Courthouse Burned

Historical Marker #590, located on the courthouse lawn, notes the burning of the Daviess County courthouse on January 4, 1865, by a band of Civil War guerrillas.

Formerly a captain in the 7th Kentucky Union Infantry Regiment, William "Bill" Davison (also called Davidson by some) resigned after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and became a Confederate guerrilla. Davison refused to fight to free slaves. In 1864, he was arrested and imprisoned in Louisville, but he escaped later that year. Davison then traveled to Hancock and Daviess counties to assemble a group of guerrillas called "Davison’s Hyenas." His activities chiefly centered on Daviess, Meade, and Breckinridge counties.

Davison had orders to burn every courthouse that was occupied by the United States Colored Troops (USCT). As the Daviess County courthouse was used to quarter three companies of USCT troops, Davison set his sights on this building. It is probable that at least two or three others were burned for this same reason. Although the courthouse was burned, there was enough of a warning and notice for the county officers to save the records and most of the furniture.

There are several versions of Davison’s death. In one, it was said that he was injured while burning the Daviess County courthouse and died from wounds he suffered there. Another version contends that in February 1865, a Home Guardsman named Charles Hale shot and wounded Davison. That March, a $5,000 reward was offered for Davison’s capture, but he died on March 7, 1865. Davison was initially secretly buried in a shallow grave in the woods of Hancock County. After the war he was reinterred in the Hawesville Cemetery.