Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Tale of Families: The Davis'

Albert Davis is credited for compiling the family pedigree as he knew it in 1927, just a few years before his death. His daughter Ruth Davis Kerr used his research to type a formal manuscript some years later. It is this resource that I reference in my recounting. It has served as the account for multiple membership applications into the Daughters of theAmerican Revolution
Daughters of The Amerian Revolution

Documenting the pedigree back further than three generations from Albert is murky. Davis is a common surname, and thus records into the 1700’s may be unreliable, or perhaps one or more generations immigrated. It is reported that “Absalom Davis” was the father of five known sons, Micajah, James, Gideon, Chelsey, and Cyrus. There may have been more children(daughters), but those names have been lost in this account. There is evidence of additional children in the on-line trees that can be found in abundance. Absalom may have been Richard Absolom Davis who immigrated from Wales, most likely part of the Scot-Irish immigration wave that has been referenced previously. If this family immigrated in the years before the Revolutionary War they where early in this movement. It is also believed that Macajah’s father moved from Maryland to North Carolina.

The family legend that has been passed down for generations is recited here. Micajah “Cage” Davis was a boy when he ran away from home to join the Revolutionary War. (This leaves the impression that his family was already settled in America. It would be unlikely that a boy would find his way across the Atlantic alone.) Micajah was a small boy, apprenticed or bound to a blacksmith, locksmith and gunsmith, before the War begun. One day some American Army officers came along the road and took him with them to the American camp. It has always been told that he ran away from the man to whom he was apprenticed, choosing to go with one Captain George Richards, as a sort of servant at first, because he was too young to enlist. It is not know exactly which company or regiment, or even to which state Captain Richards belonged. It is likely a North Carolina regiment, and if not to the State Troops, then to the Continental Line. 

The records of the Pension Office show that he was promoted once, probably to musician of his company, and that his final discharge was April 23, 1782, from Captain Railford’s Company, 10th Regiment, Continental Line.

One morning in the early spring of 1777, Micajah Davis, a boy of fourteen summers, was out on the road scraping up clean white sand. It was in Franklin County, North Carolina, and the boy was apprenticed to the blacksmith at the crossroads, and had been sent to gather sand for use at the forge.

Although so young, Micajah had listened with great interest to the talk about the war for independence, and had considered in his mind many plans for running away and joining the American Army, but had never ventured to mention the subject to any other person.

While he was on his knees busily engaged in scooping up the sand with his hands, he was suddenly startled by the approach of two horsemen riding leisurely along the road nearby, engaged in earnest conversation. Jumping to his feet, the boy saw that the riders were dressed in uniform and carried swords, and guessed at once that they were officers in the American Army.
Let me go with you, take me with you,” he cried out eagerly, and receiving no answer, he ran after them down the road, continually asking the officers to take him with them.

Finally they stopped and asked the boy his name, his age, where he lived and some other questions. One of them said that the lad was too young to enlist as a solider and too small to be of service, but Micajah insisted that he could work and was older and stronger than he looked.

He begged so earnestly to go that the younger of the two officers, whom the other called George, said, Well, climb up on the corner of the fence and get on behind me, and we’ll see what kind of stuff you’re made of.” Young Davis complied and was carried away to the American camp as a servant, at first of Captain George Richards. The Captain soon became very much attached to the boy, and the boy loved and respected his captain almost to the point of adoration.

His bright sunny disposition and his exceptional cleverness at any task which might be set for him soon rendered “Cage,” as he was familiarly called, a favorite, not only with Captain Richards, but also with the whole company. He greatly enjoyed the life he led during the first few months of his service.

Captain Richard’s company formed a part of Morgan’s Riflemen who went north in the Fall of 1777 and took part in the battles of Beemis Heights and Saratoga, and were present at the capture of Borgoyne’s Army. Immediately after this they joined Washington’s Army near Philadelphia, and passed the dreadful winter of 1777 and 1778 at Valley Forge, where young Davis saw the hardest side of the soldier life. He endured all the privations and suffering for which the name “Valley Forge” is now a synonym.
It is not known just when Cage became a full-fledged soldier, but it is certain that he enlisted just as soon as they permitted him to do so. Not a great deal is known of his service except that it was continuous throughout the whole time of the war and that he received one promotion to musician.

There were two incidents, however, which interest us, and which affected the whole later lives of Micajah and Captain Richards. The first occurred just before the Battle of Cowpens, in January 1781, and the writer believes that it, (the incident), gave the name “Cowpens” to that battle.

During the night of January 16th some cattle strayed into a pasture to a point directly between the American and British Armies, so that although both sides wanted and needed them, it seemed an impossible task to get them safely out. The Americans were very anxious to get them. At last Captain Richards sent for Cage, saying, If Cage can’t suggest a way to bring those cattle out, we might as well give it up.” When the boy came, the Captain said to him, Cage, if you’ll go in there and bring those cattle out, damned if you shan’t have Patty when we get home.”

Who is Patty?” asked Cage

She is my little sister, at home, and if you will go into that pen and drive out those cattle, Patty is yours as soon as we get back.” (This account is in conflict with the tree that describes Capt. Geo. Richards as Patty’s father, who was a known Revolutionary War soldier born in England and it would also be unlikely that a brother would betroth his sister.)

Cage thought not so much of Patty as of the glory it would be for him to capture the cattle, and of his own empty stomach. The eyes of every officer and enlisted man of that little company followed Cage as he slipped down the extreme flank to a fence, then crawled behind the fence till he reached a ravine, along both sides of which some bushes were growing. Into this ditch he jumped, out of sight of his friends, and began crawling, Indian-fashion, toward the cattle. The ravine ran out into the field to a point between the two armies where it ended in a kind of sink-hole, around which bushes and a few larger trees were scattered. The cattle, meanwhile, were grazing with their heads together toward Cage, and by the time he reached the sinkhole, they were directly opposite, and between him and the American camp. He cautiously raised his head, with the thickest bushes between himself and the British, and boo-booed at the cattle as loudly as he dared. They were startled and turned their heads away from him as if to run. This was his opportunity, and he jumped to his feet and started after the cattle as fast as he could run.

Soon the British began firing, and Cage, thinking he was seen, began waving his hat and yelling at the top of his voice, in a mad race after the cattle. He had about half covered the distance to the American camp, when he was shot in the neck. The excitement was so great that he hardly felt the wound nor knew how serious it was till some time after delivering the cattle to the overjoyed officers. This brought on the battle which was fought on the 17th day of January 1781. The wound in Cage’s neck healed and he remained on active duty. In another account young Davis was wounded while stooping to wipe the blood from a fallen soldier and his eyebrow was shot off.

In March of 1781, the second incident occurred near Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. Captain George Richards fought a duel with swords, with a fellow officer, one Captain Bowers. In this duel, Captain Richards lost his right hand. The hand was sent to Franklin County in the same state, and buried in the private burial lot of the family, and a holly sprout was planted in its palm. Captain Richards left the service soon after this, and returned to his father’s home. When he died, years afterwards, he was buried by the side of his right hand. Generations later descendants of Captain Richards remember "playing under the holly tree," where there was a hand planted.

Cage Davis remained in the service another year, serving in Captain Railford’s Company of the 10th Regiment, Continental Line, from which he was finally discharged on the 23rd of April 1782. He fought in the battles of Guilford Court House, Eutaw Springs, King’s Mountain, Cowpens, and the Siege of Charleston.

His service included capture with his “Mess” in Charleston and he was treated very cruelly. Except for the kindness of an old woman who smuggled them food, he would have starved.

After returning to his home, he was not long in reminding Captain Richards of his promise about Patty, laying claim to that young lady. He found, however, that she was some years his junior, and for that reason, among others, he was compelled to wait some years for her.

On the first day of February, 1787, he was married to Martha “Patty” Richards at her father’s house by Rev. Jacob Crocker.
To Micajah “Cage” Davis (1763-1805) and Martha “Patty” Richards (1772-1844) were born eight children; Wylie Oran, Stephen, Thomas, George, Joshua, Baby Tabitha, Jane, and Mary. Their father died while Joshua was an infant. Although Martha received a widow’s pension, she struggled to raise her family. All of her sons served in the War of 1812.

Wylie Oran Davis (1789-?) married Susan Parker Kitchen (1768-?), the daughter of Jessie Kitchen and Sally Parker Hinton. To this marriage were born; Don Henry (1812-1887), George A, Jesse Kitchen, and Ann Oran.

This is the history of the Davis family as it is known and has been passed down since 1927.
Copyright  ©Alice Kramer 2012

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