The sudden and violent death of three-year-old Gus Roberts’ father would prevent him from working beside his father in the field, riding with him in the wagon, hunting with him in the woods and sitting with him at the table. He would miss the stories of his father’s youth in Williamson County, Tennessee and his family’s migration to Calloway County, Kentucky. He would never know of the Roberts of Virginia or be able to claim their heritage – his heritage. The later decision of a jury to convict his mother of murder for her part in his father’s death would deprive Gus of the comfort and encouragement of a mother, the steady hand of someone who believes in you. What would happen to this little boy “orphaned” by the death of his father and the conviction of his mother? Continue reading “My Grandfather Gus”
John Anderson’s downward spiral began with the tragic death of his wife Lavina. He eventually dies in his own bed, but it wasn’t a pleasant passing. Some claim it was suicide. Twelve of his neighbors decide it’s murder and assess blame. A judge determines the penalty. Lives are forever changed. So horrific was the tale, one journalist remembers and writes about it over thirty years later. Family members still speak of it in hushed tones.Continue reading “The Tragic End to the Life of John Anderson Roberts: Final Chapter”
Did you know one of my cousins was once the governor of Arkansas?
Ok, Ok, he’s not much of a cousin and he was only a temporary governor, so maybe not much of a governor either. But hey, it’s too late to change it. It’s a fact. No take-backs. We have a new fun family fact! The genie’s out of the bottle. Celebrate!
It’s unlikely you’ve ever hear of John Baker Dickson or his brother-in-law Lemuel W. Lassiter. I doubt very many ever have or ever will. Is it because they were too common? Is it because we’re inattentive, uninformed or disinterested? I fear it is the latter rather than the former.
I came across Dickson and Lassiter while working on my John Anderson Roberts research. I’m going to write a short blog here on these men in case this lead proves helpful to another researcher one day.
John Anderson and Lavina Jane Roberts’ daughter Cornelia Ann married J.B. Lassiter in Calloway County, KY in 1870. John Baker Dickson and his wife Emily Jane Lassiter Dickson were J.B. Lassiter’s aunt and uncle. They were in Red River County, Texas well ahead of the Roberts. Were they the Roberts family connection and encouragement to come to Texas? (This and of course land) Lemuel Lassiter would arrive later across the Red River.
Clues to follow Lemuel Washington Lassiter
Mary Bigelow added a photo to Find a Grave in 2012. The picture is of a headstone in the Bogota Cemetery in Red River County, Texas. Thanks Mary.
Lemuel Lassiter appears in the 1920 Federal Census in Justice Precinct 3, Red River, Texas. He is a 73-year-old merchant/druggist born in about 1847 in Kentucky. He’s married to Willie Lassiter and they appear to have six children living in their household. His father’s birthplace is recorded as Virginian and his mother’s as England.
Lew Lassiter appears in the 1910 Federal Census in Justice Precinct 3, Red River, Texas. He is a 63-year-old male retail merchant owning a grocery store in Bogota, Texas. He was born in about 1847 in Kentucky. His father and mother were born in Kentucky. He is married to Willie Lassiter and they appear to have six children living at home.
Lemuel Lassiter appears in the 1900 Federal Census in Justice Precinct 3, Red River, Texas. He is a 54-year-old male born in Kentucky about 1847. His father and mother were born in North Carolina. He is married to Willie M. Lassiter and they appear to have three children living at home.
L.W. Lassiter appears in the 1880 Federal Census in Precinct 2, Red River. He is a single age male of about 34 years of age teaching school. His father and mother were born in North Carolina.
I do not find a clue for Lemuel Lassiter in the 1870 census nor can I locate the John Anderson Roberts family in the 1870 census. Curious?
L.W. Lassiter, age about 14, appears in the 1860 Federal Census for Murray, Calloway County, KY in 1860. He is living in the household of Parmelia Elliott, age 39. There are Elliotts age 19 and 14 and another Lassiter age 18. There is also a Jno. B. Crabtree.
L.W. Lassiter, age about 4, appears in the 1850 Federal Census living in District 2 of Calloway County, KY. He is living in the home of a farmer named Little B. Lassiter, age about 25, whose father was born in North Carolina. There are three other Lassiters living in this household including Emily Lassiter, age 15. She and the other Lassiters in the household other than Little B. say their father was born in Kentucky. There appears to be no father or mother in this home.
It appears, from what little time I’ve looked, L.W. Lassiter became an orphan with the death of his father in 1849. Before his 16th birthday he’ll enlist in Company C of the Tennessee 33rd Infantry Regiment in Haywood County, TN. He rose to the rank of 1st Sergeant. His wife Willie Lassiter would file for and receive a pension for his service.
I share one more clue to uncover the life of L.W. Lassiter. His daughter (I believe her name is Ida Lassiter Hooker.) may have published her life memories in a book form. This could be a rich source of information though I’m not sure even she would have been able to uncover the fullness of this life.
Clues to follow John Baker Dickson
John Dickson was born in about 1827 in Tennessee. I wonder if he was related to any of the Dicksons in Williamson County, TN? He marries Emily Jane Lassiter in Stewart County, Tennessee in 1851. Stewart County is just across the Tennessee River from Calloway County where Emily was living in 1850 with Little B. Lassiter (see above). John and Emily Dickson will appear in the Red River County, Texas Federal Censuses for 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900. He believes his father was born in North Carolina. There is a rich and full story needing to be told but I’ll leave you with one more clue.
In March of 1862 John rode out of Clarksville, Texas into history. He was a member of the 27th Texas Calvary for the Confederate States of America. He left his family behind. He enlisted for twelve months and they would be memorable. His service began with battles and skirmishes across Mississippi including Corinth and Jackson. Nearing the end of his enlistment he was thrown into the battle of Thompson Station in Williamson County, TN on March 5, 1863 within miles of John Anderson Roberts’ birthplace and within 5 days of the end of his enlistment. He would witness over 3,000 combined casualties that one day. I’m not sure how close he came to dying that day, dismounted and fighting from the heights overlooking the Pike, but I know he saw much death and destruction. By now John had received two promotions to the rank of 3rd Sergeant. Sgt. Dickson’s unit fought into the summer including the battle and siege at Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. When the battle ended with the surrender of the Confederate forces on July 4, 1863, John was now four months overdue to go home.
The document on the left reports he was absent without leave in July and August. A note added later says he deserted on July 22, 1863.
There were other Dicksons (George, Joseph, William) who rode and marched out of Clarksville, Texas in 1861 and 1862. There may have been more than one John Dickson fighting out of Texas. Were they related? How? What became of them?
So little known. So little told.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. Okay, I have one more clue.
My 5 x great-grandfather John Neelly (that’s how he signedhis name) built a wonderful home in Williamson County, Tennessee over 200 years ago.
(The quote below was taken from a National Park Service document confirming the addition to the National Register of Historic Places dated March 3, 1988)
“The John Neely House is a two-story brick, hall-parlor plan residence constructed ca.1810. On the main (south) facade is the main entrance with a ca.1900 frame and glass door. Over the door is a wood linteL The windows are ca.1960 six-over-six sash with added brick sills and original wood lintels. The main facade of the house is of Flemish bond construction with the other facades of five and six-course common bond. The house has a gable roof, stone foundation, and exterior end brick chimneys…
…The John Neely House is a notable example of a hall-parlor brick residence from the early 19th century. Hall-parlor floor plans are rare in the county and only three intact examples are included in the nomination. Despite the removal of 19th century porches and door and window alterations, the original floor plan and appearance of the house are evident.
John Neely moved to Williamson County from Virginia in 1806 and purchased lots in Franklin during those years. In 1808 he purchased land south of Franklin and began construction of a two-story brick residence. Neely lived at his residence until he died in 1818. The house was then purchased by John
Fitzgerald, and his family occupied the residence for many years. Fitzgerald was listed as owning 15 slaves in 1820 and owned property valued at $30,000 in 1850. John Fitzgerald Sr. died in 1858, and his home was then occupied by his son, John Jr., until his death in 1884. The house remained in the Fitzgerald family until 1926 when it was purchased by William Sedberry. Alterations to the house occurred primarily around 1900 when new glass and frame doors were added. Added 19th century porches have been removed and new windows added in recent years. Despite these changes the house displays its original form and notable hall-parlor pflan.”
Below I quote a paper edited by my “not yet met” cousin, Ronald L Neeley. He writes, “A special ‘Thanks’ to Juanita Naron & Mary Ann Thorton who provided much of the historical facts on the Neeley lineage.” Here’s some of what he reports about the John Neely House and family in Williamson County.
“…although much altered from its original appearance; this fine old brick house has been a landmark in the Thompson Station area for over a century and a half. Williamson County was still in its infancy when John Neely, along with his family and his three brothers and their families, cut a trail from Virginia over the mountains to Tennessee. John Neely was the son of James Neely, originally from Philadelphia and later of Botetourt County, Virginia, and Jane Grymes Neely of Northampton, Burlington County, New Jersey. He married Susanna Evans, the daughter of Daniel and Rhoda Griffith Evans, sometime after 1770. By 1791 he owned almost 2000 acres “on the north side of the Roanoke (River)” in Virginia where apparently all of his children were born.
They arrived in Williamson County early in 1806 since John Neely bought town lots 85 and 95 in February of that year. In 1808, he made a permanent settlement on land bought from James Robertson in the West Harpeth where he built this brick house on a rise overlooking the rich meadows and forests spread out below. His children were James, Rhoda, Jane, John H, William, Sophia, and Charles Lynch who married into the Sanders, Drake, Neely, Woldridge, Priest, and Welles families and are the progenitors of numerous descendants in Williamson County today.” (bold added by me)
So, if you or your ancestors are from Williamson County, TN, check your family tree, we may be related. Oh, and by the way, I’m also related to the Roberts, Sammons, Haley, Tatum, Wallace Nichols, Blackwell, Giles and Smithson families of Williamson County from other lines on my tree.
I recently “met” a wonderful cousin, Janice ____ (last name withheld intentionally because I didn’t ask her permission to publish it?!). She still lives in the county (lucky girl). I asked Janice if she had ever seen the house and she ran out and snapped a picture of it! Aren’t cousins wonderful!Thanks Janice! I’ll be by to see the house in the fall.