Davis Prairie History

Davis Prairie lies south of Little Crab Orchard Creek in the southeast part of East Marion Township. It was named for George Davis who brought his family to the county in 1819. Their previous home was in Trigg County, Kentucky where the father of Jefferson Davis was their neighbor and connection. Six years after his arrival Mr. Davis built one of the first horse mills in the county, then built the second water mill. His sons John T. and Thomas D. Davis established themselves at Sarahville and both became important in county affairs.

The first denison of Davis prairie was Henry Parsons who used to lay around in the woods and kill Indians. He called his gun “yeller jacket,” and he shot once too often in 1821. When he killed Parson Crouch he left the country.

Another early resident was Eva Locker the witch. This old woman’s spells and incantations were believed in so strongly that Rev. Charles Lee had to come from Hamilton County to undo her wonders. He was a Baptist preacher, and a renowned witch master. An 1835 visitor to Chicago reported to his family near Salem, Massachusetts that the people of Williamson County were driving out their witches. One, “a bold young woman” acting queerly, had come north on the stage. He hoped “she does not settle in Chicago, which already has delusions enough, God knows.”

At the crossroads in Davis prairie settlers who had come either by the post road from Golconda or along the Lick road from Equality could continue northwest to Frankfort or turn west to Brownsville, first seat of Jackson County. Roads were worked in the summer of 1839 by John Wright, succeeding Zacharias M. Kissaia. The county commissioner’s court bounded Davis road district “commencing where the Brownsville road crosses the Golconda Road in Davis’s prairie, thence due south to the county Line near, thence due East to the corner, thence south (north?) with the county Line to John Murphy’s in the Brushy prairie road district.”

The Davis family helped organize Coal Bank Church in 1823 with their neighbors to the east. Bethlehem church was organized in 1830 by the Rev. Charles Lee, and a log house built north of Davis prairie for its congregation. Both these were Baptist churches.

The question of foreign missions divided the denomination and in 1939 Mount Zion church, later called Davis Prairie or Prairie church, was formed by secession from the Bethlehem church. Wilfred and Hezekiah Ferrell were leaders in forming the new church, and preached there while their families lived near Gum Springs.

Among the members of the Mount Zion Church were Mrs. Hezekiah Ferrell, Timothy and Elizabeth Teal; Abraham, Polly, and Lewis Keaster; Polly Leathers, Edmund Jones, Anna Rich, Drury A. Mosley, Salina Corder, Manning and Maria Campbell, and Lorenzo D. Hartwell. The Ferrells preached at Mount Zion until 1860. In later years David G. Young, county superintendent of schools, and John Gould preached there.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)