The Davidson Family of Rural Hill, North Carolina

Three Generations on a Piedmont Plantation


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About the Book

John Davidson came to the North Carolina back country circa 1751 as a young man, with his sister and widowed mother. Typical of Scots-Irish settlers, they arrived with little more than basic farming tools, determined to make it on their own terms. Davidson worked hard, prospered, married well and built a plantation on the Catawba River he called Rural Hill. The Davidson’s were loyal British citizens who paid their taxes and participated in colonial government. When the Crown’s overbearing authority interfered, independence became paramount and Davidson and his neighbors became soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
After the war Davidson managed his plantation, created shad fisheries, helped develop the local iron industry with his sons-in-law and was an early planter of cotton. His sons and grandsons, along with their slave families, continuously increased and improved the acreage and became early practitioners of scientific farming.
Drawing on public documents, family papers and slave records, this history describes how a fiercely independent family grew their lands and fortunes into a lasting legacy.

About the Author(s)

With a long-time interest in history Jim Williams concentrates on the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area from 1750 to 1860. Seeking to understand how life was lived in those times, he has researched and written for magazines and performed first person interpretation at a number of historic sites. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For about thirty years Ann Williams has researched and written about antebellum piedmont plantations with an emphasis on cotton farming, the cotton economy, and slavery. She has written and/or edited four books based on the letters, journals, and other personal papers kept by those who were there. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Jim Williams and Ann Williams

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8048-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3852-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Isabella Ramsay Davidson Hendry, Mother of Major John Davidson 9
2. Samuel and Mary Wilson, Parents of Violet Wilson Davidson 14
3. The First Generation at Rural Hill: Major John and Violet Davidson 23
4. The Davidson Children and Rural Hill 37
5. Holly Bend: Robin and Peggy Davidson 50
6. Robin and Peggy: Family, Wills and Estates 66
7. The Second Generation at Rural Hill: Jacky and Sallie Davidson 88
8. The Third Generation at Rural Hill: Brevard and Mary Davidson 99
9. Brevard and Mary: Mills, Wills and Children 119
10. Scientific Farming at Rural Hill 130
11. Rural Hill: The Last Three Generations 147
A. Davidson Family Genealogy 153
B. Davidson College 156
C. Hopewell Presbyterian Church 158
D. The Lunacy of the Rev. Alexander Caldwell 159
E. The Story of Plum, Enslaved Man, Freedman, Property Owner 161
F. A Marriage Deed of Trust 162
G. Naming Conventions and Other John Davidsons 165
H. Brevard’s Slave Inventories 168
I. Road and River Work 174
J. Iron Making in North Carolina 175
K. The Value of Money 179
L. A Confusion of Counties 183
M. Land Acquisition by Grants and Deeds 185
N. Major John’s Earliest Land Transactions 193
O. Land Acquisition by Robert Davidson 203
P. Courts and Legal Structure 205
Q. The Court House Law of 1774 210
Notes 213
Bibliography 223
Index 231