An American Family History

Mary Ellen Smith Widaman Dixon

Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

Mary Ellen Smith Widaman Dixon was born in Meigs County, Tennessee on September 16, 1856. She was the daughter of Josiah Smith and Sarah Pitts. She was listed in the 1860 census as Mary E. age five and in the 1870 census as age fourteen. The 1870 census indicated that she could not write. 

About 1865, she and her family went by flatboat down the Tennessee River from Tennessee to Tazewell County, Illinois. About three years later they moved on to Chariton, Iowa.

She married Charles Franklin Widaman on October 25, 1890 in Dillon, Beaverhead County Montana. Charles was born in 1852 in Pennsylvania. His parents were Jacob Widaman and Agnes Jane Cary. 

Mary Ellen and Charles had two children. Clarence Arthur Widaman was born in August, 1892 in Idaho and Charles Franklin Widaman was born in November, 1894 in Iowa.  

Charles, Sr. passed away August 31, 1894, just a few months before his second son was born. Beulah Nadalsky wrote 

My grandfather was killed in a goldmine cave-in on my dad's first birthday. If I understand the story right, he died after rescue.

Her story is confirmed in the following news clipping

Charles Wideman, a son of Jacob Wideman was killed in the mines in Idaho. He leaves a wife and one child.

After her husband, Charles, died, she returned to Russell where she married George Washington Dixon on August 5, 1898. George was the son of Isaac Dorman Dixon and Nancy Allison. He was born in Lucas County, Iowa on August 26, 1857. 

The Dixon family appeared in the 1900 census in Lincoln Township, Lucas County, Iowa. They lived on a farm near there until March 1, 1908 when they moved to their farm near Osceola. 

In 1936 they moved to Osceola where they lived until his death on January 12, 1945. She passed away on January 13, 1949 at the age of 92. She was buried at Salem Cemetery in Lucas County, Iowa.

Meigs County is located in East Tennessee and was formed from Rhea County in 1836. In 1819 the legislature took over part of the Cherokee Nation which was on the south east bank of the Tennessee River and this is the land that became Meigs County.
Children of Josiah Smith, Sr.
and Sarah Pitts
  • Elizabeth Jane Smith Frank
  • Allison Woodrow Smith
  • Nancy Ann Smith Wilson
  • Mary Ellen Smith Widaman Dixon
  • David Henry Smith
  • Josiah Allen Smith
  • John Smith
  • George Washington Smith
  • William Smith
  • Ida Belle Smith Hoops
  • Sarah Catherine Smith Hoops
  • Charles Elmer Smith
  • Cora Edna Smith Downard
  • boys
    Clarence and Charles Widaman and Woodrow Smith's son

    Tazewell County, Illinois was formed out of Peoria County in 1827.

    Illinois became a state in 1818. A large influx of American settlers came in the 1810s by the Ohio River.




    George W. Dixon, aged resident of this community, died at a nursing home in Murray last Friday. Funeral services were held Sunday with burial in the Russell cemetery.

    Geo. W. Dixon, son of the late Isaac and Nancy Dixon, was born in Lucas county, Iowa, August 26, 1857, and passed away in Murray, Ia., on January 12, 1945, at the age of 87 years, 4 months and 17 days.

    He was married to Mary Ellen Widaman on August 15, 1898, at Russell, Iowa.

    Except for 15 years in the Dray business at Russell, Mr. Dixon spent his entire life on the farm and a major part of that in Clarke County. He moved to Osceola about 8 years ago.

    Besides his wife, he leaves to mourn his departure, two step-sons, Chas. Widaman and Clarence Widaman, both of Osceola as well as many friends.

    Funeral services were conducted from the Miller Funeral Home Sunday afternoon, January 12, 1945 with the Rev. Chas. C. Miller officiating. Interment was in the Russell cemetery.

    Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa and is in Lincoln Township.

    East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

    Mary Ellen Smith was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, September 16, 1856 to Josiah and Sarah Smith. She was the 4th child of a family of thirteen children. When she was nine years old, she moved with her parents to Peoria, Illinois. Three years later they moved near Chariton, Iowa.

    At the age of thirteen she was converted and united with the Christian church at New York, Iowa. She later transferred her membership to the Russell Christian church where she remained a member the rest of her life.

    She was united in marriage to Charles F. Widaman of Gibbonsville, Idaho on October 25, 1890 at Dillon, Montana. Two children were born to this home: Clarence A. of Des Moines and Charles F. of Woodburn. Her husband passed away August 31, 1894, after which she returned to Russell where she lived with her two small sons.

    In the year of 1898 she was united in marriage to George W. Dixon of Russell. They lived on a farm near there until March 1, 1908 when they moved to their farm near Osceola. In 1936 they moved to Osceola where they lived until the death of her husband on January 12, 1945.  On July 5, 1948 she because quite ill and was taken to her son Clarence's home in Des Moines where she passed away on January 13, 1949 at the age of 92 years, 3 months and 27 days.

    She leaves to mourn besides the two sons, one daughter-in-law, Mrs. Clarence Widaman; three grandchildren, Merill Widaman of Bakersfield, California, Beulah Nadolsky of Osceola and Harold Widaman of Des Moines; two grandchildren by marriage, Grace Widaman and Carl Nadolsky; two great-grandchildren, Jaunita and Alan Widaman of Bakersfield, California, a niece of her second husband, Mrs. Roy Foster of Chariton who shared her home for ten years and whom she loved and cared for as her own child; two sisters, Mrs. John Hoops of Powell Wyoming and Mrs. Cora Downard of Des Moines; besides nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.

    Dearest Mother, thou hasn't left us, in this grief and strife; but not without example and many words of good advice.

    Funeral services were held at Forster funeral home in Woodburn Sunday, January 16 at 1:00 p.m. with the Rev. Elmer Clark officiating. Mrs. Wayne Woods, accompanied by Mrs. Maude Davis sang the funeral songs. Burial was in Salem Cemetery near Russell.

    Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796. It was initially part of North Carolina.


    Charles Franklin Widaman was born Nov. 21, 1894 at Russell, Iowa, and departed this life Oct. 23, 1966 at the age of 71 years, 11 months and two days.He was educated in the Lucas and Clarke County schools and spent his early life as a farmer.

    He served in the armed forces in World War I as cook for the 313 ammunition train. The past several years he lived in his home at Crandon, Wisconsin. During his last illness, he was a patient in the Veteran's Hospital at Iron Mountain, Michigan, were he passed away on Sunday evening.

    He leaves to mourn his brother, Clarence and sister in law, Tina Widaman of New Virginia, besides many relatives and friends .Funeral services were held from the Webster Funeral Home October 27, with Rev. L. V. Fardon, pastor of the Osceola Calvary Baptist church officiating .Burial was at Russell, Iowa with the Osceola American Legion in charge of the military service.


    Clarence Arthur Widaman, son of Mary Ellen Smith and Charles Franklin Widaman was born August 30, 1893, in Gibbonsville, Idaho. At the age of one year he and his mother moved to Russell, Iowa where he was educated and grew to young manhood. In 1914 his family moved to a Clarke County farm near Osceola, Iowa. In May of 1918, he was inducted in the United States Army and was given an Honorable Discharge in January of 1919 following the ending of World War I.  August 25, 1918 he was married to Tina Violet Sawhill of Truro, Iowa. To this union three children were born, Merrill John, who preceded his father in death on April 12, 1968, Beulah Faye of Osceola, Iowa, and Harold Glen of Des Moines Iowa.

    Clarence was an active member of the Evangelical Free Church of New Virginia, Iowa, Legion Post No. 281 and held a life membership in the Disabled American Veterans.

    He was a farmer all his young adult life and in January of 1945 he moved to Des Moines, Iowa to work because of his health. In May of 1962 he and his wife retired to their home in New Virginia.

    He went to meet his maker and savior on November 25, 1969 at the age of 76 years, 2 months and 26 days. He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife, two children, eight grandchildren, two daughters-in-law, Grace Widaman of Bakersfield, California, and Erla Widaman of Des Moines, Iowa; a son-in-law Carl Nadolsky of Osceola, Iowa and a grandson-in-law, Donald Husted of Elgen, Illinois. There are also many other relatives and friends who will miss his cheery greetings.

    Besides his son, Merrill, he was also preceded in death by his father, mother, and brother Charles.

    Funeral services were held at the Kale Funeral Home in Turo, Iowa, with interment at Highland Memory Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa. Ministering at the service was the pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of New Virginia, Rev. Galen Kessler, Mrs. Mildred Schultz presided at the organ and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Hilton sang "Beyond The Sunset" and "There's Room at the Cross."

    World War I was a between the Entente and Central Powers alliances in Europe. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Bosnian-Serb and this activated alliances between all major European powers. The United States became involved in 1918 and the war ended on November 11, 1918.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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