The Unions of Elmina Little

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Marriage record of Daniel Dodson and Elmina Little, 1846.

None can now say how long Elmina Little had been seeing Daniel Dodson. The young couple was finally married on an autumn day, 4 October 1846, in Benton County, Alabama. The next March, a scant and perhaps scandalous five months after their blessed day, their only child was born, a son they named Francis L Dodson. The arrival of their son could not preserve their union. Less than a year after, in the cold February of 1848, they petitioned the chancery court for divorce. It was granted by an act of the Alabama legislature on 9 February 1850. Elmina returned to using her maiden name and her son became known as Francis Little.

dodson divorce
An Act of the Alabama Legislature, 1850

Elmina also returned to her family. Her parents, Josiah and Patsy Little, farmed in Tallapoosa County with their young son John Little. Elmina and Francis were enumerated with them in December 1850. Elmina’s age was recorded as 20, which means she was about 15 when she married Daniel Dodson.

1850 Census Josiah Little
Josiah Little, 1850 Census, Tallapoosa County, Alabama.

Elmina dared to fall in love again, this time with William Thomas Scott of Benton County. William was the oldest of a dozen or so children of farmers Jesse and Senia Scott. On Sunday, 22 November 1857, Elmina and William were united in marriage. Could this union last?

That was the question on the minds of Benton County’s citizens, and indeed, the citizens of the entire nation. The issue of slavery was driving the nation apart, fueling rumors of secession and disunion in the southern states. When U. S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, whom the county was named after, spoke against slavery and in favor of preserving the Union, slavery supporters in the county voted to change its name to Calhoun, after U. S. Senator John Calhoun, a slaveholder that used the threat of secession to advance his political agenda. Neither senator was from Alabama.

The 1860 Federal Census was conducted amidst the rising tensions over slavery and secession. The unified family of William and Elmina Scott was enumerated in Calhoun County at their farm nearest the post office at Kemp’s Creek. Francis Little here was recorded as Franklin M Scott. William and Elmina had welcomed a daughter the year before, infant Martha Scott.

1860 census W T Scott
William Thomas Scott, 1860 Census, Kemp’s Creek, Calhoun County, Alabama.

1860 was also the year of a presidential election, with the course of the nation to be decided by either the new anti-slavery Republican Party or the pro-slavery but fractured Democratic Party. Either choice would have torn the nation apart. In Alabama, like all the southern states, the Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln was kept off the ballot entirely. Former vice president John Breckenridge, a Southern Democrat, won Alabama. However, Lincoln was elected the 16th president due entirely to his support in the north. Secessionists plotted to leave the Union before Lincoln’s inauguration in March 1861.

The nation was breaking apart. Would William and Elmina’s union survive what was to come?

Bibliography

“Alabama County Marriages, 1809-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKZS-9T6Z : 4 November 2017), Daniel M. Dodson and Elmina P. Little, 04 Oct 1846; citing Calhoun, Alabama, United States, County Probate Courts, Alabama; FHL microfilm 1,035,493.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 April 2020), memorial page for Francis L “Frank” Little (9 Mar 1847–1906), Find a Grave Memorial no. 88692924, citing New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery, Rosalie, Jackson County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by William Gorman (contributor 47658044) .

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 April 2020), memorial page for Elmina P. Little Scott (1831–18 Apr 1864), Find a Grave Memorial no. 185353271, ; Maintained by William Gorman (contributor 47658044)

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 April 2020), memorial page for William Thomas “W.T.” Scott (1834–15 Jul 1862), Find a Grave Memorial no. 185353484, ; Maintained by William Gorman (contributor 47658044)

“Alabama Legislative Acts, 1849-1850 [Part 1 of 2].” Alabama Legislative Acts, Journals, and Constitutions, Alabama Department of Archives and History, digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/legislature/id/19233/rec/35.

Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data – Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C., Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Township 20, Tallapoosa, Alabama; Roll: 15; Page: 98B. Record for Emalina P Settle

Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Township 15 Range 12, Calhoun, Alabama; Page: 454; Family History Library Film: 803004. Record for Thomas Scott.

Causey, Donna R. “This Alabama County Changed It’s Name over the Issue of Slavery.” Alabama Pioneers, 12 Sept. 2017, http://www.alabamapioneers.com/benton-changed-name-to-calhoun/.

Wikipedia contributors. “1860 United States presidential election in Alabama.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 January 2020. Web. 21 April 2020

Wikipedia contributors. “Alabama in the American Civil War.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 February 2020. Web. 21 April 2020

Wikipedia contributors. “Abraham Lincoln.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 April 2020. Web. 21 April 2020

3 thoughts on “Broken Unions, Part One

  1. WOW U have really done a lot of researching here!!!! Good job too!!! I am so excited to read what #2 is and how it ends??? Can’t wait!!!

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      1. I’m waiting!! Wondering??? Thanks for putting ur time into this research. Not too many doing it but so many questions from me!!

        Like

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