Days Gone By - stories from the past

Abraham Lincoln’s half sister-in-law lived in Selma, Alabama during the Civil War

The Dawson-Vaughan House in Selma, Dallas County, Alabama was the home of Elodie (Todd) Dawson, Abraham Lincoln’s half sister-in-law, Elodie Breck Todd was the daughter of Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth L. Humphreys and the wife of Nathaniel Henry Rhodes Dawson (1829-1895).


She was a staunch Confederate supporter. Col. Dawson was once the U. S. Commissioner of Education.

Elodie Breck Todd Dawson

Elodie dawson, selma

Famous people are buried in Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

Elodie and her husband are two of many famous Alabamians buried in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.

Below are some photographs of their home taken March 23,  1934 by W. N. Manning and March 11, 1935 by photographer Alex Bush. The house is no longer standing.

Front Dawson vaughan houseFront of house March 23, 1934

Front doors Dawson Vaughan house

 Front Doors of Dawson-Vaughan House March 23, 1934

(The doors are now on the Converse House on Tremont street) 

Dawson vaughan staircase Staircase at Dawson-Vaughan Home March 23, 1934

Dawson vaughan ceiling center in hallCeiling Center in front hall March 11, 1935

Dawson vaughan rear hall and staircaseRear Hall and Staircase March 11, 1835

Dawson vaughan fireplace front parlor alex bush 1935Fireplace Front Parlor March 11, 1935

Dawson vaughan ceiling center in front and rear 1935 alex bushMatching ceiling centers in front and rear parlor March 11, 1935

Dawson vaughan fireplace and mantel in living room 1935 alex bushFireplace and Mantel in Living room March 23, 1934

Dawson vaughan ceiling in living room 1934Ceiling in living room March 23, 1934

Dawson vaughan fireplace in dining room 1935 alex bush Fireplace in Dining Room March 11, 1935

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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34 comments

  1. Frances Simmons Hughes

    What is the address of this house?

    1. 704 Tremont Street in Selma, AL

  2. Often-times history would have us to believe that there was little inter-family interaction among African-Americans and Caucasians. This was especially a part of the history of those prominent in our American History. However, this just proves that this was the rule and not the exception. My Gr.Gr.Gr. Grandfather, from Kentucky, fought in the Civil War in Dukes Brigade on the Confederate side. He left his children, Mary and Robert with friends. He shows up in Texas in 1870 and we are his descendants. We are of many hues and representative of many other nations. But, we are FAMILY. Thank you for your information. May GOD bless you.

  3. Alabama Pioneers

    704 Tremont Street, Selma, Dallas County, AL, here is the current view of the house today

  4. Frances Simmons Hughes

    Thank you! I will have to ride by and take a look!

  5. I respectfully would like to correct several errors in this post. The colored picture shown as the Dawson-Vaughan house (June 2013) is not the former Converse home nor the home of Abraham Lincoln’s half-sister-in-law.

    White-Force Cottage, 811 Mabry St., Selma, was built in 1859 by Mr. and Mrs. Clement Billingslea White. Mrs. White was the half- sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. A younger sister of Mrs. White, Elodie Todd visited her sister in Selma and met her future husband, Col. N. H. R. Dawson here.

    Col. Dawson had three wives, the last of which was Elodie Todd Dawson. Around 1859 Col. Dawson purchased a house located on the NE corner of Tremont and McLeod (current address is 700 Tremont St.) The house was originally constructed in the early 1840’s by E. W. Marks.

    The home was later sold to Judge Watkins Vaughan and the interior photos shown were taken during his ownership. In the early 1950’s the Converse family purchased the house and demolished it. Pieces and parts of the house were incorporated into the new structure. Some of those pieces and parts include the front doors, side and over lights around front doors, mantels and flooring. The house was later sold to W. T. Rountree. In early 2009 the house sold to David and Sharon Jackson, the present owners.

    The house you are picturing (colored picture June 2013) as the Dawson-Vaughan house is actually known as the McLeod-Cornish house. The house and lot were acquired in 1849 by the McLeod family, the family for whom McLeod Ave. is named. The house sits on the NW corner of Tremont Street and McLeod Avenue. The correct address for this property is 703 Tremont St.

    Please note the exterior double chimneys and Italianate brackets in the picture you show as “View of the House June 2013,” whereas the picture you show of the Dawson-Vaughan house, “View of house March 24, 1934,” has interior chimneys and no brackets.

    These properties are across Tremont Street from one another.

    I trust these comments will be accepted in the spirit they were given, merely to clarify the information. I hope they will help in any research you may be doing.

    1. Thank you so much for the clarification. I’m sorry about the mix-up. I appreciate you taking the time to write and provide correct information. Much of the information came from The Library of Congress which also lists the address as 704 Tremont instead of 700 Tremont and I believe that created the confusion. Did the address change over the years?

    2. Thanks, I’ve removed the color picture

    3. Dear Nancy,
      I’m glad you clarified this..I didn’t think it was right…There’s a lot of history in Selma that people are forgetting..that’s a shame….L

  6. I am unsure if the address changed. I know it has been 700 Tremont for most, if not all of my 65 years. However, it certainly could have changed as I know of other instances where numbers and/or street names have changed. At the present time, the house next door to 700 Tremont is 710 Tremont,
    not much rhyme or reason but that’s the way it is in many blocks, particularly in the historic districts.

    1. Thank you for your information and clarification. At least, maybe now we have correct information from one who is more familiar with the area. The 704 address was from a photographer in the 1930’s. It could easily have been a typo. Thanks for answering.

  7. Lucy Jackson

    beautiful old homes in Selma

  8. Don Rainwater

    Lincolns brother in law was a Confederate officer killed at Chicamuga

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      I didn’t realize that. Thanks for the info.

    2. Sid Leak

      General Ben Hardin Helm

  9. Neal Rose

    What’s a half sister-in-law?

    1. Laurie Wolff

      Then it would just be sister in law. She can’t be half of a sister in law…..unless she only married the blood half of his brother!! Lol

    2. Jason Yeager

      Half sister of his wife…. Mary Todd Lincoln. Abe didn’t have half siblings only step siblings

  10. Maury West

    Cool. Love the house!

  11. Dave Dunham

    Can you tour the home?

  12. Jeannie Berry

    Peggy….
    I lived in Selma for a couple of years. So much history there!!!! It’s really a beautiful town.

  13. […] Dawson-Vaughan House in Selma, Dallas County, Alabama was the home of Elodie (Todd) Dawson, Abraham Lincoln’s half sister-in-law, Elodie Breck Todd was […]

  14. Frances Luther

    He had alot of Alabama connections…..keep researching

  15. Juanita Bailey

    Half sister in law???

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      She was the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln so the half-sister-in-law of Abraham Lincoln. See this link: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=34186107

    2. Juanita Bailey

      Thanks for explaining.

    3. Cartledge Weeden Blackwell

      Yes! Much of the interior survives.9

  16. Sherron Hayes

    So she was his wife’s half sister!!!!! Mary Todd Lincoln’s half sister!

  17. John Hedberg

    Shannon Keller Reeves wonder if the building still exists. Any idea?

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      No, it no longer exists.

  18. Shannon Keller Reeves

    Not sure – Cartledge Weeden Blackwell do you know ?

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