Swannanoa Stories

Swannanoa Stories: Samuel Davidson Story

Bill Alexander, who grew up in Swannanoa and now lives in Black Mountain, has many stories to tell. One of those stories involves the tragic tale of his ancestor, Samuel Davidson. Davidson’s grave marker, along with Alexander’s stories, will be featured in the Swannanoa Valley Museum’s Historic Hiking Tour of the Alexander Farm Ruins on Saturday, September 1, at 2:00 p.m.

In a December 2011 interview, Alexander related part of Samuel Davidson’s story:  “In the spring of 1784, Samuel Davidson and his wife Rachel – who was an Alexander – came across the Swannanoa Gap, built a cabin, and tilled the land. He was only there four or five months before an Indian hunting party came by and saw the smoke from the cabin and his horse wandering nearby with a bell around its neck,” Alexander explained.

“Davidson had tied the bell on his horse so that he could find it easily, and the next morning he decided he needed to take his horse to Old Fort to get supplies. He heard the bell and stepped out of the cabin. What he didn’t know was that the Indians had taken the bell off the horse and were luring him to the top of Jones Mountain.” Alexander continued, “When he got there, they jumped out and killed him.”

“The next day, a group of kin, Alexanders and Davidsons, my kin, came cross the gap and began searching for Samuel and found his body where he had been shot.  Immediately, they dug a grave and buried him. There was a big oak tree a short distance away, and so they carved the initials ‘SD’ in the tree,” Alexander said.

In 1913, a group of Davidson’s surviving descendants gathered on the top of Jones Mountain to place a grave marker, which still stands and reads, “Here Lies Samuel Davidson, First Settler of Western North Carolina, Killed Here By Cherokees, 1784.”