THE DAVISSONS
A FOUNDING FAMILY OF HARRISON COUNTY, WV

Six Generations
Part I
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 resident.

      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 courthouse records.

      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.

FIRST GENERATION
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 British history.

      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 http://www.scotwars.com   Mary Stetson Clarke, Pioneer Ironworks (Eastern National 2 Park and Monument Association)!> Oliver Cromwell during the nine years of a bloody and civil conflict.

      “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 hammerhead.

      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 & slitting mill. 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. http:/www.scotwars.com/

      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.

Note:
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 Obediah.

      Amaziah had taken tomahawk rights in 1773 to 400 acres on Elk Creek and 1000 acres on Limestone [in Harrison County].

DESCENDANTS of DANIEL DAVISSON and MARGARET LOW

1. John Davisson (b. & d. 22 Nov 1657, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts)

2. Margaret Davisson (b. 24 Sep 1658, Ipswich; d. Jul 1666, Ipswich)

3. Sarah Davisson (b. 30 Mar 1660, Ipswich) 7 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, Ipswich) sp: Mary Whipple (md. 1692; d. bef. 1740, , Essex)

6. John Davisson (b. 1666, Ipswich; d. 22 Nov 1735, Ipswich) 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, Ipswich) 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 London, Connecticut) 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, Ipswich)
11.Peter Davisson (b. abt. 1674, Ipswich; d. abt. 1724, Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut) 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)

To be continued in Part II
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