THE CUPID CAPER
Love on The Run
John never saw it coming. For weeks John had been pushing his team of horses to the limit. Through horrendous heat and tempestuous thunderstorms, John held the reins tight, guiding the wagon of his boss's wife in an attempt to escape the Feds. Driving with little rest, John let his guard down. While he was tending to his horses, John spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Then it happened. The assassin fired a shot and struck John right in the middle of his chest. Cupid claimed another victim, with a perfect arrow shot which struck John right in the center of his heart, on Dublin's courthouse square.
John had been working for his boss and his family for several years in their palatial home in Richmond, Virginia. Then in the early days of an April, long, long ago, the boss and his wife got word that Federal authorities were out to arrest him for crimes against the United States. The boss sent word to John and Jim, two of his most trusted aides, to get the family's wagons ready to make a long trip.
For more than a month, the boss, his wife, and his children were escorted by a dozen or more of the organization's most trusted lieutenants as they traveled along back roads in daylight and along main roads during the dark hours of the night. About a month into their flight, the boss met with his council of advisors. The committee decided to split into smaller groups to elude federal authorities.
When they left Sandersville, Georgia, the boss and his aides left in a small group, taking fresh horses to the west. The boss's wife and his children, Maggie, Jeff, Willie, and a small, unnamed baby rode in the wagon with John more to the southwest. As the boss and his gang were secreting their way toward the Oconee River, reports were coming in that his wife and family were in danger of being robbed.
All through the night of May 6 and early into the morning of May 7, the boss raced down the roads of western Johnson County and the Buckeye District looking for his wife and children. Finally during the predawn hours, John and Jim got the word to halt from the point man at the head of the column of wagons.
After some initial excitement, the guards discovered that the attackers in their front were actually the boss and his cortege. The boss came galloping up to John's wagon. He hugged his family as they halted near the home of E.J. Blackshear on the old Indian trail leading northeast from Blackshear's Ferry.
John helped Jim and a colored servant woman prepare some breakfast for the boss and his family. It wasn't long before John once again climbed up to his bench and started forward to the southwest.
About midmorning, John and Jim's wagons reached the eastern bank of the Oconee River. John steadied the horses and the wagons as they were carried across the river on the Dublin Ferry.
The boss, wanting to avoid detection, remained on the southeastern outskirts of Dublin, while John took the boss's wife and his children into town. They stopped at the store of Freeman Rowe, one of the town's leading merchants. Rowe kindly offered an elegant Sunday lunch. Col. Reagan, one of the boss's closest counselors, asked for the best directions to get out of town. He explained who his boss was and the reasons for a fast and undetected getaway.
John noticed a beautiful woman in the quickly growing crowd which began to assemble on the courthouse square. He was smitten by the young woman with the beautiful name of Isabella. Isabella, a member of the Conway family, also took a shine to the handsome John. It was love at first sight. But, just as soon as they met, John was summoned to get back to his duties and mount the wagon. As he rode off to the south, John promised Isabella that he would return for her one day.
Yet another spring freshet made travel along the soupy dirt roads almost impossible. The going was tough. The boss crossed the Ocmulgee and turned further to the south. Then one night, James and Jim heard something rattling in the bushes around their camp. They rose to see what the matter was and found themselves surrounded by federal agents. These men dressed in blue suits took the boss, his wife and his family to Macon before they sent the boss off to prison.
With no evidence to convict him, John was released. He made his way back to Laurens County just like he promised Isabella that he would. On October 30, 1870, John and Isabella stood in front of God and the surrounding witness and sealed the bands of marriage. Justice of the Peace William Haskins pronounced them man and wife.
The Davises established their home in the Bailey District of Northern Laurens County for more than twenty years. When an opportunity came to move to a farm in a better place, John and Isabella, along with their many children, moved down to Dodge County, Georgia, where they remained for the rest of their lives.
Some of the little old ladies of the Old South asked John to join in a ceremony on the banks of Gum Swamp Creek to commemorate the night that John and the rest of the members of his band camped for the night just before the Feds got their man.
No one alive seems to know whatever happened after that. John and Isabella and their family seemed to have disappeared.
What you have read is a true story. It was a story of love at first sight and everlasting love. Now that you know the story, maybe you might be interested, as Paul Harvey used to say, in the rest of the story.
The subject of this love story is John Davis, wagon driver of Winnie Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis - the boss in this story. This is his story or what I know about it. I hope that one day a remote descendant of John and Isabella Davis will come forward and shed more details about the time that the last vestiges of the Confederate government traveled down from Washington, Georgia through Sandersville and on through Dublin to Irwinville, where they were captured by the Union cavalry on the morning of May 10, 1865.