Monday, November 16, 2015

Ancestor Fought in Creek Indian Wars: Pension File Discovered in War of 1812 Records

As you probably know, the War of 1812 Pension Files are free on Fold3 and they continue to add more names each month. I'm "patiently" waiting for the Ws for my direct ancestor, Thomas B. Whitwell. But, in the meantime, I was scrolling through the names in Tennessee where my grandmother's maternal family lived.

Under the letter D, I came across the fairly common surname, Dickson, which was my grandmother's maiden name. As I clicked on each of these men, one name stood out to me: Joseph Dickson. I have four Joseph Dickson's on my tree. Two were born after the War of 1812, but one was born in 1772 and another was born in 1795 (though I figured he was probably too young). The Joseph in the Pension File was from Linden, Perry County, Tennessee which is where "all" of my grandmother's family lived.

The pension file includes 37 pages and never mentions his wife or family members. But, three different papers indicate his birth year. The first is image #29 which is dated 7 May 1855 where Joseph says he is "aged fifty nine years." The second letter is on image #32 and is dated 09 Dec 1852 and Joseph says he is "57" years old. Third dated 29 May 1871 saying "75 years" old. All of these ages match my Joseph Dickson, born on December 1st, 1795, exactly.

Joseph Dickson (1795-1898) was my fourth great-grandfather, and this pension file was the first piece of evidence I'd ever seen that he fought in any war.

So, what did I discover in Joseph Dickson's pension file?

Joseph Dickson's Pension File (image from Fold3)

  • Joseph received two pieces of Bounty Land: 40 acres in 1850 (claim #93350) & 120 acres in 1855 (claim #57224) - this is something I need to look into further! (Image #1 on Fold3)
  • He enlisted on Jan 28th, 1814 & discharged on May 23, 1814 in Tennessee Militia under Captains Michael Moulton & Joseph Williams (Image #1)
  • Mentions the "Creek War" (Image #4)
  • Lists length of service as 116 days (Image #7)
  • Discusses that, besides actual fighting days, he was also paid for 200 miles "travel allowance" (Images #9 & #10)
  • States "Joseph Dickson aged 59 years a resident of Perry County in the state of Tennessee who being duly sworn according to law declares that he is the identical Joseph Dickson who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Joseph Williams in the regiment of mounted riflemen commanded by Colonel Michael Molton in the War with Great Britain declared by the United States on the 18th day of June 1812 (with the Creek Indians) for the term of three months and continued in actual service in said war for fourteen days, that he has heretofore made application for bounty land under the Act of September 28th 1850 and received a land warrant No------- not reccolected (?) for forty acres which he has since legally disposed of and cannot now return.   [paragraph] He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the additional bounty land to which he may be entitled under the act approved 3rd day of March 1855. [paragraph] He also declares that he has never applied nor received under this nor any other act of Congress any Bounty Land warrant except the one above mentioned. [signed] Joseph Dickson (Image #29)
  • States "... that he volunteered at Dickson [County] on the [blank] day of January 1814 for term of 3 months and continued in actual service for the term of 3 1/2 months and was honorably discharged at Camp Blount on the 10th day of May 1814 as will appear by reference to certificate of discharge herewith filed - and by the muster rolls of said company (Image #32)

  • Includes Joseph's actual discharge papers! (Image #35)
  • A fill-in-the-blank form dated May 29th, 1871 says he is "not" married & all information about a wife is crossed out. Joseph's wife died in 1867, but this is still puzzling as it is asking about who his wife's name "was"... (Image #36)
From this information, I looked at the Tennessee Secretary of State site at "Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units During the War of 1812" and was able to determine that Joseph Dickson served under Colonel Robert Dyer in the Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Cavalry. One of the Captains of the regiment was Michael Molton who Joseph stated he served under (though he listed him as a colonel). Molton also signed Joseph Dickson's discharge papers.

The brief history of this regiment (at the above site) states that it was "part of General John Coffee's cavalry brigade throughout most of the Creek War. The unit participated in most of the battles of the war, including... Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814). There were several companies of "spies" in the regiment: companies of cavalry that were sent on reconnaissance patrols and usually took the lead in the line of march for Jackson's army."

Battle of Horseshoe Bend (public domain image from Wikipedia)
A great synopsis of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend is at Access Genealogy: "The Creek Indians, who had been allies of the British during the War of 1812, were angered by white encroachment on their hunting grounds in Georgia and Alabama. In 1813, some Creeks under Chief Red Eagle (William Weatherford) (1780-1824) attacked and burned Fort Mims on the lower Alabama River, killing about 500 whites [the Fort Mims Massacre]. Afterward, US militiamen, led by General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), invaded Creek territory in central Alabama and destroyed two Indian villages, Talledega and Tallasahatchee, in the fall of 1813. Jackson pursued the Creek, and on March 27, 1814, his 3,000 man army attacked and defeated them at that Battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama. More than 800 Creek warriors were killed, and the power of the Creek nation was completely broken. At the Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814, the Creek were compelled to cede 23 million acres (half of Alabama and part of southern Georgia) to the whites. It is sometimes considered to be part of the War of 1812."


  1. What a wonderful find! Thanks for the tip about Access Genealogy, I'll have to check that out too. Another wonderful post.

    1. I don't know if I'd been to Access Genealogy before, but found it very helpful. And, thanks for the kind comment, Jill!

  2. I'm patiently waiting too. My War of 1812 veteran is surnamed Zimmerman! I hope my guys file is as interesting as yours. (And that it, please God, mentions who his parents are as I've got nothing.)

    1. And I thoight waiting for a W was bad! :) I wish mine would've mentuined his wife. It's the only odd thing about this file. Best wishes on yours, too!


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