My husband has two ties to the Davidson family of Roane County, Tennessee. Unfortunately, they didn’t remain in Roane County for long, thus creating a possibly unbreakable brick wall.
However, not knowing what other resources other descendants may have out there, I have decided to share my tentative THEORY about his two Davidson lines.
Note that this is a THEORY, no proof to be found with the exception of a very few crumbs along the trail.
If the Davidsons hadn’t first settled in Roane County, I would have even less information to try to piece together than the sparse drops I have gathered.
First, Roane County, Tennessee has quite complete records back to the time it was formed in 1801.
Secondly, there is a ton of conflicting/additional unproven information about Davidson descendants, which I will not cover in this post as it has nothing to do with my theory about one branch of the family.
Thirdly, William Davidson is said to have died in Morgan County, Tennessee in 1828. He may well have. However, his gravestone dates from the later 1800s. To complicate matters, eastern Tennessee census records before 1830 have been lost and Morgan County is a burned county. No probate records survived the 1862 fire.
William Davidson MAY have come from North Carolina – His name is so common that there are too many of them in the post-Revolutionary War era to identify this man elsewhere with any certainty!
Here are just the documented facts:
William Davidson Sr. appears on the 1814 tax list (the earliest surviving list) of Roane County, Tennessee, charged with 100 acres of land. (I have not located a record determining where/how he came to possess the land as those early books have no index.)
It is important to note that Mr. Davidson appears on the list of Captain Hall.
On that same 1814 list, we find William Davidson Jr., charged with 3 acres of land.
Also in Captain Hall’s company are Matthias Williams, Thomas Williams, Matthias Williams Sr., John Williams and Charles Williams.
Now the trouble begins because Morgan County was set off from Roane County in 1817. Because there are no land records indicating how the real estate of William Sr. or William Jr. was disposed of, my conjecture is that they lived in the portion of Roane County that became Morgan County.
Most of the Williams family lived in that area and Captain Hall’s family is long associated with Morgan County.
There is also an 1826 Roane County Baptist Church membership list. On it are Jacob Davison, William Davidson, Jackson Davidson and Sally, Sally (again), Elender, Patsy and Hannah Davidson. There are no clues as to whether any of the females are married and, if so, to whom.
There is yet more misery in trying to untangle the Davidsons and prove ties to the Williams clan.
Rebecca Davison married Matthias Williams on 21 November 1825 in Roane County. This was Matthias born c1789 and he resided in Morgan County.
There are land records surviving from Morgan County and there is one entry of interest. One W.T.L. Davidson sold 50 acres of land on the Emory River to David Scarborough (Deed Book A:168). Why this sale is of interest to me is the date – 26 July 1825.
About 1826, William Williams was dismissed from the Baptist Church in Roane County. He took his family in a southerly direction and settled in Marion County, Tennessee. BUT – Marion County lost most of its records in a 1922 fire!!!
Hepsabeth Davidson married William A. Williams on 9 October 1828, probably in Marion County, Tennessee.
The 1830 census of Marion County includes one William Davidson, born 1780-1790, with a female in the same age range. There were also: a female, born 1801-1810, female born 1811-1815, male, born 1816-1820, female born 1821-1825 and a male born 1821-1825.
There is also a Samuel C. Davidson in Marion County, aged 20-29, living alone as head of household.
Hepsabeth (Davidson) Williams was born 28 January 1811, based on an entry in the family Bible. She is of an age to be one of the oldest children of this William Davidson, who I conjecture is the William Davidson Jr. found in Roane County on the 1814 tax list.
There is obviously a dearth of records to be found in Marion County because of the fire.
Now, neither the Williams family nor the Davidsons remained long in Marion County. Some moved on to Franklin County, Alabama.
Not to be outshined, so to speak, by Morgan or Marion Counties, Franklin County lost its records in 1890! That leaves a dead end in Alabama.
From this convoluted mess, here is my theory:
Rebecca, marrying in 1825, and Hepsabeth, marrying in 1828, were two of the eldest children of William Davidson Jr., who appears on the 1814 tax list of Roane County. Hepsabeth was 17 years old when she married. Rebecca was probably also a teenager.
William Jr. is likely the son of William Sr., as their names are entered together in Capt. Hall’s list.
Between 1826-1830, both William Davidson Jr. (no longer called Jr. since his father reportedly died in 1828) and William Williams moved their families to Marion County, Tennessee.
By 1840, both families were heading to Franklin County, Alabama and, before 1850, to Arkansas.
I have found no reliable (created at the time) records of the names of any wives for William Sr. or William Jr. It is said that William Sr.’s wife was Elizabeth. However, her purported gravestone says “E D” was born 1749 died 1831.
My husband’s Williams family and these Davidsons lived near each other and moved to the same places in the same time frames, thus forming a small FAN club.
I think my theory makes a lot of sense and haven’t found anything to disprove it.
Anyway, this is my story and, for now, I am sticking with it!
If you are descended from this Davidson clan and have any documented information that sheds any light on this branch of the family, I would love to correspond with you.