THE EARLY DAVIDSON HISTORY
It is not certain who our early Davidson ancestors were or when they arrived in the Colonies. It is believed they probably arrived around 1725. The Davidsons had a penchant for certain given names which they regularly used profusely. Names like: John,William, George, James, Abraham, Samuel, Mary, Ann, and Elizabeth.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to trace a certain given name of a specific individual Davidson beyond the year 1800. Also, the early Davidsons resided mostly in Virginia and North Carolina, and later in Tennessee and Alabama. During the Civil War many of the courthouses in the South were burned by the Union armies. Many of the documents and records were destroyed by fire. That further complicates searches for early ancestors who resided in the South prior to the Civil War.
Years ago I attended a genealogy seminar in Dallas. The featured speaker was a professional genealogist. She was introduced as an expert on Virginia and North Carolina families. At the outset of her session she announced in no uncertain terms that she “never does Davidsons or Powells.” That piqued my interest. At the first break I buttonholed her with my Davidson nametag plainly showing. I asked why she refused to research Davidsons. At first she was evasive but I persisted. She finally said, “Because they are so difficult.” I wasn’t about to take that for a final answer. I asked, “What do you mean they are so difficult?” She finally said, “They are too close. Too close genetically and too close-mouthed. They are well known for keeping the Ten Commandments and anything else they can lay their hands on.” I later learned there also was an old saying among the Scots, “Never kill a Davidson because you will then have to kill his wife.”
According to the family folklore, it is thought our first ancestor to come to The Colonies was James Davidson. He was a native of Scotland who came to North America with his family and settled near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. He claimed to be one of the first Davidsons to come to America. It is believed James Davidson had a son named John born about 1730 in Pennsylvania but moved to and lived in Virginia. He lived in that part of Virginia that came to be known as Wythe County and later (1799) Tazewell County along the Clinch River in what is now the extreme southwest part of Virginia. That part of Virginia in 1730 to 1790 was the outer fringes of the frontier. Indians still largely inhabited that part of Virginia.
In 1753 the French seized and imprisoned some English surveyors and traders of the Ohio Company in the wilderness between the upper waters of the Alleghany River and Lake Erie. The French regarded the English as intruders and deployed about twelve hundred French soldiers to erect forts in the area.
1 (An interesting sidelight to the Davidson history is the Roller Family [Johannes Roller, born about 1725; married Anna Ocher, born about 1730] lived in the same general area of the Clinch River. In 1925 William E. Davidson. (1901 – 2005) married Mary P. Roller (1905 – 1988).
Robert Dinwiddie, a member of the Ohio Company and governor of Virginia, received instructions from England to repel the French by force of arms, if necessary. Dinwiddie determined to first send a letter of remonstrance to M. de St. Pierre, the French commander. He selected young George Washington for this important mission. Washington then was a little more than twenty-one years old. He was of an excellent and honorable family, whose roots lay far back in English history. As a public surveyor and skillful hunter he had traversed the forests of Virginia far in the direction of the Ohio. At the time England claimed Virginia lay west all the way to the Mississippi River.
OLD JOHN DAVIDSON
Washington left Williamsburg, the Virginia capitol, on the thirty-first day of October 1753. He was joined by John Davidson as Indian interpreter, Jacob Van Braam, a Hollander by birth, acquainted with the French language, and a Mr. Gist as guide.
Is this John Davidson the Old John Davidson of Wythe County, Virginia, killed in 1793 by Indians? After the Revolution that part of Virginia along the Clinch River became Wythe County and was located in the far western part of the state as it is configured today. In 1753 it was a virtual wilderness. If this John Davidson born in 1730 is the son of James Davidson then he would have been 23 years old in 1753, about the same age as George Washington when he accompanied him on this mission. John Davidson was 63 years old in 1793 when killed by Indians.
The Davidson name was not unfamiliar to George Washington. Lieutenant Colonel William Lee Davidson of North Carolina served with him at Valley Forge and sat as president of a court-martial there. December 19, 1778 Washington sent orders for Lieutenant Colonel Davidson, who was stationed near Smith’s Clove, New York, to march immediately to Philadelphia by way of Trenton. A little over two years later on February 1, 1781, then Brigadier-General William Lee Davidson was killed opposing Cornwallis at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford on the Catawba River in North Carolina.
There surely must have been a close affinity of the Davidsons with George Washington. Almost every Davidson Family for the next several generations after the Revolution named a son, usually the first one, George Washington Davidson.
The book, A History of Southwest Virginia 1746 to 1870, by Lewis P. Summers, page 426 states:
October 1, 1789 Indians captured the Wiley Family on the headwaters of the Clinch River. During the same year, John Davidson, who lived on the headwaters of the Clinch River was waylaid and killed by a band of Indians while feeding his horse at a cabin. The Indians were accompanied by a white man who robbed Davidson’s saddlebags of their contents. The following from a manuscript, “Indian Atrocities along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers,” pages 241-242, by Emory L. Hamilton states: Pendleton, in his History of Tazewell County, page 235, quoting from Bickley’s History of Tazewell County, 1853 said that sometime in 1789 or 1790, John Davidson, a man advanced in years, was killed by Indians on Clinch River, half a mile above the present town of North Tazewell. Mr. Davidson had been on a business trip to Rockingham County, Virginia, and was returning home when the murder was committed.
The circumstances connected with the tragedy were afterwards made known by white people who had been in captivity, and who were told by the Indians, when they were prisoners, how, and why, Mr. Davidson was killed. He had
1 (See the book, “Piedmont Partisan-The Life and Times of Brigadier-General William Lee Davidson” by Chalmers Gaston Davidson, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, ©1951.)
stopped at a deserted cabin to feed his horses, and while thus occupied was shot to death.
The Indians also said a white renegade was with them when the deed was done. It seems the crime was a double one, as the Indians and their companion found a considerable amount of specie in the saddlebags of the old man which was stolen by the murderers. Bickley says: “A few days after, his son, Colonel Davidson, became uneasy on account of his absence, and raising a small company went in search of him. Luckily, when they got to the cabin they found a hatband which, being of peculiar structure, was recognized as that worn by Mr. Davidson. After considerable search, his body was found stripped of clothing, and somewhat disfigured by birds. As the Indians had too long been gone to be overtaken, Mr. Davidson was taken home and buried.” Both Pendleton and Bickley are in error on their date of the killing of John Davidson. A letter written by Daniel Trigg, to the Governor of Virginia, under date of April 10, 1793, writes: Since the 20th of March they (Indians) have been constantly hovering over this part of our frontiers. John Davidson murdered by them, and a number of horses stolen from Wolf Creek, Bluestone and Island Creek, for and will all which they have escaped, with impunity, except the party entrusted with the care of conveying away the horses from Island Creek, who have been pursued, the horses retaken, together with the arms and blankets of three warriors, who were killed and scalped by the justly incensed followers at the mouth of Little Cole. The number of Indians concerned in the murder of Davidson, at the Laurel Fork of Wolf Creek, was judged about twelve, who carried off a number of horses from the neighborhood, and passed with them in daylight through the heart of the Bluestone settlement. From the above letter it can be safely assumed that John Davidson was killed at some time between the 20th of March and the 10th of April 1793. Also it seems unlikely that Davidson could have been missing as long as Bickley says, since the Indians passed,through the Bluestone settlement with stolen horses in open daylight.
Surely the whole countryside must have been alerted and Trigg says in his letter that the Indians had been hovering over the frontier since March 20th which conveys the knowledge that the settlers were aware of their presence.
Judge Johnson in his “History of the New River Settlements” says that John Davidson was called Cooper Davidson, being thusly labeled because by trade he was a cooper. Nevertheless, it is interesting to read the will of John Davidson (exactly as written) as follows from “Early Adventurors of the Western Waters – Probated Will of John Davidson, Sr.-Vol. III, Part I, by Kegley, page 205.”
In the name of god Amen, july 1791. I John Davidson of Wythe County and state of Virginia being very sick and weak in body but in and of perfect mind and memory thans be given unto god calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appontef or all me one to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and firs of all I give and recommend my sole unto the hand of almighty god that gave it and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrectiion I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of god and a touching such world by estate wherewith it hath pleased god to bles me in this life I give and devise & dispose of the same in the Following menner and from first I give and bequeath to my sons Andrew John and George Davidson my land at the mouth of absolam wels counting 400 hundred akers to be devided betwixt them as follows George Corner to stand at the meadow and run ther a long the old line to the corner at the pounding Mill brench and then to the creek to be the line from that throught and the remainder part of said land to be divided betixt andr/and/John in quantity and quantity likewise I bequeath a tract of myne lying on the brushey Fork known by the nam of the quekers Cabans to John Burk Likewise I bequeth to my dought Betse a track of myne lying of the head waters of Lortons lick creek likewise I do bequeath to Marthew my beloved wife the plantation on which I now reside which I bought of my son William Davidson to be for her seport if shee thinks proper to keep house upon it if not to disspose of the same to George Peery or John Bele for or at its value and to take his mentanens out of the same land likewise I do bequeth my tow sons John & George my still and my wife the thirds of the profits maid by hir hile shee lives Likewise I bequeth to my sons Wm & Joseph Davidson one Englis Crown Starling apees to George Preery Lo Brown and John Belle to eatch of them I bequeath one Crown Starling to be leved out of my astat and I dow hair by utterly disallow revoke and disavowel all and every other other former testaments will Legancies bequest and executors by me in any wise before naimed will and bequethed Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament in witness whereof I have hair unto set my hand and seal this 22 day of July in the year of our Lord 1791
(signed) John Davidson
Signed Sealed published pronounced and declared by the sd John Davidson as his last will and testament in the presents of us who in his presents and the presence of each other have hair unto subcribed our names.
(signed) Robert Wallace
(signed) David Wallace
At a Court held for the County of Wythe on Tuesday the 3rd day of June 1795, this the last will & testament of John Davidson Dec’d was exhibited in Court & proven by the oaths of Robert Wallace & David Wallace the witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded. Teste: Samuel Crockett, D.C.1
1 (At the time it was not unusual that it was two years after the fact before wills were probated. The courts met only once a year and then for only a few days to a few weeks depending on the number of items on the docket.)
If this John Davidson is the son of James then he would have been 63 years old when murdered by the Indians. Certainly a man of advanced age for the times.
Robert and David Wallace must have been neighbors and certainly true and trusted friends of John Davidson for him to entrust them as witnesses to his last will and testament. Since Tazewell County records of 1801 show that Mary Wallace was the owner of slaves it is reasonable to assume she may have been the daughter or granddaughter of either Robert or David Wallace.1
A History of the Bailey Family indicates that John Davidson and Richard Bailey, born 1735, in Lancaster, England, were close neighbors and friends. John Davidson signed as a witness to Richard Bailey’s last will and testament in 1790. Richard Bailey had a son, John, born 1764, who married Nancy Davidson in 1783, daughter of John and Martha (spelled Marthew in John’s will) Davidson with the notation that Indians murdered John Davidson 9 March 1799. There is much speculation about the date of John Davidson’s murder by Indians. It is certain it was sometime after 22 July 1791, date of his will, and before 3 June 1795, when his will was exhibited at Court for Wythe County to be proven.
The Annals of Tazewell County, Virginia, from 1800 to 1922 in two volumes, by John N. Harman, Sr., pages 172 and 174 states: January 1801 Court Term – William George and William Peery qualified as Coroners of the county under a commission of the Governor dated September 13, 1800: Ordered that the following persons be recommended to the Governor as fit and capable persons to be appointed to fill the following offices: Joseph Davidson to act as Colonel Commandant for the 112th Regiment; George Davidson to act as Captain of a Company of Light Infantry of the 1st Battalion, and John Davidson to act as Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of said Regiment.
1 (In 1799 western Wythe County was divided to create Tazewell County.)
This court proceeds to make up in their minutes an account of all expenses incurred by the Court under authority of the Law, in that case made and provided the following are claimants of the Court to wit: “The Clerk of this County for exofficio services for the years 1800 and 1801, the claims allowed last September Court: John Davidson $2 for one old wolf.”1
Another likely possibility of our ancestry is another John Davidson, born 1730, also thought to be the son of James Davidson and a native of Pennsylvania. He moved to and lived in Virginia for a while, then moved to and settled in North Carolina. There he married Hannah Hughson, born 1730. They had the following children:
1. Abraham Davidson born 22 October 1755 in Guilford County, North Carolina, and died 1839 in Benton County, Tennessee. He was 21 years old in 1776 when the American Revolution began. He married Sarah Ellis. They had the following children: (1) Hudson, (2) John, born 1785, (3) Thomas, born 1787, (4) Ms. Davidson, born 1789, and (5) Abraham, born 1791.
2. Joseph Davidson born about 1757 in Halifax County, North Carolina, and died in 1820. He married Elizabeth, born 1768. They had the following children: (1) John, born 1785, (2) Thomas, born 1787, (3) Sarah, born 1789, (4) Jesse, (5) Abraham; (6) Ann, born 1793, and (7) Joseph, born 1795.
3. John Davidson, Jr., born about 1757 in Halifax County, North Carolina.
1 (This John Davidson may be the son, John, mentioned in the will of Old John Davidson, above, and may have married Mary Wallace.)
Microfilms made in the 1930’s as a WPA project of Dickson County Court documents for January 30, 1807, in the Waverly, Tennessee, Genealogical Library show: Vol. II, p. 109 – Dickson County Court Minutes ordered that Abraham Davidson be appointed Overseer of the road leading from Charlotte toward Palmyra from Irwins Mill to the County line and that he have the following hands to wit, all at John Altons, all at James Woods, all at John Davidsons, all at Dennis Burnes, all at John Davidson, Junr., all at Jesse Jernigans, all at William Jernigans, and all at other hands living convenient thereto. Vol. II, p. 110 – Dickson County Court minutes Ordered that the following appointed in each Capt. Company as Valueors of property in this County, to wit: Capt. Burlon’s company, Abraham Davidson, Joseph Brown, and George Mitchell.1
The 1820 Census for Humphreys County, Tennessee, (later partitioned to make Benton County) shows Abraham Davidson in a household with: “one male under age 10, one male age 16 to 26, one male age 26 to 45, and one male over 45.” The Census also shows the household had: “one female age 16 to 26, and one female over 45.” Abraham was 65 years of age.
The Tennessee Pension Roll of 1835 for soldiers of the American Revolution shows that Abraham Davidson served as a Private and resided in Humphreys County, Tennessee. It shows his annual allowance was $60 and he had received a total of $180 since his pension started 12 September 1833 at age 79. He lived in Benton County, Tennessee when he died in 1838. Since he was age 79 in 1833 he was age 84 when he died.
1 (Dickson County was later partitioned to make Humphreys County. The Dickson County Courthouse was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. Many of the documents were destroyed. Some and parts of some were saved. The microfilms show burned half pages and burned edges on many of the documents.)
LUCINDA “LUCY” DAVIDSON
The true relationship of Lucy Davidson is not known for certain. In the 1820 Census she was 18 years old. This is known because the 1830 Census shows her age as 28. Therefore, she was born in 1802. She could be the “one female age 16 to 26” in the Abraham Davidson household in the1820 Census. If so, why was she living in the Abraham Davidson household? Could she be Abraham’s daughter? Niece? Were John and Lucy brother and sister?
There hasn’t been any evidence found that this is true. If she was Abraham’s daughter he was 47 years old when she was born in 1802. John was 17 years old when Lucy was born. Is Lucy John Wallace’s sister? She was 12 years old when he was born in 1814. This is thought to be the more likely relationship.
It is known John Wallace Davidson was born 14 March 1814 and his parents were John and Mary (Wallace) Davidson. This means that if John, Jr., is his father, then John, Jr. was 57 years old when John Wallace Davidson was born. Not too likely. Abraham’s son, John, was born in 1785. If he is the father of John Wallace Davidson, he would have been 29 years old when John Wallace was born. This is a more likely scenario.
We’ve done a lot of research trying to pin down with evidence who John Davidson and Mary Wallace actually are, where they came from and what happened to them. Also, the search continues to determine exactly who Lucinda “Lucy” (Davidson) Perkins is and why she took on the task to raise young John Wallace Davidson. Was he orphaned by the early death of his parents, John and Mary (Wallace) Davidson? Lucy was 22 years old in 1824 when she married Ephraim Perkins, an upstanding citizen of Benton County, and had three children by him.
The search continues on John Davidson and Mary Wallace Davidson. If it could definitely be determined exactly who they were, where they came from, and what happened to them it would point in the direction of their ancestors, and solve an entire passel of nagging questions begging for answers.
The Tazewell County tax records as recorded in the book, “Archives of the Pioneers of Tazewell County, Virginia,” by Nettie Schreiner-Yantias, shows a John Davidson and a Mary Wallace as slaveholders in 1801. This places John Davidson and Mary Wallace in the same locale at the same time. Was John and Mary Wallace married in 1801? Lucy Davidson was born in 1802 in Virginia according to the 1850 Census of Benton County, Tennessee. Is Lucy the oldest child of this union? Is this John Davidson and Mary Wallace our John and Mary? Seems to be likely.
So, who was Lucy? Why did she take on the responsibility to raise young John Wallace Davidson? This is what is known about Lucinda “Lucy” Davidson. She was born 1802 in Virginia and married Ephraim Perkins, probably about 1824. He was one of the early settlers of Benton County, Tennessee. They lived on a large farm on Burnside Creek near Camden. Ephraim was a veteran of the War of 1812. He was a lawyer and politically active. He was very much involved in the formation of Benton County and the town of Camden. He was one of the County Magistrates when Benton County was formed in 1836, and was elected Chairman of the Benton County Court in 1843 and 1846. He was well acquainted with all of the legal aspects in the courts of Camden.
In the 1830 Census of Camden, Benton County, Tennessee, Ephraim Perkins is listed with: “One male age 0 to 5 years, one male age 10 to 15 years, one male age 30 to 40 years.” The same census shows: “Two females age 0 to 5 years, one female age 5 to 10 years, one female age 20 to 30 years.” Lucinda was 28 years old in 1830. The “one male age 10 to 15 years” most likely is young John Wallace Davidson since he was born in October 1814.
Lucy and Ephraim had three children age five or under according to the 1830 Census. It is probably safe to assume she and Ephraim married about 1824 and had their first child in 1825. Lucy would have been 22 years old in 1824. Young John Wallace was 10 years old in 1824. If young John Wallace is Lucy’s son, then she would have been 12 years old when he was born. Not very likely. Assuming he is the “one male age 10 to 15 years” in the Perkins household in the 1830 Census, the unanswered question is: “Why did young John Wallace go to live with Lucy and Ephraim Perkins?”
In the 1850 Census of Camden, Benton County, Tennessee, Ephraim Perkins is shown as 55 years of age and that he was born in North Carolina. Therefore, he would have been born in 1795. His wife, Lucinda, is shown as 48 years of age and she was born in Virginia. Therefore, she would have been born in 1802. Their children are shown on the census as Rebecca age 21, Thomas age 18, Samuel age 16, Andrew age 15, and Lucinda Barrum age 7. In 1850 John Wallace Davidson was 36 years old.
Lucinda died in 1853 and Ephraim died in 1866. They are both buried in the Ephraim Perkins Cemetery located on a hill about three hundred yards directly behind the home of Lanier Vick at 1595 Flatwoods Road, north of Camden on property owned by Billy Mitchell. There are no markers in the cemetery. They were vandalized years ago. Known to be buried there are: “Ephraim Perkins, 1795–3 August 1866”; and “Perkins, Lucinda – wife of Ephraim Perkins 1802–1853.” There are approximately ten unmarked graves in the cemetery.
BIOGRAPHICAL and HISTORICAL
MEMOIRS OF NORTHEAST ARKANSAS
The Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas – Sharp County, page 739, published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889, states that John and Mary (Wallace) Davidson were innkeepers in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama. John moved to the Mississippi Territory near what is now Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, and married Mary Wallace, a beautiful young lady of Scottish ancestry. Her family were early settlers in that part of the Mississippi Territory that later became Alabama in 1819. Their union was blessed with five children. They were: (1) Abraham, (2) Berry, (3) William, (4) Lucinda “Lucy,” and (5) John Wallace born in 1814. Is this the Lucy that married Ephraim Perkins? If she was born in 1802 then she was 12 years old when John Wallace was born. Are Lucy and John Wallace brother and sister? It is reasonable to believe they are. The only one of the children we know the descendant history of is John Wallace Davidson.
Following is an excerpt from “The Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas – Sharp County,” page 739, published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889. This excerpt is taken from the biographical sketch written by Sam H. Davidson, brother of William Mordecai Davidson. Speaking of his father, John Wallace Davidson, Sam H. Davidson wrote: His father, John Davidson, was born in Virginia or North Carolina during the latter half of the eighteenth century, removed to and was an inn-keeper in Huntsville, Ala., and died there in 1815. His mother was Mary Wallace, of Scottish ancestry, noted for her beauty and culture among the early settlers of North Alabama. The father of John Davidson was Abraham Davidson, a Pennsylvanian, a soldier of the Revolution, who settled In North Carolina, and afterward in Montgomery County, Tenn., and who died in Benton County, Tenn., in 1838. The father or grandfather of Abraham, James Davidson, was a native of Scotland, who with his family settled near the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, and claimed to be the first Davidson to settle in North America.
JOHN DAVIDSON and MARY WALLACE
There is reason to believe John Davidson may have lived in and died at Huntsville, Scott County, (formerly Claiborne County), Tennessee, and not Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama (formerly Mississippi Territory). This is mostly because my sister, Ann (Davidson) Melton, and I have been to Huntsville, Alabama, several times searching county documents and genealogical records for John Davidson, Mary Wallace, and John Wallace Davidson with no results. There were no Davidsons or Wallaces recorded in the 1809 Census or the 1816 Census of Madison County.
There are microfilms in the Public Library in Waverly, Humphreys County, Tennessee, of court records which make mention of a John Davidson and a Lucy Davidson in the 1800 to 1815 time frame. Humphreys County is closer to Huntsville, Scott County, Tennessee, than to Huntsville, Alabama, which was then part of the Mississippi Territory. Alabama became a state in 1819.
There is a possibility John Davidson and Mary (Wallace) Davidson came from Tazewell County, Virginia, and moved to Huntsville, Tennessee, sometime after 1802 since Lucy was born in Virginia in 1802 according to the 1850 Census for Camden, Benton County, Tennessee. It may be possible they married in Virginia and relocated to Huntsville, Tennessee, sometime between 1802 and 1810 instead of the Mississippi Territory near what is now Huntsville, Alabama. It seems reasonable they migrated less than two hundred miles westward to Huntsville, Tennessee, rather than several hundred miles to Huntsville, Mississippi, later (1819) Alabama. However, the Clinch River flows southward through Tazewell County, Virginia, and into the Tennessee River which flows within a few miles of Huntsville, Alabama. That would be a fairly easy riverboat trip as opposed to two hundred miles overland in a wilderness.
A History of the Tennessee River states: Between 1805 and 1809 some wealthy and cultured slave owners came into the county in large numbers. They came from North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. They came in flat-bottom boats and landed at Ditto Landing on the Tennessee River in Madison County. John Ditto was the first white settler in Madison County in 1804.
The Tennessee River flows west from Madison County and turns north and flows across Western Tennessee into Kentucky and thence the Ohio River. This can perhaps explain how the Davidsons came to be in Humphreys and Benton Counties in Tennessee. The river flows between these two counties. Again, it would be a fairly easy boat trip as opposed to going over land. The following excerpts about the early history of Madison County, Mississippi Territory are taken from the “History of Old Madison County” by Thomas J. Taylor, Probate Judge, 1866, to his death in 1894, and from the “Early History of Huntsville” by General Edward C. Betts:
The life of these pioneers was very primitive as they drew solely on the resources of the surrounding wilderness for their necessities and comfort. Their houses contained no iron, being constructed entirely of wood logs. The floors were covered with well packed dirt and only in very rare cases was the floor covered with puncheon, a broad flat piece of rough dressed timber.
By a proclamation of the Honorable Robert Williams, Governor of the Mississippi Territory, Old Madison County was created and established December 13, 1808, with a population of 5,000. It was not until February 27, 1809, that the laws relating to the judiciaryand militia of this territory were immediately extended to the County of Madison.
On December 22, 1809, the Territorial Legislature created a commission to lay out the town (now Huntsville) and when laid out, was to be called and known by the name of Twickenham.
On March 2, 1819, the Territorial Constitutional Convention, by an act of the U.S. Congress, authorized the people of the Alabama Territory to hold a convention in Huntsville for the purpose of drafting a state constitution. The Convention assembled at Huntsville on the first Monday of July 1819. The Convention unanimously voted for statehood and after two years as the Territory of Alabama, on December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state admitted into the Untied States of America.
A Census was taken in January 1809 of Madison County (Alabama) Mississippi Territory. Another Census taken in 1816 showed Madison County had a population of 14,200. It is perplexing that not one Davidson or Wallace shows up in either Census. If they were in Madison County (Huntsville) during the period 1804 to 1820, why do they not show up on the Census of 1809 or 1816?
The information that John Davidson moved to Huntsville, Alabama, is taken from the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas published in 1889 by The Goodspeed Publishing Company from an account written by his grandson, Samuel Houston Davidson.
In this biographical account of his life Samuel Houston Davidson states that his father, John Wallace Davidson was born 1814 in Huntsville, Alabama, and died in October 1870. An actual on site observation of John Wallace Davidson’s headstone in the Evening Shade Cemetery reveals the actual date he died is October 12, 1869.
Samuel Houston Davidson also could have been mistaken about his grandfather being from Huntsville, Alabama, instead of Huntsville, Tennessee. Or, a Goodspeed copywriter could have misinterpreted or misread Samuel’s handwriting and listed it as Alabama instead of Tennessee. Actually, there was no Alabama in 1815 when John Davidson supposedly died. It was then a part of the Mississippi Territory.
John Wallace Davidson is known for certain to be our ancestor. It is well established his father was John Davidson and his mother was Mary Wallace. It is thought Lucinda “Lucy” (Davidson) Perkins was either John’s sister or his daughter. If his daughter then she is John Wallace Davidson’s older sister. Beyond this very little is known for certain about our Davidson ancestors. Following leads on John Wallace Davidson’s parents is like running down rabbit trails with a new briar patch at every twist and turn. We have yet to conclusively determine whom John’s father actually is. It is not known what happened to John Davidson and Mary (Wallace) Davidson. Things are never quite certain in the realm of early day genealogy. Dates are often elusive, misleading and misconstrued. Facts are often speculative or wishful thinking. That having been said there is reason to think the early Davidson ancestry may be one of the following:
A. The Virginia Connection:
James Davidson (unknown) – unknown
Old John Davidson (1730-1793) – Martha unknown
John Davidson (circa 1756) – unknown
John Davidson (1785-1815) – Mary Wallace
John Wallace Davidson (1814-1869) – Susan L. Prance
B. The North Carolina Connection:
James Davidson (unknown) – unknown
John Davidson (1730- unknown) – Hannah Hughson
Abraham Davidson (1755-1838) – Sarah Ellis
John Davidson (1785-1815) – Mary Wallace
John Wallace Davidson (1814-1869) – Susan L. Prance
The only one we know the history of for sure is John Wallace Davidson. He was a respected citizen of Camden, Tennessee, and was a well known and active figure in the politics and courts of Benton County. There is a wealth of information about him in the genealogy section of the Camden Library as well as the records at the courthouse. Sadly, there is nothing we’ve been able to find that gives any positive clues about his parents, John Davidson and Mary (Wallace) Davidson. It gives cause to wonder whatever happened to them and why there is not so much as even a dim trail to follow. Lucy is our only clue but she too fades away into the oblivion of the genealogical briar patch. The search continues.