In the 1850 Census a Joshua was listed as head of household. His age was right to make him the Joshua I sought but his wife was listed as Manirva and his children listed no Joshua, Jr. (Manerva was Joshua Sr's first wife.)
This household was listed again in the 1870 Census and again there was no Joshua, Jr.
The early census records were not the most reliable records ever produced but they are all we have. Using the census, in conjunction with county records, a family can usually be traced with a degree of accuracy. I continued my search for the elusive tie between Joshua, Sr. and Jr.
I might have abandoned the search at that time if I hadn’t found Henry Dickens’ 1828 Will (in the TN State Archives). It didn’t name my great, great, grandfather as such, but it excited me enough to continue searching.
(NOTE: I spent hundreds of hours and drove many miles conducting this search. There were times that I wanted to just conclude by saying Joshua Sr. and Jr. were father and son, period. But that would have been a dishonor to Dickens generations past, present, and future. I could not do that.)
Henry’s 1828 Will naming his heirs, the 1820 Census and whatever other Dickens names I could locate in that time period were a revelation to me. My concept changed drastically.
Instead of looking for a Dickens among thousands of Dickens', I was looking at a few Dickens names, each one of them important to our Dickens history in America.
Dickens of Hurricane Creek
Including: Maggart, Sullivans Bend, Elmwood, Chestnut Mound, Smith County, TN
At that time I still didn’t know many facts about our forefathers in Tennessee but I had a feeling that the names of our Tennessee patriarchs were right before my eyes for the first time.
I had noticed in the census that some early Dickens settlers here, had come from North Carolina. Also, in Henry’s 1828 Will, he mentioned "shillings" as late as 1828. I still hadn’t found a tie linking the two Joshua’s, but my mind began to wander more and more toward North Carolina and Revolutionary War era Dickens’.
A copy of Henry Dickens’ will appears on the next page. I assume that the Dickens men named are close relatives. I also assume that the females are Dickens daughters; those married names also have roots in the Hurricane Creek valley.
All the 1820 Census’ Dickens Heads of Household for Smith and Jackson Counties are mentioned in Henry’s will plus William and Joseph who had no household of their own at that time.
The original handwritten Will also suffered from old age. The Smith County Court record is a 1930’s typed copy of the original.