Dickson Family of Petersburg Virginia

Little is known about the family of Jane Dickson of Petersburg, VA.  Her granddaughter Annabella McNair remembers her grandmother as having been an orphan raised in the home of her wealthy maternal uncle.  Jane was of the Episcopal faith, of English extraction and professed to be a descendant of Pocahontas.  He mother's maiden name was Harrison.

We don't know how Neill Little of Robeson Co, NC met Jane Dickson of Petersburg, VA.  We only know that in July 1791 he sold his Robeson Co, NC household possessions and deemed himself to be of Dinwiddie Co, VA.   If the 1789 birth year of his daughter Jennett can be considered correct, his Petersburg sojourn began several years prior to that time.

Neill Little died in Petersburg, VA.  His two young daughters by Jane Dickson were brought to North Carolina by their paternal Uncle-In-Law Duncan McFarland.  Jane remained in Petersburg until her daughter Jennett Little married her uncle's half brother Rev. Malcom McNair.  Jane was then brought to Cowper Hill, North Carolina to live with the new family.  She often spoke of her life in Petersburg, VA and wished that she could return.

Allegations surfaced over the years about whether Neill Little had actually married Jane Dickson.  The gossip was brought to the surface in a 1840 - 1843 legal battle over the estate of John P Little, a child of Neill Little with his first wife.  That lawsuit has provided many of the details currently known.

This researcher would appreciate contact with anyone having knowledge of the Dickson / Harrison families of Petersburg, VA.

From a letter by Anna Belle McNair to her nieces & nephews:

"Copied from the Original"
I am often asked by my nephews and nieces to tell them something about their ancestors, and also relatives who are now living. My knowledge of them is very imperfect but the little I know myself and what I can ascertain from others I will write down for their benifit hoping it may give them as much pleasure to read it as it is to write.

Your grandpa was a great man and one of the most talented ministers of his day, was for twenty years Pastor of Centre, Ashpole, Laurel Hill and Red Bluff, was born 26th August 1776 and died on the 4th August 1822 and was buried at Laurel Hill which was then the home of his nephew Tryam McFarland and one of his own Churches. He married your grandma who was a native of Petersburg, Va. and was then living at Laurel Hill the home of his half-brother Duncan McFarland, and her Uncle by marriage in 1809. I cannot tell much about my Grandma's relatives. She left Petersburg when only twelve years of age. I used to sit for hours when a child and hear her and my grandma tell about Petersburg and their friends there but I have forgotten it now. Her mother's maiden name was Harrison. She was an Orphan and was raised by her Uncle by the name of Harrison who was wealthy but had a large family so she did not inherit any of his wealth but I remember hearing her speak of style in which her uncle lived. She was of English extraction and was a member of the Church of England as she called -- Episcopal -- She used to say that she was a descendant of the great Indian Queen Pocahontas. She was a distant relative of Rev. Daniel Baker who was a great Revivalist and passed through this country some forty-five or fifty years ago, and stayed at John R. Buie's and in the course of conversation spoke of the Harrisons' as his relatives. Cousin Margaret Buie told him of your grandma and where she was living and he said he was sorry he did not have time to call on her as she was his relative. Your grandpa sent for grandma after he married but she never was satisfied and always wanted to go back to Petersburg. She was one of the nicest Old ladies I ever saw. I can remember her so well although she died when I was a child at the age of 68. Grandpa was a widower with two children when he went to Petersburg and married grandma. The children were Aunt Katie Wilkinson -- Polly Wilkinson's mother -- and Uncle John Little who died many years ago. Grandpa had no brother but four sisters. His sisters were Aunt Molly McFarland -- Uncle Duncan's wife -- and Jennet Alford -- Uncle Marrow's wife -- and for whom your grandma was named, Aunt Effie McNair -- Judge McNair's mother died in Brook Haven, Mississippi some years ago, and Aunt Barbara Cade. Grandpa had but two children after he married grandma, that was your grandma and Aunt Margaret Surles, you have all heard of her. Grandpa's name was Neill Little. He died and was buried in Petersburg, Va.

And now my pen is worn out and I am very tired. I have told you all I can recollect. You have often asked how you were kin to McFarlands, Alford, Buies of Philidelphus, and now you can see for yourself and if it will afford any satisfaction for which it was written will be answered.
You Aunt Belle

State of North Caroline Robeson County
Jennet McNair vs Catherine Wilkinson
State of Mississippi Covington County SS
Be it remembered that on this tenth day of February AD Eighteen hundred and forty three at Williamsburg in said county and state last aforesaid before us Gilbert D. Gere and William Worthy two of the Justices of Assigned to keep the peace in and for the county of Covington & state last aforesaid came Effy McNair and she being duly sworn to the following interrogatories testified as follows. Each of said interogatories as a witness in the above entitled case.
Interogatories 1st: What is your age
Answer: I was sixty eight years old last August
Interogatory 2: Were you acquainted with Neill Little Decd who it is said died in Petersburg Virginia several years since?
Answer: I was
Interogatory 3: Were you related to said Neill Little & if so in what way were you related to him?
Answer: I was related to him - he was my brother.
Interogatory 4: Did you ever hear that said Neill Little was living with Jane Dickson the mother of the present plaintiff without being legally married to her?
Answer: I heard so once
Interogatory 5: Did not Duncan McEachin write a letter to said Neill Little asking of him to state the truth or falsehood of said charge - State what was sd Little's reply?
Answer: Said Duncan McEachin did not write of to said Neil Little. But Neill Little wrote to Jannet Little his sister.
Interogatory 6th: Did you ever see said letter. If so what did said letter state relative to his marriage with Jane Dickson & what became of said letter?
Answer: I have seen said letter and read it. It stated that he said Neill Little was married legally to said Jane Dickson & that if ever he was married to his first wife he was to his last. Said letter was burnt when Duncan McEachin's house was burnt.
Interogatory 7th: Do you not know that Duncan McFarland decd late of Laurel Hill N. Car. went to Petersburg Virginia some time after the death of said Neill Little & brought from thence his two daughters Jennet McNair the present plaintiff & her sister Margaret?
Answer: I do.
Interogatory 8th: Did not those children pass in the family of said McFarland & among the relatives of said Neill Little as the lawful children of said Neill Little. State fully all you know about it?
Answer: Said children were always regarded as the children of said Neill Little by all the relatives of said Neill Little and as his lawful and legitimate children and I never knew it to be directly disputed and only indirectly once by one person who recently said that "her husband did not think that Neill Little was married to said Jane Dickson." This is all I know of my own knowledge about this matter.
Effy McNair
And as the said Justices do hereby certify that as have fully examined said Effy McNair as to what or such things as she knows in relation to said suit as will on the part of the plaintiff as of the defendant and have caused her to sign her name to the same.
In witness whereof as hereunto sign our hands and seals at Williamsburg aforesaid on this 10th February AD 1843 of Independence the 67th. Gilbert C. Gere, William Worthy

State of North Carolina Richmond County
Pursuant to the annexed complaint to and directed of the House of William W. McFarland at Laurel Hill in the County & State aforesaid on the 25th day of March 1843. Arcd J McKay agent for the Plaintiff, being pursuant the proscodend to take the following depositions of Barbara Cade, William McFarland & John R. Buie who having been sworn in due form if having to depose the truth the whole truth & nothing but the truth between the said parties have I in this commission depaonth & said as follows:
Question 1th by Plaintiff agt A. J. McKay to Barbara Cade - Are you acquainted with the Parties to this Writ - Answer: I am.
Question 2nd by Same - How old are you?
Answer: I believe I am Sixty Two Years of age.
Question 3rd: Were you acquainted with Neill Little who it is said died in Petersburg Va. Answer - I was when I was Small
Question 4th: Were you related to said Little & if so in what way -
Answer: He was my brother.
Question 5th: Do you or do you not know that Duncan MacFarland of this place went to Petersburg, Va. & brought home with him after the death of said Little his Two daughters Jennet & Margaret Little?
Answer: He brought home with him the Two Girls ? & they were called Neill Littles children.
Question 6th: Were they or were they not treated in this family of said MacFarland as the Lawful children of Neill Little?
Answer: As far as I know they were further thing deponent Said Not.
Signed: Barbara Cade

Questions by same to William McLeod. You are acquainted with the Parties to this Write. Answer: Yes
Question 2nd: What is your age
Answer: Upwards of Sixty Years
Question 3rd: Were you related or connected with Duncan MacFarland decd. who lived at this place & if so in what being.
Answer: I was married to a daughter of said McFarland
Question 4th: Do you or do you not know that said Duncan McFarland went to Petersburg Va & brought home with him two little girls viz Jennet & Margaret Little the reported daughters of Neil Little his brother in Law.
Answer: I understood he did.
Question 5th: Do you or do you not know that said children were always treated in the family of said McFarland & by the relations of said Neil Little as the legitimate & lawful children of said Neil Little?
Answer: I think they were.
Question 6th: Did you ever see the reported mother of said children Jennet & Margaret Little in Petersburg VA
Answer: In March 1809 I had occasion to pass through Petersburg & I was ugusted by same adm of Neill Little citation to deliver a message or letter to Mrs. Little who an enquiry I soon found & she her called Mrs. Little by way person of Whom I enquired she asking particularly about her Two daughters Jennet & Margaret Little which had been brought and here by Duncan MacFarland and further this deponent Said Not. Signed: Wm McLeod

Questions to John R. Buie by Same
1th: How old are You
Answer: Fifty Gross of age last Jany
Question 2nd: Are you acquainted with these parties to this Writ. Answer: Yes
Question 3rd: Were you acquainted with Duncan MacFarland Decd who lived at this place. Answer: I saw him several times during his life.
Question 4th. Did you or did you not see said Duncan MacFarland pass through Cumberland when on his way home with two little girls he represented to be the daughters of his brother in law Neil Little.
Answer: I saw him pass by my fathers who lived eighteen or nineteen miles worth of Fayetteville on the main Neile forty road going in the direction of Fayetteville with two little girls & he stated to same person at my Fathers within my hearing that said little girls were the daughters of his brother in law Neill Little - further this deponent saith not. Signed: Jn R. Buie

Petersburg, VA Dickson & Related Families

Marriage Bonds & Ministers Returns
Robert Birchett Jr. & Mary C. F. Dickson - M.B. June 6, 1827, Married June 7, 1827, Minister: Andrew Syme, Surety: John Bird

A History of Bristol Parish, Virginia
Henrietta Eliz’h Beverley m Dr. John P. Little, she died s.p. April 25, 1879. He died -
She was a daughter of Judge Nathaniel Beverly and Lucy (Smith) Tucker.
Wm Randolph of “Bristol” married _________ Little.

In October 12, 1791 Benjamin Woodward was jailed in Augusta, GA. Three men, including Robert Dixon (who knew him well) were sent from Dinwiddie County to identify him.

Land Records - Dinwiddie Co, VA
1790 - 1792: John Dixon taxed on 79 a formerly Camon Dixon
1789: Dixon Hall taxed on 400 a (charged D. Borrow) & 79a Gdn C(ameron) Hall.
1782 Land Tax: Jane Harrison - 300 acres

January 2, 1776:
Hon’ble Sir:
The committee of correspondence for Dinwiddie County beg leave to inform you that a certain Thomas Irving an inhabitant of this town is deputy post-master for Mr. Dixon that he is also an agent for Neil Jameison, who we understand is inimical to this country, and a partisan of Lord Dunmore’s. (“Dinwiddie County “The Country of the Apamatica”

08/27/2006 03:20:30 PM