b. 25/09/1850 Ohio County, West Virginia. d. 09/03/1913 Cimarron, Oklahoma.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 12/09/1874 Washita River, Texas.
Dixon was born in Ohio County, West Virginia on September 25, 1850. Of European and Native American ancestry he was orphaned at age 12 and lived with an uncle in Missouri for a year before setting out on his own. He worked in woodcutters’ camps along the Missouri River until he started working at age 14 as an ox driver and a mule skinner for a government contractor in Leavenworth, Kansas.
He was a skilled marksman and occasionally scouted for Eastern excursionists brought by the railroads. In 1869, he joined a venture in hunting and trapping on the Saline River northwest of Fort Hays in Kansas.
He scouted Texas as far south as the Salt Fork of the Red River when the buffalo hunters moved into the Texas Panhandle in 1874. He and his group hunted along the Canadian River and its tributaries.
Billy Dixon quit buffalo hunting and, the following August, became an army scout. In September 1874, just three months after Adobe Walls, an army dispatch detail consisting of Billy Dixon, another scout Amos Chapman, and four troopers from the 6th Cavalry Regiment (United States) were surrounded and besieged by a large combined band of Kiowas and Comanches, in the Battle of Buffalo Wallow. They holed up in a buffalo wallow located in Hemphill County and, with accurate rifle fire, held off the Indians for three days. An extremely cold rainstorm the last night discouraged the Indians, and they broke off the fight; every man in the detail was wounded and one trooper killed. For this action Billy Dixon, along with the other survivors of ‘The Buffalo Wallow Fight’, were awarded the Medal of Honor (for Gallantry in Battle). The medal is presently on display at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. A Texas Historical Marker documents the battle site. He is one of just 8 civilians to receive the Medal of Honor.
In 1883 Dixon returned to civilian life and built a home near the Adobe Walls site. He was postmaster there for 20 years and also the first sheriff of newly formed Hutchinson County, Texas. He served as state land commissioner and a justice of the peace.
In 1894 he married Olive King Dixon of Virginia, who for nearly three years was the only woman in Hutchinson County. They had seven children. In 1902 the family moved to Plemons for schooling for their children. In 1906 they moved to Oklahoma.
Dixon died from pneumonia at his Cimarron County homestead in 1913 and was buried in Adobe Walls battle site in Hutchinson County, Texas. On his deathbed he told Olive his complete life story, which she penned and later published. In 1929 his body was reinterred at Adobe Walls.
Dixon Creek in southern Hutchinson County was named for him, as is the Billy Dixon Masonic Lodge in Fritch. A plaque commemorating his Medal of Honor was formally dedicated in 1992. His medal along with that of Amos Chapman was revoked after a records review that was conducted from 1916-1917 found that they were ineligible because they were civilian scouts. In 1989 an Army Board of Correction of Records reinstated the awards.
Gallantry in action.
BURIAL LOCATION: ADOBE WALLS BATTLEFIELD SITE, STINNETT, TEXAS.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PANHANDLE PLAINS HISTORICAL MUSEUM, CANYON, TEXAS.