Results of Ethel Nielson’s Davis descendant test:

I1 (I-M253)

-NOT a descendant of Rev. William Davis,
born 1663, Wales, whose line tests as I2a1 (I-M26).

The results of this Davis test showed two 67-marker matches, one 3 steps off and one 7 steps off. Only 1 of these matches, the 7 step off match, carried the surname Davis. Interestedly, her closest match, 3 steps off at 67 markers, did not carry the Davis surname. There were also 3 matches, 3 steps off at 37 markers, who carried the Davis name.

Ethel is now working to see if there is any connection
between her matches and their paper family trees.


Another William Davis

by Jan R. Markle

If you like mysteries, here’s one for you. It involves a William Davis. “William” was a very popular name in the William Davis family.The website Descendants of Seventh Day Baptist, William Davis lists at least 55 different “William Davises.”   On the Harrison County Genealogical Society website, Sharon Bramhall even conjectures that because so many men in the Davis family were named “William Davis” and took to distinguishing themselves with nicknames like “Greenbrier Billy,” “Bottom Billy,” “Buckeye Billy,” “Flint Billy” and “Jersey Billy,” that perhaps this naming method inspired the word “hillbilly,” as in “Hill Billy!”

But when the William Davis men have no nicknames to distinguish them, they are hard to track. The mystery that we are attempting to solve today involves a William Davis, one who lived around 1740 to 1802 in Harrison County, West Virginia, and who has very few records pinpointing his existence.

Let’s see if we can figure out who is the “Rev. William Davis” referred to below in Corliss Fitz Randolf’s A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, published 1905. [For context, see full text online].

This William Davis can be distinguished from other William Davises by his daughter, Mary Davis, and Mary’s husband, Deacon Thomas Maxson. Thomas was the founder of  the West Fork River Seventh Day Baptist Church in 1791. Two family trees online (They Came To Milton, and Descendants of Seventh Day Baptist, William Davis) list this William Davis as the son of a Thomas Davis, and Thomas Davis as the son of a David Davis, born Wales, but cite no sources.

Did this William Davis come to West Fork River Church with the rest of immigrant Rev. William Davis’ congregation when they left Shrewsbury, New Jersey in 1789? If he preceded them, was he originally from NJ? Is this William Davis related to the original immigrant Rev. William Davis, born 1663 Wales?

Or is this William Davis from another Davis line, perhaps the line of Thomas and David Davis, unrelated to immigrant William Davis? If so, where did his line originate? Was he already in West Virginia when the congregation arrived?

These are some of the questions that Ethel Nielson has been pondering. Ethel Nielson is descended from William Joseph Davis (and Hannah Lambert), son of William Davis of the West Fork River Church. Might her questions be in part answered by a DNA test?

Ethel believes so and has recruited her uncle’s gggrandson, who carries the Davis name, to test. She is hoping that the results will confirm that her ancestor, William Joseph Davis, and his father, William Davis of West Fork River Church, are related to immigrant Rev. William Davis, born 1663 Wales. These results will be posted around mid August, so check back then to see the outcome of yet another Davis mystery.

Below are some of Ethel’s thoughts about William Davis of West Fork River Church, originally published at the Harrison County Genealogical Society web site.

Who was Pioneer William Davis?

by Ethel Nielsen
copyright 2009

Susie Davis Nicholson on page 680 of her book “Davis, The Settlers of Salem, West Virginia” says she is not able to identify the origin of Pioneer William and wife, Jane/Jean. On page 681, speaking of the New Salem Records, she says:

“On Feb. 1802, there was mention made of a Rev. William Davis of the West Fork River Church. We cannot place this man and think he might have been of the pioneer Davis family. No further mention was made of him and he may have left the church” (or died?).

In the beginning of her book, pages 3-5, she describes the Rev. William Davis of Wales who is considered the “father” of the Davis families in and around Clarksburg. The Reverend had two wives, ten children (6 were sons) and lived in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. He was a member, at different periods of his life, of the Baptist Church, the Seventh Day Baptist Church and the Quakers. He was the first minister of the Shrewsbury Seventh Day Baptist Church of New Jersey and died six months after his appointment in 1745.

Records during the colonial period are scarce and when they are found, are inadequate and difficult to read. For example, the Shrewsbury church, organized in 1745, was without a minister between 1752 and 1774. There were scant records, only 6 pages, between 1745 and 1752 and for the next 22 years very few entries until 1774. The early churches met in homes and a clerk was not always available to record the minutes even before the churches were formally organized. The oldest church in Pennsylvania is the Pennepek Baptist Church where the Reverend William joined in 1697. He was expelled February 17, 1698/9 for heresy. His next memberships were with the Seventh Day Baptist Churches.

Perhaps the question we should be asking is: was Pioneer William a grandson of the Reverend?

Any of the six sons of the Reverend William from Wales could be the father of Pioneer William. Pioneer William made a homestead improvement on Simpson Creek in 1772 and bargained it away to Jonathan Stout. About the same time, he made another bargain that gave him his land on the West Fork. William Davis was given a Certificate, signed 20th December 1784 (the year Harrison County was formed from Monongalia County) by Patrick Henry, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for 334 acres as Assignee of Job Stout, on the West Fork of Monongalia River including his settlement made thereon in the year 1776.

West Fork River, Clarksburg, WV

The Shrewsbury Church was in Monmouth, N.J. Both Job Stout and Jonathan Stout were descendents of the Richard Stout who settled in New Jersey about 1648 and with others purchased a large section of east New Jersey, called Monmouth. Richard was considered the largest landed proprietor, and served as overseer of the district of Middletown.

Pioneer William had a daughter Ann who married John Kelley in Harrison County in 1786; the Kelley family was from New Jersey. Pioneer William also had a daughter Mary who married Thomas Maxson in 1791; Thomas Maxson’s family were active members of the Shrewsbury Church and he was baptized in 1778 before the congregation migrated to Harrison County.

The Simpson Creek Baptist Church was the first church in the Western Territory. In 1777, the Simpson Church joined the Redstone Association and sent Pioneer William as their messenger. He represented the church again in 1788 according to minutes of the Redstone Association as well as minutes of Simpson Creek. The minutes of Simpson Creek also mention Pioneer William and/or his family during the years 1786, 87, 91, 92, 93, and in 94 his family was dismissed to attend the New Salem church but his membership was never acknowledged in New Salem minutes. Did the recorder of the minutes mean to say the West Fork River Church since both churches were Seventh Day Baptist Churches?

Pioneer William’s daughter Mary married Thomas Maxson in 1791 and he started the West Fork River Church in 1793 with 5 members. The minutes of the West Fork River Church have long ago disappeared. The Corliss Fitz Randolph Book: Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia (page 138-143) quotes a letter by Thomas Maxson. He talks about the rapid decline of the church following the rejection of the West Fork River to attend a General Conference in 1808, and he gives a partial list of members, one of which is Elder William Davis.

There appears to be a strong connection between the Reverend William and Pioneer William. The Reverend was a minister in New Jersey; the Kelly & Stout families were from New Jersey; the Maxson family was from New Jersey. All were active in the Baptist Church and the Seventh Day Baptist Church records are missing or non-existing. The Reverend had six sons; any one of the six could be the father of Pioneer William making him the grandson.