Benton County Tennessee

Early Settlers Biographies

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John Wallace Davidson was the son of John and Mary Wallace Davidson. John Wallace was born near what is now Huntsville, Madison County, AL, March 14, 1814. John Wallace's father, John, died at Huntsville, AL, in 1815. The date of Mary's death is unknown. After the death of his parents John Wallace was sent to live with his Aunt Lucy Davidson Perkins and her husband, Ephraim Perkins, in Camden, Benton County, TN. Lucy was the sister of John Wallace's father, John.

John Wallace Davidson married Susan Lyons Prance in 1836 at Humphreys County, TN. Susan was born 1818 in Montgomery County, TN. She was the daughter of John and Mary Cooper Prance. John Prance was of French-Irish descent. He died in Montgomery County, TN. Mary Cooper was of Irish descent. She was born in Montgomery County, TN, and died in McCracken County, KY.

John Wallace Davidson was one of the Benton county magistrates in 1836. He was chairman of the Benton County Court for the year 1848. He was Circuit Court Clerk for Benton County in 1848 through 1852. While he served in these positions he studied and practiced law in Camden until 1865. He was a member of the Tennessee Legislature representing Benton and Hunphreys Counties in the House from 1859 through 1861.

For many years John Wallace Davidson was a faithful Mason, and a member of the Methodist Church from 1865 until his death in 1869.

While John Wallace and Susan Davidson lived in Camden they were blessed with nine children. They were: (1) Mary Ann, (2) George Washington, (3) Lucinda Margarite "Lucy", (4) Leathy Malissa "Lee", (5) William Mordecai "Bill", (6) Samuel Houston "Sam", (7) Martha W., (8) Harrison John "Jack", and (9) Thomas Jefferson "Jeff".

In 1865 John Wallace and Susan Davidson and some of their children moved from Camden to Graves County, KY. Not being satisfied there they moved to Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, MO. Their stay there was short. In 1866 they moved to Randolph County, AR, and in 1867 to Doniphan, Ripley County, MO. Then in 1869 hearing of a new county seat in Sharp County, AR, they moved one more final time to Evening Shade, AR. This was the final move for several of the family members and they made Evening Shade their home the rest of their lives.

John Wallace Davidson died October 12, 1869 at Evening Shade, AR. The cause of death was liver disease. John Wallace is buried in the Evening Shade Cemetery. His headstone, though broken, when pieced together the engraved words are:

Husband of
Susan L. Davidson
Born March 14, 1814
Died October 12, 1869

The 1870 Census for Sharp County, AR, shows Susan L. Davidson, a widow living with her sons William, Jack, and Jefferson. In the 1880 Census her sons are all married and she is living with her youngest son, Jefferson, and his family at Evening Shade.

Susan was a member of the Methodist Church in Evening Shade. She was a Methodist for more than forty years. According to the records in the History of the United Methodist Church of Evening Shade, Susan L Davidson died May 11, 1896. It is assumed she is buried in the Evening Shade Cemetery, though a thorough search of the headstones does not reveal one for Susan.

Some information indicates that John Wallace Davidson's brothers, Abraham, Berry and William, also moved from Huntsville, AL to Benton County, TN, to live after the death of their parents.

Submitted by Donald G. Davidson

Joseph Riley Ward Joseph Riley Ward was one of many Union soldiers of Company B 7th TN .Cav. that lived around Rushing Chapel. A large part of them, did not have the name Greer, although it was their mothers. For instance, Joseph Riley and his brother Thomas Allen Ward's mother was Elizabeth Greer daughter of James Greer .Then there are the Spires brothers Joseph and John A. Spires who married M. Davis. Robert Spires was a son of John A. Spires. There is also another Robert Spires who married Caroline Greer on 11-5-1846. This Robert Spires seems to be the brother to John and Joseph Spires. James 0. Greer was the son of James Greer who fought in the war of 1812 in James Gray's Company. There is a Benjamin F. Greer who is Quartermaster Sgt. of Company B. There is a James Greer and William L. Greer .William Rufus Bloodworth on his pension papers says his mother's name is Martha Greer .Carrol Greer's wife's name is Bane and here are two Banes on of company B's roster. They are Henry and Robert. There are three Pressens, Elis T ., Richard L., and Thomas whom I believe I are related to the Greers. William H. Rushing who is John D. Rushing's son. There is also a William R Rushing who seems to be related. There is also John A. Neighbors who is the son-in-law John D. Rushing. Jesse McGill is married to Thomas J. Ward Jr.'s daughter Sarah. W. R. Ward is on the roster and I am not sure who his father is. So in Company B. there are 18 men who are related somehow to the Greers. There are another 3 men related to John D. Rushing. All of these men seem to live around Rushing Chapel. It is this part of Benton that voted strongly against succession from the Union. Just the men I have listed make up about one sixth of a full company. This is about two squads or half of a platoon.

During company B's first engagement with Bedford Forest was on December 2Oth 1862. During this engagement 15 prisoners from the Second West Tennessee Mounted Infantry were taken. Most of these men were from Company B. Colonel Robert B. Ingersoll reports that, "The force on the Lower Road (the Second West Tennessee) came back in confusion and on the full run, pursued by the enemy. It was impossible to stop them." He also says," I endeavored to bring a company of the Second West Tennessee to the right of the guns, but found it impossible. They were not very well equipped and had never been under fire. They were rallied three times, but did not succeed in making as stand."

The Second West Tennessee Mounted Infantry was reorganized into the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry Volunteers U.S.A. at Camp Chase Ohio. They were then sent back to Tennessee to scout the West Tennessee area. It was here at Union City where they were garrisoned on the March 24, 1864 when Colonel Duckworth of the seventh Tennessee Confederate forces tricked Lieutenant Colonel Isaac R. Hawkins who was the first cousin to David Crocket. He was named for his grandfather Brigadier General Isaac Roberts who was sent home under arrest by Andrew Jackson in the Creek Wars for disputing Jackon's authority. Duckworth bluffed into thinking that, all of Bedford Forrest's 6,000 men were ready to take the fort. Actually the only force outside of the earthen fort was the 7th Tennessee Confederate force under Duckworth. There are several accounts made by officers of the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry Volunteers U.S.A. Thomas P. Gray Capt. of Company C said he was present when a written order was given to Colonel Hawkins demanding unconditional surrender. This was signed by Maj. General N. B. Forrest. Hawkins surrendered 481 soldiers or so the count was at Trenton on the 26th of March. Gray says," No artillery was seen or used." Capt. Gray estimated Duckworth's troops at 800 and under his command. Confederate Brigadier General James R. Chalmers gives full credit to Colonel Duckworth for "a successful ruse at Union City made the enemy believe that Major-General Forrest was present..." Capt. John W. Beaty Company K. makes the following statement found in the War of the Rebellion records, II The enemy drove in our pickets at 4 a.m., 24th March, in skirmishing commenced soon after, and by sunrise our camps were entirely surrounded. Their force numbered about 1,500, commanded by Colonels Faulkner , Bell, Duckworth, Faris (?), Freeman, Tansil, and Russel. They first made a charge, mounted and finding that they were losing a great many men and horses, dismounted and made three unsuccessful charges with heavy loss in killed and wounded. Finding it impossible to route to our forces from their works, fell back in a great confusion, taking shelter behind fallen timber, stumps, &., their sharpshooters keeping up a continuous fire until fifteen minutes to 11 o'clock, when they ceased firing and sent in a flag of truce, demanding an unconditional surrender of our force, &, giving Colonel Hawkins fifteen minutes and make up his mind, stating that they weighed take the camps by storm as they had reinforcements close at hand.

Colonel Hawkins called together the officers and asked them what they were in favor of doing. I remarked if they had artillery they could wip us; if not they never could get inside our works. All of the officers said fight except Maj. Thomas A. Smith. Just at that time the telegraph operator said that they had two pieces of artillery; that he had seen them."(Duckworth had made Quaker cannons out of logs to fool the Yankee commander, Duckworth had no real cannons only logs made to look like cannons) "Colonel Hawkins said that it would save a great many lines if we would surrender, and that if we renewed the fight they would kill everyone that might fall into their hands. We, the officers, then agreed to surrender on condition that they would parole the officers and men and allow the men to keep their private property and the officers their sidearms; otherwise we would fight as long as there was a man left.

Colonel Hawkins then went out and met and Duckworth at 11 o'clock and ten minutes after 11 o'clock the rebels came in, and and Colonel Hawkins ordered that all commanders of companies and detachments march their men outside of the fort, or works, and require them to lay down their arms. Afterward we found that Colonel Hawkins had made an unconditional surrender .The officers and men cried like a whipped child. They also cursed Colonel Hawkins, and said he was a traitor, and that they would never serve under him again.

At 12 o'clock the rebels burned our barracks and marched us via Jacksonville to Gardner's Station, on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, a distance of 16 mi., where we camped for the night, Lieutenants Hawkins and Helmer during the n night made their escape."

And the rest is found in Peggy Scott-Hol1y's account of the march to Andersonville prison. My great-grandfather and his brother reached Andersonville by April 24th. They stayed there until some time after August 9th, when they were transferred to Fort Lawton prison at Millen, Georgia. In Thomas A. Ward's pension it says in the record that he died of diarrhea which he contracted in August at Andersonville prison. It also it says he died there by reason of exposure and bad treatment by rebel authorities. The story passed down by my great-grandfather to my mother said that "the Homemade Yankees" were taken tied down over ant beds and molasses was poured on them." There were two soldiers of Company B witnessed the fact that Thomas A. Ward died at Fort Lawton prison. They were previously mentioned Joseph Spires and William Rufus Bloodworth. Other persons whom I am aware died at Andersonville were their uncle James 0. Greer, James Greer, John A. Neighbors their first cousin's spouse, also not previously mentioned was Robert Francisco private in Company B. whose grandfather is mentioned in the Early Settlers Page as a Revolutionary soldier of tremendous size.

My mother whose father was a minister in the Church of God, Anderson ,Indiana, passed down to her story of what happened when his father Joseph Riley Ward and a group of men prayed for water. He said " After they prayed for water it came up out of the ground." This was told me at the age of 12 by my mother. Being the average 12 year-old I doubted it. When I was an adult I looked to historical accounts for truth if any of the story told to me by my mother . I asked my mother the name of the prison. She said that she it was Andersonville. With this I went to the Fresno County Library and checked out History of Andersonville Prison by Ovid L. Futch. In this book it says, "During the spring of 1864 few prisoners started holding prayer meetings and attempting to preach, handed by mid -July these meetings have attracted a large following. It became more less customary to hold a prayer meetings and preaching services on alternate nights. These gatherings had no fixed location at dusk the song leaders would go to the spot decided for the particular night to start some familiar hymn, whereupon interested prisoners would assemble. T. J. Shepherd, an Ohio prisoner who did a good deal of the preaching, later estimated that possibly a hundred men were converted as a result of the meetings with he was connected. (My great-grandfather says he was not a Christian until he was at Andersonville.) Also active in the services was Boston Corbett, later famous as slayer of John Wilkes Booth. Prominent song leaders were Sgt. B. N. Waddell of Kenton, Ohio, David Atherton of New York, and J. C. Turner of Townline, Lucerne County, Pennsylvania. In addition to prayer meetings and preaching services, pious prisoners who conducted funeral ceremonies, for an organization to care for the, and meet on Sunday mornings to study the Bible in an " Andersonville Sunday School." When a heavy August (9TH) rain opened a fresh spring of water just inside the west deadline a short to distance north of the creek, many prisoners considered it is the result of divine intervention in answer to their prayers, and called the fount "Providence Spring." Present-day visitors to Andersonville Park may still drink of its cool, free-flowing water." This book was written in 1968. The prisoners called it "Providence Spring" because of the life giving water it provided. There were stories also told of lightning hitting that spot during the thunderstorm the night before. In a telegram sent to Richmond Virginia General Winder urges the Confederate government to send reinforcements quick. He finds himself in a position of having a stockade with two wide gaps in it. The guards are standing guard 24 hours a day while the slaves are replacing the pine logs into the ground about 5 ft.. His fear is that the 10,000 union prisoners will just walk out of stockade.

During the march of Sherman to the sea, they were moving prisoners around to different prisons. It was at this time that prisoners were removed from Andersonville and sent to various other prisons. There is another story told in the family that Thomas was sick and Joseph tried to help them but just couldn't save him. Also I was told that Joseph Riley Ward lamented that Thomas had gone so far and ended up dying so close to the time of freedom. Other family members also said that they actually escaped on the journey and when they went to someone's house for food and that they turned them in. I believe this happened on route from Fort Lawton to Andersonville prison. They were probably closer to Fort Lawton when they were captured. The Confederate authorities would have wanted to punish them for escaping in front of the prisoners at Fort Lawton. The punishment for "Homemade Yankees previously stated probably happened to both of them. Since, Thomas A. Ward was already weakened by diarrhea contracted at Andersonville, he died there on or about November 3, 1864. it was about 30 days later Sherman's Army captured Fort Lawton. Joseph Riley Ward lived to be transported back to Andersonville.

He was paroled at Jacksonville Florida April 28th, 1865. Joseph Riley Ward reported to C. G. Bks. May 15/65. He was sent to Camp Chase Ohio May 18/65 where he reported May /22/65. Joseph was finally mustered out of service under General Order number 77 June 16/65. After the war, the death of his father Thomas J. Ward Jr. and the birth of my grandfather Thomas Riley Ward in 1874, in Benton County, he moved to Southern Illinois. Joseph Riley Ward died on March 31, 1897. The doctor's report made for pension records stated that it was from the effects of the imprisonment during the war. In another place on his pension record it says that at least one of the effects was Scurvy. Joseph Riley Ward was buried in Ward's cemetery just a few miles south of Marion in Illinois.

Submitted by Kimmel Kinion in collaboration with Danny Ward

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