Monday, March 12, 2012

Tracing William Henry Dollar


My 4th great grandfather, William Henry Dollar, began his live near the Eno River, Orange Co., NC.  He was the son of William Dollar b. 1762-1764 Orange Co., NC d. aft 10/11/1850 and Mary Wilson b. abt 1771 d. bet 1840-1850.  I am fairly sure that I don’t have a complete list of his siblings nor do I have as is apparent exact dates of his parent’s births or deaths.  The only exact date I have on them is their marriage on 25 Aug 1789 in Orange Co., NC.

The Dollar family had probably only been in North Carolina for one generation probably following the Revolutionary War where William served as a Blacksmith.  He was drafted in 1780 and probably served with his brother Elijah.  I believe that William Henry Dollar must have been he and Mary Wilson’s youngest son as she would have been around 40 when he was born.  The next record occurs when he marries Mary Jane “Jennie” Sparks on 22 May 1838 in Orange Co., NC.  I have no exact date on the birth of their oldest child, Alexander Monroe Dollar, but his death record says that he was born in Aug 1838.  It isn’t quite clear if he was born in Orange Co., NC or Ashe Co., NC but I would estimate that he was probably born in Orange Co., NC.  As a much younger son, William Henry Dollar probably had no choice but to move on to somewhere else to find a better opportunity.  I’ve heard the story related that William Henry Dollar and his small family traveled by wagon looking for a new place to live and ended up in Ashe Co., NC. 
The William Henry Dollar homestead - later owned by his son James Madison Dollar.  (Picture from Loretta Gentry)


Copy of Marriage Record between William Henry Dollar and Jane Sparks.  (Copy from Richard Tucker)
I have often wondered about the ancestry of Jennie Sparks…I’ve also wondered what her name is exactly.  I have seen it has Jennie, Mary Jane or Jane…most commonly as Jennie Sparks.  Sometimes the individuals listed on the marriage bond have something to do with the couple…but I’ve never found anything on W. McCauley or George Browning or the witness J Taylor.  I have also been asked many times if I thought she might have been Native American.  I actually suspect that she might have been Melungeon;  this could have meant that she had African blood or was Portuguese or Spanish.  I know there was a large population of Melungeon’s who went to the New River area in North Carolina and Virginia which is where Ashe Co., NC is located.  I have heard Melungeons described as Indian, Arab, Spanish, Turkish or Jewish descent.  I don’t think anyone really knows and I haven’t heard of any real DNA study that really pins the ancestry down.  I have never found any trace of Jennie before her marriage to William Henry Dollar…and all that I have just said is speculation and so therefore a theory.

William Henry Dollar is hard to trace through the volumes of data that has been published online.  You will find him in the LDS Ancestral File as William Columbus Dollar.  I spent a few years searching on that name and another Dollar cousin pointed out to me that he is never listed as William Columbus…sometimes as William, Billy, or Henry and his son William Henry Dolllar, Jr must be called that for a reason.  After a little more looking, I discovered the source of the “Columbus” – my great great aunt Cassie who had done a lot of the early research on the family had put that name into the LDS Ancestral file.  In fact a William Columbus Dollar does show up in the line…but he is the grandson of William Henry Dollar through his son James Madison Dollar.

William Henry Dollar spent the majority of his life after his marriage in Ashe Co., NC living near what is now called Cabbage Creek in the Laurel Twp. in Ashe Co., NC.  We know from a letter written to the Emeline Dollar Tucker in UT in 1893 that Jennie Sparks Dollar passed away on 21 Jun 1893 in Solitude, Ashe Co., NC.  It must have been soon after her death that William Henry Dollar left his home to his youngest son, James Madison Dollar, and traveled west to Cleveland, Emery Co., UT to live with his daughter, Emeline.  Some of the Tucker family have told me that he converted to Mormonism (which Emeline and her husband were church members).  William Henry Dollar died on 31 Aug 1895 in Cleveland, Emery Co., UT and his buried at the local cemetery there.
William Henry Dollar's grave at Cleveland Town Cemetery, Emery Co., UT.

I have traced William Henry Dollar and his family through every census record and tax record that I have had access to.  I have always been curious as to the reasons why our ancestors moved from their homes to a new place.  Did William Henry move to Ashe Co., NC because it was a new opportunity…was his wife Melungeon and knew that she would be accepted there…or was it simply the place they stopped because a blacksmith was needed?  Did he maintain contact with his family in Orange Co., NC or was it really even possible?  So…I continue to trace William Henry Dollar and his family in hopes that someday I might get a few of my questions answered!