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Davidson Family papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS78

Scope and Content

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence between John and Julia Davidson before and during the Civil War. The letters capture a sense of their courtship prior to their wedding in 1855, as well as the physical and spiritual challenges John faced as a soldier in the Confederate Army and those Julia endured in the besieged city of Atlanta. The collection contains several letters written by John Davidson to Julia’s parents who lived in Atlanta and were the proprietors of Washington Hall, a hotel in the city.

Also included are two documents originating from Davidson’s regiment, the 39th of North Carolina, a furlough request for a soldier, and a requisition for forage form. The collection also includes a typed abstract of an 1895 letter John Davidson wrote to his cousin, Theodore Davidson regarding his experience in the Confederate Army during the Atlanta Campaign.In his letters to Julia, John Davidson writes about his love for her and his consistent desire to return home to his family. He inquires about the health and well-being of their children and Julia’s parents, and talks about the discomforts of army life and the violence of war. He expresses his hopes for an end to the war and offers updates on the movements of his regiment, and their training routines in camp. He also passes on information to her regarding enemy troop movements. He writes her from locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Julia’s letters to John supply updates on the health and business of family and friends in Atlanta, and contain expressions of her desire to see him return home. During the siege of Atlanta, she provides some detail on the chaos resulting from the shelling of the city. Throughout her letters, she urges her husband to adhere to the principles of his Christian faith.


  • 1851-1970, bulk 1861-1865


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

John Mitchell Davidson (1829-1917) was born in Haywood County, North Carolina. He lived in Asheville before moving to Ducktown,Tennessee where he was a merchant. He also operated a store in Tunnell Hill, Georgia. On November 1, 1855 he married Julia Dunn (1836- 1890) a schoolteacher and Ashville native who had moved to Calhoun, Georgia with her parents earlier in the year. John commuted between his businesses in Ducktown and Tunnell Hill, and Julia’s home in Calhoun. The couple had three children between 1856 and 1862; two sons, Bascom and Charlie, and one daughter, Hattie. Another son, Willie, was born in 1865. On October 22, 1861, John Davidson volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. Julia’s parents moved to Atlanta before the Civil War, and bought her a house in the city following John’s departure for the army in 1862. In 1862, John was commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Company C, 39th North Carolina Regiment.

The 39th Regiment fought battles in Murfreesboro, Jackson, Chickamauga, Resaca, Allatoona, and New Hope Church. Davidson became disabled during the Atlanta Campaign and spent several months in hospitals. He was paroled at Salisbury, North Carolina on May 2, 1865 and moved to Calhoun where he eventually reunited with his family. John and Julia settled at Kingston, Georgia, where John was a depot agent for the Western and Atlantic Railroad until 1901.


1 linear ft.



Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Gift of John L. Davidson, 1976 (1976.164)

Location of Originals

Four original letters are represented by transcripts only. The originals were retained by the donor

Other Formats

Transcriptions of letters contained in box 1, folders 1-15 are located in box 2, folders 1-15.

General Physical Description note

(2 document cases)


America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2005

Davidson Family papers, 1851-1970
Inventory prepared by Paul Crater
June 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305