About My Second Great-Grandpa Nick Dawson

By Stephanie Dawson Morris

The story of the murder of Nick Dawson is told in the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol I. In the chapter “An Independent Free Man,” John James “of Alvarado” recounts his early days on the Texas prairie when Nick Dawson and his family, from Woodford County in Kentucky, were his neighbors.

Nicholas Henry “Nick” Dawson, born February 3, 1838, in Woodford County, Kentucky; murdered July 12, 1870, in Wise County, Texas.

In this multi-part series, Stephanie Dawson Morris updates the Dawson family history, revealing the undaunted character that defines  Dawson men from John Singleton Mosby to the Dawson Massacre and beyond.

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One story I remember is that great grandpa Nick Dawson was shot 29 times with arrows before he died.  I have never been able to substantiate that, except for the story in the paper when they found the old pioneer cemetery. The story said he was “mutilated” when they found him.

I also remember hearing there was a saddle that was covered in silver conchos. The saddle was on the horse he was riding.  It was a gift from the townspeople for his services. I don’t know what kind of “services.”  Anyway, I asked what happened to the saddle. I heard it was cut up and divided among the Comanche who killed him.

Supposedly, that was how they found which of the Comanche were guilty. They still had the pieces of silver on their person.  Of course, I cannot verify this either.

Samuel “Sam” Houston Jr. 1793-1863. His father, Sam Huston Sr. 1745-1807, fought with Daniel Morgan’s Rifles in the American Revolution, besides the numerous rebel Baptists preachers who were supported by Frank & Jesse James father, John M. James. In Texas, Sam Huston Jr. commanded Jackson Bunyan Bradley, the father-in-law of John James “of Alvarado” who was Nick Dawson’s neighbor.
Sam Houston’s son, Samuel Houston III 1843-1894. It is unlikely Sam Houston attended the funeral of Nick Dawson since Sam Houston pre-deceased Nick. However, it is possible that Sam Houston III may have attended. During the Civil War, Sam Houston III was incarcerated in Camp Douglas Union Prison in Chicago together with David Hunt James and Richard Skinner James who were captured with John Junt Morgan.,

 

It was said that Sam Huston was greatly saddened by Grandpa’s death and attended the funeral…again, I don’t know if this is true.

Another story was that he and Great Grandma Mary had several children, as you know. They also had taken in an Indian child by the name of Blueberry.  Well, the story has it that while Grandpa Nick was away from home Blueberry had come flying through the door of the cabin and told Grandma that Indians had surrounded the cabin and were going to attack and raid.

Mary Elizabeth Morton Dawson 1833-1915, wife of Nick Dawson

Grandma had the lanterns all lit inside the cabin. She had all the children put on hats and jackets. They held sticks as if they were guns. Then they walked back and forth in front of the windows.  Grandma then would have them exchange clothing and walk in front of the windows of another room. So, on it went, to trick the Indians into thinking there were a lot of people in the house guarding it with weapons.  Apparently, the ruse worked because the next morning the Indians were gone. There was a sign of them having been there.

I do know that great-grandmother Mary filed for a government stipend to recover the value of the horses, saddle, and money of about a hundred dollars, or so.  It was some kind of recovery act. I did find the application.

She also applied for a Confederate Widows Pension which was signed with an X as Mary could not read or write.

Mary Dawson pension application
Pension application of Mary Dawson
Mary Dawson pension affidavit
Information affidavit of Mary Dawson’s pension application
Witness affidavit in Mary Dawson’s pension application. As the spouse of Frances Elizabeth “Fanny” Dawson, signatory Judge Griffin Ford was a son-in-law Nick and Mary Dawson. His son William Walter “Willie” Ford is a grandson of Nick and Mary.

None of us, still living, know what happened to the 1200 acres, or so, that were awarded to Grandpa Nick for enlisting in the Texas Rangers/Militia.  We assume it was sold to provide for the children.

RELATED: 

Belle Star’s visit to John James “of Alvarado” shortly after the murder of Nick Dawson.

Dawson DNA Project

FREE eBook: The Ancestry, Descendants, & Kinship of Nicholas Henry “Nick” Dawson

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Tuesday February 9th, 2021
Stray Leaves

Theater advertisements for plays appeared like this in newspapers. This ad for Bloomer Girl appeared in August of 1845. Bloomer Girl was the product of Daniel Lewis James Jr. and principally his wife Lilith Stanward. The following excerpt about them appears in JJSL:

Written against the backdrop of World War II, when blacks were moving out of the South into an industrial workforce, and women also were moving out of the home into the workplace, Bloomer Girl is set in the pre-Civil War era, interweaving themes of black and female equality, war and peace, and politics. The play’s principal character, Dolly, is based upon the inventor of the bloomer, Amelia Bloomer, a contemporary of an acquaintance of Vassie James and Susan B. Anthony. As a fighter in the suffragette movement for women’s rights, Bloomer advocated, “Get rid of those heavy hoop skirts; wear bloomers like men; let’s get pants; let’s be their equal.” In the play, Dolly politicks for gender equality, as her rebellious niece Evelina politicks her suitor, a Southern slaveholding aristocrat, for racial equality. As the play’s librettist, Yip Harburg, stated,
Bloomer Girl was about “the indivisibility of human freedom.”

Bloomer Girl opened on Broadway on October 5, 1944. Dan (Daniel Lewis James) insisted Lilith’s (Dan’s wife) name come first in the show’s credits. The play was an instant hit, lasting 654 performances. Dan remained modest about the show’s success, considering his contribution a failure. “...I seem not to have given full credit to my collaborators on the 1944 musical comedy Bloomer Girl...The facts, in brief, are as follows: the originator of the story idea from which the musical grew was my wife, Lilith James, who charmingly chose the perversities of Fashion to dramatize the early struggles of the Women's Rights movement. She also developed the principal characters. I joined her in writing a first draft of the libretto. It failed to satisfy our lyricist, E. Y. Harburg, and Harold Arlen, the composer. It also failed to satisfy us. An impasse developed at which point all agreed to call in the team of Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy who were experienced writers in the field of musical comedy. They reworked the material to the satisfaction of everyone but Lilith and myself, who had hoped to invade Gilbert & Sullivan territory, with what we thought was a light-hearted paradoxical look at history. What I took for a personal artistic failure for which I blamed, first of all, myself, went on to become a lavish entertainment which played on Broadway for eighteen months and has since often been revived in summer theater. If I was not delighted, audiences certainly were and full credit for this should be given to Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy (now deceased) without whom the production would never have taken place...”
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Wednesday February 3rd, 2021
Stray Leaves

YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?In 1856, twenty-three-year-old widow Kate Warne walked into the office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, announcing that she had seen the company’s ad and wanted to apply for the job. “Sorry,” Alan Pinkerton told her, “but we don’t have any clerical staff openings. We’re looking to hire a new detective.” Pinkerton would later describe Warne as having a “commanding” presence that morning. “I’m here to apply for the detective position,” she replied. Taken aback, Pinkerton explained to Kate that women aren’t suited to be detectives, and then Kate forcefully and eloquently made her case. Women have access to places male detectives can’t go, she noted, and women can befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspects and gain information from them. Finally, she observed, men tend to become braggards around women who encourage boasting, and women have keen eyes for detail. Pinkerton was convinced. He hired her.

Shortly after Warne was hired, she proved her value as a detective by befriending the wife of a suspect in a major embezzlement case. Warne not only gained the information necessary to arrest and convict the thief, but she discovered where the embezzled funds were hidden and was able to recover nearly all of them. On another case she extracted a confession from a suspect while posing as a fortune teller. Pinkerton was so impressed that he created a Women’s Detective Bureau within his agency and made Kate Warne the leader of it.

In her most famous case, Kate Warne may have changed the history of the world. In February 1861 the president of the Wilmington and Baltimore railroad hired Pinkerton to investigate rumors of threats against the railroad. Looking into it, Pinkerton soon found evidence of something much more dangerous—a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to the case. Taking the persona of “Mrs. Cherry,” a Southern woman visiting Baltimore, she managed to infiltrate the secessionist movement there and learn the specific details of the scheme—a plan to kill the president-elect as he passed through Baltimore on the way to Washington.

Pinkerton relayed the threat to Lincoln and urged him to travel to Washington from a different direction. But Lincoln was unwilling to cancel the speaking engagements he had agreed to along the way, so Pinkerton resorted to a Plan B. For the trip through Baltimore Lincoln was secretly transferred to a different train and disguised as an invalid. Posing as his caregiver was Kate Warne. When she afterwards described her sleepless night with the President, Pinkerton was inspired to adopt the motto that became famously associated with his agency: “We never sleep.” The details Kate Warne had uncovered had enabled the “Baltimore Plot” to be thwarted.

During the Civil War, Warne and the female detectives under her supervision conducted numerous risky espionage missions, with Warne’s charm and her skill at impersonating a Confederate sympathizer giving her access to valuable intelligence. After the war she continued to handle dangerous undercover assignments on high-profile cases, while at the same time overseeing the agency’s growing staff of female detectives.

Kate Warne, America’s first female detective, died of pneumonia at age 34, on January 28, 1868, one hundred fifty-three years ago today. “She never let me down,” Pinkerton said of one of his most trusted and valuable agents. She was buried in the Pinkerton family plot in Chicago.
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YOU CANT HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?
Monday January 18th, 2021
Stray Leaves

None of this surprises Stray Leaves. We exist for stories like this.
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