October 21, 2020

Jonathan F. Davis: An Enigma

Jonathan F. Davis: Who was he, really?

My great great grandfather is such a mystery to me. Of course, having a name like "John Davis" is a problem on many levels. Davis is the 7th most common surname in the world and there has been an unbelievable number of Davis men in Granville and Franklin counties since the late 1600s.  Just my luck. 

I've been working on Jonathan for many years. Here's what I am sure of:

  • He married Cornelia DILLARD on 24 January 1861 in Granville County, NC.
  • He shows up on the 1850 and 1870 census in southern Granville County, but not in 1860.
  • He is buried in the DAVIS family cemetery on Woodland Church Road in Granville County. 
  • He fathered at least 12 children between 1861 and 1899.
  • He was a Freemason.
  • He left a brief will where he names 7 of his children and owned about 200 acres of land. 
  • He was a slave owner.

Here's what I'd like to know:
  • He was 32 when he married Cornelia. Was he married previously?
  • His first child with Cornelia was born in 1861. The next one in 1865. Which might suggest that he served in the US Civil War, but I can find no solid evidence. He also could have served in the Mexican War, per his age.
  • I'm told "someone" in a "nearby county" has a tintype of Jonathan. What I wouldn't give to get a good look at it! 
  • According to the will, the family was fairly well to do at one time. But the next generation was dirt poor. What happened? Reconstruction?
If you have any news of Jonathan, I'd love to hear it!  In the meantime, I'll keep diggin. I'm certain there is a lot more to his story!

October 12, 2020

Davis Family: A Virtual Reunion

In these unusual times, we have to get creative. The extensive Davis clan of central North Carolina traditionally meet the first Saturday each October. We meet at the church which has cared for our family spiritually for generations, Good Hope Baptist Church. 

Good Hope has recently changed their name to Covenant Hope Church. There's a story there but don't get me started on that one. Regardless, it will always be Good Hope to me and to the many generations of ancestors buried in its cemetery

Sadly, given the state of the world we could not risk the health of those who attend so the next best option was to host it virtually. Same day, same time. Minus the BBQ. And hugs. And long table of pot luck yummies. And strolls through the family cemetery complete with stories and longing.

Even missing that homemade BBQ, there we were....a handful of faithful Davis family members trying desperately to connect with one another from behind our devices and maintain our tradition. And you know what? It worked!

For those of us who managed to sign on to Zoom...we connected. We visited. We caught up with one another. We shared news, we appreciated one another's talents as Ellen sang, Marie played the piano and Matt played some mean Johnny Cash on his guitar. It was two whole hours of connecting, in many ways more so than we are physically together. That's a bit of a headscratcher...but it was good. 

I left the virtual reunion feeling like I had truly visited with my family. I don't always have that feeling at our reunions when we are all crowded into Good Hope's fellowship hall straining for conversations to be heard over the din. 

An important take away for me is to never feel the current state of the world takes away all the goodness in life. A door was (temporarily) closed, but God opened a window and the breeze blew in gifts I never imagined, such as experiencing the talents in my family I would not have enjoyed otherwise. 

It's all in the perception. Right?