John Goolman Davidson (1729 - 1793)

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Nicknames: "Cooper"
Birthplace: Drumbo, Down, Ireland
Death: Died in Laurel Fork, Wythe County, VA, United States
Occupation: Settler, Cooper
Managed by: Sandy Simcox
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About John Goolman Davidson

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VIRGINIA. DAR Ancestor #: A030103

John Goolman Davidson was from Ireland and a cooper by trade, thus his nickname. His father came to Pennsylvania from Ireland with his wife and sons around 1740. By 1741 they were settled in Orange County, Virginia. John later moved to Draper Meadow settlement, and by 1780 was at the head of Beaver Pond Creek in what was then Montgomery County, Virginia (now Mercer County, West Virginia).

A man by the name of Rice had stolen a hog from Davidson, for which he was apprehended, convicted and sentenced to receive on his bare back forty lashes. Rice was so enraged at Mr. Davidson, that he vowed her would have revenge, if he had to bring the Indians upon him. We shall soon see how well Rice kept and performed his vow, and succeeded in having his revenge, although more than ten years had elapsed before the opportunity was afforded him.

Mr. Davidson having some unfinished business at his former home in the valley of Virginia, Rockbridge County, among others, the collection of some eight hundred dollars due him, determined upon a visit to the valley to close up his business and get his money. As was not unusual when some one was going from the frontier into the settlements, it was noised throughout the neighborhood, that Mr. Davidson was going to make the journey. In the month of February, 1793, Mr. Davidson set out on horseback, reached his destination safely, settled his business, collected his money, and started on his way homeward, having with him an extra horse which he was leading. He came over the usual route of travel to Rocky gap, was seen to pass south of that point by a family residing near the pathway. When Davidson did not return home in a timely manner, a search party was organized. The party immediately determined that Mr. Davidson had been killed by a gang of Indians led by a white man, and his horse taken. After eating their breakfast, and gathering up the horses they started out to search for Mr. Davidson's body. Samuel Lusk was with Major Crockett's party, and on the return assisted in the search for the body of Mr. Davidson. So soon as the party reached the settlement, they sent out men along the path leading through Bailey's gap in East River mountain, and on to the Laurel fork of Clear fork of Wolf Creek, and through Rocky Gap, finding on the path on the mountain a hat band recognized as belonging to Mr. Davidson's hat.

On inquiry it was found that Mr.Davidson had passed the settlements south of Rocky Gap before noon on the 8th day of March, and it was discovered at an old waste place at the mouth of Clear fork, that he had there fed his horses. Further investigation at the point where the path left the Laurel fork starting up the mountain, evidence appeared of the blade of a hatchet having been struck into a white oak tree, and that a gun had rested on the hatchet, and near by on the bark of a beech tree was freshly cut the name of "Rice,". Under the root of the tree on the side of the creek, where the water had washed away the earth, the nude body of Mr. Davidson was found, so far advanced in decomposition it could not be removed to his home, and was buried near by where it was found and where it still remains. The statement by some writers that the body was carried to his home and buried is incorrect according to the statements of Mr. Joseph Davidson and Captain John A. Davidson, two of his great grandsons.

Colonel Robert Trigg, in his report to the governor, dated on April 10th, 1793, states that Davidson was killed on the 8th day of March of that year, and that there were twelve Indians in the party, who stole a large number of horses and passed through the center of the Bluestone settlement.

Colonel Robert Crockett had reported in October, 1789, to the governor, the capture of Virginia Wiley, and the killing of her four children by the Indians on October 1st of that year.

On October 17th, 1793, Major Robert Crockett and fifty others, among them Joseph Davidson, John Bailey, James Bailey, Reuben Bailey, Richard Bailey, William Smith and John Peery, sent a petition to the governor of Virginia, informing him of the defenseless condition of the border, and asking for assistance, and stating the killing by the Indians of John Davidson on the 8th day of March 1793, and that of Gilbert on the 24th day of July 1792, and the capture of Samuel Lusk at the same time.

The searching party for Mr. Davidson's body found evidences on the ground that satisfied them that Mr. Davidson, had upon being shot from the tree where the blade of the hatchet had been buried, fallen from his horse which took fright and ran out into the brush and vines on the creek bottom, by which one of the brass stirrups had been pulled off. No doubt remains but that Rice and his party got the $800.00 which Mr. Davidson had with him when killed.

Several years after the killing of Mr. Davidson, Captain William Stowers, then a lad of some fifteen years, while plowing in the bottom where Mr. Davidson was killed, found a brass stirrup which was recognized by the family of Mr. Davidson as one belonging to his saddle, and missing therefrom when his horse and saddle were recovered by Major Crockett and his men.

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John Goolman "Cooper" Davidson's Timeline

Drumbo, Down, Ireland
Age 26
Montgomery, Virginia, USA
March, 1757
Age 28
March 17, 1759
Age 30
Tazewell, VA, USA
Age 31
Rocky Gap, Bland, Virginia, United States
Age 33
Age 36
Virginia, United States
Age 37
Rowan, North Carolina, USA
March 8, 1793
Age 64
Laurel Fork, Wythe County, VA, United States
March, 1793
Age 64
United States