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January 29, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Ghosts: The Ghost of Col. John Cabell


In Virginia Ghosts by Marguerite DuPont Lee, the author goes on to tell the story of Col. John Cabell’s return to Green Hill:

“Long after his death in 1815 one night the family and some friends were trying ‘table rappings.’ After calling for several Spirits, someone asked for Col. John Cabell.  Again and again the mortal demanded the return of Colonel Cabell.  No response at length caused him to exclaim, ‘Oh, he was a hot tempered, contrary man when living and he is the same man when dead.’  At this moment the large mahogany-table with heavy marble top rose up bodily high into the air, flinging the candles to the floor and crashing down again, scattered those formerly gathered around it never to gather again!”

Do you have a Buckingham County ghost story to share?  If necessary, I will change names to protect mischievous Spirits!


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  1. Bill Davidson / Apr 22 2015 12:34 pm

    The Baker W. Davidson (married Miss Cobb/Cobbs) mentioned in one of the posts in this “message thread” was a son of Baker Davidson and Elizabeth “Betsy” Womack and a grandson of the William Davidson who married Martha Baker (this last couple left the Prince Edward/Buckingham Co., VA area and moved to Botetourt Co., VA around 1769 or so). I had long-suspected (incorrectly, as it turned-out) that this was part of my overall Davidson family (a “branch” of my family owned the Davidson Orchard in Buckingham), but a Y DNA test on a living male Davidson descendant of William Davidson and Martha Baker shows a match to DNA “Family 16” at, while my Davidson family is the unrelated DNA “Family 10.”

    My Davidson family was in James City Co., VA by at least 1682 (and the family came to America from Holland), while the unrelated DNA “Family 16” had some other known members who were in PA in the early-mid-1700s, prior to coming to VA (ditto the above-referenced Baker family). The William Davidson, Senior who was on the 1764 Buckingham tithe list was a member of my family (and he obviously moved to Pittsylvania Co., VA by 1767….and some of my own “Y DNA matches” are from that line in Pittsylvania). My “best educated guess” is that the William Davidson, Junior who was on that same 1764 Buckingham tithe list was PROBABLY the unrelated William Davidson who married Martha Baker ( “Senior” and “Junior” were sometimes used on these old records simply to differentiate between two unrelated men with the same name). There was also a third William Davidson on that 1764 Buckingham tithe list who was living in the same household as a David Davidson, and they were also certainly members of my DNA “Family 10” (David was a likely brother of William Davidson, Senior, and third apparent brother was the Edward Davidson mentioned below….and all three apparent brothers had lived close to one another earlier, per the Goochland tithe list back in the 1740s).

    IF the above William Davidson, Junior was actually NOT the same William Davidson who married Martha Baker, then the one who married Martha must have “swooped-in” like Attila the Hun from some other area and married Martha Baker. By the way, the Alexander Davidson who also on the 1764 Buckingham tithe list was almost certainly a member of yet a THIRD unrelated Davidson family, and there is some pretty good evidence that he was probably a member of DNA “Family 12.” That Alexander Davidson left Buckingham and moved to Bedford/Campbell Co., VA by the 1770s….but so did the Edward Davidson (and Edward’s son David Mosby Davidson) of my DNA “Family 10.” Without Y DNA testing, properly “segregating” the various unrelated Davidson/Davison/Davisson families who were in the same areas of VA (and also other states) would probably be impossible (ditto other common names like Brown, Smith, Thompson, etc.).

    To make the Buckingham research even more challenging, some known Davidson/Davison members of the unrelated DNA “Family 7” were also in Buckingham by the early-1790s (like the Stephen Davidson/Davison/Davisson who married Lucy Neighbours/Neighbors; that Stephen Davison should not be confused with the unrelated (and older) Stephen Davidson who was a member of my DNA “Family 10”). So…. at least FOUR different/unrelated families with that same general surname were all in Buckingham before 1800! Only my DNA “Family 10” Davidson family seems to have come directly to VA from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (in the 1600s), while the other three referenced families all seem to have come to VA from PA in the 1700s.

    • Joanne Yeck / Apr 22 2015 1:08 pm

      Bill, Many thanks for this update on the DNA results for Davidson family. DNA projects are enriching our knowledge of an increasing number of Buckingham family. Harris, for example, is another tangled one! Joanne

  2. Harry Stuart Holman / Feb 1 2013 4:11 pm

    Dear Readers:

    We are very interested in the post of Mr. Davidson. First, we see the connection of a number of us to his ancestor Tabitha Childers Davidson, daughter of Abraham Childers. It seems to be a proven fact that Abraham Childers was the brother of Jane Childers, the wife of John Smith of Cumberland. John Smith and Jane Childers Smith had a number of children including Alexander Smith, who married a Buckingham girl named Diana Phelps of Phelps Falls on James River (near the John Hartwell Cocke Bridge on U. S. 15). They settled at an early date on Bent Creek, Buckingham County (now Appomattox). Their son was Jacob Smith of Buckingham County, ancestor of a number of our readers, including myself and Dr. Yeck, who coordinates this work.

    We are interested in the name Davidson because of our memory of Mr. Davidson who owned the extensive Davidson’s Orchards along Route 15 in Buckingham. Also, Baker W. Davidson has married a sibling of Bishop N. H. Cobbs–first Episcopal Bishop of Alabama. The name Cobbs is an old one in Buckingham. Thomas Willis Cobbs owned an extensive plantation on James River shortly after the Revolution. A contemporary and cousin of his Thomas Addison Cobbs owned a plantation in Buckingham as well. His son Thomas had about 2,000 acres on Slate River and was a large slave holder. His widow, Nancy Watson Cobbs, was still living in Buckingham in 1850 and was one of the county’s richest residents. The latter mentioned Thomas Cobbs was the grandfather of the notable U. S. Senator Thomas Cobb of Georgia–the one for whom Cobb County Georgia was named. The famous Howell Cobb of Georgia–statesman, Confederate General, etc.–was also of this family. Because of my descent from Thomas Cobbs (d. 1729), their kinsman, I am especially interested in seeing more posts or a personal correspondence with Mr. Davidson–our newly found kinsman.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 1 2013 4:14 pm

      Thank you, Harry!

  3. Harry Stuart Holman / Jan 30 2013 5:23 pm

    Dear Reader:

    Col. John Cabell was the son of Dr. William Cabell of “Union Hill,” Amherst County, who was the founder of the American branch of this family. Cabell was the progenitor of a large group of notable folks including a Founder of the University of Virginia,Gov. of Virginia, U. S. Senator, and a famous American novelist. Dr. Cabell himself was an early pioneer of the Western Piedmont, where he took up large tracts of land in a time when there was almost no population living in these areas. In later life he served as a personal physician to Patrick Henry. Cabell emigrated from Devonshire, England with his three first cousins: Maj. William Mayo, Joseph Mayo of “Powhatan Seat” (near Richmond), and Joseph Hooper of “Hooper’s Rock,” Cumberland County. The first mentioned was a premier surveyor and was remembered for surveying the Cities of Richmond and Petersburg, and surveyed the “Dividing Line” separating Virginia and North Carolina. Some of his maps were so marvelous he was invited to belong to the Royal Academy which had included some illustrious folks like Sir Isaac Newton. Maj. Mayo’s daughter was Anne Mayo Carrington, wife of Col. George Carrington of “Boston Hill.” Cumberland County, who chaired the committee which produced the famous “Cumberland Instructions for American independence,” which prompted Virginia to be the first Colony to call for American independence. The second immigrant mentioned, Joseph Mayo, established himself at a country estate tradition says was upon the land whereon Chief Powhatan had his lodge. This plantation of about 1,200 acres, called Powhatan Seat, located about two miles south-east of the Capitol–on James River– was in the Mayo family until about ninety years ago. Among his descendants were Mary Marshall Moseley, wife of Spotsford Lewis Moseley–both of Buckingham County. The third cousin to emigrate with Dr. Cabell, Joseph Hooper, who settled at “Hooper’s Rock,” Cumberland County was an early resident on James River and possessed an early Royal grant for land near Willis Mt., Buckingham County. This tract was called “Hooper’s Mt.” It was owned by that family from about 1739 until recently when it was sold to Mr. Gene Dixon. The Hoopers of “Hooper’s Mt.” included Col. George Hooper, who commanded the Buckingham County militia during the American Revolution. He had a large family of children including Elizabeth Hooper Elcan–progenitor of everyone in Buckingham who has borne that surname; Capt. Stephen Hooper of “Oak Grove,” Buckingham, the grandfather of Congressman Benjamin S. Hooper of Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District; and Capt. Benjamin Hooper of “Hooper’s Mt,” the ancestor of the person producing this account.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 30 2013 5:46 pm

      Harry, Many thanks for this great recitation of the marvelous Cabell family, complete with connections to Buckingham County and environs.

    • Bill Davidson / Jan 31 2013 11:00 am

      My ggggg-grandparents Hezekiah and Tabitha (Childers) Davidson were next-door neighbors of George Carrington in Cumberland Co., VA. It appears that Charles Davidson….who was out of another “branch” of my overall Davidson family that lived over in Buckingham Co., VA….apparently became an employee of some kind (an overseer, perhaps) for the Carringtons (there is a record in the late-1780s, as I recall, where Charles Davidson had his taxes paid by the George Carrington estate). Hezekiah Davidson (died about 1793) was the constable in Cumberland Co. VA for a while.

      In the mid-late-1790s. the above Charles Davidson (who was the second husband of a Miss Judith Benning) took his widowed mother (possibly step-mother, per my research) Mrs. Agnes (Mosby) Davidson to court, and Charles was trying to obtain one or more of the slaves that his father Edward Davidson (born circa-1715; died about 1794 in Campbell Co., VA) had left in his estate. My gggg-grandfather Philemon Davidson (son of Hezekiah) was called to be a witness for his cousin Charles Davidson in this case, and Colonel Joseph Cabell (not to be confused with his apparent brother Col. John Cabell) was also involved in that case (as was an Elizabeth Brown….I believe that they were both just witnesses).

      Mrs. Agnes (Mosby) Davidson died in the late-1790s in Campbell Co., VA, before this case could be settled, and Charles Davidson moved to Georgia around 1799 (and it appears that Edward Davidson’s slaves went to his five sons-in-law). Charles Davidson was closely associated with the Gilliam family in Cumberland Co., VA, and they were also neighbors of the Carringtons. I don’t recall that I ever determined just what the “connection” was between the family of Charles Davidson and Col. Joseph Cabell (and/or Elizabeth Brown), but I did not spent much time on that “detail.” If anyone is aware of a “close connection,” please let me know. Thanks!

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 31 2013 11:37 am

        Carrington seems to be a substantial family in central Virginia. Recently, I transcribed a letter written in 1860 referring to an “old Mrs. Carrington.” Apparently, she had been living in Nelson and had moved to Howardsville, Albemarle.

    • Linda Loftin / Jul 9 2015 9:56 am

      Harry, I just discovered this interesting post. George Hooper (1736-1799) and his wife Elizabeth Cooke Hooper were my 5th great-grandparents. My paternal grandmother was a Hooper. I learned new information, including the fact that George came to the Virginia Colony with his 3 cousins. Any additions to your story will be appreciated.

      • Bill Coleman / Jan 12 2016 8:24 am

        Regarding Col. George Hooper that lived in Arcanum, is there any evidence that route 633 (Rock Mill Road) was once named Hooper Road? I have a copy of a plat from 1853 that refers to route 633 as Hooper Road near Enonville but would like to corroborate this information. Thank you.

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 12 2016 8:41 am

        Bill, Thanks for posting. Perhaps, another Slate River Ramblings follower will know. Joanne

      • Harry Stuart Holman / Jan 13 2016 10:41 am

        Dear Linda,

        I am writing a new edition of my First Families of Virginia, which includes about thirty pages on Hoopers. You could be included, however, I do not know your line. I have almost a total listing of Col. Hooper’s grandchildren. I wonder which one is your 3rd great-grandparent. I descend from his youngest son, Capt. Benjamin Hooper (d. 1838) who married secondly Permelia Moseley in 1803. They lived at the original homeplace built by Col. Hooper which burned about 1845.

        You may contact me at or at (434) 848-2795. Thanks,

        Harry Stuart Holman

      • Linda Loftin / Jan 13 2016 12:40 pm

        I will contact you at your email address. Thanks for reaching out!

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