This lineage starts with our the earliest known Dawson ancestors and moves forward to myself and my family. What is written below is based on the information I have found and presents my own interpretation of that evidence. I will update this as new information comes to light and as these ideas change.
Geoffrey Dawson: He was of Welsh descent and born prior to 1716 in an unknown location. It is very likely he was a Quaker. In 1737 he moved with at least one of his sons to the Upper Cape Fear River and purchased 640 acres at a crossroads between the road called “Green’s Path to the Pee Dee” and the Cape Fear River. Although unconfirmed he likely started both the Dawson’s Ferry and Dawson’s Tavern. His sons were William and probably Jonathan Dawson. The name of his wife is unknown. He died in 1745.
Jonathan Dawson: Born in about 1719 he is recorded in family stories as both a sea captain and a merchant. In all likelihood I expect he was a Purser who in the colonial period was an important figure on board a ship. He settled along the Cape Fear River in the 1740’s and married Frances Rouse (also spelled Russ) in about 1747. He died at sea in about 1749 while his wife was pregnant. It is unknown if his child by Frances was Joseph Dawson (described below) but likely.
Note: This is the Jonathan Dawson who married Frances Rouse who’s children form the basis of many Dawson lineages throughout the southern United States. I cannot at this time confirm that Jonathan was Geoffrey’s son but it seems very likely. Although Jonathan is considered the father of three boys (Joseph, William and Jonathan) he may have been the father to only Joseph or perhaps none of them.
William Dawson: William was born about 1720 in an unknown location. He came to the Cape Fear River in 1737 with this father when he was 17 years old. He remained in this vicinity for the remainder of his life and ran (with court approval) both the Dawson’s Tavern and Dawson’s Ferry. In 1748, after the death of his brother Jonathan, he married his widow, Frances. William became a Justice of the Peace in the late 1740’s and a vestryman of St. David’s Parish in 1754. I believe that William and Frances Rouse had at least two children that survived into adulthood – William Jr. and Jonathan. William Dawson died in the summer of 1761.
Frances Russ/Rouse: She was born in either Wilmington North Carolina or St. Thomas/St. Dennis Paris of South Carolina in about 1723. Her parents are unverified but I believe they may have been Joseph Russ and Elizabeth (unknown last name). She married Jonathan Dawson in 1747 when she was about 24 years old. After his death she married his brother William Dawson and had several children by him – Joseph, William and Jonathan. After his death in 1761 she remarried to a man named Jefferson Williams about 1762. She had several children with Jefferson Williams – Davis, James and possibly Joseph. Jefferson took over running the Tavern but in the late 1760’s the move to South Carolina to the Old 96 District. I believe but it is unconfirmed that she had siblings who had settled in that area. She remains there until her death in 1790.
Joseph Dawson: He was born in 1749 in the Cape Fear River area in Cumberland County, North Carolina. He was the eldest son of William Dawson and Frances Russ-Dawson. In a 1770 land transaction he sells property that had belonged to William Dawson and refers to him in the document as “my father”. Joseph married Elizabeth Gibson in the Old 96 District in South Carolina about 1770 and they had at least nine known children one of whom they named Ezekiel. Joseph was a planter but served in the South Carolina Militia as a Captain of both horse and foot soldiers from 1777 to 1782. He died in Williamson County, Tennessee in 1815.
Elizabeth Gibson: She was born in about 1750 and probably in South Carolina in the vicinity of the Pee Dee River. Her father was most likely Patrick Gibson. After marrying Joseph Dawson they had nine children all born in Edgefield County, South Carolina – William, Patrick, James, Ezekiel, Samuel, Joseph, Frances, Mary and Elizabeth “Betsy”. The date of Elizabeth Gibson’s death is unknown.
Ezekiel Dawson: He was the fourth son of Joseph Dawson and Elizabeth Gibson. He was born in about 1777 in Edgefield County, South Carolina. He is recorded as serving under General Jackson with “great gallantry” but it was most likely prior to the War of 1812. After their marriage the relocated to Williamson County, Tennessee and later to Limestone County, Alabama. He married Hannah McFadden in Franklin County on 19 July 1808. They had twelve children one of whom was named William Dawson. The only occupation I have listed for him was Farmer but he seems to have been fairly prosperous. He died in 1859.
Hannah McFadden: she was born in about 1782 in an unknown location. After her marriage to Ezekiel Dawson she had 12 children – Gibson, Missouri, Mary Lemuel C., James J., Elizabeth, Ezekiel, Mahala, Louisa, Reuben T., William P., and Thomas. She died on March 15, 1849.
William Dawson: William was born in Limestone County, Alabama on 22 March 1832. He joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1848 and entered the ministry in 1852. He served as a minister in Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas. He married Pheobe Tee Sawyers in Lincoln County Tennessee in 1860. In March of 1862 he joined the Confederate Army in the 1st Arkansas Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga and was unable to reneter the service for some time afterwards. At the conclusion of the war he and his family moved to Van Zandt County, Texas where he and his wife started the Dawson Presbyterian Church. He was described as a quiet and unassuming man. He died in Van Zandt County, Texas on 3 April 1914.
Phoebe Titus Sawyers: She married William Dawson and the had at least three children – Vinyard G., Archie Bone, and Donnel.
Donnel (Donald/Don) D. Dawson: He was born about 1876 in Van Zandt County, Texas. He was married several times and had children from each marriage. His first wife was named Tommie and he had at least one child by her named Athol. His second wife was Nora Nichols and they had one child, Harlan Dustin Dawson – my grandfather. He was said to have married again to a woman named Beatrice and they had a child, Donald D., in 1918. In 1920 his occupation was listed as a piano tuner at a music store. Don Dawson died in San Diego, California in 1958.
Nora Nichols: [I have good info and will post it later]. She and Donnel had an only son named Harlan Dawson. From family stories Nora was a redhead and possessed a “firey’ personality.
Harlan Dawson: He was born as the only child of Donnel Dawson and Nora Nichols. He was Born in San Bernardino, California on 16 October 1907. [I have much more on him and will summarize it later]. He married Dorothy Dean on 14 June 1931 and they had one child – Roger Dean Dawson – my father. Harlan died unexpectedly of a massive stroke on 19 November 1971.
Note: Harlan was very interested in family history and was in correspondence with his half-brother, Athol Dawson, up until the time of his unexpected death.
Dorothy Dean: [more later]
I wont go too much into detail on the rest of the family as Roger Dawson, Margaret Jerney and their children are all still living. I will give a brief summary below:
Roger Dean Dawson married Margaret Jerney and had three sons – Devon Roger, Cameron John Harlan, and Dustin Aurthur.
Devon Roger “Rog” Dawson (this is me) married Alta Thompson and they have one daughter – Darcy Rose Dawson.
Cameron John Harlan Dawson married Dakota Lauren and they have one daughter – Isabella Dawson.
Dustin Arthur Dawson married Sierra (last name withheld for privacy reasons) and they have one son – Gabriel Dawson.