Kit # 1412. Elizabeth Hatler b.c. 1774 VA or TN + John Bitner 1790 Washington Co, TN > Sarah Bitner b. 1804 TN + John Kitchen Dawson 1822 Sevier Co, TN > Mary Jane Dawson b. 1834 Rush Co, IN + William Wilshire Williams 1850 Keokuk Co, IA > Sarah Catherine Williams b. 1853 Keokuk Co, IA + James Marshall McCorkle 1872 KS HVR1 Haplogroup U4b1  
HVR1 Mutations 16263C
HVR2 Mutations 73G

Copyright © December 2003, updated 2010
Mary Fern Souder

Generation 1: Elizabeth Hatler was born ca. 1774 in Virginia or Tennessee. On 3 November 1790 she married John Bitner in Washington County, TN, with Adam Painter serving as bondsman. There is some circumstantial evidence that Elizabeth was the daughter of Sebastian Hatler, born 21 October 1733 in Enzweihingen, Wuerttemberg, Germany, and his wife, Barbara. Sebastian HATNER received a land grant in Washington County, TN, in 1787. Sebastian HITTLER was enumerated next to John Bitner on Capt. Gann's Company of the 1797 Tax List in Washington County, TN, and on the 1798 Washington County Tax List he was listed Sebastian HETLER, and again enumerated beside John Bitner.

In 1803 John Bitner bought 152 acres from Jeremiah Broyles in Greene County, TN. John's name continued to appear on various documents in Greene County, such as jury duty, tax lists and petitions. In 1811 he bought 41 acres in Greene County, TN, from Jacob Miller of Washington County, TN. He was taxed in 1814 in Washington County, TN. He undoubtedly bought additional land due to the large amount of money his estate received from the sale of his land at the time of his death, and the fact that he had property in both Washington and Greene Counties, TN. In 1818 his proven daughter, Catherine Bitner, married Joseph Snapp in Greene County, TN.

It is believed that John Bitner died after 1 September 1822 in Sevier County, TN (when his putative daughter, Sarah Bitner, married John Kitchen Dawson in Sevier County) and certainly before 20 March 1826 (when his estate was probated and the remainder of his land was sold). The reason for the beginning parameter for his death is that John Bitner probably would not have chosen John K. Dawson to be the administrator of his estate until his daughter, Sarah Bitner, had married John K. Dawson.

The 1826 deed of sale listed John K. Dawson as administrator and Elizabeth Bitner as

administratrix of the estate of John Bitner. At the time of the sale both John K. Dawson and Elizabeth Bitner were living in Sevier County, TN. The deed for this particular tract conveyed land in Washington and Greene Counties, TN, on both sides of Horse Creek, to Jacob Hoyle of Greene County, TN, for $3,000. No acreage was listed in the deed. References were made to nearby property owned by William Bitner, Jacob Miller, John Howser, and James Dawson, and property previously owned by John Bitner, decd., and Mathias Broyles. Witnesses were Adam Painter, junr., and William Bitner.

John K. Dawson (his seal)
Elizabeth Bitner (her seal)

It should be noted that Adam Painter, junr. and William Bitner were not examined by the Court Clerk until 7 April 1838, and the deed was recorded on 30 May 1838 in Greene County, TN, some 12 years after the sale. Greene County, TN, Deed Book 19, p.p. 155-6. (The handwriting of this deed is very clear and the photocopy is easy to read).

In 1850, Elizabeth Hatler Bitner, age 85, was living in Sevier County, TN, in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and Joseph Snapp, who had married on 14 September 1818 in Greene County, TN. This researcher has not seen any documents that prove the names of any of the remaining children of Elizabeth Hatler and John Bitner. Circumstantial evidence of varying strength suggests that their other children, in birth order, were William D. Bitner who md. Delilah Prather, Elizabeth Bitner who md. John Broyles, Hannah Bitner who md. Henry Felix Earnest, Hannah Bitner who md. Samuel Lawrence Lotspeich, Sarah Bitner who md. John Kitchen Dawson, Hiram Bitner who md. Lydia E. Lowe, Violet Bitner who md. George Burton, and Stephen Bitner who md. Susannah Lauderbach and Rebecca Gates, widow of Ezekiel Stephens.

Generation 2: Sarah Bitner was born 3 May 1802 in the Cumberland Mountains of Greene County, TN. She married John Kitchen Dawson on 1 September 1822 in Sevier County, TN. He was the son of James Dawson (who is mentioned above as owning land adjacent to John Bitner), and his wife Jane Kitchen. John Kitchen Dawson was a cabinetmaker, farmer, and Methodist minister, and he and Sarah were quite literate and kept thorough records.

After staying in Tennessee for a short time after their marriage, Sarah and John K. Dawson went to Rush County, IN, where in the summer of 1830 or 1831 he was the founding minister of Balls Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in Posey Township. Elijah Carter and his wife, Susannah, deeded one acre to the Church Trustees who, in addition to John K. Dawson, were Henry Glendenning, Andrew Elswick, Benjamin Walker, and George Burton (who married Violet Bitner on 10 July 1831 in Rush County, IN). This is the same church where Dayton H. Bitner, son of Stephen Bitner and his second wife, Mrs. Rebecca Gates Stephens, served as Trustee from 1852 until the closing of the church in 1899.

It is believed that John K. and Sarah Dawson were the couple enumerated on the 1830 census in Fayette County, IN. Two households headed by John Dawson lived there, and the configuration of their households was almost identical. Perhaps the couple moved within the year and they were enumerated twice.

John K. Dawson of Fayette County, IN, patented 80 acres in Rush County, IN, on 17 April 1833. It was located on the W SE , Sec. 32, Twp. 15N, Range 9E, and was a cash sale. John K. Dawson sold this land to Simeon Wiltse? on 2 January 1834, for $700.00 cash. Deed Book E, p. 592.

On 1 August 1839 John Kitchen Dawson of Rush County, IN, patented 120 acres in Davies County, IN, located in the SW NE , and the W SE of Sec. 5N, Twp. 5N, Range 5N, and it was a cash purchase. However, in 1840 he and Sarah were enumerated in Jefferson Township in the south half of Putnam County, IN.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees for Carters meeting house held at Jonathan Ball's on August 11, 1842, Jonathan Ball was elected to fill the place of Elijah Carter, removed; Sabert S. Offutt, in place of Benjamin Walker, removed; and William L. Reed in place of John K. Dawson, removed.

The Dawson's stay in Davies and Putnam Counties was not long because in the March term of 1846, John K. Dawson served with four other men on the Commissioners Court to consider and approve a proposal to construct a courthouse in Rushville, Rush County, IN.

By the time of the 1850 census, the Dawsons had moved to Keokuk County, IA. On 24 April 1854, John K. Dawson and wife Sarah Bitner, gave one acre more or less to establish a cemetery in the northwest part of the SE 1/4, NW 1/4, Sec. 22, Twp 74 N, Range 12 W in Steady Run Township, Keokuk County, IA. On the same day they gave one-half acre to build a Methodist Episcopal Church. Trustees were James D. Williams (husband of Mary Jane Dawson), Hosea F. Lottspeach (sic), son of Polly Bitner Lotspeich, and Philip Henninger (relationship unknown). Keokuk County historians have researched this cemetery and church. On 15 May 1854 Jacob Bottoroff and wife Sally gave one-half acre, and additional land in October 1854 in order to have the cemetery located closer to the church. The number of burials outgrew the space allotted, and in 1875 one-half acre was purchased from the adjoining farmer by J. A. Coleman and wife Rachel Dawson (daughter of Sarah Bitner and John K. Dawson), and given to the church. At this time many bodies were removed from the 1854 plot and moved to the last acquired piece. It is assumed that all of the bodies were transferred. The old plot no longer has any headstones and is being farmed. In 1975 when the history Keokuk County cemetery research was done, J. Ward Morgan owned that land (excepting the cemetery).

In the late 1860's, John K. Dawson heard of a man, Charles Carroll Dawson (born 1833 in New York) now living in Plainfield, NJ, who was compiling biographical sketches of "all individuals bearing the name Dawson." (C. C. Dawson worked for almost a decade in Des Moines, IA beginning in the late 1850's's, and it may have been possible that the two men actually met). C.C. Dawson had an extremely varied career that included working as a bookkeeper, cashier, librarian, book seller, publisher, superintendent of Public Schools, State agent for Aetna Insurance Company of Hartford, CT, attorney, and finally, controlling the contract of sale for Congress and Empire Spring Waters, and owning the spring property at Saratoga, NY. John K. Dawson corresponded with Charles Dawson and sent him biographical information for himself, his parents, his siblings, his wife, children, and grandchildren. Charles C. Dawson's book, published in 1874, was entitled "A Collection of Family Records with Biographical Sketches and other Memoranda of Various Families and Individuals Bearing the Name DAWSON," published by Joel Munsell, Albany New York.

Although the names of our ancestors, Sarah Bitner and John K. Dawson, had been orally passed down, as well as written in pencil on a thin and worn sheet of tablet paper carefully kept by of Addie May McCorkle Vanpool (1883-1958), the courthouse burned in Sevier County, TN, and marriage records from there are available since only 1856. The discovery of Charles C. Dawson's book provided documentary proof that Sarah Bitner had married John Kitchen Dawson on 1 September 1822 in Sevier County, TN. The biography of the extended family of John K. Dawson may be seen in Charles C. Dawson's book, p.p. 267-73.

"Rev. J. K. Dawson" and "Mrs. J. K. Dawson" (Sarah Bitner) are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, Section 2 North, Row 18, Keokuk County, IA. Buried next to them are two of their children, Violet and Benjamin F. "Frank" Dawson, who died young, and a granddaughter Emma Dawson and husband Asbury Stalker. Next to this group of Dawsons are members of the extended Bitner family. These burials begin with Hosea F. Lotspeich, born 1818, who died in 1860, and was the son of Samuel Lawrence Lotspeich and Polly Bitner, previously of Rush County, IN, and originally from Greene County, TN. Hosea F. Lotspeich had much tragedy in that so many of his children died young. Buried with him (and next to the Dawson plot) are the following Lotspeich children and their ages at death: Samuel S., age two months; Sarah J., age 18 years, William Caspers, age 87 years, Martha M., age18 months, Alfred D., age 15 years, and Barbara R., age 3 years. Hosea's wife, Jemima A. "Mima" Lotspeich did not die until 1914 at age 92.

Sarah Bitner and John Kitchen Dawson named their children, in order of birth, William "Riley" Dawson, Minerva Jane Dawson, Elizabeth Dawson, James Beckley Dawson, Violet Dawson, Mary Jane Dawson, Louisa Catherine Dawson, Rachel Eddy Dawson, John Marion Dawson, Sarah "Ellen" Dawson, and Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Dawson.

Generation 4: Mary Jane Dawson was born 17 August 1834 in Rush County, IN, and married William Wilshire Williams on 24 December 1850 in Keokuk County, IA. He was the son of James Douglas Williams and Ruth Peckinpaugh. On 30 December 1854, William Wilshire and Mary Jane Dawson Williams bought land in Steady Run Township from her parents, John K. and Sarah Bitner Dawson. They farmed in Keokuk County until at least 1863, and then moved to northern Missouri and bought land in Sullivan County. In August of 1866 they sold their Sullivan County land to John Boise. At the time of the sale they were already living in Putnam County, MO.

William and Mary Jane stayed in Putnam County for less than four years, and moved to Lola Township, Cherokee County, KS, at about the same time his parents did. In 1870 William and Mary Jane were enumerated with $600 in personal property and lived beside his parents, who had $1,000 in real estate. Although these families lived in Cherokee County, the closest town to them was Oswego in Labette County, KS, and they received their mail from Oswego. Mary Jane's younger sister and husband, Rachel Eddy Dawson and James A. Coleman, also left Iowa and bought land in Labette County before 1900.

William and Mary Jane Williams have not been located on an 1880 census. Perhaps they were living just across the Kansas line in Indian Territory, where it was not yet legal for white people to live, and white people were not enumerated unless they were living in an Indian household.

In about 1884, Mary Jane and William boarded a train at the station in Wyandotte, Indian Territory (located in what later became Ottawa County, OK, and moved to Porterville, Tulare County, CA. They went there to join their youngest daughter, Eva (pronounced "Eh-vie") Williams, and her husband, Clem Tutt, who had previously moved there. William Wilshire Williams wrote letters back to his daughter, Cassie Williams McCorkle, telling her about the little place they had bought, and the wonderful fruit that he grew in the orchard. William Wilshire Williams, age 63, was listed on the Tulare County Great Registry of 1890, in Traver District.

Mary Jane Dawson Williams suffered from arthritis and she and William liked to go up into the mountains, camp out in the dry air, and visit the hot springs. An important keepsake in our family is called " The Letter Etched in Black," which was written by Clem Tutt on 2 October 1892. It notified Cassie Williams McCorkle of the accidental death of her father, William Wilshire Williams, on 27 September 1892.

Letter Etched in Black
(The envelope and stationery were decorated with a thin black border, and were consistently used to send notification of a person's death. Even before the envelope was opened, the recipient knew that someone had died).

The envelope was addressed to:
Mr. James McCorkle
Ind. Ter.
Stamped with a two cent stamp
Dated October 2, 1892
Porterville, Cal.

Content of the letter:

Porterville Oct 2 1892

Dear Sister and Family it is with the deapest of Sorrow that I reveal to you the Sad news of your Dear beloved Father by all appearance of the Condition of his Body he was Instantly killed by one of his horses as his body was bruised and lent in a Frightful manner why it is thought he was Instantly killed was that the Wounds on his Body did not stain his Clothes with Blood there was not a drop of blood to be found on him Your mother and Father at the time of the sad axident was about fifty Miles from here in the Mountains at the Hot springs they was going to start home that day that was last Tuesday the 27 day of September I got the news the next day after about 4 oclock I taken the undertaker and started and got there about half past 7 o clock Thursday morning I sent his body down by the undertaker and I got his team and brought your mother home with me we got Home about 9 o clock on the 30 day of September and when I got here I found that we was compeled to Beary him that day he was bearryed about 3 o clock Your Mother says that they was going to start home that day he left there camp about 10 in the Morning and he was found about ten the next day it was by a mear Chance that he was ever found at all but there is strange things will happen there was two young men hapened to be going through the Mountains and they say that they saw him laying on the Ground and thought that it was sombod laying there asleep he was laying on his side and showed no signs of any strugleing he had two halters with him and they were both on his left arm his right arm had the hide torn from the elbow to the rist one of his horses had a bell on and it was thought at the Inquest that he had put his arm through the collar and the horse must of scared and jerked him down and trampled him to death.

Well I will close for this time.

Yours Respectfully,
H. C. Tutt

Letter courtesy of Fannie McCorkle Wagner, Miami, OK. Transcribed by Mary Fern Vanpool Souder, 1993. Spelling and punctuation conform to the original, with spaces left between the sentences by transcriber for ease of reading

Mary Jane and William were the parents of four children, Sarah Catherine "Cassie" Williams, James F. "Jim" Williams who married Mary A. "Mollie" Shutt, Martha Josephine "Joey" Williams who married William L. Bill Spence, and Eva M. "Ehvie" Williams who married Henry C. "Clem" Tutt.

Mary Jane Dawson Williams died in 1901 and is buried at the Porterville Cemetery with William Wilshire Williams and a granddaughter, Frankie Tutt, who died in 1897. William and Frankie have tombstones, but although the cemetery sexton has a record of the location of Mary Jane's gravesite, she has no marker.

Generation 5: Sarah Catherine "Cassie" Williams was born 30 October 1853 in Keokuk County, IA, and married James Marshall McCorkle on 28 March 1872 in Cherokee County, KS. She and James were members of the Quaker Church, and the parents of nine children. She was fondly remembered for her good humor and wit, and that she loved to tell jokes. She died on 14 October 1934 in Miami, Ottawa County, OK, after 62 years of marriage.


Last Updated on 11/19/2010
By Wallace W. Souder