"A Tradition of Caring...
Proud to Serve the North
Country for a Century"

Watertown Location
(315) 782–0830

Clayton Location
(315) 686–5101

Nancy E. Dixon

February 4, 2023

Nancy (Nan) Elizabeth Dixon, 93, passed away at home in Clayton, NY on February 4, 2023, after a full and adventurous life. Her son William was by her side.

She was born at home in Detroit, Michigan on October 14, 1929, to Florence Estelle (Dixon) Wagoner and Evard Wagoner. When she was five, the family lost their house during the Great Depression and her parents along with her brothers Evard and Robert, moved to an old family farmstead in Alexandria Bay, NY, perched above the St. Lawrence River. She enjoyed boating and fishing on the river, and exploring the nearby marshes.

For her grade school years, she made the daily walk to Swan Hollow School one room schoolhouse, and in 1947 she graduated salutatorian from Alexandria Bay High School. She earned money by selling strawberries, cleaning fish for tourists and trapping muskrats, and in the fall of 1947, took the train to attend the University at Albany. Her parents electrified the farmstead that fall and when she returned home for Christmas break, she found to her delight that their first purchase was a set of electric Christmas tree lights.

Nan graduated with a BA in English and a teacher certification in high school English in 1951, then continued on to earn her Master of Library Science in 1952. Her first librarian job was at Bellevue Elementary School. She also worked summers as a librarian at T.I. Park, by boat every day from her farm to Wellesley Island.

She met her husband, William Collins Dixon III (Bill), over a family tombstone. When they started courting, he visited her at the farm only if her geese, Washington, Jefferson, and Alexander were confined so they wouldn’t chase him. Nan and Bill married on September 10, 1955 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Alexandria Bay, and moved to Plattsburgh, NY. They built a house there and had two children, Felicitie and William. In 1961 they moved to the NY Capital District and in 1962 purchased a home in Malta Ridge, NY. There, they had two more children, Mary and Rachel.

Nan spent as much time as she could outside at Malta Ridge working in her wholesale produce garden acres, selling her produce at her own farmstand, and delivering fresh produce to local businesses. She took long daily walks with her dog, always a sheltie, and stayed active through her 93rd year. An avid family historian and genealogist, she always found time for primary research. After 30 years of work, in 1994 she published Palatine Roots: The 1710 German Settlement in New York As Experienced by Johann Peter Wagner, which was well-received and went through numerous printings. The book also launched her onto a lecture circuit of Palatine History. She wrote several smaller books which were never published.

When her husband Bill retired, they moved back north to Clayton to live on the farm where Bill had been raised. Nan had a zest for travel and, in the last few decades of her life, explored Santorini, Greece, walked through the highlands of Scotland, visited the pink sand beaches of Bermuda, ziplined in Costa Rica, and saw volcanoes in Hawaii. However, she always loved returning to the peaceful farm affectionately known as Linden Ledge, tending to her garden, and battling the pesky porcupine living under the porch. When grandchildren visited, she always had warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for them, and would never refuse a game of Boggle.

Nan and Bill, both passionate about history, joined the Jefferson County Historical Society. Nan published an award-winning genealogy website for Jefferson County history as part of the national GenWeb project, which was recognized several years in a row as the paragon of GenWeb sites.

She loved animals, and she and Bill donated to Alleycat Allies, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown, NY. She enjoyed feeding wild birds, attracting a wide variety, and participating in the annual Cornell Lab of Ornithology Backyard Bird Count. Cats were one of Nan's favorite animals, and she always had one or more since childhood.

Nan is predeceased by her beloved husband Bill, and her brothers Evard and Robert. She is survived by her four children: Felicitie Bell (Andrew) of Ellicott City, MD, William of Clayton, Mary Evans (John) of Malta Ridge, NY, and Rachel Phillips of Savannah GA; her seven grandchildren: Anne Bell of Columbia MD, Johanna Weiss (Fred) of Boynton Beach, FL, Morgan Bell (Liz) of Windsor Mills, MD, Sarah Evans-Price (Colin) of Allentown, PA, and Byron, Peter, and Zuzu Evans of Malta Ridge, NY; and her four great-grandchildren: Emma, Olive, Harrison, and John-Britt. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham St, Watertown, NY 13601, or to Alleycat Allies by going to alleycat.org and clicking on the “donate” button.

A funeral service will be held at Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton, NY on Monday, February 13, 2023 at 11am. A graveside service will be held in the spring, date to be determined. Online condolences to her family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneralservice.com.


#7 Jeannie Brennan 2023-02-11 09:16
I really enjoyed my friendship with Nan. She, Sue Herse and I were among the three oldest members of the group. My condolences to Nan's family.
Jeannie Brennan
Report to administrator
#6 Jon Holcombe 2023-02-10 10:38
I first met Nan when she reached out to me with information about how we were (not might be) related. She was always sharp, pleasant, and knew what she talked about. She even researched me and Sandy (my wife of 61 years who died last Fall) and found that through various links that each of us was related to both her and husband Bill. That was Nan, thorough and well researched in everything she did - a great contributor to so many. I will always miss her but her gifts will endure.
Report to administrator
#5 Tim Zuelsdorf 2023-02-08 17:26
My condolences to the Dixon family. Will, your mom was blessed to have such a caring son to be with her through it all.
Report to administrator
#4 Jean Hyde 2023-02-07 20:24
Nan was a very special neighbor. She always had a batch of chocolate chip cookies waiting for my grandsons when they visited her.
Her daily bike ride was something that everyone on Clayton Center Rd looked forward to and we all looked out for her
RIP dear neighbor. You will be sadly missed
Report to administrator
#3 Rebecca Walldroff 2023-02-07 11:28
I'm so sorry to learn about the passing of Nan. I will miss seeing her on her bicycle on her daily trips to clayton center and back. She had such a smile on her face and would give a wave every time I'd see her on her bike.
Report to administrator
#2 Phyllis Putnam 2023-02-07 11:04
What Tom said. Nan and Bill were a great team. The two of them were the reason that the Jefferson County Genealogical Society got off to such a strong start. My sympathy to the family.
Report to administrator
#1 Thomas LaClair 2023-02-07 08:57
Nan was wonderful in so many ways. I knew her best through the Jefferson County NY Genealogical Society. She mentored me when I served as president, she mentored me when I served as membership clerk, she mentored me when she edited years worth of our society's newsletter with her red ink, she continued to mentor me when I would drop in for visits. She was always so pleasant and so cheerful. She once showed me her bee hives, dressing me up so not to get stung. She showed me her old school maps that hung in her home, she allowed me to interview her for a spotlight article and got to know her that much more. Her and her late husband did so much for the advancement of Jefferson County genealogy, thousands use their work to this day. I feel like I am rambling, but Nan was the kind of friend that we all could use in our lives. She will be greatly missed by all of us who knew her. Tom LaClair, Clayton, New York.
Report to administrator


Please be respectful. All comments are moderated by a real human so please allow time for them to appear.

Find a Memorial

How May We Help You?

If you see information that needs to be updated and/or changed, please contact us.

Or call our Watertown (315) 782–0830 or Clayton location (315) 686–5101.