Burlington Gazette - History by Helen Langford

Tues., March 21, 1978

The romantic but tragic story of the ‘beautiful, delicate’ Hannah Phillips Davis has survived to this day, through the memories of her family, particularly of her son Asahel and daughters Elizabeth and Sarah. All of these children settled in our area. Hannah was raised in North Carolina with negro servants to assist on a farm settled for man years. William Davis was enchanted by this lovely girl. William’s father, Thomas, died when William was only seven leaving him a legacy of descendancy from the Welsh King David of Cadwallader. Whatever inspired William, he succeeded in accumulating position and wealth through business and land. He was a very suitable husband for young Hannah when they were married prior to 1772.

When Lord Cornwallis and his men, including John Graves Simcoe quartered for 3 days at Guildford Court, Orange County, North Carolina, William and Hannah Davis were loyal hosts. No sooner had Cornwallis left for Virginia (1780- 81) than the Revolutionary Army arrived and destroyed everything - all the young couple had struggled to build. The Davis’ fled to Hannah’s home and her father David.

By 1786, William had purchased 800 acres from his father-in-law. Here they raised their four girls and three boys. Neither the Davis’ nor Phillips were happy in the new political regime, but the Phillips were too old to move.

Perhaps young Elizabeth had inherited her mother’s beauty. She captured the eye of another native of Orange County, Thomas Ghent, and before Elizabeth’s grandparents (Phillips) had both died, she and Thomas were married.

In 1792, upon the death of the last of the elderly Phillips, William, Hannah and all their children including Elizabeth’s new husband, Thomas Ghent, decided to move from their unfriendly atmosphere. They hoped their friendship with the new Governor would make the trip to Upper Canada easier.

Many wagons, 20 pack horses, several loyal slaves, a few possessions, oxen, cows, and the, family arrived at the mouth of the Genesee River in early summer. Asahel and Thomas Ghent were sent on to Chippewa for help from Simcoe. A gunboat was sent to pick up the wagons and family. 

Poor Hannah never recovered from the trauma of two uprootings. She died in Chippewa in 1793.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 21 Mar. 1978. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library - Central Branch. Reel 50.

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