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Dixon family papers and photographs, 1856-1880s

Summary

Collection contains two personal letters (1863, 1864) written by Civil War Confederate captain Columbus H. Dixon to his wife, discussing troop activities and smallpox in his company. Accompanying the letters are a pocket bible owned by Dixon; two calling cards; a small photograph album, possibly a "friendship" album, containing three albumen cartes-de-visite and five tintypes; and twenty-three loose cartes-de-visite, cased ambrotypes, and tintype portraits of members of the Dixon, Jackson, and Allison families of North Carolina. Among the portraits are Columbus H. Dixon as a young man; his wife Love Ann Dixon; their daughter Sarah and her husband, Andrew Campbell Jackson; their son John Kelly Dixon; John Dixon's wife, Hester, and their sons, Kay Dixon and Arthur Mills Dixon. Also included is Hugh J. Allison, originally from South Carolina, second husband of Love Ann Dixon. There are quite a few unidentified individuals. Photographers' imprints often appear on a number of the cartes-de-visite portraits.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11209
Title
Dixon family papers and photographs
Date
1856-1880s
Creator
Dixon, Columbus H., 1836-1864 October 14
Extent
0.2 Linear Feet, 1 box and 1 folder; 29 items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials are in English.

Collection Overview

Content Description

The earliest item in the collection is an 1856 pocket bible owned by Civil War Confederate soldier Columbus H. Dixon. There are also two letters (1863, 1864) to his wife, Love Ann Dixon, discussing troop activities and smallpox in his company. The remaining items are two cased ambrotypes; two calling cards; a small 19th-century photograph album, possibly a "friendship" album, containing three cartes-de-visite (card-mounted albumen prints) and five tintypes; and 23 cartes-de-visite and tintype portraits of members of the Dixon, Falls, Jackson, Campbell, and Allison families of North Carolina.

The portrait sitters include women, children, and men, chiefly residing in King's Mountain and Gastonia, N.C. Among the portraits are Columbus H. Dixon as a young man; his wife Love Ann Dixon (1832-1909); his daughter Sarah; his son John Kelly Dixon (1857-1931), textile mill owner; John Dixon's wife, Hester Wilson Dixon. The latest dated photographs are of John K. Dixon's small sons, Kay Dixon (1884-1957), and Arthur Mills Dixon (1882-1956), who also served as mayor of Gastonia, N.C. and state senator. There are also portraits of members of the Allison and Jackson families, related by marriage to the Dixons. There are some unidentified portraits, chiefly among the tintypes.

Many of the albumen photographs bear the name of one of the first commercial traveling photographers in the United States, John R. Schorb (1818-1908) of Yorkville, South Carolina; others were taken in the studios of J.H. Van Ness of Charlotte, North Carolina and W.E. McArthur of Shelby, North Carolina.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Dixon family papers and photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Bible owned by C.H. Dixon, 1856

Pocket bible with pasteboard covers, embossed, with gilt touches, and clasp. Binding separated. Inscribed with the name Lieut. C. H. Dixon, Co. [G?], 49th Reg., N.C., address Shelby, N.C. Contains a few annotations. Dixon eventually was promoted to Captain of the company.

Box 1
Two calling cards belonging to John Kelly Dixon, circa 1880s

Both cards feature intricate color designs. One has "L.A. Allison" written in manuscript hand on back. The "operator" on both cards may refer to John Kelly Dixon's time working for the railroad, or early time spent in the cotton mills.

Box 1
Letter from Columbus H. Dixon, near Kinston, N.C., to his wife, Love Ann Dixon, 1863 May 3

Dixon writes from a camp near Kinston, N.C. He speaks of a false alarm that sent his company out on the field. He mentions reading through Revelations (his bible is in the collection), but says he is "not all together pleasant to the Deity of Parents to their children which I do not believe." He asks his wife to baptize their daughter "Sarah Rosalyne." He follows this with a mention of smallpox in the company.

Box Sec. A, 36
Letter from Columbus H. Dixon to his wife, Love Ann Dixon, 1864 March 20

Dixon may have been in Virginia by this time. He begins with an account of company rations, then passes on to his nomination for sheriff of Cleveland County, but says his company is loathe to see him leave if elected. He hopes for a furlough soon. Dixon died near Petersburg, Virginia in December 1864.

Box Sec. A, 36

2. Photographs, circa 1860-1880s

In this series there are 23 loose 19th century-era photographs (tintypes and cartes-de-visite), one photograph album from the same period, and two cased mid-19th century ambrotypes.

The photo album is probably a "friendship" album, judging from the ages (all young adults) and variety of last names. Several slots in the mounting pages are empty.

The sitters for the remaining portraits are members of all ages from the Dixon and Allison families, and allied members of the Jackson and Wilson families. Many are annotated with names and dates, but there are a number of unidentified individuals. The images are arranged in rough chronological order. Most are undated, but by using known birth dates and photographers' information, tentative dates have been indicated. The following photographers' imprints are present on many of the cartes-de-visites: John R. Schorb, Yorkville, S.C., W.E. McArthur, Shelby, N.C., and J.H. Van Ness of Charlotte, N.C.

The series begins with a cased ambrotype of a young Columbus Dixon, resident of King's Mountain, Cleveland County, N.C. (circa 1860), and ends with the children of John Kelly Dixon, Arthur Mills Dixon (b. 1882) and Kay Dixon (b. 1884).

Cased ambrotype labeled Columbus H. Dixon, circa 1860?

Sixth-plate (2.75 x 3.25 inch plate) ambrotype in wooden case covered with molded decorative paper, brass frame insert, and red velvet lining. Written across the top of the case is the name Columbus H. Dixon. The sitter is a young man of about 19 years of age. Covers separated.

Dimensions: Case, 2.5 x 2.5 inches; Image, approximately 2.5 by 2.5 inches.

Box 1
Item 1
Cased ambrotype of unidentified man, possibly Columbus H. Dixon, circa 1860s

Quarter-plate (3.25 x 4.25 inch plate) ambrotype in wooden case covered with molded decorative paper, ornate brass frame inserts, and red velvet lining. Sitter of this 3/4 portrait is a young man of about 20 years. Considering the facial features, may be Columbus H. Dixon or close relative. Covers separated and ambrotype glass plate cover broken.

Box 1
Item 2
Photograph album, circa 1870s
(Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.5 inches; tintypes, cartes de visite)

Small photograph album, possibly a "friendship" album, containing three albumen cartes-de-visite and five tintypes, all featuring younger adults. Legible names of portrait sitters include: Jenny Youngblood; Maggie Cambpell (?); Sallie Peeler (maiden name?); Rufus Stephenson (?); William (?) Matthews. The backs of several albumen prints bear the imprint of photographer John R. Schorb of Yorkville, South Carolina.

Box 1
Item 3
Tintype of older woman, circa 1860s

Uncased tintype (2.0 x 2.5 inches) of unidentified older woman in white cap and streamers; in ornate brass mat. Emulsion flaking.

Box 1
Item 4
Tintype of older woman, circa 1860s

Uncased tintype (2.0 x 3.25 inches) with clipped corners, of unidentified older woman in dark dress with cape and white collar, gilt touches. Plate is warped.

Box 1
Item 5
Tintype of two adult women, circa 1870s

Uncased tintype (2.50 x 4.25 inches) of two unidentified adult women, seated, with linked arms, with gilt accents. Tintype has "chocolate" brown backing.

Box 1
Item 6
Tintype of young child, circa 1870s

Uncased tintype (2.0 x 2.5 inch original size), cut into oval portrait of unidentified child of about 5 years, with barely visible gilt touches. Enclosed in paper holder with thin embossed border.

Box 1
Item 7
Tintype of young girl, circa 1860s-1870s

Uncased tintype (1.75 x 2.25 inches approximate original size), cut into oval protrait of unnamed girl about 8 years old, probably same child in item #7; with barely surviving gilt touches on buttons and cuffs.

Box 1
Item 8
Tintype of older man with bowler hat, circa 1870s?

Uncased tintype (2.5 x 3.5 inches approximate original size), of unidentified older man with bowler hat; clipped corner, brown lacquer backing.

Box 1
Item 9
Mounted albumen of Andrew Campbell Jackson and his wife, Sara Rosalind Dixon, circa late 1870s-before 1886

Carte-de-visite portrait of Jackson and his wife, Sarah Rosalind Dixon, who was the daughter of Columbus Dixon. Jackson died in 1886. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Their names and birth and death dates are noted on the back in a later hand. Photographer: J.R. Schorb, Yorkville, South Carolina.

Box 1
Item 10
Mounted albumen of Andrew Campbell Jackson and wife Sara Rosalind Dixon, circa late 1870s-before 1886

Second copy of carte-de-visite portrait of Jackson and his wife. Jackson died in 1886. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. On the back in a later hand a note reads, "Campbell Jackson and wife (Rossie). Jack, your Grand Father and Grand Mother." Photographer: J.R. Schorb, Yorkville, South Carolina.

Box 1
Item 11
Mounted albumen of H.J. Allison, after 1869

Carte-de-visite portrait of H.J. Allison as young man of about 30 years. Simple card mount with red border measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/8 x 3 3/4 inches. Photographer's emblem on back: J.R. Schorb & Son, Yorkville, S.C. (George Schorb became a partner in his father's studio in 1869.)

Box 1
Item 12
Mounted albumen of unnamed woman, after 1869

Carte-de-visite portrait of an unnamed woman; note on back indicates perhaps this is Sarah Rosalind Dixon, but it does not appear to be the right time period. Seems to have been produced at same time as previous portrait of Hugh Allison so it may be a sister or his first wife. Simple card mount with red border measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Photographer's emblem: J.R. Schorb & son, Yorkville, South Carolina. George T. Schorb joined his father as full partner in 1869.

Box 1
Item 13
Mounted albumen of older couple, circa late 1870s

Carte-de-visite features formal portrait of unnamed older couple, man seated and woman standing. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/8 x 3 3/4 inches. May be Hugh Allison and wife Love Ann Dixon.

Box 1
Item 14
Mounted albumen of young woman, "Cusin Hattie," 1876?

Carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman identified only as "Cusin Hattie." Simple card mount with red border measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. From notes on back, the owner of the card photograph is Miss S. Rossa (Rosalind) Dixon, King's Mountain, N.C. The date derives from a notation that seems to be '76. Photographer: J.R. Schorb, Yorkville, South Carolina.

Box 1
Item 15
Mounted albumen of John Kelly Dixon, circa 1880

Carte-de-visite portrait of John Kelly Dixon as young adult. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Notations on back refer to his parents and his marriage to Hester C. Wilson (June 8, 1880).

Box 1
Item 16
Mounted albumen of John Kelly Dixon and his wife, Hester C. Wilson, circa 1880

Carte-de-visite portrait of John Kelly Dixon and his wife, Hester C. Wilson, as a new couple. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Their names are written on the back.

Box 1
Item 17
Mounted albumen of Love Ann (Dixon) Allison, circa 1880s

Carte-de-visite portrait of Love Ann (Dixon) Allison as older woman with large white lace collar and cameo-type brooch. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Notes on back refer to her birth and death dates, her marriages, and burial site. She was married to Columbus Dixon until his death in 1864, then married Hugh Allison in 1868.

Box 1
Item 18
Mounted albumen of Lee Allison Falls, 1870s

Carte-de-visite portrait of Lee Allison Falls (b. 1863), as a young girl, a daughter of Hugh J. Allison and his first wife (name unknown). Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches.

Box 1
Item 19
Mounted albumen of Lee Allison Falls, circa 1880s

Carte-de-visite portrait of Lee Allison Falls (b. 1863), as a young woman. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Photographer: W.E. McArthur [William E.], Shelby, North Carolina.

Box 1
Item 20
Mounted albumen of Arthur Mills Dixon, 1883

Carte-de-visite portrait of Arthur Mills Dixon (b. 1882), at 13 1/2 months of age; he was the first-born son of John and Hester Dixon. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 5/8 inches.

Box 1
Item 21
Mounted albumen of Kay Dixon, circa 1885

Carte-de-visite portrait of Kay Dixon (b. 1884), at about one year of age; he was the first-born son of John and Hester Dixon. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 5/8 inches. Photographer: J.H. Van Ness, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Box 1
Item 22
Mounted albumen of Arthur Mills Dixon, circa 1885

Carte-de-visite portrait of Arthur Mills Dixon (b. 1882), at about 3 years of age; he was the first-born son of John and Hester Dixon. Simple card mount measures 2 1/2 x 4 inches; albumen print measures 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Photographer: J.H. Van Ness, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Box 1
Item 23
 

Historical Note

The Dixon family and related members resided in the western Piedmont of North Carolina, in Cleveland and Gaston counties, adjacent to the South Carolina border. Columbus H. Dixon was captain of the 49th North Carolina Regiment, Company G, "The King's Mountain Tigers." He died in 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia. In 1868, Columbus Dixon's widow, Love Ann Dixon (1832-1909), married Hugh Allison (1836-1913), who served in the 5th Regiment, South Carolina Infantry; Allison moved to Cleveland County, N.C., where he resided until his death. Columbus Dixon's son, John Kelly Dixon (1857-1931) became a Gastonia, N.C. textile mill operator and owner, and had two sons, Arthur Mills Dixon (1882-1956), and Kay Dixon (1884-1957). Arthur Mills Dixon became mayor of Gastonia and N.C. state senator.


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Provenance

The later accession of the Dixon family papers and photographs was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed by Paula Jeannet, May 2016. Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2013-0068.