Dixon Wives: Lydia Caton

Lydia Caton was probably born sometime around 1766 to John Caton and his wife Mary Ball, as per this post by Gean Gray Caton Nelson. Mary was, herself, the daughter of James Ball and Catrin. We know this because James Ball left what appears to be a partial will in Craven County, undated and unsigned. In it he leaves his grandson, William Caton, “son of John Caton and Mary my daughter,” a cow and calf. James’ father also left a will, but in Carteret County. An abstract of this will appears in Grimes’ Abstracts of North Carolina Wills on the bottom of page 15. For some reason he’s listed as John Ball.

Ball, John.             Carteret County
November 10, 1749. December Court 1749.
Sons: NATHAN (“houses and plantation whereon I now live”), STEPHEN (159 acres land on “west side of Brice’s plantation”), JAMES (150 acres land “adjoining plantation whereon I now live”). Daughters: SARAH BALL, RACHEL BALL. Wife: MAGDALENE BALL. Executors: MAGDALENE BALL (wife) and SAMUEL NOBLE. Witnesses: DAVID TURNER, FRANCES EGLETON, REBECCA TURNER. Clerk of the Court: GEO. READ.

There is a folder labeled James Ball (1750) in North Carolina Estate Files – Carteret County at FamilySearch.org. All it contains is an undated inventory of his estate returned during the June term, 1850.

John Caton was born circa 1735 in Princess Anne County, Virginia, and was the son of William Caton. Both he and his father are listed as being part of Cason Brinson Sr.’s Company on a muster roll dated October 15, 1753. John, along with his brothers William, Solomon, and Moses, are all listed on the Craven County 1769 Tax List, each with one white male and no slaves, but for whatever reason, John is missing from the 1770 Tax List. The 1790 Federal Census (second column), shows John Caton living between John Arnold and Jesse Holten with:

  • 2 Free White Males of 16 or more
  • 1 Free White Male under 16
  • 2 Free White Females
  • 0 Other Free Persons
  • 0 Slaves

I wonder who the second female was. Lydia was already married. William Dixon and Charles Harrington purchased a marriage bond for William to marry her March 8, 1786. They were a bit tardy in making it official.  Roland, their oldest son, was born January 24, 1786.

William was most likely the son of Chosewell Dixon and his wife Mary, maiden name unknown. Most genealogies have William’s being born between 1765 and 1770, but I contend that he was born no later than 1756, probably earlier. In Beaufort County Court Minutes, September Term, 1756 a stock mark was granted William Dixon, son of Chosewell Dixon. Chosewell appears on the 1755 List of Taxables Beaufort County, NC. You had to be at least 16 in order to be taxable, and the fact that Chosewell has his own household means that he was probably married. If William was one of the three white males in Choswell’s household on the 1769 List of Taxables and Carriage Wheels in Craven County, then the latest he could have been born is 1753.

William Dixon was appointed an Executor in the will of Joshua Cutherell, dated January 6, 1781. His future father-in-law, John Caton, was a witness thereto.  The will was proven in Court in March of that year.  Joshua’s three children were bound out September 14, 1782:  Ann to Abraham Vendrick “in the business of spinning and weaving”, Daniel to Amos Squires as a turner, and Roger to Chosewell Dickson as a cooper.

In 1790, William and Lydia live a few houses away from John Caton, between John Daw and Barry Holton.

  • 2 Free White Males of 16 or more
  • 2 Free White Males under 16
  • 1 Free White Female
  • 0 Other Free Persons
  • 1 Slave

This would be William, Lydia, and their two sons, Roland and William, Jr. Who is the other man of or over 16? I think it’s probably William’s father, Chosewell. He is not listed on the census under his own name, so he almost certainly must be living with one of his children. We know he’s still alive because his Estate was probated in December of 1816.

In 1793, William witnessed a sale of some land:  William Caton, Jr. bought 100 acres from his father, and William’s father-in-law, John Caton for 20 pounds on June 5.

Sometime in early 1797, William died, leaving Lydia a widow. The Inventory of his Estate was taken April 20 of that year by Lydia Dixon and is returned during the September term of the Craven County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. There, on September 13, she, her brother William Caton and Benjamin Brinson paid an administrator bond of 300 pounds.

In 1800, Lydia Dickson lives between Solomon Caton and William Dawe, with:

  • 2 Free White Males of 10 to under 16
  • 3 Free White Females under 10
  • 1 Free White Female Between 26 and 45
  • 0 Other Free Persons
  • 0 Slaves

The males are, most likely, Roland, who was 14, and young William.  And, of course, the adult female was Lydia herself.  Her three daughters, assuming that’s who they were, were all under 10.  I’ve, occasionally, seen other sons listed for Lydia and her William, but the census data just doesn’t support that.

The children I have for William and Lydia Caton Dixon are:

  • Roland Chosewell Dixon b. Jan 24 1786, d. Nov 26 1864 married Penelope Keel Jul 6 1813
  • William Dixon, Jr. b. abt. 1788 (before 1790, at least)
  • Sarah “Sally” Dixon b. abt. 1791
  • Mary Dixon b. abt. 1793 (Apr 15 1792 is the date given in the Caton genealogy I’ve been referencing)
  • Clarissa Dixon b. abt. 1795 married William Simpkins 24 Aug 1818

The 1810 census for Craven County has been lost, but there is a tax list for the year 1815. Lydia is not listed, but her son, Roland, is listed in Captain William B. Perkins’ District with 50 acres of land valued at $50. She’s also not listed in 1820.

I think that Lydia’s daughter Mary is probably the Mary Dixon who married James Martin August 2, 1815.  This is based solely on the fact that James had acted as bondsman for Mary’s brother Roland in 1813.


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