History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families Page: 317
HITOY F EXS.31
where Washington now stands, about 1620.
Members of this prominent family have beeTn
found in Legislative halls and prominent
positions under the Government, and at the
time of the Revolutionary war did valiant
service on the field of battle. About the
beginning of that struggle, our subject's
great-grandfather. Benoni Dawson, located
in western Pennsylvania, in a section which
is now Beaver county. He was a personal
friend of George Washington, the two families
having been on intimate terms, and a
member of the former family piloted Washington
through the wilderness when he made
his famous trip to Fort Duquesne. Both the
grandfather, Thomas Dawson, and the father
of our subject passed their entire lives in
Beaver county. The latter raised a family
of five sons and one daughter, three of whom
are now living, Benoni and William, still at
the old home place in Beaver county; and
Nicholas, the subject of this sketch.
The latter remained in his native county
until nineteen years of age. At that time
he resolved to see more of the world, and,
having a fair English education, used the
same as a means of furthering his desires,
having taught school in a number of different
States, North and South. Mr. Dawson is
one of the two survivors, who, in 1841, first
performed the difficult feat of crossing the
plains and Rockies in wagons, a full account
of which appeared in the Century magazine ot
November, 1890, written by the other survivor,
Hon. John Bidwell, of California.
The following year Mr. Dawson found himself
on the Pacific slope, where he spent two
years, the first engaged in merchandising,
and the second in seal-hunting. The old
desire for new scenes then came over him,
and he again took up his wanderings. This
time the famous land of the Montezumas
was in his vision, and, with a pony a(nd a
brace of i" navy sixes " for company, iia(le,
his way southward. Mr. l)awon nade the
entire journey alone, and for the inost part
without being molested, arriving safely in the
city of Mexico in the spring of 1844. Fromn
there he journeyed to Vera Cruz, and then
returned to the States, where he taught selhool
as before until the gold fever of 1848 again
set his blood tingling for the center and
source of a new excitement. Leaving his
wife, whom he had but recently married,
with her parents, he joined an expedition,
going by the southern route to the gold fields.
The guides lost their way on the great Staked
Plains, and for days they wandered in a vain
search for water. The wagons were finally
abandoned, that they might press on faster,
and animal instinct was relied on 'to bring
them to water. A mule was turned loose,
and, after several hours of wandering, finally
found refreshment. Ten long, weary months
were consumed in this trip. Mr. Dawson
was successful in his diggings, but made
money more rapidly in freighting. In 1851
he returned to Arkansas, and in the same
year came to Travis county, Texas. He first
located several miles south of Austin, on the
San Antonio road, but after the close of the
war came to his present location, seven miles
southwest of Austin. He bought a small
tract of land, thirty acres of which was
cleared, and lie now owns 372 acres, 190
acres of which is under a fine state of cultivation.
Mr. Dawson was married in Sevier county,
Arkansas, March 29, 1848, to Margaret
Wright, who was born and raised in that
county, and was formerly a pupil of her
husband. She was a daughter of Amos and
Elizabeth (Wilson) Wright, natives respectively
of Tennessee and Kentucky. The
HISTORY OF 2"EXAS.
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Lewis Publishing Company, publisher. History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families, book, 1893; Chicago. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29785/m1/334/ocr/: accessed October 27, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .