There are various internet claims that William Davis was either the husband or the son of Elizabeth Shelton, coming from Middlesex County, Virginia. These claims are groundless, and they contradict clear evidence pointing to Culpeper County (and before that Spotsylvania County) as William's place of origin. (For more information, see the free space profile for William Davis.)
It has been incorrectly claimed that William Davis of Pittsylvania County married Susanna Wills (as his second wife) in 1772 in Halifax County, but that was a different William Davis, who continued to live in Halifax County, not in Pittsylvania County. (For more information, see the free space profile for William Davis.)
William Davis of Pittsylvania County is sometimes confused with a different William Davis of Lunenburg and Mecklenberg Counties, who married Jane Hopkins and left a will in 1801 -- this is clearly a different family. (For more information, see the free space profile for William Davis.)
William Davis first shows up in Pittsylvania County in March 1779, when he bought a mill and 850 acres of land ("more or less"). It seems clear that he was the same William Davis who with wife Sarah sold 850 acres of land in Culpeper County three months before, in December 1778. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that William’s eldest daughter Mary was the husband of George Myers, originally of Culpeper County, who first appears in Pittsylvania County by 1782, neighbor of William Davis. The year after William Davis appeared in Pittsylvania County, his son Benjamin joined a militia regiment made up primarily of Culpeper men. Also living near William Davis was his presumed brother John Davis, who was definitely from Culpeper County. This John Davis was a carpenter, like his father Benjamin Davis of Culpeper County. In 1786 John and William Davis joined to sell a slave (apparently part of an inheritance) to a man from King William County, which is where their father Benjamin Davis came from.
William Davis of Pittsylvania had a daughter Sarah (named for her mother), who had a son with the unusual given name of Graves. Several land records in Spotslyvania and Culpeper Counties show a connection between William Davis of Culpeper and a Graves family, leading to the supposition that William's wife Sarah was a daughter of John Graves, Jr. (died after 1772) of Spotsylvania County, whose son James was William Davis's neighbor in Culpeper County. (For more information, see the free space profile for William Davis.)
There was also a "John Graves Davis" who pledged personal property in a loan from a William Davis in 1810. John Graves Davis would appear to be the son of William's son Benjamin Davis.
'On 23 January 1764, William Davis & wife Sarah, then residents of Culpeper, sell their Spotsylvania land, and William’s signature is recorded as the cross-hatched I. The 1764 deed was witnessed by John Graves Jr. and Joseph Graves, and the 1761 deed where William purchased the Culpeper land from Spotsylvania was delivered to James Graves (brother of John Jr. and Jos. Graves). William Davis witnessed several Spotsylvania deeds with Graves with the same cross-hatched mark (likely his wife Sarah was a Graves). James Graves lived near the land William Davis bought in Culpeper, and the Spotsylvania land William and Sarah sell from Culpeper was near the Graves family in Spotsylvania.
William Davis of Spotsylvania County bought 850 acres of land in Culpeper from widow Sarah Minor on 17 Aug. 1761, with (his new neighbor) James Graves as one of the witnesses to the deed. William Davis's final appearance in Culpeper County records occurs on December 1778, when he and wife Sarah sold this land. (For more information, see the free space profile for William Davis.)
More information on William Davis in Culpeper County can be found in "William Davis: From Virginia to Kentucky," a draft research report by Joan Horsley in 2012 and finished in 2017 by Pam Lasher. Unfortunately, this report mistakenly (and tentatively) concludes that William Davis of Culpeper was the same as the William Davis who died in 1823 in Fayette Co., Kentucky. This William Davis of Fayette Co., Kentucky appears to actually have been the nephew of William Davis of Culpeper and Pittsylvania Counties, son of William's brother James.
When William Davis sold his land in Culpeper County in Dec. 1778, the land record mentioned the adjoining landowners, referring to land "lately the property John Parks, Jr." Perhaps John Parks' land was the same tract, adjoining the land of William Davis, that Richard Parks bought in 1771 (deed quoted in Horsley, p. 9) Horsley identifies John Parks, Jr. as the brother of Richard Parks who married Mary Graves, daughter of James.James Graves was William Davis's neighbormost likely the brother of William Davis's wife Sarah's father.
Furthermore, "John Parks Jr was the son of John Parks and Margaret True, and grandson of John True and Sarah Martin of Spotsylvania. Benjamin Davis had close associations with both the True and Martin families." (Horsley 2012/17, p. 11) It would appear that this "John Parks, Jr." was the same man as the John Parks who became one of William Davis's new neighbors in Pittsylvania County (see below).
William Davis (d. 1791) first appeared in Pittsylvania County in 1779. There were two other William Davises who lived earlier in Pittsylvania County, and there were also two early William Davises in neighboring Halifax County. These various William Davises often get confused with each other, but an in-depth search of the early Pittsylvania land and tax records has sorted them out.
On 16 Mar. 1779 William Davis of Pittsylvania County bought 850 acres of land on both sides of the Bannister River and Cherrystone Creek, near Chatham in the middle of Pittsylvania County, from John Booth of Henry County, bordering land owned by Thomas Hardy, Sr., George Prosize, Robert Adams, John Short, John Parks, and Robert Wooding, for 1400 pounds. This land included the “William Pigg” mill, which had been built in 1768.
It would appear that John Parks, new neighbor of William Davis in 1779, was the same as the John Parks who served as co-executor of William Davis's will in 1791. There was also a Samuel Parks who witnessed the sale of a slave by William and brother John Davis in 1786, and who witnessed the 1786 deed of land from William Davis to son-in-law [[Bradley-3695|Daniel Bradley, and who was a bondsman for the 1787 marriage of William Davis's daughter Susanna to William Corbin. William Davis's presumed brother-in-law James Graves of Culpeper County had a daughter Mary who married Richard Parks. "The History of Pittsylvania County VA by Clement, 1976, on p 172 reports that Samuel Parks was a wagon conductor in 1781, and on page 287 that John Parks was an early JP [Justice of the Peace] in 1783."
The stone house that William Davis built on this land is still standing but is in bad repair; photos are on the internet.
William Davis appears in the 1779 tithable list in Pittsylvania in a large household including Benj, Garret, and Daniel Davis, and negroes Lemus, Jim, Sue, and Filly. (Daniel appears in the 1778 list, apparently the first of the family to locate in Pittsylvania County. Two of William’s sons named a son Garret, supporting the supposition that Garret was a son of William. Perhaps Garret and Daniel died in the Revolutionary fighting in 1780; many Pittsylvania militiamen took part in the military campaign in the Carolinas.)
William Davis patented an additional 400 acres on the branches of Bannister River and Cherrystone Creek, bordering the land of Thomas Hardy and Finney. A survey for this land was done 24 Apr. 1780, and he received the patent for the land on 1 Sept. 1780. (Another William Davis received land elsewhere in Pittslyvania County on the same day; this day appears to have been a busy one for clearing out a backlog of patent grants.)
During the Revolutionary War, when the fighting came close to home, foragers (including possibly William's future son-in-law Thomas Meade, who was a "forage master") came knocking on his door...
"William Davis was too old for active service, but the list of his contributions to the Continental Army is impressive -- a gray horse, a black horse, a bay horse, plus a wagon with horse, and hundreds of pounds of beef and bacon."
The above passage echoes the following records from the Pittsylvania Claims book, excerpted on the Davis Family of Pittsylvania County webpage: ____________________ Pittsylvania County Claims Book Page 2:
Page 37: To William Davis for 340 lbs. Beef @16/8
A marriage bond was registered in Pittsylvania County on 16 Nov. 1781 for William’s daughter Sarah to marry Thomas Maide (who later spelled his name Meade); surety for the bond were Thomas Maide and Benjamin Davis (William’s eldest son).
In 1782 the yearly tithable lists were replaced by personal property tax lists. In this year William Davis is shown with two “tithables” (white men over 21, presumably William and son Benjamin), nine slaves, four horses, and 16 cattle.
The 1782 land tax shows William Davis with 700 acres, which seems puzzling in light of his purchase of 850 acres (“more or less”) in 1779 and an additional 400 acres in 1780. William Davis gave land to his son-in-law George Myers (part of which was donated to the Upper Bannister Baptist Church), so presumably this accounts for part of the discrepancy, as the 1782 land tax shows George “Miers” with 200 acres. Another possibility is that the total acreage that William bought in 1779 was exaggerated in the deed (indicated by the phrase “more or less”), to match the number of acres that he had just sold in Culpeper County. Further research should be done in the land records to ascertain just what happened to the two tracts of land that William Davis bought.
William Davis doesn’t appear in the personal property tax records in 1783. Perhaps this was just an omission by the recorder.
In 1784 William Davis appears in the personal property tax list with two white men over 21 (William and son Benjamin), five slaves over 16; four slaves under 16; four horses, and 15 cattle.
The 1785 personal property tax list shows William Davis with two white men over 21 (William and son Benjamin), six slaves over 16, four slaves under 16, four horses, and 17 cattle. William had one additional slave and two more cows, compared to the previous year.
On 18 Feb. 1786 (recorded on the 20th), William Davis and John Davis of Pittsylvania County sold to Holt Richardson of King William County a Negro man named Ruben. Witnesses to the deed were Samuel Parks and John Bowden. Samuel Parks would witness an 1786 deed from William Davis to his son-in-law Daniel Bradley (see below), and serve as surety in 1787 for the marriage bond of William Davis’s daughter Susanna.
The 1786 land tax shows William Davis with 700 acres, same as in 1782. William Davis was consistently taxed for 700 acres until his death in 1791. The 1786 personal property tax list shows William Davis with two white men over 21, eight slaves over 16, ten slaves under 16, four horses, and 17 cattle. William had eight more slaves than the previous year. Had he recently come into an inheritance?
On 1 Dec. 1786 William Davis sold 100 acres on the north side of the Bannister River, "being part of the same tract whereon the said William Davis now lives," to his son-in-law Daniel Bradley. Witnesses to the deed were Thomas H. Wooding, Samuel Parks, and William Ming.
On 19 Feb. 1787, Samuel Parks entered into a marriage bond with William Corbin, who married William Davis’s daughter Susanna. Together with the bond was a note by William Davis, witnessed by son Benjamin and by Samuel Parks, giving permission for Susanna to marry.
The 1787 personal property tax list shows that William Davis paid on April 18, with zero men over 21 (aside from William; the recordkeeping was strange this year), six slaves over 16, eight slaves under 16, three horses, and 15 cattle. William had lost four slaves, a horse, and two cows compared to the previous year. On Apr. 20 William’s son Benjamin paid his tax, showing zero men over 21 (besides Benjamin), 1 slave over 16, 1 slave under 16, and 1 horse. This accounts for the horse and two of the slaves. William’s new son-in-law William Corbin had a slave in 1787, perhaps a wedding gift from William. (William's son-in-law Thomas Mead had one slave in 1786; the only time he is ever shown as owning a slave. In the following year he moved to what is now Wythe County, apparently without the slave.)
The 1788 personal property tax list shows William “Davise” with one white male over 21, four slaves over 16, 1 slave 12-16, and four horses. (Starting this year, the number of cows wasn’t listed.) Benjamin “Davise” paid on the same day, with 1 white male over 21 and one slave over 16. John “Davise” paid on the same day, with one male over 21, one slave over 16, and three horses. This was presumably the John Davis who bought 200 ares on Green Rock Creek (near William Davis) on 1 July 1788, and NOT William’s son John. This John Davis appears in Pittsylvania County as early as 1782, but apparently didn’t own land until 1788. This John Davis had one slave until 1786, when he suddenly had four slaves and a stud horse (similar to William, who also shows a sudden influx of slaves in 1786.) John Davis had the same number of slaves (and the stud horse) in 1787, but in 1788, the year he bought the land, he was back to one slave (and no stud horse). Once again, it seems reasonable to speculate that this John was a brother of William Davis, and that it was these two who sold the slave Ruben to Holt Richardson in 1786 (see above).
The 1789 personal property tax list shows that William Davis paid on April 20, with two white males over 21 (presumably William and middle son John), five slaves over 16, and three horses. William’s son Benjamin had paid on March 16 (with one slave and one horse), the same day as William's brother John Davis (with one slave and three horses).
On 4 June 1789 John Davis (presumably William’s son who had recently turned 21) entered a marriage bond with William Rickett, who married William Davis’s daughter Nancy.
The 1790 personal property tax list shows that William Davis (“Cherrystone”) paid on March 15, with three white males over 21 (presumably William and sons Benjamin and John), six slaves over 16, 1 slave 12-16, and three horses. William’s son Benjamin wasn’t on the list this year, so I assume that he was one of the three men listed in William’s household. William's brother John Davis (“Cherrystone”) paid on the same day as William, with one male over 21, one slave, and two horses.
William Davis, of Pittsylvania Co., Virginia "being far advanced in life," made his will on 4 June 1790, mentioning:
--son John (receives 3 head of cattle)
--son Benjamin (receives William's house and 150-acre plantation)
--son Joseph (also receives 150 acres)
--son Thomas (receives the rest of William's land, except one acre by the creek adjoining William's mill)
--daughter Nancy Rickett (receives a slave; the will mentions her husband William Rickett)
--daughter Peggy Davis (receives two slaves and a flock of geese)
--son-in-law Thomas Maide (the will cancels a debt owed by Thomas)
--son-in-law William Corbin (receives a slave and a feather bed, in consideration of a debt related to William's brother's will)
--sons Joseph and Thomas (mentioned again, now they receive William's mill with one adjoining acre of land)
--remainder of estate to be divided between youngest children Joseph, Thomas, and Lucy.
--son Benjamin instructed to rebuild the mill, keeping possession of the mill and slaves for three years and then distributing them according to the will's provisions
--single daughters to be provided for as long as they remain single
--if either son Joseph or Thomas dies before arriving unmarried at "lawful age," their share of the mill to go to the other brother
--son-in-law George Mires to receive nothing more than what he now has in his possession.
--son-in-law Daniel Bradley to receive nothing more than what he now has in his possession – the land he lives on.
--executors instructed to pay to Daniel Bradley the debt arising from William's executorship of his brother's will.
--William's friend John Parks and William's son Benjamin appointed executors.
--signed (with mark) June 4, 1790, and proved June 20, 1791.
--witnessed by William Miers, Jacob Miers, George Miers, Jr.
William's reference to his brother's will correspond to a legal action brought by Daniel Bradley against his father-in-law, which was dismissed in May 1790. The case arose against William as “executor” of the estate of his brother Noire Davis. The name Noire Davis never appears in the land or tax or probate records of Pittsylvania County, so it seems clear that Noire lived elsewhere.
William Davis’s will was probated on 20 June 1791, indicating that he died sometime between March (the previous court session) and June 1791.
Children of William Davis (birth order is educated guesswork):
1. Mary, married George Miers or Myers. It appears that George Myers lived in Culpeper County from 1758 through 1770, according to a researcher who who states that the earliest record found for him in Pittsylvania County was in 1779.
2. Sarah, born about 1753, married Thomas Maid (or Mead), with the marriage bond dated 16 Nov. 1781 at Pittsylvania Co., Va. Benjamin Davis was listed as surety on the marriage bond. If Sarah’s age was correctly stated in her 1843 widow’s pension application, she was close to 30 years old at the time of her marriage. This family eventually moved to Wythe County, and later to Pike County, Indiana.
3. Benjamin, born before 1757, a Revolutionary soldier, married Lydia Meador (presumably a second marriage) 31 Jan. 1800. Lydia's father Joab Meador made his will on 25 Feb. 1815, naming his "friends" Benjamin Davis and Thomas Davis (together with two others) as executors. Benjamin and Lydia had a daughter Nancy who married Samuel Thompson in 1822 in Pittsylvania County; and Benjamin and Lydia's daughter Sarah married her first cousin Jamison Corbin.
4. Daniel, perhaps son of William, appears on the 1778 Pittsylvania tithable list; living with William Davis in 1779 tithable list.
5. Garret, presumably son of William, living with William Davis in 1779 tithable list. William's youngest sons Joseph and Thomas both named sons Garrett, supporting the supposition that Garret was son of William.
6. Elizabeth (Bettie), married Daniel Bradley -- marriage bond 17 May 1784; her brother Benjamin was surety. It appears that Daniel Bradley was born in Cumberland County, son of Isham Bradley. Daniel Bradley was born about 1757, and moved from Cumberland County to Pittsylvania County in 1783, per his 1832 revolutionary pension application.
Daniel Bradley made his will 20 Aug. 1831 and it was probated 16 Apr. 1838. The will mentioned son Isham and "my daughters." The executors were his sons-in-law Reuben Hall and William Chaney. Witnesses were Thomas Wooding, Thomas Davis, Jr., and Lydia Davis.
7. Nancy, married William Ricketts 4 June 1789. Nancy was his second wife; he had four children by his first wife Barsheba Nelson. William and Nancy Ricketts had children Reuben, Nancy, Nathaniel, and Thomas.
8. John, apparently born around 1768, if he was indeed the extra adult male in William’s household per the 1789 personal property tax list. John was mentioned first in his father's will, receiving three cows and no land. Some researchers have assumed that John was the same as the John Davis, Jr. who married Nancy Hodnett 26 Sep. 1803 in Pittsylvania County. This is false, as the John Davis who married Nancy Hodnett was clearly identified as “Jr.” – which was the routine identification in the Pittsylvania records for the son of William's brother John Davis who lived near William and later moved to Pigg River.
9. Susanna, married William Corbin 19 Feb 1787; she was under age at the time of her marriage (her father William gave consent). William Corbin appears in the Pittsylvania County personal tax lists in 1788 and 1789, but I didn't find him in 1790 or 1791. William died before July 1801, when his father Ambrose Corbin was appointed guardian of William's children Jamison, Thompson, and Mary Corbin. Jamison Corbin married his first cousin Sarah Davis, daughter of Benjamin.
Susanna Davis, widow of William Corbin, married (2) William Nelson, whose sister Barsheba was the first wife of William Ricketts, husband of Susanna Davis's sister Nancy.
10. Peggy (Margaret), m. Moses Cheney 15 Aug 1791. "Moses Chaney, the son of Sarah and Jacob Chaney (Chapter I), settled two miles southeast of Laurel Grove, Virginia, on the place now owned by Witcher Slayton. Moses married Margaret Davis, and to this union were born six children. Their names were as follows: William, Singleton, Bird, Moses, Betty and Sallie. Margaret died and after her death Moses married Sallie Polly, a widow, whose name was Haley. To this second union were born two children, Jackson and Eleandor, Moses was a farmer by occupation." Moses Chaney's sister Elizabeth married Jonathan Davis, from a different Davis family in Pittsylvania County.
11. Joseph, b. about 1771 (underage in 1790 per father’s will, he first appears in the Pittsylvania personal tax lists in 1793), m. Lucy McGehee Hodnett 19 Mar. 1793 Pittsylvania Co., Va., d. 1 Oct. 1850 at Halifax Co., Va. Several of Joseph's children moved to Madison County, Tennessee.
12. Thomas, b. about 1773 (underage in 1790 per father’s will, he first appears in the personal tax lists in 1794), m. (1) Jane Hodnett 13 Jan. 1794 Pittslyvania Co., Va.; m. (2) Sarah Meador 8 July 1797 Pittsylvania Co., Va. Thomas was a prosperous miller and landowner in Pittsylvania County. Children by second wife Sarah Meador: --Garrett B.; m. Anna Thompson 1 Oct. 1822 Pittsylvania Co. --William, b. 13 Apr. 1800; m. Carmelia Craft 24 Oct. 1824 Pittsylvania Co. --Mary Taylor, b. 1803, m. Robertson Shelton 3 May 1819 Pittsylvania Co. --Thomas C., b. 1805, m. Elizabeth Sheppard 22 Nov 1824 Pittsylvania Co.
13. Lucy, married John Hodnett 9 Nov 1792; apparently m. (2) Jessee Woodson 1809.
Thank you to John Schmeeckle for creating WikiTree profile Davis-19677 through the import of mother_s mother.ged on Dec 3, 2013.
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On 3 May 2016 at 15:58 GMT J (Schmeeckle) S wrote:
On 7 Jun 2015 at 22:58 GMT J (Schmeeckle) S wrote: