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


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."

In later life Colonel Smith was almost daily seen on the streets of Asheville mounted on his large white horse. His hatred of the Cherokees never abated. At the unveiling of this monument at the grave of Samuel Davidson, Colonel Daniel Smith's old gun, carried by him throughout the greater part of his life and used by him in the attack on the Indians near the mouth of Christian Creek, which followed the murder of Samuel Davidson and is mentioned in the address, was present, having been loaned for the occasion by his grand-daughter, Mrs. Jane C. Spears. It was known as "Long Tom," and many a Cherokee met his death from its fiery discharge. This gun is as a smooth bore, or musket, with flint lock and rifle sights, the bore being a little larger than that of an ordinary fowling piece. The length of the weapon is six feet, and that of the barrel alone is fifty-six inches; while the stock, smaller than usual at the butt, extends underneath the barrel clear to the muzzle. "Long Tom" was capable of carrying a large ball or several shot, and was a most formidable engine of destruction. Samuel Davidson's daughter, whose escape with her mother at the time when her father was killed was almost miraculous, bore the name of Ruth. She reached womanhood and married; and many of her descendants are now living in different parts of the world.

F. A. S.

Since the address by Dr. Sondley, and his note of introduction were sent to the printer, I received from Hon. J. L. C. Bird, of Marion, N. C, a most interesting letter, from which I make extracts and have them printed with this paper. The facts stated by Mr. Bird — who is related to the Samuel Davidson branch of that family — are not only most interesting to all who have interest in the early history of Western North Carolina, but invaluable to the descendants of Samuel Davidson, the subject of Dr. Sondley's address. I have no doubt that Ruth, the daughter of Samuel, was reared in the home of her uncle, Maj. William Davidson, who resided at that time on his plantation known as "The Glades," between Old Fort and Pleasant Gardens. He and Samuel were twin brothers. I heard years ago from an aged relative this tradition. William had a daughter also named Ruth, who married Joshua Williams and emigrated to Middle Tennessee, near Columbia, where she died, leaving numerous descendants. Thomas O. Morris, Esq., of Obion, Tenn., a prominent lawyer and citizen, is a direct lineal descendant of Samuel Davidson.

Theo. F. Davidson
Asheville, N.C., Oct. l0, 1913

October 9th, 1913
Hon. Theodore F. Davidson, Asheville, North Carolina

My Dear General: — Your estemed favor of the 8th inst. has been received, and contents carefully considered. When the monument was unveiled to Samuel Davidson, on September 25th, I was engaged in our court and could not get away. I regretted very much not being able to be present.

(1) I do not know the date of the death of Samuel Davidson. Before he moved to Buncombe county, he lived on the plantation where I was born, and my great-grandfather bought it from him. He also bought another place, adjoining from John Davidson. John Davidson, who married Mary Brevard, was murdered, with his wife and children, on this farm. See Wheel- er's North Carolina Sketches, at page 238.

I have seen the old house where they lived, or one built on the same spot, and know where the graves are located, some seventy-five yards from where they were killed. I do not know what relation this John Davidson was to Samuel Davidson. There was another Davidson, whose name I never heard, who lived two miles lower down on the river Catawba, and I have always heard that Ruth Davidson, after the death of her father, lived with this man, and was married from his house.

(2) I do not know of, nor did I ever hear of any other children of Samuel Davidson, except Ruth. When I was quite a boy, I have heard an old, old negro woman, who belonged to my grandfather talk about the Indians killing this John Davidson family, and Samuel Davidson across the mountains, but I did not remember the given name of Samuel. I have also heard that the mother brought her child through the woods back to civilization.

(3) When Ruth Davidson was born, or when she married, I do not know. She died in 1826. She was married to James Wilson. James Wilson was a son of Thomas Wilson, who came to this county in 1769 from Fermanaugh county, Ireland, with his wife and seven sons. This Thomas Wilson married the sister of Col. John Carson, and Col. Carson came over with his brother-in-law. This man, Thomas Wilson, is the same "Read-headed Irishman," who Draper, in King's Mountain and its Heroes, says sold his cattle to Col. Tarlton, when on his raid through this part of the county, and took a draft on the English Government. The draft was never paid, and I am of the opinion that it is in the possession of Miss Ethel Page, of Nashville, Tennessee, a descendant of old man Wilson. Two of the sons of this Thomas Wilson, Thomas and William, were the first representatives from Burke county in the Legislature. James Wilson married Ruth Davidson; he moved to near Brentwood, Tennessee, about 1790, but whether he was married when he left the State, I do not know. He died in 1838.

(a) Joseph McDowell Carson, the oldest son of Col. John Carson and wife, Rachel McDowell, a daughter of Hunting John McDowell and a sister of Col. Joseph McDowell, married Rebecca Wilson, a daughter of James Wilson and Ruth Davidson. Mrs, Frank Coxe is a great-grand daughter of Ruth Wilson, and Col. Ralph Carson a great-grandson. Besides, there are a number of others.

(b) Charles Carson, the second son of Col. John Carson, married Margaret Wilson, a daughter of Ruth Davidson Wilson. I do not know anything about their descendants, as they moved to Tennessee soon after marriage, or rather, they were married in Tennessee.

 (c) Samuel P. Carson, the oldest son of Col. John Carson, by his second marriage (his wife being Mary Moffett, the widow of Col. Joseph McDowell), on May l0th, 1831, married Katherine Wilson, a daughter of James Wilson and Ruth Davidson. They had only one child, Rebecca, who married Dr. J. McD. Whitson, who moved to Talledega, Alabama. Their son, Charles Carson Whitson, was a very distinguished lawyer, and who died only a year or two ago. After the death of Samuel P. Carson, his widow, Katherine, married William M. Carson, another son of Col. John Carson, by his second wife. She had two children by this union, Katherine, who married John P. Gorman, and Geo. S. Carson, who died in 1887. Mrs. John H. Gorman, of Salisbury, a daughter of Mrs. Katherine Gorman, is a woman of great beauty.

(d) James Wilson and Ruth Davidson had other children, and their descendants live in Tennessee, Texas and other Western states. Col. James Wilson, one of them, married the sister of Gen. Zollicoffer, and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Col. Wm. M, Wilson, another, was the wealthiest man, and its most progressive citizen, of Obion, Tennessee. He died only a few months ago. There are many more, but my time is limited this morning, and I can not run through the mass of letters and other material, so as to give you all of the information. They are in almost every walk of life, and a number of them have been distinguished. Miss Mattie Brunson, of Florence, South Carolina, a great-great-grand daughter of Ruth Davidson, from whom I obtained a considerable amount of my information, and who has taken a great interest in the history of her ancestors, knows more than any person I know of.

Your friend,

J. L. C. Bird


My Fellow Mountaineers: At the close of the Revolutionary War the territory which now comprises North Carolina west of the Blue Ridge was claimed by the Cherokees as tribal hunting grounds. Other Indians, and sometimes even white men hunted occasionally within these confines without arousing violent antagonism on the part of the Cherokees. The latter seemed usually to regard such acts as harmless trespasses, to be overlooked under ordinary circumstancs. A settlement on the land they viewed in quite another light. It was a serious matter, and called for prompt resistance and extreme action. When the white settler came he came to stay and others followed him. His personal habits and methods of maintenance had been modified by his surroundings and assimilated to those of the native red man. But his passion for individual ownership of the soil, inherited from his European forefathers and permeating his being and dominating his existence, he held, with vital tenacity, as the fundamental principle of his character. Such men soon destroyed the game in their vicinity, and at once appropriated large portions of the country. Then the Indian was compelled to retire. His occupation, pastime, comfort and subsistence were all dependent upon an abundance of wild animals. Hunting was to him at once business, support, education and recreation. Without game he had nothing to live for and no means of livelihood. A neighborhood of whites meant his early expulsion. He had come to realize this from repeated and disastrous experiences.

There were no Indian towns in this region east of the Tuckaseigee river. The home of the Cherokee was in the lowlands. But every year, during the hunting period, small parties of Cherokees scattered over this extensive area and built their camps near convenient trails, in the proximity of springs and small streams, on low parts of dry ridges, where game abounded. Here they remained for months at a time, collecting supplies of meat for their needs until the next hunting season and of skins with which to clothe themselves and purchase from white traders knives, hatchets, axes, guns, traps, ammunition and other useful articles for their own wants and trinkets and ornaments for their women. When this had been accomplished, they returned to their homes and were honored in proportion to their success. Thus, to them everything centred about their hunting grounds; and pleasure, honor, and even life itself depended on preserving these from appropriation by the ever aggressive whites.

To these whites the matter was different. Even such of them as lived by hunting preferred to reside near the fields of their labors. Land on which the white men dwelt must be his exclusively. The Indian must keep off, even if he had camped and hunted there from the days of his boyhood. Surveyors had hacked line-marks upon the trees, and these he must not pass.

In times which preceded the war, the Cherokees were often friends of the French, who encouraged them to commit depredations upon the settlers and persuaded them that the intention of the latter was to drive them from the home of their fathers and the scenes of their childhood. Throughout the war the Cherokees had been allies of the British and unrelenting and cruel adversaries of the white Americans. With the Indian hostility is hereditary. His father's enemy is his enemy. War on such an enemy is a duty. Peace with him is dishonor. White boys and Cherokee boys had grown up on adjoining territories, schooled in mutual suspicion, hatred and contempt. Cherished grievances were to be avenged by each on the other. Each had genuine wrongs to be redressed, and neither comprehended redress not achieved through violence.

The war was now over. But the hatreds which it had engendered and the injuries which it had inflicted were not to be forgotten at the bidding of diplomatists nor obscured in the stipulations of treaties. To the white man an Indian was still a treacherous and murderous savage. To the Indian a white man was still a cunning and uncompromising robber. To each the wrongs of centuries were crying for revenge.

The Cherokee still deemed the limits of white encroachment those established by authority in the days of British rule. The settler regarded these lines as something determined by his foes among themselves — by the British and these Cherokees, who but a short time thereafter had united in the long and bloody war against his people and himself. As results of agreements between his allied enemies, he could not understand how such restrictions could be, in any way, more binding upon him than the British laws which he had repudiated or the foreign domination which he had discarded. These limits had been supposed to lie along the crest of the Blue Ridge. White settlements had long ago reached the eastern foot of the mountains when further extension thereof was prohibited by the laws in force when the war began. But these were a part of the laws which the settlers had rejected as having been enacted without their consent and as being injurious and tyrannous to them — laws their freedom from which they had secured in the long struggle just ended — laws which the Cherokees had combined with the British in an unavailing effort to fasten on them. It is not at all strange that, under these circumstances, the backwoodsmen esteemed themselves absolved from all compacts entered into by the royal authorities and free to do what those authorities themselves had not hesitated to practise when they, from time to time, took from the Indians, whenever they could, all the land available for their purposes.

Among those who, before the war, had settled upon the Catawba frontier at the foot of the Blue Ridge were members of the family of Davidson. They had no reason to reverence British laws and treaties. These had oppressed them in Europe and America and, with frequent wrongs, had dogged their steps from Ireland to North Carolina. All of them had sided with the Americans in asserting independence of these; and in the war which ensued none had fought more bravely or suffered more severely than they. One of their number had given his life at Cowan's Ford in opposing the advance of a British army designed to subjugate North Carolina and other Southern states, and others had endured greatest hardships in resisting, without intermission, throughout that entire contest, aggressions of British troops.

Nor had that family reason to regard the Cherokees with favor. Living on the advance outskirts of white occupation, they had been exposed, for many years, to the incursions and depredations of these savages; and, during all that time, had protected their lives and property by quick recourse to their ever ready rifles. Only about eight years before, one of their number had been massacred with his family on his own premises at Old Fort by these implacable barbarians, and others of them had been forced to flee for safety and leave their homes to be plundered by the invaders. Surely these Davidsons could not be expected to observe the limits of country claimed by the Indians when these same Indians had, in a way so brutal and vindictive, shown their own utter disregard of those limits.

The Davidsons were descendants of the Highland Clan Davidson, a clan the date and source of whose origin, like those of many other clans of the Highlands of Scotland, are somewhat uncertain. The termination of the name in the word "son," seems to point to a Scandinavian ancestry. Such, in part at least, is most probably the fact; for in the early days of the Middle Ages the relations betyeen the Norse and the inhabitants of Scotland were very close. Extensive settlements of the Northmen were made at that time on the main land and islands of Scotland and intermarriages between the two peoples were not uncommon in that day.

The Davidsons — sons of a David (a Hebrew name meaning Beloved) — were usually known among their neighbors in Scotland by the Gaelic equivalent of MacDhais. In speaking of the Macintoshes, an author on Highland history says:

"The old genealogy (of 1450) makes them descend from two brothers Muirach Mohr and Dhai Dhu, sons of Gillecattan Mohr, chief of the Confederation (Clan Chattan). MacPherson of Cluny as the lineal representative is chief of Muirach Mohr and is chief of Clan Mhuirach, or MacPherson, says a writer in the 'Scottish Journal of Antiquities:' Dhai Dhu, brother of Muirach Mohr and second son of Gillecattan, left issue who are represented by Davidson of Ivernahaven. The descendants of Dhai Dhu are called Clan Dhai or Davidsons. They are the Clan Kay of Sir Walter Scott and Inch of Perth celebrity (1396). The descendants of Muirach Mohr are called the Clan Muirach or MacPhersons."*

*The Scottish Clans and Their Tartans, 53.

The famous battle between these two kindred tribes, fought on the North Inch of Perth in the latter part of the fourteenth century by representative warriors chosen from each, is familiar to all readers of Sir Walter Scott's novel The Fair Maid of Perth and to all students of Scotch history.

Dhai Dhu means Black David, or David the Swarthy. And it is from this Black David, son of Gillecattan Mohr, or Gillecattan the Great, founder and chief of the Highland confederation Clan Chattan, that the Davidsons derive both their lineage and their name.

Many of the Davidsons emigrated to northern Ireland in the time of King James I. of Great Britain; but in the days of William and Mary oppressive legisla tion of the British Parliament, intended to destroy their business, drove numerous descendants of these emigrants to seek new homes in America. Some established themselves in southern Pennsylvania on the Maryland border. But ill fate pursued them there. The government of the Pennsylvania province was then in the hands of selfish, money-loving, puritanical Quakers, who sought to thrive at the expense of neighbors the prosperity of whom they envied. Over portions of that province and adjoining districts roamed bands of hostile aborigines. These proved most troublesome to the newcomers from Ireland residing on the frontiers and committed many robberies and murders among them. Such outrages became intolerable. The Quakers, who inhabited the interior, and, because of their secure position, enjoyed immunity from the irruptions against which their more exposed neighbors afforded them protection, posed as the friends of the Indians, and not only refused to allow the assistance of the colonial government to be extended to the newcomers when they earnestly petitioned for it, but even visited on the petitioners the denunciation and persecution of that government when they protected themselves and their ungrateful Quaker oppressors at the same time from these marauders and murderers. Disgusted with such hypocrisy and injustice on the part of those who should have been their friends and associates, numbers of these Irish emigrants left this "land of brotherly love" (!), to which they had been seductively invited, and settled at last in North Carolina and South Carolina. The tide of emigration to the South carried on its waves not a few of these Davidsons. Many of them took up their abodes on Catawba river in North Carolina and soon were to be found on the extreme verge of the Catawba settlements.

When the War of the Revolution began some of these Davidsons owned and were living at what afterwards was called Old Fort at the head of the Catawba river. It was here that, about 1776, the Cherokees killed John Davidson and his family, who were members of this advanced outpost community, only an absent daughter escaping.

When the war had ended Samuel Davidson, a brother of this John Davidson and a son of John Davidson, Senior, and a first cousin of General William Davidson the hero of Cowan's Ford, in company with some of his adventurous friends and relatives, began to make occasional hunting trips over the mountains, on the Swannanoa and its tributaries. Samuel Davidson was born in southern Pennsylvania about the year 1736 and came with his father to North Carolina in 1750. He grew up in the southern part of Iredell county, then in Rowan county. He was independent, self-reliant and fearless.

The Cherokees had no love for these Davidsons and the Davidsons had no love for the Cherokees. They watched each other with unfriendly observation. A few encounters seem to have occurred between the Indians and these hunters. The country, however, was attractive, and Samuel Davidson determined to make it his home. This resolution appears to have found its inspiration in that mysterious principle of human nature which has impelled so many men to abandon the society of their fellows and plunge into the seclusion of the wilderness, a principle invoked in after years by one of the greatest of the poets:

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes
By the deep sea; and music in its roar.
I love not man the less but nature more
From these our interviews in which I steal
From all I may be or have been before
To mingle with the universe and feel
What I can ne'er express yet cannot all conceal."

After two or three years Samuel Davidson crossed the Swannanoa Gap with his family, consisting of his wife and child, and a female negro servant, and established his residence on Christian Creek, a tributary of the Swannanoa, at the foot of the mountain which separates the waters of that creek from the Swannanoa itself. Here he remained for a short while. This seems to have been in the fall of 1784. As was the custom in those days, he turned his horse loose at night, knowing that before morning the animal would find food enough to maintain it throughout the next day and that he could easily find it when wanted.

One morning he started at an early hour in search of the horse. The Indian trail leading from the Cherokee towns on the Tennessee river across the French Broad and up the Swannanoa through Swannanoa Gap to Catawba and Yadkin rivers, ran along the crest of the ridge at the foot of which his habitation stood. It was the only passway through this mountain wild. In searching for the horse, he passed up the side of this mountain in the direction of this trail. Just as he reached the trails he was fired upon and killed by some Cherokees in ambush there. It is said that, in order to find his horse more readily, he was accustomed to attach a cow bell about its neck when turning it out at night, and that the Cherokees detached the bell or drove the horse up the mountain when they saw him set out in the quest, and that thus, by means of the bell, they lured him on under the supposition that he was following the horse, until he came to the place where a body of them were lying in wait to kill him. Unaided and alone, he braved the anger of a nation's warriors, and when he fell it was beneath the missiles of a hidden foe.

His wife heard the shots and knew that she could render no assistance to him then. Taking her little girl with her, she and the negro woman went through the mountains, by dififerent ways, to Old Fort. They arrived at that place in safety, after a journey of fifteen or sixteen miles among the woods and rocks. Here she found friends and relatives of her husband and herself. At Old Fort a party was at once organized to avenge the murder. They came to the place where Samuel Davidson had been slain. His body lay by the side of the path where he had fallen. They buried him there in a shallow grave which they briefly prepared to receive his remains.

"No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud they wound him,
But he lay, like a warrior, taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.

"Slowly and sadly they laid him down
From the field of his fame fresh and gory,
They carved not a line and they raised not a stone.
But they left him alone with his glory."

And undisturbed for more than one hundred and twenty-eight years, on that lone spot in the land which he loved, this grave still holds the dust of him whose enterprise and intrepidity led to the settlement of the now famous Land of the Sky and justly earned for him the designation of The Founder of Western North Carolina and Buncombe's Earliest Citizen. From his silent seat on this elevated point, while the decades rolled away, the spirit of the old pioneer has kept its tireless vigils and watched over this land of the mountains as the tide of immigration poured in his tracks down the Swannanoa and over the hills and valleys beyond, until in that fair land the Indians have disappeared forever from the forests, telegraphs and telephones have supplanted signal smokes, the roar of the automobile and the shriek of the locomotive have replaced the howl of the wolf and the scream of the panther, and cities and towns flash out their electric lights where his solitary campfires had burned in the woodlands.

"Oh a wonderful stream is the river of Time
As it runs through the realm of tears.
With a musical rhythm, a magical rhyme,
A boundless sweep and a surge sublime,
As it blends with the ocean of years!"

That interment did not constitute the entire self-imposed task of the expedition. Versed in the habits of the Cherokees, they concluded, no doubt, that the assassins were a hunting party who were encamped not far away. About a mile further to the West they discovered these Indians near the mouth of Christian Creek and drove them into the recesses of the solitudes, killing some and dispersing the band.

In that attack no piece rang out more frequently or sent its echoes, in deep reverberations, further up the ravines that did Long Tom in the hands of its owner, Colonel Daniel Smith, the relation and companion of him whose fate at that time met its retribution. And this is Long Tom. (Exhibits the gun.)

Many and eventful have been the years that have come out of eternity and then sunk into eternity again since this old gun was at this place before and on that memorable day gave forth its vengeful peals in fierce reiteration among the glens and gorges of Rockhouse and Christian Creeks! It belongs to an age that is gone, and it stays but to tell of the days and the events, the people and the customs, the trials and the triumphs of the long, long ago.

After a few months had passed, other frontiersmen came from the Catawba near Old Fort, through the Swannanoa Gap, and formed a settlement around the mouth of Bee Tree Creek, within two or three miles of the locality where Samuel Davidson was buried. This became known in history as the "Swannanoa Settlements." It was the first colony of whites in what is now North Carolina West of the Blue Ridge.

Among these colonists were a twin brother of Samuel Davidson, Colonel [Major] William Davidson, subsequently Buncombe's first State Senator [not correct], and a sister, Rachel Alexander, and their families and other relatives. These kinsmen looked after the sepulchre of Samuel Davidson as long as they lived, and when they were gone, William Davidson's son, Colonel Samuel W. Davidson, who was a small child when the settlement was founded, continued throughout his life to care for the last resting-place of his worthy uncle. The letters "S. D." were cut in a pine tree which stood at the head of the grave; and Samuel W. Davidson always kept these letters freshened, in order that they might not become obscured by the accretion of moss or the growth of the tree. Samuel W. Davidson died in 1858, and then the old pine tree died and rotted away. But other kindred took up the work and have never ceased to protect the grave of the founder of the Land of the Sky.

Now we have placed at this grave a monument of more durable material than the pine. It may honor us and tell the stranger where he sleeps, but Samuel Davidson needs no monument while the towering peaks of Western North Carolina point upward to the sky and the Swannanoa rolls in beauty its waters toward the sea. His memory, like the pine, will flourish in perpetual verdure and, like the granite, will last while time endures.

"Yon sturdy minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanished year hath flown,
The story how he fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor time's remorseless doom,
Can dim one ray of holy light
That gilds his glorious tomb."

22 OCT 24 1913

h 262 .894 S6 Copy 1

Source: F. A. Sondley 1913 Address

The following is a biography abstracted from the book "Genealogy of the Davidson Family of the Duck River Valley" by Ede Davidson Neil, John Q. Davidson, and Hugh Davidson (Nashville, 1907):

"From a paper written by Robert B. Davidson after a visit to Asheville, N.C., in 1870, we copy the following:

"'Our grand uncle, Samuel Davidson, was killed by the Indians about the year 1776. He had worked his horse all day, and turned him out to grass at night. Next morning he walked out to get his horse, and had not been long gone until his wife heard the sound of a rifle shot : and, taking the alarm, she snatched up her infant daughter, Ruth, and leaving the path, she made her way across the Blue Ridge about twenty miles to a fort on its eastern slope. A negro woman left about the same time, and made her way back to the fort along the path. The alarm was given, and two or three of those living at or near the fort went in search of the body, and found it. The infant, Ruth, grew up and married James Wilson; and some time in the present century they settled in Williamson County, Tenn., where their descendants now live, a highly respected family. About fifteen years ago (in 1855) Mack Gudger, plowing a field near where Samuel Davidson was killed by the Indians, found a polished stone on which is rudely cut "D. S. 1775," and on the opposite side "S.D." These letters are supposed to stand for "Daniel Smith" and "Samuel Davidson." Gudger gave me the stone.'

"Hugh Davidson is now in possession of this stone, which he values highly.

"Samuel Davidson married Miss Smith and Daniel Smith (her brother) married Davidson's sister Mary. Daniel Smith was a celebrated frontiersman and Indian fighter."

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