I’d Like to Meet – Ann Cochran Dixon (1863-1857)

**Warning, this is a very long post!**

Several years ago, I very proudly finished my Master’s thesis in which my 5th great grandmother, Ann Cochran Dixon, was the focus. Here is the abstract of my thesis:

This thesis focuses on the importance that kinship network analysis lends to the study of women’s history, with a particular focus on women who did not leave behind personal writings. To colonial, national, and antebellum era women, “family” not only included the nuclear family, but also their effective kinship groups. To demonstrate the utility of kinship analysis, I have chosen Ann Cochran Dixon (1763-1857), a Scots-Irish frontierswoman, in relation to her Cochran kinship network. Ann and her kin are an ideal case study; she left no personal writings in which she specifically detailed life events, but the availability of sources documenting her family group makes it possible to reconstruct certain areas of her life through her connections with extended family members. Tracing and comparing the different actions of Ann Cochran Dixon and her kin spanning several generations will demonstrate that kinship can be used as a legitimate category of historical analysis.

My thesis heavily focuses on genealogy, the importance of family, and bringing the life of a woman who left no personally written records behind into focus. I lived and breathed Ann’s life for over three years, and when I was finished with my thesis, I felt like she and I were about as close as any alive descendant and deceased ancestor could be. So, I am very curious as to what I got right, and what conclusions were incorrect.

This is a very long post because I know so much about her and it has been a few years since I have reviewed my thesis. It is very difficult to summarize a project that was about 230 pages long and took over three years of research, but below are some of the most interesting points of her life.

Family Background

Ann’s life was incredibly interesting. Her Cochran family was descended from a John Cochran who lived in Paisley, Scotland in the late 1500s. He and his sons immigrated to Northern Ireland, where the large extended family lived until the early 1700s. In 1723, Ann’s grandfather, James Cochran, married his third cousin, Isabella Cochran, daughter of “Deaf” Robert and Jean (Stephenson) Cochran. The 1724/25 tax records for Sadsbury and Fallowfield Townships, Chester County, Pennsylvania, show that both Robert Cochran and James Cochran had left Ireland by that time.

In 1730, “Deaf” Robert Cochran, Ann’s great grandfather, authors an incredible document: a family history of the Cochran family in Northern Ireland. Over the next 130 years, the births, marriages, and deaths of subsequent generations were added to it and new copies were produced. I was astonished at the information contained within. Robert recorded family information stretching back to the John Cochran of Paisley. He remembered names, places, and recounted some interesting anecdotes. I found two copies of this document in Pennsylvania, and I was fortunate that Ann, her siblings, and her parents were recorded in the book by later generations.

James Cochran did very well in Pennsylvania, and he set up his children to do well. He owned a large farm, ran a successful tavern, helped found a local church, and funded a local school. He and Isabella had 7 children: Anne, Robert, George, John, Stephen, Jane, and James. Anne married twice, first to Alexander Lecky and second to Reverend John Roan, a well-known Presbyterian minister. Robert married Janet Boyd, but died quite young. George, Ann’s father, was a blacksmith and married Nancy Henry, the sister of Reverend Hugh Henry, whose ministry was based in Maryland. John became a medical doctor and served as the Surgeon General of the Continental Army during the Revolution. He married Gertrude Schuyler of the wealthy New York Schuyler family. Stephen’s primary occupation was farming, and he ran the tavern after the death of his father. He also served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from 1777 to 1779. Jane married another Presbyterian minister, Reverend Alexander Mitchell. James learned the trade of saddlery and died at the age of 29. All of James’s children became important members of their Scots-Irish society and even played important roles on the state and national levels.

Early Life

Ann was born to George and Nancy (Henry) Cochran in 1763, though the actual day and month has not been verified. She was either born on April 9 (tombstone and death notice) or August 16 (obituary written by granddaughter). Ann suffered two devastating losses in her early years. Her grandfather James died in 1766 (Isabella died in 1760), followed by her mother in 1769. The deaths also greatly affected George, who struggled to maintain his family financially. As a result, Ann was sent to live with her aunt, Anne Roan, and uncle, Reverend John Roan, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she spent the next five or six years of her life.

Rev. John and Anne Roan had several children: Jean, Elizabeth, Mary, and Flavel. Mary was a year younger than Ann, and they became very close. The Roans also took in their nephew, Archibald Roan, after the death of Archibald’s father. Ann, her cousins, and Archibald all received very good educations from John and Anne. They girls learned to read and write as well as household activities, while the boys learned many subjects as well reading and writing in Latin and Greek. It seems that all members of the Roan household enjoyed reading books from Rev. Roan’s impressive library of 101 books.

Reverend John Roan died on 3 October 1775. Before his death, he made a will in which he mentioned Ann and Archibald. To Ann, he gave £10 “To be paid when she comes to the age of eighteen years of age if her father remove her not from my family before that time.” He also left her an additional £5 if she married someone her aunt approved of. Ann was now 12 years old, and her father George had another choice to make: leave her with her aunt Anne or bring her back to live with him in Chester County and forfeit her inheritance. There is no evidence that Ann received her inheritance, and her obituary states that she returned to her father’s house.

Revolutionary War

Ann’s father’s family was very involved in the Revolutionary War. Ann was very proud of her family’s involvement, and she loved to tell stories about them. Her uncle Stephen Cochran captained a local militia company, and her cousin Samuel and brother John enlisted. Her father, George, also served in the war as an artificer making items like horseshoes for the army and in the militia. Her uncle Dr. John Cochran was eventually introduced to George Washington and quickly became one of his most trusted medical advisors. He was later the Surgeon General of the army.

Through her uncle John Cochran, Ann had interesting ties to the Valley Forge encampment. She, likely along with her father, traveled to the encampment where she stayed with her uncle. It was there that she met Martha Washington, which was one of her proudest moments.

Father’s Death and Marriage

Ann’s father George died in 1786 when Ann was 23 years old. Now, Ann had lost all of her guardians: both Cochran grandparents, both parents, and her uncle John Roan. Ann’s inherited a “Young colt and the colt the bay mare is with one bed and furniture, likewise a cow and calf.” George was worried about where Ann would live after his death, and in his will, encouraged Ann to live with her sister, Isabel, and her husband, Eliezer Hamill, but only “if they could agree.” Apparantly, they did not agree, and Ann instead chose to move to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania to live with her sister, Jean, and her husband, William Thompson.

While living with her sister and brother-in-law, she was introduced to Sankey Dixon, a close friend of her cousin, Sankey Dixon. She and Sankey were married on 7 June 1788 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Sankey was the son of John and Arabella (Murray) Dixon. John had a large farm, and Arabella was well-connected as the niece of wealthy merchant Robert Murray or Murray’s Hill, New York.

They made their first home together in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania. Their oldest son, John, was born in 1789 and baptized by their local minister. In about 1791, Sankey and Ann left Pennsylvania for the Shenandoah Valley. During thier residence there, more children were born to them: Matthew Lyle, Robert, Nancy Henry, Isabella, and Mary Roan.

Tennessee and Sankey’s Death

By 1807, the family had moved once again, this time to Knox County, Tennessee, where their youngest daughter, Margaret Ingles, was born. Interestingly, Ann’s cousin, Archibald Roan, was already living there and had served one term as Tennessee’s second governor from 1801-1803.

By 1814, Ann’s children were growing up. Both John and Isabella died as small children, Matthew was apprenticed to a doctor, Robert was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, and the three remaining daughters – Nancy, Mary, and Margaret – were living at home with their parents. Sadly, Sankey died of an unspecified illness on 11 November 1814 when Ann was about 51 years old. The oldest son, Matthew, wrote a very sad letter to his father’s old friend and mother’s cousin, Flavel, to relay the news of Sankey’s death. It is clear from the letter how much Matthew was affected by his father’s death.

Ann was now a widow and had to support her three daughters. Her good friends, Hugh and Elizabeth White, came to her rescue and allowed her and her daughters to live with them until Robert came of age. Ann commented later that White acted as “more than a brother” to her during her time of crisis.

The family lived in Knox County until about 1822, when Ann and her youngest daughter, Margaret, left to live with her oldest son, Matthew, in Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee

Life in Franklin County

Matthew Dixon was wealthy, had a successful farm and medical practice, was instrumental in beginning a male academy, and was the teller of the first bank in Winchester. Ann and Margaret lived a very comfortable lifestyle with her son.

In 1830, Margaret married the local cabinetmaker, McCama W. Robinson (link to my post on McCama can be found here), and Ann moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. McCama was constantly in trouble with the law, which probably made things quite tense at home. Nevertheless, Ann took great pride in her grandchildren, whom she helped name. Margaret and McCama’s children were: Rachel Ann, Samuel D., Elizabeth White, William Darby, Isabella White, Sarah Sloan, Henry Clay, and Mary D. Rachel’s middle name was for her grandmother, Elizabeth White was named after Hugh L. White’s wife, William Darby was named for the famous geographer and one time tenant of Sankey’s father and a correspondent of Ann’s. Isabella’s middle name also referenced the White family, Sarah Sloan was the name of one of Sankey’s nieces, and Henry Clay was named for the Whig politician. Both Ann and McCama were Whigs. As can be seen, most of the Robinson children were named for people important in Ann’s life.

Ann was also likely the driving force behind her grandchildren’s education, both the boys and the girls. The boys attended a private academy in Winchester, and the girls likely attended the female academy or one in Nashville.

Revolutionary War Widow’s Pension

In 1838, Ann applied for her widow’s pension for the first time. She went to court and gave a statement about her husband’s service, their marriage, and their children. She successfully submitted enough proof for her to qualify, and as a result, she received $320 a year due to Sankey’s rank as a Lieutenant. For the first time in her life, Ann was receiving an independent income. She returned to court several more times to refile her petition every time the legislation changed. She received her pension every year from 1839 until her death in 1857 for a grand total of $5,760.

This money allowed Ann to take control of her life financially. She purchased her own house in Winchester and moved her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren to it in 1844. She also purchased her own furniture and loaned a substantial amount of money to McCama in 1842.

Ann’s Will

Both McCama and Margaret were in bad health by 1845, and Ann decided it was time to make her will so that her intentions about the distribution of her estate would be in writing. I believe at this point, Ann was quite worried that one or both of them were going to die. Ann made it very clear that if she was to die, all of her assets were to go directly to Margaret and were not to be touched by McCama. If Margaret predeceased her, then everything was to be split by Margaret’s children. Nothing was to go to McCama. She clearly intended to take care of Margaret and her children. She also stipulated that money was to be spent on the education of all of her grandchildren.

Five years later, Margaret died and was buried in the Winchester City Cemetery next to William Darby and Mary D. Robinson who were already dead. With Margaret’s death, Ann had outlived all seven of her children and even some of her grandchildren. This must have been quite a lonely feeling for her.

Ann’s Death and Legacy

Ann retained her health until March 1857. Then she quickly deteriorated, finally dying at home on April 12, 1857 in Winchester, Tennessee.

Ann Dixon’s tombstone.

A short death notice was placed in the local paper:

From the Winchester Home Journal

It in no way alludes to the full and interesting life that she led.

Ann’s property was sold off, and the money from the sales was divided equally between her living grandchildren. Over the next few years, tragedy continued to strike the family that Ann loved so much. McCama’s business failed, and he relinquished guardianship of his three youngest children – Isabella, Sarah, and Henry – to others, including his oldest daughter Rachel Anna Mankin. In 1861, both Samuel and Henry enlisted in the Civil War. Samuel was wounded but survived the war, but Henry was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness. McCama likely died during the Civil War as he disappears from any records after 1861.

The five remaining grandchildren – Anna, Samuel, Elizabeth, Isabella, and Sarah – worked to preserve Ann’s memory.

Ann Mankin learned from her grandmother’s past that when
relatives needed aid, other members of the kinship group had a responsibility to assist. Just as Ann Cochran Dixon’s aunt and uncle, Reverend John and Anne Roan, took her in as a child, Ann’s granddaughter Ann Mankin and her husband James extended the same care to their young relatives. Childless themselves, Ann and James supported not only her siblings Belle, Sarah, and Henry Robinson, but also James’s five orphaned nieces and nephews. Later in life, Ann also used her education, so important to her grandmother, to teach school in Rutherford County, Tennessee.

Reminiscent of his grandparents, Samuel’s “war record was his greatest pride and the chief topic of his thoughts and conversation.”An energetic writer, Samuel submitted his first essay, entitled “Battle of Kennesaw Mountain,” to the editor of The Annals of the Army of Tennessee, published in 1878. In 1883, the First Tennessee Infantry veterans appointed Samuel to a committee in charge of compiling information about the regiment for Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s The Military Annals of Tennessee: Confederate. This resulted in the completion of Samuel’s second essay, “The First Tennessee.” Samuel also followed the lead of his uncle, Matthew Lyle Dixon, by becoming an enthusiastic and active member of various societies, including the Temple Division Sons of Temperance, Vanderbilt Lodge Knights of Honor, Nashville Typographical Union No. 20, Frank Cheatham Bivouac, and the Tennessee Historical Society. Although he did not preserve his family history to the same extent as did his sisters Elizabeth and Isabella, he did donate to the Tennessee Historical Society two original deeds to his uncle Robert Dixon’s property in Knoxville.

Ann’s influence can also be seen in the life of her granddaughter, Elizabeth
Sturtevant. Elizabeth and her husband John were well-respected educators in Nashville for many years, and they combined their talents in order to serve young men and women in Tennessee who had lost their sight. John and Elizabeth transformed the reputation of the Tennessee School for the Blind and changed the futures of students who might otherwise have received little or no education.

Ann’s youngest Robinson granddaughters, Isabella and Sarah, also showed their devotion to their grandmother. While Isabella guarded some of their grandmother’s possessions, Sarah was interested in retaining Ann’s real property in Winchester. Sarah purchased Ann’s lot and she and Isabella lived in their childhood home until in 1904. When Belle entered the newly established Old Ladies Home in Chattanooga, with the help of the honorary board president of the home, Emma Wells, she donated a small collection of papers that meant so much to her to the Tennessee Historical Society. They included Ann’s obituary, catechism, a letter to Ann from her brother John, the silhouette of Sankey’s brother Robert Dixon, and a few other items.

Why I Want to Meet Her

Ann had such an incredible impact on her family, and I would really love to meet her. I have so many questions to ask her about her life, and I would especially like to see if some of the conclusions I made about her life were correct or if I was completely wrong. Some questions I have are:

1. Who were Nancy Henry’s parents?

2. Can you give me exact details about your stay in Valley Forge?

3. What is your birth date?

4. Where did you and Sankey live in the Shenandoah Valley?

5. Was McCama an alcoholic?

6. What was your real opinion of McCama?

7. Why was Margaret’s health so bad?

8. Did you enjoy living with John and Anne Roan? Or did you wish you were home with your father?

9. Was Sankey a good husband?

I could go on and on with questions! If I could invite Ann to dinner, it would likely be a very long dinner.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day – Hannah Rockwood Chapin

And with this post, I am finally caught up after my vacation!

This week’s prompt about Mother’s Day is so special because I have wonderful relationships with the three most important mothers in my life – my mom and my two grandmothers. I feel very fortunate to know them as well as I do, and to have had them in my life for almost 29 years. For this post, I combed through my family tree looking for other mothers that might be fun to write about.

I chose Hannah Rockwood Chapin, who gave birth to 13 children, if not more! If that doesn’t make her an impressive mother, I don’t know what does! Hannah is another female ancestor that I don’t know very much about, but the few details I do have make me want to travel to New England and Pennsylvania to do some more research.

Hannah was born on December 3, 1755 in the town of Mendon in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Her parents were Reuben and Lydia (Green) Rockwood. Hannah was the oldest of several siblings including Lydia, Joshua Green, Beulah, and Jason. She and her family moved from Mendon to Tyringham in Berskshire County by the time she was 20 years old. In Tyringham, she met her husband, John Chapin. They married in Tyringham on 7 December 1775. John Chapin was born on 23 September 1755 in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, the son of Solomon and Joanna (White) Chapin.

Hannah and John’s first child, Lydia was born in May 1776, just 5 months after their marriage, which means Hannah was likely several months pregnant when she married John. In total, Hannah gave birth to her thirteen children over a 23 year period:

Lydia, born 1776

Samuel, born 1778

John, born 1779

Alta, born 1781

Mary, born 1783

Mercy Ester, born 1784

Lois, born 1786

James, born between 1786-1791

Joanna, born 1791

Lucinda, born 1793

Ammi, born 1793

Reuben, born 1797

Ezra, born 1799

Hannah must have been a very strong woman. In 1793, She had back-to-back pregnancies, and both Lucinda and Ammi were born in the same year. What is even more impressive is that all 13 children lived to adulthood! These 13 are just her recorded children. It is possible that she had more children that went unrecorded, especially if they died at birth.

By 1790, Hannah and John had moved from Tyringham to Huntington Township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. They lived in Huntington for the remainder of their lives. Hannah died on 20 Jan 1829 when she was 73 years old, and was buried in the Town Hill Cemetery. John died 10 years later. I don’t know what Hannah’s personality was like, or even if she was a good mother, as having 13 children doesn’t automatically make her a good person. But I hope she was a good mother, and that her daughters found her inspirational, just as I’ve found my mother and grandmothers to be so.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Taxes – George Cochran and Chester County

Life in eighteenth century Pennsylvania was difficult, and this is illustrated very well through the tax records of my  sixth great grandfather, George Cochran (1728-1786). The son of immigrants from Northern Ireland, he was trained as a blacksmith and lived the majority of his life close to where he was born in West Fallowfield, Chester County. I thoroughly enjoyed tracing his life through the tax records, as it game me a more complete picture of what his life was like.

George Cochran

George was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania to James Cochran (1698-1766) and his wife Isabella Cochran (1699-1760). James and Isabel were descendants of James Cochran and Janet Burns, making them third cousins. The Cochrans were originally from Paisley, Scotland, and the family immigrated to Northern Ireland in 1570. James (1699-1760) married Isabella in 1723, most likely in or around Londonderry, Ireland, where Isabel’s father was living. In about 1723 or 1724, James, Isabella, Isabella’s father Robert, and Isabella’s mother Jean immigrated to Chester County, Pennsylvania. James and his father-in-law both paid taxes in Chester County for the first time in 1724/25 as landholders in the towns of Sadsbury and Fallowfield. Robert only paid twice more (based on the extant records) in 1730 and 1735/36, before his death in 1740.

James continued to pay taxes, buy land, and apply for tavern licenses for many years. Consistently, he was one of the wealthiest men in the community, often paying more than a pound in taxes each year. James and Isabella had seven children, of which George was the third. George married Nancy Henry, the sister of Reverend Hugh Henry, in 1751. Nancy’s family was from Maryland, and from all evidence, it seems that George and Nancy made their home in Maryland during the early years of their marriage. George is completely absent from tax records in Chester County from the year he came of age until 1765 when he was 37 years old. Unfortunately, Maryland’s tax records are not in the best shape, so I have been unable to locate him between 1749 and 1764.

For the first time in Chester County, George appears in tax records for 1765 living in London Grove, close to where he grew up in West Fallowfield. The assessment, taken between December 10, 1764 and January 4, 1765, recorded George Cochran  as a blacksmith who owned a dwelling house and 1 lot valued at 8 pounds, 1 cow, and 1 horse. That year, he paid 9 shillings and 6 pence in taxes.

George Cochran, taxes, 1765

The following year, George seems to have fallen on hard times. He is again listed as a blacksmith living in London Grove, but he no longer has a dwelling or a lot. He was supposed to pay taxes on 2 horses and 1 cow, for a total of 4 shillings. That year, he was given a tax discount because he was “poor” and paid only 1 shilling.

George Cochran, taxes, 1766

1766 through 1769 seem to have been difficult ones for George. Not only was he struggling financially, but his father James died. George did receive “one full and equal fourth part” of the earnings that should arise from the sale of the remainder of James’s personal and real estate not otherwise devised following his decease. It wasn’t very much, as the bulk of James’s land went to one of George’s brothers. Three years later, George’s wife died, and he decided to send his youngest child, Ann (and my ancestor), to live with his older sister in Lancaster County.

The next extant tax return is for the year 1771. By now, George had improved his circumstances. He had purchased 180 acres in West Fallowfield and had improved it with buildings. It shows that he had a tavern on his property, but this may be a mistake by the tax assessor. George did not petition for a tavern license in that year, but his brother Stephen, who was still running their father’s old tavern, did. George paid 16 shillings 3 pence for his property that was valued at 18 pounds per acre.

George Cochran, taxes, 1771

Over the next few years, George’s property fluctuated. In 1774, George only owned 45 acres valued at 3 pounds per acre, as well as 1 horse and 1 cow. He paid 4 shillings in tax. The following year, George had purchased 55 additional acres, valued at 6 pounds per acre, and he had purchased an additional cow. Although the 1776 tax returns no longer exist, George was responsible to recording the assessments for that year, and he was paid accordingly.

By the 1781 tax returns, George had purchased the 186 acres that he would hold until the end of his life. He also paid tax on 1 horse and 2 horned cattle. His taxable property was valued at 308 pounds 10 shillings, and he paid 3 pounds 17 shillings 1 1/2 pence.

George Cochran, taxes, 1781

The last assessment in which George appears is 1785, taken between July 22 through August 18, 1785. He owned 190 acres, 2 horses, and 2 cows, with a total property value of 322 pounds, for which he paid 1 pound 10 shillings in taxes.

George died on 23 March 1786 at the age of 57, a few months before the next tax assessment. He wrote his will a mere eight days before his death, but he did try to leave equal amounts of property to his children. To Ann, he left a “Young colt and the colt the bay mare is with one bed and furniture, likewise a cow and calf.” He desired that the rest of his personal and real estate to be sold, and after his executors paid his funeral expenses and debts, the profit should be divided among his five children, with his four daughters receiving equal shares, and John receiving double the amount of each sister.

I really enjoyed combing through the taxes in search of George as they really illuminated the hardships and successes of his life (materialistically speaking). He worked hard, but he didn’t achieve financial stability until the end of his life, which was probably a constant worry for him. One of the most telling pieces of evidence of his struggle was that he was forced to send his youngest daughter away to be raised by more wealthy relatives until 1775 when he was able to support her again. George’s life as a blacksmith and a small scale farmer was completely different than that of his father and his two brothers Stephen and John. His father was well-off, owned property, ran a tavern, served as an elder in multiple churches, and helped found a school. Stephen ran the tavern, became a wealthy farmer, and served in the Pennsylvania legislature. John was a physician, became the Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and married into one of New York’s oldest families.

But money isn’t everything, and it makes me wonder what kind of a person George really was. Was he a kind person? A good father? And in the end, he was able to leave his children a small inheritance, which was particularly important for his daughters. That is one of the most frustrating but intriguing aspects of genealogy;  research always brings up more questions than answers!

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Longevity

While looking at my family tree, I found some ancestors who only lived into their 20s and 30s, some who made it to middle age, and others who lived past 90. I was very surprised how many of my direct ancestors lived past 80, particularly the female ancestors.

I would like to highlight my two most long-lived ancestors that I have found in my family tree: Ann Cochran Dixon, who died at the age of 93/94 and George Christian, who died at the age of 101.

Ann Cochran Dixon

Ann was born to George and Nancy (Henry) Cochran in 1763, most likely in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Two dates have surfaced for Ann’s birthday: April 9, 1763 and August 16, 1763. Her death notice in the local newspaper reported her birth date as April 1763, and her tombstone further specified April 9, 1763. Her granddaughter wrote her obituary, in which she gave Ann’s birth date as August 16, 1763. Although the exact day cannot be determined, all records agree that the year was 1763. Following the death of her mother in 1769, Ann was sent to live with her uncle Reverend John Roan and aunt Anne (Cochran) Roan in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When her uncle died in 1775, Ann returned to her father in Chester County.

Most of Ann’s immediate male relatives served in the Revolutionary War. Ann’s brother John and father George both served in the militia and as artificers, Ann’s uncle Stephen served as a militia captain and in the Pennsylvania Assembly, and her uncle Dr. John Cochran more notably served as the Surgeon General of the Continental Army and was a close friend of General George Washington. Ann had the opportunity to meet and socialize with Martha Washington during the Valley Forge encampment, who she met through her uncle, Dr. John Cochran.

Ann married Sankey Dixon in 1788 outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Sankey was the son of John and Arabella (Murray) Dixon of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Continental Army as early as 1776 and served until he was discharged as a lieutenant on June 3, 1783. He was present for many of the famous encampments and battles of the war, including Valley Forge and the surrender at Yorktown.

The Dixons left Pennsylvania sometime between 1790 and 1792 and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. By 1807, they were living in Knox County, Tennessee. Ann gave birth to seven children – John, Matthew Lyle, Robert, Nancy Henry, Isabella, Mary Roan, and Margaret Ingles – and five survived to adulthood. Sadly, Sankey died in 1814, leaving Ann a widow. In 1822, Ann and her youngest daughter moved to Winchester, Tennessee to live with Matthew.

Ann began to make appearances in contemporary public records during the later part of her life. In 1839 she successfully applied for and obtained a Revolutionary War widow’s pension of $320 a year. Ann gradually became financially independent after receiving her pension for several years, and in 1844 she was able to purchase in her name a house and lot in Winchester. She furnished part of the house with her personal furniture, which included her bed and bedstead, a half dozen chairs, her clothes press, and her clock. She wrote a will before her death and left everything she owned to her daughter Margaret.

Ann led an exciting life and lived to an impressive 93 years (or 94, depending on her birth date). She outlived her husband, all of her children, and many of her grandchildren.

George Christian

George was born in 1769, the son of Colonel Gilbert Christian and Margaret (Anderson) Christian. Gilbert was a well-known frontiersman, soldier, and local official who was instrumental in the formation of the State of Franklin and a good friend of John Sevier, the first Governor of Tennessee. George served as a soldier in some of the Indian campaigns in the early 1790s under the command of his father-in-law to be, Captain William McCormick. In 1803, he married Elizabeth McCormick in Knox County, Tennessee.

By 1808, he and his family had settled in Overton County, Tennessee. He purchased land and participated in the development of the county. While living in Overton County, he wrote a series of letters to Lyman Draper about the early formation of the state of Tennessee, the conflicts with the Indians, and his family history. George wrote his will in 1867, and died on April 3, 1870 in Overton County at the age of 101.

 

Other Observations

Ann and George are connected in some interesting ways:

  1. They are both my 5th great-grandparents, Ann on my Dad’s side and George on my Mom’s side.
  2. They were both born in the 1760s.
  3. They had immediate family members who served in the Revolutionary War.
  4. They lived in East Tennessee during the same time period. Ann lived in Knox County, Tennessee as early as 1807, if not before then, until 1822. George’s family lived in the same area around the same time period. His father, Gilbert, was buried in Knoxville in 1793, and George married his wife, Elizabeth McCormick, in Knox County in 1803.
  5. They had family members who were involved in Tennessee politics. George’s father was very involved in the State of Franklin, and Ann’s cousin by marriage was Archibald Roane, second Governor of Tennessee.
  6. Finally, both Ann and George migrated farther west into Tennessee, Ann to Franklin County in 1822 and George to Overton County by 1808.

While I have no proof that they ever met, it is fascinating to think that those two had so much in common, including myself!