WILLIAM COLLINS DIXON, III
FOUNDER AND CO-COORDINATOR OF THE JEFFERSON COUNTY NYGENWEB SITE
DIES 25 JANUARY 2013
Although his wife's name appears on every page of the website, it was Bill's hand that put it there. Bill proofread and uploaded every file, decided on the format of every page, decreed a "plain Jane" look for the site in general in the hope that it would make it easier for newbies and older folk like himself to navigate. He was an engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation and pioneered the use of computers for various clerical applications in the department. Still he humbly insisted he knew little about the workings of a computer.
Bill graduated from St. Lawrence University with a degree in geology, and later from Union College with a master's degree in mathematics, yet spent his working life as a civil engineer, never having had any specific college preparation for engineering. He spent the last few, and most enjoyable years of his professional career, as an adjunct professor at Union University, teaching such courses as strength of materials. A Phi Beta Kappa student, he was first flute with the St. Lawrence University orchestra, and was associated with community orchestras most of his life.
His interest in family history was life long. He listened with appreciation to the stories of his father and grandfather and other relatives when he was a child, and with a phenomenal memory, he stored up the tales and encouraged others to do so likewise. He took pride in knowing all his forebears for five generations back. For him, genealogy was not a collection of names and dates, but a gathering of real people, their history and foibles, people he found fascinating.
His wife will continue to add to the Jefferson County site, handicapped by lack of his so generous and ever ready support, sharp eye for typos, and constant encouragement for plain, clear writing. It was an everlasting joke between them that he wanted to know the grammatical antecedents of a sentence, as well as the human antecedents of a pedigree.
Nancy E. Dixon. February 4, 2023
Nancy (Nan) Elizabeth Dixon, 93, passed away at home in Clayton, NY on February 4, 2023, after a full and adventurous life. Her son William was by her side.
She was born at home in Detroit, Michigan on October 14, 1929, to Florence Estelle (Dixon) Wagoner and Evard Wagoner. When she was five, the family lost their house during the Great Depression and her parents along with her brothers Evard and Robert, moved to an old family farmstead in Alexandria Bay, NY, perched above the St. Lawrence River. She enjoyed boating and fishing on the river, and exploring the nearby marshes.
For her grade school years, she made the daily walk to Swan Hollow School one room schoolhouse, and in 1947 she graduated salutatorian from Alexandria Bay High School. She earned money by selling strawberries, cleaning fish for tourists and trapping muskrats, and in the fall of 1947, took the train to attend the University at Albany. Her parents electrified the farmstead that fall and when she returned home for Christmas break, she found to her delight that their first purchase was a set of electric Christmas tree lights.
Nan graduated with a BA in English and a teacher certification in high school English in 1951, then continued on to earn her Master of Library Science in 1952. Her first librarian job was at Bellevue Elementary School. She also worked summers as a librarian at T.I. Park, by boat every day from her farm to Wellesley Island.
She met her husband, William Collins Dixon III (Bill), over a family tombstone. When they started courting, he visited her at the farm only if her geese, Washington, Jefferson, and Alexander were confined so they wouldn’t chase him. Nan and Bill married on September 10, 1955 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Alexandria Bay, and moved to Plattsburgh, NY. They built a house there and had two children, Felicitie and William. In 1961 they moved to the NY Capital District and in 1962 purchased a home in Malta Ridge, NY. There, they had two more children, Mary and Rachel.
Nan spent as much time as she could outside at Malta Ridge working in her wholesale produce garden acres, selling her produce at her own farmstand, and delivering fresh produce to local businesses. She took long daily walks with her dog, always a sheltie, and stayed active through her 93rd year. An avid family historian and genealogist, she always found time for primary research. After 30 years of work, in 1994 she published Palatine Roots: The 1710 German Settlement in New York As Experienced by Johann Peter Wagner, which was well-received and went through numerous printings. The book also launched her onto a lecture circuit of Palatine History. She wrote several smaller books which were never published.
When her husband Bill retired, they moved back north to Clayton to live on the farm where Bill had been raised. Nan had a zest for travel and, in the last few decades of her life, explored Santorini, Greece, walked through the highlands of Scotland, visited the pink sand beaches of Bermuda, ziplined in Costa Rica, and saw volcanoes in Hawaii. However, she always loved returning to the peaceful farm affectionately known as Linden Ledge, tending to her garden, and battling the pesky porcupine living under the porch. When grandchildren visited, she always had warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for them, and would never refuse a game of Boggle.
Nan and Bill, both passionate about history, joined the Jefferson County Historical Society. Nan published an award-winning genealogy website for Jefferson County history as part of the national GenWeb project, which was recognized several years in a row as the paragon of GenWeb sites.
She loved animals, and she and Bill donated to Alleycat Allies, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown, NY. She enjoyed feeding wild birds, attracting a wide variety, and participating in the annual Cornell Lab of Ornithology Backyard Bird Count. Cats were one of Nan's favorite animals, and she always had one or more since childhood.
Nan is predeceased by her beloved husband Bill, and her brothers Evard and Robert. She is survived by her four children: Felicitie Bell (Andrew) of Ellicott City, MD, William of Clayton, Mary Evans (John) of Malta Ridge, NY, and Rachel Phillips of Savannah GA; her seven grandchildren: Anne Bell of Columbia MD, Johanna Weiss (Fred) of Boynton Beach, FL, Morgan Bell (Liz) of Windsor Mills, MD, Sarah Evans-Price (Colin) of Allentown, PA, and Byron, Peter, and Zuzu Evans of Malta Ridge, NY; and her four great-grandchildren: Emma, Olive, Harrison, and John-Britt. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham St, Watertown, NY 13601, or to Alleycat Allies by going to alleycat.org and clicking on the “donate” button.
A funeral service will be held at Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton, NY on Monday, February 13, 2023 at 11am. A graveside service will be held in the spring, date to be determined. Online condolences to her family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneralservice.com.
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