A few years ago, we both had a renewed interest in our respective ancestry. As Chuck’s father’s condition worsened in 2011, we had the opportunity to ask him lots of questions before we lost him. It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that Lori bought me a subscription to Ancestry.com, however, and some of the things we subsequently learned would have been immeasurably fun to relate to Dad.
One of those things that we learned is that we have an American Revolutionary War hero in our family tree. It’s possible that Dad knew or had heard this at some point, but perhaps it had been forgotten. To make this little tidbit that much more fun, it’s through this war hero’s line that Chuck found he is actually also distantly related to his best friend from high school.
The ancestor was General William Lee Davidson. He was a General in the North Carolina militia (not the American Continental Army). He began the war as adjutant to North Carolina’s General Griffith Rutherford, and was promoted to Major of the 4th North Carolina Regiment in 1776. He encamped with Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge, but was subsequently without a command. He served as Griffith’s Second in Command and was severely wounded at the Battle of Colson’s Mill in 1780. Recovering, he missed the Battle of Camden where Griffith was captured by the British, resulting in Davidson’s promotion to General and assumption of command of Griffith’s militia. Davidson was ordered to prevent the British Army under Lord Cornwallis from entering Charlotte, and at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford, General Davidson was killed–shot through the heart with a rifle ball–as he tried to rally his troops as the British arrived at the ford.
The British ultimately won the Battle of Cowan’s Ford. Later that evening, Davidson’s officers found and recovered his naked body: his clothing had been pilfered by British troops. He was buried in nearby Hopewell Presbyterian Cemetery, where we made our last stop on our winter road trip. The city of Davidson, North Carolina, and nearby Davidson College are both named after him.
In 2001, General William Lee Davidson’s wallet was returned to the United States. The British troops who had taken it from his body had brought it back to Britain, and for 220 years it had been held at the Public Records Office in London.
Just for fun, here’s the William Lee Davidson-to-Chuck line:
William Lee Davidson
William Lee Davidson, II (son)
Mary Jane Davidson Valverde (daughter)
Manuela Leat Valverde Pol (daughter)
Annie Jane Pol Ros (daughter)
Pol Mikel Ros (son)
Cleve Ros (son)
Chuck Ros (son)
Making General William Lee Davidson Chuck’s 5th Great Grandfather.
Ancestry research is yet another great reason to travel. Stay tuned for more interesting ancestry tidbits (hopefully).