Dedman Family, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
February 6, 2009
During the years of my research into the pioneers of the town of Madison, I often encountered connections to the Dedman family. However, I never particularly focused upon their family history. When I wrote the book “Memories of Madison, a Connected Community, 1857 – 2007” as a volunteer for the Historical Society and the City of Madison, I did not include significant coverage of this family. The omission was due to the principle premise of the book, wherein it primarily tells of families associated with the houses of the historic district. The fact is, at the time of writing the book, I did not know where the Dedman families of Madison resided in the area. Furthermore, at that time I knew of no highly significant connection to the families that were covered in the book.
A few days after the book was sent to the print shop by the publisher, I was contacted by Dovie Reiff, a descendant of the Dedmans, who gave me the benefit of her years of research into the family history. Dovie was concerned that many in the family had failed to recognize that the David D. Dedman who in 1858 married Icyminda Canterbury of the Madison area was not the same man as her ancestor, another David D. Dedman, who married Ann H. Erwin in Madison County in 1845. Icyminda was abandoned by her husband David after only two weeks of marriage. Icyminda continued to live with her father, Charles M. Canterbury, until 1869 when she married Francis A. Brockway, a former Union soldier who had been born in Connecticut and served in a Wisconsin unit, but moved to Madison soon after the Civil War. Icyminda was 15 years younger than Francis, but their marriage lasted until his death in 1901. The facts of her first marriage were documented in affidavits given when she applied for a pension as the widow of a Union soldier. The affidavits recounted her abandonment by David D. Dedman, who had for the first time come to Madison only a few weeks before his marriage to Icyminda. The affidavits told of his return to Marengo County 13 days after the marriage.
While the 1850 census doesn’t show Ann H. Erwin Dedman with the other David, the 1860 – 1880 census records show them living in Madison. It took a widow’s pension application to resolve the census record mystery of what seemed to be a Dedman man with two different wives in the same years and a Dedman wife with two different husbands through time. It turns out that Icyminda’s first husband was a nephew of the David Dedman who always lived in Madison. His father Samuel was a brother of Madison’s David Dedman. Samuel moved to Marengo County, Alabama, soon after his son David was born in Madison County. The Madison Dedmans were part of a group of families of that name who came from Lunenburg and Mecklenburg Counties of Virginia in the early 1800s. Dovie Reiff has documented their ancestry back to a Phillip Dedman who died in 1770 in York County, Virginia. That Phillip had a son named Samuel who in turn had four children who moved to Madison and Limestone Counties of Alabama. Samuel’s sons Henry Howard, Phillip, and James Francis Dedman all moved to Madison County, while his daughter “Elinor” settled in Limestone County with her second husband Joseph Medley. Elinor’s son Larkin S. White (a child by her first husband Larkin White Senior) lived in Madison County, near the Whitworth family. The younger Phillip Dedman’s children lived mostly around Monrovia and Harvest, intermarrying with the Wall, Tuck, Vaughan / Vaughn, Halsey, and Hilliard families of the area.
James Francis Dedman’s children lived more in and around the town of Madison. His daughter Elizabeth married Daniel Whitworth, son of Roland and grandson of Thomas Whitworth. In the census of 1860 Francis Dedman at age 65 was enumerated as part of the household of his son-in-law Daniel Whitworth. Another of the children of Francis was the Samuel who moved to Marengo County after marrying Sarah Ann Whitworth here. His daughter Laura Ann married Elijah Fitts of the Rainbow Mountain family. His son David married Ann Erwin, as already mentioned, and one of their daughters married John Frank Martin, a son of Richard Martin and brother of George Washington Martin, first lot owner and storekeeper of Madison. Another of the daughters of David and Ann Dedman, Susan Elizabeth, married James Madison Douthit, who was in the late 1800s a pastor of Madison Baptist Church, now called First Baptist Church of Madison. One of their grandsons, J. D. Douthit, also served as pastor of the church 1956 – 1960.
Some of the other surnames of this area linked to the Dedman families here and back in Virginia included Dunn, Hughes, Fennell, Clark, Aday, and Knox. Francis’ first wife Temperance Crafton (mother of the children named above) died, and in 1855 Francis married Mary Elizabeth Blankenship, who had 22 years earlier married William Dedman, a son of Francis’ brother Phillip. In the 1830 Madison County census, Raymond Blankenship was enumerated beside Phillip Dedman. It just shows how important it was in the old days to choose your neighbors carefully, as their children would likely become marriage partners for your children, or even for your siblings.