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Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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The following six page synopsis, submitted by Allan Davidson, June 16, 2001, is from

The Davidson Family
Research and Compilation 1972
Descendants of
George and Margaret Dunne Davidson.

IN APPRECIATION

The research and compilation in this book has been done by Miss Margaret Davidson, Mrs. Alton Clark, Mrs. Calvin Davidson and Wilbur E. Pearce with the help of members of many family groups. Apologies are made for errors and omissions, it is as accurate as they could make it.

The Davidson's of Platner Brook
by Wilbur E. Pearce

The saga of the Davidsons becomes written history on May 26, 1831 when it is recorded that George Davidson, his wife, Margaret Dunne Davidson, their daughters, Grace, age 4 and Isabella, age 2, left their home in Northumberland County, England and sailed for a new home in Delaware County, New York. Deep roots were left behind as there were twins, the first born, buried in English ground.

Eight weeks later, on July 12th, they landed in New York. There is a letter, written at Catskill, New York on July 14th, printed in full in the 1931 edition of the DAVIDSON BOOK that records the cost of $83.80 for a rough passage. All were seasick but Isabella. Captain Wood was like a father to them. The letter also told of their interest to go to Wm. Douglas in Meredith, New York. There was a Jennie Douglas married to John Davidson, a brother of George, so there was a claim of kinship that drew these travelers to Delaware County.

Written history does not record why and exactly when they moved to a small clearing near the head of West Platner Brook and my then 3 year old grandmother, Isabella never told me. There is a recorded deed of February 18th, 1833 that tells of the purchase of 61 acres of land from the estate of Ebenezer Foote that was to become a part of the present Pearce farm. There some member of the Davidson clan has been in continuous residence until the present day. A house was built near a large spring on the hill side, a barn near another spring down the valley towards the brook. The exact locations of both structures is well known to the writer as the stones of both foundations were removed in the process of modern farming.

How and when additions were made to the farm is a matter of uncertainty. There is positive evidence that a portion of the Moody farm was bought and owned at one time, but we are inclined to agree with the 1931 edition of Davidson lore and with the tale of my grandmother. She told of buying a tract of land down by the lower bridge. This corresponds. with the earlier book that tells of the acquiring of 122 acres on July , 1842 from the Foote estate for $490.00, which agrees with the 180 known acres in the farm. Here again there was a foundation to remove in my early stone picking days. At 13 years my informative grandmother knew the name of the nomad' owner who planted no apple trees, built no stone walls, and herded no sheep. However, his fertile hill-side land has been much more suitable for grassland and pasture than the stony sheep pasture of the original purchase.

This last purchase seems to have satisfied our English grandsire for land, as he must then have relinquished another holding that he may have held up the valley. He was now free to build himself satisfactory domicle for both man and beast. There is no definite evidence of the exact years when either the present house or the barn, which was to burn in 1898, were built. The three story overshot structure was a more modern structure than even the "big beam" type that marred many a hay day of those early farmers. There was a touch of elegance given to the house when a flag stone walk was laid from the front kitchen door to the main road, a good two iron shot for most golfers, with a bridge of its own at the brook. There was a white picket fence with a gate across the front lawn, a row of spruce trees across both ends of the house, with two Austrian spruce at the front end of the row to give an exotic touch. There is another long letter back home to England, written on March 29th, 1847, to Thomas Dunne, a brother of the hostess of the new home, telling of some hardship and much local news. George , the father, had been hit on the head by a limb while alone in the woods. He reached the house by himself, a doctor bled him. In a week he was able to take care of the cattle. On August 13th, 1846, Mary Ann was born. On the 16th the mother was so ill that George went for the doctor. The horse was scared and threw him, breaking his left arm above the wrist and dislocating some of the small bones. These were not properly set. On March 29th the arm was still stiff, but he could close his hand.

On the good side, the neighbors come and cut the oats. They also cut about twenty cords of wood. "This is one thing the Americans are liberal in, if any one is sick they think it is their duty to help. It was a very dry summer. Hay and grain were good. Potatoes entirely failed. We have a new Meeting House (West Delhi) a mile and a half from our house. I thought George would write but I have lost patience of waiting."

Those pioneers were the parents of fourteen children. Twins were left behind in an English cemetery. Grace, the first to leave home married Richard Thomson before 1846. The date is not recorded. There was a son, James, born earlier, or he might have been a twin. Around the father and son there hovers a myth that has now been partly run a'ground. The father, Richard, was supposed to have gone west in the gold rush and disappeared. The son's name, James, appears in the 1931 edition; nothing more.

Recently, nine Civil War letters have been found at the Old Homestead. Three each from George, John and Tom. Two of these letters were addressed to "Nephew Jim". This cleared in part the blank on our written record. A visit to "Ed" Thomson, who is now our next oldest relative, a nephew himself of James, brought out an interesting story. The father, Richard, went west in the spring following the death of his daughter Margaret, October 12th, 1851. On reaching the Mississippi River there was to be a $5.00 ferry charge. They swam their horses across. Three of the party were drowned, but not Richard. He went on but somewhere near the Wyoming-Montana border, he contracted "Mountain Fever" and died. James, the son, the nephew of our Civil War letter was no mystery to "Ed". He produced written records in the form of a Bible given to James Thomson by the Session of the West Delhi Church in 1856 for memorizing the longer Catechism. This causes some uncertainty, for the West Delhi cemetery records show that sister Margaret was also born in 1846.

The next withdrawal from the family home was more deliberate and on a larger scale, for on February 23rd, 1858, Isabella married Henry Scott and Margaret become the wife of William Wakefield. Their double wedding must have been an occasion of gaiety at the old homestead, but the fact seems almost lost in the story of the family. This gaiety was the lost for a time as there were troubled days ahead. George, the oldest son, enlisted on June 4th, 1861 in Co. I of the 72nd Regiment of New York Volunteers. He saw hard service at Williamsburg, Gettysburgh and elsewhere with the Army of the Potomac. He was discharged in 1864 with a record of no days in the hospital. He married Esther Graham on January 25th, 1865, planning to re-enlist, but the war was over before the steps were taken. His proudest moment was when his gaily dressed Regiment marched by the White House during an inspection by Lincoln.

John enlisted October 23rd, 1861 in Co 1 of the 89th Regiment of New York Volunteers and was discharged for disabilities August 27th, 1863. He had been wounded on May 3rd, 1863 during a reconnaissance in force against Longstreets force near Suffolk, Va. Details of this engagement can be found of pages 88-90 in the McKee History of the 144th Volunteers. After his discharge he returned, his father meeting him in Kingston with a lumber wagon. He died May 3rd, 1864, giving his blessing to my mother, born March 22nd, 1864, when he wryly remarked she had come to take his place as a Davidson.

Thomas become the third soldier son on his enlistment on August 30th, 1862 in Co. C, 144th Regiment of New York Volunteers, the all Delaware County outfit. He was killed instantly at the battle of Honey Hill near Beaufort, S.C., on November 30th, 1864. Among my more vivid recollections of a childhood spent on the home farm is of a dinner guest, a veteran of the 144th, who told of advancing through burning tall grass at Honey Hill with Tom Davidson next to him, when a bullet through the head ended the soldier-career of his friend Tom. His grave is unknown, but there is a chance that he is buried among the unknown in the National Cemetery at Beaufort, S.C., where the remains of all Union dead were re-interred after the war.

Adventure and war news passes from the picture for a time and we return to home living in the second generation. Grace has been recorded and the marriage of Isabella to Henry Scott. He was a carpenter and part-time farmer, and elder in the West Delhi church. Dr. King, in his historical sermon concerning the church, records that an earlier cleric had remarked that he could not see how such a good man as Henry Scott could be a Democrat. They lived at times on the old Homestead, but mostly on the Swackhammer farm, now a group of disappearing foundations on the hill side of Cape Horn a half mile west of the West Delhi church. She was often at the Pearce's for long periods of time, but in her last years, she lived with her daughter, Ella Clark, in Treadwell. There she died in 1908 and is buried at West Delhi.

Margaret Davidson, the first native American in the family, arrived on May 27th, 1832, probably at the new home in the Platner Brook clearing. As recorded, she married William Wakefield in the double wedding with sister Bell. Their early married life was spent on Crystal Creek, near Mundale. In later years they lived on Bruce Street in Walton where Isabella always called when on a trip to town when staying with the Pearce's during my younger days. She is buried in the Walton Cemetery.

There follows another tragedy and a continuing mystery. On June 2nd, 1834, a baby named George, was born, who evidently had a very short existance. It was at a time when the family walked to the Flats Church at the site of the present golf course, before the days of the West Delhi Cemetery. A careful search of the Flats Cemetery produced no evidence of burial there. There is little reason to doubt that this early infant found an eternal resting place as a part of the West Platner Brook soil as was a common practice of the day.

On July 2nd, 1835, a replacement was found for this lost baby when George William Davidson arrived. The first to enlist in the Civil War, he arrived home early when his three year enlistment expired in 1864. He promptly married Esther Graham on January 25th, 1865 planning to re-enlist in the spring, but the war had run its course. As a boy he evidently worked with the neighboring Middlemast children who became expert stone cutters and wall builders. Fine specimen of their work can still be seen in the sheep retaining stone walls of his old home and of his skill in stone cutting as still seen in the foundation of his new home a mile east of the Stoodley Hollow Ridge Road crossing on Hamden Hill. The farm is now a part of the Woodrow Tiffany farm. Only the well-cut stone foundation remains to tell of a well spent life supplemented by the less skilled foundation stone of the present barn where he worked after the fire of 1898. He retired to Treadwell and there died and rests with others at West Delhi. Great Grandson "Dick" Davidson, treasures his discharge, his medals and a rooster of his proud 72nd Regiment Company preserved in the heart of his male descendant in the fierce competitive spirit that made him a good soldier.

There was a wartime wedding at the old home when Eleanor Jane married Peter Wakefield, January 1st, 1863, making possible the large Hall branch of the family. Their lives were largely spent in Bennett Hollow near Franklin. Best known to me and many others, was a daughter, Viola Hall, my mother's favorite cousin, married to Wilber Henry Hall, the source of my given name. No one in the Hall family ever inherited this nomenclature except as a middle name. They are at rest in the Franklin Cemetery.

Allan Davidson arrived on the scene on April 9th, 1844, to marry Jennie Williamson in 1871 and to depart sometime later for Willett, California, there to establish a new branch of the family. His young brother Douglass, joined him there for a few years after the death of his wife, Mary Hoy, but he returned later to leave Allan as the only migrant from Delaware County. Two reunions of the Davidsons in 1910 mark the dates of a visit from these Californians. A noontime return to the house and a wagon load of departing guests is well remembered by the Pearce family. A stop in Willett in the 1930s failed to locate any of the right Davidsons. The telephone listed Davidsons were mostly residents of a large Army camp nearby. His death occurred on July 25th, 1934, thus this last departing of the children was the only one to in any way challenge the longevity record of the mother, yet ninety years is a good round number. He is presumably buried in a Willett Cemetery.

May Ann, the last of the daughters, born August 13th, 1846, married John B. Mable on January 5th, 1860. There follows many years of residence up the for side of the river from Delancey. To them come two children to die young and to this same home come the aging mother for tender care. The father had died in 1887 after several years of enfeebled health in a separate part of the old home while some son or daughter lived and managed the farm from some other part. At the Mable home began the family reunions that are still an annual event. On September 7th, her birthday, came the annual parade of youngsters and oldsters to be recognized by this matriarch whose keen memory surprised the younger generation. This daughter joined her husband and children in the Flats Cemetery in 1920. Their graves being viewed as the search was made for the missing George.

James Persival Davidson, born July 30th, 1849, married Catherine Mein in 1876. It became one of the more productive unions as it led to the seven stalwart sons and daughters of the Clifford Davidson family all within confines of the present Douglas Davidson farm just off the Handsome Brook road towards Tupper Hill. This son retired permanently to the Woodland Cemetery in Delhi in 1922.

The last born of the Davidson fourteen was Douglas in 1851, still ten years before the Civil War. After his marriage to Mary Hoy in 1878 they lived on the present Leo Pierce farm at Mundale. After Mary's death and his stay in California, he returned and married her sister, Margaret, in 1889. Then to settle down in Hoyland, Bovina, on a farm between the Little Delaware and Bovina Center. He died in 1923, leaving Allen in California as his only survivor of this large family. He is buried in the Bovina Center Cemetery.

To echo the timbre of the industrial calibre of the Davidson clan, it can be recorded sociologically as well as historical fact that before 1900 the only marriage recorded during the six month winter season was that of Ella Thomson and Douglas Terry on May 10th, 1899. The first June wedding was that of Dora Mable Davidson Clark to Alex MacLean on June 21th, 1916. Before that winter was strictly the time for such frivolity as marriage.

It is worthy of note that all of us are endowed with a strain of longevity. Dora Davidson Rowell reached the 90th age level on March 9th, 1970. Edward Thomson on August 20th, 1970 become the fourth of the clan to reach the ninety-year mark. Further evidence of this trait is the fact there are still ten of us who should remember the early reunion at the Mable's and meeting with the venerable grandmother born September 7th, 1807. There are several others who bear a birthdate with the 1800 label which indicates they are not of this century.


Note from Allan Davidson: When my father , H. Fletcher Davidson died in 1987 in his ninety third year, he was the last of his generation and the patriarch of the line. He did succeed in his later years in locating some of his uncle Allan's descendants who moved from Willets, CA to San Diego Co. in Southern CA.



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