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Andrew Davidson's Family Killed

Andrew Davidson's Family Killed

By Emory L. Hamilton

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, pages 207-209.

On August 23, 1786, the court of Montgomery Co., VA, appointed George Peery, a Captain of militia to replace Captain James Moore who had been killed by the Indians on July 14, 1786. At the same time Joseph Davidson was appointed a Lieutenant in the same company and Andrew Davidson was appointed Ensign.

Pendleton, History of Tazewell County, records the following story of the massacre of the Andrew Davidson family:

In the spring of 1791, Andrew Davidson was living at the head spring of East River, about a half mile below the eastern limits of the city of Bluefield, West Virginia. In addition to himself, his family consisted of his wife Rebecca, his three small children, two girls and a boy, and a "bound" boy and girl named Broomfield. The bound children were very young, between seven and ten years old, and were more in the nature of proteges than servants. Mrs. Davidson was a granddaughter of James Burk from whom Burk's Garden received its name. Mr. Davidson had gone on a business trip to Smithfield, formerly Draper's Meadows and now Blacksburg, Virginia. It was the sugar making season, and a few days after her husbands departure for Smithfield, Mrs. Davidson was busily occupied gathering sugar water from sugar trees close to the house. While she was thus engaged, several Indians, who could speak English, came upon the scene. They told her that she and her children must go with them to their towns in Ohio. She was in a delicate condition, and unfit to undertake the long and fatiguing trip she was required to make.

The Indians went into the house and took such plunder as they wished to carry away, set fire to the cabin, and began their homeward journey with their six prisoners. When they arrived at a point near where Logan Courthouse, West Virginia, is located, Mrs. Davidson gave birth to a child. After allowing the mother a rest of two hours, the march to Ohio resumed. The birth of the child must have been premature, as it was drowned next day by the Indians on account of its feeble condition.

Mrs. Davidson and the captive children were treated with such leniency while they were making the journey, that she became hopeful they would be kindly treated after their arrival at the Indian towns. In this, however, she was sadly disappointed. Soon after their arrival at their towns, the Indians tied the two daughters of Mrs. Davidson to trees, and shot them to death in the presence of their mother. Her son was given to an old squaw for adoption. While crossing a river the old squaw upset her canoe, and the boy, who was with her, was drowned. What became of the Broomfield children was never known, and it is possible they shared the same fate of the girls who were shot.

Mrs. Davidson was sold to a Frenchman, in Canada, in whose family she remained a servant until she was found and rescued by her husband in the fall of 1794. Two years after her capture Mr. Davidson made an unsuccessful trip to the Shawnee towns in search of his wife. On his second trip in 1794, he received information from an old Indian as to her whereabouts, and was guided by the Indians to Canada. He stopped one day at a farm house to get dinner, and what followed is thus related by Dr. Bickley: (1)

"When he got into the Canada settlement, he stopped at the house of a wealthy French farmer, to get a meals victuals, and to inquire the way to some place where he had heard she was. He noticed a woman passing him, as he entered the house, but merely bowed to her and went in. Asking for dinner, he seated himself, and was, perhaps, running over in his mind, the chances of finding his wife, when again the woman entered. She laid down her wood, and looked at the stranger steadily for a moment, when she turned to her mistress and said: 'I know that man!'
'Well, who is he?,' said the French lady.
'It is my husband!. Andrew Davidson, I am your wife!'

Mr. Davidson could scarcely believe his senses. When he last saw her, she was a fine, healthy looking woman; her hair was black as coal, but now her head was gray, and she looked many years older than she should have looked. Yet it was her, though he declared nothing but her voice seemed to say she was Rebecca Davdison. Soon the French gentleman returned, and being a humane man, gave up Rebecca to her husband, also a considerable sum of money, and next morning sent them on their way rejoicing. The happily reunited husband and wife returned as quickly as possible to the vicinity of their former home, and settled at the mouth of Abb's Valley on a farm which was owned some ten years ago (1910) by A. C. Davidson. They were so fortunate as to have and raise another family of children, and a number of their descendants are now living in Tazewell County, Virginia, and Mercer County, West Virginia.

(1) Bickley, History of Tazewell County, VA, 1853.

This file contributed by: Rhonda Robertson

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