John Monroe Dick

Pvt., Co. B., "Capt"


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Battle Flag
of the
18th Regiment Louisiana Infantry

...Flag design is based on a small torn section of the regimental battle flag which is on display in the Confederate Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana.
May 19, 1865. When the 18th Regiment was disbanded the flag was torn into ten pieces and a piece given to each of the ten company commanders. (Placement of Battle Inscriptions is specualtive and based on similar Confederate battle flags of the same period.)

IMAGE of John Monroe Dick

John Monroe Dick,
Pvt., Co. B., "Captain" Confederate Schooner,
Coastal Pilot, Blockade Runner, Scout, Guide and Confederate Spy

Though no exact date is given, the above photograph of John Monroe Dick, the subject of this detailed essay, was more than likely taken when John was in his late 60's -- approximately 1888. The location of the photograph is not known. A larger image of John M. Dick is located in our 18th Photo Album

John Monroe Dick

Pvt., Co. B., "Captain" Confederate Schooner

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~ Military Record ~

Dick, John Monroe, Pvt., Co. B., 18th La. Infty. Regt. En. ---, 1861.

At this writing, an official Muster Roll record has yet to be located on the enlistment and Confederate service attributed to John Monroe Dick. This fact is not uncommon throughout our searches of men who served in the Confederacy. Many records have been lost and many are yet to be brought to light.

A check of the Records1 by Booth, as well as a search of the copies of the actual Muster Roll records attained from the Jackson Barracks Military Library, New Orleans, Louisiana show no listing of a John Monroe Dick as being a Private in Co. B. However the following Muster Roll record was located in the Records by Booth.

Dick, J.,Pvt. Co. C. Confed, Grds. Regt. La. Militia. En. March 8th, 1862, New Orleans, La. Roll to May 1st, 1862, Absent on furlough.

Could this man have been John Monroe Dick? His historical sketch below just might indicate this as a possibility. The source of John's enlistment into the 18th Louisiana early in the war is from family records as well as John's Pension Application for Confederate Benefits, filed in Galveston on 28 September 1907 in the State of Texas.This application for benefits was disapproved. His widow, Amanda also filed for a Confederate Widow's Pension -- which was ultimately approved.

~ Biography ~




JOHN MONROE DICK arrived into this world as a British subject on March 28, 1823, the son of George and Helena Dick of Omagh, Tyrone County in Northern Ireland. A veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, his father, George, had served as an officer in the British Army (H.M. 25th Regiment of Foot). His mother, Helena, came from Greece.

John and his relatives were part of the large and wealthy Dick family of Tyrone County. Originally from Scotland, the family allegedly is related to the renowned Sir James Dick of England.

Some thirty years before John came to America, his cousins, Nathaniel, James, Sarah, and John Dick (a cousin named John, also) immigrated to America from Ardstraw in Tyrone County. Members of their mother's family, the Kelsos, had preceded them prior to the American Revolution. Robert Kelso of Prince Edward County, Virginia, met them at the dock, welcoming them upon their arrival.

While Nathaniel and James Dick started businesses in Virginia and elsewhere, John Dick (the cousin) enjoyed a distinguished career in law. After attending law school, he practiced law in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served as U. S. District Attorney in New Orleans from 1815 until 1820. Full of fervor and zeal, he is recorded by historians as having successfully prosecuted Andrew Jackson in 1815 (for contempt of court). In 1819, he obtained convictions for two of Jean Lafitte's "lieutenants" and a number of their men. He even went so far as to accuse their opposing counsel of "being seduced out of the path of honor and duty by the bloodstained gold of pirates." The two attorneys ended up fighting a duel. Both were wounded. He married Mary Farar of Laurel Hill plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1820. Ten months later, Mary Farar Dick, along with her stillborn child, had fallen victim to yellow fever. After Mary's death at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, she was interred in a crypt underneath the chapel at Laurel Hill plantation.
Laurel Hill Plantation: History

Despondent over his wife's death, John Dick (the cousin) resigned his position as U S. Attorney. However, President Monroe appointed him as a federal judge in 1821. He later married his first wife's second cousin, Frances Ann Kenner, on August 16, 1823, only to die shortly afterwards in April of 1824.

By 1809, Nathaniel and James Dick had established themselves in business in New Orleans, owning one of the largest factorage houses in that city, the N. and J. Dick & Co. In addition, Nathaniel was a founder and Vice-President of the Hibernian Society. Both of the brothers amassed great fortunes, having extensive land holdings in New Orleans and elsewhere, including plantations in several states. When Sarah Dick married Christopher Todd of Virginia, James Dick had a home built for his sister, Elm Springs, in Maury County, Tennessee. Today this antebellum home serves as the headquarters for the Sons of the Confederacy.
Maury County Historical Society - Elm Springs.

In 1836, Nathaniel brought his thirteen-year-old cousin, John Monroe Dick, with him on his voyage back to America aboard the ship, Pocahontas. Young John lived with Christopher and Sarah Dick Todd and their children at Elm Springs. He attended schools in Baton Rouge and Tennessee. Later, he went to medical school, becoming a physician. However, John apparently preferred agricultural pursuits more than the practice of medicine. He managed "No Mistake" plantation, in Yazoo County, Mississippi, one of several plantations owned by the elder Dicks.
Family Tree Maker Genealogy Site: No Mistake Plantation

At twenty-three years of age, John fell in love and married Miss Amanda Williams, regarded as one of the most beautiful Southern belles in all of Mississippi and Alabama. Born in Carnseville, Georgia, she was the daughter of Benijah and Malinda Sparks Williams and a relative of United States Senator John Sharp Williams of Yazoo County, Mississippi. The couple exchanged their wedding vows at "No Mistake" plantation on April 7, 1846.

A little over a year later, on August 4, 1847, the couple faced the first of many tragedies when their twin sons, Nathaniel and James, died at birth. Then on March 31, 1849, their daughter Helena was born.

By 1849, John's cousins, Nathaniel, James and John Dick (the attorney) had all died. John subsequently relocated his family to his cotton plantation at Grand Chenier, Louisiana. Amanda's father and his second wife established another plantation near-by at Prairie Gregg, west of Abbeville, Louisiana.

The couple's family rapidly increased with the birth of John Dick, Jr., in 1850, followed by George in 1852, Benijah in 1854, and Emma in 1856. Tragedy then again struck this family. Seven-year-old Helena died that same year, probably from yellow fever.

Lorenzo Quenton, born in 1857, died the following year in 1858 along with eight-year-old John, Jr. Jefferson Davis was born in 1859, Thomas Jackson in 1860, and Robert E. Lee in 1862.


When the Civil War began, John Monroe Dick enlisted as a private in the 18th Louisiana Infantry, Company B., serving part of the time in Louisiana under General Mouton. He participated in the Memorial Engagement, attending the negotiations for surrender at the battle of Mansfield.

He was detailed as a captain on a Confederate schooner as a Coast Pilot from 1863-1864 in and around Sabine Pass, Texas. Toward the latter part of the war, he served as a blockade-runner, and spy. As a scout, he met and became a personal friend of Jefferson Davis. Using his nautical skills and knowledge of the intricate coastal waterways and marshes of southwestern Louisiana, John served as a guide for Confederate troop movements in that area. At the mouth of the Mermentau River at Grand Chenier, he furnished the use of his own sloop for the cause, lightering the larger ships so that they could carry supplies to families living up the river.


John became the most successful cotton grower on Grand Chenier. After the War, his family once again began to increase; Ralph was born in 1865, Katie in 1866, twins Amanda and Frank in 1869. Concerned about yellow fever and the health and safety of their children, the Dicks, along with two other families, decided to pull up roots and move westward to Chambers County, Texas.

In 1869, the couple established a cattle ranch at the mouth of Lone Oak Bayou, near Smith Point, Texas. Outside his house, John planted acorns he had gathered from under the ancient live oaks at Grand Chenier. They quickly grew into a fine, shady grove sheltering their home. Although severe Gulf Coast hurricanes have long since swept away any remnants of their original house, the trees still keep a lonely vigil on the east shore of Galveston Bay, as if waiting for the Dicks to return. Today they stand as a living memorial, perhaps whispering to passersby of the bygone hopes, struggles and tragedies of the pioneer Texas ranch family that had once lived there so long ago.

With a new start in Texas, Amanda gave birth to the last of their children at Smith Point: a third set of twins, Lillian and William in 1871; and Matthew, their eighteenth child, born in 1872, who only lived nine short days.

In 1877, a smallpox epidemic spread through Chambers County, invading almost every home and killing many of the residents. The disease took its toll throughout the area. It is easy to assume that the Dicks would have been fearful of contagion after the earlier loss of their children from yellow fever. Such a reason could well explain why the Dicks might have isolated themselves from the rest of the population, allowing no one to come near their property. With such wisdom, the family escaped the dreaded disease.

Beginning around 1880, a tangled web of conflict unfolded at Smith Point, involving John and Amanda's beautiful young daughter, Emma; her five protective brothers; a young man named Charles Wilborn; and an estranged couple, Charles and Sarah Pix.

Sarah Ridge Pix, an Indian woman, lived on her cattle ranch, near the Dick place. She was the daughter of a Cherokee sub-chief, Major Ridge, whom some historians recall in a most unfavorable light. Many regard him as a traitor to his people and to their leader, Chief John Ross. Ridge and his relatives, representing only a small fraction of his tribe, signed the Treaty of New Echota, giving up all the Cherokee lands in Georgia. The Ridge name became forever linked to the Trail of Tears in 1838, which resulted in the suffering and death of 4,000 Cherokee brethren. Later, in Arkansas, unidentified Cherokees ambushed and ritually killed Ridge, his son and nephew. (Chief John Ross remained the respected leader of his people until his death in 1866.) After Ridge's murder, Sarah, and her attorney husband, George Paschal, moved to Galveston, Texas. It was not long before the couple were divorced and Paschal moved to Austin.
John Ross - Leader of the Cherokee
Major Ridge - A North Georgia Notable

A middle-aged divorcee, Sarah's next marriage was to a youth named Charles Pix, the son of a prominent Galveston merchant. More than twenty years her junior, he was close to the age of her oldest son. At the time of their marriage, young Pix would not yet be legally old enough to vote for another two years. The couple, along with Sarah's entourage of slaves, moved from Galveston, Texas to the eastern side of Galveston Bay. They relocated on a tract of land near Smith Point, in Chambers County, allegedly in the hopes of establishing a sugar plantation.

The Civil War came and went, and Sarah had no more slaves. At some point, the couple turned to cattle ranching.

As so often happens in December-May marriages, Sarah's husband left her in 1872, moving to Galveston, Texas. Some eight years later, Sarah filed for divorce. The publicized divorce trial at Wallisville, Texas, focused on a bitter struggle between the couple over the inherited property rights of their deceased son's cattle. The trial court ruling divided the property equally as per the Texas Constitution of that era.

After considering an appeal written by Sarah's daughter, Judge Edwin Hobby reversed the decision. Charles Pix ended up empty-handed after more than twenty years of marriage.
Handbook of Texas On-Line: Sarah Ridge Pix

Shortly after the couple divorced, Charles Pix married John Dick's oldest daughter, Emma. Their first child was born two years later, in 1882.

Around that time, accusations of brand altering and cattle theft allegedly began to bounce back and forth between Sarah, Charles and the Dicks.

With rumors and gossip flying around them, the Dicks probably chose to become even more socially isolated.

At this point we know that the conflict steadily worsened between Charles Wilborn and one of John's sons, Benajah. However, weaving what facts do exist together with the story passed down from one Dick generation to the next, we can only speculate as to exactly what may have taken place. There may also have been other disputes involving the Dick sons and Wilborn, as described in several published stories. Perhaps Benajah Dick felt angry and powerless to put a stop to Wilborn's alleged harassment of his family. Evidently, he must have decided to take the law into his own hands. Published accounts allege that Benajah, accompanied by one of his brothers, knocked out Wilborn's front teeth with the butt of his rifle.

With the alleged loss of Wilborn's teeth, the feud between the two young men escalated, reaching a sad climax on August 5, 1884. John Dick and his son were apparently busy getting a load of watermelons ready to take by boat to Galveston. A large group of men, allegedly led by Sheriff Gibson C. Davis, rode up to the Dick homestead. Charles Wilborn was among them.

In those precious moments just before the armed riders appeared, thirty-year-old Benajah Dick had everything in the world to live for: a wife, three beautiful babies, his own ranch and cattle herd, and a promising future ahead of him. But in one fatal fraction of a second, his future ended. John and Amanda's unarmed son lay fallen on the ground, mortally wounded. Allegedly in the presence of the sheriff and twenty-five other men, Charles Wilborn had raised his Winchester rifle and shot young Dick. In a desperate attempt to save his life, the family took him by sailboat to Galveston. His life ebbed away two days later, on the 8th of August, 1884. The untimely death of the unarmed man left in its wake a stunned and heartsick family.

And lest he forget his deed, Charles Wilborn would spend the rest of his life with no front teeth. (He died in 1897, around the age of 33.)

As outsiders, John's close-knit family may have found themselves alone in their struggle to survive in a clannish environment, unable to rely on protection by local law enforcement. (The Dick ranch was located in a geographically isolated county that was mostly populated by intermarried families of early settlers. Even today, it is sparsely settled in contrast to Galveston County on the west side of the bay.) After John's unarmed son was shot in the presence of a gang of men, it is understandable why members of this grief-stricken and frightened family traveled to Galveston to ask Jonathan Claiborne, a Notary Public, for help. He wrote a letter on behalf of the Dicks to Governor Ireland, appealing for an investigation of the local situation, alleging that the sheriff and a local mob had even run them off from the gravesite during the funeral services.

The governor asked Adjutant General King to send the Texas Rangers to investigate. Their arrival on August 19, 1884, made a lasting impression on the citizens of Chambers County. The Rangers allegedly stayed at the ranch of the wealthy and politically powerful cattle baron, James Jackson. However, rather than the legendary heroes coming to the aid of the terrified Dicks as the family had so naively hoped, they arrested John's five grown sons for cattle theft and brand altering.

Murder charges were filed against Charles Wilborn. At about the same time, courthouse records indicate that a Nick (or Nicholas) Wilborn, was charged with "neglecting to arrest a person committing a crime within his view." Unfortunately, more detailed information appears to be no longer available. It is uncertain whether or not Nick Wilborn was related to Charles Wilborn, and whether or not he was another law enforcement officer who may have been present at the shooting of Benajah Dick.

Realizing the likely impossibility of obtaining a fair trial, the Dicks' attorney requested and received a change of venue to Liberty County. At the trial, the judge dismissed all charges against the Dicks. And Charles Wilborn got off scot-free for the alleged cold-blooded shooting of the unarmed Benajah Dick.

After their son's death, it became apparent that John and Amanda had encountered enough trouble at Smith Point. Whether by choice or from alleged coercion, as indicated by several publications, they sold their land to James Jackson for a mere pittance of its present-day worth. The Dick land holdings dissolved into the vast ranch of James Jackson, who acquired a substantial amount of acreage during the 1880s.

While John moved the family to Galveston County, his son T. J. "Tump" Dick led a historic cattle drive across the shallow waters of Galveston Bay to the western shore. Some four hundred head of cattle and horses, herded by cowboys, struggled across the shallow waters toward more hospitable territory. After resettling permanently near League City, John lived the remainder of his life near his son, Tump, engaged in farming and livestock raising.

Dr. John Monroe Dick, a Southern gentleman, a Civil War Veteran, a husband and father of eighteen children, passed away at the age of 85 on August 31, 1907. His wife, Amanda, died on March 25, 1919, and they are both buried at Fairview Cemetery in League City, Texas.

John's obituary described his personal qualities as follows:

"Death of Capt. Dick"

"Well Known Pioneer and Citizen Passed Away at League City, Aged 85 Years Capt. John Dick, a venerable Confederate veteran, died at his home near League City yesterday morning at the ripe age of 85 years.

He was born in Ireland and came of an old line of sturdy ancestors, his father, George Dick, and an uncle being in the battle of Waterloo, where his father was wounded. A younger brother, Sir Thomas Dick, is a surgeon in the English army and was in active service during the Boer War.

Capt. Dick came to Louisiana, when he was a young man, and received an education as a physician, but his inclinations being more in the agricultural and commercial lines he never followed his profession. While in Louisiana he was married to Miss Amanda Williams of Alabama, and about the year of 1855 moved to Texas with his family, engaged in large plantation business, and carried on an extensive trade through the old firm of Skinner and Stone, cotton factors, in early days of this city.

During the Civil War he saw active service throughout the four years, most of the time in Louisiana under Gen. Mouton. He participated in the memorial engagement attending the negotiations for surrender so ably conducted by Gen. Forrest at the battle of Mansfield, and which were so wisely foreseen by this General to be a trick of the enemy for delay only, and in his reply to them tersely stated, "the negotiations will not attain the desired end." In this engagement his company with two others were placed in an old rifle pit almost in the rear of the forts, and on a signal the works were carried without a halt, the enemy retreating to the river as the troops poured into the fortifications. As a scout during the latter part of the war he made the personal friendship of Jefferson Davis, and as a spy he carried a message on foot from Calcasieu Parish, La. to Port Bolivar, and afterward rendered valuable service as a pilot on board a confederate schooner.

At the close of the war he went back to Louisiana, but soon returned to Texas and settled in Chambers County, where he lived until about twenty-five years ago, when he came to Galveston County and made his home on the mainland where he industriously engaged in farming and stock raising.

Capt. Dick possessed in a marked degree the lofty moral and intellectual qualities that especially distinguished those old pioneers who linked their destinies in a struggle for personal liberties and freedom in the enjoyment of rights of property. Serious and thoughtful in disposition, gifted with strong powers of perception and analysis and thoroughly conscientious in decision of every right and wrong, through a loyal adherence to the principles of Democracy he contributed a service of great value to our new Commonwealth. He was loved for his virtues and admirable social qualities as a man and a neighbor, equally as for his able services contributed for the up building of those communities, which during his long useful life enjoyed his citizenship.

With a consciousness of duty well performed, and surrounded by a devoted family, he quietly and peacefully passed over the river to rest under the shade of the trees there to be with his immortal leader Stonewall Jackson and the rest of the old guard who have heard the last call to arms and the treasured words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," leaving surviving his widow and the following children Hon. T. J. Dick County Commissioner, Jeff Dick, George Dick, R. E. L. Dick, R. S. Dick, William Dick and Frank Dick of the county and Mrs. Lillie Sloan of California and Mrs. Amanda Parker of El Paso, Tex. The late Mrs. C. S. Pix of this city was also a daughter of Capt. Dick.---" Galveston Daily News, Sept. 1, 1907 . 2

One of John's sons, Jefferson Davis Dick, became a cattle rancher at Virginia Point, Texas. After suffering staggering losses of livestock during both the 1900 and 1915 storms, Jeff gave up ranching and became a bailiff for the Galveston County courthouse. Another son, Thomas Jackson "Tump" Dick, became a County Commissioner for Galveston County and founder of the Buckhorn Ranch at Clear Lake, near League City, Texas. A third son, Robert E. Lee Dick, also a cattleman, married the granddaughter of one of Jean Lafitte's former "lieutenants."

What had seemed in the beginning to be an idyllic future for these privileged members of Southern aristocracy eventually turned into a life filled with tragedy, hardship, and heartbreak. Through it all, like so many other Southern families after the Civil War, John and Amanda endured. It is unfortunate that they cannot still be alive today. They would surely rejoice in seeing that so many of their remarkable qualities have been inherited by their descendants.

Among them today, in the year 2001, they would find many productive citizens: one minister; two lawyers; four doctors, including an internist, a surgeon, and a psychiatrist; a registered nurse; educators, including a Texas A&M professor, a high school principal, and several teachers; a writer; a private investigator; three accountants, including two CPAs, one of them a CFO and past Vice President of a major business publication; a mayor; a Galveston County Commissioner; several who followed in John's footsteps, including a farmer, several cattle ranchers, one a past president of the Texas Brangus Breeders Association; a Special Ranger and lead detective for the Texas and Southwest Cattlemen's Association; longshoremen; entrepreneurs, including millionaires; real estate agents an opera star; four accomplished artists; and his most famous descendant to date, a supermodel, movie actress, vocalist, composer and musician, all embodied in one exquisitely beautiful, intelligent and talented woman.
Magic Smile - A Tribute to Rosie Vela

Nancy J. Barginear

June, 2001

*The author would like to thank her cousin, Renee Dick Hillman, and Alecya Gallaway, both of Bacliff, Texas, Peter Stines of the Anahuac Public Library, Kevin Ladd of Wallisville Heritage Park, and the entire staff at the Sam Houston Historical Library near Liberty, Texas, for their assistance and valuable information.

1 Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers and Louisiana Confederate Commands, compiled by Andrew B. Booth, Commissioner of Louisiana Military Records, New Orleans, LA., 1920. Volume I, II, and III

2 Galveston Daily News, Sept. 1, 1907, p. 6

We at the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment
extend our most sincere "THANK YOU"
for the exquisitely detailed biography
and photograph of John Monroe Dick
which was generously supplied by
the Great granddaughter of John Monroe Dick,
Ms. Nancy J. Barginear of Coldsprings, Texas

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