26 November 2017

The Payne Family : Part of the Merry Group

Back in 2016 I wrote a Mystery Photo post, "The Mystery of the Merry Group," where I pondered the possible identity of a group of people who appeared in some photos that all seemed to have been taken at the same event. The older lady in the group looked a bit like my great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Klein (Dixon) Payne, and the older gentleman certainly resembled her second husband, Thomas Payne. But I wasn't sure, and I had no clue who the other people were.

In recent months I've been in contact with three people who are connected with the Payne family in one way or another. Last week the granddaughter of Thomas Payne, Jr. contacted me. She was able to identify some of the people in these pictures. In fact, she wrote that she has a photo taken on that same day.

My step-cousin said that the photos were taken at Thomas Payne, Sr.'s farm in Massachusetts. I never knew he had a farm in Massachusetts! She also commented that he was very well-off and that at one time he owned a restaurant in New Jersey, and that my Great-grandmother, who she called Mrs. Dixon, ran the kitchen. [I've done some  preliminary research on the restaurant and will report on that eventually.]

So, a photo mystery gets closer to being solved, and I've got more fun things to research.

Here are the photos in question. My Great-grandmother died in 1938 at the age of 70. Andrew was born in 1905, and Thomas was born in 1910 and I would say that they look in these photos like they could be in their mid- to late-twenties. I'm going to guess that this was taken some time in the mid-1930's.

As far as I know, these are the only photos I have of my Great-grandmother that were taken after her marriage to Thomas Payne in 1927. According to my source, Great-grandmother raised Thomas, Jr. and he called her "Mother," and she remembers her father talking about my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, and his sister, Hazel. They would have all been children in the combined Dixon/Payne household at the same time.

Members of the family of Thomas Payne and Mary E. Klein (Dixon) Payne gather at the Payne farm in Massachusetts. c. mid-1930's. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Standing, from left: unknown; Mrs. Thomas Payne, Jr.; unknown; unknown; Andrew Payne; Mary E. (Klein Dixon) Payne.
Kneeling, from left: unknown; unknown; a dog; Thomas Payne, Jr.

I don't know who the fellow in the white shirt, standing third from the left, is but every time I see him in a photo I think "he sure looks like a Dixon!" He's in a good number of photos that I have with the woman standing on the far left, also unidentified.

Members of Thomas Payne, Senior's family, at his farm in Massachusetts. c. mid-1930's. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
From left: Thomas Payne, Jr.; Andrew Payne; unknown; unknown;
Mary E. (Klein Dixon) Payne; Thomas Payne, Senior.
And the dog.

Thomas and Mary E. Klein (Dixon) Payne, Senior, with members of the Payne family. c. mid-1930's, Payne farm in Massachusetts.
From left: Thomas Payne, Jr.; Andrew Payne; unknown; unknown;
Mary E. (Klein Dixon) Payne; Thomas Payne, Senior.
Thomas Payne also had a daughter named Mary, from his first marriage, and I wonder if the young woman in this photo might be her. And then there's that Dixon-looking fellow in the back again! Who are you?!?
Andrew Payne, b. 1905. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Andrew Payne
Unidentified. Taken at Thomas Payne, Senior's farm in Massachusetts some time inthe mid-1930's. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Still unidentified

 As always, if you recognize anyone in these photos, I'd love to hear from you!


Private E-mail correspondance with descendant of Thomas Payne.

All photos from Wallace B. Dixon Collection, privately held by the author. 

12 November 2017

Missing Records : John Dixon in the Civil War

Yours truly A Lincoln
Well, howdy friends. Have you ever been this close to  solving a family history mystery only to be thwarted by a missing or misplaced document or file? I sincerely hope not, because I'm here to tell you that it is great big no fun.

Here's the situation. My great-great-grandfather, John Dixon (b.abt. 1837, d. after 1917) was a veteran of the Civil War. He enlisted in 1861 and deserted two month after he mustered in. [He was later pardoned and served with his regiment through the end of the war.] I have a theory that he deserted because his wife, Isabel was either having trouble with her pregnancy, or their infant children (I believe she gave birth to twins) were not doing well. I had hoped to find his Court Martial files with the case notes to discover what reason he gave for deserting the Army.

Natually, I turned to Debbie Hadley of Bring Out Yer Dead, who does research for me in New Jersey. She was going to be spending some time at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and agreed to dig up the court martial case file for me.

The Good, the Bad, and the Letter from Abraham Lincoln 


The good news : Debbie did find a file relating to my John Dixon.

The bad news : the transcript of the trial was missing.

The good news : there was some useful information in the file, including the name of the officer who requested John's pardon and return to duty. There were also a lot of notes about where the files had been sent. They got around a bit and the clerks dutifully noted the particulars.

The bad news : There was no mention of the final resting place of the file. They don't appear to be at the National Archives. Which means they could be in any number of places, or they may no longer exist. Vexing.

And then there's the letter from Abraham Lincoln. Naturally, it's not addressed to or written about John Dixon, though his case is mentioned in some of the notes written on the letter. The letter itself concerns one Joshua Francis Noble. It appears Joshua deserted at the same time as John, from the same regiment, was court martialed and sentenced at the same time, and also had a pardon requested by the same officer as John. The letter is President Lincoln's inquiry into the status of Joshua Noble's case on behalf of Joshua's wife. The poor man had been sentenced to prison in the Tortugas, and although the pardon was approved, the paperwork was misplaced. Eventually he got sorted out and returned to his regiment.

Here's the President's letter. You can click on the image to make it larger.

Dear Judge Advocate General, where in the world is Joshua Noble?
His wife would like to know.
Yours truly, A. Lincoln (1)

Here's the response from the Judge Advocate General, and a sideways note from Mr. Lincoln. Ditto with the click to enlarge.

Dear Mr. President, I have no clue. The War Department mislaid the file.
We did sort out that John Dixon fellow.
Illegibly, Judge Adv. General. (1)

And here are the notes written on the back of the paper. Ditto, click, enlarge.

Summary of the cases of Dixon and Noble, with mysterious clerical notations. (1)

If you have any suggestions on where one would look for the missing court transcripts, please leave a comment or send me a note.

I'll be writing more about John Dixon soon, and will also put a transcript of the documents that were in the file up here on the blog.

Source Citation

1. Court martial case file, 1863-1865; John Dixon and Joshua F. Noble, File NN98; Court Martial Case Files 1809-1894; Record Group 153: Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army); National Archives and Record Administration, Washington, D.C.