Martin Fifer Dotson was born May 18, 1834 in North Carolina. He was the youngest child of Josiah Harrison “Harris” Dotson (1790-1894) and Easter Rogers Dotson (1795-1876 ca). Fifer Dotson married Mary Connor (June 11, 1839–November 22, 1924) around 1856. When the Civil War broke out, Martin Fifer Dotson joined the side of the Confederacy. He enlisted July 15, 1861, the same day his brothers Nelson and Josiah Dotson enlisted. All three brothers were in Company H, NC Infantry of the Confederate Army. Fifer Dotson was captured on April 6, 1865 at Farmville, Virginia.
After the war he and his wife Mary lived in the Bat Cave section of Edneyville Township in Henderson County. Both Fifer and Mary Dotson attended Bat Cave Baptist Church. When Martin Fifer Dotson died on July 3, 1901, he was buried in Bat Cave Baptist Church Cemetery. Mary Connor Dotson outlived her husband by 23 years, then she too was buried in Bat Cave Baptist Church Cemetery in 1924.
James Nelson Dotson was born in Rutherford County, NC on December 17, 1864. He was the youngest child of Nelson S. Dotson (1824-1864) and Sarah Arnold Dotson. James N. Dotson was born 53 days after his father’s death in a Richmond, Virginia hospital. James N. Dotson married Minnie Hughie Dotson December 25, 1888. Minnie was born in 1875. She was the daughter of Martin Fifer Dotson and Mary Connor Dotson. James and Minnie were first cousins. James and Minnie apparently lived on the farm of Minnie’s father Fifer Dotson for several years after they were married. Minnie Hughie Dotson died October 21, 1904 at the age of 29. She was buried in Bat Cave Baptist Church Cemetery.
James Nelson Dotson was married for the second time to Dula Laola Hudgins on October 21, 1905. Dula was born May 24, 1887, the daughter of Joseph Grason Hudgins (1862-1939) and Rose Ann Owenby Hudgins (1858-1932).
James N. Dotson was a farmer and Justice of the Peace in Broad River most of his adult life. He married people and held court at his house in regard to minor issues. Broad River was in McDowell County until around 1926. It was then made a part of Buncombe County. Jim Dotson’s second wife died of tuberculosis March 11, 1926. James Nelson died of heart trouble September 30, 1939. Both are buried in Old Field Cemetery at Broad River.
James Nelson Dotson did not get along very well with his first wife’s mother, Mary Connor Dotson. After he first married Minnie Hughie Dotson, he and his wife apparently lived on the same farm as her parents. They had a turkey that was deformed. The turkey’s beak was located wrong. Jim took care of and fed the turkey. When it came time to kill the turkey, James N. Dotson could not kill the bird or eat it either. He wrote a poem about the event around 1889.
The Cross Billed Turkey
The summer was ended, the crops were all done
A dinner was set, for the most favored ones.
There had to be meat, to go with the bread,
That meant cross billed turkey, would soon be dead.
For months they had him, turned under a tub
Though he still wasn’t fat, from the limited grub.
For old mother nature, had made quite a flop
The bottom of his beak, was mounted on his top.
His wattle hung limply, almost to the ground
He breathed through one nostril and it was upside down
How down at the wash place, the men huddled still
A coin would be tossed, in the death of cross bill.
While in his dark prison, old cross bill would squeak
Unable to gobble, because of his beak.
The lot fell on Kelton, although not of his will
To bring an end, to the life of cross bill.
The crowd had all gathered, the clock soon would strike
One son-in-law missing, that Ma didn’t like.
Now Jim would admit, he was sprouting no wings
He just wouldn’t squat, when she said certain things.
He chose for his lot, to stay on the hill
And weep for the death, of poor ole cross bill
I heard a faint flutter, as off came his head
I know from my feelings, that cross bill was dead.
The grief and bereavement, was all I could stand
No longer ole cross bill, would eat from my hand
With thirst and with hunger, I sat on the hill
While they ate the dumplings, from poor ole cross bill.
Written around 1889 by James Nelson Dotson
Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. Contact Mr. Whitaker by phone at 628-1089 or email [email protected].