01 September 2016

Looking for the Payne Family

Thomas Payne.
Second husband of Mary E. (Klein)(Dixon)
Cropped from original photo.
Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.

Ah, Thomas Payne. My step-great-grandfather is present in so much of my research, and yet he and his family remain strangely elusive. I've been spending some time focusing on the Payne family in the hopes of tracking down some descendants since I think I might have some photos that could be of the Payne clan.

If you happen to be a descendant or relative of Thomas Payne, please, please, please, get in touch!

Boarder, Husband, Step-Father

I can recall my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, talking about his step-brothers, though I don't recall that he ever mentioned them by name. Some of his stories involved the making of "bathtub gin," but I'm a little fuzzy on those details. And I remember my mother telling me about the house her grandmother [Mary Elizabeth (Klein) (Dixon) Payne] and Mr. Payne lived in, and how grand a place it was. Other than that, my personal knowledge is scanty.

At least I know what Thomas Payne looked like. How lucky I am to have a great portrait of he and my great-grandmother. The photo above is cropped from that image.

The story of Thomas Payne and the Dixon family is, at least partially, told through U.S. Census records.

1900 (1) - Thomas Payne, single, age 25 [b. March 1875 in this record] is living with the family of William A. and Mary E. (Klein) Dixon and their five children at 10 Fifth Street, Elizabeth, NJ. Thomas is working as an oyster dredger. At this time William A. Dixon has given up oystering as a profession and is working in a carpenter shop. However, his fifteen-year-old son, Willie, is working as an oyster culler. I can't be positive, but it seems likely that it was oysters that brought the Dixons and Thomas Payne together.

1910 - The Dixon family is missing from the U.S. Census for Elizabeth, NJ. At least I haven't been able to locate them!

1920 (2) - Thomas Payne is once again a boarder, this time in a household headed by Mary E. "Dickson" [Dixon] at 159 West Grand Street, Elizabeth. Mary lists herself as a boarding mistress working at home and on her own account. She is also listed as a widow. William A. Dixon is not in the household. [He doesn't die until 1927!] Thomas's age is listed as 39, which would be impossible if he was 25 in the 1900 census. The census taker records him as married, working as a dock builder for a contracting business. Also boarding in the household is Thomas Payne, age 9. I presume this is "our" Thomas Payne's son. Also living in the household are Mary's children, Thomas, Wallace [my grandfather], and Hazel, as well as two male and one female boarders. It must have been a big house!

1930 (3) - Thomas Payne is now head of the household at 125 West Grand Street. Mary E. is his wife. His age is given as 59, which makes him 20 years older than he was in 1920.  Mary's age is 62. I won't get into her numerous age issues here. Living in the household is Mary's youngest daughter, Hazel, who is listed with the surname Payne. Thomas's brother, John, is also there, as well as Mary's 93 year old father, John Klein. A very multi-generational household!

My great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Klein) (Dixon) Payne dies on 3 October 1938 (4), and I loose track of Thomas after that. He's not in the 1940 U.S. Census for Elizabeth, NJ, so I assume he either died or moved elsewhere.

Questions, questions, and more questions!

  • When did Thomas go off and get married the first time? Who was his wife, and did they have any other children? My grandfather spoke of stepbrothers, plural, so Thomas must have had more than one son.
  • When did William A. Dixon leave the picture and why?
  • Where did Thomas Payne go after my grandmother died?
  • What became of Thomas Payne's children?


(1) 1900 U.S. Census, Union County, New Jersey, population schedule, 5th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 102, Sheet Number 7, dwelling 83, family 180, William A. Dixon; digital image, downloaded 5 march 2015, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 5 March 2015); United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

(2) "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4YG-CQK : accessed 15 February 2016), Mary E Dickson, Elizabeth City Ward 10, Union, New Jersey, United States; citing sheet 10A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,821,070.  

(3) "United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4F1-D1T : accessed 15 February 2016), Thomas Payne, 1930. ED 61, sheet 7B; household 166. Citing The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. GS Film Number 2341121, digital folder 004951973, image number 00896. 

(4) Mary E. Payne, death certificate. New Jersey Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Trenton. NJSA microfilm roll 827 (Death Certificates 1938: Nason – Poz), organized alphabetically by surname. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

No comments:

Post a Comment