"The Davidson Family History"
Poem by Jessie Davidson 1919
To my mind come scores of pictures,
Vague, uncertain, not to last
They reveal in many cases
Glimpses of our family's past.
And I sit and ponder o'er them,
Often as the daylight dies,
Tho but halting is the rhyme.
Some are quaint and full of fancy,
Some to merriment give rise.
Some, no doubt, are changes in color
By perspective given by time,
I shall try to paint them truly,
First the shores of far off Scotland,
With its heather covered braes,
Whence four brothers started westward
To the new world and its ways.
Reached the shining shores of Freedom,
Settled 'neath her starry dome,
And beneath her flag's protection,
Started each to make a home.
Only one our history touches
Phineas was he by name,
And to Maryland's fair borders
Looking for a home he came.
Of his family knew we little,
Doubtless many children came
For to bless his home and fireside,
But we only know the name
Of one son, and that was William,
Our Great grandfather was he,
And tis he and his descendents
That make up our family tree.
At eighteen his country called him,
In her struggle to be free
From the hated foe and tyrant
Ruling from beyond the sea.
He, his musket bravely seizing,
Followed on at duty's call,
And he came back from the conflict
Bringing the old cannon ball.
Which for years has been a souvenir,
Where 'tis now I cannot tell,
But whoever of you has it
Prize it highly, guard it well.
After William came from battle,
Soon he married Mary Coil,
Moved to Western Pennsylvania,
And together they did toil.
On the frontier built their cabin,
There were born their children two,
Betsy and a boy named Samuel,
Grandfather of me and you.
Just one picture of their trials
Finds its way down through the years,
Tho no doubt they had their portion
Of life's joys and hopes and fears.
'T was like this: Great Grandma Mary
Put a piece of meat to cook
Thus providing for the dinner,
Then her morning way she took.
Through the forest to a neighbor
On some needful errand bent,
And while talking (Woman's failing)
Heeded not the time she'd spent.
But alas! The pot boiled over,
Grease took, the flames consume
All the scanty store and clothing
And the little cabin room.
Worst of all Great Grand Dad's paper,
Bearing proof of his release
From the Continental Army,
When the country gained her peace.
Thus was burned our hopes of riches,
Which with great regret I mention,
For because the pot boiled over,
We've no grounds to claim a pension.
With his home a smoking ruin
Great Grandfather planned to go
Farther west, and with two neighbors
Turned his face to Ohio.
This it was he, Wells and Hammond,
Trod old Jefferson County's lands.
Entering in it a section
Near where East Springfield now stands.
Then the section they divided,
Hammond from east side took a third,
Wells and Davidson dividing
East and west without a word.
Thus he got the southwest acres,
Just two hundred in the ring,
For they were the richest portion,
And he chose them for the spring.
Whose cold waters so abundant
From its rocky confines burst,
Where, no doubt, the passing red man
Often stopped to quench his thirst.
That old spring thru generations
Has flowed steady, clear and pure,
Photo-type of things Eternal,
Which forever shall endure.
It is said that our Great Grandfather
Was a man of mighty frame,
Who in strength excelled all others,
When they to the raisings came.
Once a great log to be lifted
Put each strong man to the test,
He alone with ease could do it
Standing out from all the rest.
All his teeth were large and double,
Strong and white, without a flaw,
And a row of hazel nuts he
Cracked with one move of his jaw.
While he scorned to use a hammer
For a walnut or a peach stone,
When he wished to get the kernel
Cracked them with his teeth alone.
Best of all he was a good man,
Great in faith and strong in prayer,
Old time Methodist Class Leader,
Known and honored every where.
Opened up his house to strangers,
Bade the Circuit-Rider enter,
And for all the country round him
Made his home a preaching center.
Once he had a disagreement
With a neighbor Lish McGuire,
Granddad said he stole his grain sacks,
Lish denied the charge with fire.
And arraigned our Great Grandfather
When the Quarterly Conference met,
For, you see, these men were brethren,
Tho against each other set.
Our ancestors couldn't prove it,
And was ordered to confess
He had sinned in bringing charges,
And to beg for forgiveness.
This he steadfastly refused,
For he knew that he was right,
So he died out of the church
He had loved with all his might.
The Sequel proved his innocence
For McGuire confessed the theft,
So his name was vindicated,
Which means much to us who're left,
His wife Mary, our great grandma,
Was made a cripple, so they say,
By a horse that reared and threw her
As she rode on the highway.
With broken hip she used crutch and cane
For she was both large and tall,
Still she rode to see Aunt Betsey,
Mounting from the steps to the Old Hall.
Carried her crutch under her arm,
Hung her cane to her saddle horn,
It was octagon and heavy,
If to us this seems forlorn------
'Tis because we're used to "flivvers"
When on our way forth we fare,
She, no doubt, was just as happy
Riding on her big bay mare.
But alas! 'twas once too often
That she rode thus, unattended,
For again her "Old Fly" threw her,
And her riding days were ended.
In the ditch out by the school house,
Grandpa found her all alone,
On the sled he bore her homeward,
With another broken bone.
This time twixt her knee and ankle,
Much she suffered from the shock,
While she lay the long hours counting
Ticked off by the old tall clock.
That old clock is now a treasure
Which she gave her fourth grandson,
And it still keeps time correctly,
Tho near eighty years it's run.
The break healed, and great grandmother
Walked about her big old room,
In the east end of the farmhouse,
But she never touched her loom.
Does it seem too long I've lingered,
And this scene over-portrayed?
'Tis because it shows the fiber
Of which great grandma was made.
And I'm sure no great grand daughter
In her courage could out do her,
'Tis to jolt our self complaisance,
That I thus compare us to her.
Her son Samuel, our grandfather
When he grew to man's estate,
Following time honored custom,
Looked about him for a mate.
Went a few miles to the eastward
Where his wooing was begun,
Chose Matilda, eldest daughter
Of the house of Morrison.
After wedding ceremony
Horseback to the farm they came,
Same old farm, now owned by Edson,
May it always keep the name.
In the old house of logs builded
They their housekeeping begun,
Here was born our uncle William,
Also Cyrus, second son.
Then grandfather built the brick house,
Where some of you first saw the light,
And in which we lived one winter,
In the big room to the right.
On the farm the bricks were molded
Stacked and burnt down by the road,
Soon the house rose tall and stately,
And was thought a fine abode.
'Tis a story oft repeated,
So I'm sure it must be true,
How small William one brick carried
Till he wore his apron through.
Our grandfather, tall and stalwart,
Was a good and honest man,
Much respected by his neighbors,
Tho he oft bare footed ran.
Loved the dogs that chased the rabbits,
Kept a pack about him ever,
Rode and hunted as a pasttime,
But neglected his farm never.
So his years ran on in comfort,
In the bounds of his estate,
While his faith was strong and simple,
And he died at seventy-eight.
Of our grandmother, Matilda,
Now a word I wish to tell,
For I'm sure the oldest of us
Were too young to know her well.
Very fair and small and dainty,
Auburn haired was she and slight,
Cook unequalled, earnest Christian,
Always standing for the right.
As we've said, she and grandfather
Lived long years in the old brick,
Raised a strong and sturdy family,
Seldom any of them sick.
Five strong sons and two fair daughters
Grew up neath the old roof tree,
And by two of them quite often,
Have these tales been told to me.
Their names were chosen mostly
From the histories granddad read,
William, named for his grandfather,
Cyrus who the Persians led.
While Tertullas from scriptures,
Orator confronting Paul,
For John Bunyon, the great writer,
Named a boy both frail and small.
King Darius, Medo-Persian,
Was a monarch brave, but then
Spoiled his record when he ordered
Daniel to the Lion's den.
Cicero, was an old time Roman
Statesman, orator of fame,
To the youngest boy was given this
His euphonious odd name.
Fair Thermutis was the Princess
Who beside the River Nile
Walked at evening with her maidens,
When they found the Hebrew Child.
And our Aunt was christened for her,
But she died at three years old,
Soon the little brother followed,
Brief their lives their tale soon told.
Celia Anthus, flower of heaven,
Name suggested by a preacher.
For our last and youngest auntie,
Then a very little creature.
Mandane was a Persian matron,
So the histories record,
Mother of good King Cyrus,
Once a great and ruling lord.
But to us the name is nearer
Then its origin would tell,
For she was our dear old "Auntie"
And she loved us all so well.
So the seven grew together,
Bore their names as best they could,
And we who are their descendents,
Honor them and call them good.
Now the history has descended,
To nineteen eighteen, our day,
Nothing very strange or startling
Just a common place array.
Of the doings to generations
Of the Davidsons here given
And when our lives, too, are ended.
Please God, we'll all meet in heaven.