In Memory Henry “Hank” Raymond Davis

Born 24 December 1922
Breed, Oconto County, Wisconsin

Died 10 January 2011, age 88
Kennewick, Benton County, Washington

Hank was one of those rare people whose charisma was unmistakeably larger than life. He will surely be missed by all who knew him. Hank was a great help to the William Davis DNA Project because he cheerfully agreed to do a saliva DNA test in order to prove that his Davis family line led back to Rev. William Davis, born 1663, Wales.

I had several phone conversations with Hank over the last two years during which he kept me laughing most of the time while I struggled to record his names on his family tree.

He told me many stories about how he had grown up during the depression, with his many neighboring families, in Breed, Wisconsin. He mentioned that when he was in high school he was an honor student and he made the baseball team.

He explained that during the depression Roosevelt created the C.C.C., the Civilian Conservation Corps. He said they planted trees and cleaned creeks. His father got a job filling potholes. Hank’s  first job paid $2.25 for 10 hours of filling pot holes.

Hank said he remembered once when a flock of grasshoppers came and ate everyone’s corn to the ground and another time how he walked 2 miles to get farina, sugar and salt. He told me he guessed he was poor, but he said he didn’t notice. “To me, it wasn’t bad times. You’re only poor if you’ve been rich and now have nothing.”

After high school Hank went into the army because he “didn’t want to be a farmer and didn’t want to kill animals.” Hank told how while he was in the army, the neighboring families from Breed- the Davises, the Halls, the Fugates, the Kufners, the Crosses, the Kronces, the Kellers and the Closes- all decided to go to Oregon where there were jobs in the lumber business. Cutting lumber wasn’t an easy way to make a living, though. He mentioned Lorn Hall who was killed in a saw mill accident at age 19.

Hank had many stories about his family. He told of his father, Raymond Archie Davis, and how Raymond Archie and his family “were reticent, but they loved each other.” He spoke of his mother, Laura (Hall) Davis, and how she ended up with a ranch and then she bought another one. He said that she raised cattle and flowers in Willamina, Oregon and when she died, she was in her garden.

He told of his mother’s sister, Mae, and how she had 16 children and he spoke fondly of his older sister, June, who had 3 sons: Frank, and twins, Steve and Stanley. Hank explained that June died in a fire in 1946, at age 24. He told of his younger brother, Allen, who stayed home on the farm.

Hank said he worked as a newscaster in WA and went by the name “H.R. Davis and the news.” He had many colorful stories about his wives and his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren and his little dogs.

“It’s a fun world,” Hank said. “You can be as sad as you want or you can make people laugh.” Clearly, he preferred to make people laugh.

Hank sent me all the facts he had on his family, including some family group sheets that his cousin, Nora (Kufner) Willes from Wisconsin, had collected, and I entered them in a family tree for him. To see all of Hank’s ancestors on his family tree, including Nora’s contributions, visit the William Davis DNA Project family tree. (Please send me any corrections or additions to this tree.) See a 5-generation pedigree chart of Hank’s line below.

Hank got so enthusiastic about the ancestry project that one day he sent me all his family photos. I put them in a photo scrapbook and called it “Winter Day at Lost Creek,” taken from a photo caption his mother wrote, and gave it to him as a Christmas/birthday present in 2009. Here are a few of those photos:

Henry Raymond Davis
graduation from HS, abt 1939, abt age 17
(“first suit”)

“The gang that came out to Oregon together from Wisconsin. Left to right: Clifford Hall, mother, Arnold, Nellie, in back of Shirley, Richard, Earl, Billie, Ora, Harry”

4 generations: Raymond, Hank, Archie and Frank (June’s baby), abt 1940

Publicity shot for “cleaning up local politics”
in Pendleton, OR
from East Oregonian, May 20, 1966, abt age 44

Hank Davis with grand-daughter, abt 1987, age 65

Hank loved sports and politics

For more photos from the scrapbook, Winter Day at Lost Creek, click on the photo below.

Ancestors of Henry Raymond Davis b 1922 Wisconsin

We miss you Hank!

-Jan (Davis) Markle

5 Generation Pedigree of Henry Raymond Davis (to enlarge, click 2x )