford Co 1773
James Dawson same
John Dawson Will 1748 Edgecomb Co NC wife: Mary
s. John, Demey, Solomon
d. Patience & Martha
1774 Christopher Dawson Craven Point NC wit. Will of
Richard Graves b. 1730
Uncle: Thomas Graves s.
1793 Robert Dawson m. Sabra Kiff Onslow Co NC
1833 Brittan Dawson m. Martha Bryan Onslow Co NC
DAWSON FAMILY SOLDIERS IN AM REVOLUTION
Benjamine, Henry, Henry, John, Isaac, John, Levi, Matthew, Penelope
DAWSON FAMILY IN GEORGIA
1834 Col A B Dawson (Hamilton GA) m. Mary A Jourdan
Hamilton GA is just north of Columbus where Jacintha Dawson married in 1829.
This may have been Col. Dawson's 2nd marriage)
1844 Eliz Ann Dawson 1796-1844 Consort of
Maj John Dawson (John
s.George & Ruth Rogers Skidmore Dawson ?)
1836 Col George Dawson died Served in War of 1812
(s. George & Ruth Rogers Skidmore
1829 Jacintha E Dawson (Columbus) m. Richard Marks
Ann Matthews b. c1765 dau. Gen. George Matthews -
m. Meriwether Marks of Staunton VA. Their daughter, Martha,
married Andrew Barry of Staunton, VA. Could Richard
Marks have been
1837 Rev John Dawson performs wedding ceremony for Morgan E Dau of
1806 Margaret P Dawson 1782-1806, wife of John Dawson
died (Notice that
John m. Kizziah 1808 and that the recording of that marriage was in Alabama.
John E Dawson filed a $3,533. claim for Indian depredations in
WILLIAM C DAWSON 1798-1856 Born & died
in Green Co, Georgia
Son of George & Ruth Rogers Skidmore Dawson
Served un-expired Governor Term of John Coffee..served two more of his own
1845 - Named Judge Ocmulgee Circuit in Georgia
1855 - U S Senator from Georgia
DAWSON FAMILY IN GEORGIA 1820 CENSUS
Briton Burke Co 003 Need to check this, Old Brittain had died in 1795 and
Young Brit b. 1817 was too young. There may have been more than two
Brittain Dawsons) (1850 NavCo TX Census: Brit Dawson b. 1820 in
George Jr Greene Co s. George & Ruth Skidmore Dawson
Reuben " s. George & Ruth Skidmore Dawson
Thomas " s. George & Ruth Skidmore Dawson
Wm C " s. George & Ruth Skidmore Dawson
b.1798 Ga Gov, US Senator
Gibson Putnam Co
John Morgan Co
Kirchen Pulaski Co NOTE: Henry Dawson was Exec. of will of William
Co NCC 1758 s. John and William Kinchen
dau. Martha, Eliz, Mary, Temperance
Robert Wilkes Co
DAWSON FAMILY SLAVE OWNERS GEORGIA 1850
Chris Chatam Co 326 Savannah
James C Richmond South of Augusta
John E Muscogee West GA Columbus
H C or HB Muscogee
John R Muscogee
REFERENCE BOOK Collection of Family Records: DAWSON FAMILY
Charles C Dawson
1874 (Found in
Library of Virginia, Richmond)
Three branches of Dawson family came to
America: Yorkshire Kentish
JOHN DAWSON b 1735- Rowell, Westmoreland Co, England
Said to have arrived South Carolina 1750 & became Plantation owner Married
Joanna Monck dau. Thomas Monck Grandau Col.
Thomas Broughton (Interesting, Brittain Dawson 0000-1795, family
married into Rowell
Monck family is mentioned in Richmond Co GA history)
ROBERT DAWSON was said to have been an English emigrant who settled at Town
Point, Onslow Co, North Carolina (Onslow Co NC, middle coastal
Onslow Bay.near..Jacksonville, NC)
He was said to have married Sabra Kiff who died in 1851 (no
s. Robert 1767-1827
s. John 1793 (May have married Martha Green Hunter.
Mann Dawson 1838-1921 is buried Lawrence Cemetery Maury Co
Marker sates he was son of John & Martha Green
Hunter of NC
One John Dawson died Maury Co 1843
s. Briton m. Martha
Note: Elizabeth, dau. of Ann Bryan (Bryant) had
Leonard married a Dawson in Craven Co NC by 1773
Sarah s. William Dawson, John Dawson, Jesse Dawson
Martha d. Mary who had married a Cook (See Richmond Co GA)
James d.Elizabeth who had married a Dawson and had son, John. Robert
The Brittain above MAY be the same Brittain who died Ricmond Co GA 1795.
He MAY have married Martha Bryant who bore five children and died.
Brittain may have then married Sabra (Sarah) who could have been related to
Brittain's Mother, Sabra Kiff. Children listed in will of Sabra
Dawson included: Sarah & James
MORE, Brittian MAY have married Elizabeth Bryant who died in 1773 in Craven
The DAWSON FAMILY history found at Richmond, Library of Virginia, made no
reference to the Dawsons who settled Richmond Co GA
British soldier who deserted when he realized that England was wrong in their
action against the colonies. Joined and fought
m. Mrs. Ruth Skidmore of North Carolina who had a son at the time of the
marriage, Sam Skidmore The family moved to Greene Co Georgia after the AmRev
s. Gen Thomas Dawson m. Susan Rogers, dau. of John Rogers of North Carolina
(Rogers family continues to surface with Dawsons
See Union Spring AL
George A Dawson
Thomas Henry Dawson
John Rogers Dawson
James Crosby Dawson
Reuben Joseph Dawson
William Curran Dawson
s. John (One John Dawson
1754-0000 m. Miss Atherton and had sons
s. William C. b. 1798 Gov. Georgia, US Senator, Dawson Co GA names
DAWSON FAMILY IN ALABAMA
John Dawson b. 1794 GA m. 1808 Kiziah
Joseph Dawson b. 1815 SC m. 2nd 1831 Eady Price from North Carolina
Rev. Thomas H Dawson 1809-1893 m. Annie (1827-1893) Russell AL (No
Dr. Thomas H Dawson m. 1843 Martha A Hardwick Columbus GA-
DAWSON FAMILY IN TEXAS 1850 CENSUS
Dread Robertson Co 236
Brit Navarro Co 110 Slave owner 203
Brit 30 Fla $1820
Susanna 20 TN
David C Caldwll Co 457
Elizabeth Robertson Co 236
Fielding Williamson Co 334
Francis Milam Co 008
James Williamson 330
Samuel F "
J. Collin Co
J L LaVacca
Annie E Harris
DAWSON FAMILY SLAVE OWNERS TEXAS 1850
Navarro Co Brittain 203
Williamson Co John 681
Caldwell Co Martha 248
Williamson Co Samuel R 681
DAWSON FAMILY IN TEXAS 1860 CENSUS
Navarro Co Britton 244 Spring Hill
Robertson Co Dread 180 Wheelock
Jefferson Co John 419 Beaumont
Grimes Peter 245 Anderson
Brazos Co Richard 086 Boonville
Carl W. Matthews
Roswell GA 30077 404 587 4350