William Davidson, 1834-1913, and wife Isabella (Chapman) Davidson, 1837-1908
The above photo of William was taken about 1911 at his home in Thetford Township, Genesee County, Michigan. He was born on August 1st, 1834, in Balgedie, Kinross, Scotland, and was the fifth of eight children born to James and Ann (Barclay) Davidson. During the 1841 census of the shire of Kinross, when he was six years old, William's birthplace was listed as Balgedie (the 1861 census also lists his birth place as Balgedie). His father was an "Agricultural Laborer" in 1841, and by 1851 the family had moved about 6 miles away to Strathmiglo, Fife, where James and several of his children were working in a linen mill (William, age 16, was a "Handloom Weaver"). William's future wife, Isabella Chapman, also worked in the mill (she was 14 and listed in the census as a "Linen Weaver").
Isabella (above) was the youngest of four children born to Robert and Margaret (Miller) Chapman. She was born on January 1st, 1837 in Strathmiglo. Her father was listed as a "Sawyer" (a person who saws timber) in the census of 1841, 1851, and 1861. the Fife Herald reported the death of Robert Chapman, "sawer" at Skene St. [in Strathmiglo] on the 19th of March 1862. (for old postcard photos of Strathmiglo and Skene Street see the biographical sketch of William and Isabella's son-in-law, David Richardson)
William and Isabella were married on December 31st, 1860, in Strathmiglo. The first of their seven children was born in Strathmiglo in September 1861. The family moved to Dundee, Angus (or Forfarshire) in the early 1860s where their next two children were born, but they returned to Strathmiglo before the late 1860s when their last four children were born. William and Isabella followed traditional Scottish naming tradition (first born male named for his father's father, second born male named for mother's father, first born female named for her mother's mother, and second born female named for her father's mother). The children were:
In 1880 their oldest son, James, immigrated to the United States, and in 1884 the rest of the family followed. The family Bible was inscribed, "From the men of Skene Works to William Davidson upon leaving Scotland and going to America. 3 March 1884" (Skene Works was a linen weaving factory). A family story is that the ship which brough them to America sank while making the return voyage. Indeed, William and Isabella and their children (plus their son-in-law, David Richardson) arrived in the port of New York on 5 April 1884 on the steamship "State of Florida". This same steamer sank in the middle of the Atlantic on the 18th of April 1884 resulting in the deaths of 135 people The engraving below was made by a survivor of that shipwreck:
According to a biographical sketch of his son, Robert, in the "History of Genesee Co., Mich." 1916, by Edwin Wood, his father (William), "was born in Strathmiglo, Scotland, where he was reared and learned the trade of weaver, which he followed for a livelihood. Isabelle Chapman was also born and reared in that town and there they were married. In 1884, when their son, Robert C., was 14 years old, they immigrated to the United States, proceeding directly to Flint, where the father worked in the mills there for 6 months, then bought a farm in the northeastern corner of Thetford Twp., where he spent the rest of his life."
The following photo taken around 1905 shows William and Isabella in front of their barn being constructed on their dairy farm. William is pictured holding the reins of the two horses, and the ladies seated (left to right) are: William's wife, Isabella; Pearl Fisher (daughter-in-law of William and Isabella's daughter, Ann Davidson Fisher); Rena Britting (Ann Davidson Fisher's step-daughter), and Isabella Richardson (daughter of William and Isabella's daughter, Margaret Davidson Richardson).
This same group is in front of their farm house in the following photo (William and Isabella are seated on the porch and standing on the porch [L to R] are Pearl, Isabella Richardson, and Rena):
The following photo of Isabella with her daughter, Margaret (on the left) and Margaret's daughter, Isabella (Richardson) Adair (center), was apparently taken shortly before Isabella died at the age of 70 on August 1, 1908.
The following photo was taken on the porch of William's farm home in 1911. Beside William are his daughter (Margaret Davidson Richardson), his granddaughter (Isabella Richardson Adair), and his great-granddaughter (Margaret Adair Tozer, who was born in 1909).
The following photo of William and Isabella's farm home was taken in 2011 (one hundred years after some of the above photos). On the porch is William and Isabella's great-great-grandson, Robert Adair. The house is located at 14377 Vassar Rd., Millington, Mich. After William died the farm was taken over by his son David Davidson. David died at the age of 49 in 1929, and David's only child, Donald Davidson, continued to live there into the 1990's (he died in 1999. Because his only child had died at the age of 28 there were no heirs to take over the farm).
William died at the age of 79 on January 29, 1913. He and Isabella were buried in Thetford Township Cemetery, which is where six of their seven children were also buried.
© 2008 - , Thomas D. Adams