A FOUNDING FAMILY OF HARRISON COUNTY, WV
Submitted by Diane Zimmerman
The Davisson family was among the earliest settlers in this
country, the first of the Harrison County line settling in
Massachusetts about 1652. Descendants slowly worked their way east;
migrating to Connecticut about 1701, then to Long Island around
1715 and on to New Jersey about 1726. In 1769 some of them scouted
out present day Harrison County, West Virginia and decided it was
worth moving one more time.
The name is spelled several ways but I will use Davisson unless
quoting another source. The branch of the family that moved into
Virginia were the ones who added the extra `s.’ This name is still
prominent among county residents and there are two roads named
Davisson Run. One is Route 98 that goes over the hill to what used
to be the United Hospital Center. It was named for Obediah
Davisson. Though local people call it by that name, don’t look for
a road sign pointing the way. For reasons known only to the
bureaucrats, there is nothing denoting the road as Davisson Run.
Thus, history is lost. The other Davisson Run is located near
Bridgeport and is named for Andrew Davisson, Jr., a lifelong
Most of this information is paraphrased from A History and Genealogy
of The Davissons - Twelve Generations 1630-1992 by Russell Lee
Davisson. He built his research upon earlier work completed by
Arthur Henry Davison. This is an excellent family history, well
researched and documented. I added more data during my New England
research trips in 1996 and 1998 and from other histories and
The generations I have listed are of my direct line. Further
genealogy may be found in Russell Davisson’s book and elsewhere. The
Waldomore has all of my Family Group Records as well as many others.
I’ll be happy to share any information in my database.
If you have any corrections, please let me know.
Daniel Davisson and Margaret Low
Daniel Davisson was b. abt. 1630 in Scotland, parents
unknown. He d.5 Dec 1693 in Hamilton, Essex, Massachusetts.
He md. Margaret Low, on 13 Apr 1657 in Ipswich, Essex,
Massachusetts. She was the dau. of Thomas Low and Margaret
Todd and was b. abt. 1632 in Boxford, Suffolk, England. She
d. after 1678 in Hamilton, Essex, Massachusetts.
Children: John, Margaret, Sarah, Daniel, William, John,
Margaret, Elizabeth, Thomas, Bridget (May be same as
Elizabeth), Peter and Dorcas.
Daniel Davisson was the first of this line in America. Strong
circumstantial evidence and family tradition states that he was
captured by Oliver Cromwell in 1650/51 while fighting with the army
of Scots `Covenanters’, Presbyterian partisans. It isn’t known
whether this occurred at the Battle of Dunbar, Scotland, on
September 3, 1650, or at the Battle of Worcester, England, on
September 3, 1651, or one of the many skirmishes in between. I
suspect his father’s name was John. The oldest son is traditionally
named for the maternal grandfather, but his name was Thomas and a
later son received this name. The eldest John was born and died on
the same day but they used the same name for a later child.
It was a time when rational men thought
nothing of splitting religious hairs with
cannonballs. It was the era of the English
Civil Wars, 1642 to 1651 -- an historical
misnomer, since most of the carnage in
those wars was in fact suffered by Ireland
and Scotland rather than England. Almost
every student in the English-speaking
world has learned the details of the
Battle of Naseby, and Oliver
Cromwell’s subsequent execution of
King Charles I. But few of us were
taught anything about the Battle of
Dunbar, September 3, 1650, where
Scotland squandered an incredible opportunity to defeat
Cromwell and change the course of British history. It
was Scotland’s best and last realistic chance to chart
its own political and religious destiny. That chance
was wasted by a committee of Presbyterian ministers,
blinkered by religious fanaticism. And the fiasco ended
in an English-controlled death march of 5,000 Scottish
prisoners of war, one of the most unsavory pages in
The Battle of Worcester signified, at the end of the day, the
final battle between the Parliament armies and the Royalist
armies led firstly by Charles I against the Earl of Essex and
then his son Charles II with mostly Scottish regiments against
Mary Stetson Clarke, Pioneer Ironworks (Eastern National 2
Park and Monument Association)!>
Oliver Cromwell during the nine years of a bloody and civil
“After the battle (of Dunbar) the Scots were marched south to
England for eight days without medical care or any food except what
they had in their packs. At Durham they were imprisoned for 58 days
in the cathedral. During that time, 1,700 died of the bloody flux,
an average of 30 a day. The survivors were sent to London, then
shipped to Barbados, Virginia, and New England to work out
indentures of seven and eight years.”
Daniel Davisson’s indenture was either bought by the ‘Undertakers’
of the Lynn, now called Saugus, ironworks in Massachusetts or by a
farmer supporting the iron works in various ways.
The Saugus Iron Works is the oldest integrated
ironworks in North America. It was the idea of John
Winthrop Jr. (the son of the then governor of the
colony of Massachusetts) and was operated between
1646 and 1668. It eventually went out of business due
to mismanagement, high production costs, fixed
prices, and competition from imported iron.
Over the years, the site wasn't maintained. The
buildings and machinery all deteriorated (except for the Iron
Works House) and fell apart. In 1943, local citizens formed
the First Iron Works Association, in an attempt to restore the
ironworks. In 1948, archeologist Roland Wells Robbins and his
team began digging at the site. Over the
years they unearthed remains of the blast
furnace, large sections of waterwheels,
building foundations, and a 500lb
In 1951, based on Robbins' archeological
finds, colonial documents, and trips to
England to look at material and
illustrations describing 17th century iron
works, the Saugus Iron Works Restoration
started to try and recreate the Saugus
Iron Works to the way it looked in 1646.
It was funded by the Iron and Steel
Saugus rolling &
Institute. The restoration was completed in 1954 and opened to
the public. In 1968, the Saugus Iron Works became a National
Historic Site. It is well worth a visit.
The Reverend John Cotton, minister at Boston, wrote in a letter
dated July 28, 1651 to Cromwell:
The Scots, whom God delivered into your hands at Dunbarre, and
whereof sundrey were sent hither, we have been desirous, as we
could, to make their yoke easy. Such as were sick of the
scurvy or other disceses, have not wanted for physick
(medicine) and chirugery (surgery). They have not been sold
for slaves to perpetual servitude, but for 6, 7, or 8 years,
as we do our owne; and he (The Company of Undertakers of the
Ironworks in New England or more commonly called the Lynn
Ironworks) that bought the most of them, I heare, buildeth
houses for them, for every four an house, layeth some acres of
ground thereto which he giveth them as their owne, requiring
3 days in the weeke to work for him, by turns, and 4 for
themselves and promiseth, as soon as they can repay the money
he laid out for them, he will set them at liberty.
I’m sure Daniel Davisson was greatly relieved to find himself alive
and well in a brand new world of opportunities. His servitude would
last only a few years compared to the never-ending drudgery of
wresting a living from stony Scottish soil while under the English
boot with little to no opportunity to own land and prosper. In six
years, in 1657 at the age of 27 , he was in a position to marry as 4
recorded in his marriage record in the Essex Court Records. He
married Margaret Low on April 13, 1657. It’s doubtful he would be
allowed to marry the daughter of a prosperous farmer unless he or
someone had paid off his indenture or he had been released and in
a position to support a family. It’s possible he was indentured to
Thomas Low, father of Margaret. Marrying the bosses daughter would
certainly add spice to his story.
At the time of his marriage he was living on [renting] the
farm of Daniel Ringe. Apparently he was able to buy some of
this land as, in 1661 at the probate of the will of Daniel
Ringe, Daniel Davisson was listed as being “in possession of
a farm of 110 acres.” Another record states that on February
14, 1664 he was granted 69 acres by Richard Hubbard. This was from
an original land grant to Hubbard’s father, *the Reverend William Hubbard. On
September 30, 1667, the Selectmen entered an order, “that Daniel Davisonhave leave to
build a house and a little fencing.”
A History and Genealogy of The 5 Davissons - Twelve Generations
1630-1992. McClain Printing Co., Parsons, West Virginia. 1993.
Maryl L. Narehood, The Davisson/Davidson Family From
Immigrant to Present. 1972.
“Daniel Davisson moved to Newbury where he was a man of note, a
major of the Essex Regiment and a member of the Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Company. (Farmer’s Register of the First
Settlers of New England, p. 80).”
Present day Newbury is about 20 miles north of Ipswich. There were
no dates given for this so it may have been another Daniel Davisson.
Upon his death he had a 135 acre farm in what is now Hamilton,
Massachusetts, located between Ipswich and Wenham on the main road
(now Massachusetts Route 1A) to Boston. The boundaries of these
villages have changed over the years. This is near the original Lynn
Iron-works, now called the Saugus Ironworks Historical Site operated
by the National Park Service.
His name appears in a recorded list of all those at Ipswich
who had taken the “Oath of Allegiance of Ipswich
Towne” on the 11 of December, 1678. In 1666 a th
similar petition expressive of the loyal
disposition of the Ipswich Settlement to the
British crown was signed by seventy-three persons
of Ipswich among whom were Daniel Davison, Thomas
Low, his father-in-law, and their neighbors.7
Daniel Davisson did well for himself and his family
since he began with less than nothing, not even
ownership over his own body. They couldn’t take away
his strength, integrity, work ethic or desire for a
better life. He only put his mark on of what
documents he signed so he was illiterate, but he left
his wife and children well provided for at his death.
His children married into leading families of the
area. He and Margaret are buried in the old Wenham burying ground.
The original marker is gone but A. H. Davison erected a memorial
marker in 1928. Ray and I visited this cemetery in the summer of
1995 and took this picture.
Russell Lee Davisson, A History and Genealogy of The 5
Davissons - Twelve Generations 1630-1992. McClain Printing Co.,
Parsons, West Virginia. 1993.
Maryl L. Narehood, The Davisson/Davidson Family From 6
Immigrant to Present. 1972.
In Recalling The Past…Looking to The Future, a History of Northern
Harrison County published in 1982 by the Shinnston Historical
Association, is an account of this family by A. Fay Davisson who was
my teacher in the fourth grade at Dola School. He was the only
teacher I ever had who didn't like me and (unknown to both of us at
the time) we are related. I probably was a pain being a day dreamer
who frequently lost track of what I should be doing. He wrote:
Daniel Davison was born in Scotland about 1630, came to
Ipswich, Massachusetts about 1650 under indenture, which was
bought up in six years by his future father-in-Law, William
Low. He had ten children; died in 1693.
His son Daniel II (b. 1662), married Sarah Dodge, and had
three sons, Daniel, Andrew, Josiah I, and four daughters.
Josiah I (b 1692) lived on Long Island and at Hope Mount, New
Jersey, and married Mary Skelton. It was this family who added
the extra `s’ to the family name.
Josiah learned the potter's trade. His children were John,
Ananias, Obediah, Daniel, Nathaniel, Andrew, James, Amaziah,
Mary, and William. It is this generation who migrated. John
fought in the French and Indian War as a scout and guide.
Ananias took up land in Augusta County, Virginia; Daniel is
buried in Pocahontas County, West Virginia; and James moved to
Rockingham County, Virginia.
Amaziah was born August 19, 1726, and died Dec. 21, 1811.
These dates are taken from his grave marker in Haverhill,
Ohio, across the Ohio River from Greenup, County, Kentucky. He
married Margaret Burns, and six children are listed in the
1785 census; Josiah; Amaziah; Nathaniel; John; Andrew and
Amaziah had taken tomahawk rights in 1773 to 400 acres on Elk
Creek and 1000 acres on Limestone [in Harrison County].
To be continued in Part II
DESCENDANTS of DANIEL DAVISSON and MARGARET LOW
1. John Davisson (b. & d. 22 Nov 1657, Ipswich, Essex,
2. Margaret Davisson (b. 24 Sep 1658, Ipswich; d. Jul 1666,
3. Sarah Davisson (b. 30 Mar 1660, Ipswich)
sp: Anthony Dike (b. 1667, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; md.
26 Nov 1688; He d. 1736, Ipswich)
4. Daniel Davisson Jr. (b. 1662, Ipswich; d. 17 Jan 1703,
Stonington, New London, Connecticut)
sp: Sarah Dodge (b. 17 Jan 1667, Wenham, Essex, Massachusetts;
md. 28 Jun 1685; d. aft. 1703, prob. Wenham)
5. William Davisson (b. abt. 1664, Ipswich; d.16 Jan 1728/1730,
sp: Mary Whipple (md. 1692; d. bef. 1740, , Essex)
6. John Davisson (b. 1666, Ipswich; d. 22 Nov 1735,
sp: Martha Dodge (md. abt. 1698, b. 1674. 2 cousin of Sarah) nd
7. Margaret Davisson (b. 26 Jan 1669, Ipswich; d. abt. 1677/1693,
8. Elizabeth Davisson (b. abt. 1670, Ipswich, d. 8 Oct 1732,
Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts)
sp: Daniel Reddington (md. 23 Mar 1681; d. 1732 , ,Connecticut)
9. Thomas Davisson (b. 1671, Ipswich; d. 2 Sep 1724, Preston, New
sp: Hannah Tracy (b. 8 Jul 1677, Preston, New London,
Connecticut; md. 18 Nov 1695; d. 2 Dec 1724, Preston)
10.Bridget Davisson ((may be same child as Elizabeth;) b. 1672,
11.Peter Davisson (b. abt. 1674, Ipswich; d. abt. 1724, Pomfret,
sp. Ann Morgan (b. 10 Nov 1678, Preston; md. 6 Jan 1695)
12.Dorcas Davisson (b. abt. 1678, Ipswich; d. bef. 1720)
sp. Nicholas Williams (md. 16 Nov 1705)
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