Days Gone By - stories from the past

An interview with John Davis Esquire before 1852 about Mrs. Caffrey’s capture by Native Americans

The story of the Thompson family and capture of Mrs.Caffrey in early Alabama is mentioned several times by early Alabama Historians. Here is another account of the events that transpired before 1852 from an interview with eighty-two-year-old John Davis, Esquire when he was questioned about the Native Americans.

Warning: The exact words and spellings have been transcribed from the original so harsh language may be in the narrative. Please remember the times in which it was written and make allowances.

Ten miles from Nashville, and some three quarters of a mile off from the Charlotte Turnpike, at the head of a snug little valley, resides one of those old pioneers who in early times experienced the various perils of the warpath in endeavoring to protect the lives and property of his fellow citizens from the inroads of the fierce red man; and of the few who have survived the perils of those times, and the onward march of time, few bear their years more lightly, with a more active form, and cheerful spirit, than John Davis, Esq.

To reach his residence, our way, after leaving the high-road, meandered up a long valley, until finally climbing a sharp ridge, almost in its primitive condition of forest garniture, we suddenly looked down upon the farm buildings clustered together around some gushing springs right under the sheltering brows of the hills around.tennessee ridge

We were pleasantly welcomed by the old gentleman now in his eighty-second year, yet so active, still, that he came briskly walking towards the house with his surveying instruments in his hands, having been out, not withstanding his years, following an occupation which for the greater portion of his life has claimed his attention. Tall and rather slender in form, his white hair gives him a most venerable appearance, whilst the fire and fun almost of youth, still sparkles in an eye, bright with the many evidences of a cheerful spirit, the best sustaining influence against the inroads of years.

FreeHearts: A Novel Of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) (Volume 3)

To our request that he would favor us with the narration of his various adventures in early times, he readily complied, we taking notes of the conversation, and we have therefore the satisfaction of again laying before our readers one of those interesting stories of frontier life, which like the “Sibylline books,” are becoming more precious, the fewer there remains of them.

Excerpt from the narrative of John Davis, Esq.

The Thompson family were murdered within a year or two afterwards—I think it was in ’90. (1790) Thompson, was an old man, who lived about one and a half miles from where Gen. Harding’s residence now stands, and near where the Page family at present reside. It was cold weather, there being snow on the ground, and the old man had gone out to bring in firewood.old log cabin

He had procured his load, and was in the act of throwing it over the fence, when the Indians fired upon and badly wounded him. He however got into the house and barred the door; but the Indians pulled out the “chinking” and shot those inside. Mrs. Thompson and her husband were killed, and one daughter was severely wounded.

The Indians took her and an older sister and a Mrs. Caffrey away with them, but the poor girl being too severely hurt to keep up with the party, the wretches tomahawked and scalped her, and left her behind. Although she lay out all night in the snow, yet she was living when found by the neighbors the next morning, and survived, although unconscious, until she had been carried about one mile from the spot to a house.

The sister and Mrs. Caffrey were carried off to the Creek nation, where they remained in captivity several years. The man, Caffrey, happened to be out feeding the stock when the attack was made, and so escaped. Miss Thompson, on her return from amongst the Creeks married a Mr. Collinsworth, and became the mother of James Collinsworth, a very talented lawyer of this vicinity, as many will recollect.


  1. Transcribed from The South-western Monthly, Volumes 1-2 Wales & Roberts, 1852

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. I want to read more about Mr Davis

  2. nice article but left many open questions

  3. My 3-G grandfather, Hezekiah Moor(e), who migrated in the early 1800’s to what is now Leeds, Alabama, on land given him by Andrew Jackson for his service as a Tennessee Volunteer in the Creek War, built a two-story log cabin that included a stockade with gunports to defend against Indian attacks. His 2 square miles of property became downtown Leeds, and he gave part of his farm to his church, which became Cedar Grove Baptist Church, where he and many of his family are buried. I’d share his photo if this page allowed it.

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