February 21, 2016

John Ruffin Davis

John Ruffin DAVIS is my great great grandfather on my maternal side. He is one of my brick walls and quite a mystery to me. Part of the problem is his oh so common name: John Davis.

I’m not entirely sure whether he went by John or Ruffin. My instincts tell me it was Ruffin, but since that was his middle name it may not appear on certain documents.

Ruffin was born about 1825 in Granville County, NC. He married my great great grandmother, Lucinda Davis, on Janurary 5, 1859. Lucinda was the daughter of Jonathan Davis and Matilda Bailey. A Davis married a Davis. Lovely. One more hurdle in researching this couple.

On the 1850 census, he is living with William Davis, age 28, Susan age 17, and their daughter Virginia, age 3 months. Interestingly, William is Lucinda's half brother whom Ruffin would not marry for another 9 years. Ruffn's occupation is listed as farmer. 

1850 US Census, Granville County, NC

Ruffin shows up on the 1860 census in the Beaverdam area of Granville County as John R. Davis at age 35. He is living with wife Lucinda, age 20, Francis Allen, age 30 and daughter Indiana, age 6 months. I've no idea who this Francis Allen is - perhaps a family member. 

1860 US Census, Granville County, NC

Ruffin and Lucinda had 5 children:

1.   Indiana, born 20 Nov 1859. She died on 05 Oct 1904 in Granville County, NC at age 44. She married George P LOWERY on 12 Nov 1884 in Franklin County, NC.
2.   Sidney Irvin, my great grandfather, born on 29 May 1860 in Granville County, NC. He died on 03 Mar 1944 in Granville County, of chronic myocardial degeneration (ie heart disease) at age 83. I've heard he was a raging alcoholic. He married Cordelia Ann DAVIS on 24 May 1888 in Granville County, NC.
3.   James Medicus was born on 27 Dec 1864 in Granville County and died on 26 Nov 1932 in Granville County, NC at age 66.
4.   Charles was born in 1870 in Wake County, NC. 
5.    Ed. He may have died at birth.

Ruffin was old enough to have served in the Civil War and may have enlisted in Person County May 5, 1861. He would have been 38. This may explain the gap in his children's birth dates: 1860 - 1864. 

Another John R Davis of Granville County is shown in the American Civil War Soldiers database on Ancestry.com. He fought for the confederacy in unit 140. Enlisted as a private on 10 Aug 1861 at the age of 29 (would have been born around 1834). Died of disease Jan 31, 1863 in Granville County. 

I can't determine definitely if either of these men was my John Ruffin Davis.

Lucinda married Simon Hall in November 1873, so presumably Ruffin died prior to that. The youngest child for whom I have a birth year was born in 1870, so date of death was likely between 1870 and 1873. I do not find him on the 1870 census.

There is a family story that Ruffin's brother Charlie killed his wife Alice while she held their new born baby in her arms. Charlie was arrested and held in the Wake County jail. Medicus (one of Ruffin's sons and Charlie's nephew) went to visit Charlie at the jail. During the visit, Med mentioned that he'd attended Alice's funeral. Charlie didn't remember killing Alice and he was distraught. That night, he hung himself in the jail using a bed sheet. I haven't found any documentation of this story but it sure makes for some family drama!

If you know a single thing about John Ruffin Davis, I'd sure like to hear about it!

February 20, 2016

Find a Grave - my newest obsession

So I mentioned last month that I've become a tad obsessed with Find a Grave.com. I've used the site for years, it's not a new toy, but lately I've become interested in taking pictures to add to the site.

I've chosen cemeteries where my family members are buried. Most are already listed on the site, and most are 100% documented with pictures. But for those that do not have all the gravestones pictured, I'll drive over, snap the shots, and upload them to the site. Luckily, I live in the land of my ancestors, so all the cemeteries are within a 3 county radius.

What fun! Oh boy, does that mean I am OLD? Yup, I think it does. I'm really trying very hard to embrace my mid-50s. I certainly look that old (thanks, breast cancer) and most days I feel that old. But it's great exercise traipsing around cemeteries and I enjoy the OCD component in checking un-pictured graves off my little list. 

Find a Grave charges a one-time fee of $5 to sponsor a memorial. Sponsoring memorials means all the advertisements are removed and the photo limit is increased from 5 to 20. Each week, I chose one family member to sponsor. I started with my parents and I'm working my way through my direct line ancestors. Then, I'll start on the aunts and uncles.

I've found there can be quite a lot of politics on the internet around Find a Grave. I try to stay out of the fray and take a fairly liberal attitude toward transferring memorials to people who are more closely related to the deceased than me.

It's a fairly harmless hobby, right? Keeps me off the streets at night!