THE DAVISSONS
A FOUNDING FAMILY OF HARRISON COUNTY, WV

Six Generations
Part III
Submitted by Diane Zimmerman


THIRD GENERATION
DAVISSONS IN NEW JERSEY
THIRD GENERATION
Josiah Davisson and Mary Skelton

      Josiah Davisson was b. abt. 1692 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts, to Daniel Davisson Jr. and Sarah Dodge. He d. abt. 1759 at the Millstone River, Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey.

      He md. Mary Skelton, parents unknown, abt. 1715 at Princeton. She was b. 13 Jan 1697 in Wenham, Essex, Ralph Ege, History of Pioneers of Hopewell, with sketches of her revolutionary heroes. Hopewell, N.J. Race and Savidge. 1908.

J. Houston Harrison, Settlers by the Long Gray Trail, Joseph K. Ruebush, Dayton Virginia, 1935. Massachusetts and d. aft. 1795 at Millstone River, Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey.

      Children: Mary, Daniel, John, Obediah, Andrew, James, Amaziah, Nathaniel, Ananias and William When his father’s estate was distributed in 1706, Josiah was fourteen years old. Nothing is known of him during the next five years. In 1711, acting on his own while still a minor at nineteen years, he purchased land in Southhold, Long Island, New York. In this deed he was termed a potter. Later carpenter and miller were added to his occupations. Around 1715 he married Mary Skelton and also sold forty acres of land that was bounded by the land of his brother’s, Daniel and Andrew. Many of his neighbors were removing to the East Jersey Colony. It was settled to a considerable extent by emigrants from Long Island and New England.

      “Nearly all the early pioneers of Old Hopewell (1700-1720)came from Long Island and the friends whom they left behind said that they had gone `away over in the Jerseys.’” Josiah settled in Middlesex County [c.1726] on the east bank of the Millstone River, about two miles from the center of present Princeton, where he reared his family. His mill was located at the juncture of Rocky Creek and the Millstone. Near him there also settled his brother, Daniel Brinton Davison, a physician. Josiah had purchased thirty-three acres. With this land he controlled a water privilege on the river so he built a mill. He soon bought the adjacent 224 acres from his brother, Daniel. In The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, page 91, “... his [Josiah’s] land in NJ was along the Devil's Brook, the first stream to enter the Millstone River north of Cranbury Brook on the East. On page 80 - This land was conveyed in a deed dated 1 May 1760 to Joseph Skelton, his brother-in-law.” Apparently, Josiah had purchased his land from his wife’s family. Devil’s Brook may be another name for Rocky Creek.

      On March 28, 1749, Josiah Davison (sic) was designated by the Governor’s Council as one of the justices for East Jersey. He New Jersey C-2 Commissions Davidson Mill Pond qualified the same day. When Ray and I were in Princeton in June 1996, the Davisson Mill Pond was designated as an historical site at Princeton but wasn’t marked or well known. We stopped at the Historical Society library at Princeton but no one there knew anything about it. Neither could we locate any information on it. We followed the map in Davisson’s book as best we could and believe we located the pond. The mill, of course, is long gone. The pond is in a very peaceful setting that had been a large dairy farm but was no longer in operation.

      We took the above picture, probably in the nick of time as the area appeared to be on the verge of development. It’s possible the equipment we saw at the Pond was there to begin construction on a park and trail, as follows:

The original land for Davidson (notice misspelling) Mill Pond Park was acquired in 1975 under the Green Acres Act and was added to in subsequent years. The pond itself, Davidson Mill Pond, is part of the Lawrence Brook Watershed.

      The White Trail was originally part of a network of farm roads located on the Tantum Farm, which subsequently became the Park. The original farm dates back to the 1800s. As a former farm road, the Old Farm Road trail is wide and easily traversed by bike or foot. The Mill Pond trail was created in 2008 by the Middlesex County Youth Conservation Corps and is maintained by Middlesex County Master Gardeners.

      The Mill Pond trail runs along Davidson Mill Pond, a picturesque, winding trail, studded with stone steps and pond views. Rutgers Cooperative Extension set up administrative offices in the Park in 2004. Since then, vegetable and herb display gardens have been established in the open area of the park, and a natural preserve area created to sustain native wildlife and wildflowers. Native and pest resistant trees and shrubs have been added to a mini arboretum area. Also, a rain http://www.njtrails.org/ garden was established to collect and filter storm water runoff. In keeping with the Davisson tradition of industry and foresight, Josiah accumulated enough land to leave excellent farms to all of his sons. On November 21, 1749 he conveyed one hundred acres, with the millpond, fulling mill and mill house, to Jacob Scudder for fourteen hundred pounds. This was quite a bit of money for those days. Not bad for an orphan boy.

DESCENDANTS OF JOSIAH DAVISSON AND SKELTON

1. Mary Davisson (b. 1715 , , New Jersey) sp. Joseph Skelton

2. Daniel Davisson III (b. 1717 Wading River, Suffolk, New York; d. 1750 , Rockingham, Virginia) sp. Phoebe Harrison (b. 1728 , , New York; md. 1743 , Augusta, Virginia; d. 1807 , Hunterdon, New Jersey)

3. John Davisson (b. abt. 1719 Wading River, Suffolk, New York; d. bef. 10 Oct 1793 , Hunterdon, New Jersey) sp. Sarah Wilkins (md. 1740) sp. Mary Bonham (md. 1779) 4. Obediah Davisson (b. abt. 1720 Wading River, Suffolk, New York; d. aft. 17 Jul 1806 , Harrison, Virginia) sp. Elizabeth (md. abt. 1744 Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey)

5. Andrew Davisson (b. abt. 1722 Wading River, Suffolk, New York; d. bet. 1803/1810 , Greenup, Kentucky) sp. Caroline Stuart (md. 1745; d. 1746) sp. Elizabeth (b. abt. 1762 Morristown, Morris, New Jersey; md. Abt 1748; d. 12 Mar 1768 , Greenup, Kentucky)

6. James Davisson (b. abt. 1724 Wading River, Suffolk, Long Island, New York; d. abt. 1755 , Rockingham, Virginia) sp. Jane 7. Amaziah Davisson, Sr. (b. 19 Aug 1726 Wading River, Suffolk, Long Island, New York; d. 21 Dec 1811 Haverhill, Scioto, Ohio) sp. Margaret Burns (b. 1745 Wading River, Suffolk, Long Island, New York; md. 25 May 1761 Perth Amboy, Middlesex, New Jersey)

8. Nathaniel Davisson (b. abt. 1728 Millstone River, Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey; d.1807 Upper Freehold, Monmouth, New Jersey) sp. Phoebe Scudder

9. Ananias Davisson (b. abt. 1730 Millstone River, Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey) sp. Jemima Russell Lee Davisson,


A History and Genealogy of The Davissons - Twelve Generations 1630-1992
. McClain Printing Co., Parsons, West Virginia. 1993.



THE DAVISSON’S MIGRATE TO VIRGINIA

      A local legend concerns a group of “land lookers” who came to check out the Harrison County area while it was still an unoccupied wilderness. The Davissons weren’t the only ones involved. It is believed the Shinns and probably others were also. A. H. Davison, in his work, described the period after the demise of Josiah Davisson [son of Daniel Jr.] and the time that some of his sons and grandson settled in western Virginia, as the "Dark Ages of Virginia." Records of their whereabouts or activities do not exist. Perhaps they lingered awhile near their home in New Jersey and at points not well defined except in Loudoun and Augusta counties in Virginia. We know from Josiah's will that Ananias was on expedition, probably scouting out lands in Virginia. Obediah's son, Daniel, married a Philadelphia girl indicating some possible connection to that place. Amaziah settled temporarily near his brother, James, in Rockingham County, Virginia. However, many of the original settlers of what is now Harrison, Lewis, and Upshur counties in West Virginia came from the settlement on the South Branch of the Potomac (Wappatomaka) River. “Some time prior to 1768, John Simpson, John and Samuel Pringle, who brought furs to barter for supplies at the South Branch settlement, gave glowing reports about desirable lands on the western waters. In the fall of 1768, Samuel Pringle and several others from the settlement visited the “new El Dorado” and were well pleased. In the following spring, additional expeditions were made into this uninhabited territory. Among these pioneers were Davissons, probably Obediah, Amaziah, Andrew and their sons. On one of these expeditions they discovered and gave name to Stone Coal Creek which flows westwardly, including the supposition that it discharged itself directly into the Ohio River. Descending this creek to ascertain the fact, they came to its confluence with a stream near where Weston, Lewis Co., WV now stands, to which they gave the name, West Fork. Following the West Fork, they came upon the fertile lands along a tributary which was named Elk Creek because of the abundance of Elk in the area. Apparently, the Davissons made several expeditions before making improvements to their "tomahawk" rights in 1773. There are indications that they planted a crop of corn on their claims prior to this date, possibly as early as 1769.

     

J. Houston Harrison, Settlers
by the Long Gray Trail, Dayton, Virginia, Joseph K. Ruebush. 1935.
Harrison County Heritage" page 156:


      Josiah’s sons, John and Nathaniel, and daughter Mary remained in New Jersey. Daniel, Andrew, James, Amaziah, Obediah, and Ananias all moved to Virginia with Andrew and Obediah and some of their children eventually settling in what is now Harrison County, West Virginia. Daniel, James, and Ananias remained in Rockingham County, Virginia. Amaziah settled there briefly and then moved westward to near Haverhill, Ohio. Andrew resettled in Greenup County, Kentucky.” The Davisson's ... are descended from an old New England family. It was this family (Josiah’s) who added the extra "s" to the name. Daniel Brinton and Josiah, were both born at Ipswich, Mass, the former in 1690 , the latter in 1692. Their father, Daniel Davison, married Sarah Dodge in 1685, and lived in the eastern part of Ipswich until he removed with his family to New London, Connecticut. From New London the brothers migrated to Long Island, Josiah being at Southhold in 1715, and from Long Island both removed to New Jersey, settling at the above point. At least three sons of Josiah; viz. Daniel, Amaziah and Ananias, came to the Valley of Virginia. Amaziah later located in what is now Harrison County, WV. Ananias probably went to Tennessee. Andrew also moved to Harrison County and from there went to Kentucky but some of his descendants remained.

      "The entire family moved to the Shenandoah Valley near present day Harrisonburg, Virginia and later moved to the South Branch of the Potomac Settlement prior to settling in Harrison County.” The above statement isn’t entirely true, although there’s enough confusion with their movements to make it seem true. They were a restless bunch so it’s hard to keep up with them. Here are Josiah and Mary Skelton’s children listed with where they eventually settled down. Some of them were granted land in Harrison County but sold it. Other grants were to their sons.

1) Mary - remained in New Jersey
2) Daniel - Rockingham Co., VA
3) John - remained in New Jersey Russell Davisson
4) Obediah - Harrison Co. WV
5) Andrew - Harrison Co. and then Kentucky
6) James - Rockingham Co., VA
7) Amaziah - Harrison Co. and then Ohio
8) Nathaniel - remained in NJ
9) Ananias - Rockingham Co. VA, then Tennessee

SETTLERS IN HARRISON COUNTY

      The following Davissons had land grants in Harrison County in 1781: Amaziah, Andrew Sr., Andrew Jr.,Daniel, Hezekiah, Isaac, Joseph, Josiah and Obediah. Some of these men were the children of Josiah and Mary Skelton Davisson and some were grandchildren. Most of the following was extracted or paraphrased from Russell Davisson’s book. Obediah [son of Josiah and Mary Skelton Davisson] settled on the West Fork River near the old Saltworks and eventually owned 3,054 acres on Davisson Run. His son, Nathaniel, was killed by Indians September 8, 1778, near the William’s farm at the mouth of Indian Run on Tenmile Creek, about a mile above Marshville. His body wasn’t found until six months later. He had been shot and scalped.

PROPRIETOR OF CLARKSBURG

      Another of Obediah’s son’s, Daniel, owned four hundred acres of land between Elk creek and the West Fork river where most of Clarksburg is now situated. His cabin was allegedly located on Chestnut Street between Pike and Main streets. This Daniel Davisson is known as the `proprietor’ of Clarksburg having donated land in Clarksburg for the original courthouse. He later built a large stone building on the northwest corner of Second and Main streets where he lived for many years. For a long time he kept an ordinary, a tavern or eating house serving food and drink. It was authorized by the county court held 18 Sep 1787. Russell Davisson’s grandfather told him that next to Daniel Davisson’s ordinary was a large livery where he also provided stalls, hay and oats for the horses of his customers. Much of his business was from those visiting the courthouse so he was quite the entrepreneur.

      Major Davisson was one of the leading men of the county being at various times on a commission to locate a road, a surveyor of roads, a trustee for Randolph Academy and a delegate to the House of Burgesses in 1802-1803. He brought ‘civilization’ to Clarksburg by being awarded a contract for the erection of stocks, a whipping post and pillory at the court held on March 18, 1785. He was commander of Nutter’s Fort during the Revolutionary War. Daniel also donated the land for the old Hopewell Baptist Church and he and his wife, Prudence Izard Davisson, are buried in that burying ground, now the Daniel Davisson DAR Cemetery. This is located at the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets in Clarksburg. It is the earliest known record of the building of a church in the county.


To be continued in Part IV
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