We have just completed an eleven day quest into engaging our history over five states and it’s been amazing. This blog is an overview of that trip with notations of where we will delve deeper, in future blogs, to share the detailed findings and experiences further.
In our quest to spread Richard Davis’s ashes in his most beloved places of his childhood in Eastern Washington (where the Davis clan ended it’s 250 year migration from East to West), we did a round about tour of California (to see family), Western and Eastern Washington (for memorial, seeing relatives, learning more of our history and spreading ashes), returning home for two days then on to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park for a Hensley Reunion touring Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. (We are related to Hensley’s of the famed Hensley settlement which is preserved to this day as a tourist destination inside of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)
The study of our Davis & Middleton families, in their undying curiosity of new lands and passion for freedom, spanning 300 plus years has been a great joy for our family to learn. We currently live in East Tennessee near the nexus of three states that our ancestors founded as trappers, scouts, militia, plantation owners and plantations indentured servants. We were always at the western most edge of the earliest frontier in America, the Virginia Territory. Through migrations over time, our ancestors were some of the first to settle Oregon and Washington, after a successful rout searching and finding gold during the great California gold rush.
So, with local proximity a blessing for us in East Tennessee to do our extensive research, it was a blessing to be able to spend time on the West side of this great country learning more about where our ancestors and more contemporary kin finished their great migration westward.
Below are the topics I will be delving deeply into in future blogs this week.
Topic One: The first topic we will write more about in the near future is our Davis family’s role in California by way of the gold rush and also buildings that are dedicated to the Davis family in San Francisco. This is important to us as we have a son who lives with his wife and our two grandchildren in San Francisco. Being that our son runs a design company in the heart of San Francisco that creates new visual skylines that help conceptualize future real estate and land use for California’s largest cities, it is in a way a “full circle” to understand those physical structures and spaces that were first established by our ancestors in the formation of California.
Topic Two: There is an interesting discovery we came across while in Eastern Washington. It is the realization that our Grandfather Frank B. Davis purchased a very large cemetery plot in Ione Washington, Northeastern tip of Washington state, where he alone is buried. His wife who died after him is not listed there, nor are any of his children. This was very sad for us all to realize that Frank B. had envisioned a “family” to be buried together yet he alone was there. Our niece is going to tackle this with the cemetery and we will from now on tend to this place and also do some sort of marker for all the descendants whereby Frank B. is never forgotten again. With that being said, topic two I will be writing about is where these others of Frank B. went. They went to Western Washington state in their later lives. I want to blog more on the Davis clan that settled Western Washington and our kin and their dreams of a Davis destination for generations to come in the Seattle area.
Topic Three: Our Davis and Middleton clan settled Eastern Washington state and western Idaho before they were states, but rather the Washington Territory. As was the case with our Davis family in Tennessee, our Davis line in the Washington Territory were building, clearing timber and logging, building roads, managing taverns/saloons, and standing up new communities in the vast wilderness before them. They were comfortable with whites and Indians alike, likely due to the fact we are part Indian in our roots and have for generations traded with, fought with and fought against the Powhatan, Shawnee, Cherokee and every Indian band moving west across the Oregon Trail and into the Washington Territory. Our Middleton line will also be part of this series of blogs as our Middleton family travelled from Kentucky just north of our Davis ancestors during the same period and also arrived in the Washington Territory early. Together both lineages carved a path and established deep roots in Eastern Washington.
Topic Four: The Cumberland Gap is an amazing historical place but tends to be ignored in contemporary times. It was the first opening west across the Appalachian range which runs from Maine to Alabama. 2019 is the 250th anniversary of Daniel Boone carving the path through the Cumberland Gap, later called the Wilderness Trail. Please go to this link to learn more about this amazing place by watching this breathtaking video of the park and our history. You will be happy that you did. Click here.
The Wilderness Trail was previously a buffalo trail and Indian path and was known by Indians as “the Indian War Path”. We spent three amazing days at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park for the Hensley yearly reunion (they are our kin).
Hensley Settlement sits atop Brush Mountain inside of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and is a real settlement of our ancestors that are preserved and tour-able to visitors from around the world. They do re-enactments here so that people can see how old Appalachian people lived. Click here to tour the settlement virtually.
We went to the park for the reunion, however, we are also related to Daniel Boone who carved the trail, we are related to Elisha Wallen/Walling whom many of these natural sites (mountains, streams, valleys) are named. They are named after him because he is considered one of the first “long hunters” who discovered these places on his long hunts for pelts, before the road was ever built. They lived alone in these mountains and/or with very few other men for months and up to 18 months without seeing any other white men.
We are also related to Richard Davis whom “Davis Tavern” is attributed to. In fact, at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Visitors Center there is a replica of Davis Tavern. Davis Tavern was the first and only establishment on the other side of Cumberland Gap in Kentucky. It was where everyone stopped on the Wilderness Trail to eat, sleep and drink. Indeed our family was the first.
Richard Davis was our first cousin many generations back and was Jefferson Davis’s Great Uncle. Richard Davis’s wife, Elizabeth Preston, was the daughter of Colonial William Preston, soldier in the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, he was one of George Washington’s best friends and literally saved his life from Indian attack in the French Indian War. He was also one of the thirteen signers of the Fincastle Resolutions, a predecessor to the Declaration of Independence. Additionally, when you stand atop Pinnacle Peak and look out across the Cumberland Mountains and down into the Tennessee Valley you look directly down on “Powell Valley”. Powell Valley is where our Aaron & Rachel Davis (cousin) kin established the first church in Tennessee in 1797, Davis Creek Primitive Baptist Church. Davis Creek was named after our family as well.
These are a few of the topics I will blog about this week in detail due to the extensive data in each topic and the supporting photography that brings these stories to life.
In closing, there is so much serendipity with this whole genealogical journey we have been on. What was most ironic in this eleven day tour is this: We planned the Western US trip to spread Richard Davis’s ashes (1944-2019). This is where our clan ended its great migration until Richard (Dick) and my husband Mike moved back to Tennessee (not knowing we had history in Tennessee because we didn’t know our history beyond Frank B. Davis). We didn’t know we were related to Hensley’s until quite recently and was only invited to the Cumberland Gap reunion immediately before our trip west. We literally had NO IDEA that our Davis clan was THE forefront establishment of the Great Wilderness Trail, where the entire western migration started and where both our Davis and Middleton lines went through. So our trip started with spreading contemporary Richard Davis’ ashes where our Davis clan ENDED, and our trip ended learning about Richard Davis Sr. (1740-1816) who had the the furthest most outpost west at the great Cumberland Gap where our journey BEGAN! Two Richard Davis’s same family (cousins) opposite ends of the migration, 200 years apart, all calling us home to know our roots. AMAZING!! It was the park ranger who told us this piece of our history. And yes, we were related to the park ranger, his great great grandmother was a Davis. Truly a blessing. In fact, we got to the Hensley Settlement tour late because we got lost. We wouldn’t even have stopped to meet this park ranger to tell us our history had we not gotten lost. So, this piece of learning was completely NOT PLANNED and just another example of how crazy amazing this whole research journey has been.
So, I collect rocks — and artifacts from special places. We now have rocks from where the Davis clan rested, in Ione, WA and a special rock from atop Pinnacle Peak at the Cumberland Gap very near where the original Davis Tavern stood. Together the rocks represent the geography and the true story etched in time, of the great migration of our Davis family. It appears Richard Davis keeps calling us home!! And, it is yet another example of the amazing “co-inky-dinks” from Dick Davis that we keep getting from “the other side”, we call it. This keeps happening as if Dick, Robin, and all the Davis and Middleton clan in heaven want us all to come back together as family so we don’t end up being left behind, like Frank B., alone in a cemetery – forgotten.
Forgotten NO LONGER! That was the wake up call we got on this trip and what our ancestors are telling us from heaven. I look forward to sharing the details of these events, pieces of history and photographs in the week to come.