Monday, April 14, 2014

Alexander Monroe Dollar

My great grandmother – Sophia Dollar Friddle, was raised by her grandfather and step grandmother.  So, I realized early on in my genealogical searches with my mother, that he was a significant person.   Beyond the fact that I am descended from him, he had a huge part in shaping the life of my great grandmother and therefore my grandmother and mother who had a profound part in shaping who I am.  However, Alexander Monroe Dollar has never been an easy man to pin down, genealogically speaking!

Alexander Monroe Dollar was born about August 1838 depending on what document you look at.  Some say it is August 1839 – but  August 1838 is the date that makes the most sense.  He was probably born in Orange Co., NC.   His parents were William Henry Dollar and Jane “Jennie” Sparks.  Their marriage date was 22 May 1838 in Orange Co., NC.  So, while the date of 1839 might look like a more reasonable time after marriage to have a child, William Henry Dollar and Jennie Sparks second child, William Henry Dollar, Jr was born on 4 Jul 1839 so the August date proves to be even more unlikely.  Supposedly, Alexander Monroe Dollar was born in Orange Co., NC and shortly after his birth; William Henry Dollar brought his small family via wagon from Orange Co., NC to Ashe Co., NC.   William Henry Dollar was blacksmith by trade and worked as most did during that time frame as a farmer as well.  I am sure that he left Orange Co., NC because he was a younger brother and didn’t have much in the way of prospects in terms of owning land.  The Dollar family lived in the North Fork township of Ashe Co., NC near the town of Solitude. 
At the age of 18, Alexander Monroe Dollar married Elizabeth Pennington, the daughter of Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson on 17 Jan 1857 in Ashe Co., NC.  On 6 Apr 1858, their first child is born, Amanda Jane Dollar.  I have often wondered if Elizabeth Pennington had more pregnancies and lost them in miscarriages because there seems to be quite a gap between their first two children.  

Like many young men of his age, Alexander Monroe Dollar enlisted as a Confederate Soldier in Co. L, 58th Infantry Regiment, North Carolina on 20 Jul 1862.  I suspect that he wasn't too good of a soldier because he deserted on 9 Feb 1863 at Big Creek Gap in Tennessee.  Went home long enough to get his wife pregnant with their second child and perhaps plant his crops and returned to duty on 10 Dec 1863.  Once again he deserted a second time near Dalton, Georgia on 19 Mar 1864 and went over to the enemy.  He took the Oath of Allegiance on 10 Oct 1864 and I assume came home sometime later.  His younger brother enlisted on the same day and also deserted, returned to duty and then was declared unfit for duty and spent the rest of the war as a hospital nurse at La Grange, Georgia.  Both were part of the 58th North Carolina which I have been told had one of the worst desertion rates in the Civil War.  Since most of these soldier came from the Ashe Co., NC area, I suspect that these deserters felt free to return home and live their lives without much in the way of repercussion, makes me think that they weren't too devoted to the Confederate cause.
Alexander and Elizabeth’s second child was John Dula Dollar b. 3 Oct 1863 in Creston, Ashe Co., NC (he is my 2nd great grandfather).  Their third child Emeline Caroline Dollar was born on 15 Mary 1866 in Ashe Co., NC.   Their family was complete with the birth of their youngest child, Roby Smith Dollar on 18 Apr 1868 in Ashe Co., NC.

Census records tell me that in the 1860 census, Alexander and his young family are living near his father.  By 1870, they are living next door to his father-in-law Levi Pennington.  It is interesting to note that Elizabeth’s brother is also living with him and his listed as insane.  Levi Daniel Pennington had received injuries during the Civil War and returned home mentally ill and spent the majority of his life in a mental institution after the war.  By 1880, Alexander Monroe is probably still living in the same place, but his father in law has passed away and at this point, he is listed as a wagon maker, while 17 year old John Dula Dollar is listed as a shoemaker and the younger two are also members of the household.  Their oldest daughter is living half the county away with Elizabeth’s brother, Larkin Pennington.  It was sometime in the next few years, that Alexander Monroe Dollar and Elizabeth Pennington that they left Ashe Co., NC and traveled over to Johnson Co., TN (a neighboring county) and traveled up to settle in what is now the Laurel Bloomery part of Johnson Co., TN near a town called Shingletown.  Elizabeth’s uncle Andrew Pennington lived there with his family and perhaps told them of the availability of land. 

It is unknown as to when Elizabeth Pennington died, but it was sometime after their move to Johnson Co., TN in 1883 and Alexander Monroe Dollar’s marriage to his second wife, on 9 Jun 1887 to Sarah “Lulu” Rebecca Pearce.  There is no known location as to where Elizabeth is buried or any idea as to when she died exactly or what she died of.  She would have been somewhere in her early to mid 40’s in age.    Their daughter Emeline marries Caleb Wills Noland in 1881 at the age of 15.  Sometime after their move to Johnson Co., TN, Alexander Monroe Dollar along with his younger brother John Wesley Dollar and son, John Dula Dollar have a small mill.  I am not sure if they were producing lumber or shingles which is how the area derived the name Shingletown.  All that is left of that signifies the location of that mill, is a small road sign that says Dollarsville road. 

John Dula Dollar married Buena Vista Bailey in 1889, he was 24 and she was 17 years old.  Very quickly two children came along in 1890 and 1891 (Claude & Bessie) and then my great grandmother was born in 1894.  Buena Vista died in April of the same year…and so John Dula was left with three small children and probably turned to the only people he could, his father and step mother.  Alexander’s second wife, Lulu, was actually a midwife and was present when my great grandmother was born.  I am sure that Lulu had primary care of my great grandmother through those first few months of life and certainly after her mother’s death. 
In 1897, John Dula Dollar remarries and takes his oldest children to live with him and his new wife.  Somehow, Lulu convinces him to leave his youngest daughter with her grandfather and step grandmother.  So that his house that in the 1900 census, my great grandmother is living with her grandparents in the little house in the holler as I like to call it.  I know from stories that I have heard, that my grandmother was rather spoiled and could do pretty much whatever she wanted.  I don’t know if the grandmother did the spoiling or perhaps both grandparents.  However, when Alexander Monroe Dollar died on 14 Aug 1908 in Silver Lake, Johnson Co., TN, my great grandmother’s life of leisure was about to end.  Her father was making noises about taking her back to live with him, and her grandmother convinced her to get married instead.
John Dula Dollar's young family - taken about 1895 -
Claude on the left, John Dula holding Sophia and Bessie on the right.

There are so many details missing from this story about Alexander Monroe Dollar.  I don’t know exactly where he was born nor do I know where he was buried.  I know that he was referred to as Monroe or “Roe” Dollar and probably never went by Alexander or Alex.  He worked at times as farmer, carpenter or wagon maker and as a mill worker.  I have never seen a photo of him or either one of his wives.  There is still so much about him that is shrouded in mystery…and at this point, there is no one to ask.  My great grandmother died before I turned 12 and she was probably the last living person who knew him.  There is a lot more that I wish I knew about this great great great grandfather of mine!