in Plum Township
Venango County, Pennsylvania
By H.W. Strawbridge August 5, 1957
John Davison was born in Mercer County on May 14, 1803. His parents
were Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Davison who were descended from Irish Presbyterian ancestry.
John was reared on the farm and received a common school education.
Around 1818 he moved with his parents to Butler county.
His occupation was that of a potter prior to his removal to Venango County.
One day Jogn made a business trip to Franklin, and while there learned of
a 200-acre tract of land for sale in Plum Twp. Court was in session at the time, and a Mr. Lamberton from
Plum was serving as a juror. John made arrange-
ments to go home with Mr. Lamberton to look over his land. John stayed overnight in the Lamberton
home which is the present Boyd Lesh place.
The next morning he walked over the tract and was very pleased with it.
So he bought it at public sale in Franklin on June 16, 1828, for $3 per acre. It had belonged to the Michael Red estate
and this estate was in debt. Hence the reason for the public sale. The deed was made out on the following Aug.
John cleared a patch of land on the south end of the tract that fall and
planted it to wheat, working thr ground with a shovel plow. Then he went back to his former home for the winter.
When he came back to Plum in the spring, it is said that he brought along
a new wife, her maiden name having been Miss Eliza Weekly.
He built a log cabin on the south end of the tract. The cabin situated
a ways southeast of present Bradleytown. A good spring was several rods downhill from the cabin. He began
to clear his tract, commencing on the south end and working towards the north. A large portion of the tract was well
timbered with fine oak. he hired men to clear three acres at a time, paying each man $6 per acre. Sometimes he
paid his men with beef, pork and other foodstuffs instead of cash, according to an old account ledger which once existed.
John Williams, 80, a grandson of John davison, presently lives near Bradleytown and once read over the ledger.
It was interesting and showed that John Davison was a good writer.
After a portion near the buildings was cleared, John went back home and brought
up many young apple trees which he set out, making a large orchard.
John had some brothers who settled in the township a few years later.
All helped each other in their early farming activities.
John and Eliza were charter members of the Sunville Presbyterian Church which
organized in 1839. John and two of his brothers helped to build the original building of logs. Several men had
a frolic to cut the logs and skid them together. The following spring thay had another frolic to build the church.
The women prepared and served a hearty dinner to the working men.
John always remaine an active member. When he made his will in
his later years, he bequeathed $400 to this church to be in trust of the elders and to be used in good and secure interest.
Each year $10 of the interest was to be used to purchase American Union Sabbath Books, which were to be presented to new Sabbath
schools that would newly organize. The rest of the interest the elders were directed to use for the best purpose in
As John's and Eliza's family grew larger, he built an addition to this log
house. They had the following children: Mrs. Isabella Streite, Isaac W. Davison, William S. Davison, James F.
Davison, Mrs. Jane Matthews, Mrs. Fannie Williams, Mrs. Amanda Schultz, Mrs. Martha Battin and Mrs. Mary Hindman.
Mrs. Davison was a hard working woman. She had to carry water up hill
from the spring to the house. She usually carried two pails ata atime. Many times she ran up with the water because
she was afarid baby would fall out of its cradle in the house while she was gone. The toils of hard work and of raising
a large family eventually ruined her health. She died March 20, 1853 at the age of 42.
John later married Elizabeth Foster,
and by this union had a daughter, Mrs. Hannah Ziegler. The second Mrs. Davison was commonly called 'Betsy' Davison.
In 1840, John served as Plum Township assessor. He was
aman of average size and he had very bushy sideburns. He was quite a reader and kept a large selection of books in his
He also was fond of horses and had several of them in his atables.
He eventually became among the wealthiest farmers of the township.
He raised lots of potatoes and would occasionally take a wagon load of them
to Meadville and sell them. One time a lady customer complained that they were too many small potatoes, so John sorted
a couple of bushels for her, taking out the small ones. When she paid for her potatoes, ahe had the nerve to ask him
if she could have the small ones. John surely made it plain to her she couldn't. Then he drove across a bridge,
stopped and threw the small potatoes into the creek.
For many years he ran a small sawmill which had the old style up-and-down
saw. It was located in a thicket towards Sunville from his home on what the family called 'big
run', which was south of Chapmanville. John had the water flow in sort of a canal from the dam on big run to little
run, so there was plenty of water power to operate the mill.
John eventually built a frame house below or south of the log one.
Thus it was closer to the spring. This frame house still stands and is owned by a family named Brown.
John had also built a nice springhouse which had a stone basement with a
two-story structure overhead. One section of the basement was for keeping milk, butter, etc., cool. Then in part
of the building overhead, John's second wife wove carpets.
John deeded five acres on the wetern edge of his tract to his son James.
Here James lived and reared his family. This is where the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Leo S. Bumpus
and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Noel are now situated. John Davison was the great-grandfather
of Mr. Bumpus.
On March 3, 1865, during the time that land was so high priced due to the
oil excitement, John sold 47 acres to James R. Wade, C.S. Wade and John Moyer fo $8,000. This was a 50-acre piece, but
3 acres were reserved where the sawmill stood.
The purchasers had drilling done but got practically no oil. About
the same tme drilling was done on Jacob Bradley's land, west of Davison's and neither was oil found there. About ten
years later, in January, 1875, John bought these 47 acres back for $700, thus making a $7,300 on this piece of land.
John had heart trouble during his last years. One Sunday, after arriving
home from church at Sunville, he took sick. He was sick quite awhile, taking turns for better
or for worse. He was treated by Dr. Dille of Cooperstown. He finally died on April 26, 1876.
A granddaughter, Mrs. Elma Bumpus, 91, of Bradleytown, can remember her grandfather Davison, several facts about his life and also his funeral.
It took place in Sunville Presbyterian Church which was then a double-aisled church. The sons and daughters marched
in and were seated in the front pews. The grandchildren were seated in the fornt pews of each side section of pews.
Mrs. Betsey Davison remained on the old homestaed for several years.
However, she died on the Fleming place of Cooperstown on April 9, 1902, from an ailment that finally developed into gangrene.
Originally Transcribed by Penny Haylett Kulbacki
Lake Worth, Florida
Disclaimner: There may be errors due to transcription of
information from both early and late (current contributors) work.
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