|Mary Belle "Dollie" Dix|
|Born: 06/14/1871 (Union Springs/Midway/Pine Grove AL?)
Died: 12/20/1901 (Montgomery, AL)
Buried in Oakwood Cemetery East with her brother, Alexander Franklin Dix Jr. (known as "Allie"), and their parents.
Photo submitted by Ed Sproles
Dollie as a young girl
This photo is labeled "Dollie Dix" on the back, and it certainly looks like her.
Photo submitted by Mike and Caroline Lyon
Same as above but a better image
Dollie at the easel
Photo submitted by Ed Sproles
|This floral pastel, drawn by Dollie Dix (signed in the lower left corner) which is similar to the ones on the easels in the photo above, was passed down to me from my grandmother, Ruth Dix Whigham. I had to photograph the picture at this oblique angle to avoid glare from the glass in the frame. I didn't want to risk trying to remove the picture from the frame or glass. RDW|
Image submitted by Ed Sproles
Dollie's drawing (charcoal or pastel) of two cats and a dog. Ed writes:
I tried to photograph a drawing that we have by Dollie, the result is attached. the drawing is in very bad shape. The white areas are places where the paper has been eaten away by insects. Her signature is clearly visible in the lower right.
Mary Belle "Dollie" Dix
|This photograph of Dollie was made between 1900 and 1901, shortly before
she died. Written on the back of this photo, in what looks like the
hand of Mavis Whigham, is:
"Lawrence Street at High Street in Montgomery. Nellie Beach and Alexander Franklin Dix lived here before building a home on Finley Ave. 'Aunt Dollie' was the sister of Albert Sidney (Bert) Dix. The High School faced west on Lawrence Street, the present site of the Montgomery Public Library"
This house is no longer there, but this would have been the south side of 206 High Street. The photographer is facing northwest.
I remember going into the building that was the school. It was
later used as the Montgomery Museum. On visits there in the 1950's,
I recall being amused that it was spelled "MVSEVM". RDW
|The following newspaper articles and letter were copied from the scrapbook
that Nellie Beach Dix kept. It has been passed down from Nellie to her
son, Paul Finch Dix; from Paul and his wife, Vernon, to their daughter,
Mary Vernon (Dix) Sproles; and now is in the safe keeping of Ed Sproles
Jr., Mary Vernon's son. Ed has copied or scanned each of the items below
and sent the articles to me.
The writing style a century ago, was quite different from today's. While I found many of the sentences awkward and difficult to read, I tried to copy verbatim except for an occasional word that was misspelled by today's conventions.
The column widths and words per line in the facsimile below, are only approximations of the originals.
|For the Alabama Baptist
Another Young Life Given to
At the conclusion, he told briefly of the decision of Miss “Dollie” Dix, to devote the remainder of her life to mission work among the Chinese in California, and called on Miss Dix for any words of farewell she might desire to speak.
The young lady came forward and with perfect confidence and great tenderness, spoke of her love for the people of God, here that she was about to leave and of the growth of the missionary impulse and conviction that were carrying her far away to labor for the Master – to win souls for Him, in distant California. She concluded with a most appropriate passage from the letter of the Great Missionary to the Gentiles containing the words, “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” It was most effective and affecting. Then opportunity was given the good byes were said and soon the brave young girl was borne away to her chosen field of labor at Fresno California.
Miss Mary Belle Dix so generally know as “Miss Dollie,” was born in Midway Ala. , June 14, 1871. She was baptized at Union Springs in 1884 by Rev. J.S. Dill. She was graduated from Cox College , LaGrange Ga., in 1889. From that time until 1896 she engaged in teaching. Her health failed and she joined her relatives in Montgomery, becoming a member of the First Baptist Church. Soon her strength was somewhat renewed and she became an active and useful worker in the church, Sunday School, and the Young Peoples Union, and, latterly especially among the Chinese of Montgomery. No one in this church made his or her life count for more according to opportunity than she did. The story of her conversion, her consecration to this work, and her gradual preparation for it is full of interest.
From very early life she cherished a desire to become a missionary to the Chinese. This was due largely under God, to her association with Miss Sallie E. Stein, who boarded in the home of Rev. A. F. Dix when she was a pupil at Mary Sharpe College, Winchester Tenn. Prof. Dix then had the chair of Greek and Latin in that institution. Miss Stein was even then an ardent missionary in spirit and finally received appointment as a missionary to Canton, China, while an inmate of Prof. Dix’s home. She sailed with Rev. E.Z. Simmons and wife, it will be remembered, in 1879, leaving her widowed mother in the care of her brothers. After ten years work in China under the Southern Board, Miss Stein was called home by the death of her brother. Later she received an appointment from a Northern Board and went to Fresno, Cali- fornia, to labor among the Chinese
|there, taking her mother with her. During all these years Miss
Dix kept up correspondence with Miss Stein, which had no little to do toward
forming the decision which at last led her to join the friend of her childhood
in that distant field. She goes, not as an appointee of any board,
but as a volunteer in the Master’s service, depending on the free will
offerings of friends and loved ones who sympathize with her pure aims and
brave venture for her support.
Miss Dollie dates her conversion back to her tenth year. There is a story of peculiar interest and pathos told about it, illustrative of the mysterious ways in which God works “His wonders to perform.” The family were living at the time in Stevenson, Ala., a seemingly “God-forsaken town.” There was no regular preaching there. A letter came from a volunteer evangelist making an appointment for a meeting there – a young man who had seen the methods of some famous evangelist elsewhere and wanted to try them there. He came, tried all the new ways, made no impression, as it seemed, and gave the town up. On the last night he asked all who had been benefited to raise the hand. One little hand was raised – it was little Dollie’s. “I was a busy woman in those days, “says the mother – “had nine children of my own at home, half a dozen boarders, and was teaching in the primary department of the college of which Mr. Dix had charge – much of the time I even had no servant. I was veritable Martha, wondering why the evangelist came there and why nothing was accomplished, and paying no heed that my little Mary had ‘chosen the good part’! How short-sighted we are, and how far God sees!”
Are there not many to whom this touching and inspiring story will come with kindling power and who will remember sympathetically and prayerfully the “little Mary” of this devoted Mother and Godly father “the good part” she has chosen – the work of imparting the word of life to these benighted children of the Orient whom God has brought to our shores?
Geo. B. Eager ,
|Notes on the preceding article:
1) In the passage above that contains the words "appointment from a Northern Board and went to Fresno, Cali-fornia to labor among the Chinese there,” the page was torn on one side and along the bottom. Ed and I inferred the letters in red, based on the preceding lines and the bits and pieces of words that are readable. I think the "Boards", refer to the Southern and Northern Baptist mission boards. RDW
2) There is no date with this article, but I found a link to a page about the “Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1897 in Montgomery” http://www.mindspring.com/~mchs/herald/yelfev.htm in which Dr. George B. Eager is mentioned. Dollie is listed in the 1898 Montgomery City Directory, but not the 1899 directory. Checking a perpetual calendar, http://www.wiskit.com/calendar.html , I found that February 18, fell on a Sunday, in 1900. In another article below, “The End or the Beginning?”, has a reference to the article above, and mentions the Alabama Baptist issue date of March 1, 1900. RDW
|The following is a transcription of a letter from Dollie to her father, Alexander Franklin Dix, while she was serving as a missionary, in California. The original is from Nellie's scrapbook. Images of Dollie's eight-page, hand-written letter with transcriptions are at: mbd-lett.htm . Below is the text of the letter:|
|Notes, comments, and observations by Rusty and
Ed, on Dollie's letter:
Then I went to the Cloyds,...RDW: Is this right? I've never heard this name before. I thought at first she meant "Lloyd" , but the leading letter in the name matches the "C" in Chinese.
ESS: Although the name sounds unusual, i think that its the best guess. The letter in question matches the C in Certainly later in the letter, and does not match the L in Lord.
... trying to ride a wheel...RDW: Could this be a bicycle or a penny-farthing?
ESS: Bicycle was my guess also.
If we dressed like Chinese women,...RDW: Does she mean, wearing pants?
ESS: Sounds like a reasonable interpretation.
And I seem no nearer to understanding the language than I was three months ago. [March, 1900]RDW: Would this be when she arrived there?
ESS: Don't know, we may be able to turn up some info from one of the articles about her service. It does indicate that she was in California at least 3 months before the date of the letter.
I am sorry if I gave up the creosote too soon ...RDW: I mean to see if I can find out if this was a common home remedy.
ESS: Sounds like a risky cure--I think that creosote is now considered a carcinogen
... I have taken nearly a quart [of port wine]; take it about ten in the morningRDW: Obviously taking St. Paul's admonition in I Timothy, 5:23, to heart. ;-)
ESS: And drinking before noon!
I received a nice letter from cousin A. Dix Liddle...RDW: Do we know who this is? I don't, we should keep our eyes open for this name.
ESS: Since Daniel was buried in Iowa, probably one of is decendants??
RDW: I found Adelaide [Dix?] Liddle (08/04/1844 - 03/27/1914), on the big "Dix Genealogy" chart, just to the right (but on a different branch) of Nellie Beach. It looks like she was the daughter of AFD's father, Daniel, and his second wife, Frances Maria Reynolds.
|Alice Newman Shannon wrote:
In Moma Nelle's things, I found an old letter she had saved. It was postmarked "Aug. 25, 1900, Glennville, Cal" and addressed to "Misses Nellie and Ruth Dix, Knoxville, Georgia." The letter is from "Aunt Dollie". Among other things, Dollie writes that she is "anxious to hear how you like your new home. I know you miss your Butler playmates...".
Martha Whigham Picardy, on September 26, 2001, found the book The First 150 Years, Montgomery's First Baptist Church, 1829-1979 by Lee N. Allen. Under the chapter of "Licenses and Ordinations", on page 149, Martha found the following passage:* Since Dollie died in 1901, this 1918 date is obviously wrong. We now know that it should be 1900.
To the right (north) is the broken gravestone of Alexander Franklin Dix Jr."Allie" and his sister, Mary Belle "Dollie" Dix.
Alexander Franklin Dix Jr.
Faithful unto death
Mary Belle Dix
A.F. & N.B. Dix
|The missing letters in the inscription on the
gravestone (shown in red
above) are due to a broken and missing pieces of the marble slab.
The records at the cemetery office list the middle initial for Mary as
The names Dollie and Allie engraved in the corners of the cement border around the marble marker.
Martha Picardy found a book at the Samford University Library titled "The First 150 Years of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery". In it was a reference to "Mary Belle Dix (Dollie), daughter of Alexander Franklin Dix Sr." I had incorrectly assumed that the "Mary" buried with Alexander Franklin Dix Jr., was his wife (we never found anything on AFD Jr.'s wife). Martha also found in the Alabama State Archives microfilm, under "Dix" and "Clippings", the inscription from the gravestone above with the missing segments. Thanks to Martha for making this connection!
During a telephone conversation with Charles Cousins, one of "Dimple's" descendants, he recalled that "Dollie" had married a Mr. McRae who joined the Merchant Marine. We'd never heard this before!!!??? This apparent conflict was resolved when we learned from Annie Goulding Dix Meiers (99 years old and the sole surviving child of Lell and Annie Stakely Dix), that Lell's second daughter's name and nickname being the same as Lell's sister, Mary Belle "Dollie" Dix. We now realize that Charles was speaking of Lell's daughter -- NOT his sister, who we knew died as a young woman, and had never married.
The following newspaper articles and obituaries were copied from Nellie's
scrapbook. Submited by Ed Sproles Transcribed by
Russell Dix Whigham, January 26, 2003. Again, the column widths and words
per line are only approximations of the originals.