Generation 1: Jonathan Davis (1750-1831) His Story

I had the opportunity to meet fellow descendants of Jonathan Davis (our 4th Great Grandfather) this week while in search of the “James Davis Bible” here in East Tennessee. The search for the Bible itself is a hysterical story as I took over the geneology/historical library for nearly seven hours, crashed the court house pulling up wills of the previous owner of the Bible, called relatives in the area saying, “surprise, we’re kin!”. Last, at the end of it all, I met fellow Davis kin who actually had a copy of the Davis Bible in manuscript form. Our new kin is also now helping track down who of her cousins, nieces and nephews actually has the actual Bible. LOL. I have also arranged so that we can go tour the original Poplar Creek land hopefully this weekend, as our kin still lives on it and our new kin grew up on it!! (I was proud of myself for one day’s worth of research at the Roane County, TN seat in Kingston. My husband could only laugh……knowing my research fetish.)

This Bible is the oldest written record of the history of our Davis genealogy that anyone is aware of. Out of respect for people living I will not mention names. But, what I can say, is that while I did not find the Bible itself, I did find the family member and the “transcript” of what is in the Bible which was an amazing achievement when in the a.m. I prayed that the Lord might lead me in that direction. I thought it was more of a “wing and a prayer” request.

So, the manuscript…….this is the story of Jonathan Davis.

He is my husband’s 4th Great Grandfather and father to James, whose grave stone we found this last weekend here in Roane County TN.

This story of Jonathan Davis was recorded by John E. Davis, July 7, 1998. These are his words.

These are the records of the Davis Family of Tennessee, Virginia and England. Records, while interesting, do little to tell the story of flesh-and-blood people; their trials, joys, heartaches, triumphs and failures. For that, one must place these individuals during their time in history to surmise the lives they led.

The Davis & Lockett Families of Roane County, Tennessee

When the record shows that Jonathan Davis and Elizabeth Chaney were married on September 1, 1776, what is not made clear is that they began their lives together during a time of great uncertainty and tumultuous change, highlighted by events on July 4th, 1776, less than two months before their wedding. As the Revolutionary War swirled around them, Jonathan and most of his Chaney brothers-in-law joined in the fighting, leaving Elizabeth at the home of her parents, Jacob and Sarah Chaney.

The record indicates their seventh child, James, was born in late July of 1789. It does not show that shortly after James’ birth, Jonathan and Elizabeth and their children left their homes, family and Virginia for the wilderness of Tennessee. They were separated by the Appalachian mountains that would not allow them to see their loved ones ever again.

As you read the records of these families, try to understand the history of the time, the real lives of real people and what they faced. Theirs is a story repeated countless times by other immigrants: Most poorly educated, lacking income and future prospects in the community where they were raised, crossing the Atlantic from the British Isles at the dawn of a new country, following old Indian paths and rivers to the West, where they hoped to make a new life for themselves and their children.

The story of the Davis and Lockett families of Roane County, Tennessee is a story of dates and records, certainly, but it is also the story of a new country, a young nation, and a proud people.

It is our story.

This manuscript shares the entire lineage of Jonathan’s son James, on down through the years, including our family way back. This was beautiful prose capturing the essence of a beautiful time in American history and a stout and resolute family – The Davis family.

For further detail, Jonathan and Elizabeth (Chaney) Davis settled along Poplar Creek, with some land still in possession of descendants. Here is a picture of the valley to highlight the beauty of place here.

Poplar Creek Valley Region In Roane County, TN

This is but a brief introduction into the first generation of Davis kin as we settled in Tennessee. We will be going further back in our genealogy to address the lives of Jonathan’s forefathers once DNA has been done to confirm what many speculate, that Jonathan Davis is the son of John Wyatt Davis and Jemima Jefferson. Why is DNA testing important to confirm this lineage? Because , if confirmed, that would make President Thomas Jefferson our sixth Great Uncle. The significance of this linkage of lineage would take us all the way back to being descendants of Princess Powatan and Indian Trader John R. Hughes (1635-1718). Princess Nicketti Powhatan is the alleged niece of Pocohantas and married a “white man” named Trader Hughes. There is so much history and intrigue to unpack with all this, it warrants DNA tests to confirm our Davis lineage and ties to the Jeffersons, Indian Princesses and many other diverse relations that shaped the first American frontier.

In closing, while I did not get my hands on the “actual” Bible this week in journey through Roane County, TN. I did get my hands on the manuscript transcription of what I believe came from the Davis Bible. And, I also found this, the actual page from the Bible itself that shows our 2nd Great Grandfather’s birth record.

The James Davis Bible, Jonathan’s Son Where Our 2nd Great Grandfather Is Listed, John Davis (1822)

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