The Story of the Davis Family from 1827-1961

Source: Davis file, Herman Brown Free Library, by James W. Davis, written about 1961
transcribed by JoAnn Myers, 2002
 
My father, Edward Davis, was born in South Carolina in 1827 and when a young man he came to Texas about 1850 or 1855. After traveling over Texas for sometime, he stopped and worked on what was known then as the Martin James Ranch, which consisted of corrals, ranch houses and blacksmith shop for horse-shoeing horses.
 
Sometime later father joined a group of men and made Cypress shingles from the large cypress trees that grew along the Pedernales river. These men cut the trees and dragged the logs out upon the side of a mountain called Shingle Hills, for fear of being attacked by Indians. There on top of this mountain, these logs were made into cypress shingles. When I was a small boy I saw several houses and barns covered with those shingles that my father made.
 
Martin James, a friend of my father, was raised by the Indians and they showed James and my father a cave on the North Side of the Pedernales River that had a lead mine in it. James and father got lead from the cave and molded bullets for the old rifles and six shooters. The James ranch now is part of the John Wenmohs ranch near Cypress Mills. I met Mr. Wenmohs at Cypress Mills in 1929 and he told me that he owned the old James ranch and had seen the lead mine cave when he was a young man and it was real lead, but he said the flood in the river in 1869 buried the cave in many feet of dirt. Trees and brush are growing there now -- the mine was lost as lead is too cheap to be mined now.
 
After leaving the ranch, father met and married a woman by the name of Miss Holcolmb and lived in Lamar county near Pecos, Texas. There a son, John, was born in 1861. Later father moved to south Texas near Columbus and bought a home there; when he joined the Confederate Army, he deeded the home to his wife, so the family would have a home if he failed to return. A daughter was born there in 1863 after father had joined the army--the girl was named Belle.
 
Father was a soldier under command of General Sibley. They went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to capture the town from the Federal Army under Captain Cameron, but after fighting two battles, the Confederates lost and left many dead soldiers. Father lived through it all--that was 1862. I was in Santa Fe in 1951 and saw the large monument erected in honor of the battle with names of dead of both armies carved on it.
 
Father was mustered out of the army after four years of service, and came home to find his wife had sold the home and moved away. He tried to see his son, but was forbidden, so he walked away and later went to California and worked as a finishing carpenter for about ten years, then he came back to Texas and located near Athens in 1873 or 1874.
 
My mother, Mary Ann Blackwell, was born in Mississippi in 1836. Her father was John Blackwell, a soldier under the command of General Andrew Jackson and fought in the Battle of New Orleans January 8, 1815. Her mother's maiden name was Polly Teer.
 
In 1851 at the age of fifteen, mother was married to a man named James Wasson. Mother was a member of a Baptist church. She had two sisters, and they went to California in 1849 in the gold rush -- one sister was married to a man by the name of John Harmon. they went around by sea to California. Mother lost contact with them and never heard from them again.
 
After mother was married to Wasson, they moved to east Texas, there four girls were born to this union. Two of the girls died in childhood, and her husband, a soldier in the Civil War, died in the hospital--leaving mother and two girls, Lillie and Molley (Mary Jane).
 
After Mr. Wasson's death, mother moved near Athens in Henderson County. She, being young and very able bodied, could do most any type of work. She was a very good seamstress and made all of her own clothing. Mother also made shirts and other garments for sale.
 
My father had moved to Athens ten years before, and in 1873 he and mother met at an old fashioned Sunday School. They were married January 8, 1874 and January 15, 1875 a son was born. They named me James after the Martin James father had known many years before. After Martin James died, Mrs. James got in touch with father and wanted him to come back to the ranch and work for her, but letters traveled slowly in those days. After father received the letter, he decided to work for Mrs. James. Father, mother, my two sisters and I started to the ranch by ox wagon. They journey was long and when we reached Salado, Texas, father stopped and worked a while as a finishing carpenter on a schoolhouse. When he finally reached the James ranch, Mrs. James had already hired the Hamilton Brothers. We went on to Post Oak Bend on the Colorado river and farmed one year, 1876, on the Bob Turner farm. A Mr. Decker from California bought a ranch in which was called Baldwins Bend. There Mr. Decker had a ranch house, sheep and cattle. He hired my father to work for him, so late in 1876 we moved to the Decker ranch. By this time my half-sisters were young ladies. Mr. Decker fell in love with my half-sister, Lilly; they were married in 1877. Father worked on this ranch until 1878--at this time he became mentally ill. When father was a young man, he was thrown from a horse, which resulted in a very serious head injury, from which he never fully recovered. He was carried to the state hospital in Austin and for twenty years there was no change in his condition. He died in 1898 and was buried in Austin, Texas.
 
After father's confinement we suffered many hardships. We moved several times and finally settled just across the Colorado river, not far from the Thurman farm. During these years, mother and my sister Molley (Mary Jane) worked at almost anything they could find to do. Mother also served as a mid-wife for many years.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Thurman were very old and had several grown sons living at home. Molley and George, one of the sons, fell in love and were married January 7, 1881. As there were several extra houses on the farm, mother and I moved into one of them. Mrs. Thurman was in very poor health and mother took care of her for sometime.
 
In 1882, my brother-in-law, George Thurman, bought a good place in Baldwin Bend and mother and I moved in with them. George and I farmed together as he was a very good man--you might say that I grew up there and for fourteen years, that was home to me.
 
In 1894, the Williamson Family moved to Baldwin Bend. I met one of the Williamson daughters, Amanda--she was born December 11, 1879. We were married on mother's birthday, December 23. We moved to a new house that I helped build. We lived there two years --then we leased a small farm and lived there two more years. While living on this farm, two children were born, a boy and a girl. We lived in Baldwin Bend four years.
 
November 1900 we moved to Burnet County--then in 1918 we moved to the Crownover ranch in Llano county.
 
In 1919 my mother died in Oklahoma while visiting her daughter and son-in-law, Molley and George Thurman, who had moved there several years before. Mother is buried near Shawnee, Oklahoma.
 
After mother's death, the Thurmans moved back to Texas and lived in Burnet County. My sister, Molley, died April 1, 1942. Molley and George are both buried in Burnet, Texas.
 
My sister, Lilly Decker, moved to Oklahoma, and while visiting a daughter in California, she became ill and died there. She was buried in Bakersfield, California, December 18, 1947.
 
When my father lived on the Bob Turner farm in 1876, his son John learned his father was there and came to visit us. In 1927 he came and visited me again. He also made several other visits. After I bought a place near Fairland, Texas, John and his sister Belle visited us there. John was a man of many trades. His sister, now Mrs. Belle Lee, was a Nazarene preacher. She had a daughter named Fisher. While visiting her daughter in Temple, Texas, Belle was killed in an automobile accident. My brother, John, was burned to death in Voca, Texas, December 12, 1947. His daughter was killed in an automobile accident. They are buried in Voca, Texas.
 
After my wife died April 14, 1929 and was buried in Pleasant Valley by our two children and other relatives, I sold my farm and just worked here and there--sometimes with my children. In 1940 I visited with my son, Damon Davis, for several months in Bessemer, Alabama. After returning from Alabama I moved back to Burnet in December 4, 1941, and have made my home here since that time. I am eighty-six years old and have six sons and one daughter. My daughter, Mrs. Amiel Frasier, lives on a ranch at Mormon Mills; Othal Davis lives on his ranch at Lake Buchanan. Oran Davis lives in Shiner, Texas, and is manager of Electric Coop., Damon and Malcolm are living in California. Two sons died in childhood--Earl, eleven months; Leslie, four years. I have ten grandchildren--seven grandsons and three granddaughters. Fifteen great grandchildren--four girls and eleven boys.
 
This ends 134 years of the Davis Family--written from memory by James W. Davis, Box 67, Burnet, Texas.
 
[Transcriber's note: James William Davis died April 2, 1971 and is buried near his wife Amanda, son Earl, and daughter Leslie in Pleasant Valley Cemetery.]

 

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