December 10: Gen. William Davidson

Worship and War Described our Featured Presbyterian Today
by Rev. David T. Myers

Patriotism and Presbyterianism went together in the early days of our country. Mix in Scottish stock and Irish heritage, the stage was set for liberty and justice for all. And so, George Davidson, like so many others around the early to mid seventeen hundreds, left Scotland and Ulster to travel via ship to the new shores of America, and specifically Pennsylvania, around Lancaster County. In this new land, William Davidson, George’s son and the focus of this post, was born in 1746. The family, after a while, was urged to migrate to the frontier so as to provide a buffer against the French and Indian tribes. Traveling down the Great Wagon Road, they arrived in North Carolina, and set up a tavern, near this colonial “highway.” Along with others of the same faith, Centre Presbyterian Church was established for their worship. For young William Davidson, the Bible and Calvinism was his home religion.

School for the young boy likely took place by classical education located at Sagaw Creek Presbyterian Church. The pastor of that historic church was none other than Alexander Craighead, whose earlier ministry has been dealt with in these pages.

Young Willliam at age 13 lost his father in death in 1759 or 1760, to be reared by a forty year old friend John Brevard, among others. This author mentions his name, due to future references of his place in William’s life.

In his late teens, William escorted the governor of North Carolina into Cherokee country to settle a land dispute. They were successful in doing so, and William returned a veteran to his home.

On December 10, 1767, twenty-one year old William was given permission to marry Mary Brevard, daughter of John Brevard, his former guardian. Coming from French Huguenot stock, she proved to be the perfect bride for this young future American General in the Continental Army. Later. Despite his growing family, William joined the Revolutionary forces in North Carolina. He would serve there and up north, fighting in Germantown, Pennsylvania and later experiencing the hardships of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. A full list of his battles are not possible in this short post, but they were many, and his rise in rank, until he became a General.

It was at Cowan’s Ford in North Carolina that he was killed in battle on February 1, 1781. His wife was left alone to care of their six children. She remarried after a time and settled in Tennessee. William is remembered by a town and a county and a Presbyterian college, namely Davidson College which is named after this American hero.

Words to Live By:
Scripture reminds us that it is appointed for each of us to die. Certainly, it was in God’s wise and holy providence to take away this Christian Presbyterian Revolutionary officer to Himself at a young age of 35. Let us Christian Presbyterians alive now serve Him with all of our strength in whatever calling He has led us into this life, and leave the time of our departure from this earth to Him. Our God doesn’t make mistakes.


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