Dixon Wives: Mary Catherine Paul

John David Dixon married Mary Catherine Paul in Craven County April 13, 1852 with Mckinley W. H. Sumrell as bondsman (He did the same for other marriages in my family, which raises all sorts of questions about how, or even if, he connects to my Sumrells). We know that his parents were Roland Dixon and Penelope Keel, but who where hers? A couple of conversations I found at Genforum helped me answer this question. This one between Suzy Bennett and Nancy Paul, and this one: MARY CATHERINE PAUL, 1852 Craven Co. NC. She was the daughter of of Zaccheus Paul and Penelope Elinor “Nellie” Bennett.

There were, at least, four Zaccheus Pauls in Craven County during his lifetime. One of them was his daughter, Zacheus Ellen. The others were Jesse Zaccheus Paul who married Nancy Daw and his adopted son and probable nephew, Zaccheus Paul who married Henrietta “Retty” Shines. This post by Roger Kammerer at GenForum refers to these Pauls. To make matters worse, some of the probate papers of Jesse Z. Paul are mixed with those of Zaccheus, even though Jesse died September 27, 1826 and Zaccheus March 29,1838. Based on a post made by Suzy Dixon Bennett on the Paul Message Board at Ancestry.com, I believe that Jesse was Zaccheus’s brother. Their parents were Jacob B. and Cathron (or Catron, or maybe even Caton) Paul. Jacob’s parents were John and Mary Paul. Her maiden name may have been Muse.

Zaccheus Paul was born between 1795 and 1800 in Craven County. He and Nellie married June 11, 1819. She was born August 31, 1803, and named after her mother, whose maiden name is unknown. Her father was John Edward Bennett, Jr. He was born in Chowan County about 1767 and died in Craven County in 1817.  Here are his probate papers. She was their youngest child. John’s father was John Edward Bennett, Sr. All of this comes from this post by Suzy Dixon.  This one goes into more detail. Oddly, Nellie Bennett is my great-great-great-great grandmother, and her great-nephew would marry my great-great aunt on the other side of my family. Talk about tangled roots! But that is another post.

In 1830, Rowlin Dixon and Zachius Paul lived right next to each other in the portion of Craven County that would, in a few more decades, become Pamlico County. Neither John nor Mary Catherine had yet to be born. John make his appearance later on in this year, in November. Mary Catherine was born in 1833. In 1840 (36A), she was living with her mother, listed as Eleanor, and he with his parents (39A). They went to school together, according to this list of 1841 of Craven County School Children. District 21. We’ll be coming back to this district in future posts. According to the 1850 census (Page 368A), Catherine, aged 18, was still living with her mother, this time listed as Ellen Paul. John can be found on page 350A. His father is listed, for some unknown reason, as Robert, and his younger brother, another Roland, as Robin.

On June 16, 1860, John and Catherine were living on the North Side of the Neuse River in Craven County, according to the 1860 census (page 191) with their daughters Clarica and Caroline.


Edward Bryan hadn’t been born yet. He makes his first census appearance, as Bryan, in 1870. This is one of those confusing times that Mary Catherine is listed as Mary.


In 1880, in what had now become Pamlico County, we find that Clarica has become a widow. She and her daughter, Ella Tingle, live with John and Cathrine.


Incidentally, we find Elen Paul, now 76, living with her daughter Zacheus Ellen and son-in-law, Isaac Pipkin.


She died October 26, 1886. I have yet to find any record of the census year 1890. Mary Catherine Paul Dixon died April 7, 1892 according to her tombstone in this Census of Pamlico County Cemeteries done in 1939. She, as well as her husband and many other members of my family, are buried in the Dixon Cemetery. I also learned from this list that Edward and Nancy had two more children I’d known nothing about.

John went on to marry Henrietta, widow of Alexander Foy, March 8, 1893. Her maiden name was Gaskins. She’d given her first husband 5 children, one of which, Nellie Ann, became Edward Bryan Dixon’s second wife. Henrietta and John produced a son together, John David Dixon, Jr. He was born October 26, 1894, according to his death record. John, Sr. died July 7, 1896. There are, actually, three sets of probate papers for him. The first and second are both dated 1896, but one’s in Craven County, the other in Pamlico County. The third set of papers is dated 1907, and, largely, deal with Henrietta’s guardianship of John Jr. Henrietta, incidentally, went on to marry Clifford Simpson November 1, 1899.

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