JOHN WALLACE DAVIDSON
JOHN WALLACE DAVIDSON was the son of John Davidson and Mary (Wallace) Davidson. He was born at Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, 14 March 1814. John Wallace Davidson married Susan Lyons Prance in 1836 in Humphreys County, Tennessee. She was born in 1818 in Montgomery County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of John Prance and Mary (Cooper) Prance. John Prance was of French-Irish descent. He died in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Mary Cooper was of Irish descent. She was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee, and died in McCracken County, Kentucky.
John Wallace and Susan had nine children. They were: (1) Mary Ann, (2) George Washington, (3) Lucinda “Lucy” Margaret, (4) Leathy Malissa “Lee”, (5) William Mordecai “Bill”, (6) Samuel Houston “Sam”, (7) Martha W., (8) Harrison John “Jack”, and (9) Thomas Jefferson “Jeff.”1
1 (The above information is from “The ‘Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas – Sharp County”, page 739, published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889, written by Sam H. Davidson, brother of William Mordecai Davidson.. There is reason to believe John Davidson and Mary [Wallace] Davidson lived at Huntsville, Tennessee, instead of Huntsville, Alabama when John Wallace was born. See the previous chapter, “The Early History.”)
John Davidson, father of John Wallace Davidson, died at Huntsville in 1815. The cause of death and place of burial are unknown. The date and place of Mary Wallace Davidson’s death is not known. It is assumed their deaths were unexpected and sudden.
There are no known facts about young John Wallace’s childhood. Sometime after the death of his parents he was sent to live with Lucy (Davidson) Perkins and her husband, Ephraim Perkins, on Burnside Creek near Camden, Benton County, Tennessee. It is thought Lucy was John Wallace’s older sister. She was twelve years old when John Wallace was born.
John Wallace Davidson was a Benton County magistrate in 1836. He was chairman of the Benton County Court for the year 1848. He was Circuit Court Clerk for Benton County in 1848 through 1852. While he served in these positions he studied and practiced law in Camden until 1865. He was a member of the Tennessee Legislature, representing Benton and Humphreys Counties, in the House of Representatives from 1859 through 1861. He was a member of the Tennessee Legislature on the 7th of May 1861 with Governor Isham Harris presiding when they passed an ordinance of secession and an alliance with the Confederate States of America.1
For many years John Wallace was a faithful Mason. He was a member of the Methodist Church from 1865 until his death. The aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction wrecked havoc on and totally devastated many Southern families. The John Wallace Davidson Family was no exception. Three of John Wallace
Davidson’s sons served in the Confederate Army. The 14th Amendment was written and passed (without the Southern white vote) to specifically punish persons who served in the Confederate military or served the Confederate government in any capacity. They were disenfranchised from voting or holding any public office until they were officially paroled by the Federal government.
1 (Isham Harris’ mother’s name was Lucy Davidson.)
That was a long tedious process taking five to ten years in most instances. Many of the Southern families simply pulled up stakes and moved west to put the past behind them and start a new life. The John Wallace Davidson Family was one of many such families fleeing the aftermath of the war. In 1865 John Wallace and Susan with their children moved to Graves County, Kentucky. Not being satisfied there, they moved to Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. Their stay there was short. In 1866 they moved to Randolph County, Arkansas, and in 1867 to Doniphan, Ripley County, Missouri. Then in 1869 hearing of a new county seat in Sharp County, Arkansas, they moved one more time to Evening Shade. This was the final move for several members of the family. John Wallace died a few months later. Sons, Bill, Sam, Jack and Jeff followed in the footsteps of their father and took up the practice of law in Sharp County. Bill and Sam were elected and served as state representatives for Sharp County at the Capitol in Little Rock. Jeff served many years as the County Clerk for Sharp County. He had a very good hand for penmanship. Examples of his handwriting can be seen in the many old county documents now in the new courthouse at Ash Flat.
John Wallace Davidson died October 12, 1869, in Evening Shade, Arkansas. The cause of death was liver disease. He was buried in the Sharp Cemetery (now the Evening Shade Cemetery). His headstone is broken. When the pieces are fit together the engraved words are:
John W Davidson
Susan L Davidson
Mar 14, 1814
Oct 12, 1869
The 1870 Census for Sharp County, Arkansas, shows Susan L. Davidson is a widow living with her sons William, Samuel, Jackson and Jefferson. In the 1880 Census for Sharp County her sons are all married and she is shown living with her youngest son, Jefferson, and his family in Evening Shade.
Susan was a member of the Methodist Church in Evening Shade. She was a faithful Methodist for more than forty years. According to the records in the History of the United Methodist Church at Evening Shade, Susan L. Davidson died May 11, 1896. It is assumed she is buried in the Evening Shade Cemetery though several searches of the cemetery have failed to find a headstone for her.
Four articles appeared in the Sharp County Record newspaper of May 15, 1896, as follows:
We regret to chronicle the death of “Grandma” Davidson, who departed this life Monday, after an illness of several weeks. She was 78 years old, and leaves several sons and daughters, and a host of friends to mourn her loss. The bereaved family has the heart-felt sympathy of everyone.
H. J. Davidson, of Hardy, attended the burial of his mother at this place Tuesday.
G. W. Davidson and sister, Mrs. Gordon, left for their home at Batesville Wednesday morning, after spending a week with relatives, and attending the burial of their mother Tuesday. Prof. Metcalf dismissed school Tuesday so that his pupils might attend the burial of “Grandma” Davidson (Susan Lyons [Prance] Davidson).
Many sources of information were searched and reviewed to try to determine which John Davidson actually is John Wallace Davidson’s father, but the results are somewhat speculative. For instance there was a John Davidson who served in a Tennessee Volunteer unit during the War of 1812. It is easy to speculate that since our John died in 1815 he may have died from wounds received during that war. But, there is no evidence found so far to prove this John is our John. There are numerous such instances in which it can be reasoned and speculated that a certain John Davidson is our John, but none are conclusive. There is some evidence that indicates John Wallace’s brothers, Abraham, Berry and William, also moved from Alabama to Tennessee to live after the death of their parents. At least they can be placed in Western Tennessee after 1815. Whether they came from Huntsville, Alabama, or Huntsville, Tennessee, is still speculative.