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October 9, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notable: Alexander Smith

 Alexander Cheatwood Smith. Courtesy Bell Family Collection. 

Digital restoration by Robert Harris.

On July 5, 1774, my ancestor Alexander Smith received 390 acres in Buckingham County, Virginia from then Governor Dunmore. Price: Forty shillings of good and lawful money. Located on Walton’s Fork of the Slate River, his neighbors were among others, the Patteson family.

When I first learned I had a Smith line, my response was: “This is going to be a nightmare.” With some help from my cousins, my work turned out to be remarkably easy. If you are the only Smith in the neighborhood, tracing the family is not so hard.

Alexander Cheatwood Smith (1790–1839), above, was the grandson of Alexander Smith. Born in Buckingham County, he grew to be a very successful merchant in Cartersville, Cumberland County, Virginia.

14 Comments

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  1. Joanne Yeck / Jan 18 2019 9:35 am

    Les and Bill,

    I’m delighted you are able to have an exchange here at Slate River Ramblings. Others may benefit in the future. Thanks for sharing both your questions and your expertise!

    Joanne

  2. Les Campbell / Jan 15 2019 8:25 pm

    I’m currently trying to use land tax records to sort why/how my Drucilla Scott’s land ended up tied in with land of William T. Davidson.

    William T. Davidson was b. ca. 1790 in Buckingham VA. The first time I see him with land notation comments is 1820, where he lists:

    79 acres on Holliday
    42 acres on Slate River, both entries noted with “pt. Sam’l Smith’s (est), his interest as a legatee.”

    Drusilla Scott has 48 acres of land listed as “dower for life”
    Pamelia Smith has 102 acres on Holliday Hills and 41 acres on Slate, both listed as “for life”.

    Then, in 1828, William T. Davidson is listed with his original two land entries from 1820, but a new one that says: “128 acres, Broad Branch, Ann Davidson’s Dower in William Smith’s estate”.

    Pamelia Smith and Drucilla Scott’s land entries are unchanged.

    In 1831, William T. Davidson adds one more entry, 100 acres on the “main road” conveyed by Pamelia Smith, reducing her holdings to 41 acres. Drucilla Scott’s 48 dower acres are unchanged.

    Everyone’s holdings maintain until 1839 (by this time, Drusilla Scott was between 85 and 94 years old, not an age where you begin developing a new farm plot), and we have:

    Drusilla Scott owning 192 acres “for life”, with the note that “Permelia included in William T. Davidson’s land” and a clarifying note by Pamelia Smith’s name in 1840 that said: “The land formerly charged to Pamelia Smith was her dower in the estate of Samuel Smith, dec’d, and is included in the land charged to William T. Davidson.”

    So, the question is, Drusilla Scott, after the liquidation of her late husband’s estate (Joseph Scott) by 1813 had a 48 acre “dower for life”. Then she appears to have gotten the 100-102 acres that Pamelia Smith had conveyed to William T. Davidson in 1831, as well as Pamelia’s 41 acres on which she lived. Presumably she died in 1840, as she is never mentioned in land records again that I have yet found .

    Adding these parcels together, you get within 1 acre of 192 acres, which is what Drucilla had in 1839 and the records make it clear that it came from the part of William T. Davidson’s land that was from Pamelia Smith.

    Drusilla presumably didn’t buy this land, she was very poor and praying a pension from the government for Joseph Scott’s Revolutionary War service, so…why/how did she suddenly end up with 143 acres of land she didn’t buy, but that clearly was tied up in the Smiths/Davidsons using dowry law?

    She named two children at least, with the middle name “Childress”, so the current thought is that her maiden name was Childers or Childress (she spelled it both ways in the same document), but this progression of land indicates a tie to the Smiths of which I was unaware til I started laying all this out over time.

    I haven’t done a great job of explaining it and I’ve left out many years where there was no change to anyone’s respective land holdings, but that’s the high points.

    I don’t know enough about Virginia land law to make a reasonable guess as why Drusilla Scott got the land at the end of her life.

    I had originally thought Drucilla was a Childress name because of a Drury and Priscilla Childers, but learned that Drucilla is also a name in the Alexander Smith line, I believe. Certainly Drusilla Scott’s seeming to get land that was originally dower in Smith estates suggests a relationship to the Smiths somehow.

    Her oldest child, Mary “Molly” Smith, born in 1775, married Richard Hardiman Smith, son of Robert Smith.

    I’m new to Buckingham county research & realize the magnitude of the record loss, but I can’t put all the pieces of the puzzle together on this land stuff.

    Thanks,

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 16 2019 9:05 am

      Les,

      Welcome to Slate River Ramblings and challenging research in Buckingham County. Explore the archives. There is a lot of content here that may be of help to you.

      Perhaps a Smith/Scott/Davidson researcher will see this and can be of some assistance. I will also write to you, privately.

      Happy ancestor hunting ~

      Joanne

      • Bill Davidson / Jan 16 2019 11:51 am

        William T. Davidson was a member of my Davidson family (which traces back to James City Co., VA by 1682). I will send a separate e-mail to the requestor in the very near future with information based on my research. This family included the Josiah Davidson, Junior who married Elizabeth Hardiman (a surname that was mentioned by the requestor).

    • Bill Davidson / Jan 16 2019 4:38 pm

      Les, From memory, William T. Davidson was apparently married twice, and one wife was apparently Permelia Smith (the earlier wife was s Elizabeth unknown, as I recall). William’s brother Josiah Davidson, Junior married Elizabeth Hardiman (moved to Limestone Co., AL), and one of their daughters married a Samuel Smith (almost certainly from the same overall Smith family). In addition, there was a Humphrey Smith who married Mary Childers and their son John Smith married a Jane Childers from that same overall Childers family.

      My “best educated guess” is that Drusilla/Drucilla was probably a Miss Smith….whose parents have simply not been proven….who was somehow out of the above overall Humphrey Smith family (and probably closely related to Mrs. Permelia (Smith) Davidson). That coukd explain the “land connections” that you are seeing.

      William T. Davidson and Josiah Davidson, Junior were sons of Josiah Davidson, Senior and Rebecca Giles. Josiah “Senior” has a brother who was named Giles Davidson (served in the Rev. War and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis), and as I recall, Giles Davidson was associated with Joseph Scott

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 16 2019 4:56 pm

        Thanks, Bill!

        Joanne

      • Les Campbell / Jan 16 2019 6:29 pm

        Bill and Joanne, thanks for the welcome and the information. I realized belatedly that I had probably posted this in the wrong place, but it does have enough of a Smith tie-in that perhaps it may be excused.

        Bill, I think your guess is probably on point. When it comes to land records, I am just presuming the lists are of living individuals unless it says (est) or “estate” beside the name, thus we may be talking about two William T. Davidsons, because Permelia Smith was conveying land (whatever that means in regard to familial ties to land, ie is at sale or a small amount of cash & a ‘love and affection’ sort of thing?) because they were listed contemporaneously in the tax lists right up until Pamelia disappeared around 1840. In fact, I believe she wasn’t even on the 1840 list, but they shoehorned an entry in where her name had been with the note that part of her land had been included with William T. Davidson’s. I have no idea who the Ann Davidson was to William T Davidson, when he was taxed for land that was Ann’s dower in William Smith’s estate.

        You’re correct, Giles Davidson was a neighbor-in-arms to Joseph Scott and Richard H. Smith testified in Drucilla’s pension application (which is listed as R9290 in the index of Rev War pensions, but the bulk of which was located in the National Archives in 2017 contained in the records of the 29th Congress, where her representative, E. W. Hubard, read it into the congressional record and forwarded all her documentary info to the Committee on Pensions, where it remained from 1847 until today, including Drucilla’s bible page where some of the names of her children are listed: Moses Scott, a William (Childers) Scott, Mary “Molly” Childress Scott, the oldest, who married Richard Hardiman Smith.

        Richard Hardiman Smith’s testimony was disallowed as was Captain John Morgan’s because they were both boys at the time of the Revolutionary War and only had “hearsay” evidence of Joseph Scott’s military service. Richard H. Smith said in his September 1840 testimony that he was aged 78 years of Buckingham County Virginia , that in the year of 1780 his father Robert Smith, Giles Davidson3 and Joseph Scott, the late husband of Drucilla Scott, marched from the County of Buckingham to the Albemarle Barracks for a tour of 2 – 3 months duty before returning home.

        Joseph Scott’s land was near William Spencer and he conveyed 150 acres to Spencer in 1788. Joseph & Drucilla had another son, Samuel Haden or Hayden Scott, b. 1792, their last child, who had a son named Spencer R. Scott, so I suspect one of the Scott daughters married a Spencer son along the way as well.

        Thanks again for the information and assistance. If these ramblings are too long for this medium let me know and I can post them in another place. I think I may have sent Joanne Joseph Scott’s pension record as well, but I don’t remember. You have to read the file from National Archives in addition to the one that’s recorded at Fold3 that is incomplete (simply because Drucilla had sent off all her primary documentation and it got lost in a bureaucratic shuffle). She never got her pension and in 1846 or 1847, her 192 acres of “for life” land is denoted as being purchased by the Archibald Austin estate and Drucilla disappears from the records.

        Joseph Scott is equally mysterious. He is listed on the earliest tax list available as “another white male over 21” in the household of “Hue” / Hugh Scott, who disappears from the record around 1787 with not many clues after that, although if there’s a May surname in the area, there was a man named Hugh Scott May who lived in B’ham for many years.

        This is all new to me as an avenue of research based on a scrap of information written down by an old woman in 1952 who was horrified to see a cemetery in Memphis being bulldozed for a housing addition and stopped to transcribe the few remaining stones, one of which said the person buried there was born in Buckingham county Virginia. (She was Araminta Scott, the daughter of Silas Scott & Nancy ?). A “Silous Scott” is listed on the Bible page Drucilla Scott sent to Washington to support her pension application and is my 4th great grandfather, born 04 Oct 1778.

        Once again, thanks so much for all the information.

        Les Campbell

      • Bill Davidson / Jan 16 2019 6:55 pm

        I am aware of only one William T. Davidson in the area. Y DNA testing proves that his family is part of my Davidson family. I am away from home right now, but when I get back I will check my notes for further information. I recall that William T. Davidson had a daughter who was named Permelia Davidson, but Permelia’s own apparent children also had the surname of “Davidson”….so I have wondered if she perhaps had those children out-of-wedlock….but this deserves more research.

        One of William’s daughters mentioned her mother in some document, but that mother was refered to as Elizabeth instead of Permelia. I have wondered if maybe Elizabeth’s full name was Ann Elizabeth ….and maybe she was the Ann Davidson who you mentioned….but that is just “grasping at straws.”

        By the way, I am also a Childers descendant. My ggggg-grandfather Hezekiah Davidson married Tabitha Childers. Hezekiah (born circa-1720) was an apparent uncle of Giles and Josiah Davidson, Senior (the father of Giles and Josiah was the David Davidson who was in the 1764 Buckingham County., VA tithe list). David had other brothers who were Edward and William Davidson (also on the 1764 Buckingham tithe list).

      • Bill Davidson / Jan 17 2019 9:55 am

        Les….my memory was off. My file shows that William T. Davidson married Ann Smith, and she was a daughter of Samuel Smith and Permelia “Pamela.” William had also apparently been married to an Elizabeth. One of William’s daughters wasnamed Permelia Davidson. Sorry for the error.

      • Bill Davidson / Jan 17 2019 1:37 pm

        Les….I wanted to conclude by saying that the Smith DNA Project shows that the “early” Humphrey Smith (married Childers) of Buckingham….and the somewhat later Alexander Smith (married Phelps) of Buckingham….were members of the same overall Smith family. This was determined by the existence of “matching Y DNA” shared by living male Smith descendants of each of those two ancestors.

        While probably not important to your research, William T. Davidson’s daughters Permelia Davidson and Martha “Pattie” Davidson both had children whose last names were “Davidson.” Longtime (and highly respected) Buckingham researcher Ruby Talley Smith came to this same conclusion. I do not know if those two women married Mr. Davidsons, versus if they had those children out-of-wedlock, versus if they took-in children from other families and reared them with the surname of “Davidson.” I have seen all three scenarios in my research on various families over the years,

  3. Bill Davidson / Oct 10 2017 10:44 am

    I see on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect that some show Alexander Cheatwood Smith as a son of Alexander Smith and Diana Phelps, while some others show instead that Alexander Cheatwood Smith was a son of Jacob Smith and Mary Ann Bailey….where that Jacob Smith was a SON of Alexander Smith and Diana Phelps. In addition, some show that the older Alexander Smith was a son of a Shadrack Smith (whose father is not listed) and Mary Byrd, while others show instead that the older Alexander Smith was a son of John Smith and Jane Childress….and a grandson of Humphrey Smith and Mary Childress. I am not sure what is correct, but maybe other readers know for sure. As I recall, a descendant of Humphrey Smith named Samuel Smith married a Davidson woman in a “branch” of my Davidson family that was out of Buckingham Co., VA (that “branch.” headed by Josiah Davidson, Junior and Elizabeth Hardeman/Hardiman, had moved to Limestone Co., AL).

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 10 2017 10:58 am

      Bill, So we are Smith cousins. Did we know that? I’m confident that Alexander Cheatwood Smith is the son of Jacob Smith and Mary Ann Bailey and that Jacob is the son of Buckingham County pioneer, Alexander Smith. Thanks for the details about your line. Joanne

      • Bill Davidson / Oct 10 2017 2:40 pm

        I am not a descendant of that Smith family; they just married into another “branch” of my overall Davidson family. That “branch” of my family traces back to the David Davidson who was on the Buckingham Co., VA tithe list in 1764….and my ggggg-grandfather Hezekiah Davidson (died in Cumberland Co., VA around 1793) was an apparent BROTHER of that David Davidson (Y DNA testing and “conventional research” make it clear that David and Hezekiah were closely related in some way, and I suspect that they were brothers….ditto the William Davidson “Senior” and Edward Davidson who were also on that same 1764 Buckingham tithe list). If your Alexander Smith was truly a descendant of the Childress/Childers family, however, then we are probably “blood cousins” via that Childers family….since my ggggg-grandmother (Hezekiah’s wife) was Mrs. Tabitha (Childers) Davidson (a daughter of Abraham Childers “III” and Elizabeth Cannon).

        I am now reminded that the Samuel Smith who married (as his second wife, as I recall) Mary Ann Davidson in my overall Davidson family was a son of Uriah Smith, and that Uriah Smith was a son of a Robert Smith. Y DNA testing shows that this Robert Smith was somehow related to Humphrey Smith/John Smith/Alexander Smith/Jacob Smith/Alexander Cheatwood Smith (if that is truly the correct lineage)….but it appears that no one is positive as to just HOW Robert Smith was related to them (but I have not done a thorough review of the available information).

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 10 2017 4:59 pm

      Bill, I’m fairly confident that Alexander Smith is the son of John Smith of Goochland County. John Smith’s will, 28 February 1757, is recorded in Cumberland County Will Book 1, p. 125. It names a son “Alacksander” and a son “Childers,” supporting the belief that John’s wife was Jane Childers.

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