Dawson Lineage

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.


23 responses to “Dawson Lineage

  1. Bob Dawson, Jr.

    I am descended from William and Phoebe T Dawson through their son Donnel and his son Athol, who was my grandfather. I would be glad to provide you whatever information I can. My grandfather is no longer living, but my father is.

  2. Dev

    Hi Bob – I am so glad you ran across this site.I keep doing more research than writing so I haven’t really gotten this blog rolling yet. I will send you a more detailed email but I wanted to make sure I responded here first.

  3. Joshua

    I was just browsing the net when I stumbled over this site. My name is Joshua Dawson and I actually work in Limestone County, AL. My grandfather’s people are from Lawrence and Colbert Counties (which is just a county over from Limestone). Not sure if we are of any relation to William or Ezekiel Dawson, but my grandfather claims to have a book somewhere that goes into great detail about the family lineage.

    • Dev

      Hi Joshua — Thanks so much for posting a comment. I will send you what I have on Ezekiel and his family in an email but it is certainly possible we are cousins. His son, William Dawson, did leave for Texas but it seems like most of his other children stayed in the area. Hopefully we can make a connection!


  4. John Dawson

    I found your blog and find it intersting. My family tree is descended from the Joseph Dawson line and now reside in Auburn, Al.. I have a copy of the type written document supposedly written by Joseph W. Dawson Sr. that you refer to in an earler post. I would be interested in any information you have on my family line.
    So, Jonathan did not immigrate from England to N.C.? But is the son of Geoffrey?
    Just when you think you have it all figured out??

    • Dev

      Hi John – I’m so glad you ran across my blog and I want to thank you for writing. I always keep an open mind but so far what I have found has cast a substantial amount of doubt on who the “Jonathan Dawson from England” really was and what role he played in the family.

      I am sure the stories about him have some basis in fact but it really does appear that some of it was from the blurring together of he and William Dawson of Cumberland. However, William Dawson is on record for doing lots of things but not as a mariner or sea captain. It’s possible (and serious speculation on my part) that this refers to the father of Frances Rouse. There were a few Rouses around at the time who were mariners and one that was even a sea captain. Whether either of these was her father is another question but it’s definitely possible.

      I will be happy to share what I have and I will send you an email shortly where we can talk about it more.



  5. David E. White

    I have looked at Dawsons in Cumberland Co., NC in the hopes of finding a connection to Joseph Dawson who died 1787 in Wayne Co.;some of the names used by both are the same.

    You are a descendant of Ezekiel Dawson. Do you know who the Ezekiel Dawson was who married Sarah Alves on 20 Feb 1819 in Cumberland Co.? I cannot find the family in 1820 or 1830 but Sarah Dawson is head of a household in Cumberland Co. in 1840 and in 1850 she is still there: Sarah Dawson, b. ca 1776 Scotland.

    My email address is dwhite@keene.edu.

    Thanks for any info you might provide.


    • Dev

      Hi David — I’ll send you an email shortly but in general I do belive there is a connection between the Joseph Dawson of Wayne County and the Dawson’s of Cumberland County. I actually think both (or at least the Cumberland County Dawsons) trace back to the Old Albermarle region in the late 1690’s or early 1700’s. Family names in the Perquimans Precinct of that period and the names that pop up in the 1730’s and 1740’s on the Cape Fear are striking in their similarity and connection. I haven’t looked recently but I recall that some of the same similarites exist between Cumberland and Wayne counties as well.

      Thanks for writing,


  6. barbara dawson stacy

    every email I send comes back as not a good email address-if you still want the jerry dawson-email me your address or an address to send it to. barbara

  7. joe dan dawson

    hello devon, i too am a dawson. but i have no idea where the family comes from. my group started out as far as i know in east tx around jacksonville . i have always been curious about my family beginnings. my grand father was joe d. dawson–my dad had four brothers[all of them passed on now] and was hoping you might shed some lite for me.

    • Dev

      Hi Joe — I’d be happy to help but how much I can do will depend upon whether any of our Dawson ancestors are connected. My first question would be how far back can you go? Finding where your Grandfather or Great Grandfather were born will help in this a lot. For a long time I was stuck at my Great Grandfather, Don Dawson. How much information do you have on your Grandfather?

  8. AHD

    Hi Devon…is your Dawson line represented on the Dawson DNA project? My Dawsons are those referenced by Thomas H. Dawson of Dooly County, GA in 1854 as per Charles C. Dawson’s book. Our DNA has found only one match to date and I’m wondering if our lines have already been ruled out as a match.


    • Dev

      I don’t think I am. I did do one of the Ancestry kits and my results are posted on their site. Is there a way I can apply those results to the Dawson DNA project? Please let me know via email (dawson.devon@gmail.com) if that is possible!

  9. Debbie patterson

    You mention Joseph Dawson b.1749 and his wife Elizabeth moving to the Old 96 District of SC…..I am researching in that area and am curious as to what area Joseph is documented there.
    I have a Joseph Dawson and a Manos Dawson in the Union County area in the 1790’s. Joseph disappears after that but Manos remains.
    Dawsons are few in this area so am wondering if these people could be related?

  10. John P. S. Quinn

    Hi…My ancestor, Edward Conner, sold a large portion of his plantation to William Dawson just before his death in 1760. William and Frances Dawson were witnesses he signed his will. I wonder what the connection was? Edward was part of the Argyll Colony and arrived in the Cape Fear area by 1740.

    • Dev

      Hi John — I think I saw a scanned copy of that deed at one point. I know I have material about this in my notes because he and Edward Conner seemed to be business associates and probably friends. Let me look this up and write back to you with what I have. Thanks so much for contacting me!

      • Dev

        I looked back through my notes and the 1760 purchase of land William Dawson made from Edward Conner was witnessed by William Robards and William Hodges. I know the Hodges and Dawson’s there were close and may have intermarried. William Robards was more closely related to Jefferson Williams who married Frances Dawson after William died in 1761. I am not sure if these other names ring any bells in your own research but the Dawson, Connor, Robards and Hodges families all seemed to be associated. Hopefully that is a bit of help. If I find anything more I will make sure to post it!

  11. Lezlie Markey

    Hello Dev, I am a volunteer administrator for the Dawson DNA Project. Have any of direct male Dawson descendants from these ancestors tested for y-DNA? y-DNA markers go back for many generations, much more than the auto-somal tests. They are both great tests for different reasons. Here’s a link to the Dawson DNA Patriarch Page. Dawson researchers could check to see if a descendant of their ancestors has tested: https://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/dawson/pats

    All of the Dawson DNA Project pages are open to researchers. There is also a Facebook page for Dawsons, just search, “Dawson DNA Project”.

    • Dev

      Hi Lezlie — have been on a long break from this project but both my father (81 years old) and myself did the Ancestry DNA testing. I went to the link you provided and submitted myself for evaluation. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

      • Lezlie Markey

        You are most welcome, Dev. It always great to test the oldest generations. Glad you have joined the Dawson DNA Project. We are now grouping under shared ancestors so the more members the better.

  12. Aleta Dawson

    Hi Dev, I would encourage you to download your raw data from Ancestry and upload it to Gedmatch.com. Gedmatch is a free, volunteer-run website for people who have already tested their autosomal DNA for genealogical purposes at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, etc. Lezlie Markey and I have confirmed that we share a Dawson ancestor, both through y-DNA and at Gedmatch. Would love to see how my SC Dawson ancestors might connect to your NC Dawson ancestors.

  13. Michael William Dawson

    Hello, I just started my tree and have found we share a Grandfather. Donal or Don dean is my grandfather thru his fourth wife, my grandmother Sally Dawson. I know we are second cousins because my grandfather was born in van zant county Texas in 1876 to William Dawson and Phoebe Titus Sawyers
    Don Dean Dawson yes was a piano tuner and played many instruments like fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and of course piano. quite a talent. I remember him showing me how to blow on my soup to cool it down as I was only 4 in 1954. Don had 4 boys with Sally. My dad William born in Pasadena Ca. next my uncle Charles born in 1930 in Salem Or. next uncle Howard Dean Dawson born in San Diego Ca. in 1934 and Louis Raymond Dawson also born in San Diego in 1937. I always knew about Athal Alan Dawson a judge in Texas. Don’s first born I believe. You have brought to so many interesting Family Facts and I am glad that you have been so nice to fill in so much. If you would care to have my email address. it is mwdl89@hotmail,com

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