My dear papa1–
In one of the postal cards you wrote me last week you said that you thought you felt stronger and I want to tell you that this is the most welcome news to me that I have heard in many months. I do hope that you may improve as I have often written you the part about being in the army that I dislike is the fact that I cannot be with you and try to be of some help to you. I have always felt that my first duty was to you, though now in time of war the government very probably rules otherwise.
I was with Brownie2 in Greenville3 Saturday and while he appears to be more contented than he was sometime ago, he still complains and talks of resigning. He says that he rather be a sergeant than an officer. In my mind there is no comparison between a lieutenant and an enlisted man and I hope that Brownie2 will become more ambitious. I remember that when I first went to work at Syer’s4 my highest wish was to have a desk of my own and have charge of something and I feel the same way in the army. While I will be a first lieutenant probably soon, still I wish for something more and would be eager to be a captain, even tho’ it takes with it the heavy responsibility for the 200 men, 165 horses and all equipment, clothes and moneys. A battery of artillery fully equipped means an outlay of about over half a million dollars. A lieutenant has no great responsibility, merely carrying on the orders of the captain. I was thinking Saturday when I had charge of our battery parading with the guns how more satisfied I was to be an officer than merely one of the men sitting on the carriages and I thought how much more creditable to my family and myself it would be if we should be parading thru the streets of Edenton5 among my own people that an Edenton boy was one of 5 who was in charge of the other 200 men. Things like this have always spurred me on to do a little better than the average.
I think very often of the fish that you all will now enjoy for sometime and wish that I could get some of them. We have had fish here several times sent up from Florida but they taste very much like cotton. In about a month I will try to get a pass home and will get brownie to get his pass at the same time. I suppose that Bessie6 will probably be coming to Edenton in a month and it would be a happy reunion if we three could be there with you when she comes.
The artillery range about 15 miles back in the mountains has now been completed and part of the 114th Artillery7 will go up on the 15th. Three batteries will go at a time and remain 2 weeks then 3 more until all have gone. It will therefore be about six weeks before we will get a chance to fire the guns. It is very likely that I will have to go to Fort Sill, Oklahoma8 for a 10-week course at the “school of fire” before going to France. About 15 of our officers are out there now and some of them have completed the course and are now beginning to return. As soon as one returns another is sent. It is the present plan to send every artillery officer out there. I hope that I will not be sent until I get the pass home. I wrote Mary B.9 A letter yesterday about some things in camp life that I haven’t written you and you must ask her for the letter. Please send me a card whenever you can and get the others to write. I don’t believe I have had a letter from Mac10 since I joined the army.
With devoted love
Minton Hughes Dixon, Sr., “Papa” or “Judge” (1849-1923)
Father of Richard Dillard, George Brownrigg, MacDonald, Mary Elizabeth, and Elizabeth MacDonald Dixon. Prominent merchant in Edenton, North Carolina. Served as a Justice of the Peace, Recorder’s Court Judge, and city councilman. Married Sallie Dillard (1860-1910) in 1886.
George Brownrigg Dixon, “Brownie” (1896-1953)
Younger brother of Richard Dillard Dixon. Attended UNC-Chapel Hill from 1914 to 1916, where he belonged to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Went into the wholesale grocery business with his older brother, Minton Hughes Jr., in Plymouth, North Carolina from 1916 to 1917. Enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard on May 25, 1917. Due to his college experience, selected for officer’s training on December 27, 1917. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 119th Infantry, Dixon resigned for mysterious reasons on March 27, 1918. About two months later, he reenlisted, this time in the Marine Corps. After completing basic training at Parris Island, served at the New York Marine Corps Barracks in New York City. Reached the rank of corporal. Never left the United States during his military service. After his discharge from the Marines in February 1919, moved to Suffolk, Virginia to work as a manager for Winborne & Company, a wholesale grocer. Later became a salesman for the local peanut growers association in Norfolk, Virginia. Ultimately returned to Suffolk, where he worked as the Secretary -Treasurer of the Benthall Machine Company, a firm that manufactured peanut pickers, until his death.
Various views of Greenville, South Carolina, 1917. link: http://cdm16821.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16821coll9/id/1268. Furman University, Special Collections Library, Greenville, South Carolina.
Charles Syer & Company, Richard Dillard Dixon’s former employer, a Norfolk, Virginia-based commodities broker that dealt mainly in sugar.
the streets of Edenton5
View of Church Street, Edenton, circa 1900. Museum of the Albemarle
Elizabeth MacDonald Dixon Vann, “Bessie” (1891-1975)
Younger sister of Richard Dillard Dixon. She attended college for two years before marrying Aldridge Henley Vann in 1912. Vann’s father, Samuel C. Vann, founded the Sterling Cotton Mill in Franklinton, North Carolina in 1895. After his father’s death, Aldridge Henley Vann managed the firm until its bankruptcy in 1932 during the Great Depression.
the 114th Artillery7
114th Field Artillery; a Tennessee National Guard unit inducted into federal service as part of the 30th Division. For further information, see History of the 114th Field Artillery. link: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433081860854;view=1up;seq=5.
Fort Sill, Oklahoma8
For more information on Fort Sill’s role in World War I, see the entry on the army base in The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, link: http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=FO038.
Mary Beverly Dixon, “Mary Beverly” or “Mary B.” or “Mary” (1886-1959)
Elder sister of Richard Dillard Dixon. Never married, and lived her entire life in Edenton, North Carolina.
MacDonald Dixon, “Mack” or “MCD” or “Mac” (1897-1984)
Younger brother of Richard Dillard Dixon. Attended UNC-Chapel Hill from 1915 to 1916. Returned to Edenton, where he worked for his father. Did not serve in World War I. After his marriage in 1939, moved to Elizabeth City, North Carolina where he worked as a fuel oil dealer for Sinclair Oil Company until his retirement to Nags Head, North Carolina in the mid-1960s.