Dixon, Olive King (1873–1956)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: July 6, 2019

Olive King Dixon was born on January 30, 1873, on Bent Mountain, eighteen miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, the eighth of ten children of Robert Woods and Mary Jane (Blankenship) King. The family estate had been given by the king of England to Gen. Andrew Lewis, Olive's great-grandfather, for his role in Lord Dunmore's War (1774) and was thus known as the Lewis grant. When Olive was seven her father, a Civil War veteran, succumbed to an outbreak of smallpox. Olive and her sister Margaret were sent to Decatur, Alabama, to live with a cousin, Dora King Wade, and her husband Miles, who had two sons of their own. Olive remained at the Wade home and attended school in Decatur until she was sixteen, when she returned to Virginia.

In the meantime two of her brothers, Albert Richard and John Archie, had gone to the Texas Panhandle in the 1880s to work for the Seven K and Cresswell ranches. Albert subsequently married and settled in Lipscomb County, and Archie settled in Roberts County; both were doing well as ranchers on their own. In 1893 Olive visited her brothers and spent most of her time at the home of Archie, who had married Sena Walstad on Christmas Eve, 1890, and now had an infant son, Woods. While Olive was there, James A. Whittenburg offered her the job of teaching at Garden Creek School, between Tallahone and Reynolds creeks, organized for the children of the Whittenburg and Newby families. She accepted, and soon afterward Olive met and was courted by the veteran plainsman William (Billy) Dixon.

Billy and Olive were married on October 18, 1894, at his Adobe Walls homestead on the Turkey Track Ranch. Rev. C. V. Bailey, a Methodist minister, came a hundred miles from Mobeetie to perform the ceremony. Later Olive stated that for three years after her marriage she was the only woman living in Hutchinson County. The Dixons lived at Adobe Walls until 1902, when they moved to Plemons. By then they had four children; three more were added after their move to Cimarron County, Oklahoma, in 1906. Before her husband's death on March 9, 1913, Olive carefully recorded his recollections of his younger years as a buffalo hunter and army scout. These she compiled and published as the Life of Billy Dixon, an important source of Panhandle history, in 1914. Frederick S. Barde, an Oklahoma western writer, helped her edit the manuscript.

Mrs. Dixon and her children moved briefly to Texline, then in 1915 to Canyon. They continued to farm the Cimarron County homestead until 1917, when they sold it and moved to Miami, in Roberts County. There she wrote sketches of Panhandle history for area newspapers, and several of her pieces also appeared in various magazines. In 1923 she made a memorable trip east to visit relatives and interview Gen. Nelson A. Miles and others who had known her husband and who attested to the truth of his exploits. As a charter member of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Mrs. Dixon led the successful effort in 1924 to place historical markers at the Adobe Walls and Buffalo Wallow battle sites. In 1929 she moved to Amarillo and was hired as a part-time staff writer by the Amarillo Globe-News. She was made a salaried reporter in 1937 and was in charge of preparing the Globe-News Golden Anniversary Edition of August 14, 1938. She remained with the Amarillo newspapers until her death, on March 17, 1956. She was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. Dixon heirs live throughout much of West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

Amarillo Daily News, March 19, 1956. Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Women
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Dixon, Olive King,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dixon-olive-king.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
July 6, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: