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Maj. Tilman Dixon,

Patriot, Soldier, Explorer, and Pioneer

"Dixona", located at Dixon Springs, Smith County, Tennessee is the home of Revolutionary war veteran Maj. Tilman Dixon. It served as a pioneer home, as Smith County's first Courthouse and as a Tavern. (Later  became home of Col. James Vaughn of Mexican War fame, who added the two brick wings). Photo by Scott Williams.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Oldest House in Middle Tennessee.
Amazing Fact:

"Dixona is one of the few houses in Tennessee having been built in North Carolina, and having to not move one square inch."

 Dixona (1787-1789) is older than the State of Tennessee, created 1796)


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Table of Contents

 "On his magnificent 3840 acre estate, ...Dixon built between 1787 and some time in 1789, a substantial log house of eight or more rooms, outhouses, barns and quarters." It was here that Dixon served as the "first Post Master, first merchant, and first tavern keeper in "this part of the Cumberland country." Dixon also built the first school house in the immediate area. In addition, he served as "one of the first magistrates of the County, and a member of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions."


Smoke house at Dixona

North Carolina State flag

This Webpage is dedicated to Maj. Tillman Dixon, whose memory shall not be forgotten.
Lest We Forget.

 Tillman Dixon Highway

Highway 25 from Gallatin to Carthage has officially been named by the State of Tennessee
as the "Tilman Dixon Highway"

Another highway marker in front of Dixona reads, "Here the former Captain of the Revolutionary Army from North Carolina made the first settlement in this section about 1788-1798. He is buried north of the house.  The spring to the southeast, a noted immigrant camping place, gave Dixon Springs it's name. Smith County's first court was held here in this house Nov 16-17 1799."

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Family Information

Maj.  Tilman (Tilghman) Dixon was born 26 Jun 1750 in what is now Caswell County, North Carolina. His parents are Henry Dixon, Sr.  (b. abt. 1723,  Virginia) and Elizabeth Abernathy (d/o of Robert Abernathy, Jr).  Henry Dixon, Sr. died in October 1795, and it is believed to be buried in Caswell County, North Carolina. More on Dixon family Genealogy can be found on the Lt. Col. Henry Dixon Webpage. No picture is known to exist of Maj. Dixon and the only description of him available is that he was that he frequently wore deerskin clothes and was fond of playing cards. According to Gen. George Washington, he was "a Captain who served till the end of the war". Tilman's brothers and sisters (not necessarily arranged in birth order) are the following:

1. Tabitha Dixon (1734- ) m. John Marshall
2. Susannah Dixon (1738- ) m. John Turner, Jr.
3. Lt. Col. Henry "Hal," Dixon (1740-1782) m. Martha Frances Wynne. Died of battle wounds while serving in the Continental Army. (GGGG Grandparents of Scott K. Williams, author of this Webpage)
4. Lt. Charles Dixon.  (-1806)  did not marry. Also served in the North Carolina Line of the Contitnental Army. Wounded at the Battle of Eutaw Springs.
5. Robert Dixon, (1748-1793) m. Ann Bacon
6. Betsy Dixon, m. Mr. Williams
7. Jane Dixon, m. Joseph Bracklin

In 1782, Capt. Tilman Dixon was one of three North Carolina Continental officers elected to accompany a party, commissioned by the North Carolina Assembly, to survey "bounty lands for it's soldiers along the Cumberland River" (in the present State of Tennessee). In addition to Dixon, elected were Lt. Col. Selby Harney, Maj. John Nelson, Capt. Alexander Brevard and Dr. Thomas Bull ( "included in the party, not only for his medical skills but because he could speak Spanish fluently and much of the land to be surveyed was along the borders of land where Spanish-speaking people resided.").

Following his service of exploration, Tilman Dixon, apparently was awarded the rank of  Major Tilman Dixon. According to Tilman Dixon researcher, Mr. Billy Young, Dixon "In the early part of 1787...Came up the Cumberland River by canoe from Mansker's Station with Col. William stake out their Revolutionary War grants" This was apparently after Dixon's initial visit to the area approximately four to five years earlier. It is very possible that among the "Spanish speaking people" who resided near this area, that Capt. Dixon came to know Maria (Mary) Don Carlos (b. 16 May 1767; d. 26 Aug 1806), daughter of Archelous Carlos (reportably of an aristocratic  Spanish family that had settled first in Virginia.).  A marriage bond was obtained in County of Sussex, Virginia, dated Nov. 16th 1789, by Tilman Dixon with a co-bondsman, Robert Booth.


Maj. Tilman Dixon and Mary Don Carlos had atleast six children and three known grandchildren:

1. Americus Vespucius Dixon, b. 1790; married Lucy J. Jeffreys.
2  Don Carlos Dixon, b. 10 Mar 1792, d. 22 Nov 1841; married 1st Mary Jouett Allen (d. 21 Sep 1815); married 2nd, Elizabeth Harriet Bilbo (b. 21 Jan 1800, d. 16 Oct 1825). Three children born to 2nd marriage:
         a.  Americus Vespucius Dixon ( b. 26 Aug 1820; d. 19 Aug 1826)
        b. Charles William Dixon (b. 22 Mar 1825, d. 3 Sep 1856); married
     Eliza Virginia Bashaw (b. 19 Mar 1833, d. 15 Aug 1853)
c. Elizabeth Mary Dixon ( b. 10 Oct 1822, d. 13 May 1892); married
     James Goree.
3. Polly Greenway Dixon (b. 1794, d. abt 1855 at age 61); Married Col. Archibald Overton.
4. Tilman Tennessee Dixon (b. 1796, d. ? )
5. Betsy Henry Dixon (b. 1799, d. ?)
6. Eliza Henry Dixon (b. 1802, d. 1871)
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Famous Guests

According to Mr. Billy Young (Tilman Dixon researcher and present day owner of "Dixona"),

Maj. Dixon's home was "a long favored stopping place for the owner's friends, and those inclined to more luxurious surroundings than the camp afforded; and many notables were entertained here."


It was here in 1797, that  Dixon entertained the future King of France, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans during the famous, "Tour of America", planned by Gen. George Washington. Other Royal guest included the Counts de Montpensier and Beaujolais (plus a servant), who reported that they "Had at Major Dixon's, the luxury of coffee, and two beds for four." King Louis-Philippe I ruled for eighteen years from 1830 to 1848, before he was forced to abdicate the throne.


In 1792, Gov. William Blount, signer of U.S. Constitution and then Governor of "The Territory South of the Ohio" during a overland journey to Nashville reported visiting Maj. Dixon. On the trail from  Knoxville to Nashville, Blount came across a stray pack horse carrying a "featherbed and trunk filled with hats and shoes. On arriving to Dixon's Spring the next day they found the horse belonged to Dixon. By this, it may be reasonably inferred that he (Dixon) was already a merchant, and the shoes abd hats were being brought across the mountains for his trade."

     It is also reported that Gov. John Sevier (not pictured) frequently visited here when court were held  during the time when Dixona served as a courthouse for Sumner County.

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Family Cemetery
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Above is pictured the grave site of Mary Don Carlos Dixon. (Stone is engraved as "Mrs. Mary Dixon") It consists of an empty "stone box" erected over the ground where the body is buried. It is an old pioneer tradition to construct graves in this fashion, in order to prevent animals from digging into the grave. This is probably an Old World tradition that gradually stopped being practised, as the newer graves (of the Col. Vaughn family) are the conventional upright stones. I was not able to read a stone reading Tilman Dixon, but there are atleast two other "stone box" type graves present (unreadable names) inwhich one undoubtably is his. The nearest one to Mary's grave is a "stone box" that has been badly damaged, with the top caved in, probably from a tree falling down at some time. Many other graves lie here (Col James Vaughn, ect.), unfortunately due to my limited time I was unable do a thorough inspection of the cemetery.

Tall weeds, numerous vines (including Poison Ivy) and small trees will proove a challenge to any clean up effort here.  It is my hope that some civic or veteran group (DAR, SAR, ect.) will adopt this as a project and restore this historic cemetery before it becomes lost forever. Personally, I would be willing to assist in this project if there is others in the area (which I am not, being from St. Louis, Mo.) that would want to take an active part.  In the very least, a new stone or marker should be installed for Maj. Tilman Dixon, a veteran of the War of Independence.

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Dixon's Spring

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Jason Forrest Williams (ggggg grandnephew of Tilman Dixon) at
Dixon Springs (opposite HWY 25 from Dixona).  Cool spring water still flows here.
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Continental Army War Service:


"Appointed Lieutenant in the first North Carolina Regiment 20 Oct. 1775. He first served at the battle of Moores Creek Bridge. He became Captain Feb 15 1777 in the North Carolina Line, Continental Army.  He along with his brothers (Lt. Col. Henry Dixon, Lt. Charles Dixon) and nephew, Wynne Dixon participated in the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, not to mention suffered at Valley Forge. At the fall of Charleston (May 12 1780) he was taken prisoner . Exchanged on 14 June 1781 and retired 1 Jan 1783.  After his exploration of bounty lands along the Cumberland River he obtained a rank of Major."

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Court House


"The first Tribunal held in the County convened in this residence on December 16, 17, 18, 1799, in pursuance to chapter 16 Acts of 1799 General Assembly, designating that the Court should be so held at Major Dixon's house. The accuracy and diligence with which the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas and Sessions was required to function can best be shown by the amount of the clerk's bond. "The said Sampson Williams then entered into bond with Tilman Dixon and Garrett Fitzgerald for securities in the penal sum of $10,000---for faithful discharge of the duties of his office".  This bond at present values would be a bond equal to or greater than a quarter million dollars.  The Court of Nine Justices was ranked between the Justice of Peace Courts and Superior District Courts (The Supreme Courts) and has power to do a great many things, some unusual today, such as the appointment of all County Officials and Public Prosecutor. However they could not give the death penalty. The records are still preserved in the present Smith County Court House at Carthage, Tenn.  At the time of the meeting of the first Court the boundaries of the county were far flung, bounded on the East by the Cherokee Boundary, which was run and marked agreeably to the treaty of Holston. The General Assembly of 1801 extended the boundary of Smith County over the Creek lands to the south boundary of the state, making a county of some 135 miles by 110 miles."

source: "Dixona, Frontier Home, Court House and Tavern", article by Billy Young, reprinted from Nashville Tennessean.
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I am especially indebted to Billy and Faith Young for their courtesy and hospitality to which much of the information and pictures for this Website would not be possible. Also for their excellant work has Dixona been preserved for us to visit today. 
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Mailing Lists

Dixon Family Mailing List ("A mailing list for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the DIXON surname and variations (e.g., Dixson, Dickson) in any place and at anytime.") . How to Subscribe ?  "It's easy -- just click on the list you want. When the "mail-to" window pops up, write just the single word "subscribe" in the body of the message. That's all."

If you want to unsubscribe from a list, click on it and write just the single word "unsubscribe" in the body of the message.

Dixon-L ( for regular mode. Postings come  immediately as separate e-mails.

Dixon-D ( for Digest mode. Postings for that day come alltogether as one e-mail. (My personal favorite)

To Post messages to the Dixon Family Mailing List, send posts  to

Only Send  "subscribe" and "unsubscribe" requests  to or (depending if you have regular mode or digest mode)

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This Website owned and managed by Scott K. Williams, Florissant, Mo.  Email: Showmemule"at" (delete "at" and replace with @ ). Sorry about the inconvenience but due to email harvesting software that spammers use, I have to post it like this.


Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved


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