Evidence for the Ancestry of David Dickinson of Leicester NY, Pomfret NY, Steuben Co NY and Clermont Co OH

I. Facts relating to David Dickinson

My ancestor Harriet Dickinson was married in 1821 to David Light; she has been linked to David and Anna (Gilbert) Dickinson of Clermont Co OH, whose family moved to that county in 1816 from Steuben Co NY.

Appearances of Our David in Western NY Records

Our David Dickinson is first clearly seen in these early NY records:

1. 1795 Ontario Co NY deed, from Elisha Gilbert. David was presumably already married to Anna. In 1790 Elisha was already in western NY, a resident of Chemung Twp, Montgomery Co NY (later Chemung Co) and by 1791 of Middlebury (later called Addison), Ontario Co NY (later Steuben Co), so it appears David must have been in that area when he met his future wife.

2. 1800 Ontario Co NY, Northampton Twp, p 322: David Dickinson, 10010/10100. Abel “Cleaveland,” who was an associate of David’s in that county and then in Chautauqua Co, was only a few pages away. David was in the 26-45 age group, i.e., born 1755-74.

3. He was probably the David Dickinson who served as an ensign in the Genesee Co NY militia in 1803. See Military minutes of the Council of Appointment of the State of New York, 1783-1821, p 692. Resolved G Wheeler in the same unit was from a CT family, not Persis Wheeler’s.

4. History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase…, by O. Turner, 1851, pp 353. Among the town officers in 1803 of the newly formed town of Leicester NY were David Dickinson and Abel “Cleavland.” Reference is made to Leicester in relation to Wyoming, Allegany and the south part of Erie. (attachment 4) Harriet (Dickinson) Light’s 1850 census gave her birthplace as Wyoming NY.

5. Pomfret, Chautauqua Co NY, in partnership with Abel Cleveland as founders of Silver Creek and earliest settlers of the area. History of Chautauqua County, New York, from its first settlement to the present time; with numerous biographical and family sketches, by Andrew W. Young, 1875, has three passages referring to David. “Abel Cleveland and David Dickinson bought where the village of Silver Creek now stands. The land was taken up in 1803 or 1804 (p 76)…” A traveler in the area stayed with the David Dickinson family. David was an innovator who brought a new kind of “corn-cracker” to the mill he built (p 89).

Other Chautauqua County books also refer to David. History of Chautauqua County, New York, by Obed Edson, 1894, on page 168, gives more details about the partnership of Abel Cleveland and David Dickinson and states that Dickinson and Cleveland were natives of Berkshire Co MA.

6. David Dickinson was first shown buying land in Steuben Co NY in 1809, as a resident of Pomfret, Niagara Co (later Chautauqua Co) NY. This deed was filed and recorded the same day as the 1795 deed.

When he sold this land in 1816, he was shown as a resident of Clermont Co OH, where he first bought land in 1819. See also WW Clayton, History of Steuben County, New York. Philadelphia: Lewis, Peck & Co, 1879, pp 138-140, 228.

7. 1810 Steuben Co NY, page 64: David “Dickerson,” 21110/31010, next door to Elisha Gilbert. Additional records demonstrate David’s relationship to the family of Elisha Gilbert. David was in the 26-45 age group, i.e., born 1765-84.

David in Western NY Records

1820 Clermont Co OH, Ohio Twp: David Dickinson, 110101/12201/3; 1830, Clermont Co OH David Dickison,[1] p 214: 000110000000/000210010000. The father is missing from this record, but was still alive.

David Dickinson made four deeds giving land to his unmarried children in 1832, in which he mentioned without giving last names Nancy and Harriet and also Jacob Light, who was Harriet’s father-in-law, and D Light, her husband. Jacob and David Light’s land, like Harriet’s, adjoined David Dickinson’s. See the Harriet Dickinson packet for the deeds and other documents that identify David’s family. Most significant for the purposes of this study is the son David W Dickinson, who was born 1800-1805 in NY and married in 1833 in Clermont Co OH. I used to wonder if his middle name might have been Wheeler, after the possible mother of David Dickinson, as explained below. I did discover that he had a grandson named David Wheeler Dickinson, as explained below.


The Absence of Other Dickinson Connections

Although other Dickinsons can be found in some proximity to our David, it has been puzzling that none appear to have had contact with him, and that there is no place for David in any of their families. These include Elias Dickinson, who moved to Phelps Twp, Ontario Co NY, with sons Cotton and Augustus, about the time David appeared some miles west of them in Leicester NY; several Dickinson families who resided in Chautauqua Co NY after David’s brief stay there; three or four sons of Arnall (or Arnold) Dickinson who came to Steuben Co NY from New Jersey after David moved to Clermont Co OH; and the families of Morgan Dickinson, William Dickson and Abner Dickeson in Clermont Co.

At least one family genealogy available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City links our David’s son David W Dickinson to a branch of the Oyster Bay family which came to Clermont Co at a later date. This book is Notes on the Dickinson family of New York, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, by Norris M. Whiston, typescript dated 1976, donated by the author to the FHL. This connection is easily discounted due to internal inconsistencies; the book states that David W Dickinson was born in 1805 and the man claimed to be his father, Townsend Dickinson, was born in 1795.


David Dickinson of Ashburnham and Shelburne MA

Studies of all Dickinson families in New England show no place for David Dickinson, born 1765-1775, in the following:

·      Descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson and his many sons, who lived in the Connecticut River valley, especially in Hatfield, Hadley, Deerfield and Amherst MA. Neither published genealogies of this family nor Dickinson Family Organization researchers place him in this group of Dickinsons. Since one Chautauqua Co NY source, #6 above,  stated David was from Berkshire Co MA, I made a point to identify all nine families from the 1790 census; he is not a son of any of them, and none of these families had any later connection to western NY. In this branch of Dickinsons there are virtually no unknown families or gaps in families and certainly no unclaimed Davids.

·      The Oyster Bay, Long Island, family, descended from John and Elizabeth (Howland) Dickinson.

·      The Southold, Long Island, family of Philemon Dickerson.

·      The Rhode Island family of Charles and Philip (Greene) Dickinson.

All of these families had branches in the Hudson River valley about the time of the Revolutionary War, but I did not find a David of the right age, who might have gone to western NY at the time ours did. I have published my Dickinson gedcom at Ancestry.com under the name “New England Dickinsons.”

Along with these families, I studied a smaller New England Dickinson group, the Rowley MA family of Thomas and Jennet (–?–) Dickinson, found in George Brainard Blodgette and Amos Everett Jewett, Early Settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts, 1981, pages 94, 95, 98. One man listed in this book, David Dickinson, bp 18 Oct 1741, is known from other sources to have had a son, David Dickinson, born in 1769, who has not been identified in records after his birth; he apparently had a stepmother and could have left home before age 21 for that reason. More significantly, he had known close family connections in Steuben Co NY and other places in western NY. No death record has been found for him.

There are indications that this David may be the same man as our David:

1. Age = Birth record. David Dickinson Sr married Persis Wheeler, 16 Jul 1767, Bolton MA, “both of Ashburnham.” Two children are listed in History of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, from the Grant of Dorchester-Canada to the Present Time, 1734-1886, with a Genealogical Register of Ashburnham Families, by Ezra R Stearns, 1887, p 681: David born 1769 and Sally born 1771. The book errs when it says Persis was the daughter of Seth Wheeler of New Ipswich [NH], when she was his sister, the oldest child of Jonas Wheeler Sr and his wife Persis Brooks. Wheeler records do not usually show Persis’s marriage or her death. Stearns says that in Ashburnham records the family used Dickinson and Dickerson about equally.

Persis’s death was recorded at Carlisle MA on 1782.

This David Dickinson Sr was a son of George Dickinson Jr and his wife Sarah Spofford, who had:

Jeremiah, b 16 Dec 1736

Daniel, b 14 Jun 1739

David, b 7 Oct 1741

Amos, b 14 Mar 1743

Francis, b 20 Sep 1746

No further records are known for Daniel and Jeremiah; Amos, David and Francis are all in later censuses. Note the existence of men named Francis in this family.

2. Proximity to Berkshire County = Family in Shelburne MA. History of Ashburnham states that David Sr moved to Shelburne MA in 1779; he actually was there as early as 1777, but no Dickinsons by any spelling were found in that town in 1790. David Jr could have gone to Berkshire Co after his mother’s death, or Shelburne might be considered as in the Berkshire mountains. Shelburne is about half a county away from the Berkshire Co line.

3. Father’s war record. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, p 740: “Dickerson, David. Receipt dated Shelburne, Sept. 22, 1777, for mileage, etc., from Shelburne to Stillwater, paid said Dickerson and others by the Selectmen of Shelburne; Capt. John Wells certifies that the men whose names appear upon the receipt went out of town with him.” David’s brother Amos is listed on pages 734, “Amos Dickason,” 735, “Amos Dickenson,” and 743, “Amos Dickinson,” all three times as a Lieutenant for Ashburnham or Worcester Co MA or with the same captain. Any references in this source for Daniel or Francis appear to be different men, from Hatfield or Hampshire Co, not David and Amos’s brothers, and there is no Jeremiah under any spelling.

This point confirms that David Dickinson Sr was in Shelburne; before finding the Stearns reference, I had been unable to place the David of this record.

4. Lack of known connections to other Dickinsons = his father’s apparent remarriage in Ashburnham. Lydia Hapgood married Abraham Munroe, 4 Apr 1775, in Harvard, Worcester Co MA. A daughter Lydia was born in 1776. According to The Hapgood Family: Descendants of Shadrach 1656-1898, by Warren Hapgood, and Genealogy of John Wetherbee of Stow and Marlboro, MA, by Ethel Wetherbee Mazza, Lydia later married David Dickinson, on 25 Feb 1784, in Ashburnham, where their two sons, Abraham and William, were born. This is the same David previously married to Persis Wheeler, since Stearns and the Hapgood-Wetherbee writers all give him the same birthdate. Stearns gives David Jr’s birth and that of his sister Sally; the other writers name Lydia’s sons.

1790 census, Harvard, Worcester Co MA: 142. Either 20-year-old David was listed as 16 and under, or he was not with the family. This household is near Lydia’s father, Shadrach Hapgood.

1800 census, Harvard, Worcester Co MA: “David Dickinson”; the father lived until 1809, although only the wife and children are listed, 02000/00010.

1810 Keene, Cheshire Co NH: Abraham Dickinson, 00100/10100; Wm Dickinson, 00200/20101. Note that Lydia is with son William here. There is a Joel Dickinson in the same town: 00101/02110; he is Joel Dickinson, who married Eunice Holton, from the Nathaniel Dickinson family—no relation.

1820 Keene, Cheshire Co NH: Lydia Dickinson: 000000/00001; Abraham Dickinson: 200010/21010; William Dickinson: 200010/12010. These names are listed together.

5. Lack of known connections to other Dickinsons = the lack of other closely related Dickinsons.  There were numerous Dickinsons in Rowley MA, since most of the family stayed in eastern Massachusetts. George Dickinson Sr and his wife, Martha Nelson, had one son, George Jr, and three daughters. This George Jr and his wife, Sarah Spofford, went to Worcester County where only three sons appear to have lived to adulthood. Amos had  one son, who died in infancy. David Dickinson Sr, as has been seen, had David Jr, Calvin, and the two half-brothers. Francis was in later Ashburnham censuses with Paul and Samuel Dickinson and may be the father of John, named in Stearns.

My conclusion here is that David Jr of Ashburnham had very few close relatives named Dickinson. Any close Dickinson relatives stayed in New England: his half-brothers moved with their mother to NH and two or three cousins stayed in Ashburnham.

6. Where was this David in 1790 and earlier? No death record for David Jr has been found in MA. David Jr may or may not have been with his father in 1790. David certainly was not with the family in 1800. By then, our David has been found in western NY.

7. Steuben Co NY and other western Wheelers. Persis (Wheeler) Dickinson had the following family, according to The Genealogical and Encyclopedic History of the Wheeler Family in America, Albert Gallatin Wheeler Jr, Boston MA, 1914: Jonas Wheeler, son of Timothy and Abigail (Munroe) Wheeler was born at Concord MA, 18 May 1720, and died at New Ipswich, New Hampshire, 1815. He was married at Concord, 13 Oct 1743, to Persis Brooks, who died in 1816, at 87 years of age. She was the daughter of Benjamin Brooks and Sarah (Heywood) Brooks. Jonas lived in the east part of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, near Hoar Pond, in 1758. Jonas’s children, all b at Concord MA:

Persis Wheeler 23 Aug 1744, m David Dickinson, d 15 Jan 1782, Carlisle MA. (above)

Jonas Wheeler 25 Jan 1746, d in Wheeler, Steuben Co NY.

Dorothy Wheeler 16 Mar 1748. She married Benjamin Prescott, 1790 Cheshire NH.

Seth Wheeler 25 May 1750, d 1822, New Ipswich NH.

Silas Wheeler March 7, 1752, d 25 Nov 1827 in Wheeler, Steuben Co NY.

Isaac Wheeler, baptized 14 Apr 1754, d 26 Feb 1833 Charleston, Tioga Co PA (just across state line from Steuben Co NY).

Amos Wheeler 28 Jul 1756, d 1839 Brookfield, Madison Co NY.

Abigail Wheeler 23 Jul 1760, m Isaac Stratton, poss 1790 Rutland VT.

Noah Wheeler, baptized 26 Jul 1763, d Hancock NH.

8. Geographical situation of this family. The Dickinson family studied here moved west in a clear trajectory ending in western NY. The Dickinsons first lived in Rowley, Essex Co MA, then one son, George Jr, moved west to Harvard and later Ashburnham MA, then one of George’s sons, David Sr, continued the western move to Shelburne MA. David Jr may or may not have returned with his father to Ashburnham before moving to western NY, where he was found in Ontario Co in 1795 and 1800, Leicester NY (present-day Livingston Co) in 1803, and Pomfret, Chautauqua Co NY in 1804.

Reasons this could be our David:

1. Age: He was born when we expect to find our David, in the right time and general area.

2. Solitary state: He was one of two known sons of his parents, and the remarriage of his father would explain his being alone and unconnected to other Dickinson families from the time he moved to western NY and after he left Steuben Co NY for Clermont Co OH. This has always been a fact for our David, the lack of other Dickinson kin nearby. When Dickinsons are located, such as Morgan Dickinson in Ohio or Arnall Dickinson, who came to Steuben Co after David left, they do not seem connected at all to our family.

3. Location: Two members of his mother’s family, uncles Jonas Jr and Silas Wheeler, died in Steuben Co NY, and another, Isaac Wheeler, died in nearby Tioga Co PA.

4. Name: Like the family of George Dickinson in Ashburnham MA, our David, especially in Steuben Co NY records, used the names Dickinson and Dickerson interchangeably and about equally.

5. The use of the name Wheeler.  About a year after I determined the David Dickinson of Ashburnham MA was the most lkely father of my David, I found a biography from Ancestry.com: Nebraska, The Land and the People, Vol. 3, which confirmed my belief that David Jr’s son, David W Dickinson may have been David Wheeler Dickinson.

My comments on this article: the statement that the family was from England has to be true, but I think they were in America long before Charles T Dickinson even knew. This Nebraska article was written ca 1925, when Charles was almost 80. The actual author of the article was either his son, a grandchild, or a local who took notes. That person seems to have done a great job with facts within Charles’s memory, but probably confused generations. David W was his father not his great-grandfather.

David W Dickinson, born either 1800 or 1805, had a brother Charles and a brother William F. The name Francis Dickinson occurs several times among the children of David Dickinson (1769-ca 1830s), but I don’t find a Daniel at all.

I can add that in my researches, I found no family with sons named David W, Charles and Daniel, ca mid-to-late 1700s. Charles Thaddeus Dickinson’s father, David W. Dickinson was about 50 when Charles was born, his own father David [Jr] had probably been dead about 30 years, and he had never known the grandfather, David Sr of Ashburnham. The Clermont Co OH family is distinctive in its lack of Connection to other branches of the Dickinson family. It is reasonable that David W Dickinson named his son Charles for his own presumed brother, and that Charles Thaddeus named his son for his own father.

6. The use of the name Francis Dickinson. David Dickinson of Clermont County, Ohio, had a son named William F, possibly Francis, and several descendants in the next two generations continued the use of this name. David W[heeler?] had a son named Francis; Harriet (Dickinson) Light named a son Charles Dickinson, presumably for her brother, and two of her sons named children Francis Dickinson Light.

I therefore conclude that my David Dickinson was David Jr; his son David W Dickinson was the third generation with this name. The W probably stands for Wheeler, as his grandson’s name confirms. My conclusion that my ancestor David Dickinson was the son of David and Persis (Wheeler) Dickinson received validation when I discovered that the name Wheeler was used among David’s descendants.

© Kathy Alvis Patterson  2008

[1] Throughout early records including marriages and censuses, the names Dickinson, Dickerson and Dickson are used interchangeably. Spellings such as Dickenson, Dickeson and Dickison are also found.


Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 10:55 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Kathy:

    Please contact me via email for a full copy of the document from which the following excerpt was taken.



    Thomas Streeter attempted to sell his “New Providence” plot early in 1798. The following advertisement
    appeared in The Bath Gazette and Genesee Advertiser on 21 December 1797 and ran each week through 1 February
    For Sale.
    The lot of Land formerly belonging to David Dickenson, four miles from the Town of Bath, in the
    County of Steuben, now in the possession of Thomas Stretor.—The land is of an excellent quality
    and situate on the Cohocton River, the road from Bath to Williamsburgh is through it. All persons
    are also, hereby forbid from cutting off any timber from the said mentioned land, those who are
    guilty may expect to be prosecuted.—The terms of sale will be made known by applying to the
    subscriber, near Judge Lindsley’s, at Coeniska.
    If Thomas Streeter did succeed in selling his farm at “New Providence” by 8 February 1798, he quickly
    purchased another nearby as evidenced by the 1800 tax assessment roll for Steuben County (see below). The interest
    in timber conservation further supports the assertion that the sawyers named by the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-
    Liancourt were the residents of “New Providence.”
    The deeds of “New Providence” to Thomas Streeter and his companions were the first ones recorded in
    Steuben County. That Thomas’ land had been previously owned by David Dickenson highlights the highly fluid nature
    of early land transactions in Williamson’s enterprise. Judge Lindsley’s was probably near or identical with the presentday
    village of Lindley, Steuben County, New York which is not far from the Cowanesque River, just across the
    Pennsylvania border. The previous owner of Thomas’ “New Providence” plot was probably identical with the David
    Dickinson who purchased land near Lindley on 20 December 1793; he bought lot #5 in township one, third range
    (OCML 1:186). This transaction was recorded under the authority of Eleazar Lindsley “one of the Judges in and for
    the County of Ontario.”

  2. This was VERY interesting Kathy for a couple of reasons.
    (1) I wonder if this David Dickinson could be related, or even the father, of my great great grandfather, Samuel Dickinson? Most family trees name Samuel as a son of Amos Dickinson and say Samuel was born in Pittstown, Rensselaer County (near Albany/Troy) in 1798, married in Addison, NY in 1820 and died there much later.
    The 1798 is correct based on every Census record I’ve found – and there are many from 1850 on. However, in the 1855 NY State Census he gave his birthplace as Genesee County, NY. Genesee being just north and a little west of Steuben County but about 200 miles west of Rensselaer County. Amos Dickinson did move west and is buried in Michigan, so it’s possible Samuel is his son and it’s just the birthplace that is wrong, but I have my doubts that “my” Samuel is his son and I feel certain he was NOT born in Rensselaer County. But, I’m stuck. When I read your post I thought, here is another Dickinson that was in the area at a very early date and Genesee County covered a very large area circa 1800 when Samuel was born.
    PS: Another weird coincidence, you mention a “Persis Wheeler.” My great grandfather John Terbell (also of Addison, Steuben County, NY) was married for a time to Eliza Ann Wheeler and were living in Hector, Potter County, PA in 1860. John was her second husband and she brought two children to the marriage. One of those children from her previous marriage was named…Persis Ella Wheeler. I thought “Persis, that’s an odd name” at the time so when I saw it in your post it caught my attention. This Persis was born about 1849 in Steuben County, NY. I found this Wheeler family living in Painted Post in Steuben County in the 1850 Census. Strange.

    • Wow! It certainly looks interesting. I recently succeeded in obtaining DAR Patriot Ancestor standing for David’s father-in-law, Elisha Gilbert. That ended up requiring over 300 pages of documentation. See https://alvispat.wordpress.com/gilbert-elisha-evidence-for-the-connection-to-his-granddaughter-harriet-dickinson-light/
      A significant part of that case study was identifying the eight assumed children of David and Anna (Gilbert) Dickinson, based on deeds, censuses, and residence in Clermont Co OH and Louisa Co IA.
      There was actually an extra male in David’s 1810 census and no evidence that son Charles was born before 1800.
      I will try over the weekend to see what I can turn up in my files.

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