Chipping Away at a Dickson Brick Wall – Part 3

In the last two posts (part 1, part 2), we have established fairly well via the census that John H. Dickson, my great-great-grandfather is the son of David Dickson and Eliza Johnson Dickson.

But, the census is not terribly compelling evidence.  In this post, I will share a more compelling circumstantial reason for believing this to be true.

In the family of David and Eliza Dickson, John H. has a hypothetical sister, Mary E. Dickson who is one or two years his senior.  To be complete, let’s look at Mary’s family.

Sometime prior to 1854, Mary married Lorenzo Dow Williams from Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi.  Other researchers have told me that Lorenzo went away to the Civil War and was killed near Franklin, Tennessee.  I have not yet found his service record.  The two Lorenzo Dow Williams records I found were for the Union Colored Troops (not him) and for a man from Greene County, Mississippi who was discharged in Fernandia, Florida due to injuries (also not him).  However, in any case between the 1860 1 and 1870 2 census, Lorenzo disappears from the census record.

Mary and Lorenzo have four children together:

  1. George Collier Williams, born June 1854, Leake County, Mississippi, died 26 August 1945, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas
  2. Mary Catherine Williams, born 1856, Leake County, Mississippi, died 1916 in Arkansas
  3. William David Williams, born 25 Feb 1861, Leake County, Mississippi, died 1 Mary 1928, Senatobia, Tate County, Mississippi
  4. Frances Dow Williams, born 1863, Leake County, Mississippi, died before July 1916

After Lorenzo died, Mary lived with her parents for a time, since she and her children were with them in the 1880 census.  In 1876, Mary married again to Andrew J. Gates and they moved to Arkansas.  They settled first in Lonoke County 3 and then moved in to Prairie County. 4 5

Interestingly, John H. Dickson, Mary’s presumed brother, moved to Prairie County, Arkansas around that same time – just prior to 1880 – and lived there (I believe) until his death before 1889.  Another researcher has shared that he believed that David Dickson (Mary and John’s father) had a brother who had moved to Prairie County sometime before the Civil War.  This would be one of the few close relations outside Mississippi and a good reason for these children to move on to Arkansas.

The clincher to me in connecting John H. Dickson to Mary E. Dickson, and therefore to David and Eliza Dickson was a picture I found in my grandfather, Robert H. Dickson, Jr’s belongings.

This is a photo of Robert H. Dickson, Sr. (on the right), my great-grandfather who died in 1942 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  With him is a George Williams.  The names are in my grandmother’s handwriting.  But, my grandfather wrote on this “cousins”.  That’s the key I have been looking for.

As I look through all of Robert Dickson’s relations, the only person who could be a cousin, of roughly his age, named George Williams, is George Collier Williams (1854-1945), son of Mary E. Dickson and Lorenzo Dow Williams.  The only way for George and Robert to be cousins would be for George’s mother and Robert’s father to be sister and brother, and therefore have the same parents.

So, while this is still circumstantial evidence and not quite bulletproof proof, to me it solves the mystery of who my great-great-great-grandparents on the Dickson line are and points me to a new line of research.

In the next posts in this series, I will start to document Mary and John’s parents, David Dickson and Eliza W. Johnson.

 


  1. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Leake County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Carthage, Page 67, Dwelling 634, Family 634, L. D. Williams. 
  2. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Desoto County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Township 5 R 7, page 52, dwelling 365, family 365, David Dickson. 
  3. 1880 US Federal Census, Lonoke County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Totten Township, ED 188, Page 6, Dwelling 53, Family 54, Gates, A.J. 
  4. 1900 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Hickory Plain, ED 74, Page 10, Dwelling 172, Family 172, Gates, Andrew. 
  5. 1910 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Hickory Plain Township, ED 104, Sheet 9A, Dwelling 158, Family 160, Andrew J Gates. 
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