Forgotten Trails - More on Hunley and Dixon
Published 2:12 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002
By By LYDIA GRIMES - Features Writer
I want to continue with the story of the H.L. Hunley. Researchers recovering artifacts from the Hunley have found one object that they were searching for; a bent gold coin that the captain was said to carry as a good luck piece after it had saved his life.
Legend had been that Lt. George Dixon, who was the captain of the vessel, was wounded earlier in the war during the battle of Shiloh in 1862. His life was saved because the bullet hit the coin in his pocket which had been a gift from his girlfriend, Queenie Bennett, when he left to go to war.
Dixon, who was from Mobile, had the coin with him in 1864 when the Hunley sank. I thought when I first starting gathering material for this column that it was possible that he was related to the Dixons who lived in Escambia County. Research that I was able to find on the internet said that his family moved to Mobile from Kentucky, so, although it is possible he was related to 'our Dixons,' it doesn't seem likely.
Anyway, the coin did indeed turn up in the wreckage alongside the remains of Lt. Dixon. It was discovered in pieces of textile that may have been part of Dixon's clothing. According to the Aug. 28, 2002 issue of The Mobile Press-Register, the coin was minted in 1860 and one side shows Lady Liberty, the same side the bullet hit. The other side with the federal shield and eagle symbol appeared to have been sanded and had a four line inscription. "Shiloh, April 6, 1862. My life Preserver," the coin read, the last line bearing Dixon's initials.
Researchers have also found a Union ID tag which made them speculate that a Yankee soldier might have switched sides. It has since been decided that the tag must have been a souvenir as the owner of the tag was reportedly killed in 1863 near Charleston. I just thought this was an interesting story and you might enjoy it.
I wanted to mention a couple of items that might be of interest to you.
The Pensacola Historical Society will hold its monthly meeting Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Beacon Club on Beacon Street. It is free and open to the public. The subject of the meeting will be "St. John's Cemetery." Use the Church Street entrance to the Beacon Club. The meeting will be presented by Ted Nickinson and Jack Fleming. They will discuss St. John's Cemetery, one of Pensacola's oldest cemeteries that is still in use today. Now I know that a cemetery setting is not everyone's "cup of tea" but I'll bet this would be interesting to those of us who like to prowl around in the cemetery. If you would like more information, contact Carolyn Prime, Curator of Exhibits at (850) 433-1559.
There will be a genealogical seminar Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m at the Alabama State Auditorium in Montgomery. The seminar will be presented by the Alabama Genealogical Society and will feature George C. Morgan who is an internationally known author of the online column, "Along Those Lines" at Ancestry.com and the "Genealogy Tip of the Day" for Emazing.com.
He has written many articles and books and teaches online workshops for MyFamily.com. His own interest in research began when he was a child growing up in North Carolina listening to his grandmother and aunt recall family history. At the age of 10 he discovered a treasure of old boxes containing letters, wills, deeds, indentures, receipts and other family documents dating back to the 1700s. Included were several old Bibles, the oldest one of which was printed in Scotland in 1692. He was forever hooked on research and the history of his family. His extensive research has led him to master working with and understanding all types of records and he has become an expert in the use of electronic research materials.
This seminar is not free. At this time registration would be considered late and would cost $25. For more information on this one contact the Alabama Genealogical Society at 1012 Southlake Cove, Birmingham, Ala. 35244-3282. I have no telephone number to give you for this one, but I would advise you to go to the website firstname.lastname@example.org and get more information.