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Dickson, William

Born: 1783-03-27 Newburgh, New York

Died: 1869-11-25 Camden Mills, Illinois

Flourished: Camden Mills, Illinois

Alternate name: Dixon

William Dickson was a farmer, War of 1812 veteran, and a pioneer settler and founder of Camden Mills, Illinois. He spent his early years in his native Newburgh, New York. After the American Revolution, Dickson relocated with his family to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where he lived until he was eighteen, when he moved to a farm in Erie County, near Lake Erie and purportedly learned some engineering skills. In 1803, Dickson married Elizabeth Barron. Elizabeth Dickson died in September 1810, and in May 1812, Dickson married Christiana Moorhead, with whom he had at least one child. Dickson became fairly well-known in Erie County, serving as a captain in the War of 1812 and sitting for a time on the Pennsylvania Board of Canal Commissioners. In 1834, he rode on horseback from Erie County to Illinois, exploring the area for some time before returning to Pennsylvania. In January 1836, Christiana Dickson died, and in February 1837, Dickson married Mariam C. Davison. In the spring of 1837, he moved his family from Pennsylvania to a site of interest to him in Illinois, on the banks of the Rock River. He spent at least $9,000 acquiring land in the area, and in 1843, Dickson platted the village of Camden, which was renamed Camden Mills in 1848. In 1850, Dickson was farming and living near Camden Mills. Recognized as a prominent citizen, in 1858 he served as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. In 1860, Dickson was still farming and owned $8,000 in real estate and another $2,900 in personal wealth. He owned and operated a successful water-powered grist mill and lived on the site of a previous Sac Nation town until moving to Camden Mills proper, two years before his death. Dickson fathered nine children during his lifetime.

Historic Rock Island County (Rock Island, IL: Kramer, 1908), 105; U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (Provo, UT: Operations, 2004); Elizabeth Byrant Johnston, Lineage Book National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, DC: n.p., 1898), 5:345; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), 10 June 1858, 2:3; The Evening Argus (Rock Island, IL), 29 November 1867, 2:1-3; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Rock Island County, IL, 229; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Rock Island County, IL, 35; Tracy Campbell Dickson, comp., Some of the Descendants of William Dickson and Elizabeth Campbell of Cherry Valley, New York (Brattleboro, VT: Stephen Daye, 1937), 32.