Monday, November 17, 2014

William Davidson Confusion Continues

Allen Turner Davidson 1898 Newspaper Article

In 1898, Allen Turner Davidson (1819-1905), wrote an article on certain Asheville events of note that was published in the Asheville Citizen:

"Execution of Sneed and Henry," Asheville Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina), Saturday, 26 February 1898, p.3.

The article is interesting but causes a problem with respect to two often confused Buncombe County settlers: Colonel William Davidson (1747-1828) and Major William Davidson (1736-1814).

We thought this confusion finally had been sorted, but Allen Turner Davidson made the following comment in the above-referenced article with respect to the arrest of horse thief Delk:

". . . . I know this fact from the further fact that my father, William M. Davidson, the son of the William Davidson at whose house the first meeting to organize Buncombe county was held, and Goldman Ingram, grandfather of John L. Cathey, clerk of the superior court of Buncombe county at this time, arrested Delk at the Little Tennessee river near where it is now spanned by the iron bridge east of Franklin, after he had crossed the ford to the Franklin side of the river. . . ."

The author, Allen Turner Davidson, is the son of William Mitchell Davidson (1780-1846) and Elizabeth Vance (1787-1861). And, the father of William Mitchell Davidson generally is thought to be Major William Davidson (1736-1814), twin brother of the locally famous Samuel Davidson (1736-1784), whom legend tells was killed by Indians on Jones Mountain near Swannanoa, North Carolina.

The problem is caused by Allen Turner Davidson's reference to his grandfather: ". . . at whose house the first meeting to organize Buncombe county was held . . ."

The ability to discriminate between these two named William Davidson, one Colonel and one Major, had been, in addition to their military titles/ranks, the fact that Colonel William Davidson was the one involved in the creation of Buncombe County and at whose house the first county organizational meeting was held.

Here is Sondley's description of Allen Turner Davidson's ancestry:

"Allen Turner Davidson, another grandson of Colonel David Vance, and a grandson of Major William Davidson, who was one of the first settlers in Buncombe County and lived at the mouth of Bee Tree Creek, was the son of William Mitchell Davidson and was born on Jonathan's Creek in Haywood County, North Carolina, May 9, 1819. . . ."

Source: Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley (1922) at 129-130.

However, historian John Preston Arthur agrees with Allen Turner Davidson with respect to which William Davidson was the grandfather:

"He [Allen Turner Davidson] was born on Jonathan's creek, Haywood county, May 9, 1819. His father was William Mitchell Davidson and his mother Elizabeth Vance of Burke county, a daughter of Captain David Vance of Revolutionary fame. William Davidson, first senator from Buncombe county and a soldier of the Revolutionary War, was the father of William Mitchell Davidson, and a cousin of Gen. William Davidson who was killed at Cowan's Ford. . . ."

Source: Western North Carolina: A History from 1730-1913, John Preston Arthur (1914) at 400-403.

Moreover, Sondley recognized this confusion and warned:

"Do not confuse Major William Davidson with Colonel William Davidson, who lived on the south side of Swannanoa, just below the later town of Biltmore and was a member from Rutherford County of the North Carolina House of Commons and introduced a bill to create the County of Buncombe. Afterwards that county was organized at his home and he became in 1792 its first State Senator. He was born in Virginia and was a cousin of Major William Davidson and General William Davidson. He became quite distinguished and influential in the State of Tennessee to which he removed, died, and is buried. . . ."

Source: A History of Buncombe County North Carolina, F. A. Sondley, LL.D. (1930) at 397-398.

Did Allen Turner Davidson not know the history of his grandfather William Davidson? Did he chose the arguably more important Colonel William Davidson to enhance his own stature? Who is more persuasive, John Preston Arthur or Forster Alexander Sondley?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Samuel Davidson Monument

Samuel Davidson (1736-1784)

An address delivered at the commemorative exercises when the monument was unveiled September 25th, 1913 BY F. A. Sondley, LL.D. His Great-Great-Grandnephew Samuel Davidson

Introduction

In August, 1913, some relatives of Samuel Davidson erected at his grave on the mountain a stone bearing the inscription, "Here Lies Samuel Davidson, First White Settler of Western North Carolina, Killed Here By The Cherokees, 1784." On the morning of September 25th, 1913, this monument was unveiled with commemorative ceremonies. Honorable Theodore F. Davidson, great-grand-nephew of Samuel Davidson, presided at the meeting, and F. A. Sondley, LL.D., great-great-grand-nephew of Samuel Davidson, delivered the address. This address follows hereafter.

Clan Chattan is a celebrated confederation of clans, or confederated clan, of the Scottish Highlands, founded in the reign of David I of Scotland, commonly called Saint David, (i 124- 11 53), and is composed of the clans or septs of Macintosh, MacPherson, MacBean, MacDuff, MacGillivray, MacQueen, MacDhai (or Davidson), Shaw, Farquharson and five others. Its emblem is the boxwood and, later adopted, also the red whortleberry, and its battlecry is "Creag dhubh chloinn ChatJiin" (The black craig of Clan Chattan). In several editions of the Waverley Novels a cut of its coat of arms is placed at the head of the preface to The Fair Maid of Perth. This coat of arms bears the motto of the clan, "Touch not the cat but a glove," and two cats rampant. Every of the confederated septs has its own tartan. That of the Davidsons may be found in "The Scottish Clans and Their Tartans." Clan Chattan derived its name from that of its founder and first chief, Gillecattan Mohr (Gillecattan the Great). Gillecattan is a Gaelic name signifying "Follower of Saint Cattan," a once popular Scottish saint. Cattan means a little cat or a kitten. It is manifest that the coat of arms of the clan, as well as its motto, has reference to the signification of the name of the confederation, Clan Chattan.

Daniel Smith, who is referred to in the following address, was the particular friend and hunting companion of Samuel Davidson. He married Mary Davidson, daughter of Samuel Davidson's brother Colonel [Major] William Davidson; and it is said, (how correctly cannot now be known), that the wife of Samuel Davidson was a sister of Daniel Smith. Prominent among the men who came over the mountains to avenge the death of Samuel Davidson, as mentioned in the address, which follows, was this Daniel Smith. He became Colonel Daniel Smith and was one of the first emigrants to Western North Carolina. His residence stood on the hillside immediately east of the railroad and directly north of the first small branch which runs into the French Broad River above the Passenger Station of the Southern Railway at Asheville, North Carolina. The site of his home is now within the corporate limits of the City of Asheville. Here, on June 14th, 1787, was born his son James M. Smith, the first white child born in North Carolina west of the Blue Ridge. Colonel Daniel Smith died at this place, and was buried, with military honors, on a hill on his farm at the spot where Fernihurst now is, overlooking the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers and their junction. In 1875 his remains were removed to the burying ground at Newton Academy, just south of Asheville, where they now rest. His tombstone bears the following inscription:

"In memory of Col. Daniel Smith: who departed this life on the 17th May 1824 Aged 67. A native of New Jersey, an industrious citizen, an honest man, and a brave soldier. The soil which inurns his ashes is part of the heritage wrested by his valour for his children and his country from a ruthless and savage foe."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Alexander-Davidson Family Reunion 1911

Alexander-Davidson Reunion 26 August 1911

Arrangements are being perfected for a reunion of the Alexander and Davidson families at or near Swannanoa on August 26.

James Alexander, better known as "Jimpsey" Alexander, and Maj. William Davidson, the ancestors of these two families of which there are nearly a thousand living descendants scattered throughout the country, were of the famous Scotch-Irish people who settled the Piedmont section of North and South Carolina, and were especially prominent in the discussions of the questions which led to the Revolution, in which they took a very active part. Immediately after the close of the Revolutionary War the two above named pioneers crossed the Blue Ridge mountains in company and purchased lands adjoining each other and settled on the Swannanoa River at the mouth of Bee Tree creek.

These pioneers were closely related by family ties as well as political and religious associations and ideas. Their descendants have until the present day owned and occupied the lands which their forefathers acquired. During all this period their relations have been close in every walk of life.

The descendants of both of these families are now to be found throughout the United States, and many of them have borne honorable parts in the public event's of the country.

It is desired by those interested in the reunion to assemble as many of the descendants at or near the old homesteads as possible, and every person who is nearly or remotely related to or connected with either or both of these families is cordially invited to attend and this publication will serve the purpose of extending that invitation to those who may be overlooked in any special invitations which may be issued.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Samuel Price Carson (1798-1838)

About two miles east of the Carson House sat the home of Joseph McDowell. It was named Pleasant Gardens. John Carson married McDowell's widow in 1797. Mary Moffitt McDowell moved into the Carson House and brought with her the name of her former residence, Pleasant Gardens. In her second home of that name, she gave birth in 1798 to a son, Samuel Price Carson. Beside serving as a North Carolina legislator, Samuel Carson was elected to the United States Congress in 1825 at age 26. He was reelected in 1827 in a bitter campaign that resulted in his duel with Dr. Robert Vance. Carson was a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson. He served in Congress alongside Sam Houston and Crockett, though Carson's friendship with Crockett was strained for a time by Crockett's antagonism toward President Jackson.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Newton Academy and Cemetery

Newton School was built in 1922 and he remembers the principal (see file). Originally Union Hill Academy was, with several other buildings, on this location. For several years the school ceased to exist and the city, in agreement with the trustees, built and opened Newton. It operated until 1982 when, due to integration, the school was not large enough to accommodate the number of children required [however Jesse Ray's children attended - see his tape re: integration. The school building was said to be unsafe when it was closed suddenly during the school year of 1982.]. The land was leased from the Stevens' Family Trust. When the city was unable to use the building it was turned back to the trust. The trust stipulated that the land be used to operate a school. Jack, head of the trust and a member of the Community Foundation Board (see Imogene "Cissie" Stevens tape), devised legal means for the land to be given to the Community Foundation which could sell a portion of the school property and use the proceeds for educational purposes. [Mrs. Mabel Snowden, Jack Stevens]

Smith-McDowell House

AN ARCHITECTURAL ORIENTATION
to the Smith-McDowell House

Historic photo of the front elevation of the house

Historic photo of the front elevation of the house

The Smith-McDowell House is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and the oldest brick structure in Buncombe County. Pictured here in a McDowell family photograph from 1875, the house is seen as it was originally constructed and landscaped. Today Smith-McDowell House is a blend of architectural styles dating from its original 1840 construction and additions completed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a Local Historic Landmark and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Early Brick Structures in Asheville

When constructed in circa 1840, James Smith's brick farmhouse was highly atypical for antebellum Western North Carolina. Prior to the Civil War, most homes were log cabins or roughly fashioned frame houses. An 1824 visitor to Asheville reported that there were four brick structures--a jail, three dwellings, and that the foundation for a brick courthouse had been laid. The low number of brick buildings did not result from a lack of raw materials. The soils of the region provided plenty of clay deposits suitable for brick making and rock deposits across the southern end of the county provided quicklime. In fact, bricks had been manufactured locally in small quantities for use in chimneys as early as the 1790s. However, to build a large structure of brick took many laborers to make bricks and skilled bricklayers to construct the building. In 1840, it took a man of great wealth to build a brick mansion such as the Smith-McDowell House.