Monday, August 15, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Taylor Dawson's history of his family, Part 1 and 2

In May 1936, Taylor Dawson wrote a five part "History of Dawson Family" for the Chrisman Courier, Illinois.  Taylor's parents were Thomas Lewis and Rebecca Ann (Taylor) Dawson.  Thomas Lewis' parents were William and Nancy (Cleveland) Dawson. 

Here is the transcription of Part 1:

Page 3, Your Column
     Chrisman Courier:  I have often been asked to write the history of the Dawson family.  All I know about them is what I heard from my father and his brother.  It appears they were a very destitute family.  Grandfather William and Nancy Dawson were the old-fashioned hill people of Kentucky, never owning any property of any kind; not a roof or a chicken.  There were six of the brothers, my father the youngest.  There was thirty-five years between him and the oldest.  One sister, Mrs. Jane Peer, was the youngest.  They were people that were very much on the move.  Some time twice in one year if some empty shack could be found.  One with a fire place was preferred, but anything would do just so they got to move.  When all was ready, and having no furniture, the boys would tie up everything and throw the bundles on their backs and start for some country always going north.  It took them twelve years to go from Kentucky to Perrysville, Ind.  The boys had the old-fashioned flintlock gun and hunted and supported the family by their gun.  Being a flintlock, they bought no ammunition but powder, and shot wooden plugs for bullets.  They could not kill a deer, but would shoot him in the head and stagger him until the dog and boys could get to him and cut his throat and take his hide off.  The boys would carry a spade as well as a gun and when they found a bear in a den they would dig him out while he was asleep and have him killed and dressed before he found it out.
     The family wore bearskin clothing in the winter time and for footwear they would skin a dead horse or cow, take the hide from the front leg - knee down - cut the hoof off, sew up the end and turn it inside out; get a stick of wood the shape of a boot and drive it in the leg and when it got dry they pulled it out and then they had a leather boot.  They would trade a bearskin for a sack of corn, tie a string around the sack, run a pole through the string and put it on the shoulders of two of the boys and go to the mill.
     The oldest one of the boys was a blacksmith and went to Chicago when a young man and was never heard from until a few years back.  We have one of his blacksmith account books.  It says:  jon jonson - to one 6 inch fire shuvie with 18 inch handl and nob on end of handl, 18 sents; Garge Yulf to one flat iron 4 pounds, 6 sents; to Garge Yulf one set of 4 linch pins for 5 sents.  Received from jon jonson and others 60 2-sent coppers which is 120 sents all paid to me in hand on the 27th day of November 1794.  Now I thank you for now I can make payment on my rent which is long past due."
     When they settled at Perrysville there were six boys and one girl and the old folks.  Not one of the nine could read or write.  The oldest was a blacksmith, the next was a Baptist preacher.  Four of the boys got to be landowners.  My father owned 360 acres less than the other three.  My father and one of the others followed flat-boating on the Wabash to New Orleans.  On one trip they sold the cargo for enough to pay their way half way home and walked the other half, and by the way, my grandmother was Grover Cleveland's father's cousin.
     Will give you more of the history some other time.
                                                               Yours truly,
                                                       TAYLOR DAWSON.

Transcription of Part 2:

Thursday, May 28, 1936, Your Column
To the Courier Editor:

     When the Dawson's settled in Perrysville, Indiana, they took it for the Promised Land that overflowed with milk and honey and all moving was at an end.  But not so.  They soon got to going again.  The oldest one, a blacksmith, went to Chicago and was never heard from.  The next was a Baptist preacher.  He could not read, but would have the Bible read to him.  Then he would preach them all to sleep.  He would get real loud about three o'clock - time for dinner.
     The boys all got scattered, each going his own direction.  My father married and took care of the old folks.  He entered a quarter section of land two miles west of Dana and built a little shack fourteen feet square and lived there for twenty years.  At that time there were ten of us in the family until Grandmother was bitten by a rattlesnake and died in four days.  Grandfather stayed with us until his death in 1855.
     My father then sold the farm and bought 360 acres one mile north of Scottland.  Beside the shack that we lived in, there were three old tumbled down buildings.  Father's brother came to the place and occupied all of them, moving into one the second time.  He soon got anxious to move again, and found a house at the old mill dam on the Vermilion River and there - believe it or not - he stayed two years in one house.  Finding no other empty he soon bought one acre and built a shanty of his own.  He later went to the army and died.  It was his son, wife and daughter, that were murdered at Monmouth a few years back - your readers no doubt remember the account of it.
     The farm bought eighty years ago is still in the Dawson name and belongs to the grandchildren, Drexel, Gale, Wayne and Dewey Dawson.
                                                        Yours respectfully,
                                                           TAYLOR DAWSON.

May 28, 1936
The Chrisman Courier

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