Alexander Davidson as told by Laura Davidson Baird (Granddaughter of Rev. Alexander Davidson) written 1901 “Grandfather's first wife was a very pious lady, and she finally wished to unite with the Baptist Church. It was with reluctance that Grandfather gave his consent for her baptism. At that time, he was opposed to religion and he only owned one horse, so he took his wife riding behind him to the baptismal waters, and as they rode home he said he felt like she was not his wife any more. Not long afterwards, he went with her to prayer meeting at church, to which an old colored brother was a member. He was absent on that occasion, and one of the brethren asked where he was. Grandfather rose to his feet, and replied that he did not know unless he was robbin' some one's hen roost. Not a great while after this, he was convicted of his sinfulness and sought mercy at God's throne of grace; and eventually obtained that peace of mind this world can neither give nor take away. He subsequently became an eminent pioneer minister of the Gospels and was pastor of several churches. Some years afterwards, the wife of his early manhood, the mother of his children, passed away, leaving him and the children very desolate. In those early days of the Revolution, grandfather and his family were exposed to many hardships. The country was infested with Tories, who often robbed them of the little they had accumulated. On one occasion they came at night, searched grandfather's cabin, only found a few dollars and a pair of steelyards. Fortunately, grandfather had most of his money in the pockets of some old pants hanging behind the door, which escaped their notice. Often, these families would be driven from their homes, perhaps get another cabin, built a few acres in cultivation, and be driven miles away” Grandma related to me many thrilling incidents in which her and her family passed through. When quite a girl, Grandma saw General George Washington crossing the James River with a company of soldiers. She never saw him afterwards.” “Our Gt. Grandfather is Alexander Davidson born April 22, 1702 in Scotland. He married Sarah Ellis. He had 3 brothers William Davidson was born 1707 in Cupar Fife, Scotland, and married Janet Duncan 22 Aug 1732. Philip/Phillip Davidson was born 1703 in Scotland. They also had a brother named Hezekiah Davidson born 1705 in Scotland. Our Grandfather was Alexander Davidson born in January 31, 1744 in Glouchester Co., VA and died August 15, 1817. He was married to Anna Bridges. His second wife was Mary Ellis after Anna died. Her Grandmother referred to by the writer is Mary Ellis.
Our great grandfather Davidson was a native of Scotland, lineal decedent of an old Scotch Irish family. He emigrated from his native land in an early day, and located in Gloucester County, Virginia, before the days of the Revolution. He had two brothers, William and Phillip. They also had a brother named James Davidson.
I have no information concerning the rest of his father’s family or of their demise. One of his brothers was apprenticed to a tailor. Grandfather was apprenticed to a blacksmith. He was born in 1744 in Gloucester County, Virginia, and subsequently was united in marriage to a Miss Anna Bridges, and to them were born six sons and two daughters. Their names are recorded in the old family Bible, which was published one hundred and twenty years ago (1779). The names are first: James, John, Alexander, Hezekiah, William, and Elijah; sisters: Margaret and Anna, but the dates of their births are so torn and yellow with age, they cannot be deciphered. I regret this very much, but know of no other record among our Davidson relatives that I could refer to. I have never seen any of Grandfather’s children by his first wife. They moved to other states long before I came to Kentucky to reside with my dear father’s mother. (Mary Ellis Davidson) Record of the names of grandfather’s children I have else-where stated that dates of births and deaths could not be deciphered in the family Bible, which is one hundred twenty-two years old.
The names of the first marriage will be given first. The eldest son was James; next, John, Alexander, Hezekiah, William, and Elijah. Their two sisters’ names were Margaret and Anna. These six sons and two daughters constitute all of the family of the first marriage of the Elder Alexander Davidson (with Anna Bridges); Grandfather’s first wife (Anna Bridges) was a very pious lady, and she finally wished to unite with the Baptist Church. It was with reluctance that Grandfather gave his consent for her baptism. (At that time he was opposed to religion.) However, he only owned one horse, so took his wife riding behind him to the baptismal waters, and as he rode home he said he felt just like she was not his wife any more. Not long afterwards, he went with her to prayer meeting at church, to which an old colored brother was a member. He was absent on that occasion and one of the brethren asked where he was. Grandfather rose to his feet and replied that he did not know unless he was robbin’ some one’s hen roost. Not a great while after this, he was convicted of his sinfulness and sought mercy at God’s throne of grace; and eventually obtained that peace of mind this world can neither give nor take away.
He subsequently became an eminent pioneer minister of the Gospel, and was pastor of several churches. Some years afterwards, the wife of his early manhood, the mother of his children, passed away, leaving him and the children very desolate. (I feel the loss of the dates of marriages and deaths of our loved ones, but there is no remedy that I know of.) Sometime after the demise of his first wife, he was wedding to Miss Mary Ellis, daughter of Jacob Ellis, who owned a ferry crossing at Broad River and a granddaughter of Abram Spencer. Her parents were of English descent and were natives of North Carolina. In those early days of the Revolution, her father (Jacob Ellis) and his family, consisting of six sons and three daughters, were exposed to many hardships. The country was infested with Tories, who often robbed them of the little they had accumulated. On one occasion they came at night, searched her father’s cabin, only found a few dollars and a pair of steelyards. Fortunately, her father had most of his money in the pocket of some old pants hanging to the wall, which escaped their notice. Often, they would be driven from their homes, perhaps get another cabin built and a few acres in cultivation and be driven miles away.
Grandma (Mary Ellis) related to me many thrilling incidents in which her father and family passed through. When she was quite a girl, Grandma saw General George Washington crossing the James River with a company of soldiers. She never saw him afterwards. Subsequently, her father moved with his family to the state of Tennessee, in what is now called Trousdale County, two miles beyond Hartsville, lived to a ripe old age, passed away in the year of eighteen hundred. His youngest son, Presley Ellis, lived to the age of 106 years and had never taken a dose of medicine. I have not the date of Grandfather’s removal from Virginia to Kentucky. Doubtless was in an early day. Grandma told me Glasgow was a small town, and that calico was one dollar per yard; coffee, one dollar per pound; and everything else in proportion.
Grandfather’s home was three miles south of Glasgow. (That community is now called South Fork, taking the name of the creek, which ran through Grandfather’s farm which contained seven hundred acres. Their neighbors were located far apart. Col. George Murrell, who emigrated from Virginia, was at one time Grandfather’s nearest neighbor. He was the father of James, Schuyler, and Robert Murrell and his grandsons lived near Grandma’s even during the days of my girlhood. There were no better citizens to be found anywhere than those primitive settlers. Ere Long, the Everett’s, the Sanders’, the Mayfield’s and many others, too tedious to mention, settled not very far from Grandfather’s home. The neighbors were more devoted to each other then, than at present time. Grandma told me that Grandfather’s liberality knew no bounds. He never would let little Mill Boyd pass his home of evenings. Had him (and others) stay over night and after breakfast start them on their way home, which, perhaps, was several miles distant.
Grandfather was a delegate to the first Constitutional Convention of the state of Kentucky. It must be remembered that Barren County, at that date, was yet a part of Warren County. With the aid of his sons and slaves that he brought from Virginia, soon a plantation was cleared. Everything, almost, in the way of clothing was made on the farm. Even the hides of the beeves killed for family provision were tanned in large troughs down by the wide, flowing spring branch, for shoe leather, with sap bark. The hair, also, was utilized, mixed with cotton, carded, spun, and woven into blankets for the colored family. A blacksmith shop was built close by and Grandfather did his own smithing and some for others. On one occasion a widow lady sent her plows by her son, putting in some old castings in the wagon for Grandpa to use on her plows. It fretted Grandfather. He stepped to a briar patch near by and tossed the old pot lids as far as he could send them. I told Grandma I imagined that Grandfather’s Scotch temper rose. The old lady that sent them perhaps knew no better than to suppose that a blacksmith could use any kind of iron in his shop. (She knew better, afterwards, I imagine.)
Uncle Hezekiah, Grandfather’s fourth son, was a splendid gunsmith and made many guns in those early days. Grandma had a table made by him when they first came to Kentucky. The walnut timber was just hewn. He had neither saw nor plane to work with. Some may think this incredible; nevertheless, it is true. I had it from the lips of dear Grandma. Uncle John Davidson (he was a Chain carrier for Edmund Rogers) went to visit a neighbor, who lived some distance across the creek from his home. He wished to borrow an augur. At late bedtime he started home, had not gone very far before he found he was pursued by a panther which screamed. Uncle would turn and wave the augur to and fro at the panther and scream back at him as loud as possible, but still it followed on until the creek was reached. Uncle crossed over on the footlog; I suppose in that way Uncle’s life was saved for he did not have even a pocket knife with him to defend himself. He was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Ellis a sister of Grandmother, much younger than herself. She was quite a Doctress, using medical herbs, performed many cures, and was held in high esteem in the community in which she lived.
Uncle John was captured by the Indians; I don’t know how long he was held a prisoner, but in their travels he had to sit in a circle with the Indians around a large kettle and take mouthfuls about with the Indians, using a large iron paddle. (When he was at home, he was particular; would not use a spoon even that his wife had used. I told Grandma it was a bitter dose, but better than starving. Cousin Mollie, I cannot pen you all that I would wish to, but will write those incidents of most importance. If your children were small, they would enjoy much that I could tell them of the Indian language, but now something more important would be better. You must pardon my many errors, as well as the writing.
Cousin Allen Davidson’s grandson visited me, wants a copy; said he would have it published in the Times. I don’t feel competent to write anything for publication. I told him I would write for him. I have borrowed the Baptist History of Kentucky from you Cousin Phina Fishback, and will gladly make a few quotations from the first volume:On page 384, Mt. Tabor Church is located on Beaver Creek some two miles west of Glasgow in Barren County; it was fathered by Alexander Davidson and was constituted of seven members by the assistance of the famous old pioneers, William Hickman and Carter Tarrant. They were some of Alexander's friends, In November 5, 1798, Alexander Davidson was chosen pastor; John Murphy was elected clerk; and John Bough was appointed to hold meetings in the absence of the pastor Alexander Davidson.
Well, dear Cousin, my promise was long being fulfilled, had health and many impediments prevented. I hope the perusal of what I have written will afford pleasure. I regret so much not having more of the early ministry of our beloved Grandfather. All the information from my dear Grandma and all obtained from her youngest sister’s son, memory and shall be faithfully preserved for the benefit of our dear kindred.
In the early days of the year eighteen hundred, Grandfather visited Grandmother’s father, Jacob Ellis, who resided fifty miles distant, and on Sunday a stand was erected in Shady Grove for Grandfather to preach. A large congregation assembled and Grandfather’s text was “is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?” It will be found in the book of Jeremiah, 8th chapter, and is a part of the 22nd verse. There were but few dry eyes in the congregation when preaching was over. How sad that this is the only text of Scripture we know that he used for a foundation for his sermon. I heard Grandma say that she went with him to preaching at Mt Tabor on one occasion and in his sermon he quoted a passage from the Bible and some minister corrected him, quoting it some other way. Grandpa said, “No, it is not,” and went on as though he had not been interrupted at all with his discourse. I have no authentic knowledge of the date of his demise. Had I ever had the least idea of being called upon to write anything in memory of him, I could have gathered so much information from dear Grandma. It is strange that I never heard Aunt Holland mention anything concerning her father’s ministry, but I never did. Several of Grandfather’s sons by his first marriage came with him to Kentucky. Uncle William and Uncle Hezekiah both owned homes in the vicinity of Prewitt’s Knob. I have been at both farms. I have a little nephew laid to rest at the former home of Uncle William Davidson by the side of one of his sons.
In 1828, my father visited his widowed mother and his two brothers living near Prewitt’s Knob. I don’t know where Uncle Elijah Davidson lived, but he was a Baptist minister and frequently held services at Mt. Tabor Church. He was the youngest son by the first marriage. In after years, he moved to Oregon Territory. He passed away while Aunt Holland was residing in California. She wrote me about all I ever knew after he left Kentucky. I infer he had a large family of sons and daughter, but they never knew their Kentucky kindred, and never corresponded with any of them. I think all that spell their names as we do are Grandfather’s descendants. By his first marriage, he had six sons and daughters, and by his second marriage, eight sons and two daughters, making eighteen children. All united in marriage and reared families but his two youngest sons, Allen and Albert.
Uncle Jesse went to Mississippi after the death of his wife and son. We never heard from hi m any more. Uncle Asa passed away in Missouri; Uncle Jacob Ellis Davidson, in Kentucky, had fifteen children; several died in infancy. Uncle Benjamin had seven; A S Davidson, my father, had five one passed away in infancy. I cannot remember them all.
The purpose of the preceding pages of the manuscript is to give my Davidson relatives the little knowledge I am in possession of concerning our grandparents. I am now the only living grandchild in the state, so far as I know. We have Davidson relatives in many of the different states. I have read much in the papers. I doubt not but we are distantly related to many that we read about. While we do not claim perfection, even naturally, for any of the name; yet I have never heard of one of the name stooping to littleness of character. They are honorable in character, high-minded, independent and trustworthy, as every citizen should be. I esteem good character high above riches. It is something that wealth of this world cannot buy. In the pioneer days, many hardships had to be encountered. Grandma related to me many thrilling scenes she passed through in the days of her girlhood. I never tired listening, and although I have passed my eightieth birthday, much that she related to me is still vivid in my memory. None but our dear relatives would care for their perusal, so unless requested to do so. I shall not commit them to paper.
I notice, dear Cousin, in the paper all that is publish convinces me that we are all one people. I wrote so late yesterday eve I see this morning I did not follow the lines; but I know you won’t “view me with the critical eye, but lovingly pass my imperfections by.” I am nervous at times and often my right arm pains me from the shoulder to the end of my fingers. I will try to finish now concerning Grandfather’s descendants. His family by his first and second marriage, and I cannot but speak of the love and kindness that my dear Grandmother bestowed upon me; truly, can I say she was the only mother I ever knew, my own mother dying when I was a babe. Her love and her affection was returned, I remember, as long as she lived. Doubtless, death to her was the gate of endless joy. If she had a fault, her loved ones could not see it. Aunt Holland, her widowed daughter, Cousin Joe Davidson, Mr William Murrell, and others, were present during her illness, with us much of the time, and many others that have long since passed to that bourne from whence no traveler returns." Written by Laura Davidson Baird (Granddaughter of Rev. Alexander Davidson) 1901