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Racine, Wisconsin, 1860, 12 miles from Caledonia, home of Job Greene Davis -Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society

Hello Davis descendants, cousins, family, researchers and interested followers,

We have received two new Y-test matches for our William Davis DNA Project since the last post. One a 67-marker test and the other a 12-marker test- they both match the standard signature of our William Davis DNA results, that of I-L160, known in old vernacular as I2a1b. This brings us to 26 Y-testing members who all match each other. Each of these 2 testers has a sister who is managing the test, so that means we have four new cousins!

Ancestors of the new matches

Both our new matches are descendants of a common ancestor, Job Greene Davis, who was born in 1799 in NY.

Job and his wife, Susan Money had 8 children and our two new matches are descendants of two of their sons: Samuel Parker Davis, born 1841 New York and Jerome Ahira Davis, born 1843 New York.

Around 1855, Job Greene and Susan Davis traveled 719 miles from Otselic, Chenango County, NY to Caledonia, Waupaca County, Wisconsin, a village 20 miles south of Milwaukee on the west coast of Lake Michigan, showing up enumerated on the 1860 census with their three youngest children. The Davis and Allied Families (Descendants of Seventh Day Baptist, William Davis) web site says that they made the trip in a covered wagon.

schooner1Might they have traveled in something like this?

In 1860, Samuel Parker Davis would have been 19 and, at the time of the 1860 Caledonia, Waupaca, Wisconsin census, his younger brother Jerome Ahira was 16, Eugene 14 and the youngest, Mary Ann “Amy,” was 12.  The four older siblings, 3 daughters and Nathan, were married by 1860. One older daughter, Julia, married in 1854 and stayed behind in Otselic, NY, but the rest all relocated to Wisconsin with their families.

Nathan Rogers Davis, older brother of Samuel Parker and Jerome Ahira, was listed on the same 1860 census in a separate household next door to the Job Green Davis family, also next to the Babcocks (Nathan’s wife’s parents), next to the Moneys (his mother’s family) and other extended family. Apparently they came as a group, probably all looking for the fertile farm land that Wisconsin was promoting to encourage new settlers.

Between 1860 and 1875, older brother Nathan died in 1863, leaving a widow and three children, younger brother Jerome Ahira served in the Civil War and returned to marry Eunice Dickinson and have 3 children (and later remarried Charlotte Butler and had four more children) and parents Job Green and Susan died in 1869 and 1873.

According to the Davis and Allied Families web site, Job and Susan died of black small pox and, for fear of contamination during the epidemic, their house was burned to the ground and they were buried away from the local cemetery. Their grave stones were found covered with dirt in a cornfield (“…literally dug up”) by Glenna Maria Davis Johnson and her family.

          S-Job Davis4     S-Susan Davis
Gravestones of Job Greene Davis, died 1869 and Susan Money Davis, died 1873
-Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

From Samuel Parker Davis to Samuel Peter Davis to Stuart Edward Davis

But where is our other Y-tester’s ancestor, Samuel Parker Davis, in 1860? Not to be found until he shows up on the 1870 census with his wife Eliza Garrow, and the first two of their three children, 137 miles north, in Mukwa, Waupaca County. This was the New London area of Wisconsin, named so by the first settlers who came from New London, CT.


By 1880, Samuel Parker Davis has relocated back south to Dayton, just West of Milwaukee, and is listed as a farmer, with 3 children, one of which is our tester’s ancestor, Samuel Peter Davis, 2 years old.

Four years later, Samuel Parker Davis, who had been a farmer, died early, at age 43. His son, Samuel Peter, was only six years old. Samuel Peter Davis later married Inez Schachte and they moved to Superior, Douglas County, Wisconsin, 389 miles north of Dayton where he made his living as a plumber.

SamuelPeterDavis1878WI-1962WISamuel Peter Davis, Marjorie and Inez Hildegarde 001crop
Samuel Peter Davis, Inez Hildegarde Schachte, and daughter Marjorie
Courtesy Mary Lee Davis La Blanc

Samuel Peter Davis and Inez had two daughters and a son, Stuart Edward Davis.

Stuart Davis with sisters Dorothy and MargeCROPStuart Davis with sisters, Dorothy and Marge
Courtesy Mary Lee Davis La Blanc

Perhaps because Stuart grew up in the Great Lakes coastal town of Superior, as an adult he chose to work on the Great Lakes for the Interlake Steamship Company. He worked on the lakes from March through much of December and, according to his daughter, loved his job. Stuart Edward and his wife Margaret McDonald, also had 3 children, one of whom was our tester.

StuartEdwardDavisCropped1911-1981Stuart Edward Davis, 1911-1981
-Courtesy Mary Lee Davis La Blanc

-Courtesy of the Interlake Steamship Company

From Jerome Ahira Davis to Orson Jerome Davis to Walter Orson Davis to Glenn George Davis

JeromeDavis AfterCivilWar
Jerome Ahira Davis, after the Civil Wall, New London, Wisconsin
-Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

The oldest son of Jerome Ahira Davis, Orson Jerome Davis,  married Stella Kent and had 6 children. They lived in Caledonia and then Mukwa, Wisconsin. Orson’s occupation is listed in 1930 as a farmer on a general farm at home. Orson Jerome Davis and Samuel Peter Davis were first cousins. Did the 307 miles between Superior and Mukwa affect how much they stayed in contact?

Orson Davis StellaKentFamily
Orson Jerome Davis, Stella (Kent) Davis and children: Chester, George, Jennie, Walter, Hazel and Doris about 1906. -Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

Walter Orson Davis, Orson Jerome’s first son, was born in 1891 in New London, Wisconsin and he died there in 1954. On the 1930 census, Walter was listed as a dairy farm laborer and in 1942 he was self-employed. In 1940, he and his family are living in Royalton, Wisconsin, only 12 miles from Mukwa, where Walter’s father, Orson Jerome, had moved in 1895.

WalterDAVIS&FannieHENRYWedding1917Walter Orson Davis and Frances (Henry) Davis,
wedding photo, 1917
-Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

Walter Orson married Frances (Henry) Davis and they had 6 children, one of which was our tester’s father, Glenn George Davis, born in 1929.

Glenn Davis familyGlenn and Nancy (Eckstrom) Davis family, Sugar Bush, WI, abt 1959 with tester and tester’s sister
-Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

If this line is sounding familiar, it’s because we had a tester early on in our project history who also descended from Walter and Frances (Henry) Davis. This early tester was the son of Ward Rexford Davis. Ward was the older brother of Glenn George Davis, so our current 67-marker tester is a first cousin to our earlier tester. The father of our current tester and the father of our earlier tester stand next to their sister in this family photo.

Walter Davis family, abt 1942. Front: Walter Davis, Lois, Fannie (Henry) Davis. Back: Kenneth, Ward, Verna, Glenn, Donald

-Courtesy Davis and Allied Families

Comparison of Results

Both our new testers’ results match the results of all our previous members of the William Davis DNA Project, indicating that they are both descendants of the original William Davis. See how the markers match up in our William Davis K87577 subgroup on the Davis Surname Project website.

Unfortunately for our analysis attempts, one of our new matches, the descendant of Samuel Parker Davis, is a 12-marker-only tester so we won’t be able to make any astute comparisons between them. Actually, the 12-marker tester also tested two additional markers as part of the advanced testing process, so it was more accurately a 14-marker test.

One interesting aspect of the results was that the 67-marker tester, the descendant of Jerome Ahira Davis, showed double values for his DYS #385, an unusual occurrence, which our Davis Surname Project Administrator says, is not unknown and “happens sometimes.” What are double values? Simply that the tester shows 4 results instead of 2 results on the marker DYS #385 (“10-11-12-12” instead of “11-12”). Its significance is that this tester is, according to the testing company, probably “genetically unique,” unless another male on his line has the same mutation.

Both new testers show the exact same values on the 14 markers that they both tested, except for the double marker values. This was fairly expected since the testers are “third cousins, once removed.”
That means, three generations ago, their ancestors were siblings. (The “once removed” means one line is separated by four generations.)

If third cousins test almost the same, you’d expect the tests of the two first cousins to be exact duplicates, wouldn’t you? But our 67-marker tester is 2 steps of genetic distance off from his first cousin, the earlier tester. The double marker values at DYS 385 counted as one step off and they also had another marker with one step genetic distance.

So our 67-marker tester matches closer to Hank Raymond Davis, kit #151841 (and Hank’s two identical matches), with only 1 step off (that step being his double markers). Our tester is closer to Hank, at least a fifth cousin, than to his own first cousin. Will there ever be a rational pattern to these results?

See the chart below of simplified results that lists only markers that show differences among our testers, omitting duplicate tests. See proven lines chart to see the ancestor lines for each tester.

[Chart being updated]
“Simplified” comparison chart listing
just markers that differ among the testers
(click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

So, welcome new William Davis descendants, brothers and sisters!

For more Davis photos, check the Ancestor Photos page.

 Autosomal Tests

If it seems like it’s been a while since the last post, that’s because I’ve been busy studying how to apply autosomal testing to our project. Autosomal tests, or “A-T” tests, are the latest kind of DNA tests. The Y-tests track the father’s line, from son to father to grandfather and on up the paternal line; the Mitachondrial tests track the mother’s line, from daughter (or son) to their mother, to grandmother and on up the maternal line. But the AT test tracks all the lines, and a woman can take the test! Finally! The females can start finding their own matches.

-Creative Commons License, Angela Cone

I’ve been learning how adoptees use autosomal testing to find their birth parents and have been applying their methodology for solving genealogical blocks. The method is: find the ancestors of the people who match your DNA, then, when you hit an ancestor in common for two or more of your matches, you track their lines down (towards the present), and sideways (siblings), until you find a person, in about the correct year and place, who fits the description of who you’re searching for.

The DNA doesn’t lie. If two people match your DNA on the same chromosome, and they match each other, then you know you three have an ancestor in common, somewhere. When you exchange family trees, you’re looking for who that might be. This isn’t breaking down brick walls, it’s leapfrogging over them!

What’s exciting is how many different people carry bits of the same DNA that you carry. If one match doesn’t lead to the family you’re looking for, there are many other matches to that same segment who might have the answer.

I urge any of you Davis or non-Davis surname Y-testers who have questions about how your line fits into the larger Davis family tree to take the AT test. It costs $99 at FTDNA and there is often a sale of half price during the next two holidays, so keep an eye out for it.

Even if you don’t have questions about your line, it is a lot of fun to meet people whose DNA matches yours. It’s like a genealogical social media network. You’d be surprised how far-flung our Davis cousins are. Because the Davis family migrated to several places, the Davis DNA is turning up in descendants in all those places.

We already have a few people in our project who have taken the AT test and are comparing results. Much fun! If you’ve taken the AT test, please let me know your kit number and testing company so we can compare results.

The more cousins who take the test who are known Davis matches on the Y-test or AT test, the easier it is to sort the results of the ones who need placement. If all the members tested, we might even be able to eventually anticipate the DNA of William Davis, our patriarch. (See Ancestor Reconstruction.)


Old-mail-serviceI’m still waiting for a couple of stragglers who haven’t sent me their address before I can send out something in the mail (you know, that thing that isn’t on the computer) to you all. If you’re one of those who hasn’t sent me your current address (you know who you are!), please send your physical mailing address to: jrmarkle at g mail dot com. Thank you.

Until the next post or the next cousin,

best wishes,

Jan Davis Markle, Director
William Davis DNA Project

Additions, corrections or comments gratefully received in comment section.


“William Davis Pvt NJ Militia Rev War Mar 21 1758 Jan 6 1845”
Known as “Greenbrier Billy.”

Hello Davis descendants, researchers and interested followers,

We’ve got two new matches at the 67-marker level to consider and just got notice that we have another new match at the 37- marker level who we will look at in the next post, when we get all the details.

For now, we have two new matches to think about and they are both in the same neighborhood on the Brisley side of the Davis family tree. The “Brisley side” means that both testers descend from William1 Davis and his first wife, Elizabeth Brisley, via their first son, John2.

William had 4 more sons via second wife, Elizabeth Pavior, who are on the “Pavior side” of the family tree, but we have tested descendants of only 1 of those 4 sons, James2.

The ancestor in common for both new matches is Thomas “William”3 Davis, son of John2, who was born in 1719 in Rhode Island and migrated to Shrewsbury, New Jersey. He migrated again with his adult children and other Seventh Baptist families in 1789, only to die in White Day Creek, Monongalia County, Virginia, in 1791, having not yet reached Salem, (West) Virginia.

Two of Thomas William3’s 3 sons: William “Greenbrier Billy”4 and Rev. Nathan4, head up the separate lines of our two new matches.

About our first match- the green line on the chart

At the last post, we had just received news of a new match, at the 67-marker level. He is kit #219 (kit numbers are shortened to the first three numbers) and is a descendant of William “Greenbrier Billy”4 Davis.

This match’s grandfather was Deuron Clifford8 Davis and Deuron’s father was Sylvanis7 Davis, both coal miners from Coal township, Harrison County, WV.

Sylvanis Davis Civil War 001Sylvanis Davis, 1846 WV- 1929 Clarksburg, WV
Courtesy Sharon Sprouse Bramhall

If we follow Deuron’s line up, we find Sylvanis7 was the son of Absalom6 Davis who was, in 1850, a farmer living in Doddridge County, West Virginia. His wife, Polina S.W.5, was also a Davis, a descendant of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis. They had 14 children and adopted a fifteenth.

absalomdavisBirthsAbsalom Davis Bible, Births, Courtesy Sharon Sprouse Bramhall

Absalom’s father was Rev. Peter5 Davis, a Seventh Day Baptist minister in New Salem, Harrison Co., WV and Rev. Peter’s father was William “Greenbrier Billy”4.

(See Ancestor Photos page for images of birth, death and marriage pages from Absalom’s and Sylvanis’ Bibles.)

Rev2PeterDavis1783-1873“Rev. Peter Davis, Died Mch. 4 1873, Aged 89 Ys, 5Ms 16Ds”

Susie Nicholson says: “Peter Davis was about six years old when his parents [Greenbrier Billy4 Davis and Elizabeth Johnston] joined in the 1789 migration with the Seventh Day Baptist group from Shrewsbury, New Jersey to Western Virginia… He outlived both wives [Sarah Davis and Sarah Fitz-Randolph] and was cared for by his daughter, Jemima, wife of Rev. Jacob Davis.” -excerpted from Davis, The Settlers of Salem, West Virginia, by Susie Davis Nicholson, 1979, pg 32.

About our second match- the aqua line on the chart

DavisStephenC.Tombstone“Stephen C. Davis,
Born Sept. 30, 1781, Died Aug 16, 1869, Aged 87 Ys 10 Mos. 16 Ds”
Son of Rev. Nathan Sr. Davis

Our second new match, also matching on the 67-marker test, is kit #320. He is a descendant of Rev. Nathan4 Davis, Greenbrier Billy4’s older brother. Our second match’s grandfather was Howard Lee9 Davis, born in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia.

HowardLeeDavis1910-1971Howard Lee Davis, abt 1918

Track this line back, all in West Virginia (“Virginia,” before 1863), and you find Howard’s father was Mingo H. 8. Mingo’s wife was Jean7, also a Davis, grand-daughter of William “Buckeye Billy”5 Davis, who was the grandson of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis.

It’s easy to wonder where the name “Mingo” came from since it is such an unusual name, especially in 1871 when Mingo H. was born. With no stories handed down in the Davis family about its origin, a bit of research finds that there is a county in West Virginia named “Mingo” but it was formed in 1895. Mingo H. Davis was already 24 years old in 1895.


The other mention of the name Mingo is that of an unincorporated area in West Virginia called “Mingo,” or “Mingo Flats,” which was named after the historic Iroquoian Mingo people who migrated west to Ohio around 1750. Mingo Flats had apparently been the site of one of their villages. The migrants were called “Mingos,” a corruption of “mingwe,” originally meaning “chief” or “greatest,” later meaning “colonial,” referring to their Iroquoian outpost in WV.

Descendants of the settlers of Mingo Flats had stories handed down from their ancestors about the ancient Mingo village and, in 1920, wanted to honor its existence by erecting a statue.

MingoIndianStatue,Mingo,WVBeing that Mingo Flats was not very far from Clarksburg, Harrison County, might it be that those same stories, much more vibrant in 1871, were the inspiration for the name “Mingo H.?”

Going further up the line, we find Mingo’s father was Mark7. During the Civil War, Mark Davis was in the Confederate Cavalry while his brothers served in the West Virginia Militia and Union Army.  And after the war, they went back to being neighbors. Mark’s father was David D.6. On the 1850 Doddridge County, Virginia census, David D. Davis’ occupation is listed as “Toll Gate No. 10.”

David D. and Absalom, ancestors of these two lines, were 2nd cousins, born within 5 years of each other and both lived in Doddridge County, VA in 1850. They probably knew each other well.

David’s wife was Anna5 Davis, also a descendant of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis, leading us to Stephen C.5 .

Stephen C.5 is the ancestor in common for lines #2 and #3. He was the son of Rev. Nathan4, Greenbrier Billy4’s older brother.

That’s a lot of Davis ancestry in one line!

Follow the lines on a chart

On the chart below, the new tests are lines 2 (aqua) and 5 (green), highlighted with red shadow.

Testers on this chart have been placed in sequence of oldest to youngest, left to right. At each generation, the oldest son and his descendants are listed first, on the far left of tree, and the youngest son and his descendants are listed last, on the far right of tree. This places testers descending from the same ancestor in common next to each other.

Who do you think will match?

1. We would expect new tester #320, line 2, to match closely to previous tester #275, line 3 (aqua lines) because they descend from brothers at gen 6 (Brothers are David D.6 and Nathan G.6.)

2. We would also expect new tester #278, line 5, to match closely to previous tester #219, line 6 (green lines) because they descend from brothers at gen5 (Brothers are Rev. Peter5 and George Johnston5).

Lineage chart of 2 new matches  (shadowed red)

[Chart being updated]

(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

 Comparison of results
and some questions to ask

Now that we have the lines, let’s compare the DYS values, possibly answering some questions:

1. How close will the lines match?

2. Are there any markers or combination of markers that distinguish any lines from each other?

3. Do the markers display the relationships that we already know?

That is, if you didn’t know who the new matches descended from, could you predict their probable lines from their DYS results?

DYS Marker Comparison

As we gain more testers, our test comparisons get more complex, so this bit of analysis may take some patience.  (Not the usual webpage sound bites here).

A chart is the best way to compare markers but it’s hard to see patterns in a large chart with 67 markers. So, to simplify the results, the following is a smaller chart of our group’s 12 changing markers only.

  • The marker results that all testers had in common were omitted, duplicate tests were omitted, less than 67-marker tests were omitted and non-Davis tests with many mismatches were omitted.
  • The testers were sorted by line and color-coded by ancestor in common (matching colors of the lineage chart). Marker results were colored by type: anomaly results (only one or two testers show that marker result) were colored yellow, unusual results colored green, variations in marker values colored shades of blue and identical marker values colored pink.
  • The order of DYS columns was changed to line up same-value markers together. Fast-changing DYS names are in red text.

[Chart being updated]
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

  • Rev. Nathan4’s  four lines, are the first four rows. (The first two rows, colored blue and light blue, are lines 1 and 4, both previous testers.)
  • The 3rd and 4th rows, colored aqua and light aqua, are line 2 (with new tester #320) and line 3.
  • The 5th and 6th rows, colored green and light green, are Wm Greenbrier Billy4’s two lines, line 5 (with new tester #278) and line 6.
  • The other rows, purples, pinks and golds, are other previous testers‘ lines.

Move back and forth between the lineage chart of new lines and this DYS marker chart to get a feel for how the markers reflect the lines that they represent.

Analysis of Results


So what do we find?

1. How close do the new lines match?

New tester, kit #320 on line 2 (aqua), does match kit #275, on line 3, but with 2  steps off, a bit more genetic distance than expected.

In 6 generations, there were 2 mutations.

New tester, kit #278 on line 5 (green), does match kit #219, on line 6, with 1 step off, as expected.

In  6 generations, there was 1 mutation.

2.  Can the lines be distinguished by their DYS results?

  • Yes. On new line 2, (kit #320, aqua), DYS 481=22 appears to be an anomaly. No other tester shows this result. This temporarily does distinguish line 2, kit #320 (until it shows up later in another line). All other testers show DYS 481=23.
  • And no. On new line 5, (kit #278, green), shows a combination of  three values: DYS 391=11, CDY=34-34 and 576=21.
    But that same combination, 11, 34-34 and 21, shows up in an exact match from another previous tester, kit #151, on the Archie E. Davis line, (first dark purple row on the DYS comparison chart), proving that the 3 DYS combo does not distinguish line #5 (kit #278) from the other lines.

3. Do the markers predict known relationships?

No. If you didn’t know where to place kit #278, you might look for an ancestor of that previous tester, kit #151, on the Archie E. line, because #151 is an exact match to kit #278.

This exact match implies that #151 would be closer to #278 on the paper tree than #219 would be, since #219 is one step off.

But we know that, on the paper tree, kit#219’s line is closer to kit #278’s line and we see kit#151, Archie E.’s line, would be a very wrong direction to research because kit #151’s line descends from David Rogers Jr.4, an entirely different line of the tree than the William Greenbrier Billy4 line from which kit #278 actually descends. (See kits # 278, 219 and 151 on the Proven Lines, Brisley Branch chart below.)

So the exact match would give researchers a bum steer.

All Davis descendants on the Davis family tree are related, so we could phrase this odd observation as:

Fifth cousins, kit#278 (line 5) and kit #219 (line 6), who are close to each other on the paper tree, match one step off;

but sixth cousins, kit #278 (line 5) and kit #151 (Archie E.7 line), who are farther away from each other on the paper tree, match exactly.


4. As to placing kit#320 (line 2, the aqua line, on the lineage chart), if you looked at just the first two changing markers, DYS 391=11, CDY=35-35 (the “almost anomaly”),  you might look (correctly) to kit #275, on line 3 (light aqua line) because kit #275 also has the same first two markers. If so, you’d have kit #320 placed pretty close to where he belonged.

But, because kit #275’s 3rd and 4th changing markers are each one step off from kit#320, you might continue to look elsewhere.

You might have chanced to see that previous tester, kit #152, on the William6, b 1810, NY line, also matches with 391=11, CDY=35-35 ,with an additional third marker match at 576=21 (See Proven Lines, Brisley Branch, chart).

Those first 3 matching markers might have sent you off searching for ancestors on kit #152’s line. That choice would take you off in a very wrong direction because kit#152, descends from Thomas William4, along an entirely different line than kit#320’s actual line from Rev. Nathan4.

So, do the markers display the relationships we already know?

With this particular grouping of results for kit #320, the answer is: not really. The results partially point to a correct line but point more so to an incorrect line.

What’s a genetic genealogist to do?

ladybugCROPPEDObservations and conclusions

1. The 2 new lines show only 4 changing markers while there are 12 possible changing markers amongst all testers to date. With such a small pool of changing markers, we might need many more tests before we can make predictive sense of the marker values.

2. In general, an anomaly should be a good designator of a unique line. But when an anomaly starts showing up in more than 1 (or 2?) tests, it ceases to be an anomaly and becomes just another marker variation.

3. Is it a significant observation that, besides #278, we have two other kits, #141 and #204, both with unknown links to the William Davis tree, who are also exact matches to #151, the Archie E. line?

Kit #141’s oldest ancestor is Benjamin West Davis, born 1786 Chautauqua County, New York and kit #204’s oldest ancestor is William Burnett, born 1771 Sussex County, New Jersey. Kit #151, Archie E.’s line, originates in Rhode Island, then moves to Lincklaen, NY and then to Wisconsin. They don’t seem to have places of origin in common.

Might kit #151, the Archie E. line, possibly be our patriarch, William Davis’, original DNA signature and that’s why we have four exact matches to it?

4. Observations as to matching: a close relative on paper may show more genetic distance than a further relative on paper.

5. An exact or close match, by itself, does not necessarily designate the line from which an unknown tester descends.

For those who don’t know where to place themselves on the Davis family tree, these last two observations can be daunting.

As a result, it makes sense to get as much information as possible from many tests before spending inordinate time researching lines that might be leading in the wrong direction. There are a lot of ancestors, along a lot of lines, in the 10 generations leading back to William1.

Flanders_Family_Tree(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

Directions for future testing?

We may have to begin to look to the 111-marker tests to see if they show any further ability to distinguish results.

We may have to compare results in more than one way: perhaps comparing fast-changing markers and slow-changing markers separately and then combining the comparisons.

Tests on more lines might tell us if discord between the results and the paper family tree is the norm or the exception. Are all the Davis genes highly active or just some lines?

And we may have to just continue mapping the Davis family tree, trying to test one descendant of each major line. We may yet find a pattern emerges if we continue to study marker changes on lines whose relationships we already know.

More cousins

Whether or not we know where we fit on the tree, each test introduces us to yet another Davis cousin, another descendant of our original immigrant ancestor. We may feel like just virtual friends, but DNA doesn’t lie. We are all connected as family, even if it is a very large family.

We currently have 25 members in the WDD Project (26 with latest match) who live all across the U.S. and we have many interested potential Davis cousins planning to test.  One day in the future, we might take on the task of figuring out just how many Davis descendants William Davis has produced altogether in this clan. Of course, we might need a statistician to help.

Thanks to all of you who have queried this website and who have been so gracious to share your family information. And thanks to the contributions of Tim Davis who finds and helps fund testers for the FTdna Davis Surname Project.

If you have any questions, additional perspectives or corrections, please add them in the comment section or email me. And if you have any other Davis family information, please let me know and I will add yours to our growing collection.

Don’t forget to check the Ancestor Photos page for more Davis historical photos related to these two lines.

Until the next post, or next cousin, whichever comes first.

Best wishes,

-Jan Davis Markle, Director
William Davis DNA Project (
jrmarkle at g mail dot com

Proven lines, Brisley Branch, April 2014
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

 Proven lines, Pavior branch, April 2014
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

Davis pic 1951
Latest DAVIS match!
Seen here abt 1951 with his mother,
Josephine (Sherman) Davis

To all members of the Davis Family and interested DAVIS researchers: we have three new Davis matches! Let’s call that four, since we have a last minute update.

It appears that we have yet another new match, a fourth one, whose 12-marker test has just come in and who descends from the Greenbriar Billy/ Rev. Peter Davis line. More on him in a later post after the rest of his markers are posted.

Our latest 67-marker match is the son of Orin Thomas Davis, b 1875 Carlston, Minnesota. He is the grandson of Stanton Henry Davis, born 1844, New York. And he is the great-grandson of the famous, (in our tree), Benjamin Davis, the one with 19 children, with his third wife, Anna Lowing.

Stanton Henry Davis was the youngest of all 19 sons and daughters of Benjamin Davis5, who had three wives, Lydia Burdick, Sally Burdick and Anna Lowing. Stanton was 10 years old when his father died in 1854 in Watson, Lewis, New York. Eleven years later, Stanton is found on the 1865 Carlston, Freeborn County, Minnesota census at age 21, and then, a year later, he married Emaline Julia Bowen.

Stanton Henry Davis and Emaline had 7 children, including one set of twins. Our current tester’s father, Orin Thomas Davis, was one of those twins and Orson Truman Davis was the other. They were born fourth and fifth.

But what was it in 1865 that attracted young Stanton Henry Davis from Watson, New York , some 1,173 miles away, along the Great Lakes, through Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Wisconsin to Carlston, Minnesota?

Did it have to do with the civil war? Was it because Carlston Township was called “Stanton” township until 1858 in honor of an earlier settler named Elias Stanton? Did it have to do with the fertile soil that beckoned all farmers with a promise of bountiful crops?

It also might possibly have been love. One interesting fact is that Stanton Henry Davis’ wife, Emaline Julia Bowen, had a sister, Sarah Arvilla Bowen. Sarah married Stanton Henry’s nephew, Orville Elverton Davis, in Carlston, Minnesota, 6 months after Stanton married Emaline. Maybe it was something about those Bowen girls!

Orville and Stanton were more like contemporaries, rather than uncle and nephew, since Orville was only 5 years younger than Stanton. Orville was Benjamin Jr’s son. That is, Benjamin5, with the 19 children, had a son, Benjamin, Jr.6, and Benjamin Jr.’s son was Orville.

Opera Block, Ellendale, North Dakota, abt 1910

And what was it about Ellendale, North Dakota, that attracted Stanton’s son, Orin Thomas Davis, to move further west in 1914 or so? Ellendale was 225 miles due west of Orin’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota. Was it because Orin’s father, Stanton Henry Davis, had just died in 1914 in Minnesota?

Being that the town was named after Mary “Ellen Dale” Merrill, (the wife of S.S. Merrill, superintendent of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad), perhaps it was also the railroad stop in Ellendale, the first town to have a railroad in the entire region in 1882, that enticed this branch of the Davis family west.

Perhaps it was the rich, black soil and the Red River Valley “boom” that began in the 1880’s and established Fargo, North Dakota, an area 160 miles NE of Ellendale, straddling the Minnesota-North Dakota border along the north-flowing Red River, as a center for farmers.

Whatever reason brought them there,  Orin Thomas Davis and his wife, Josephine Sherman, had  8 of their 10 children born in Ellendale, North Dakota, and Orin lived there until his death in 1951.

Orin Thomas Davis, 1875-1951
Ellendale City Cemetery
Ellendale, Dickey, North Dakota

Update: photo of 10 of Orin and Josephine Davis’ 10 adult children, abt 1982.

10 Davis'sAll 10 of adult children of Orin T. and Josephine Davis, about 1982

Davis Pic 7
9 of 10 adult children of Orin T. and Josephine Davis, about 1986.

Our current tester, son of Orin Thomas Davis, left home at age 13 to live with his older sister in Forbes, ND. He went into the army in 1950 and served in the Korean War. When he returned, he married and bought his other sister’s farm and turned it into a dairy farm. In 1975, he sold the farm and bought the Circle Bar. He renamed it “Dale’s Corner Corral” and it became very successful. He was responsible for bringing the PRCA Rodeo to Ellendale until the city stopped sponsoring it. He sold the bar in 1997 and finally retired a few years ago. See more about his line at the William Davis DNA Project members’ tree. See more photos at the Ancestor Photos page.

CourtesyHock_venomAsh tray from Dale’s Corner Corral
Courtesy Hock_venom,

Other Matches- only 12 markers

Our other two new matches are only 12-marker matches so, without further markers, they won’t give us much genealogical information except to verify their lines.

1. The first 12-marker match, Living Davis, is the son of Stuart Edward Davis, 1911 WI-1981. His line is Stuart Edward9> Samuel Peter8>Samuel Parker7>Job Greene6>Joshua5 Davis.

Congratulations all you descendants of Stuart Edward Davis! You’re in the Davis clan!

This new tester’s ancestor, Samuel Parker Davis7, was the brother of Jerome Ahira7. Their ancestor in common, 4 generations back, was Job Greene Davis, born 1799 NY,  so we’d expect that #xxx088’s later markers, DYS 13-67, to closely match that of previous tester #xxx037, son of Ward Rexford10 Davis, who descended from Jerome Ahira7 Davis. We’ll have to wait and see.

2. The second 12-marker match is a brother of an already tested Davis member, #xx577,  who is tentatively placed on the line next to #xxx841, Hank Davis’ ancestor, Archie Eugene7 Davis. That line is : Charles7 (brother of Archie Eugene7)>Richard Robert6>David Rogers Jr5 Davis.

No real further information there except to verify, as expected, that the test results of the brothers, #xx577 and # xxx049, descendants of Gilbert Charles Davis, are exact duplicates.

Analysis of results

The Orin Thomas7/Stanton Henry6 Davis line stems from Benjamin5 Davis, b 1772 CT. Because Olin Cecil9 Davis also descended from Benjamin 5, that makes Benjamin5 an ancestor-in-common to both their lines.

Olin’s ancestor, William6, b 1810 NY, was the third son of Benjamin5 Davis (and first wife, Lydia Burdick). Stanton Henry6 Davis, b 1844, NY., was the twelfth and last son of Benjamin5 Davis (and third wife, Anna Lowing).

Even though they had 34 years between them and had different mothers, Olin’s ancestor, William6, was actually the older half brother of Orin Thomas’ ancestor, Stanton Henry6 Davis.  Being that both these testers, Olin Cecil Davis and Orin Thomas Davis’ son, had an ancestor in common in four generations on one side and three generations on the other side, you would think that their test results would be quite close to each other, wouldn’t you?

WRONG! Just to show how variable the DNA can be, Olin Cecil’s test, which should be genetically close to Orin Thomas Davis’ line, is instead measured as being five steps away in genetic distance. Yet another Davis member, #xxx037, who descended from a more distant relationship, is shown as being only three steps away, supposedly “closer” genetically.  This other line is descended from Benjamin’s uncle, Rev. David Rogers Davis, Sr. and they do not have an ancestor in common for eight generations! You would expect 8 generations would be further away genetically and show more change in markers than four generations, but not so in this case.

Take a look at the updated Proven Lines Chart on the William Davis DNA Project site to see a diagram of Olin’s and Orin’s lines, older proven lines and the relationships between them.

Lucky we usually know where to place these testers on the family tree without having to deduce it from the marker results.

Possibly, with more tests, a larger explanatory pattern, that we can’t discern at the moment, will emerge.

Analysis chart

This Analysis chart is an attempt to simplify the understanding of our testers’ differences. It tracks only the changing markers. The rest of the 67 markers are not listed because, at this point in comparison, they are the same for each tester on this chart. Duplicate testers or non-Davis surnames have been omitted. (Benjamin West DAVIS and Peter H. BURNETT lines are duplicates to #xxx841.)

Testers on this chart have been reordered in the sequence of when they occur on the family tree: oldest son and his descendants (far left of tree) are listed first; youngest son and his descendants (far right of tree), last. This allows testers descending from the same ancestor in common to be placed next to each other.

See on the Proven Lines chart how the lines descended from the first son are on the left of the chart and move to the right with the later sons.

Testers with common ancestors are shaded the same color. We would expect them to have identical or closely matching results.  Theory says that the less generations between a tester and an ancestor in common, the less time for marker mutations. So testers three generations from a common ancestor  probably, statistically, would have less marker changes than testers seven generations away.

Does that premise hold for our Davis testers so far? Look at the testers shaded the same colors and see the number of generations to their common ancestor. Count the number of markers that are different between them. Do those with smaller number of generations to an ancestor in common have less marker differences than those with a larger number of generations? Do you see any pattern in their results? Share your observations with a comment on this page if you’re inspired. (click on chart for larger view).


Summary of 2013 William Davis DNA Project Membership

We currently have 23 members of the William Davis DNA Project with matching tests (soon 24 members). This represents 18 distinct lines, two of which have different surnames and four of which are not positively placed on the William Davis family tree yet. Fourteen of these lines are descended from William Davis and his first wife, Elizabeth Brisley. Three of these lines are descended from William and his second wife, Elizabeth Pavior.

Thank you all for your cooperation with testing and sharing information about your lines. Hopefully we will begin to see clearer patterns with a larger number of testers.

To all you William Davis DNA Project members: if you have moved since you became a member, please contact me with your physical mailing address and look for some non-virtual (snail) mail to reach you soon.  Send any change of address to: jrmarkle at g mail dot com. Don’t miss out! 🙂

Best wishes to all you Davis cousins,

Jan Davis Markle, Director
William Davis DNA Project

More History: Anna Lowing, 1802-1889

Daughter of William Lowing and Anna Haight, step-daughter of William Vaughn, married first to Eusebius Sweet and married second to Benjamin Davis.


“Written on back of photo: ‘Grandma Davis, Grandma Maxson’s Mother.’ That would be Anna Lowing-Vaughn Sweet Davis 3rd wife of Benjamin Davis and her second marriage. Child of William Lowing & Anna Haight. Step-daughter of William Vaughn & Anna Haight.”
                                       –Courtesy of “My Family Story” by Weid427 and “Covel Family Tree” by jlrmvocel72 on

Anna Lowing was the youngest of 9 children of William Lowing and Anna Haight.  “Grandma Maxson” would be her daughter,  Susan Belle Davis who married S. S. Maxson.

According to the story “Lowing Genealogy,” William Lowing was by born James William McLaughlin in Kingston, Jamaica in 1758 but went by the names of”MacLaughn,” “Laugh,” and”Lowing.”

James’ father, a shipping captain, died when James  was 15 years old and James found himself apprenticed to a harsh captain. In running away, James, now going by William, found himself fighting indentureship of “orphans,” hence the creative invention of alternative names. After marrying, William and his wife, Anna Haight, and children lived in Vermont until they moved to Peru, New York where William died early at the age of 45. Anna Lowing, the youngest, was only 6 months old. Anna Lowing moved to Minnesota with her son, Stanton Henry Davis, and died there in 1889.


We have a new Davis member of the William Davis DNA Project. He is Kit #201748 on the FTDNA Davis Surname Project. He descends from Annanias Davis, born 1784, the son of Rev. Nathan Davis, Sr.

His line is Rev. William1,  John2, Rev/Capt Thomas William3, Rev. Nathan4, Annanias5, Nathan6, Marion C.7, Edward H.8, Edward H. Jr.9, living Davis10.

Annanias came from Salem, WV to Ohio and then to Sullivan County, Indiana and Annanias’ son, Nathan, continued northwest from Indiana to Welton, Clinton County, Iowa.


Our new match closely matches (1 step off at 67 markers) three of our other William Davis DNA Project members.

Our new member first matches the tester who descends from Annanias’ brother, William Gifford “Jersey Billy” Davis, both sons of Rev. Nathan Davis, Sr.

William Gifford “Jersey Billy” Davis  was the oldest,  born in NJ in 1762 and was 22 years older than Annanias Davis (and Annanias’ twin brother, John) who were the youngest, born in NJ in 1784. (See their lines on the far left of the  “Proven Lines” chart.)

This first match shows the same marker results at DYS 391, both of them=10, which sets them off from the rest of the group, who all have DYS 391=11. Although they match at DYS 391, their match is not exact because they differ 1 step at DYS 576, considered a “fast” changing STR (short tandem repeat) marker, more likely  to change within a genealogical time frame. Our new member shows DYS 576 =21 and our older member shows 576=22. Even with only one marker one step off, their common ancestor is still 7 generations ago.

Our new member’s other close match is the member descended from Rev. David Rogers4 Davis, Sr., first cousin to Rev. Nathan 4 Davis, Sr. The one step off at 67 markers for this match is at DYS 391, our new member with 10, and our old member with 11. These two matching lines are 8 generations away from an ancestor in common.

The third match is an identical match to another test, but we don’t have any genealogical conclusions from the match because it is as yet unplaced on the Davis family tree.

One thing we can observe from these two matches is that two Davis men can match 1 step off and still not have an ancestor in common for 7 generations.  When predicting ancestry in common, this is a fact we can rely on, rather than guessing with statistical probability.

UPDATE: Our new member also matches one of our current members with a genetic distance of four steps off.   Their Davis ancestors in common are Rev. John2 Davis, b. 1692, and Elizabeth Maxson, 7 generations ago.

Four steps off is not usually close enough to comment on but this same current member’s mother’s line descends from the same ancestors in common as our newest member, just 5 generations ago: Annanias Davis, b 1784, and Rebecca Clayton.

Our current member’s line on his mother’s side is: Rev. Wm1, Rev. John2, Thomas3, Nathan4, Annanias5, William Clayton6, Thomas Clayton7, Effie Irene8 Davis, Ruth Marie Sholtz9 [who married LaVerne W.8 Davis], Living10 Davis, Kit #152496. Ruth Marie Sholtz9 and La Verne W. 8 Davis were 6th cousins, once removed.

LaVerne8 Davis’ line, Kit # 152496’s father’s line, is: Rev. Wm1, Rev. John2, John3, Thomas4, Benjamin5, William6, Henry Eugene7, LaVerne8, Living9Davis.  This is the line that is 4 steps distant from our newest member.

Unfortunately the Y DNA test only tests the male line so we cannot see how close our current and newest members are via Annanias5.

See all these lines on the proven lines chart.


Our new Davis member comes with stories from his Davis ancestry which he  is happy to share with us. Here is an excerpt from the Sabbath Recorder about Annanias Davis and his wife Rebecca Clayton.

The Sabbath Recorder; Feb. 19, 1852

Western Correspondence

(Letter to the editor, dated Jan. 18, 1852)

In this place, Sullivan, the county seat of Sullivan County, I have incidentally met with a number of Sabbath-keepers, adhering to the law of the Lord; and testifying to all around of the obligation of all men to remember the Sabbath of Jehovah. the head of this interesting group is Annanias Davis, a son of Nathan Davis, Once of Salem, Virginia, whose family was part of the colony that removed from Squan River, in New Jersey, to western Virginia, Sixty-one years ago (1791), at which time the subject of these remarks was nine (born abt. 1782) years of age. The family name of his wife , who is in like manner zealous for the sabbath observance, was Clayton, and she belonged to a family who were formerly connected with the same Christian Fraternity. Annanias Davis removed from Vireto, Warren Co., Ohio forty-three years ago(1809), and thirteen years ago (1839) to this place, at that time, a dense and almost unbroken forest. It being the center of the county, by vote of the inhabitants, the county seat was removed here five years ago( 1847), which has given increased value to their lands, and importance to their location. During the whole thirteen years of their residency here, they have not heard a Sabbath Keeper preach nor even seen a single person of their own faith nor read a Sabbath publication, the Bible alone excepted; and yet they have steadily kept to the “Ancient and Honorable Way”. The posterity of this worthy couple now number Sixty-five souls; their own children are five sons and four daughters, with their families, most of them observers of the Sabbath. From the I gave them, they have concluded to send for the Sabbath Recorder. Having no public gifts among them, for nine years they lived without any church privileges; but for four years past, most of them have united with the Christian Church in this place, with the express agreement, that they may keep Jehovah’s holy day, and be subject to neither censure nor discipline for pursuing their worldly business on the first day of the week, so that they do not habitually neglect public worship in the church to which they belong. Their learning is chiefly the “one-book” learning; and that they have “right smart.” Although they have no public gifts, their honest and Christian behavior has gained for them a good report of all men where they are known. They have often been assailed by the opponents of the seventh-day Sabbath, but have so successfully used the armor of righteousness as to put to silence their opposers; and a considerable portion of the community around them have learned to say, “If there is any day of rest binding by Scripture now, it is the seventh day.”  S. D.  


The following is a story about Annanias’ son, Nathan Davis and his wife, Nancy Doty, and also about Nathan’s son, Marion C. Davis and Marion’s son, Ed Davis, written by our new member’s living aunt:

“At the time of the civil war, Nathan and Nancy Davis came to Iowa from the Terre Haute area of Indiana, traveling with their family in a covered wagon. They homesteaded a farm near the small town of Welton, in Clinton county.

Marion Clinton married Libby Mathers and they had two sons, your grandfather, Edward Harrison and William. Edward was about 2 years older than Will. Marion and Libby separated when the boys were quite young and Ed went to live with Marion’s parents while Will was raised by Libby’s parents. They did not know each other until Ed as a young man traveled by horseback from the Welton area in eastern Iowa to Rinard which is in Northwest Iowa. Must have been quite an adventure.

In later years, Marion made his home with Ed and Emma in Lyons (which is now part of Clinton). He developed cataracts and lost his sight. In 1926 Emma passed away and, after a time, Ed and Grace were married.

In the early 1920’s, Ed was driving a team of horses on the frozen Mississippi river when the ice broke and he found himself under the horses who were kicking their legs trying to swim. Somehow he managed to get hold of the harness and pull himself up to the surface where he could grab on to the edge of the ice and pull himself out of the hole. This happened in a very isolated area so he had to walk quite a long way to a cabin where the man that lived there gave him lots of hot coffee and dry clothes, then proceeded to take him into town.

At first, they told Ed that he might lose both hands but there was a young doctor who thought that just by removing the infected tissue he could save the hands. He lost part of one of his little fingers to the middle joint and three fingers to the first joint. He was always grateful that he could still work and earn a living, although in later years he had very painful arthritis which they thought was attributed to the accident.

Ed worked for the city of Clinton and had two mules. He would plow gardens and do odd jobs with them. Edwin says the name of the mules were Jack and Speck. Ed was very attached to them.”


We are happy to add this new Davis descendant to our William Davis DNA group. See all his ancestors and their relationships, and find some connections to your own Davis line, on the new William Davis DNA Project family tree. If you are a member of the William Davis DNA Project, you can edit your own facts online. Looking forward to more Davis connections!

– Jan R. (Davis) Markle

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 )

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.


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