JAMES GLENN DICKSON, M. D., a resident for the past fifty years of Canonsburg, Penn., was born February 15, 1825, in what is now South Fayette township, Allegheny Co., Penn. His parents were William and Margaret (Glenn) Dickson.
Dr. Dickson traces his ancestry in a direct line through a period of over three hundred years, and the year 1893 enables him to look upon the faces of the tenth generation.
The earliest records, which have yet been obtained by Dr. Dickson, tell of one John Dickson, a merchant in Glasgow, Scotland, "a man of religious character and possessed of considerable wealth." This merchant with his good wife stirred up others to pray with and for them, that the blessing of a son might be given them, "vowing that if their petition was granted they would devote him to the service of the Lord." Such a son was the Rev. David Dickson, born possibly in 1591, probably as early as 1583, as the exact date can not positively be stated. He was educated in the University of Glasgow, where he became a professor in 1641, remaining in that position until 1651, where he accepted a similar position in the Edinburgh University. He was appointed minister to Irvine in 1618, and of him it has been said: "The Professor of Divinity at Edinburgh was truly a great man; the Professor of Divinity at Glasgow was a greater man; but the minister of Irvine was the greatest man of all." His repudiation of the Five Articles of Perth, as issued by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1618, won for him much persecution, as well as great honor. He was pre- eminently a scholar, a preacher, a worthy Scotchman, as his biography and writings show. In all there are seven works, the offspring of his master intellect, copies of three of which, with a sketch of his life issued by the committee of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, are in possession of Rev. David Craig Stewart, of Hoboken, N. J., and were obtained of him recently in Edinburgh.
Alexander Dickson, a son of Rev. David Dickson, wrote the dedication in 1664 to the English preface of his father's last work, calling it a child of his father's old age the English translation of Latin treatise on the subject of the Conscience; his father having died in 1663, probably eighty years old, certainly not younger than seventy-two. Another son of Rev. David Dickson was John, who became a merchant in Edinburgh, Scotland; and this John established his sons David and George in mercantile business in Armagh, Ireland, as a branch of the Edinburgh house.
The records show that three sons of the Armagh merchant, George Dickson, came to America, including the family also of one of these three, that of Andrew, who had married a Seceder girl in Armagh previous to his emigration, and whose family record (Andrew's) is preserved in a Bible which gives the date of birth of each of his ten children, and the record of the marriage of nine of these. This Andrew Dickson, of the fifth generation thus far traced, was great-grandfather of Dr. James G. Dickson of the eighth generation.
The six elder children of Andrew Dickson were born in Ireland between the years 1734 and 1743, and the other four were born in America near Chambersburg, Penn., where their father had settled. The eldest of the four born in this country was Andrew, whose birth was in 1748, and who died in service in the Revolutionary army. The Bible containing Andrew Dickson's family record is now over one hundred and sixty years old, and is in possession of Rev. David French Dickson, of East Palestine, Ohio, a nephew of Dr. Dickson. Andrew Dickson's children were named: Hannah, George, Jean, James, Esther, Sarah, Andrew, Agnes, Mary Ann and John. George Dickson, the eldest son and second child in this family, was the grandfather of the subject of this sketch. George Dickson was born December 7, 1735, and died in the fall of 1817. He married, in 1770, Rachel McKee, then twenty-nine years of age, a daughter of James McKee, of Chambersburg, Penn. In the summer of 1772 George came to Black Lick creek (now in Indiana county), accompanied by his younger brother, John, and bought 400 acres of land. There they built a cabin, cleared what land they could during the summer, and then went back to Chambersburg for the winter. In 1773 they returned and cleared more, and in 1774 George moved his family into the cabin. He continued to clear and cultivate the land until 1778, when, in the greatest haste, they were obliged to flee upon receiving news of the Wyoming massacre and near approach of the hostile Indians. With his wife and their small children, James, Andrew and Agnes, all mounted upon two saddle horses, they summarily returned across the mountains to Chambersburg. In 1782 George and his brother John again visited their property in western Pennsylvania to find everything in ashes. Coming southward to Pittsburgh, suitable land was found and purchased by George Dickson, it being some 440 acres on the north branch of Miller's run, and purchased from one Thomas Reed, an early settler, who held it under a patent grant. John Dickson went further west into Ohio, where he married and settled near Poland.
The family of George Dickson numbered eight children three sons and five daughters. These uncles and aunts to Dr. James Dickson were James, born January, 1772; Andrew, born May 27, 1775; Agnes, born February 27, 1777; Mary, born September 4, 1780; Rachel, born November 13, 1782; Hannah, born November 18, 1785; Elizabeth, born August 10, 1789; and William, the father of Dr. Dickson, born August 2, 1791. James, the eldest, married a Miss Frazee, and their family consisted of several daughters; James Dickson died in Cuyahoga county, Ohio. His brother, Andrew, also married a Miss Frazee, a sister of James' wife; Andrew died near DeKalb, Ohio, leaving a large family, chiefly sons. Agnes, the third child in George Dickson's family, died at the age of nineteen near Noblestown, Penn.; she had doubtless been named for her father's sister Agnes, the wife of Mr. Bryar, of Chambersburg. Mary, the fourth member of George Dickson's family, married Joseph Burnside, and resided near Canonsburg, where her death occurred at an advanced age, having for many years before her death been totally blind; her family numbered three daughters and one son, namely: Margaret Jane (recently deceased), the wife of Rev. David Thompson, D. D., of Monmouth, Ill.; Rachel, wife of John Foley; Mary Anne, now Mrs. Haslep, of near Monmouth, Ill.; and George Dickson Burnside, who died a few years since on his farm near Canonsburg. Rachel Dickson, the fifth in George Dickson's family, died near Scottsville, Penn., and was the wife of Solomon Irons; their family numbered six children, viz.: James, John, Rachel, William, Joseph and Andrew. Hannah, George Dickson's sixth child, became the wife of Andrew Henderson, and of their six children four were sons, named respectively: George, John, William and Ebenezer. Hannah Dickson Henderson died near Granville, Ill. The next younger sister was Elizabeth, the seventh child of George Dickson; she became the wife of James Stewart, and at her death which occurred near Clinton, Penn., left no family. The youngest child of the grandfather, George Dickson, was William, the father of Dr. James G. Dickson.
William Dickson was born in South Fayette township, Allegheny Co., Penn., in 1791. On the death of his father he came into possession of the homestead, and became one of the most successful farmers in his part of the country, one of his specialties being the rearing of fine-wool Merino sheep, his flock of such being the first introduced into his neighborhood. He was a man of exemplary piety, and honorable dealings with his neighbors. In the year of his father's death, 1817, he married, and was elected ruling elder, to fill the vacancy caused by his father's demise, in the Noblestown (Penn.) Associate (now United Presbyterian) congregation, which office he continued to fill until his death, which occurred March 18, 1872, in his eighty-second year. He resided all his life on the farm where his father had spent the last thirty-four years of his life. William Dickson was twice married, his first wife being Margaret Glenn, a daughter of James and Jennie (Buchanan) Glenn, who came to western Pennsylvania a few years subsequent to the arrival of William Dickson's parents. The Glenns came from Lancaster county and settled in Westmoreland (now Allegheny) county, prior to 1800. Margaret Glenn was born in Lancaster county, Penn., in 1791. The marriage of William Dickson and Margaret Glenn occurred in 1817. Their children were as follows: Jennie Glenn, born August 21, 1818, died in infancy, May 9, 1819; Rachel, born July 18, 1820; George, born October 8, 1822; James Glenn, born February 15, 1825; Joseph, born December 10, 1826, died February 9, 1827; Mary J., born April 28, 1828; Andrew and William A. (twins), born June 15, 1831 (Andrew died in infancy, May 5, 1832). The mother of these children died November 18, 1852, at the age of sixty-one years. For his second wife William Dickson married, in 1857, Susan Aikins, who preceded her husband a little over two weeks in entering the Heavenly home, her death occurring March 1, 1872, and their remains repose in the cemetery at Robinson Run church, where are also the remains of William Dickson's parents. Rachel, daughter of William Dickson, became the wife of Robert Potter, and with her two daughters, Maggie D. and M. Lulu, has resided near Noblestown since the death of her husband July 16, 1887.
George Dickson, elder brother of Dr. Dickson, was married to Margaret French, daughter of Rev. David French, D. D., and her son, Rev. David French Dickson, has been mentioned earlier in this sketch. George Dickson's second wife was Eliza Glenn, who left no family at her death. In November, 1892, occurred the death of Annie Rankin, third wife of George Dickson. James Glenn Dickson is the next younger brother, and to present his lineage is the design of this sketch. Mary J. Dickson, a younger sister, married James Clark, and resided in Buffalo township, Washington Co., Penn., until 1870, when they removed to Canonsburg, where her husband's death occurred December 18, 1885. Their family consisted of Nettie, who died in infancy; William Dickson Clark, whose wife (now deceased) was Mrs. Lizzie McKeown; Marguerite S., the wife of Culbert M. Greer; Anna Mary, the wife of Rev. David Craig Stewart; and James Addison Clark, who resides with his mother.
William A. Dickson, the youngest of his father's family, like his father, William Dickson, came into possession of the ancestral estate, where with his family he resided for many years until his removal to the McBurney farm near Midway, Washington Co., Penn. His wife was Elizabeth McBurney, daughter of Robert and Eliza (Welsh) McBurney. William A. Dickson's family of eight children are: Margaret, Elizabeth, Robert, Anna S., William, Agnes, Walter and Bertha. William A. Dickson has in his possession his mother's Bible inscribed as follows: "Margaret Glenn, her book August 12, 1812." which also contains record of the birth of each of Dr. Dickson's sisters and brothers. The ponderous volume "Boston's Complete Works" is in possession of Rev. David F. Dickson, and contains the annals previously quoted of Dr. Dickson's grandfather, George Dickson's family.
Dr. James Glenn Dickson was brought up on his father's farm in South Fayette township, Allegheny county, and received his primary education at the subscription schools of the neighborhood, which was supplemented by a few terms at the public school, and instruction under the preceptorship of Rev. John M. French, pastor of the Associate Church at Noblestown; then in 1843 he entered Jefferson College, from which he graduated in 1847 under the presidency of Dr. Robert J. Breckenridge, of Kentucky. In 1848 he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. J. V. Herriott, of Canonsburg, attending during the winters of 1849-50 and 1850-51 Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Penn., where in the spring of 1851 he received his medical diploma. In the summer of that year he commenced the practice of his chosen profession at Mount Jackson, Lawrence Co., Penn., remaining there one year. Then at the solicitation of his preceptor, Dr. Herriott, he returned to Canonsburg and entered into a partnership with him, which existed about two years, at the end of which time Dr. Herriott removed to Philadelphia, Dr. Dickson continuing the practice alone in Canonsburg. Upon the return of his old partner, after an absence of several years, Dr. Dickson again associated with him, but at the end of three years Dr. Herriott moved to Valparaiso, Ind., since when our subject has been alone in his professional practice. He has enjoyed an unbroken, most successful practice of over forty years in Canonsburg, a longer period than has fallen to the lot of any other physician of the place.
Dr. Dickson was married September 4, 1856, to Margaret H. Buchanan, who was born February 28, 1828 in North Strabane township, Washington Co., Penn., a daughter of Alexander and Mary (Miller) Buchanan. Two children were born to Dr. Dickson and wife, viz.: Mary Jeannette and William Alexander, both living with their parents. William A. was married September 24, 1885, to Margaret Gabby Allison (daughter of Hon. Jonathan and Margaret (Gabby) Allison), whose death occurred September 6, 1886, followed six weeks later by the death of their infant daughter, Maggie Olive. On October 23, 1890, occurred the marriage of William A. Dickson and Mary Lizzie Martin, daughter of Dr. John W. and Elizabeth (Allison) Martin. Their infant daughters are Aneita Marie and Margaret Elizabeth, who, with their parents, are part of Dr. Dickson's household. The family are members of the United Presbyterian Church, the Doctor having united with it when it was known as the Associate Church. Politically, he was first an Old-line Whig, and, since the organization of the party, he has been a stanch Republican. The commodious family residence was built by the Doctor some eight years ago, on the corner of Pike street and Greenside avenue.
The years herein recounted bring the Dickson lineage through ten generations; of the tenth there are in direct line eight representatives, viz.: Three children of Rev. David F. and Annie M. (McCready) Dickson George, David and Zetta; three grandchildren of Mary J. (Dickson) Clark, viz.: Clark and Lucile Greer, son and daughter of Culbert Means Greer and Marguerite S. (Clark) Greer, and Anna Mary, daughter of Rev. David Craig Stewart and Anna M. (Clark) Stewart; added to these the Doctor's two grandchildren, before named (Aneita Marie and Margaret Elizabeth), and the eight representatives of the tenth generation from John Dickson, of Glasgow, Scotland, are recounted.
The Doctor is wedded to his profession, and as he is by nature, as well as by education, eminently qualified for his, the most benevolent of all professions, he commands and enjoys the respect and confidence of his many patrons.
Text taken from page 156 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed April 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published April 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
[ [Back to Beers Table of Contents] [Back to Beers Project Page]