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Dixon, Simon

by Frances Osborne Gust, 1986


Simon Dixon, quaker pioneer and miller, was born in Lancaster County, Pa. He was the grandson of William Dixon who moved to Pennsylvania from Ireland in 1638. His father, Thomas Dixon, a Pennsylvania Quaker, married Hannah Hadley on 20 Aug. 1727 at New Garden Meeting, New Castle, Del. At a public sale, Thomas bought a cradle in which a baby had died of smallpox. He brought it home on his horse, resting it in front of him. A short time later he developed smallpox and died in 1734 at age thirty. His widow was left with three small children: Simon, seven years; Rebecca, four years; and Ruth, about one year. On 13 Aug. 1742 Hannah Dixon married John Stanfield.

In the general Quaker migration from Pennsylvania into Virginia and the Carolinas, Simon Dixon—now age twenty-one—arrived in the spring of 1749 in the vicinity of Cane Creek, Orange (now Alamance) County, N.C., and unloaded his wagon on the north bank of the creek. (Today, this area is the community of Snow Camp.) He cleared some land, built a typical pioneer cabin of logs cut from the virgin forest, and planted a crop of corn. However, the primitive surroundings coupled with loneliness promoted discouragement and homesickness, causing him to return to his native Pennsylvania in the spring of 1751.

In 1752 Dixon married Elizabeth Allen. The following year, he returned to North Carolina accompanied by his wife and other settlers including two sisters and his mother, Hannah Hadley Dixon Stanfield. In 1751 he had purchased a vast tract of land from Earl Granville. Dixon's tract, combined with that of a friend, surrounded what is now Snow Camp and Cane Creek. On this land he and his family constructed a house of native stone, cutting and splitting logs by hand for flooring and doors. In 1753 he also built a rock dam across Cane Creek using a team of oxen to haul the rock. The creek provided waterpower for grinding grain in a mill that he soon built. Inside was a set of millstones brought from Pennsylvania. Known through the years as Dixon's Mill, it was repaired and partly rebuilt several times and served the community well. In 1946 the aged structure was torn down, but the millstones had been rescued earlier. At a reunion of Simon Dixon's descendants in 1925 at Cane Creek Friends Meeting, one of the millstones was placed at his gravesite as a memorial to him and his family for their contribution to the community and to the meeting.

By industry and economy Dixon accumulated a good deal of property. The countryside along Cane Creek filled fast with immigrants mostly from Pennsylvania. Their need for goods other than what they produced themselves was met when Dixon built a store. Each spring and fall he traveled by wagon to Philadelphia to replenish his stock. Entries found in his old account book indicate that he sold his goods for something above cost and carriage.

A week after the Battle of Guilford Court House, probably about 20 Mar. 1781, British troops stopped at Snow Camp and took over the Dixon house as headquarters. Dixon and his family were forced to take refuge elsewhere. Tradition emphasizes that Lord Cornwallis kept himself warm before an open fire in the Dixon home, sitting in a straight armchair. It is thought that the soldiers tried to run the gristmill; they failed because Dixon had jammed the mill wheel, making its operation impossible. According to another legend, some of Cornwallis's men, believing that Dixon possessed a money box, tortured him with red hot iron tongs to make him reveal its location. The chair and the tongs are now in the city museum of Greensboro.[*]

The British resumed their march to Wilmington on 25 Mar. 1781. A few days later Dixon, about sixty years old, died from so-called camp fever contracted from some of the soldiers. Death came while he sat in the same armchair that was much used by Cornwallis. He was buried in the cemetery of the Cane Creek Friends Meeting, of which he had been a charter member.

Simon and Elizabeth Allen Dixon had eight children: Thomas, John, Naomi, Jesse, Simon, Solomon, Benjamin, and Elizabeth.

Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: 

* Note: This article incorrectly states that the tongs allegedly used to torture a confession out of Dixon are in the Greensboro Historical Museum. The GHM does not hold this object.


Simon Dixon, Recollections of Cornwallis' Encampment at Dixon's Mill, Orange Co., 1781 (n.d.).

Juanita O. Euliss, comp., History of Snow Camp, North Carolina (1971).

Greensboro Daily News, 2 Nov. 1925.

Wade H. Hadley et al., Chatham County, 1771–1971 (1976).

Lyndon Stuart, A Short History of Cane Creek Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Snow Camp, North Carolina (1951).

Walter Whitaker, Centennial History of Alamance County, 1849–1949 (1949).

Additional Resources:

"Snow Camp." N.C. Highway Historical Marker G-76, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed February 4, 2014).

Vincent, William Murray. Historic Alamance County: An Illustrated History. San Antonio, Texas: Historical Publishing Network. 2009. 8. (accessed February 4, 2014).

John Allen (1749-1826) Papers, 1756-1877, 1900-1904. State Archives of North Carolina. (accessed February 4, 2014). (accessed February 4, 2014).

Origin - location: 


Simon most likely didn't go back home due to loneliness. He went back to home to get his family after having gotten the land ready. This was a common in the pioneer days. The men would go build their homes and get land prepared, sometimes even planting a crop, and then would go back and bring their families afterward.

The old Mill are still standing. In 1946 the mill was moved from its original location about 500 feet to Apple Mill Rd , and rebuilt close to the old miller's home (still standing), no longer has a paddle wheel or even on on the creek.

Brief comment on the statement: "...William Dixon who moved to Pennsylvania from Ireland in 1638", which I believe is incorrect.
The Irish records of the (Quaker) Lurgan Monthly Meeting Minutes state he married Isabelle Rea in the Parish of Segoe, County Armagh, Ireland in 1683.
Following the death of his wife, William was part of the Quaker emigration from Ireland and arrived Pennsylvania in 1688.
He married Ann Gregg in 1690.
Possibly the date 1638 is simply a transcription error for what I think is the correct date of 1688.
Kind regards.

Glad to stumble on this, my father Tom was from Alamance County on what is now called Dixon Rd. The family is still farming the same land I spent many a summer on and heard many a tail about the Quakers and Snow Camp.

Dear Kenneth,

Thank you for visiting and commenting on NCpedia. Have a wonderful week!

Francesca Evans, Government & Heritage Library

Hello, I am so happy to find this as I am researching my family tree. Simon Dixon is my Direct ancestor (8 generations). Please, if you would be so kind to find immigration records for his father "He was the grandson of William Dixon who moved to Pennsylvania from Ireland in 1638. " I would be forever grateful - thank you very much!

I too am a direct descendant! Another cousin has built a substantial tree in Ancestry. I would be interested if you were able to find immigration records. Please contact me!

Hello. If its the same my sameul adam dixon son of henry dixon who wife was ruth dixon. Married mary ann elizabeth duncan had ellender ella jane dixon who was my great great grandmother had my great grandmother lucy dovey evans then married my great grandfather lawrence fero shue sometimes spelled shoe.

I'm writing from the Greensboro History Museum (GHM) about the Simon Dixon biography and one detail that I believe to be factually incorrect. As curator of collections at the museum, I can confirm that in 1953, the museum acquired the chair mentioned in the last sentence of the paragraph on the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. To the best of my knowledge, however, the museum did not acquire a pair of tongs as the same sentence indicates. I am not commenting on the veracity of the statement about the use of heated tongs to torture Simon Dixon. Rather, my intent is to clarify that the chair is in the collection of the Greensboro History Museum, but the tongs are not.

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