Category Archives: Davidson

Davidsons of Morgan County, TN – A Solid Brick Wall

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.




Who Was Hepsabeth L. Davidson? (1811-1870+) Lafayette County, AR

Hepsabeth L. Davidson is one of my more modern-era brick walls, being my husband’s 3X great grandmother.  She married William Alexander Williams and, in spite of all the roadblocks with burned records, living on the frontier and frequent moves, I have untangled many branches of that Williams tree.

I’ve not been as productive with Hepsabeth’s branch, which is pretty much just a twig, in  spite of some tantalizing clues.

First, we have Hepsy’s name, Hepsabeth (sometimes Hepzibah) with the middle initial L. Hepsabeth is quite an uncommon name for the early 1800s when she was born (28 January 1811, per a family Bible that doesn’t name her parents- ugh!) or the place she was born – Virginia. Hepsy reported in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses that she was born in Virginia.

In fact, I haven’t come but other females named Hepsabeth born in the late 1700s or early 1800s in Virginia, aside from “my” Hepsy.

Second, Hepsy and William Williams had a gaggle of children with middle names. Maybe there is a clue in there.


Judith Woodward, born 15 October 1829
James Henry, born 11 December 1830
William Washington, born 21 April 1835
Christopher C.F., born 27 February 1839 (twin)
Sally Anderson, born 27 February 1839 (twin)
Martha Jane, born 14 December 1840
John Alexander, born 10 January 1844
Mary Elizabeth, born 23 February 1847
John Christopher, born 25 August 1848
Harriet Virginia, born 9 October 1850
Thomas Jefferson, born 7 February 1852
Hepsabeth L., born 10 November 1853
Francis Davidson, born 13 April 1855

Some of these names are, obviously, very common. I can account for the source of daughter Judith and son William, as William Williams’ parents are William Williams and Judith Saunders.

Where did the middle name of Woodward come from? It appears that there was at least one Woodward family in Goochland County, Virginia in the late 1700s, but the name isn’t found often there.

The second daughter of William and Hepsabeth is named Sally Anderson. Could that be the name of Hepsabeth’s mother? Anderson is a name in the Williams family, but it was the maiden name of William’s great grandmother, so that is a stretch. It is a common surname around the areas of Cumberland, Bedford and Campbell Counties in Virginia, where William’s relatives lived before the mass migration to eastern Tennessee about 1805.

The last child born is Francis Davidson. We know the source of Davidson, but Francis is not a name I’ve ever come across in over 30 years of Williams researching. I can’t say I’ve found a single instance of a Francis Davidson in Virginia in the 18th or early 19th centuries.

As for the other given names of the children, Christopher and Alexander are not found among the Williams clan so could possibly be from the Davidson family.

Okay, maybe there is another clue to be had. William Williams had a brother, Mathias, who married Rebecca Davidson on 21 November 1825 in Roane County, Tennessee.

Now, I know the date that William and Hepsy married – 9 October 1828 – because it is also recorded in the family Bible. However, it doesn’t say where they married and the Williams clan removed from Roane County to Marion County, Tennessee in, yep, 1828 per a church letter of dismissal.

Because both brothers’ marriages happened close to the 1830 census, perhaps potential families could be identified for these Davidson girls, assuming they are sisters.

The 1820 census for eastern Tennessee was lost long ago, but the 1830 census is extant. In it, we have:

Alexander, in Anderson County, TN, aged 50-59
James, in Morgan County, TN, aged 40-49
John, in Anderson County, TN, aged 30-39 (He has young children so probably not a prospective dad for Hepsabeth.)
William, Anderson County, TN, aged 50-59
Henry, Roane County, TN, aged 20-29

A quick geography lesson is important here.

Anderson, Morgan and Roane Counties border each other. Morgan County was set off from portions of Anderson and Roane in 1817. The Williams clan had blood relatives and relatives by marriage in all three counties. The fourth red arrow indicates where William and Hepsabeth removed to in 1828. At the time, it was Marion County, but they appear to have lived in the area that is Sequatchie County now.

Morgan and Marion Counties are both burned counties, but Roane and Anderson had two other early Davidson/Davison marriages:

John Davidson married Sarah Hawkins, 26 July 1827
Silas Davidson married Polly Varner, 2 January 1834

I can’t place either couple in 1850. They either died or left Tennessee.

The 1840 census includes four Davidsons:

James, 50-59, Morgan County
William L., 30-39, Morgan County
Francis, 50-59, Anderson County
William, 40-49, Anderson County

The two Williams are too young to be the father of Hepsabeth. Following the Davidsons forward to 1850, we have Samuel, born 1772, Virginia, but he wasn’t in Tennessee earlier. Rachel Davidson, born 1794 and William, born 1794, are in Anderson with Samuel. However, their birthplaces are North Carolina.

Next, we have James, born 1784 in North Carolina and Frances, born 1790 in South Carolina. James could be another son of William Davidson and he is in the area early. William and Hepsabeth’s first son was named James Henry. Could James be our missing father?

William and Hepsy, along with all of their children, removed to the Hempstead/Lafayette Counties area of southwest Arkansas in 1841. There was a Thomas Davidson there in 1840, aged 40-49, but gone in 1850. The 1850 census showed one Josiah Davidson, a laborer, born 1826 in Tennessee, living with a Wallace family.

None of these are looking like very good candidates to be closely related to Hepsy.

Hepsabeth likely died between the 1870-1880 censuses, as no record has been found of her after the 1870 census:

Source: Ancestry

Thomas married Martha Ellen Jones, 17 December 1876 in Hempstead County, Arkansas. He, Ellen and son George lived in Hempstead County in 1880.

Franklin (not Francis) married Mary Elizabeth Ham on 28 December 1877 in Lafayette County. Frank hasn’t been found in any record after their marriage, but they had at least one child.

Izora Williams Capes’ death certificate, 25 August 1954 in Cherokee County, Texas names her parents as Franklin Williams and Elizabeth Ham and gives her own place of birth as Lafayette County, Arkansas.

Izora is misindexed as Doyore Williams in Smith County, Texas in 1900. She and Mary E., her widowed mother, are boarding with 29 year old Mary McCray from West Virginia and her 4 year old child. That census shows that Mary E. Williams had given birth to three children, all still living. Izora was the oldest, as she was born 8 months after her parents’ marriage, if actually born in 1878 and not 1879 or 1880.

It is assumed that Hepsabeth died in Lafayette County sometime before the 1880 census, but no mention of her has been found anywhere after 1870.

I have looked through Lafayette and Hempstead County records, in person, and searched for mention of Hepsabeth’s death. She absolutely disappears after 1870.

There is one last possibility- tax lists for early Tennessee. Anderson County lists don’t begin until 1838 and have nothing of interest. Morgan County, as I mentioned is a burned county, and there are no early tax lists there. However, it wasn’t set off until 1817 and there are Roane County lists for 1814-1817.

Captain Hall’s Company 1814 tax list included Mathias Sr., Mathias Jr., Thomas, John and Charles Williams, all well known to me as members of the Cumberland County, Virginia Williams clan. There were also two Davidsons, William Sr. and William Jr.

In 1815, Capt. Hall’s Company included Mathias, John, Charles and Benjamin Williams.  There were three Davidsons in the same company – William Davidson Sr., William Davidson Jr. and John Davidson.

By 1817, Capt. Stephens was the head of the company. His tax list included Mathias Sr., Mathias Jr., John, Benjamin, Charlotte (widow of Thomas), Charles, John Sr. and Robert Williams, along with John and William Davidson Sr.

Roane County had quite a few residents by this time, but these were the only Davidsons found anywhere in the tax rolls.

Unfortunately, from 1818 onwards, that area was part of Morgan County.

If I were placing a bet, I’d say William Sr., William Jr. and John are perfect candidates to be potential fathers of Hepsabeth and also of Rebecca, who married Matthias Williams.

There’s just one problem. William Davidson served in the American Revolution and was from Buncombe County, North Carolina. His property actually included what is now the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.

The Davidson family path wasn’t documented anywhere, but the trail from Buncombe County to Morgan County doesn’t go anywhere near Virginia.

In spite of his military service, the family of William Davidson Sr. is not well documented. In fact, it is pretty much of a mess anywhere you look online. Many have merged him with General William Davidson who married Mary Brevard. The general actually died during a war battle in 1781, so he sure wasn’t the man in Tennessee in 1814.

Because William Davidson Sr. in Morgan County didn’t live long enough to apply for a pension and he lived in a county that lost most of its records in 1862, exactly who all his children were has not been proven.

The short list has been whittled down even more, as I believe William Davidson Sr. here was too old to be the father of Hepsabeth Davidson. I’d say that either his probable sons John or William, who appear with him on the Roane County tax lists are the best bets to be Hepsy’s father, along with James Davidson who was on those 1830 and 1840 censuses. She may have been mistaken about being born in Virginia or maybe the family moved onto the Virginia frontier before settling in Tennessee.

Have you been able to hang in there with me all the way to the end here? If so, congratulations!

Will I ever be able to document her parentage? I think probably not unless you can throw out some new research avenues for me to investigate. At the moment, I think it’s a three way tie between William Jr., John and James Davidson.




Family of William Alexander and Hepsabeth L. (Davidson) Williams

Isn’t serendipity wonderful when it happens? In my early years of untangling the many branches of the Williams family tree, I had worked my way forward to the area of Hempstead and Lafayette Counties, Arkansas, which is where William Alexander Williams, wife Hepsabeth L. Davidson and their six children settled after they left eastern Tennessee in the early 1840’s.

Many of the males and females with the same given names in various branches had been identified and sorted into parental families and I had traced these cousins back to Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams in Cumberland County, Virginia long before the Revolutionary War.

My next goal was to track the family into the future at least to the close of the Civil War.

The 1850 census helped me with names and approximate birth years for William’s and Hepsabeth’s, but not exact dates. I decided to write to the Hempstead County Genealogical Society in the hopes that they might have something on my husband’s Williams family and what became of them after 1850.

About the same time I wrote to them, as luck would have it, distant cousin Marcy also wrote to them. She was hoping to find a cousin who could help trace the family back from 1850 to their earlier homes and origins. All she had was the FAMILY BIBLE!!!!

The genealogical society put us in touch with each other.

Thanks to cousin Marcy and the Bible, here are the children of William and Hepsy Williams:

1. Judith Woodward, born 15 October 1829, probably Marion County, TN; died 18 June 1912, Hempstead County, Arkansas. She married Benjamin Powell, 31 December 1844, Lafayette County, Arkansas.
2. James Henry, born 11 December 1830, probably Marion County, TN: died 16 January 1880, Hempstead County, Arkansas. He married Parthenia S. Williams, 20 March 1853, Lafayette County, Arkansas. I have never been able to determine whether Parthenia was a cousin to this family or not.
3. William Washington, born 21 April 1835, probably Marion County, TN; died 7 February 1865, Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas during the Civil War. He married Susan F.C. Hart, 24 December 1860, Hempstead County, Arkansas. No known children.
4. Christopher C.F., born 27 February 1839, probably Marion County, TN; died 5 October 1842, probably Lafayette County, Arkansas. Twin to Sally Anderson Williams.
5. Sally Anderson, born 27 February 1839, probably Marion County, TN; died 20 November 1867, Hempstead County, Arkansas. She married Elijah P. Jones, 22 March 1856, Lafayette County, Arkansas. Twin to Christopher C.F. Williams.
6. Martha Jane, born 14 December 1840, probably Marion County, TN; died 22 June 1918, Lafayette County, Arkansas. She married (1) Jackson T. Lackey, 31 August 1858, Lafayette County, Arkansas (2) John Forrest, 17 March 1861, Bradley County, Arkansas.
7. John Alexander, born 10 January 1844, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 1 March 1847, Lafayette County, Arkansas.
8. Mary Elizabeth, born 23 February 1847, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 23 July 1932, Patmos, Hempstead, Arkansas. She married Robert Cosby McLellan. No marriage record has been found and they apparently had no children.
9. John Christopher, born 25 August 1848, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 14 March 1926, Dike, Hopkins, Texas. He married (1) Louisa Miller, 13 September 1871, Nevada County, Arkansas and (2) Ellen Connor, about 1883 in Hopkins County, Texas.
10. Harriet Virginia, born 9 October 1850, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 24 December 1938, Hempstead County, Arkansas. She married David Henderson (Hint) Jones, about 1869.
11. Thomas Jefferson, born 7 February 1852, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 10 July 1918, probably in Hempstead County, Arkansas. He married Martha Ellen Jones, 17 December 1876, Hempstead County, Arkansas.
12. Hepsabeth L., born 10 November 1853, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died 14 November 1853, Lafayette County, Arkansas.
13. Francis Davidson, born 13 April 1855, Lafayette County, Arkansas; died after 1880, possibly in Nevada County, Arkansas. He married M.E. Ham, 16 December 1877, Lafayette County, Arkansas.

It has been a number of years since I’ve made contact with any new Williams cousins in this branch of the family, but I know there are many descendants out there. If you recognize any of William’s and Hepsabeth’s children, please leave a comment.