The Definitive Dwiggins no. 83—W.A. Dwiggins’ Ancestry, Part I: Zimri and Phoebe Dwiggins

Zimri Dwiggins (c.1886–1889). Photograph by East End Studios, Stigleman & Son, Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Zimri Dwiggins (c.1886). Photograph by East End Studios, Stigleman & Son, Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

W.A. Dwiggins’ paternal grandparents were Zimri and Phoebe Dwiggins. [1] Zimri was born July 20, 1827 in Wilmington, Ohio, the county seat of Clinton County, situated midway between Columbus and Cincinnati. [2] “As a young man,” recalled the Wilmington News-Journal, Zimri “taught school in winter and farmed in the summer, and as an older man he devoted himself to farming….” In 1859 he owned 64 acres of land in Liberty Township, but by 1876 he had sold that property to Josiah Haskins and purchased two contiguous plots of land: 94.75 acres in Union Township and another fourteen acres in neighboring Liberty Township. [3] On the land he grew corn which, along with wheat, was one of the principal crops of Clinton County. [4] His combined acreage represented a mid-sized farm for the area, making him financially comfortable, though far from wealthy. [5]

Detail of Liberty Township, Clinton County, Ohio showing Zimri Dwiggins property (below "W. PORTER 2079". Detail from Map of Clinton County, Ohio from Surveys under the Direction of H.E. Walling, 1859.

Detail of Liberty Township, Clinton County, Ohio showing Zimri Dwiggins property (below “W. PORTER 2079″. Detail from Map of Clinton County, Ohio from Surveys under the Direction of H.E. Walling, 1859.

Zimri Dwiggins property 1876. Details from An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Clinton County, Ohio (Philadelphia: Lake, Griffing & Stevenson, 1876), plates 13 and 21 combined.

Zimri Dwiggins properties 1876 (upper left). Details from An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Clinton County, Ohio (Philadelphia: Lake, Griffing & Stevenson, 1876), plates 13 and 21 combined.

“[A]lways a moral, temperate, religious man”, Zimri was active in civic affairs. Before the Civil War, when Wilmington was a depot for runaway slaves on the underground railroad, he had been one of the original abolitionists. He was also an ardent prohibitionist, helping—along with Phoebe—to found the Clinton County Temperance Association. [6] During the 1870s he was the secretary for the Wilmington Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, a member of the Union Township School Board, and the Union Township delegate to the Republican Central Committee of Clinton County. [7]

Zimri Dwiggins was a serious man, though not entirely devoid of humor. An account of a party—attended by the entire Dwiggins family except Charles—in celebration of the 30th wedding anniversary of his in-laws Josiah and Rebecaa [Frazer] Bailey noted that “All present seemed to enjoy themselves highly—even Zimri Dwiggins was seen to smile.” [8] There is also an amusing story of a birthday party for Zimri. On July 20th, 1875 Charles B. Dwiggins arranged a surprise party—attended by 85 people from his family and the J. Farr Frazier, J.W. Bailey and R.J. Dwiggins families—for his father’s 48th birthday party. The Clinton Republican carried a detailed description of how Zimri was “induced to go a squirrel hunting, in order that the surprisers might all arrive and have possession [of his house] on our return….” The author—probably the editor of the paper—took part in the squirrel hunt:

We found Zimri, in company with his son, C.B. Dwiggins, at Jonathan Bailey’s, and the three readily agreed to accompany us in search of a squirrel for our sick wife. Jonathan got his shot gun, Charley Dwiggins had one with him, so us four started, and such a hunt as we had, through the ‘Crane Pond’ region. It began raining, and we housed up in a little log cabin in the woods on the Stamatz farm. Here, for two hours, we shot at marks, performed gymnastics, etc., until the rain slacked up, when we started for Zimri’s house, about a mile distant. The rain began again, however, harder than ever, catching us without shelter, and the whole party were sore soaked through traveling through the thick underbrush. Jonathan and Zimri were both stripped of their pants, shirts, hats and shoes, and didn’t mind it such, being near home; but the joke was rather turning on to Charley and ourself, who had no change of clothes.

Finally, they arrived at the quiet Dwiggins house and Zimri, suitably surprised, “frankly owned up that he had been out-generaled.” According to the newspaper, “Some say he said ‘gee-whillickered’ but as we did not hear it, we will not vouch for his having uttered this terrible profanity.” [9]

Zimri and Phoebe’s advocacy of abolitionism and prohibitionism was an outgrowth of their faith as Quakers. Phoebe was a Quaker from birth, but Zimri was not. She was born Phoebe Farr Frazier on August 20, 1828, the second of Moses and Elizabeth Pusey Frazier’s seven children. [10] When she wed Zimri on April 7, 1849 Phoebe “married out of society.” [11] Six months later she was condemned for her actions by the Dover Monthly Meeting and not welcomed back until her husband joined the faith. [12] It was not until June 14, 1860 that Zimri, and the couple’s four children, were “received by request” into the Society of Friends. [13]

Dover Monthly Meeting House (Clinton County, Ohio). Photograph by Paul Shaw (2006).

Dover Monthly Meetinghouse (1844) (Clinton County, Ohio). Photograph by Paul Shaw (2006).

Phoebe Dwiggins (c.1886–1889). Photograph by East End Studios, Stigleman & Son (Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Phoebe Dwiggins (c.1886). Photograph by East End Studios, Stigleman & Son (Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Phoebe was a “chanter” in the words of her grandson Clare V. Dwiggins. “She was so tiny,” he wrote, “you wouldn’t know when she was standing up or sitting down, in the big wide skirt, fold her arm across her breast, begin swaying like a lily in the wind, and out would roll the musical chant.” [14] She and Zimri had three sons and a daughter: Charles B., born April 3, 1850; Moses Frazier (named after Phoebe’s father), born April 25, 1852; James Farr (named after Phoebe’s brother), born August 9, 1855; and Lizzie (named after Phoebe’s mother), born September 21, 1858. [15] Charles clerked in the county courthouse for several years before being admitted to the Bar in 1872. [16] James worked on the family farm before moving to Richmond, Indiana in 1883 where he began a career as an insurance agent. [17] Lizzie remained at home until age twenty-six when she married W.A. O’Neall. [18] Moses, the remaining child, was W.A. Dwiggins’ father.

Zimri devoted himself to farming until sometime in the late 1890s when “a stroke of paralysis left him unable to labor.” He and Phoebe moved to Wilmington to live with their widowed son James. Zimri died on April 2, 1903 at The Athens Hospital for the Insane in Athens, Ohio where he had been taken a week earlier due to “mental deterioration.” Phoebe continued to live with James until his move to Minnesota following his second marriage in 1904, at which point she moved in with her daughter Lizzie’s family in Wilmington. She died at Lizzie’s home of “general senile degeneration” on August 8, 1912. [19]

Notes
1. Quaker and census records sometimes spell the surname Dwigguns or Dwiggens.(Similarly, WAD’s surname has sometimes been misread as Wiggins.)
2. Archives for Dover Monthly Meeting: Births to 1873 and Removals to 1875, p. 6, Wilmington College Library, Wilmington, Ohio. This is a more reliable date than May 28, 1828 which is cited in Cemetery Records of Clinton County, Ohio 1798–1978. Obituary, 8 April 1903 Wilmington News-Journal (microfilm, Ohio Historical Society). Wilmington is situated 56 miles southwest of Columbus, 50 miles north of Cincinnati and 70 miles southeast of Richmond, Indiana. Zimri was the son of Robert and Sarah Dillon Dwiggins, both of Guilford County, North Carolina. Robert Dwiggins was born July 3, 1781 and died July 18, 1838. He married Sarah Dillon (sometimes spelled Dillion) who was born July 19, 1785 and died April 30, 1861. Several family genealogies indicate they had ten children—Daniel (b. 1807), Elizabeth (b. 1809), Susanna (b. 1810), Lydia (b. 1812), Hannah (b. 1814), Sarah (b. 1817), Isaiah (b. 1820), Nancy (b. 1822), Martha (b. 1825), and Robert J. (b. 1832). However, there is strong circumstantial evidence indicating they had an eleventh named Zimri. First, Robert J. Dwiggins was called uncle by Moses Dwiggins, Zimri’s second son (and WAD’s father). Second, Robert and Sarah had two grandsons named Zimri: Zimri Leonard (b. 1839), son of Hannah [Dwiggins] Leonard, and Zimri Dwiggins (b. 1848), son of Daniel and Mary [Starbuck] Dwiggins. This second Zimri Dwiggins, who has been mistaken by several genealogists as WAD’s grandfather, was born in Grant County, Indiana and went on to have a career as a lawyer and banker. He has been blamed for the Panic of 1893. See The Romance and Tragedy of Banking: Problems and Incidents of Governmental Supervision of National Banks by Thomas P. Kane (New York: The Bankers Publishing Co., 1922), pp. 200–204. Third (and most importantly), Sarah Dwiggins (born in North Carolina) is recorded in the 1850 United States Census as living with Zimri Dwiggins (age 23), Phoebe A. Dwiggins (age 22), Charles B. Dwiggins (age 3 months), and Robert J. Dwiggins (age 19). The explanation for Zimri’s absence from genealogical records may lie in the peculiarities of Quaker records, which only list those members of a family who are Friends.
The senior Robert Dwiggins was apparently a Baptist since his wife Sarah, a Quaker, was disowned by the New Garden [Guilford County, North Carolina] Monthly Meeting on July 25th, 1807 for marrying out of unity. She was later readmitted to the Society of Friends in 1819, but there is no mention of her husband having become a Quaker, as his sons Zimri and Robert J. did in the 1860s. For Daniel Dwiggins and his son Zimri Dwiggins see the Ancestral Record of the Dillon, Hodgson, Fisher, and Leonard Families arranged and compiled by Isaiah Dillon (Normal, Illinois: Clarence A. Burner, Printer, 1909), p. 48. For further information on the life and career of the younger Zimri Dwiggins see The Hand-Book of Chicago Biography: A Compendium of Useful Biographical Information for Reference and Study edited by John J. Flinn (Chicago: Standard Guide Co., 1893). Zimri Leonard is in the 1850 United States Census and is also mentioned in a text in an envelope labeled Dwiggins Family, Clinton County Genealogical Society, Wilmington, Ohio. The material in this envelope, taken from a privately printed book whose information was allegedly found in a family Bible in the 1920s, is not entirely reliable. Information on Sarah Dillon Dwiggins’ Quaker past can be found in Encyclopedia of American Genealogy (vol. I North Carolina) by William Wade Hinshaw (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973, 1994; originally published 1938 and 1946 Ann Arbor), p. 537. Also see Vol. V, p. 488 where Sarah Dillon Dwiggins was received back into the Society of Friends in 1819; and p. 619 where Zimri Dwiggins and Robert J. Dwiggins (and his wife and son) were “received by request” into the Dover Meetinghouse of the Society of Friends.
3. For the first Zimri Dwiggins property see map titled Clinton County, Ohio from Surveys under the Direction of H.E. Walling 1859. For the 1876 properties see An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Clinton County, Ohio (Philadelphia: Lake, Griffing & Stevenson, 1876) [2002–2003 photocopy box; Wilmington Public Library, Genealogical Room], plates 13 and 21. Apparently a log cabin, belonging previously to John McWhorter, a Quaker schoolteacher, was located on the 94 acre farm—presumably along with Zimri and Phoebe’s own farmhouse. The 14 acre plot of land was vacant in 1859. The History of Clinton County, Ohio (Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1882). Today there is a Dwiggins Road nearby. Zimri Dwiggins land holdings continued to shift after 1876 according to  Clinton County tax assessment records. In 1878 the 94-acre and 14-acre plots of land were replaced by a 120-acre plot; by 1887 the latter had shrunk to 89 acres, but was supplemented by a second plot of land of 15 acres; in 1891 the second plot has increased to 37 acres and Zimri, as a trustee, owns a third plot of nearly 62 acres; in 1893 the second plot has returned to 15 acres in size and the trustee plot has shrunk to 27 acres. I do not have an explanation for these various changes in Zimri Dwiggins’ property holdings.
4. The Clinton Republican reported, on December 5, 1872, that Zimri gave a bushel of corn to the local Republican Party. The Clinton [County] Republican [microfilm roll 13961: November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society]. The History of Clinton County, Ohio (Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1882).
5. 1870 Census Clinton County Index indexed by Josephine M. Williams and Adrian E. Roberts (Wilmington, Ohio: n.p., 1986). In the 1870 census Zimri’s real property was valued at $4,400 and his personal worth was listed as $1,200. William Probasco, who owned two adjacent plots of land totalling 328.5 acres, was the wealthiest man in Clinton County with a net worth of $163,200, but most farmers had a net worth under $10,000. In comparison an attorney in Wilmington was worth $7,500 and a sewing machine agent was worth $20,400.
6. For example, see 28 February 1872, 24 October 1872 and 17 September 1874 items in The Clinton Republican. The Clinton [County] Republican [microfilm roll 13961: November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society] [Ohio Microfilm]. Several incidents reported in the local newspapers attest to Zimri Dwiggins’ moral character. In one he and his son James caught men illegally shine fishing and turned them in. Clinton Republican 27 June 1878 [microfilm roll 13961: November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society]
7. Bill’s Diary by Dwig [Clare Victor Dwiggins] (Sauk City, Wisconsin: Stanton & Lee, Publishers, 1945), p. xi–xii. On December 10, 1842 one of the first anti-slavery societies was formed in Clinton County. See History of Clinton County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions edited by Albert J. Brown (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1915). For information on Zimri and Phoebe’s prohibition activities see 11 September 1873, 23 April 1874, and 27 February 1873 The Clinton Republican [microfilm, roll 13961 Clinton Republican November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society]. For more on “the affinity between organized religion and Temperance in America” see The Americans: A Social History of the Uhited States 1587–1914 by J.C. Furnas (New York: G. Putnam’s Sons, 1969), p. 504.
8. The Clinton Republican 28 March 1872 (microfilm, roll no. 13961 The Clinton [County] Republican from November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society).
9. The Clinton Republican 22 July 1875 (microfilm, roll no. 13961 The Clinton [County] Republican from November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876; Ohio Historical Society).
10. Census and Quaker records sometimes spell her first name as Phebe or Pheba and her surname as Fraizer or Frazer. The other children of Moses and Elizabeth Pusey Frazier were Hannah (b. 1826), Jonah (b. 1830), Lydia Pusey (b. 1833), James Farr (b. 1835), John (b. 1837) and Caroline Elizabeth (b. 1845). Moses Frazier also had five children by an earlier marriage to Lydia Pusey (Elizabeth’s sister?): Joshua (b. 1814), Ezekial (b. 1815), Nathan (b. 1817), Mary (b. 1820) and Rebecca (b. 1822). Encyclopedia of American Genealogy (vols. IV and V Ohio; vol. II Pennsylvania and New Jersey) by William Wade Hinshaw (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973, 1994; originally published 1938 and 1946 Ann Arbor), vol. V, p. 621.
11. Marriage Records of Clinton County, Ohio (1810–1900) compiled by Joyce Hopkins Pinkerton ([Wilmington, Ohio]: Clinton County Genealogical Society, 1997) and Archives (microfilm) of Dover Monthly Meeting 1877, pp. 35–36, Wilmington College Library. There is no indication what faith Zimri may have practiced prior to joining the Society of Friends. Robert J. Dwiggins, head of the other Dwiggins family in Clinton County at the time, was a Quaker (as were his children and grandchildren) but his father Robert was not. He followed the faith of his mother who had married out of society like Phoebe Frazier. Dwigginses in Guernsey County at the time are described as Methodists. Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio: History of an Average County William G. Wolfe (Cambridge, Ohio: published by author, 1943), p. 1012.
12. Encyclopedia of American Genealogy (vols. IV and V Ohio; vol. II Pennsylvania and New Jersey) by William Wade Hinshaw (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973, 1994; originally published 1938 and 1946 Ann Arbor), vol. V, p. 619. Phoebe and Zimri’s interfaith marriage was echoed by the marriage of their son Moses to a Baptist which had repercussions for their grandson, William A. Dwiggins.
13. Encyclopedia of American Genealogy (vols. IV and V Ohio; vol. II Pennsylvania and New Jersey) by William Wade Hinshaw (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973, 1994; originally published 1938 and 1946 Ann Arbor), vol. V, p. 619
14. Bill’s Diary by Dwig [Clare Victor Dwiggins] (Sauk City, Wisconsin: Stanton & Lee, Publishers, 1945), p. xi–xii.
15. Archives for Dover Monthly Meeting: Births to 1873 and Removals to 1875 (microfilm, Wilmington College Library), p. 6. These dates of birth are more reliable than those in the census records which themselves are inconsistent from census to census. For instance, the 1860 census lists Lizzie as 1 year old while the 1880 census lists her as being 20 years of age.
16. 1870 Census Clinton County Index indexed by Josephine M. Williams and Adrian E. Roberts (Wilmington, Ohio: n.p., 1986); The Clinton [County] Republican 23 May 1872 [microfilm, Ohio Historical Society] roll 13961 November 17, 1870 to September 14, 1876.
17. 1880 Census Clinton County Index indexed by Josephine M. Williams (Wilmington, Ohio, 1986); Richmond City Directory for 1883–84 Comprising a List of the Inhabitants of the City and Suburbs Above the Age of Fifteen Years together with a Classified Business Directory, and Other Useful Information compiled and published by M. Cullaton & Co. (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1883).
18. The History of Clinton County, Ohio Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1882.
19. Zimri’s death was reported in the Wilmington News-Journal 8 April 1903; while Phoebe’s death was reported in the Wilmington News-Journal 14 August 1912. Also see the
Certificate of Death, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State of Ohio. See the 1900 United States Census for Zimri and Phoebe living with son James and the 1910 United States Census for Phoebe living with daughter Lizzie.