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IN SEARCH OF JOHN HENRY DIXON (AND MARGARET SMILEY DIXON)

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Tracing your family roots can be challenging, many times disappointing, more often that not frustrating yet rewarding. As I have been “chasing down” my family, I have been fortunate to have made contacts with other individuals who not only share the passion for genealogy, but our families are sometimes related to each other. Our paths crossed by way of Argenteuil and Terrebonne counties in Quebec and sometimes in Montreal.

The Mille Isles / Morin Heights Historical Associations received an e-mail from an individual by the name of June.She was looking for information on an individual she believed to be her great grandfather, John Henry Dixon. She had limited information and believed he may have been Minister of Christ Church in Mille Isles. The name of John Henry Dixon was given to her aunt by the Anglican Archives in Montreal.

Since October 2004, I have been in regular contact with people living in the Mille Isles and Morin Heights areas. Many thanks to the web master of http://www.morinheights.com who put me in contact with individuals of the local historical associations of Mille Isles and Morin Heights, one of which happened to be a cousin to me as well!

For some reason, I have a knack of finding elusive church records. So Shirley, from the associations turned to me and asked if I had seen any reference to this John Henry Dixon who was being mentioned.I have amassed massive amounts of church records for the Argenteuil and Terrebonne county regions in Quebec. Upon inspection of my Anglican files, I discovered records with a signature of a minister who signed his name Jas. H. Dixon. The church was Christ in Mille Isles, covering a period of about 1868-1870.One of the records happened to be the burial of Jane McCullough, my GGM.

Did that stop me from looking any further?No way!But I was confused that I found James and not John, yet I do know that James and John are sometimes interchanged.I re-read bits of the History of the Counties Argenteuil, Quebec and Prescott, Ontario by C. Thomas.I noted references to a J.H. Dickson at Mille Isles but also found James Henry Dixon and St. Matthew’s in Grenville. Could this be one and the same individual?

Once again, I started looking at a church record film from Holy Trinity in Lakefield as I have so many times over and over again.There I found a baptismal record for a Francis Connolly Dixon in 1869.The father was none other than James Henry Dixon, occupation: “Catechist,” and the mother Frances Connolly. Could this James be the same as June’s John?

I took off with that information and found an 1881 census for Montreal listing a family with James Henry Dixon as the head of the family whose occupation was minister.Not only was June trying to find John, she was also trying to find her grandmother Margaret Smiley Dixon.She did not know how the Smiley name fit in but she was eager to find out why.In the census, Margaret was listed as a child with a year born close to information June had from Margaret’s grave marker.

Sharing the census information with June was rewarding.Ste-Antoine Ward, the name of the ward on the census was what June had remembered from family conversations.

In the meantime, I sent a request to the Anglican Diocese of Montreal asking if they had a marriage of Margaret Smiley Dixon to a Robert A.S. Allan in the late 1890’s. I also asked about a baptismal record for Margaret and possible information about James Henry Dixon as a minister.Well, here is disappointment…

They did not locate a marriage record or a baptismal but they did find a death record for James Henry Dixon.He was at rest in Morin, had been rector of St. Jude’s in Montreal, and a few other tidbits of information were listed.They did locate a baptismal record for Mary Louisa Dixon, the church, St. Matthew’s in Grenville.The parents were again James Henry Dixon and Frances Connolly.
Reviewing church records for St. Matthew’s in Grenville for who knows how many times, I discovered a Jas. H. Dixon, minister.Sharing this new found information with June, and the Montreal information, she mentioned she had also heard of references of St. Jude’s in Montreal.Off I went and ordered a church record film for St. Jude’s in Montreal.Here in the States, we can only access records up to 1900.In reviewing the records, I did find James as rector for quite a length of time, almost 30 years of service.

Several interesting pieces of the puzzle surfaced as a result of looking through St. Jude’s Anglican Church records.Margaret Smiley Dixon married Herbert Haig Dyson in 1893 and a subsequent death record for Herbert in 1898 was located.The plot thickens as I found a burial record for Margaret Connolly. This name was listed in the 1881 census with James and the family. She was buried back in Grenville.This individual is possibly the mother of Frances, James’ wife.

June’s sister Joan remembered their father stating his mother was married before.They also both have memories with staying in Brownsburg during some summer months as young girls.Though they had not stayed with relatives, the memory was important to remember some 60 years later.The story does not stop in Brownsburg or Montreal…

On we move to Rawdon Township. Reviewing the Episcopal Church records of Rawdon Township, I found a baptismal for a child with parents of John Dixon and Margaret Smiley.More review located a baptismal record for James Henry Dixon in 1842, parents John and Margaret, burial records for family members indicating where in Ireland the family came from and more and more.

I guess we may now know why June’s grandmother’s name was Margaret Smiley Dixon.

My e-mail to June that evening was totally rewarding.These are her exact words after telling her what I found: “You are amazing, Peggy, you have found me a whole family reunion! Thank you!”

While June was elated, she still had reservations and was skeptical about what I found.Until we can find proof of a marriage of Margaret to a Robert, or a baptismal of Margaret with John and Frances as parents, this all may mean nothing.But do not give up hope.I have nick-names of the Energizer Bunny, Sherlock and Goldie as well as a few more.

I am determined to find more, especially since I have found James rather than John as June first mentioned.But June feels pretty confident that what I located, falls right in line with what she and her sister remember.

Well, on June 17, 2006, while looking through an index from Montreal marriages from 1900-1925, I located a marriage of Robert Art Stewart Allan to Margaret S. Dixon, (wid).The church was none other than St. Jude’s in Montreal.Off to the races once more waiting on the Anglican Diocese in Montreal.

I also found a query on roots web for an individual looking for information Eliza Jane Dixon and Moses Job.Eliza Jane just happened to be a sister of none other than of James Henry Dixon.June now has real family, living near Ottawa. Now how cool is that?Gratifying and satisfying for sure; well worth the 6 months of research I put into this.

My efforts now focus to finding where James Henry Dixon is buried.As the record from St. Jude Church lists, “at rest in Morin.” I also hope to find a minister by the name of John Henry Dixon in the Mille Isles / Morin area but for now, June believes James is really John.After all, James father’s name is John.

To be continued…