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George Bell Dodson
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Birth: Nov. 14, 1863
Newton County
Arkansas, USA
Death: Jan. 26, 1944
Bryan County
Oklahoma, USA

George's parents were:
William Steven Dotson (1842 - 1889)
Mary Woodward Dotson (1840 - 1876)

George, their only child, was born and raised in Limestone Valley. He grew up admiring his Uncle Thomas Dotson and named his first son, William Henry Thomas Edward Dodson.

George will always be remembered in the hearts of those who knew him. He will always be held in high esteem by those who have learned about his life since his passing. A plain headstone serves to mark his walk in life. If this simple stone could speak it would praise this gentle and modest man, who brought so much honor to the Dodson name.

Considering the resources available in those times, he received a good education, probably from a subscription school. According to some sources, George studied medicine and used these skills on a very limited basis. Being a quiet man, he seldom talked much about his past, so there are few glimpses into his life as a young man.

One of George's granddaughters remembered a story about when "Grandpa George" was in a party traveling by horseback on a trail in Arkansas. It is thought the others could have been his father, William, and his grandfather, Edmond. They were carrying some bars of silver and were alarmed when it became evident they were being followed. They didn't know who it could be, but were afraid it was robbers or Indians. Just to be safe, they stopped and buried the silver by a small tree, where they could return for it later. When they returned, they were unable to find the spot.

Many years later, Jessie, one of George's daughters, and her husband tried searching the area, using his directions. This effort, as well as many others, never uncovered the treasure. As far as anyone knows, it has never been found and is probably still there to this day.

Growing up in this area, mountain music was part of one's blood. Whether singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, almost everyone had some kind of musical bent. This was especially true of George. By the time he was a young man, he was well known for his talent with a fiddle. In this capacity, he was often called upon to play at different functions in the valley.

It was on one of these occasions that George met Cynthia (Vance) Preston who was dancing while George was playing his fiddle. She was impressed by this young man who could "make a fiddle talk." Likewise, he was captivated by the beauty and personality of this young widow.

On February 20, 1889, George and Cynthia crossed the Big Piney in a canoe and were married in a church in Fort Douglas. Justice of the Peace,J.L. Reynolds, performed the wedding. She had five children from her first marriage to John Preston: Sarah Ellen, Smith, Dora, Walter, & Mary.

Only a small portion of their farm was suitable for crops, the portion bordering the Big Piney. This part of the property had rich fertile soil and produced abundant corn crops. However, the Big Piney often flooded, and the crop was always in danger of being damaged or destroyed. From the back of this narrow band of flat land, the heavily wooded terrain rose steeply from an elevation of 800 feet at the river, to over 1400 feet at the top of the hill. The southern side of the farm then sloped down to include part of Looper Hollow.

During 1889, the first year that Cynthia and George were married, the Big Piney flooded their property and caused them to lose their corn crop. Times were hard and food was scarce, so George worked at the Vance Grist mill for two weeks to help pay for the meal and flour they needed.

Their first son, William Henry Thomas Edward Dodson was born on November 19, 1889. He was named William Henry, in honor of one of Cynthia's older brothers, and Thomas Edward, in honor of George's uncle, whom he had grown up with. Their second son, James Calvin, arrived on January 27, 1892, and was named after Cynthia's other older brother.
Both sons were delivered by Mahala (Woodward) Curtis, George's cousin.

By the early 1890's, conditions were getting bad in Arkansas. The economy was poor, and they were barely getting by on the farm. On February 20, 1893, they sold their 160 acre farm, to James Stone for $350. Soon afterward, they loaded two covered wagons with their possessions. Traveling by wagon from Big Piney to Stony Point, Collin County, Texas, was a long and exhausting trip.

George worked share cropping & almost saved up enough money for a down payment on their own farm with a modest home. It was located south of Altoga, a little agricultural town, about 10 miles northeast of McKinney. George signed a contract on July 4, 1895. With the help of Cynthia's brother, James Calvin Vance, they bought the property.

While in Altoga, George & Cynthia had four more children: Archie (who died young), Cora, Millie, & Jessie.

On November 9, 1917, George and his step-son, Walter Preston, bought land in Yarnaby, OK, for $15,000, some of it bordering the Red River, and divided the acreage up equally between them.

George often enjoyed walking along his banks of the Red River. The river was fickle and changed with the seasons, all of which affected him in various degrees. In the summer, it could be low enough to be tempting to walk across on exposed sandbars. On rare occasions in winter, it was frozen solid enough to support a wagon and team of horses. There were times when the river swept tumbling ice along its path. Changes along the shoreline sometimes occurred during a flood. One time, during an especially turbulent flood, about 40 acres of their land broke off, and was swept down the river. Trees, that George had planned to cut and sell, were on the acreage that was swept away. Fortunately his sawmill, which was on safer ground, was saved; however, since most of his trees were lost, he subsequently sold it to a family in Kemp.

Hoping to add to their income, George decided to build a ferry to assist his neighbors in crossing the Red River. Tom Shindler, his son-in-law, helped build the ferry.

Eventually, George & Cynthia, in their seventies, moved to Achille. The morning of January 26, 1944, was a cold, stormy and rainy day when George had a stroke. He died later that evening at 10:20 p.m.

Many friends and relatives attended his funeral, which was held on the 28th of January at the Christian Church in Achille, with Reverend Gray Carter officiating. George had lived to be 80 years, 2 months and 11 days. The family doctor, Dr. Bollinger, attributed his death to "old age."

No one remembers the details of his funeral. One of his longtime friends also played a fiddle, and they had promised each other whoever remained would play at the other's funeral. However, George's friend had died some years earlier, and he honored their agreement by playing then. He said it was the hardest thing he had ever done, and he was glad his friend had been spared this sorrow.

Edited from my book, "Dodson, One Family's Journey," July 1999.
Family links: 
  William Steven Dotson (1842 - 1889)
  Mary Woodward Dodson (1840 - 1876)
  Cynthia Caroline Vance Dodson (1859 - 1956)*
  William Henry Thomas Edward Dodson (1889 - 1965)*
  James Calvin Dodson (1892 - 1961)*
  Archie Dodson (1895 - 1898)*
  Cora Bell Dodson Sinor (1897 - 1947)*
  Millie Melissa Dodson Shindler (1899 - 1952)*
  Jessie Elizabeth Dodson Graham (1902 - 1992)*
*Calculated relationship
Rosewood Cemetery
Bryan County
Oklahoma, USA
Plot: Section 4, Row 18
Created by: Virginia Brown
Record added: Mar 21, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35055122
George Bell Dodson
Added by: Virginia Brown
George Bell Dodson
Added by: Shelli R. Bailey nee Whitsitt
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- Virginia Brown
 Added: Aug. 18, 2015

- Virginia Brown
 Added: Mar. 21, 2015

 Added: Aug. 18, 2014
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