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Joseph and Delia Dale
James and Jessie Dixon

DIXON FAMILY Of Savannah, Georgia

Copyright @ 2001 by Col Gordon B. Smith

William Dixon was born in Savannah, Georgia, in May of 1827. [1]  Prior to the War Between the States he entered the pilotage, perhaps through the sponsorship of his father-in-law, James Preston Dent, also a pilot.[2]  After the outbreak of the war, William entered the blockade running service for the Confederate government.  After the close of the war he entered the stevedoring business, having charge of several lines of steamers.  He died at his residence on Broughton Street in Warren Ward, Savannah, on 22 November 1876, and was buried in Lot 1093, Laurel Grove Cemetery.  His obituary reads as follows:[3]  


?Death of Captain Wm. Dixon,

     Captain William Dixon died yesterday morning at his residence,

60 Broughton Street, from nervous prostration.  The deceased had

been in the city during the entire epidemic and had attended to his business up to last Thursday, and, though for nearly two months he had been complaining of his increasing feebleness, no one suspected that he would so soon be called away.  On the day mentioned his family returned, and he went home to take a rest, as he remarked to a friend, but, as it has proved, never to come out again.  He was a native of this city, and previous to the war was in the pilotage. During the late struggle he was a blockade runner, and at its close engaged in stevedoring, which he followed to the time of his death, having charge of several lines of steamers.  He was a liberal, kind hearted man, who, though retiring in his disposition, had many friends here and elsewhere who will learn with deep regret his unexpected demise.  Capt. Dixon was forty-nine years and seven months old, and leaves a widow and eight children to mourn his loss.  The funeral will take place from his residence this afternoon at 3 o?clock, and will be attended by Zerrubbabel Lodge No. 15, Free and Accepted Masons, of which body he was a member.?


William Dixon was a member of Zerrubbabel Lodge No. 15, F. & A.M. [4]

DeKalb Lodge No.9, I.O.O.F.[5]; and the Bartow Steam Fire Engine Company.[6]      


He married Miss Mary Jane Dent in Savannah on 1 January 1850.[7]  She was born in Savannah about 1832, and died in Columbia, Connecticut, on 3 May 1917.[8]  She was buried next to her husband in Laurel Grove Cemetery.


The Dixons had at least eight children, those whose names are known being:


  1. William Preston Dixon was born in Savannah in 1853.[9]  He became a stevedore in Savannah, and died on Abercorn Street in that city on 20 July 1887, being buried in Lot 1093, Laurel Grove Cemetery.[10]
  2. Merritt Woodhull Dixon, born in Savannah on 11 August 1854.  He spent his early manhood in the lumber business with his brother, James M. Dixon and John E. Foy.  He also was a member of Dixon Mitchell Company, which owned extensive lumber interests around the countryside.  He served as an alderman under Mayor John J. McDonough.  Judge Walter G. Charlton swore Dixon in as sheriff of Chatham County on 11 August 1913 to succeed Sheriff Thomas F. Screven.  A ?man of courage and fidelity to public trust, Sheriff Dixon became the hero of a mob scene at the Chatham County Jail.  A mob had formed to take away a prisoner held there.  Dixon stood outside the jail and informed the mob that he was not going to give up his prisoner.  ?He said that he will give his life first in the performance of his duty before he would fail in his duty to the law to preserve the law.?  The mob did not get their man.  Sheriff Dixon died in Savannah on 21 August 1931, and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery after services at Independent Presbyterian Church.[11] 


He was a member of Independent Presbyterian Church, the Elks, and the Knights of Pythias, and was ?a staunch Democrat.?  Dixon married Lillie M. Dale, [12] sister of Jessie Dale, who married James M. Dixon.  Lillie was born on 16 May 1859, and died on 10 February 1932.


In March of 1901, while a great search was underway in Colonial Cemetery for the remains of General Nathaniel Greene, Merritt W. Dixon published his reminiscences of Savannah during federal occupation.  During this time the federal soldiers broke into the tombs in the cemetery and robbed the graves of whatever they could find, including the coffin plates.[13]

  1. Charles H. Dixon, born in Savannah in 1856.  Charles married Miss Sunbeam M. Biggar on 12 February 1915 in the South Side (now Calvary) Baptist Church, Savannah.[14]  Due to financial troubles and ?fancied grievances against various persons,? Charles committed suicide in Savannah on 18 September 1921 from a self-administered overdose of laudanum and a gunshot wound to the chest.[15]  He was buried in Section K, Lot 178, Bonaventure Cemetery.[16]  Charles and his wife had the following children:


3-1.           Mary Louise Dixon

3-2.           Eleanor Dixon

3-3.           Charles H. Dixon, Jr.

  1. Mary E. Dixon, born in Savannah in 1857, was dead by 1870.
  2. Imogene F. Dixon, born in 1858.
  3. Agnes Y. Dixon, born in Savannah in 1859.  She married Dr. Littleberry S. Foster of Matthews County, Virginia.  He became superintendent of Eastern Shade Hospital in Williamsburg.
  4. James M. Dixon, born in Valdosta in 1864.  See below.
  5. Irene E. Dixon, born in 1863.
  6. Frances (?Fanny?) Dixon, the youngest daughter.  A native of Savannah, Fanny was educated in and made her debut in Baltimore.  She married William Welch, who died in 1907.  Fanny became a leader in the Woman?s Suffrage Movement.  She ran for secretary of state of Connecticut in 1920, and was appointed collector of the port of Connecticut in 1934, considered the first time a woman had held this type of post.  A personal friend of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fanny also served as Democratic national committeewoman from Connecticut.  She resided in Hartford, Connecticut, but died in Agawam, Massachusetts, on 24 April 1947, being buried in Hebron, Connecticut.[17]  Her daughter was Mrs. Eugene V. Oehlers.


  1. James M. Dixon was born on 10 April 1864 in Valdosta, Georgia, while his mother refugeed there from her home in Savannah during the War Between the States, his father then being in the Confederate blockade running service.  At the close of the war the Dixons resumed their home in Savannah.  For a number of years James engaged in the wholesale grocery business and in the lumber business as James M. Dixon & Co., his partner being John E. Foy.[18]  He also served as secretary-treasurer of the Gadsden Contracting Company and as a director of the Exchange Bank.  Mayor Herman Myers appointed James chairman of the Water Commission which in 1896 had charge of the public waterworks, and he served in such capacity for three years.  That same year James served as treasurer of the Military Interstate Association of Savannah.[19]  He served as alderman, vice chairman, and chairman of the Savannah City Council from 1899 to 1907.  He was a member of the building committee of City Council under whose direction the old City Exchange was demolished and the City Hall was constructed in its place.  Subsequently, James served on the Board of County Commissioners, 1907-1909.  During World War I James served as county fuel administrator.[20]  At the same time he was also mayor of Tybee.[21]  He died at his home on East Hall Street in Savannah on 26 September 1920.[22] 


James was a life member of the Savannah Volunteer Guards; commodore of the Savannah Yacht Club for a number of years; member of Ancient Landmark Lodge No. 231, F. & A.M.; a 32nd Degree member of the Scottish Rite; member of Palestine Commandery No. 7, K.T.; Alee Shrine Temple; and Savannah Lodge No. 183, B.P.O. II.


Dixon married Miss Jessie Dale on 12 November 1889 in Savannah.[23]  She was born on 14 November 1865 as the daughter of Joseph J. Dale (1829-1904), chairman of the Chatham County commissioners.  Jessie died on 13 January 1947.  Their children were:


7-1.           Helene Dale Dixon married Stephen Harrison MacGregor, of Brooklyn, New York, on 25 August 1915 in her parents? home on East Hall Street, but by the acting pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah.[24]  MacGregor was a lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps stationed at Ft. Screven, Georgia, at the time.[25]  They subsequently resided in Washington, D.C.

7-2.           Jessie Dale Dixon was born on 17 September 1896 in Savannah.  She married Henry Benton Sayler, Son of J.M. Sayler of Huntingdon (or Huntington), Indiana, on 6 October 1917 in Christ Church, Savannah.[26]  Sayler was born on 4 November 1893 in Huntingdon, Indiana, and was a lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps stationed at Ft. Screven, Georgia, at the time of his marriage.[27]  They subsequently resided in New York.  Henry B. Sayler died in Savannah on 7 May 1970.  Jessie died on 24 December 1988 in Savannah.

7-3.           Merritt Woodhull Dixon Jr. was born on 24 November 1892.  See below.

7-4.           James M. Dixon Jr. was born on 2 February 1902, and died on 18 March 1922.[28]

7-3.           Merritt Woodhull Dixon Jr. was born on 24 November 1892.  He was promoted to major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War I.[29]  He associated with J.J. Dale in abolishing the toll road system in Chatham County.[30]  He died on 7 June 1957.  On 24 November 1926,[31] he married Elizabeth Wayne Holst, born on 2 December 1905, died on 28 December 1997.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Pierre Nicolai Holst (1879-1952)[32] and his wife Clifford (Munnerlyn) Holst.  They had three children:


7-3-1.    Elizabeth Holst Dixon, born on 19 August 1927.  She married first George Anderson Mercer III, and second Thomas B. Gilbert.  By her first husband she had:

7-3-1-1.         Elizabeth Wayne Mercer.

7-3-1-2.         Bessie Wheeles Mercer.

7-3-1-3.         Geroge A. Mercer IV.

7-3-2.    Jeanne Holst Dixon was born 8 October 1928.  She attended Connecticut College.  She married first George Hubert Cubbedge on 23 June 1950 in Christ Church, Savannah.[33]  They had:

7-3-2-1.         George Hubert Cubbedge Jr., born on 27 August 1951.

Jeanne married second Hugh Roberts Papy on 3 November 1953.  He was born on 2 October 1917 as the son of Frank M. Papy and his wife Eleanor Roberts (Stuart) Papy.[34]  Hugh R. Papy entered military service in March of 1941.  He completed Infantry School at Ft. Benning in October of 1942.  He served overseas in the 99th and First Infantry Divisions, participating in three battle campaigns.  He won the Bronze Star for heroic action.  In January of 1947 he was recommissioned captain in the 118th Field Artillery Battalion, Georgia National Guard.[35]  Hugh R. Papy died on 4 August 1999.  They had three children:


7-3-2-2.         James (?Jimmy?) Dixon Papy.

7-3-2-3.         Hugh Roberts Papy Jr.

7-3-2-4.         Richard Wayne Papy.

7-3-3.    Merritt Woodhull Dixon III, born on 27 March 1930.  He married Janet Barnett. They had three children:

7-3-3-1.         Merritt W. Dixon IV.

7-3-3-2.         Lysa Dixon.

7-3-3-3.         Jim Dixon.



Compiled by:

Gordon B. Smith

Savannah, Georgia

(912) 233-8003




[1] The U.S. Census for Chatham County, Georgia, for 1860 states that William Dixon was born in Charleston, South Carolina.  U.S. Census, 1860, Chatham County, Georgia, No. 2252, No. 2244.

[2] James Preston Dent (1805-1850) entered the branch pilotage in the port of Savannah in 1819.  He died of cholera on 3 July 1850.  At the news of his death, the flags on all shipping in port were at half-mast in his honor;  ?Daily Morning News,? Savannah, 4 July 1850.  In 1859 his grave and that of some of his children in Colonial Cemetery were removed to Lot 1025, Laurel Grove Cemetery.

[3] ?Death of Captain Wm. Dixon? in  ?Savannah Morning News,? 23 November 1876.  (Henceforth, ?Savannah Morning News? cited as SMN.)


[4] Notice in SMN, 23 November 1876.

[5] Notice in SMN, 23 November 1876.

[6] Notice in SMN, 23 November 1876.

[7] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book (1806 ? 1851), 51.

[8] SMN, Friday, 4 May 1917, p. 3, col. 6.

[9] Apparently, W. Preston Dixon married.  See Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record         Book B (1878 ? 1880) 45.

[10] ?A Stevedore Dead? in SMN, 21 July 1887, p. 8, col. 1.

[11] ?Sheriff Dixon Died Last Night? in SMN; 22 August 1931, p. 14, col. 2 (photograph); ?Col. M.W. Dixon? in SMN, 23 August 1931, p. 8-B, col. 2.

[12] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book E (1884 ? 1886), 230.

[13] ?Took Coffin Plates? in SMN, 6 March 1901, p. 8, col. 2.

[14] Chatham County Probate Courtly, Marriage Record Book 2-A (1914-1915), 317.

[15] ?Improvement Is Seen in Dixon?s Condition? in SMN, 18 September 1921, p. 32, col. 2; ?Charles Dixon Dies; To Be Buried Today? in SMN, 19 September 1921, p.8, col. 2.

[16] His mother-in-law Mrs. Eleanor M. Biggar, a native of South Carolina who died on 13 October 1821 at the age of 68, was buried next to him.

[17] Obituary of Mrs. Fanny Dixon Welch in SMN,  25 April 1947, p. 2, col. 6.

[18] ?Dixon?s Firm Not Responsible? in SMN, Sunday, 19 June 1898, p. 14, col. 7.

[19] ?To Take Legal Steps? in SMN, 15 September 1896, p. 8, col. 2.

[20] ?Buy Coal Now is Dixon?s Tip? in SEP, 10 April 1918; ?Making Explanations? in SEP, 10 September 1918.

[21] ?Mayor J.M. Dixon Of Tybee Pleads For Square Deal For It? in SEP, 9 May 1917, p. 12, col. 2.

[22] ?End Comes For James M. Dixon? in SMN, 27 September 1920, p. 8, col. 2.

[23] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book H (1889-1891), 72.

[24] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book 2-B, 42.

[25] ?Miss Dixon?s Marriage to Lieut. McGregor Today? in SMN, 25 August 1915, p. 4, col. 1; ?Dixon-MacGregor? in SMN, 25 August 1915, p. 4, cols. 1-2.

[26] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book 2-D, 284.

[27] ?Party for Miss Dixon? in SMN, 5 October 1917, p. 4, col. 1; ?On Eve of Wedding? in SMN, 6 October 1917, p. 4, cols. 1-2; SMN. 7 October 1917, p. 14 (photograph at cols. 2-4 of Mrs. Henry Benton Sayler).

[28] James apparently married Mrs. Charlotte Klug of Savannah on 7 September 1919 in the South Side (now Calvary) Baptist Church, Savannah, Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book 2-G (1919), 559.


[29]  ?Major Dixon is Title Now? in SEP, 12 September 1918.

[30] Biography in ?Col. Merit (sic) W. Dixon? in SEP, 12 May 1923,  p. 1, cols. 2-3 (portrait by Harry Palmer).

[31] Chatham County Probate Court, Marriage Record Book 2-P, 554.

[32] Obituary of Pierre Nicolai Holst (1879-1952) in SMN, 29 March 1952, p. 14, col. 6 (photograph).

[33] ?Miss Dixon Weds Mr. Cubbedge At Ceremony At Christ Church? in SMN, 24 June 1950.

[34] The Papys were buried in Bonaventure Cemetery.

[35] ?Unit Commanders For 118th Named? in SMN, 13 January 1947, p. 8, cols. 3-6 (photograph of CPT Hugh R. Papy).