Hepsabeth L. Davidson is a lady about whom I know nothing previous to her marriage on 9 October 1828 to William Alexander Williams. They likely married in Marion County, Tennessee, which lost almost all of its records in an August 1922 courthouse fire.
William’s and Hepsabeth’s marriage date and the birth dates of their children are known only because the family Bible has been passed down through the generations.
For a long time, I’ve believed that Hepsabeth Davidson was the daughter of one William Davidson. I have also believed that Rachel Davison/Davidson who married William’s brother, Matthias Williams, on 21 November 1825 in Roane County, Tennessee might be Hepsabeth’s sister.
The difficulty here is twofold. First, the Williams clan spent 25 years getting themselves settled into one spot in eastern Tennessee. Between 1805 and 1830, various members lived in Anderson, Morgan, Roane and Marion Counties.
As William and Hepsabeth married in late 1828, I would hope that in 1830, her family would still be living nearby. The 1830 census of Tennessee includes two Davidsons who were living in Marion County, Tennessee. The first is Samuel C. Davidson, who is aged 20-29 and living alone. He obviously isn’t the father of a young lady who married just two years earlier, but he is found on page 11 near Pryors and Condras, which are families who intermarried with the Williamses. (William and Hepsabeth Williams’ family is listed on page 17.)
The second Davidson is much more promising. William Davidson, enumerated on page 47, is head of household consisting of seven people.
William Davidson is the last family on this cropped census image. There is a male 40-49 years old, a female also 40-49 years old. Then there is one female 20-29, one female 15-19, one male 10-15 and one male 5-9 years old. This could definitely be the father and family of Hepsabeth Davidson and possibly even of Rachel Davidson Williams.
One question about a sibling relationship between Hepsabeth and Rachel would be why Rachel married in Roane County while Hepsabeth probably married in Marion County. Well, the Williams family removed from Roane to Marion County in the 1820’s and it is possible that William Davidson moved to Marion County in the same time frame. In any event, the 1830 census for William Williams shows that his next door neighbor was his brother, Matthias Williams. William’s household apparently included his parents.
This William Davidson is the only likely candidate to be Hepsabeth’s father, barring the circumstance that her father could have died before 1830 and her mother had remarried.
The second big problem is that Marion County has no probate or marriage records before 1922 and a check of the 1840 census shows that there is only one Davidson in Marion County – John Davidson, who is only 20-29 years old.
If William is Hepsabeth’s father and he didn’t die between 1830 and 1840, then he moved elsewhere, probably out of the state, as there are no William Davidsons in his age range to be found in 1840 Tennessee.
Some of the Williams clan had begun to migrate to Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri and it is possible the Davidsons migrated with some of them. However, over the last couple of decades, I have tried to identify this family either before 1830 (the 1820 censuses are missing for eastern Tennessee) or afterwards without any success.
One thing that is apparent is that Hepsabeth reported being born in Virginia about 1809-1810. That means that her family migrated to Tennessee at least five years later than the Williams family left Virginia and possibly as long as 20 years after they left. There are no paper clues suggesting that the families knew each other before they lived in Tennessee.
There is one promising lead, though, in Missouri. The 1840 census of Polk County includes the family of Thomas and Alesy Gammon Williams. Thomas was a cousin of the Marion County Williamses and he lived in Roane County in 1830 when he married his wife, Alesy. In the 1840’s, they had children born in Polk County, Missouri and they are found there in the 1840 census.
While browsing that page, I noticed that line 9 is Benjamin Hicks. The Hicks family had ties by marriage in Roane County. On Line 16 is a William Davidson, aged 50-59 years old with a family. Line 23 is Martha Gannaway and the Gannaways had strong ties by marriage to the Williamses in Virginia and, later, in Illinois.
A search for William Davidson in Polk County, Missouri is being added to my “to do” list for the next trip to Salt Lake!