David Capshaw


Copyright 2001 Jerry Capshaw - All Rights Reserved

08 Nov 1779-11 Mar 1839

There is a contention by some researchers that this man's name was ONLY David Capshaw. He was my great, great, great grandfather. My great, great grandfather was David Granville Capshaw, Jr., and all older family members state that his father was David Granville Capshaw, Sr., however, there is no documentation, and I have never seen it written in any manner other than simply David Capshaw. Since he is MY great, great, great grandfather, I choose to believe he is David GRANVILLE. You may choose to think otherwise.

It is my opinion that David Capshaw was named David Granville Capshaw at birth. This being done in favor of Lord Granville, one of the crown's appointed people, who was apparently influential in some of David's ancestors ability to acquire land.

During the American Revolution, David's father William, and David's uncle, Essex, were both charged with treason. At this time, "everybody" was being charged with treason, either by the English, or the revolutionaries. According to Dr. Preston Capshaw, "William and Essick took opposite sides in the Revolutionary war, William being a Tory and Essick a Whig. William took no active part, but when the Whigs began to hang the Tories he retired within the British lines until the close of the war. Returning, he found his home in ruins and his slaves scattered, only a few of whom were ever reclaimed."

Another researcher reported that both William and Essex lost their holdings in North Carolina and fled to Rutherford County, TN to avoid persecution/prosecution. A rift developed between the two, each blaming the other for the loss of their respective lands.

I have a copy of a letter from Dorothy Johnson, (Mrs. Walter), 6111 Belgrade Dr. N. W., Huntsville, AL 35810, which reads, in part,

"I have been unable to locate the David Capshaw cemetery. He owned the SW/4 of Section 33, Township 2 South, Range 2 West and I assume he was buried somewhere on that quarter section. The people who now own the land refuse to allow anyone on the land thought so I am unable to check any further. I understand that he did have a tombstone at one time, and that the inscription read:

Died March 11, 1839
Aged 57 Years

As far as I know that was the only tombstone in that cememtery. I believe his widow was Mary......" --------------------------".

Mrs. Johnson was/is a professional researcher. She was hired by Eloise Talley to search for information on David Capshaw and/or his family members.

It is my opinion that someone mis-read the "57 years" on the tombstone, as it should be "59 years". David's date of birth and death are listed in the family Bible fly leaf, as well as "59 years".

07/15/ 1984.


Concerning the Origins of The Capshaw Family In America, by Dr. Preston Capshaw

David Capshaw Family Bible Entries (obtained from Charlotte Burton Capshaw, via Elosie Talley, Safford,AZ.)

Letter from Mrs. Walter H. Johnson, 6111 Belgrade Dr. N. W., Huntsville, AL 35810 (4/22/71)

David Capshaw was born 8 November 1779, in Rutherford County, NC. As an adult, he was a large man, being six feet tall, with broad shoulders and standing very erect. See Dr. Preston Capshaw. s Concerning the Origin of the First Capshaw In America for a more accurate description. His first marriage was to Ruth Lewellyn, on 20 December 1800. Ruth Lewellyn died around 1802. David then married Mary Elizabeth McCracken on 5 January 1808, in Madison County, AL. Mary Elizabeth McCracken was born 11 September 1778 in South Carolina, (the daughter of James McCracken and Mary Smith). She died 15 June 1857, in Rogersville, Lauderdale, AL. David died 11 March 1839, in Madison County, AL.

David Capshaw, his brother William Washington Capshaw, (and probably their brother Daniel C. Capshaw), arrived in Alabama in 1808. Alabama had just been opened up to settlers, and was the frontier. People moved in quickly and in large numbers. Cotton was the primary crop, and it was hauled from Northern Alabama to Nashville, Tennessee, in the seed. There were no cotton gins locally. In 1810, David and William Washington Capshaw built the first cotton gin in the Tennessee Valley. Later, they sold it. William Washington Capshaw moved on to Mississippi. David built another cotton gin in what is now known as Capshaw, Alabama. He operated the gin for many years, earning a good living.

This photo was taken ca. 1960, and was provided by Thomas David Capshaw of Houston, TX.
The first time I was in Capshaw, AL, all that was left was the foundation of the gin. I was told by the locals that it was the original foundation. The next visit, in 1993, was very disappointing. The entire area is now the parking lot for the Capshaw (Alabama) Baptist Church.

He was deeded a large tract of land by President James Madison, (a copy of the actual deed is shown below) which was at the foot of a mountain, in what is now Jeff, Alabama. The family lived there for many years. The mountain became known as Capshaw Mountain. (It was re-named to Observatory Mountain around 1931, but it still known today (1997) as Capshaw Mountain.) David farmed the land, and raised his family of eleven children here.

Capshaw Mountain, ca 1991.

Copy of document provided by Sandra Sowell Holland, Athens, AL


David was elected Justice of the Peace in March 1880, and served in that capacity for several years. He was noted as a fair and just man in his dealings with those who came before him. For those who are unfamiliar with what a Justice of the Peace is, they are magistrates (judges) and are usually not required to have a "legal" background or education. They usually have jurisdiction in a county, or part of a county, and are authorized to preside over minor court cases, perform marriages and to decide if a case should be tried by a higher court, etc. There are several instances where David Capshaw is shown to have heard cases and performed marriages.

Copy of document provided by Sandra Sowell Holland, Athens, AL

This is a copy of David. s appointment to Justice of the Peace. It shows that he was "duly elected" on the 6th of March, 1880, and that the Governor, William W. Bibb, signed this commission on the 21st of April 1880. I was unable to read the signature of the secretary of state.

Nowhere have I found David Capshaw's name written, signed or printed in any format other than David Capshaw. In other words, there has not been a middle name or initial which has shown up. One should note that in the following Bible information, allegedly copied directly from the actual Bible, is a listing for one of David's sons, which is David Granville Capshaw, Jr. One could surmise from this that David Capshaw is actually David Granville Capshaw, however, there is no actual proof. In the Bible entries, there are discrepancies. It is unknown whether the errors were made when the entries were initially made, or when they were transposed.

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Copyright 2000 Jerry Capshaw - All Rights Reserved