Samuel Donelson, Davidson County lawyer and landowner, was the eighth of eleven children born in Virginia to Colonel John Donelson II and Rachel Stockley Donelson. Samuel Donelson was among the party of emigrants that Colonel Donelson led to Middle Tennessee, arriving at the Cumberland settlement on April 24, 1780. The Donelson family became well established in Nashville, and Samuel Donelson's closest friends and business associates included his brother-in-law Andrew Jackson and John Caffey. These men assisted Donelson in eloping with Mary Polly Smith, the only daughter of General Daniel Smith, in 1797. The Donelsons had three sons, John Samuel (1798-1817), Andrew Jackson (1799-1871), and Daniel Smith (1801-1863). After Donelson's death ca. 1804, his sons went to live at the Hermitage with Andrew and Rachel Jackson. Mary Polly Donelson remarried six years later, to Colonel James Saunders, a wealthy planter.