Edited by Robert Kenneth Davidson in 1933.
I am copying into this record the letter written by John Davidson to his son James, when he was 85 years old. It was commenced March 29, 1877 but not finished for about two weeks. I have punctuated the paragraphed it, and have put in parentheses certain explanations which may serve to make the large amount of family news it contains more clear to us. - R.K. Davidson " Thursday March 29th. This day is very nice and shows appearances of spring. We have had pretty (bad?) weather through this month. Now I think we are going to have nice weather. We had Abner and Elizabeth (Braden) today. They were going to William B. Crawford's to the infare. He was married last evening (to Gertrude Happy, his second wife). I was not able to go. Our protracted meeting is about closing. There has been a great revival in our midst. Something over 200 joined our church (Methodist) and many have joined other churches. Saturday (March) the 31st. I now sit down to add a little more to my epistle. I cannot write much at a sitting as I feel very feeble, have been so for some weeks. John Harper (Nancy Davidson's husband) died last night, is to be buried tomorrow, Sunday at ten o'clock. He has been ailing for a long time in consumption. Little Robie (Harper) was to go to Thomas's to live last Monday but he did not go, not expecting his father to live many days. Robie has been living with your brother John most, paying $1.50 per week for board and going to school. Thomas offers to keep him free of charge. Harper has 80 acres of land well improved which was bought with Nancy's money, which he deeded to Robie before his last marriage (to phoebe Parnham). They have a renter on it who gives the third of what he raises. I cannot write much at present as I feel very feeble. Times here is pretty hard on some. Those who are in debt, many of them, will have a hard time getting through. Lydia Crawford has been living on keeping house for William since Mary Ann (Davidson Crawford) died. She same the day before Mary Ann died, is going home on next Tuesday. She has been a good, faithful housekeeper to William and good to the children. (Lydia was a sister of William Crawford.) April 6, 1877. Bring up your children in the admiration of the Lord. (Then follows a list of names and dates of birth of his 14 children, evidently sent in answer to an inquiry from James.) Your mother was born October, 1802; died December 16, 1860. Your father born May 1792. Your brother William died one year and a few days after your mother. Nancy died December (November), 1866. I cannot mind the time of the others' deaths as I kept no record. There are three of your brothers (Thompson, William, and Charles Wesley) and three of your sisters (Sarah Jane Marshall, Mary Ann Crawford, and Nancy Harper) gone before us and I hope are happy. Let us who are left behind try to be prepared to follow. April, Wednesday 11. I have had to quit writing for some time. I think I must try and finish my letter to you. our farmers is very busy this week putting in their wheat, oats and barley. The next will be preparing for corn. Robert's Maggie is at home this week on vacation. She will be going to her school (an Episcopal College at Clinton, Iowa) next week. John's Andrew and Jennie is at Mt. Pleasant (Iowa Wesleyan College). They will have vacation next June. I do not gain fast. I am generally very poorly in the after part of the day. I can mostly help myself. I am waiting till my change comes in. I still feel resigned to the will of the Lord and if we never meet here on earth I hope we may meet in that better world where parting shall be no more. Remember my love to all inquiring friends. your ever loving father, John Davidson. Write soon." From this letter we get some idea of John Davidson's character and mental ability, keeping in mind his great age and the time he wrote it. In this letter he mentions all of the children who lived in Iowa except Moses and Andrew (he gives the dates of their birth, of course, but they lived eight or nine miles distance and he probably not seen them recently. I have been told that after this letter was written James Davidson visited his father in Iowa.