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Fielding Davis

During the 1850's Fielding Davis moved his family to Issaquena County. His plantation was located in the southern portion of the county neighboring Eustatia plantation belonging to the Eustis family. Fielding Davis was born in 1806 in the state of Kentucky and moved to Mississippi at a young age, settling in Wilkinson County along with his parents, Fielding and Sabrina Davis. The elder Fielding Davis was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Fielding Davis Jr. was a wealthy and prominent planter in the lower Mississippi river area prior to the Civil War era. He was married three times. First he married Mary Davis, daughter of Jeter and Susan Hampton Davis. After her death he married Dorinda Robinson about 1831 in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. After Dorinida died in 1833 he married Lucinda Newman of Natchez, sister of Samuel B. Newman, a prominent planter and merchant in Natchez. Fielding Davis died in New Orleans on October 29, 1859 and his wife continued to operate their Issaquena plantation. Below is an excerpt from the 1912 book, The Descendants of Capt. Thomas Carter of "Barford," Lancaster County, Virginia by Joseph Lyon Miller:

Fielding Davis, born 1770-'75 in Spotsylvania, Virginia, is thought to have died in Mississippi some time after 1802. He was living in Kentucky when his son Fielding, Jr. was born in 1801 but died prior to 1824. The tombstone of his wife, Sabrina Davis, owing to some unknown reason, is at “Arcoli,” the Brandon plantation in Mississippi, though it is know that she is not buried there. The inscription on it is as follows:

Sacred to the Memory of
Died March 17, 1817. Aged 47.
Here where the silent marble seems to weep,
Lies a fond mother and faithful friend,
On whose kind heart did all the virtues keep their sacred seat
And with each other blend.
On ways of Christian Charity she stood
And then resigned her pious Soul to God.

Fielding and Sabrina Davis had issue two children known to the present generation and possibly others. If the county of his residence in Mississippi can be located, doubtless his will may be found among the records and the names of all his children ascertained; it would also settle beyond a doubt his baptismal name. A number of old people in Mississippi who knew his son Col. Fielding Davis of Wilkinson County, say the father and son bore the same name. The known issue of Fielding and Sabrina Davis was a son and a daughter, as follows:

1st. Phoeby Davis, born circia 1793-'95, married in 1808-'09 William Ferguson, a wealthy planter of Warren County, Mississippi whose home was on the Mississippi River below Vicksburg. They had issue one son, Thomas Ferugson, born Jan. 25, 1810, died Aug. 15, 1838, and is buried on the plantation. He married Caroline Downs and died without issue. She married Benson Blake and had a son, H.L. Blake, who now owns the old Ferguson place, known at present as “Blakely.”

2nd Fielding Davis, Jr., born in Kentucky in 1801, died in New Orleans October 29, 1859, and is buried at Natchez, the home of his third wife. He was a wealthy and prominent planter in lower Mississippi in the quarter of a century preceeding the Civil War. His plantation was called “Altop.” From 1824 until 1850 he appears frequently in the deed records of Wilkinson County, as he bought and sold a good deal of land in that county.

Fielding Davis was a colonel in the Mississippi militia, sheriff of Wilkinson county in 1829-'34, member of the State Legislature from Issaquena County in the fifties, and U.S. Marshall under President Zachary Taylor, who was a personal friend of Col. Davis. He was a Mason and joined Asylum Lodge, No. 63, Woodville, Miss., by demit, Aug. 3, 1844, but the lodge from whence he came does not appear in the records.

About 1850 Col. Davis purchased a large river plantation in Issaquena known as “Dunbarton,” upon which he had fifty-two servants (county records); during the “reconstruction days” this plantation was sold for state and levee taxes to some “people by the name of Jeffards, who came in there with the Carpet Bag gang.”

Though quite the opposite of a “quarrelsome man,” Col. Fielding Davis was in three separate duels, in each of which he killed his opponent; they were with a Mr. Lee, a lawyer, who attacked Col. Davis with a sword cane; Dr. Moore, Mr. Lee's brother-in-law; and a Mr. Leigh, the eldest son of Benjamin Watkins Leigh, of Virginia. Bearing upon Col. Davis' conduct in these duels are the following extracts from letters written by men who knew him:

John F. Jenkins, Esq., Clerk of the Chancery Court, Adams County, Miss., says:

"Col. Davis was as peaceable a man as could be found, and enjoyed a reputation for an amiable temper and affectionate disposition both to friends and arelatives, but the fashion of the times and day in which he lived embroiled him in three different duels in which he killed his opponents; but no blame ever attached to him among his friends or the public generally, because it was generally conceded that he was forced into these unfortunate affairs.”

Samuel W. Brandon, Esq., New Orleans, son of Gen. W.L. Brandon, says:

'Mr. Foster, who married a sister of Col. Davis' wife, was a member of the grand jury that found an indictment against a Mr. Lee, a young lawyer, for gambling at cards. When Mr. Foster entered Mr. Lee's office he was told that it was no place for an informant. Mr. Foster resented the insult and was assaulted by Lee. For this act Lee was denounced by Davis. Lee advanced on Davis with a drawn sword cane, warned not to advance, continued to do so, and was shot and killed by a pistol ball fired by Davis. Dr. Moore, a brother-in-law of Lee, was for some cause challenged by Fielding Davis. The weapons were Yeagers or Mississippi rifles. My father, Gen. Brandon, was Davis' second. On the way to the duelling grounds Col. Davis announced his intention of firing into the air. My father remonstrated, saying, “Don't you see the terms of the duel Mr. Moore intends to kill you?” The terms referred to were, after the word 'fire' there was no time limit or count of one, two, three, but each could continue to fire at will. Then Col. Davis said, 'I will kill him at the word “fire,”' which he did, striking him just above the left hip and severing the femoral artery.”

The duel with Mr. Leigh is mention in Mr. Henry S. Foote's “Bench and Bar of the Southwest,” but the details of the affair have not been furnished me.

Mr. Brandon also sauys of Col. Davis: “He was a gentleman of the old school. I never saw him wear other than a ruffled bosom shirt. He was not only genial, but jovial. He was full of life and a great practical joker, but when he gave offense was prompt to make 'intent cordial,' so much so that he was regarded as timid; but when occasion demanded he was glorious.”

Mr. H.T. Sharp, Whitaker, Miss., says of him: “Col. Fielding Davis was a valued friend of my father and mother. His plantation was not far from theirs, and after they left the county he and his family returned to pay his old friends a visit. I was then a child, but I remember distinctly the splendid figure of Col. Davis and his genial and polished manners. With him and Mrs. Davis were their daughter, Rosa, then the widow of a Mr. Mason, who was Attorney General of Mississippi during his life, and the son of Col. and Mrs. Davis – Zachary Taylor, a handsome, spirited boy much younger than his sister.”

Other acquaintances give much the same description of him. Col. Davis was married three times, as follows: 1st. On Sept. 15, 1825, to his cousin, Mary Davis, daughter of Jeter and Susan Hampton Davis, who died without surviving issue; he then married about 1831 Dorinda Robinson, of Mississippi , who died in 1833 leaving an only child – Mary Davis, born in Woodville, Miss., June 29, 1833, died in Ft. Worth, Texas, March 15, 1881. It is only though his daughter that Col. Davis has descendants living at this time. His third wife was Lucinda Newman, of Natchez, sister of Samuel B. Newman, a prominent and wealthy Mississippi planter and merchant. By this marriage there were two children: 1st. Rosa Davis (died about 1865), whom Mr. John F. Jenkins says was “the most beautiful woman I ever saw.” She married first about 1851-'52 a Mr. Mason, Attorney General of Mississippi, who died shortly afterward without issue. She then married Charles Balfour, of Natchez, and had one daughter, Rosebud Balfour, who died unmarried. 2nd. Zachary Taylor Davis, who died about 1870 without issue.

Mary Davis, daughter of Col. Fielding Davis and his second wife, Dorinda Robinson, was married in1 851 to Christopher B. Loving, who died of yellow fever in Carroll County, Mississippi, October 29, 1857, leaving three daughters…


1860 Issaquena County, Mississippi Federal Census

26-26 Lucinda Davis: 57, female, Planter, $80,000, $94,000, Mississippi
Z.T. Davis, 11, male, Mississippi
Alonzo Givens, age 25, Physician, Mississippi
P.A. Givens, age 22, female, Louisiana

1850 Wilkinson County, Mississippi Federal Census
Fielding Davis: age 44, Marshall, $4,500, Kentucky
Lucinda: age 37, Mississippi
Rosa B. Davis, age 16, Mississippi
Mary B. Babbett, age 18, Mississippi
Zachary Taylor Davis, age 1, Mississippi

1860 Issaquena County, Mississippi Federal Census
Page 2 Family 14
Charles E. Balfour: age 26, Planter, $40,000, $30,000, Mississippi
Rosa: age 26, Mississippi
Rosa Balfour Jr.: age 3, Mississippi

Miller, Joseph Lyon, The Descendants of Capt. Thomas Carter of "Barford," Lancaster County, Virginia : with genealogical notes of many of the allied familes.Thomas, W. Va.: J.L. Miller, 1912, pp. 384-388.

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Entire Contents Copyright © 2003, 2004 Bob Franks.
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