Edward Dawson (1755-1833)

Michael Lacopo is my 7th cousin through Elizabeth Dawson and Enos Moore who settled in Tippecanoe County, IN.


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.
10525 Red Pine Drive
Granger, IN  46530-7529

     The Edward Dawson who is buried on the Shelby Farm in Shelby Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, was a pioneer on the forefront of the tide of westward migration.  He was a Maryland native and an early settler of both Ohio and Indiana.  He was NOT a Revolutionary War soldier.

     Edward Dawson was born in or around 1755 in what is now Allegany County, Maryland, the son of Edward Dawson.  His mother’s name is not known.  He met and married his wife Hannah here.  His children Elizabeth and Leonard were born in present day Allegany County, Maryland, in 1777 and 1778.  He was a private in the Washington County Militia, 1st Class, Capt. Daniel Cresap’s Company, 3rd Battalion in 1776 and 1777.[i]  He also took the oath of Allegiance before the Hon. Lemuel Barritt before 16 March 1778.[ii]  Edward paid taxes in Upper Old Town Precinct, Washington County (now Allegany County), Maryland, in 1783.[iii]  He owned land here in 1788.[iv]  His children married in Allegany County, Maryland, in 1792 and 1797.[v]  Edward Dawson was enumerated in Upper Old Town Precinct in 1800.[vi]  He was still living in Maryland in 1801 and 1805 when his father’s estate was inventoried.[vii]  In short, Edward Dawson never left the confines of his home near the Potomac River from his birth until his migration in middle age.

     Edward Dawson removed to Ross County, Ohio, in 1806 where his daughter and son-in-law, Enos and Elizabeth (Dawson) Moore, had moved a few years previously.  He and his wife, Hannah, lived in the household of Enos Moore in 1830 in Franklin Township, Ross County, Ohio, but shortly thereafter undertook the long journey to Shelby Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, where Enos purchased land on 22 September 1831.[viii][ix]  Edward Dawson died shortly thereafter on 28 August 1833.[x]  His wife followed on 25 July 1839.[xi]  Only her stone is left standing on the old farm cemetery in Shelby Township.

     So who is the Edward Dawson, private of the 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Line, who people believe to be the man buried in Tippecanoe County?  It can be seen by the brief biography above that this Edward Dawson spent the Revolutionary years in Washington County, Maryland, in the area soon to become Allegany County.  Would he go to Pennsylvania to serve in the war effort?  We know he was supportive of the cause as is evidenced by his taking the Oath of Allegiance.  All adult men were required by law to belong to a militia unit in their county, as Edward Dawson was.  This was a legally mandated position, and often one of social importance rather than military.

     If we look back to 1931 we will find where the error began.  Miss Wilhelmina Sarah Lank applied for entry into the Daughters of the American Revolution upon the notation that an Edward Dawson served as a private in Captain Samuel Montgomery’s Company, 7th Pennsylvania Line, in 1776.  She was accepted, and this “fact” has been repeated ever since.

     If we take a closer look at the document from which Miss Lank got her information, we do see that the transcribed documents of the Seventh Pennsylvania does note Edward Dawson as a private in such a company on 24 December 1776.[xii]  A closer look at the very same collection of papers shows this man to be Edward Davidson of Captain Montgomery’s Company as a sergeant on 19 March 1777.[xiii]  Another roll of Captain Montgomery’s Company taken on 9 September 1778 shows Edward Davidson now as a corporal.[xiv]  A roll of the Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Samuel Hay with the dates and terms of enlistments dated 16 June 1779 again shows “Edw’d Davison” in Captain Montgomery’s regiment, enlisted 24 December 1776.[xv]  The muster roll of April 1780 again shows Sergeant Edward Davidson.[xvi]  He was transferred to Captain William Lusk’s Company where he appears on the muster rolls as Sergeant Edw’d Davison in September and October 1780.[xvii]  Undated lists which seem to be from 1776 show that Edward Davison was first a private in the Company of Captain Samuel Hay.[xviii]  A final list of noncommissioned officers of the Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment shows Edward Davidson as a sergeant from 1 January 1777 to 1781.[xix]

     It can be seen that Miss Lank’s hypothesis that the “Edward Dawson” of the Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment is based on a misprint for Edward Davi(d)son.  Nowhere in the papers of this regiment does the name Dawson appear again.

     This man’s identity is confirmed by other documents.  Another muster roll of Captain William Lusk from September and October 1780 exists and lists Sergeant Edward Davison.[xx]  Edward Davidson was paid $50.00 on 1 January 1781 by the Paymaster General as a member of the Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment.[xxi]  Lastly, Edward Davidson received a Bounty Land Warrant to receive land for his service in the Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment on 10 March 1795.  It was given to John Steward, assignee.[xxii]

     None of these references mention an Edward Dawson.

     It is not known what happened to Edward Davidson, but we do know that he was NOT the Edward Dawson who was living peacefully in Washington County, Maryland, at the time of the Revolutionary War.  Nor is he the man who traveled the frontiers of Ohio and Indiana to be buried in field in Shelby Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, in 1833.  Edward Dawson, my ancestor, is a man worthy of our praise, but not the man Miss Sarah Lank thought him to be in 1931.  It is now that we should set the story of his life straight.

[i] Henry C. Peden, Jr., Revolutionary Patriots of Washington County, Maryland, 1776-1783 (Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 1999), 91.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] “Washington County 1783 Tax Assessment,” Western Maryland Genealogy, Volume 9, Number 1 (Catoctin Press: Middleton, MD, Jan 1993), 26.
[iv] Email from Peggy Reen parkave1@gte.net to author, 10 May 2003.
[v] Audrey Moore Hanson, “Dawson-Moore Families,” James F. Howell, editor, Montmorenci and Shelby Township (1979), 212.
[vi] 1800 Census, Allegany County, Maryland, Micofilm 32-9, 35.
[vii] Maryland Hall of Records, Allegany County Inventories, Book A, page 94, “Edward Dawson, 9 March 1801” and Allegany County Administration Accounts, page 86, “2nd Acct. Edward Dawson, admin. Of estate of Ed. Dawson, late of Al. Co., 11 Dec. 1805.”
[viii] 1830 Census, Franklin Township, Ross County, Ohio; Microfilm M19-139, 209.
[ix] Hanson, 212.
[x] “Enos Moore’s Bible,” The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Translated out of the Original Greek; and with the former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised and Canne’s Marginal References (New York: J. Collord, Printer, 1829).
[xi] Ibid. and transcription of stone in Shelby Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
[xii] Thomas Lynch Montgomery, editor, Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Volume III (Harrisburg Publishing Company: Harrisburg, PA, 1906), 221.
[xiii] Ibid., 212.
[xiv] Ibid,, 234.
[xv] Ibid., 253.
[xvi] Ibid., 263.
[xvii] Ibid., 268-269, 271, 274.
[xviii] Ibid., 277. 279.
[xix] Ibid., 282.
[xx] William Henry Egle, editor, Pennsylvania Archives, Third Series, Volume XXIII (Harrisburg Publishing Company: Harrisburg, PA, 1897), 372.
[xxi] Daughters of the American Revolution, Pierce’s Register, Register of the Certificates Issued by John Pierce, Esquire, Paymaster General and Commissioner of Army Accounts for the United States, to Officers and Soldiers of the Continental Army Under Act of July 4, 1783 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973), 8, 135.
[xxii] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume I: A-F (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Company, 1990), 886.

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