Swinehood vs. Socrates

I know that I don’t have the writer’s gift that my aunt Linda Ridener Dickson has, nor that of my grandmother Susan Louise Bailey Dickson.  The two of them set a high bar that I can only aspire to.

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Susan Louise Bailey, age 6, and her cow, Blossom

Susan Louise Bailey was born in October of 1919 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  She was the youngest of Charles Council Bailey and Viola Tennison’s ten children.  The farm where she was born and grew up had been in the family since 1840, purchased by Charles’ grandfather Francis Baker Bailey.

(I am convinced, though I have not yet proved, that the family was in Arkansas just prior to statehood.  It appears that some of Francis’ sons claim to have been born in Arkansas with dates of birth that predate statehood, but the census is never a great source.  Another post for another day.)

bailey-docs-0929-p1-v00I think things were often tough on the farm.  Through the Depression, I find lots of cases, especially after Charles died, where the farm was always under a lien for back taxes.  Money appeared to be really tight.  It wasn’t a big place and could never do more than scratch out a living on it.  No one was going to get rich there.

With a rural and difficult childhood, you might be surprised to see Susan not only go to college, but also to get a Masters degree, so that she could grow in her career as a teacher and help take care of her family.

dickson-1493-f-v00-SusanDickson-CommencementGrandmother was a teacher for a number of years in Southside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, teaching Math the whole time.   She was a special teacher to many students, taking time with them and helping them to understand the concepts that often seemed beyond their grasp.  So appreciated was she that she was recognized as Teacher of the Year.

I think she could be a tough teacher, expecting a lot of her students in terms of academics and in terms of behavior.  But she could also be a lot of fun.  She was always willing to go out of her way to support her students, attending football and basketball games and helping out with various activities.

And she could be an enforcer in class.  She would growl at her students.  It was a low, rumbly growl like an aggravated bear.  They knew to behave when they heard her growl!  But if that didn’t work, she kept a bullwhip on her desk!  I don’t think she ever had to use it.  Somehow, I think both of these are pedagogical techniques not commonly used in the classroom today.

But back to the gift for writing.  Dad shared a brief essay that Grandmother wrote for a class at her funeral.  This must have been in a freshman English class, based on the date – January 1938.  The class was English 103a.

In an assignment on Appearance, Mechanics, Style, and Content, the students were asked to address the question of whether you would rather be a live pig or a dead Socrates.  Here is Susan Louise Bailey’s classic answer to that question:

Sue Bailey
English 103a
January 13, 1938
Appearance, Mechanics, Style, Content

Swinehood vs. Socrates

I must confess that to be either a live pig or a dead Socrates would not be very desirable to me; however, being a swine might have some merits.  In a discussion of the subject a short while ago, a person said “at least Socrates is dead.”  This statement cannot be disputed; but, dead though he is, I am sure that Socrates is unable to sleep peacefully because of the beratings of harassed students struggling with his philosophy and teachings.  After an unhappy existence on earth, troubled with a scolding, brawling wife and stupid children, as well as many scornful enemies, to be troubled even in death by the chiding of one’s victims would be absolutely unbearable.

The swine, on the other hand, has few troubles in life and none in death if he has been a well-behaved swine.  He has nothing to do but doze in the warm sunshine.  If the sunshine becomes too warm, he has only to go to the shade to doze.  He does not have to go to school because there is nothing which he needs to learn.  It is unnecessary for him to work because he is provided with food and shelter.  This lucky swine has no diet to be observed religiously because obesity holds no terrors for him; in fact, the more obese he is, the more admiration he receives.  Most people, in considering the choice of a pig’s life, raise their hands in holy horror at the thought of the food given to swine.  Of course, such food is very repulsive to human beings; but we must remember that the swine does not know anything about our mode of living and is, therefore, content with his lot.  Some might object to the fact that the pig will soon be killed for food.  Since this is true, the choice is not between being a live pig or a dead Socrates, but a choice between being a dead pig or a dead Socrates.  After the pig is dead he is appreciated more than while he is alive, because people enjoy eating the pork roast and ham sandwiches into which he is transformed.  Instead of cursing him for having ever lived, people think kindly of him and his spirit rests peacefully.

As I said before, neither idea appeals to me; but if I were forced to make such a choice, I would rather be a live pig who lives in indolent contentment and by his death brings pleasure to human beings.  I hope that, after my death, I will be as kindly remembered as the swine is.

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John Oliver Brewer, Co. E 1st Arkans. Infantry

I spent thirteen years living in State College, Pennsylvania, right next door to Boalsburg.  In addition to housing possessions from Christopher Columbus, Boalsburg makes another claim to fame.  The tiny little town of Boalsburg is one of several that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day commemorations.  The graves of fallen Union soldiers were decorated starting in October 1864.  Of course, there are lots of places that claim this honor.  But Boalsburg is the one I am familiar with.  Every year, there is a large Memorial Day commemoration there.

There are many veterans in every generation in my family tree, some in my direct line, some among the uncles, aunts, and cousins.  John Oliver Brewer is one who is almost in my line. John Oliver Brewer was the first husband of my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Louise Council.

John and Sarah married in 1858 in Sebastian County, Arkansas and started a family there. Their first child, a daughter, Mary Angeline Brewer, was born in February 1860 and lived just a few months.  Their second child, a son, Philip Dodridge Brewer, was born in June of 1861.

Northwest Arkansas was a hotbed of border tensions during the Civil War.  Even though it was a part of the Confederacy, there apparently was a large degree of support for the Union in the area.  According to Grandmother Dickson, this led to things being pretty ugly from time to time and to people being pressed into service on one side or the other at the point of a rifle.

In the spring of 1863, on March 10, John Oliver Brewer enlisted in the 1st Arkansas Infantry of the Union Army.  His brother had joined the Union Cavalry already.  John never say service.  After being mustered in at Fort Smith, he went with his unit north to Fayetteville.  Were he caught the measles.  John Oliver Brewer died in hospital in Faytetteville on the 18th of May, 1863, barely two months into his service.  He left his young widow, Sarah, behind with a young son to care for.

Fold3_Page_4_Case_Files_of_Approved_Pension_Applications_of_Widows_and_Other_Dependents_of_Civil_War_Veterans_ca_1861_ca_1910-Brewer, Sarah
Sarah Louise Council Brewer Pension Application, 1864

In 1867, Sarah remarried to Hume Field Bailey and had a substantial family, including my great-grandfather, Charles Council Bailey.  in 1891, Hume died.  In her old age, Sarah again fell back on her status as the widow of a Union veteran who died in service.  She applied again for a pension, after proving that her second husband (Hume) had never served in the Union Army and had certainly never served the Confederacy.  Again she was awarded a small pension to assist in her old age that she continued to receive until her death.

Phil was adopted by Hume and grew up to have a successful career as an attorney.  He was the first commissioner of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court as Oklahoma transitioned from a territory into statehood.

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Philip Dodridge Brewer Obituary

In the end, had it not been for John Oliver Brewer’s service with the Union Army, I wouldn’t be here today, I suppose.  I don’t know how he felt about enlisting and serving.  But it seems sort of anticlimactic to be struck down by what we consider now to be a childhood disease while in camp.

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Otways – Part 2

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

Bailey, Otway, 1829, Civil War Service
Civil War Service Record for Ottway L. Bailey

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

1870 US Census - Bailey, OL
1870 US Federal Census, Tulip, Dallas County, Arkansas

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.

1880 US Census - Bailey, GP
1880 US Federal Census, Oregonville, Rockingham County, North Carolina, Dr. Giles P. Bailey

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. 19 20  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.


  1. “Civil War Service,” digital images, NARA, Fold3.com (http://fold3.com : accessed 31 March 2016), Ottway L. Bailey. 
  2. History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties, p. 623. 
  3. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Tulip, Smith Township, Page 26, Dwelling 181, Family 179, Otway L Bailey. 
  4. 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. 
  5. “Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944,” database Otway L Bailey and Mattie H Stokes, 10 Feb 1874; citing FHL Microfilm 985,892. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Martha A. Stokes Bailey, Memorial no. 6611274, created by Pat Hall, Martha A. Stokes Bailey. 
  8. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey, Memorial no. 6610491, created by Pat Hall, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey. 
  9. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 103, Dwelling 650, Family 650, Fannie W. Stokes. 
  10. 1880 US Federal Census, Pittsylvania County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Danville, ED 181, Page 36, Dwelling 316, Family 489, Otway Bailey. 
  11. 1880 US Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Oregon Township, ED 318, Page 15, Dwelling 115, Family 134, Dr. Giles P Bailey. 
  12. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Eastern District, Page 61, Dwelling 438, Family 447, O.L. Bailey. 
  13. 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. 
  14. 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. 
  15. The American Medical Recorder of Original Papers and Intelligence in Medicine and Surgery (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1820), p. 315. 
  16. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Otway L Bailey. 
  17. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Sena B Watt. 
  18. 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. 
  19. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 81, Dwelling 548, Family 548, Dudley G. Stokes. 
  20. “North Carolina, Marriage Index, 1741-2004,” database Rockingham County, Dudley G. Stokes to Frances W. Bethell. 

A Tale of Two Otways – Part 1

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. 5 6 7 8 9

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.

 


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. History of Texas 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Pope County, Arkansas, pop. sch., , p. 276, dwelling 502, family 502, Francis P. Bailey. 
  5. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Texas, pop. sch., Farmers Branch, Precinct No. 21, Page 66, Dwelling 445, Family 445, O.S. Bailey. 
  6. Ancestry.com, “Texas, Voter Registration Lists, 1867-1869,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2016), O.L. Bailey, No. 684. 
  7. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Texas, pop. sch., Precinct 1, Dallas, Page 220, Dwelling 1402, Family 1395, Barley, Otway L. 
  8. 1880 US Federal Census, Tarrant County, Texas, pop. sch., Oak Grove, Precinct 7, ED 98, Page 1, Household 4, O.L. Bailey. 
  9. 1900 US Federal Census, Tarrant County, Texas, pop. sch., Precinct 7, ED 120, Sheet 5, Household 66, Family 66, O.L. Bailey. 
  10. 1910 US Federal Census, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, pop. sch., Edmond City, ED 190, Sheet 17B, Dwelling 392, Family 399, 575 South Broadway, Otway L. Bailey. 
  11. Otway Lysuipous Bailey, Edmond Sun, Edmond, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma, 15 October 1914. 

Chipping Away at a Dickson Brick Wall – Part 1

On the very first day that I ever went to a library to actually do genealogical research, way back in 1989, I found the name of my great-great-grandfather, John H. Dickson.  Until the spring of 2015, that was the last confirmed, documented link I could find going back on that line. Now, I am beginning to be able to chip away at that wall.  My goal has been to find the next links in the chain on my Dickson lineage.  This post will start to summarize what I know to date and where I want to go next.

I expect that this will take several posts to summarize the research so far and to get to any sort of conclusions.  This follows my Dickson line – father to father to father to father.  That’s where my biggest gaps are.  And as I can figure out who the Dickson male ancestors are, I can then figure out more about their wives and the grandmothers, opening up whole new sections of the tree.

There are lots of stories and pictures about Granddad and his parents, but this thread is primarily focused on the research.  We’ll be back to fun stuff shortly.

When doing genealogical research, it is always important to start with what you know and work backward.  So, let’s start with a tiny piece of the tree as a picture.  This one already gives away some of the story, but that’s okay.

dickson-tree-01

Robert Harrison Dickson, Jr., my grandfather, was born 29 Nov 1919 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  His parents were Robert Harrison Dickson and Ethel Mildred Garner Dickson.  In April 1940, Robert married Susan Louise Bailey, from Hackett, also in Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Starting with the 1940 census and working backward, we find Robert in Fort Smith reliably.  In 1940, Robert and Susan, both age 20, are living with Robert’s parents at 2230 N. 29th St. in Fort Smith.  This would have been not too long after Robert and Susan married.  None of Robert’s siblings are living there with them; the household is only the four of them – Robert Sr, Ethel, Robert Jr, and Susan.

1940 US Census - Dickson.JPG
U.S. 1940 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 66-33, Sheet 22

In 1930, Robert is a child in his parents house, along with his brother Richard and sister Evelyn.  They are living at the same address as in 1940.  Robert Sr., age 51, reports that he was born in Mississippi, as was his father, and that his mother was born in Alabama.

1930 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1930 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 66-33, Sheet 4A

In 1920, Robert Jr is an infant, just one month old, in the house with Robert Sr, Ethel, Richard, and Evelyn.  They are living this time at 2124 N. 14th St. in Forth Smith.  In this census, Robert Sr. is listed as 42 years old, born in Mississippi.  But his father is reported born in Alabama and mother born in Tennessee.  One of the keys to figuring out Robert Sr.’s family is going to be where the parents are born.

1920 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1920 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 148, Sheet 4A

This is as far back in the census as we find Robert Jr, since he was born in 1919.  So, we turn our attention to Robert Sr. now.

Robert Harrison Dickson Sr. was born on 12 August 1878 in Coldwater, Tate County, Mississippi.  This is a fact found on his death certificate and one that Granddad repeated about his father often.  Robert moved with his family to Arkansas not long after he was born, settling first in Prairie County and then moving on to Rudy in Crawford County.

As I said previously, in my first experience with Census research, I found Robert’s father – John H. Dickson.  I believe his mother to be Martha A. Taylor, though I have less concrete reasons for this – she isn’t reliably and consistently reported.

It appears that not long after coming to Arkansas, Robert’s father, John, died and his mother remarried.  The story that Robert Jr told was that the second husband, Jack A. Jones, wasn’t well liked by the children, was mean, and never allowed the first husband to be mentioned.  So, Robert Sr. grew up not knowing a lot about his father.  Then, he left home early and didn’t have close contact with the family over the years.  So, a lot of the trail runs dry as a result.  That’s what I am trying to uncover.  I have heard from some other parts of the family that Jack’s children from his first marriage didn’t think much of their stepmother, either.  I suspect this wasn’t the model blended family.

In addition to the census, we rely on other documents to place Robert and then measure how well all of the documents agree or disagree.  For example, in his World War I draft registration, he reports his birth as 12 August 1877 rather than the 1878 we have though before.  His ages reported in 1940, 1930, and 1900 agree with an 1878 birthdate.  In 1920 and 1880, his reported age matches the 1877 birth.  1900 agrees with neither.

We find Robert Sr, age 30, in the 1910 census in Fort Smith living as a lodger in a boarding house at 118 N. 6th St.  His occupation is listed as a machinist in a factory.  His parents and he are all listed as being born in Arkansas.  The discrepancy in both his age and all of the birth places makes me think that someone besides him provided the in formation to the census taker.  Remember from the 1920 census that Robert was 34 when he married for this first time so from a timeline perspective, this still makes sense.

1910 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1910 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 153, Page 28

In 1900, Robert is not in Arkansas.  Instead, we find him, aged 21, living as a boarder with a minister and his family in the Creek Nation in pre-statehood Indian Territories.  He’s working there as a farm laborer.  In this case, Robert is listed as born in 1878 (correct), born in Mississippi (correct), with his father born in Georgia and mother born in Mississippi (not in line with other records).  So far, we have not landed with the same birthplaces for his parents more than once.  Again, as a lodger, it is likely that someone besides him reported his facts to the census taker.

1900 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1900 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Creek Nation, Indian Territories, ED 50, Sheet 23

The 1890 Census for Arkansas is lost, so we have to jump all the way back to 1880.  In that case, we find Robert Sr. as a toddler in his parents home.  We find Robert in the home of John H. and Martha A. Dickson.  John is age 44, born in Alabama.  His father was born in Tennessee and his mother in Virginia.  John’s wife (presumably Robert’s mother) is Martha A. Dickson, age 23, from Alabama.  Nothing is recorded for her parents birth places.  They are living in 1880 in Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas.

Robert is 2 years old in this census.  Also listed in the house are his older brother Cecil Dickson, age 4, and his younger sister, Minnie Z. Dickson, age 8 months.

1880 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1880 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas, ED 247, Page 31

This is a good place to pause.  We have traced backward in the census and found Robert Sr. as a child in his parents’ home and have identified his father and presumably his mother.  We have good clues where his parents were born.

Next steps will be:

  • Press farther back in the census to track John H. Dickson and possibly identify his family of origin.
  • Move forward tracing Robert Sr’s siblings and parents in order get a better picture of them to allow us to move back.
  • Investigate the minister with whom Robert Sr. was boarding in Indian Territories.  Was he connected to the family at all, or just someone who needed a farm hand?
  • Identify other documents and sources that might shed light on Robert’s family line.

 

Approved Alternate Uses

This is my great-grandmother Viola Tennison Bailey‘s butter paddle.  Rather than use a churn, she made butter in a big, wooden bowl.  I’m not sure where the bowl is.  I never had it.  Perhaps Dad does.  In any case, using this, Great-grandmother would turn and turn and turn and whip and whip and whip the cream until the butter came together and rose to the top.  Sounds like a lot of work to me!

bailey-0103-f-v00.jpg
Viola Tennison Bailey

 

My grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, told me that there were some  approved alternate uses for the butter paddle as well and that it got pretty regular use across the family.

Susan was the youngest of ten children born to Viola and Charles Council Bailey.  Viola and Charles were married in 1895 and lived most of their lives in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  They had their first son, Carl Everett Bailey, in 1896.  I’ll talk more about them and  him in later blogs; there’s lots to tell there.  By the time Susan was born in 1919, Viola had been raising children for twenty-five years – eight boys and two girls.  Her oldest had already gone off to war, come back, and died.  Two more sons had died as children or infants.  Not too long after Susan was born, her older sister started having kids of her own.  Some of those kids where quite the characters and I am sure got into all kinds of trouble.  bailey-0200-f-v01.jpg

That’s where the butter paddle comes in.

Grandmother told me that her mom used it not only to make the family butter but also used it on some family butts!  She said that this was one of her preferred discipline tools. Now, seeing this angelic child, can you ever imagine her being in any sort of mischief or needing to be disciplined in any way at all?  Hard to imagine!

This is one of the classic pictures of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, along with her cow, Blossom.  It’s not often that you see a dirtier child than this.  But out of that dirt grew one of the finest women I have ever met.  She and Granddad were married for sixty-six years and every bit as smitten with each other when they died as when they met.  But, that’s a story for another day.

What the heck is this?

Sometimes the things you inherit from your ancestors are not only photos and letters and documents.  Sometimes you get pieces of them!

Charles Council Bailey, my great-grandfather, was born in 1868 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas, on a farm his grandparents had purchased in 1840 (more about that another time).

Charlie Bailey worked the farm, worked as a carpenter framing houses, and in his spare time wrote and collected songs by the dozens.  I have stacks and stacks of songs that he wrote out on notebook paper.  I’m still working to figure out which ones he copied and which ones he wrote.

In September, 1895, he married Viola Tennison in Le Flore County, Indian Territories (now Oklahoma).  Charlie and Viola had ten children, starting with Carl Everett Bailey in 1896 and ending my with my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey in 1919.

Along the way, Charlie must have had some dental issues and got a tooth fitted.  After he died, and after Viola died, his small trunk with many of his prized possessions ended up with my cousin, Michael Bailey, who gave it to me.  In addition to photos, songs, and the like, in it were several pairs of glasses and this – the tooth.  I can only assume that it belonged to him and not someone else.

Charles died in 1935 and was buried in the Vinita Cemetery in Hackett, on land that his family had donated may years before for that purpose.

So now, on my shelf with my grandparents watches and great-grandparents clock and photos and the like is a tooth.  But, without this story, who would know that it was an ancestor’s story and not just some weird collection on my shelf!