Harvey M. Dixon update

I wanted to check in with you again because it has been four months since I posted the Dixon/Lewis connection.

Here’s an update:

I wrote to three living descendants of Jacob/Harvey through his son George. Coincidentally, they all live in Washington State, like me. I have received a reply from one of them, and I am planning to send her more info soon.

More recently I have corresponded with the wife of a descendant of Harvey’s daughter Malinda Francis (Dixon) Fitzgerald. I found her through an ancestry tree showing her husband’s line going back to Harvey M. Dixon. She seemed surprised about it, but I think she’s convinced, as she has changed her tree to reflect the Lewis connection.

Another major breakthrough… I had earlier noticed that some trees online show a marriage of a Jacob Lewis to Susanna Austin in Pittsford, Monroe, New York in 1838. Supposedly they had two children, Allen and Martha Lewis. In searching for more information, I found that Susanna may have lived until 1903 (no record to back this up yet). Her parents, William and Rebecca (Doud) Austin, are buried in the Farmersville Center Cemetery, Cattaraugus County, New York!! YES, THE SAME CEMETERY where Jacob’s parents, CALEB AND JOANNA (Wade) LEWIS are buried! The Austin family were early settlers of Cattaraugus County, just like the Lewises.

Could our Jacob W. Lewis have abandoned his first family in New York, a wife Susanna and children Allen and Martha? Is that why he disappeared and ended up in Missouri/Iowa? Were Jacob and Susanna legally divorced, or did he just run out on her? And what became of Susanna?

I could not find any census records showing Susanna with her children in 1850 or beyond to verify the family unit. But something interesting surfaced. Another tree online showed a marriage of a Martha Dixon to a man named Elvin M. Dent, which may have taken place in Iowa. A little more digging…. drum roll….

I found Elvin and Martha Dent were living next door to Harvey M. Dixon and family in the 1860 census!! So his daughter by his first marriage ended up near her father in Hickory County, Missouri.

Boy, that 1860 census sure holds a lot of good information! Not only does it show Harvey M. Dixon and family with his brother Guy C. Lewis in the household, but right next door is Elvin and Martha Dent. Martha was age 18 in this census. Although there were no children shown in her household (only a brother of Elvin’s), again, online trees suggest a child, William Dent, was born about 1864. And they say Martha died about 1865.

Civil War records show that Elvin served in Company C, 40th Iowa Infantry. In fact, in June of 1863 he is shown as residing in Union Twp., Mahaska County, Iowa, age 30, born in Tennessee, married and a carpenter by trade. So Martha and Elvin obviously moved (back?) to Iowa along with her father and his family. Harvey M. Dixon enlisted in Company D, 33rd Iowa Infantry.

Now, in googling around, I have landed on some posts left over ten years ago that tell family stories* that when Elvin came back from the war, he found his wife Martha had taken off and left their baby Willie with his mother-in-law (Harvey’s widow Catherine Starnes Dixon). He took the baby with him and moved to Illinois to live with his half-brother James. Elvin was remarried in Arkansas in 1867 to Tabitha Morgan, a widow with four children of her own. William Dent was living with his father Elvin and family in the 1870 census, Barry County, Missouri, but disappears after that.

*These stories are supported by affidavits in Tabitha Dent’s widow’s pension application, which I so far have been unable to find. Have only heard of them second-hand so far.

What happened to William Dent? Did he reach adulthood? Marry? Have children?

And more unanswered questions… did Martha Lewis (AKA Dixon) Dent die or desert her family?

What ever happened to Susanna (Austin) Lewis and her son Allen Lewis?

The search continues!!! This is one interesting family!

I would LOVE to hear from anyone associated with the Dixons, Starnes or Dents.

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