Susannah Wilkerson Dickinson (Dickenson), survivor of the Alamo, was born about 1814 in Tennessee, perhaps in Williamson County. Her first name has also been recorded as Susan, Susana, and Suzanna. She married Almeron Dickinson in Tennessee when she was barely 15. The couple remained in the vicinity through the end of 1830. The Dickinsons arrived at Gonzales, Texas, on February 20, 1831, in company with fifty-four other settlers, after a trip by schooner from New Orleans. On May 5 Dickinson received a league of land from Green DeWitt, on the San Marcos River in what became Caldwell County. He received ten more lots in and around Gonzales in 1833 and 1834. The Dickinsons lived on a lot just above the town on the San Marcos River, where Susannah took in at least one boarder. A map of Gonzales in 1836 shows a Dickinson and Kimble hat factory in Gonzales. Susannah's only child, Angelina Elizabeth Dickenson, was born on December 14, 1834. She joined Dickinson in San Antonio, probably in December 1835, and lodged in Ramon Musquiz's home, where she opened her table to boarders (among them David Crockett) and did laundry. On February 23, 1836, the family moved into the Alamo. After the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, Mexican soldiers found her (some accounts say in the powder magazine, others in the church) and took her and Angelina, along with the other women and children, to Músquiz's home. The women were later interviewed by Santa Anna, who gave each a blanket and two dollars in silver before releasing them. Legend says Susannah displayed her husband's Masonic apron to a Mexican general in a plea for help and that Santa Anna offered to take Angelina to Mexico. Santa Anna sent Susannah and her daughter, accompanied by Juan Almonte's servant Ben, to Sam Houston with a letter of warning dated March 7. On the way, the pair met Joe, William B. Travis's slave, who had been freed by Santa Anna. The party was discovered by Erastus (Deaf) Smith and Henry Wax Karnes. Smith guided them to Houston in Gonzales, where they arrived after dark about March 12. Susannah Dickinson probably followed the army eastward in company with the other Gonzales women. Illiterate, without family, and only twenty-two years old, she petitioned the government meeting at Columbia in October 1836 for a donation, but the proposed $500 was not awarded. She needed a male protector, and by June 1837 she was cohabiting with John Williams, whom she married about November 27, 1837. He beat her and Angelina, and she petitioned in Harrisburg (later Harris) County for a divorce, which was granted on March 24, 1838-one of the first divorces in the county. By 1839 Almeron Dickinson's heirs had received rights to 2,560 acres for his military service; they sold the land when Angelina reached twenty-one. Subsequent requests to the state legislature in November 1849 were turned down. Susannah tried matrimony three more times before settling into a stable relationship. She wed Francis P. Herring on December 20, 1838, in Houston. Herring, formerly from Georgia, had come to Texas after October 20, 1837. He died on September 15, 1843. On December 15, 1847, Susannah married Pennsylvania drayman Peter Bellows before an Episcopalian minister. In 1850 the couple had sixteen-year-old Angelina living with them. But by 1854 Susannah had left Bellows, who charged her with adultery and prostitution when he filed for divorce in 1857. Susanna may have lived in the Mansion House Hotel of Pamelia Mann, which was known as a brothel, before marrying Bellows. The divorce petition accuses her of taking up residence in a "house of ill fame." Nevertheless, Susannah received praise from the Baptist minister Rufus C. Burleson for her work nursing cholera victims in Houston, where he baptized her in Buffalo Bayou in 1849. Susannah's fifth marriage was long-lasting. She married Joseph William Hannig, a native of Germany living in Lockhart, in 1857. They soon moved to Austin, where Hannig became prosperous with a cabinet shop and later a furniture store and undertaking parlor; he also owned a store in San Antonio. Susannah became ill in February 1883 and died on October 7 of that year. Hannig buried her in Oakwood Cemetery, and even though he married again, he was buried next to Susannah after his death in 1890.
Directions: Oakwood Cemetery is the oldest and largest cemetery in Austin. It’s located at 16th Street and Navasota. Heading north on I-35, take Exit 235A and stay on the service road to 16th St. and turn right. This will take you straight into the cemetery. You will soon see on your right a large concrete crypt with the name Kreisle on it. Park here. There is an intersecting road in front of you. Take that road to the right and look for a historical marker on your right. You will be standing in front of the grave markers for Susan A. Hannig and her husband J. W. Hannig. The tombstone spells her name Susan A., the slab in front spells it Susana and the historical marker spells it Susanna. Some written accounts spell it Susannah, which I have chosen to do, but who knows?
To the box: Standing facing the marker, turn around 180 degrees, cross the road and walk to the next road. There will be a curbed plot for the Albert family. Turn the corner and walk to the far right corner. Remove the half-sphere cap at the corner, which is not sealed and you’ll find the box inside, under rocks. The square corner pedestal is broken, so be careful to leave it undisturbed. There is another box in this cemetery called Oakwood Cemetery, placed by Gingercat, which has a similar hiding place, and I have always thought that was a neat way to hide a box. Thanks, Gingercat.