Columbus Dispatch article
From the Columbus Dispatch, June 15, 2003


June 15, 2000
By John Switzer

In the summertime, I like to wander through old cemeteries and read the inscriptions on headstones.

Sometimes I find bits and pieces of tantalizing stories.

One of those finds were the Guernsey County graves of three Confederate soldiers in a cemetery in Old Washington. They were killed during a skirmish when Rebel Gen. John Hunt Morgan rode through there in 1863.

Last week, thanks to a tip from a friend, I found a wonderful story in the Davis Historical Cemetery along Riverside Drive north of Hayden Run Road.

About 90 people are buried in the pioneer cemetery.

One impressive monument marks the graves of John and Ann Davis.

Ann died on June 6 in 1851 at the age of 86 years, five months, and eight days, according to the stone. This is the intriguing inscription on it: "Ann Davis was a messenger and carried orders from Gen. Washington to the other commanders in the Revolutionary War in 1779 and 1780."

Her husband, John, had died 19 years earlier. The stone says John was a soldier in a Pennsylvania regiment during the war.

Somebody recently had placed two small American flags in front of the monument.

I had to know more about Ann Davis, and, after a little research, discovered that a Dublin school--Ann Simpson Davis Middle School--is named for her.

I called Dublin schools and was told of a book with the history of the schools in that city--The Stories Behind the Names of the Schools.

The book says Ann Simpson Davis and her husband arrived in Dublin in 1816 after a brief stay in Delaware County. They came to Ohio to claim land as payment for their war service.

At age 16, Ann had been handpickd by Washington as a courier in eastern Pennsylvania.

"She was an accomplished horsewoman, and many people in her neighborhood were used to seeing her go riding, making her a perfect candidate to slip unnoticed through British ranks," according to the book.

"Dressing up as an old woman saved her from being discovered many times during tight moments in Philadelphia."

The courageous woman often carried messages in sacks of grain, in bunches of vegetables or sometimes concealed in her clothing. On occasion, she had to swallow them to avoid detection.

John and Ann, who'd been childhood friends, were married in 1783. They had nine children.

John joined the Army at 16 and fought in campaigns in New Jersey and New York. He was with Washington on Christmas Eve 1776 when the general crossed the Delaware, according to the book.

Four years later, John Davis suffered a serious foot wound that plagued him the rest of his life.

The Davises' brick home on the east side of the Scioto River was demolished in 1977 to make way for a new development. [Forgotten Ohio intrusion: Can you believe what you just read?]

Another familiar pioneer family name I saw on a gravestone in Davis Cemetery was Sells, probably a relative of John Sells, a co-founder of Dublin. A Dublin school is named for him, too.

Sells was a friend of Leatherlips, the Wyandot chief who lived, and was murdered, along the Scioto in the early 1800s.

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