December 2020 Newsletter

Volume XVII, Number 3

A message from the DFA Board

Hello Cousins,

I understand that this year has been a challenging one for most.  Despite our reunion postponement (we hope now that the 150th Reunion can be rescheduled for September or October 2021) we have made a few strides as follows: 

  1. The first round of edits was completed to our “Descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson” 3rd Edition genealogy book.  These edits were mostly limited to blank and/or incomplete information.  For the second round of edits we look forward to both continuing this process and building upon our database by adding new information as possible.  We are anticipating that the 4th edition will be offered in at least two volumes (or a supplemental volume offered on a thumbdrive), as there are many new descendants to add to our database.  We anticipate that this will be a multi-year project, as the 3rd Edition took many years to complete. 
  • Earlier this year, we were contacted by Chris Harris, a member of the Laurel Hill Cemetery Association, located in Deerfield, who requested donations for a Historical Gravestone Preservation Project.  As a result of reviewing their work scope, the DFA Board contributed $100.00 towards their 2020 project.  We look forward to seeing the results of this recent work at next year’s reunion. 

The following is a brief project update provided by Mr. Harris:

“Summer 2020 conservation work has been completed.  We’re already seeing fairly remarkable results; prior to seeing the long term effects of gradual environmentally-safe stone cleaning techniques.  In addition to the restoration of Dickinson Family gravestones and monuments, other related families, i.e. Wright, Sheldon, Barnard and Stebbins have been restored, reset level, and repined.  Thank you for your continued interest and support.”

Chris Harris

Rev. Rodolphus Dickinson –

son of Col. Thomas Wells Dickinson from Deerfield, MA:

(June 27, 1786–October 30, 1862) 

Highlights of his interesting life and prolific career:

Rodolphus Dickinson was an attorney, author, teacher, and Episcopal minister, born in Deerfield, MA.  He was in the first graduating class of Deerfield Academy attending in 1799, graduated from Yale in 1805, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1808 in Northampton.  In 1809, he married Nancy Hoyt, daughter of David Hoyt of Deerfield. They had two daughters and one son all of whom were born in Greenfield, MA.  He practiced law in Springfield, MA until 1811.  In 1815, he was initiated as a Mason in the Republican lodge.  He was clerk of the Franklin County courts from 1811 until 1819, when he accepted Episcopal orders and began serving two parishes in South Carolina.  He allegedly traveled over 7,000 miles by horseback during 1820 and was an early abolitionist preaching against slavery.

Excerpt from online posting at St. Peter’s Church in Greenville, SC:

Between April and June of 1820, he established three missions in the Piedmont of South Carolina.  As a result, he was advanced to priesthood in 1822.  At 34 he entered the Episcopal ministry and chose” … to explore the inland hills and mountains, where life was a test of man’s industry and ingenuity… and where the Episcopal Church was emphatically not, as in the coastal areas, “the Church.”  The three missions that Dickinson established in upstate South Carolina were St. Paul’s in Pendleton; St. James in Greenville (which was later renamed Christ Church); and St. Peter’s at the South Carolina Armory (near Greenville).

By 1829, Dickinson had returned to Deerfield, and he officiated at Trinity Parish in Montague for six years.  He lived in a stately Georgian-style house constructed in 1768 by Joseph Barnard located directly across from The First Church of Deerfield (northeast corner of the original stockade).  He also rented the former Ephraim Williams House on the corner of Old Main St. & Albany St. (now owned by Deerfield Academy). Rodolphus eventually built his own house on Pine Hill, located north of the village center.  In 1836, Rodolphus’s first daughter, Nancy, married John Campbell, a printer who resided in Deerfield.  In 1860, Rodolphus’s second daughter, Jane, married Rev. George A. Williams.  Per an 1871 map, both families resided on Pine Hill (now Old Ferry Road). 

Rodolphus ran an unsuccessful bid for congress in 1839, however he continued teaching for decades at Deerfield Academy.  His literary endeavors included geographical, legal, and several religious works including “A Description of Deerfield” , printed 1817 in the Wilson Print Shop that is currently owned by Historic Deerfield,  “A Compilation of the Laws of Massachusetts”, 1811; “A Compendium of the Religious Doctrines, Religious and Moral Precepts, Historical and Descriptive Beauties of the Bible”, 1815; “A Digest Of The Common Law Supreme Court MA”, 1818.


“Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671” (Susan McGowan, Amelia F. Miller), 1996 

“History and Proceedings of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association” Volume 2, 1898

I intend to provide more updates and stories in subsequent newsletters.  I wish everyone the best during this challenging year.  We are all making history as we persevere in 2020. 

Best Regards,

Ken Dickinson,  President



The 2020 Scholarship Committee has selected Ashley Butler (Denison Univ.) and Sarah Hannaway (CA Poly Tech State Univ.)  to each receive a scholarship of $1,200. Please note that application forms are now available for the 2021 DFA scholarship.  Applicants must be descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson and must be accepted to a four-year college or university.  The deadline for submission is April 30, 2021.  Full information on requirements and an application form may be found on our website.  For additional information you may contact our scholarship chair, Lisa Butler, 12 Cove St, Noank, CT 06340, As always, we rely on contributions from DFA members to sustain and increase the scholarship fund.  If you are able, we would appreciate your help.  Indicate “scholarship fund” on the 2021 Survey form if you wish to make a donation.

Check out our NEW WEBSITE!

The new site is very interactive.  Viewers can do searches, send us messages and feedback, order books, donate and even join the association online. Newsletters will be sent only by email to those members whose email addresses we have, so it’s more important than ever to keep us informed of any changes. Please send changes to our membership clerk, Beth Landolina at  Our typical newsletter schedule will temporarily change in 2021 to accommodate our tentative reunion plans for October, however we will still send newsletters containing response cards, via US postal mail, to those members who do not have email.


Newsletter editor:  Dale Williams

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