Greenbrier Dotsons


Thomas Dodson/Dotson Family of Greenbrier and Shenandoah Virginia

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Three distinct and unrelated Dodson/Dotson lines were living in Shenandoah/Frederick county between 1750 and 1800. This was learned through Dodson/Dotson y-DNA testing. Because there were several Thomas Dodson/Dotson men living in the Shenandoah valley in the 1700's, it is difficult to sort out which Thomas is the correct Thomas. 

However, there was a Thomas Dotson, born 1747/1748 who enlisted and was discharged from the Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania and who migrated to the Shenandoah Valley sometime between 1781 and 1818. This is a wide time frame, but we know he was in Shenandoah County in 1818 when he applied for a pension for his Revolutionary War service, testified again in 1820.  We believe he was most  likely there before 1792 when two daughters of Thomas Dodson were bound out. By the time he applied for the pension, he said he had no children living with him, so it's hard to confirm his children except by bits of information that suggest who they were. 

It appears that by 1792, Thomas had at least 3 children, probably from a first marriage and born in Pennsylvania. Ruth Dodson was born about 1778. John Dotson was born in Pennsylvania in 1781 and died in Greenbrier county in 1856, and Margaret wa born about 1783. We know Thomas was still in Pennsylvania in 1781 because of his military service record. Based on other documents, it is believed that Thomas came to Shenandoah sometime between 1781 and 1792. 

He was a blacksmith by trade, but by 1792 he was in financial trouble, and his two daughters were bound out. That same year, he was also free of taxation probably because of poverty or health problems. His first wife, Sally, may have died around this same time. We believe Thomas married a second time around 1793 to an Elizabeth, possibly Hoover. No record of this marriage has been found, but we find a later land sale in 1809 in Shenandoah county by Thomas and Elizabeth, and the death record of one of his sons lists parents as Thomas and Elizabeth. 

Children believed to be of the second marriage are Thomas Jr (1794-1870), Sarah (1796-1893), Richard (1799-1873), Jacob (1800-1883) and Joseph (1802-?). Thomas Jr and brother Richard Dotson married Susanna and Mary Kesler who were sisters and daughters of Peter Kesler. Either before or after the Keslers moved to Greenbrier County, Virginia, there was an association of the two families. Two of the other Dotson children, Sarah and Joseph Dotson, married siblings from the Copenhaver family. 

Although we lose track of Ruth and Margaret, all of the other named Dotson children, including John, end up living and marrying in Greenbrier county, except Jacob. About 1827 Jacob moved to Nicholas county, just west of Greenbrier, with Frederick Kesler, another child of Peter Kesler. In the early 1800's we find glimpses of the Thomas Dotson family in Shenandoah County and in Greenbrier county.   Greenbrier county is now in West Virginia, but until 1863 was part of Virginia.  The 1810 Shenandoah county census shows a Thomas Dotson born before 1765 with three males under 25 and two females under 15. There is a female born between and 1765 and 1784, presumed to be Elizabeth. The older son, John, was in Greenbrier county by 1810 when he married Mary Henning. Sometime before 1815 Thomas Dotson Jr was in Greenbrier county where he married Susanna Kesler. Sarah Dotson married Jacob Copenhaver there in 1818. We know that Richard Dotson enlisted in the War of 1812 in Shenandoah County and was discharged there, but by 1821 he was in Greenbrier also when he married Mary Kesler. And in 1823 Joseph Dotson married Betsy Copenhaver in Greenbrier county. 

Thomas Jr and John Dodson are both listed in the 1820 census in the Frankford area of Greenbrier County as is Peter Kesler. John Dodson, born 1781, is the male born 1765 to 1784, but he also has a male in his home who was born 1765 or before.  This could be his father Thomas Sr. We know that Thomas Dodson was present in court in Shenandoah in 1818 and 1820 when he testified about his war pension, so possibly Thomas Dodson is still in Woodstock in Shenandoah county in 1820,  There is a census report dated 7 Aug 1820 with 4 people in the home. Head of household is 45 and over (born before 1775) with 2 females born between 1776 and 1794.  We know that he died in 1825, most likely in Greenbrier county where his estate sale occurred.