Notes and Documents
Frances Trask: Early Texas Educator
DAN R. MANNING*
Frances Judith Somes Trask was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on
July 20, 1806. She was a daughter of Israel Trask and Judith Somes
Trask, who were married on September 26, 1790.2 Frances had four sis-
ters and two brothers. Following a proper New England upbringing and
formal schooling in a New York seminary for young ladies," she was
drawn toward a life quite different from her early years ... westward into
the American frontier.
Trask's opportunity to partake of new horizons came with the founding
of a village in Michigan Territory by her cousin's husband, John Dix (born
in Littleton, Massachusetts, on February 2, 1796). Dix, a veteran of the
War of 1812, had been involved with the shipping trade in the Pacific
Ocean between Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Sandwich Islands
(present-day Hawaii).' He acquired three parcels of property in May 1824,
and received patents signed by President John Quincy Adams on April 1,
1825, for just under 470 acres, all in Township Two South, Range Seven
East, in the District of Detroit, for which he paid $1.25 per acre.5
Sometime during his transition from seafarer to inland real estate
developer, John Dix courted Mary Eliza Hayes (born in Gloucester,
* Dan R. Manning of Fair Grove, Missouri, has transcribed, compiled, and edited "The
Mexican War Journal of John James Dix, a Texian," published in Mzlitary Hzstory of the West
(Spring, 1993), and "The Rancho Ramirena Journal ofJohn James Dix, a Texian," pubhshed in
the Southwestern Historical Quarterly (July, 1994). He admires the character strength of Frances
Trask, which is prevalent m her distant cousins, his wife, Betty, and their children
1 Emma F. Lakin to A. A. Grusendorf, Mar. 1937, Trask papers (Archives Division, Texas State
Library, Austin); hereafter cited as Trask papers.
2 Topsfield Historical Society, "Vital records of Gloucester, Mass.," vol. 2 (1806), Marriages,
s Lakin to Grusendorf, Mar. 1937, Trask papers.
4 Obituary ofJohn Dix, Peninsula Couner &Family Vistant (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Mar. 18, 1870.
' History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), lo65,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed August 30, 2015.