COL. ELI DODSON. This gentleman is the intelligent, trustworthy and efficient county and probate judge of Boone County, Arkansas, and in his official capacity has comported himself with dignity, good sound judgment and judicial fairness. He has resided in the county since 1881, but has been a resident of northwest Arkansas since 1852, whither he came from Madison County, Arkansas, in 1834. He was born on his father’s farm in White County, Tennessee, May 22, 1828, the only child of Eli and Mary (Goad) Dodson, the former of whom was born in Virginia in 1798, a son of William Dodson, who helped free this country from British rule by serving in the Revolutionary War.
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Eli Dodson, the father, died before his son was born and he was also left motherless when two and a half years old. He was reared by his uncle, Alexander Goad, and came with him to this State. His boyhood days were characterized by farm labor, for he unfortunately received no educational advantages until he reached manhood and after his marriage, which event took place in 1847, and was to Miss Rhoda C. Cantrell, daughter of Abner Cantrell, to which marriage twelve children were given: William Y., Mary, Margaret, James A., Elizabeth, Martha D., Rhoda A., Virginia, Eli S., Alice, Melvina R., and Leota B., all of whom are living except the last mentioned. The mother of these children was called from this life April 14, 1870, and Mr. Dodson took for his second wife Mrs. Mary E. Hastings, who lived only a few months after her marriage, dying in February, 1871. Mr. Dodson’s present wife was Mary C. Cantrell, a sister of his first wife, and to them nine children were given, three of whom are living: Lena M., Missouri and Katie. Those deceased are Ellen C., Hattie G., Lillie D. and Rosa M. (twins), Louetta A. and Floyd R. Lena M. is the wife of James Bridwell, and Missouri E. is the wife of John Dees. All the children of the first marriage are married. Abner Cantrell, the father of Mrs. Dodson, settled in Madison County, Arkansas, in 1835 and later moved to what is now Boone County in 1855, but died at Yellville, in Marion County, in 1891, his wife’s death having occurred in 1873. He reached the advanced age of ninety-seven years and was the oldest man in the county at the time of his death.
Until he was twenty-four years old Mr. Dodson resided in Madison County, but he then moved to a farm near where Lead Hill now is, where he made his home for four years, then removed to Yellville, having been elected clerk of the circuit court. After holding this office four years he entered the army, becoming colonel of the Fourteenth Arkansas Infantry, C. S. A., and commanded his regiment at Pea Ridge, in which engagement he was wounded in the hip so severely that he was unfitted for duty for some time. After convalescing he again joined his regiment at Memphis, just after the bloody battle of Shiloh, and was in command at the siege of Corinth. He was in the different engagements all the way from that place to Tupelo. He was then at Luka and in the second engagement at Corinth. His health became so broken down that he resigned his commission in the fall of 1863 and returned home with the consciousness of having served the Southern cause with fidelity and courage. He commanded his regiment all the time that he was in the service and was successful in four or five engagements. After returning home he located in Yellville, and having been admitted to the bar began the practice of law at that place in 1865, continuing until 1881, when he came to Boone County. In 1866 he was elected to the State Legislature and served with ability until he was displaced during the reconstruction period. He was elected county and probate judge of Marion County in 1878 and served till 1880. Being elected to the position he now holds in 1892, he, in 1893, left his farm in the vicinity of Bellefonte and came to Harrison, of which place he is one of the foremost citizens. Physically he is strong and active, is prepossessing in personal appearance, and is a good conversationalist. He is a forcible and convincing pleader at the bar, is thoroughly posted in his profession, and has been successful in its practice. He is a Democrat politically, is a member of Bellefonte Lodge of the A. F. & A. M., and has for years been connected with the Free Will Baptist Church while his wife is a Missionary Baptist.