My West Virginia Pioneer Families
Richard Dotson was born October 23, 1752 in Frederick, now Shenandoah County, Virginia, and lived there 20 years by his own statement in his application for a Revolutionary War pension. This application contains the best information regarding the whereabouts of Richard in the early years of his life.
The following is transcribed from the handwritten application for Revolutionary War Pension by Richard Dotson
National Archives Number S 5364
State of Virginia
Tyler County to wit:
On this 10th day of June 1833, personally appeared in open Court before Robert Gorrell; William Bond; John D. Wells; & James G. West, Justices of the Peace, constituting the County Court of Tyler County, now sitting. Richard Dotson, a resident of said County and State of Virginia, aged 81 years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefits of the act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832, that he was born in Frederick County (now Shenandoah) State of Virginia and continued to reside there until he was about 20 years of age, he then removed to Greene County State of Pennsylvania, that in the year 1774 he served a tour of duty under Lord Dunmore against the western Indians, that he marched to Fort Charlotte near the place where Chillicothe now stands, in the State of Ohio, from whence he returned to his place of residence in the State of Pennsylvania where he continued to live until after the close of the Revolutionary war, that in the spring of the year 1777 he entered the service of the United States as a volunteer Indian Spy under Captain John Minor and served six months of that year, that in the years 1778 & 79, he also served the United States six months each year as an Indian Spy under Captain John Minor entering the service in the spring and leaving in the fall, making in all he served as an Indian Spy the term of eighteen months or more that services consisted in watching movements of the Indians examining their trails and giving information of their approach to the settlements that he principally served in Greene and adjoining Counties, that his headquarters were at Jenkinses Fort in said County of Greene and Jarard Fort about three miles from the former that the said Captain John Minor was the commandant of these stations, that in the summer of 1777 or 8 he and four of his companions had a skirmish with about the same number of Indians, that one of his party (to wit) John Nichols was killed and one of the Indians was also killed by Richard Hall. This skirmish took place near Jarard Fort on Big Whiteley and that he has no recollection of having received a discharge. He further says that after the close of the Revolution he returned to Shenandoah County, Virginia after remaining there a few years (the precise number he cannot recollect) he removed to Landon (Loudon) County, Virginia and continued there about two years, from Landon (Loudon) he removed to Hampshire Co., Va, where he lived about six years from thence he removed to Wood Co, Va, since which time he has continued to reside alternately in Wood and Tyler Counties until the present time that he now lives in said County of Tyler. He further says he has a record of his age and that he was born on the 23rd day of October 1752.
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.
Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
His Mark X Richard Dotson
Notes: John Ripley, a clergyman and William Wells certified that they were well acquainted with Richard Dotson and were of the opinion that he was a soldier.
Ann Reddick said in support of Richard's application that she was 95 and that she lived in 1777, 1778 and 9 in Greene County, PA during which time she was well acquainted with Richard Dotson and that he served as an Indian Spy. She also said that she and Dotson were frequent inmates of Jenkin's Fort at the same time.
More Information about Richard's Life in Pennsylvania
About 1772, Richard Dotson left Shenandoah County, Virginia to go to what is now Greene County, Pennsylvania. In 1774 he served in "Lord Dunmore's war" against the western Indians and marched to Fort Charlotte (near Circleville, Ohio). Lord Dunmore's troops were raised in Frederick, Dunmore (now Shenandoah) and adjacent counties.
In what is now Greene County, PA, at that time considered to be part of Virginia, Richard served as Indian spy from 1774-1779 under Captain Minor on the VA & PA frontiers. Captain John Minor was commandant of Fort Jenkins and Fort Garard on the Big Whitely, an eastward flowing tributary of the Monongahela River. Both Henry Franks, whose daughter Mary Ann married Richard's son William, and Richard Dotson fought under Captain, later Colonel John Minor who is called the "father of Greene County Pennsylvania ". Captain John Minor's Revolutionary War pension file is National Archives S 2840 and was for service as a captain under Colonel Zackquell Morgan in April 1777. James Morgan, born around 1770, was the son of Zack Morgan, founder of Morgantown, WV. James Morgan was acquainted with Richard Dotson and reported the episode with the Indians shown below.
From 1776 to around 1782 Richard probably lived on the Big Whitely River in what is now Greene County, PA. Greene County was created from Washington County, PA in 1796. Henry Franks, father to Richard's son's wife, states he, Henry Franks, lived on the Big Whitely in his Rev War pension application, and Richard Dotson was recruited from that area in 1782. In Richard's Rev War pension application he said he principally served in Greene and adjoining Counties, that his headquarters were at Jenkins Fort in Greene County and Jarard (Gerard) Fort about three miles from the former, that the said Captain John Minor was the commandant of these stations.
Children of Richard killed by Indians
In 1779, Richard was involved in an episode with Indians near what is now Fairmont, WV near Decker's Creek and some of his children were murdered. James Morgan, son of Col. Zackwell Morgan, dictated this article to Joseph H. Powell on James' eightieth birthday in 1850.
"The Indian Attack of the Smith Home"
Seventeen and seventy-nine was the year my father moved his family from the house where I was born to Deckers Creek. I was nine then, being born in 1770. I went along with the years. Father sold his homestead land where Rivesville now is, in four parcels. I forget who the buyers were. I remember John and William Merrill got pieces. I think Bob Shearer got some. Father owned about 2500 acres there, joining Henry Batten at Longwell Spring Run.
Everybody asks me where Longwell Spring Run was. This name for that little dreen seems to be lost. It was the first dreen that emptied into the river below Pharaohs Run. At first father had all the land around there. Then he sold Mr. Duthett a parcel and Duthett didn't pay and he sold the same piece to Casper Bunner. He let uncle Dave (Morgan) have a thousand acres for moving here from Pennsylvania and uncle Dave took up a lot besides, in his own right after he moved in. Father let Mattie Hoult have about four hundred acres. The Merrils got their first land here from father and uncle Dave. There was some blood tie with the Merrills that began in Delaware. I've heard uncle Dave say that William Merrill married a Morgan cousin of ours. She's the woman that settled the hash for those Indians in Nelson County (Kentucky). I was to visit them once. They always called her 'Miff' and to save my life, I can't recall her given name. I'd ask other Morgans, But nearly all the old Morgans are gone, and the coming on Morgans don't remember nothing. The year we moved in late February or early March, onto the LeMaster land at Deckers Creek (Morgantown) was a bad year. Uncle Dave fought the Indians that year, April 13, I think it was. It was about a month later, those dirty boogers tried to get Steve and Sally. (Uncle Dave's Children)
Father and the Cochrans and the Evanses and others built our blockhouse on the first rise below Deckers Creek, and that was our new home. Every body called it "Morgan's Fort", but it was just a big log house with loopholes in the walls to see and shoot from.
Just before we moved to Deckers Creek, John Bozarth and family went down to Cheat River to visit Mrs. Bozarth's sister's family. named Smith. The Bozarths first owned the land where Fairmont is. They sold out to Tom Barns and moved to the head of the west fork river, but John's family still lived on there Fairmont land in the year I'm telling about, 1779. The Bad year for all of us around. George, John's boy, and I were good friends. Mrs. Bozarth was there at Smith's home when the Indians raided on Cheat. I heard uncle Dave say there was about thirty of them, broken in little bunches. Jacob Prickett had a brother settled in that country, and his boy Elias was at the Smiths' that day. He was about twenty years old I think.
The children were playing outside right after dinner, and yelled that the Indians were coming. Elias Prickett ran outside and was shot in the hip. He fell back into the door. The Indian ran inside. Dick (Richard) Dotson was in there, and he jumped the Indian and threw him down on the floor, yelling for something to kill him with. Mrs. Bozarth picked up an ax and chopped open the Indians head. Another Indian ran in yelling and shot Dick Dotson. It's been in the papers and in books, that Dotson was killed, but he wasn't. It's been in the papers and in books that the Bozarths lived on Dunkard Creek but they didn't. Just like about Uncle Dave's fight with the Indians here, a pack of lies has been told and printed about that trouble there on Cheat.
Mrs. Bozarth hit the Indian that shot Dotson, in the head and knocked him down and chopped his belly open and his entrails went dragging after him as he crawled out of the cabin. One of the Indians that was helping his friends murder the children in the yard, ran to help the hurt one and Mrs. Bozarth axed him, splitting his head open to the chin.
Elias Prickett became conscious and got a gun and ran to the door and shot at the Indians who were then running for the woods. If he did any damage, it wasn't known. I have read stories that say that the people stayed shut up in the house with the dead Indians and Dick Dotson for several days but this isn't true. The house was relieved within the hour, I've heard Uncle Dave and Jacob Prickett say, and John Ice was with those who relieved it, and helped bury the dead children of the Smith's, Dotson's and Bozarths, six in all.
After the Revolutionary War
After the Revolutionary War Richard moved back to and lived in Shenandoah County, Virginia for a few years. He is shown in the tax records of Shenandoah Co for 1784-86. He moved to Loudoun for two years and appears on tax listings for 1792 and 1793. Richard moved to Hampshire County around 1794 and is on the personal property tax lists for Hampshire in 1795,1797, 1798, 1799, 1801 and 1802. Hampshire County was formed in 1753, as Old Frederick County was broken down into smaller, more manageable geographic units.
Richard Settles in Western Virginia
On 7 September 1801, Joseph Spencer sold Richard Dotson, 250 acres of land on waters of Hughes river, Part of Lot No. 21. Two sons, William and Emanuel, are showing as heads of households in the 1810 census. We know Indians killed some of the children of Richard and Mary Dotson. Some have said Indians killed Mary also, but we have no record of that. It is believed he married Amelia Miller(?) before coming to Doddridge County. In 1802 he built a cabin and was the first settler in Central District of Tyler, then Wood, County, now in Doddridge County, WV.
Hardesty's History of Doddridge County Central District Volume 2, page 13, "The first settler was Richard Dotson, who entered 600 acres of land, and in 1802 built his cabin near where Thomas Scott now resides. His earliest neighbors were James Scott, Nathan Davis, the Arnolds, Lottridges, Altermans, Ruddecks and Fergusons. The first white child born in the district was Ruth Dotson, a daughter of Richard and Millie Dotson."
On 6 June 1803, Richard Dotson sold James Marsh 250 acres of land, part of lot number 21, and on the same date of June 06, 1803 Richard and wife Amelia purchased 600 acres in the Clay District Ritchie County described as in the low gap between Buck Run & Yeager Run following Buck Run to right hand fork. It is believed that he gave sons Emmanuel and William a portion of this land.
On 23 Aug 1804 Richard 300 acres is recorded for Richard on a drain of Hughes River adjoining Isaac Pryon's survey.
August 15, 1809 Hampshire County Virginia Land Deeds; Book 16, Page 233.
Richard Dotson and James & Nancy Scott (Richard's daughter) sold to Henry Barnhouse 90 acres on New Creek adjoining tract sold to them June 3, 1805 for $90.00.
1 Aug 1817 Wood County Grants No. 66, p. 451 200a. (See Triplett, Hedgman & Dotson, Richard)
15 June 1821 Wood County Grants No. 70, p. 168. 100a. Beginning and extending corner to Land, claimed by George Richards, senior, a west corner extending in the head of a drain of Long run.
11/27/1843 Richard Dotson Senior of the County of Tyler sold land to Edmond Taylor for $10. This was land patented to Richard Dotson senior on the 15th day of June 1821. This was land in the head of a drain of Long Run and adjacent to land owned by George Richards Sr.
Area where the family lived was first Wood, then Ritchie in 1843, then Doddridge in 1845.
Hardesty's History records that in 1808 Religious discourse at home of Richard by a "traveling Hebrew".
Written by I.S. Dotson, age 75, on 4/16/1931
"My great grandfather (Richard Dotson) had a friend living near Sutton. His name was Mr. Sutton and the town was Sutton, W.Va, and was named for him. Grandfather went to Sutton to hunt on his tract of land. I do not know the length of the stay -- but while there, he killed 63 bears. Mr. Sutton kept the bear meat for his share. Granddad brought home the bear hides for his share. "Old Dobbins", the horse, pulled the sled from Sutton to Toll Gate. Grand dad and Old Dobbins took the hides to Parkersburg, W.Va, and sold them to a Flat Boat man, and he took them to New Orleans, Louisiana and they were put on the world market."
Richard's first wife, and mother of William, was Mary. Parents listed on William's death certificate in Doddridge County show as Richard and Mary Dotson. Neither Richard Dotson's ancestors nor documentation on his second wife has been located. His third wife was Amelia Miller, and the fourth wife was a widow, Naomi Villers Gregg
Ancestors of Richard
Descendants of Richard have speculated for years about who might be his father. In the past year (2009), a biographical sketch was found in a book published in 1889. This sketch was about Richard's grandson, son of William Dotson, Solomon L Dotson, who was alive and interviewed for the article.
From: Portrait and Biographical Album of Marshall County, Kansas by Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1889
Pages 326 - 328
Solomon L Dotson. "The name of this gentleman is familiar to the older residents of this county as one of those who located on the banks of the Vermillion in the early days, where he has some very rich bottom land, included in a well-regulated farm of 177 acres, lying on section 31, Rock Township. Before proceeding further with his personal history it may be interesting to mention those from whom he drew his origin. He comes of a good family, being the son of William Dotson, who was born in Virginia and the grandson of Richard Dotson, likewise a native of the Old Dominion, and a farmer who, at an early date removed to Wood County, W. Va., and opened up a farm in the wilderness. During his career he served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and also fought the French and Indians. He spent his last days in Tyler County, Va., passing away at the ripe old age of one hundred and four years.
The paternal great-grandfather of our subject was Solomon Dotson, a native of England, who emigrated to America during the Colonial times and established himself on a large tract of land in Ritchie County, W. Va., where he cleared a farm and remained upon it until his death when over ninety-three years old. Politically, he was a Democrat, and religiously, an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Mary A Franks, a native of Virginia and a daughter of Henry Franks, who was also born there. He farmed along the Ohio River, in the western part of the Dominion, being among the first settlers of that region. He fought in the Indian War and was wounded. He became well-to-do, and spent his last years surrounded by all the comforts of live. The great-grandfather Frank was a native of Germany, and served as a Revolutionary soldier at the battle of Bunker Hill. The paternal great-great-grandfather was Hobbs Dotson, who was born in the Turkish Empire, and went to England with his parents, where he spent the remainder of his life. The mother of Mr. Dotson died in Virginia at the age of eighty-seven years; she was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Sixteen children completed the household circle of William and Mary A Dotson, seven of whom are deceased, namely: Emanuel, John, Nancy, Thomas, Betsey, Maria and Margaret. The survivors are: Henry, a resident of Virginia; Lottie and William, also living there; Solomon L, our subject; Mary A, a resident of Belle Plain, Kan.; J. Cynthia; Eliza and Jane of Virginia, and Squire, of Missouri."
No Solomon has been found in research on the Dodson/Dotson line of the age and location to be Richard's father.
Death of Richard
On July 18, 1833 he began receiving $60 per year Revolutionary War pension as an Indian spy. On June 1, 1840 Richard Dotson was age 88 and living with James Dotson according to a census report. On April 17, 1847 a last pension payment made. $30 for 6 months pension from 4th day of September 1846 to 4th day of March 1847. So, it is assumed he died after April 17, 1847 and before September 1847. He is buried in the Arnold Creek Cemetery.
Photo of Richard's Gravestone
To find the gravesite: Exit at the Greenwood Exit off of Route 50. Go down the hill into the community of Greenwood. At the bottom of the hill, turn right onto a road that turns back toward the Interstate. This is Long Run Road. Follow it for approximately 5.8 miles. On the right side of the road there is a creek. Across the creek and up on the hill, you will see the cemetery. It is on the farm of Bill Robinson. It is called Arnold Creek Cemetery, but there is no sign.