I've been doing family history research since the late 1980s. Almost all of my family came into the southern colonies and worked there way across the South. Lately, I've started to look at my wife's New England, Irish, and French Canadian ancestry.
My tree is online at http://wrenacres.com/genealogy.
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:
George Collier Williams, born June 1854, Leake County, Mississippi, died 26 August 1945, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas
Mary Catherine Williams, born 1856, Leake County, Mississippi, died 1916 in Arkansas
William David Williams, born 25 Feb 1861, Leake County, Mississippi, died 1 Mary 1928, Senatobia, Tate County, Mississippi
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. 45
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.
George Collier Williams, Robert H. Dickson Sr.
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.
1860 U.S. Federal Census, Leake County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Carthage, Page 67, Dwelling 634, Family 634, L. D. Williams. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, Desoto County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Township 5 R 7, page 52, dwelling 365, family 365, David Dickson. ↩
1880 US Federal Census, Lonoke County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Totten Township, ED 188, Page 6, Dwelling 53, Family 54, Gates, A.J. ↩
1900 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Hickory Plain, ED 74, Page 10, Dwelling 172, Family 172, Gates, Andrew. ↩
1910 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Hickory Plain Township, ED 104, Sheet 9A, Dwelling 158, Family 160, Andrew J Gates. ↩
This is the second in a series where I try to unravel and figure out my Dickson ancestry. I am not necessarily working toward a narrative goal here. I am mostly capturing my research to be sure that I have a sensible understanding of the family.
In the first part, we started with our most recent known facts and started to work backwards. We began with my grandfather, Robert Harrison Dickson, Jr, and traced his family and movements backward.
Eventually, we found him in a family as a child with his parents, Robert Harrison Dickson Sr. and Ethel Garner Dickson. Tracing that family back through the census, we found Robert Sr, as a child in the family of his parents, John H. Dickson and Martha A. Dickson. We stopped at the first census where Robert Sr. appeared – 1880 US Federal Census of Prairie County, Arkansas.
In this post, we will try to round out John H. Dickson’s immediate family a little bit so that we can make some more progress. We will also identify a possible family of origin for him that we will look at more later on.
On the very first day that I ever went to a library to search in the census, back in 1988, in the 1880 census, I found John H. Dickson and his young family in Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas. We identify the family because we find Robert H. Dickson Sr, his brother Cecil, and his sister Minnie in the household. The 1880 census is important because it gives two new pieces of information not found on previous censuses. First, it shows the relationship of a person to the head of household. Second, it shows where a person’s parents were born. Robert, Cecil, and Minnie are listed as children of John, so we know for sure at least who their father is. We are pretty sure of the mother, but the proof is not quite as solid yet. 1
This census reports that John H. Dickson was born in Alabama, his father was born in Tennessee, and his mother was born in Virginia. His wife, Martha, reports that she was from Alabama. The two older children (Robert and his brother Cecil) were born in Mississippi and the youngest child (Minnie) was born in Arkansas. The information on the children fits what we already know, so we are confident we are looking at the right family.
The oldest child is 4 years old, indicating a birth in about 1876. If we look for marriage records, we find a record in a database of Mississippi marriages for J.H. Dickson to Martha A. Taylor on 12 Sept 1872 in Desoto County, Mississippi. 2 This fits with where Robert H. Dickson Sr. reported that he was born, so we are fairly certain this is the right marriage. But it also tells us that we will not find the couple together in the 1870 Census. Instead, we will have to look for each of them (John and Martha) as children in homes of thieir parents or else as individuals or else as parts of other families. John’s age indicates that he could have had a previous marriage; Martha’s age indicates that a previous marriage is unlikely for her.
Searching the census for a family where John H. Dickson, born about 1836 in Alabama, perhaps with parents from Tennessee and Virginia, we find one family that is a good fit. In 1870, in Desoto County, Mississippi, we find the family of David Dickson with a number of children. 3 This appears to be our most likely candidate family. In fact, it seems like the only one we find in a census search that comes very close. However it has its own issues that we will need to work through.
In particular, the way the surnames are reported looks a little odd. Typically, when a line or ditto marks are shown, that means that the surname is the same as the one above. If that were the case for this entry, then we would expect this family to be David and Eliza Dickson, Mary E. Williams, John H. Williams and a number of other Williams folks. We might think that John must be Mary’s husband from this or a brother in a different family. So, it’s a confusion that we need to work through. Our initial suspicion is that Mary is in fact Mary Williams, but the ditto marks for the rest of the family refer to Dickson rather than Williams. That would mean that she probably was a daughter who married and is now listed back in this family rather than in her own family. So, we will look further and come back to see if this holds up.
Stepping back one more census, to 1860, we again look for John H. either in his own family, his parents family, or somewhere else. When we look again at David Dickson / Dixon, we find his family, along with John, in Leake County, Mississippi, in the center of the state rather than the north of the state. 4 In this family, David and his wife Eliza and John are all consistent. The children change somewhat, but they appear to be consistent with the later census. John is listed out of order from the rest of the children, presumably because he is old enough to be on his own, so is considered by the census taker separately from minor children.
If we take one more step back in the census, to 1850, we find John as a child in the home of David and Eliza again. 5 At this point, they are located in Marengo County, Alabama about 140 miles east of Carthage, their location in 1860.
At this point, it might be valuable to summarize the family across the censuses. The following table shows the individuals in David and Eliza’s household across the census years, along with ages and birth places.
(in the home of J.F. Pardue, Tate, Miss.)
(Mary Gates, in home of A.J. Gates,
As we mentioned before, the 1870 census is interesting in that a large number of young children are listed, all born in Mississippi. These appear to be the children of Mary E. Williams. The oldest is 13 years old and the youngest is 7 years old. This could put some brackets around a possible date for when she and her husband were no longer together and give us a way to search for what happened to him. There is also a 63 year old woman, Lucy Vaugh, born in Virginia in the home. A theory would be that she could be Mary’s older sister. This is worth pursuing.
All of this is pretty good circumstantial evidence that John H. Dickson, my ancestor, is a part of this family. The census isn’t iron-clad proof, though. And I still don’t have anything that says “David is John’s father” or “John is David’s son.” I’m close though.
In the next post, I will share a picture that tied this together, at least to my satisfaction, and can let me move on to the next step.
1880 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Bridge Bend Township, ED 247, page 211, dwelling 218, family 218, John H. Dickson. ↩
Ancestry.com, “Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2012), J.H. Dickson to Martha Taylor, 11 Dec 1872, Desoto County. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, Desoto County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Township 5 R 7, page 52, dwelling 365, family 365, David Dickson. ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, Leake County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Carthage post office, page 67, dwelling 426, family 426, David Dixon. ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census, Marengo County, Alabama, pop. sch., Not stated, page 44, dwelling 304, family 304, David Dickson. ↩
This is the first in a series of “On this day” posts. Today is 1 May 2016. And today, we are going to meet Sallie Vincent Cason, born today in 1857.
I think I have mentioned the Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason and his wife Bettie Cooper Cason before. And I am sure that I will mention them again. They are a big part of my research and of the family stories that were passed down.
Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason, Baptist missionary and preacher, Captain, 41st Alabama Infantry, CSA
Bettie Cooper Cason
Rev. J.H. Cason and his wife Bettie were very early Baptist missionaries to Africa. In September 1856, they and three other missionary couples set out for the Yoruba country, which today is a part of Nigeria. This was one of the very first groups from the Baptist church to go into Africa.
They married 3 July 1856 and spent the summer raising funds for their missionary efforts. They sailed from New York to Africa on a trading vessel, the cheapest and slowest way to get there, and arrived early in January in 1857.
That spring, Jere Cason wrote the following letter to his supervising pastor, Brother Poindexter.
Ijoye, Yoruba, May the 15th 1857
Dear Bro Poindexter
Your kind favor came to hand May 5th. It was a comforting letter and manifested much interest on your part in our mission. We were sorry to learn that Bro Taylor was unwell and hope he has long since been permitted to engage in his duties.
On the 1st day of May we were delighted by the birth of a fine daughter. It grew and
promised well to be raised. On the 12th it died and I followed it to the grave in a small band of Africans. Mrs Cason is doing pretty well and we hope she will be up in a few days.
That little girl was Sallie Vincent Cason, named for Jere’s mother. How sad. But, how matter of fact about things, too. Jere doted on his children and grandchildren. He wrote letters to each grandchild on they day it was born, welcoming that baby to the world. So, you now that he and Bettie were devastated by the death of their daughter. But, they also felt a duty to their call and their mission. I can hardly imagine.
I found this letter through the Baptist Foreign Missions Board archive in Nashville, Tennessee. They sent me copies of all of Jere’s letters. I went to visit them and made copies for myself of the letters from the other missionaries serving with them. It’s such an amazing thing for the archivist to bring a box of letters that are 160 years old, that were mailed back to the US from Yoruba, Africa.
In Part 1 of this, we learned that there were two men, both named Otway Licepious Bailey, born nearly the same time, residing in Arkansas and Texas at about the same time and we set out to unravel them. We discovered who “My” Otway, born 1831, was, where he was when, and a little bit about his story.
In this episode of our story, we will meet and get to know the “Other” Otway.
“The Other” Otway – Otway Licepious Bailey, born 1829, North Carolina
The first hint that something weird might going on comes when my researcher friend, Jane, asks me about the Confederate service record I found for Ottway L. Bailey. 1
According to this record, Ottway enlisted in the 26th Arkansas Infantry (also called the 3rd Trans-Mississippi Infantry) in June, 1862 at Tulip, Arkansas. Tulip is in Dallas County, Arkansas. Initially, I thought nothing strange about this record, but when Jane asked about it, I began to wonder.
Grandmother always said her ancestors had not served in the Confederacy. More importantly, Tulip, Dallas County, Arkansas is not part of any of the family migrations.
Tulip, Smith Township, is located southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, near the town of Carthage. All of the Bailey families in our line had been pretty much on a path across what is today Interstate 40 – moving from Pope County toward Sebastian County, before heading to Texas. While this is only a few counties north of Tulip, none of our Baileys have been found in the area of Dallas County, Arkansas.
In particular, at the time in question, the summer of 1862, “my” Otway had been a long-time resident of Dallas County, TEXAS. What else could we figure out to separate these men? 2
So, we start from the start. What do we know about “the other” Otway and what more can we find out?
Starting with the service record, it appears that Otway enlisted in a unit that was part of what was called the “Trans-Mississippi”. It covered units from Arkansas, Texas, and the southwest of the Confederacy. These units designations seem to change from time to time, sometimes being listed as Texas units and sometimes as Arkansas. But his original unit was an Arkansas infantry unit, organized in Dallas County, Arkansas. Shortly after enlisting, he was detached to an artillery battery. He may have been given a surgeon’s discharge, but the records are fuzzy on this. In any event, he enlisted in August 1862 for three years or the duration of the war. It’s not really clear how long he actually served.
That puts him in Dallas County, Arkansas in 1862, so the natural next step is to search the census before and after. An extensive search has yet to turn up an 1860 census record for Otway (b. 1829). In 1870, however, we find him in Tulip with a young family – a wife, Laura, and three young children, Pinck, Fannie, Otway Licepious Jr. 3
This is where we begin to make some headway and where things get really pretty interesting. We see that Otway is 41 years old in 1870, giving us a birth year of 1829. He is from North Carolina. His wife, Laura V., is 27 years old and born in Mississippi.
Typically, one wants to work backward from the most recent facts. In this case, there are certainly facts to find coming forward and going back that will help us. So, we will do a bit of research in both directions at once.
First, who is Laura? We find a record of a marriage between Otway L. Bailey and Laura V. Stokes on 22 November 1865. 4 But we also find one for a marriage between Otway L. Bailey and Mattie A. Stokes on 19 Feb 1874. 5 Based on the ages of the children, it appears that Otway and his young wife, Laura have a family fairly quickly and then something happens.
Searching further in Find-A-Grave, we find three interesting tombstones in the Tulip Cemetery. First, we find a grave for Laura V. Stokes Bailey giving her birth as 29 December 1842 and her death as January 1873 with an inscription that says she was the wife of O.L. Bailey. 6 We also find a grave for Mattie A. Stokes, born 12 December 1838, died 21 May 1874, inscribed “wife of O.L. Bailey.” 7 But, we also find a third grave for Bettie F. Saunders Bailey, born 29 Jan 1838, died 14 September 1865, “wife of O.L. Bailey.” 8
From this, there can be no question that Otway was married at least three times. Each wife died quite young, but based on the ages of the children, all of them were born to Laura V. Stokes Bailey. First he married Bettie F. Saunders, where, we are not yet sure. But, we know that he married Laura Stokes, and after she died, he married her older sister. The 1860 Census for the Stokes family shows us this. 9
So, what happened next to Otway? He does not appear in the 1880 Arkansas census. I have not been able to example land or tax records in Arkansas to any great extent, so I have not been able to identify when he bought and sold land, indicating that he was coming or going from the state. But a broader search in the 1880 census finds a single match that appears to be him. Otway L. Bailey, born 1829, is living in Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, working in a warehouse. He is alone, living as a boarder. 10 What of his family ? Has he married again? The children should not be old enough to be on their own yet. They wold be at most 13 years old in 1880.
Searching for the children finds them in the home of Dr. Giles P. Bailey in Rockingham County, North Carolina. He lists them as his nephews. Fannie is missing, but a young Robert W. has been added, born in 1872. 11 At this point, we have to backtrack a bit to figure this part out.
Searching in 1850, we find what appears to be Otway listed in the household with an older woman, Nancy Stubblefield. It is not clear the relationship to Nancy, but it seems likely that she is an older relative of some sort. This is an area that needs to be pursued. We will come back to this shortly. 12
The Census at this point has mostly run out as a source for us. But, Ancestry has recently published a lot of will and probate records. Searching that, we find a huge cache of helpful documents. First, we find a will for Giles P. Bailey 13 that names all of his siblings, including his brother Otway. It also names his nieces and nephews. Giles must have been close to his nephews Robert, or at least seen some potential in him. Giles provided funds for Robert to pursue a liberal education preparing him for a profession. Giles, himself, had attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in medicine, 14 just as his father had. 15
Using Giles’ will, along with his father’s 16 and his mother’s 17 wills, we can get a clear enough picture of the family to see that Dr. Otway Licepious Bailey, born 12 Sept 1793, married Sena Bethell, born 1795, in 1821 in Rockingham County, North Carolina. They had at least five children: Nancy B. “Fannie”, Giles Pinkney, Sarah Jane, Otway Licepious, and Eliza Virginia. When Otway Sr. and Sena died, they distributed their property, but kept it locked up in life estates or undivided until all of the children had come of age.
In the meantime, Otway appears to have decided to move west for one reason or another. While searching for him in North Carolina and Virginia, we find his marriage record where he marries Betty F. Saunders on 31 May 1856 in Wythe County, Virginia. 18 That means that he and Bettie must have moved west together; they were married prior to the move and she lived until he returned from the War.
But, why go to Arkansas? The answer isn’t completely clear, but here’s what seems likely: Remember Nancy Stubblefield? Remember that Otway’s mother was Sena Bethell and that she was named Watt when she died? Well, in searching the 1860 Census for Dallas County, Arkansas, those names – Bethell, Stubblefield, Watt – all occur pretty frequently for a small county, and they occur among people born in North Carolina. I am pretty sure that a little research would show a migration pattern.
But, it’s more interesting than that. Otway’s second wife, Laura, the mother of their children was the daughter of Dudley G. Stokes of Caswell County, North Carolina and his wife … wait for it … Frances W. Bethell of Rockingham County, North Carolina. 1920 It’s pretty clear to me, though by no means proven, that Laura’s mother was in some way kin to Otway’s mother and that Otway moved west with a group of people that he had at least passing familiarity. This just proves how important it is to follow the “FAN Club” in genealogical research. That’s Friends, Associates, and Neighbors.
So, how do “my” Otway, b. 1831, and the “other” Otway, b. 1829, connect? Turns out that they are first cousins. Otway, b. 1829’s father was Otway, b. 1793. Otway, b. 1831’s, father was Francis Baker Bailey. Francis Baker Bailey and Otway, b. 1793, where two of the several sons of Revolutionary War veteran Peter Cock Bailey. But that’s a story for another day.
In the end, there really were two Otways living in Arkansas about the same time and sorting them out was really a pretty interesting exercise.
“Civil War Service,” digital images, NARA, Fold3.com (http://fold3.com : accessed 31 March 2016), Ottway L. Bailey. ↩
History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties, p. 623. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Tulip, Smith Township, Page 26, Dwelling 181, Family 179, Otway L Bailey. ↩
FamilySearch.org, “Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944,” database, FamilySearch.org (http://familysearch.org : accessed 9 April 2016), Otway L Bailey and Laura V Stokes, 22 Nov 1865; citing Dallas, Arkansas FHL microfim 985, 892. ↩
“Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944,” database Otway L Bailey and Mattie H Stokes, 10 Feb 1874; citing FHL Microfilm 985,892. ↩
Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital images (http:/findagrave.com : accessed 10 April 2016), Laura V. Stokes Bailey, Memorial no. 6611271, created by Pat Hall, Laura V. Stokes Bailey. ↩
Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Martha A. Stokes Bailey, Memorial no. 6611274, created by Pat Hall, Martha A. Stokes Bailey. ↩
Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey, Memorial no. 6610491, created by Pat Hall, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey. ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 103, Dwelling 650, Family 650, Fannie W. Stokes. ↩
1880 US Federal Census, Pittsylvania County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Danville, ED 181, Page 36, Dwelling 316, Family 489, Otway Bailey. ↩
1880 US Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Oregon Township, ED 318, Page 15, Dwelling 115, Family 134, Dr. Giles P Bailey. ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Eastern District, Page 61, Dwelling 438, Family 447, O.L. Bailey. ↩
Ancestry.com, “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 2 April 2016), Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Giles P Bailey. ↩
General Catalogue of the Medical Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania: with an Historical Sketch of the Origin, Progress, and Present State of the Medical Department (Philadelphia: Medical Faculty of the University, 1845), p. 162. ↩
The American Medical Recorder of Original Papers and Intelligence in Medicine and Surgery (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1820), p. 315. ↩
“North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Otway L Bailey. ↩
“North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Sena B Watt. ↩
Ancestry.com, “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 10 April 2016), Wythe County, 31 May 1856, Otaway Bailey to Betty F. Saunders. ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 81, Dwelling 548, Family 548, Dudley G. Stokes. ↩
“North Carolina, Marriage Index, 1741-2004,” database Rockingham County, Dudley G. Stokes to Frances W. Bethell. ↩
Georgia Frances Vickers Wren, 10 Oct 1849 – 1 May 1941
Sarah and G.W. Wren had nine children, including my great-great-grandfather, Alonzo Dossey Wren. Dr. A.D. Wren, born in 1841, married Georgia Frances Vickers shortly after the Civil War in Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana. Georgia and A.D. Wren had ten children of their own. When Georgia and A.D. Wren became grandparents, they were faced with the age-old question of what to call the grandparents. Sarah Bridges Wren was called “Great” while Georgia Vickers Wren was called “Little Grannie”.
Late in Sarah Bridges’ life, her daughter-in-law asked her to write down a little bit of her life so that the family would have it. After all, Sarah Bridges Wren had seen a lot of history. I have that letter in my possession. It’s at the top of this post. The following is a transcript of that letter. As near as I can tell from what the letter talks about, it must have been written in the fall of 1903. I’m including it just as it’s written.
To Mrs. Georgia Wren
Dear Daughter I send you this little history of my life which I have hastily writen, it is short and meager but I don’t supose that any one would be interested in much that I could tell, although I have seen a good deal of this world.
With love I remain your mother Sarah Wren
I was born in Green County Ga the 19th of April 1813.
Went over into Morgan Co where we lived until I was 6 years old, when I was caried to Putnam Co wher I grew to womanhood.
Was converted and joined the Methodist church in July 1828. was maried the 4th sept the same year to GW Wren of South Carolina. We settled in Ga where we remained until 1850 when we removed to Louisiana in Jan 51 where Mr Wren died in Augt 29th 1884 and were 5 of our 8 children have died. I was Gloriously sanctified at the Rock Springs camp meeting in Putnam Co, Ga in 1849 which bless the good Lord I still claim and hold on to t[his] [day] [He] has always been very merciful and good to me and has given me many special answers to prayer.
My blessed Lord has watched over me now for 90 years & 6 months and nere denied me one blessing that was best for me to have. He has given me good friends every where and never permited any serious harm to befall me. I feel that his abiding care has always been with me and in me to bless and comfort me and now in my old age and infirmities he has not forsaken me, but gives me the abiding witness of his Holy Spirit to comfort and sustain me. Glory to his name.
Who the heck would name their son Otway Licepious Bailey? Apparently, several people.
My great-great grandfather, Hume Field Bailey, had a brother named Otway Licepious Bailey. And Hume had an uncle named Otway Licepious Bailey. But, who would think that there would be two Otway Licepious Baileys living in fairly close proximity to each other, born about the same time, and not obviously connected? Well, it happened. And here’s how we untangled them.
This will end up as maybe several posts. Ol’ Myrt, one of the premier genealogists around, pointed out that a blog post should answer a single question. This one will focus on the “my” Otway. We’ll see where he was when. Then, we will look at the “other” Otway and his story. Finally, we will connect the dots between them.
I had always known of “my” Otway and had a little bit of information on him. I had his birth, death, marriage, list of his children, but that was about all since he wasn’t in my direct line. I also had found what I thought was a Confederate service record for him. It was for Otway L. Bailey from Arkansas. Got to be this guy, right? I was young and impatient back then. So I added it and moved on, years ago before I became quite as suspicious as I am today.
Years pass and I get an email from another researcher, Jane. She is working on an application for the United Daughters of the Confederacy and thinks this might be the ticket in. Could I help with some more information? See, she had found the “other” Otway living in a nearby county. Are they really the same person or are they different? And the more I started to think about it, the Confederate service seemed so unlikely to me, based on the rest of the family. This was my grandmother Susan Louise Bailey’s family and she was always pleased with the fact that none of her Bailey ancestors had served in the Confederacy. (I guess she didn’t know about her Deshazo ancestors service or all those Bailey slaves back in the day. Other stories for other days.)
“My” Otway – Otway Licepious Bailey, born 1831, Virginia
“My” Otway Licepious Bailey was born 25 Mar 1831 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. 1 His parents were Francis Baker Bailey and Evalina Belmont Hill. The family moved around quite a bit. They started in Virginia, moved on to Kentucky, through Tennessee, and on to Arkansas. Otway’s biography says that his father even made a prospecting trip to Texas in 1848. It appears that the family was in central Arkansas just prior to Arkansas statehood. 2 That’s another research topic for another day.
Francis and Evalina had twelve children and eventually settled in Missouri. I’ve got a number of letters back and forth between the children, their parents and the cousins on both sides that pretty well nail down who was where when, at least after they settled in Arkansas and Missouri.
Otway was no stationary target, himself. By the time he was a teenager, the family had settled in Pope County, Arkansas around Gally Rock (Galla Rock). In his later years, a biography of Otway was published in a history of Tarrant County, Texas. 3 It tells a lot about his migrations. Every few years, there was a move a little farther west. Otway took an apprenticeship as a gunsmith and blacksmith in Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas. Then he moved to Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas to work as a gunsmith. In the 1850 census, we find him back with the family in Gally Rock. 4 By 1853, he had moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas to work as a gunsmith and married Amanda G. Colvin there.
Amanda was a native of Illinois, having moved south with her family, possibly after a stint in the Republic of Texas. That’s another research topic for another day.
In May 1856, Otway and Amanda moved to Austin, Travis County, Texas and then moved to Dallas County a year after that. They remained in Dallas County for some eighteen years, more or less, before moving to Tarrant County, just one county west. In 1902, they moved north to Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, presumably to be closer to their daughter’s family. This is all born out by letters from Otway and Amanda, census records, and county histories. 56789
According to his obituary in the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun, though Otway never served in the military during the Civil War, the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy awarded him the Southern Cross of Valor for his service overseeing an armory in Lancaster, Dallas County Texas, owing to his experience as a gunsmith and blacksmith.
There was certainly an armory in Lancaster and the pistols it produced are some of the most sought after by Civil War gun collectors today. But to date, nothing indicates that he was in any way in charge of the armory or in a management position. We have not even found a record that he worked there, though it certainly seems plausible.
Otway and Amanda had twelve children, according to the 1910 census, with only five of them still alive in 1910. It appears from a family record that there could have been several children born late in their marriage that did not survive young childhood. 10
Otway died 8 Oct 1914 in Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, where he and Amanda had moved some years earlier to be near their daughter, Lucy. 11
In the next chapter of this saga, we will meet “the other” Otway.
Family data, Otway L. Bailey Family Bible, The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments: translated from the Original Tongues and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised, (New York: American Bible Society, 1866); original owned by [address for private use], copies received from Susan Louise Bailey. ↩
History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties: Containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families (Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1895), p. 623. ↩
This past Sunday, I sat behind my friend Kristin Heiden at church. She’s our Associate Minister for Adult Discipleship at Roswell United Methodist Church. She was wearing her robe and stole to assist in serving Communion and I particularly noticed her stole. It was a simple, white, coarse cloth, with simple embroidery on it. She told me that she got it when she was in Jerusalem.
But, it reminded me of some other coarse, embroidered cloth that I had seen. My great-grandmother, Pearl Hudson Wren (Grannie to us), and my great-aunt, Mildred Wren Whitten, made tea towels forever. They lived out in the country, in Nevada County, Arkansas and learned to be thrifty and not waste things. They would take old feed sacks and bleach and iron them smooth and clean. Then, they would embroider simple patterns on them. Rather than doing this by hand, since you need lots of tea towels, they used the old treadle Singer sewing machine. They would wind embroidery floss around the bobbin instead of the spool and do things upside down, since they wanted the stitching to end up on top of the towel so you could see it. Just wanted to add a little splash of color and care to something very mundane and ordinary.
I have a bunch of these towels. I don’t use them any more, but I don’t see any reason not to. Grannie and Mildred certainly didn’t view this as making a keepsake. But, I like to keep them to remember them and remember being with them. Grannie was already sick by the time I came along and not able to be up and around much. But I never saw Mildred without a big smile. She kept close track of her family and friends, recording births, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays, who was sick and who was traveling in her diary. She ministered and looked after all of her folks.
So, Kristen’s stole reminded me of Mildred and Grannie and their tea towels. And Mildred reminded me of another towel: the one that Jesus used to wash and wipe the Apostle’s feet at the last supper. That big circle made me realize how appropriate it was for someone who had committed her life to the helping ministries by being ordained a deacon to have a simple, coarse stole, like Jesus’ towel, to signify her role and mission. Thanks, Kristin for the memory and reminder!