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Davis Families of Mercer County

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Alternate Spellings - None Found

Links - Bond; Calhoun, Commons, Mannon, Mossman, Wade, Willits, Honeyman, Carr, Pullen, Davis Cemetery. You will find an obituary posted for Alexander Davis and a link to a photo of the house where he lived on Keithsburg Chronicles (James Brown‘s Web Site). There were several Van Eaton marriages in one of the Davis families and we have added a brief section at the bottom of the page on the Van Eaton family.

Contacts - Steven Coulter is a descendant of Robert Davis and contributed much information on the Adam Davis family to this page. Nena Davis is a descendant of the Cyrus and Isophene Honeyman Davis family. She identified the photo of the Davis children for us. James Lloyd has helped us with the Van Eaton family and is researching Sarah Loyd Van Eaton. Web Master Nadine has researched this family in connection with our Woodward Web Page. Contact Nadine with email on the About Us Page.

There are two Davis families listed in the 1840 census, one in New Boston Township and one in Eliza Township. As far as we know there is no connection between the two. The Cyrus Davis family of Eliza Township came from Ohio to Illinois, and the Adam Davis family of New Boston came from North Carolina, to Virginia, to Indiana, and then to Mercer County.

By 1870 there is an additional Davis family in Eliza Township: David Davis, age 47, and Mary Jane Davis, 38, both born New York. Since they have no children we have not followed them further. They are likely connected to the many New York Davis families found in Rock Island County, just across the line from Eliza Township. There are several other Davis families in various Mercer County censuses but we will confine this page to our area of study in New Boston and Eliza Townships.

Cyrus and Sarah Willits Davis Family

Cyrus Davis was married to Sarah Ann Willits, daughter of Samuel and Sarah Hurst Davis Willits and granddaughter of Jesse and Sarah Van Horn Willits (See the Isaac Willits page).

In the 1840 census in Eliza Township, the Cyrus Davis family consists of a male and female, age 20-30, two males under five and one female under 5. Cyrus Davis died September 17, 1849 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery, age 38 yrs 10 mo, 13 dy.

The federal copy of the 1850 census shows widow Sarah Davis in New Boston Township with children George, age 15, Thomas, age 12, Laomi, age 11, all born Ohio, Nancy, age 8, Charles, age 2, and Cyrus, age 1, all born Illinois. However, the copy submitted to the state shows: #422, New Boston Township: Sarah A. Davis, 32, born Ohio; George Davis, 15, born Ohio; Sherman, age 12, born Ohio; Levoni, age 10, born Ohio; Nancy, age 8, born Il; Charles, age 4, born Ill; and Cyrus N., age 1, born Illinois. In addition, daughter Levoni, age 10 is also referenced with grandfather Samuel Willits at #360 in New Boston Township. Further records of the children support the state copy.

In 1860 Sarah and sons Charles and Cyrus are still living together in New Boston Township.

Children of Cyrus and Sarah Willits Davis

George Davis: Although George is not found in Mercer County in 1860, he is next door to his mother in 1870 in New Boston Township: #121 George W. Davis, 33, born Ohio; wife Nancy, 31, born Illinois; Gertrude, 8, John I., 7, Chester, 5, Sylvester, 3, and Anna, 1, all born Illinois. We have not located a marriage record for George and Nancy either in Iowa or Illinois. They are in Putnam County, Missouri, in Liberty Township in 1860: #124 George Davis, 24, farmer, Ohio; Nancry R., 22, Il; L-?, son, 2, Il; Gertrude, 2/12, Mo. In 1880 they are in Primghan, O’Brien County, Iowa: #15 George W. Davis, 44, blacksmith, Oh, parents born Ohio; Nancy R., 42, Il, father born Tn, mother born In; Gertrude, 20, teaching school; John, 18, Ia, on farm; Chester, 16, Ia, in printing office; Sylvester, 13, Ia, at home; Anna, 12, Il, at school; Adelie, 9, Ia; Lena, 7, Ia; Charles, 4, Ia; Clayton, 1, Ia. The 1880 census is more instructive as to their movements. From the birthplaces of the children they apparently returned to Mercer County for only a fairly short time.

Sherman Davis: Sherman B. Davis is buried in New Boston Cemetery, died September 5, 1856 age 19 yrs 1 mo 8 dys. He is buried next to his uncle, George S. Willits, who in turn is buried next to Cyrus Davis.

Levoni (Lavinia) Davis: Levoni is censused in 1850 both with her mother and with her grandfather, Samuel Willits. She married her half first cousin once removed, Leonidas Volney Willits on 4/30/1857 in Mercer County. Leonidas was son of William and Chariah Drury Willits (more on the Isaac Willits page under Jesse and Susannah Van Horn Willits (his grandparents).

Charles Davis: On 6/15/1865 Charles married Drusilla Lakey, daughter of Jeremiah and Juliet Reynolds Lakey, in Mercer County. There is a well researched web site on the Lakey family at Drusilla was granddaughter of Isom Lakey. Her father, Jeremiah Lakey married Juliet Reynolds 22 June 1840 in Des Moines County, Iowa, across the river from Mercer County. Jeremiah was deceased or missing in 1850 and Juliett is found in Mercer in T13NR5W: Juliett Lakey, 33, born NY; Lewis, 9, Il; Rosetta, 5, Il, Drusilla, 4, Il.

Charles and Drusilla are gone from Mercer County in 1870 and we did not find them anywhere else.

Cyrus Napoleon Davis: On 9/24/1867 Cyrus N. Davis married Mary Icivene Honeyman, daughter of John Long and Sarah Jarvis Honeyman. Nena Davis tells us that Cyrus’s middle name was Napoleon and he was called "Nappy."

In 1870 Sarah Davis is living in New Boston Township. Son Cyrus and daughter-in-law Isophene are living with her. They have a daughter, Bertha, age 1.

Cyrus and Isophene Honeyman Davis had children Bertha Maude,Lavinia Alice, Sarah J., Gertrude E., Charles R., George W., Macy A., and John Raymond (Ref: The Honeyman Family, by Marie Musgrave). (Photo of Davis Children). Nina Davis tells us the photo is her great grandfather Charles R. (C. R.) Davis with younger brother George, on the right, and brother Raymond. C. R. married Clara Brittania Prest and had three children.

Adam and Lydia Commons Davis Family

In the 1840 census the Adam Davis family is living in New Boston Township. Adam is shown age 60-70. There are two sons age 20-30 (Robert & Alexander), a son 15-20 (John), a female 20-30, a male under 5, a female under 5 (widowed daughter & children, probably Jemima?) and a female 15-20 (Lydia C.). The mother, Lydia Commons Davis, is not shown in the census but she was buried in the Davis Cemetery in 1841, so we know she was there (may simply be a matter of a census mark missing?) We know Alexander Davis was there as Isaac Willits bought five bushels of wheat from him on September 18, 1842.

The Wayne County, Indiana, History, 1872 mentions that Lydia Commons, daughter of Robert Commons married Adam Davis in Virginia (See Commons page). According to the records of Mt. Pleasant Monthly Meeting (Quaker) in Grayson County, Virginia, Adam and Lydia were married on 3/1/1803. According to the Wayne County History, Lydia Commons Davis went to Mercer County, Illinois. She did indeed, as Adam & Lydia are buried together in the Davis Cemetery in New Boston Township: Adam Davis 1781-1861; Lydia Davis 1781-1841. The family spent some time in the area of Lawrence/Washington/Orange County, Indiana before going on to Mercer County as there were births and marriages there.

There is an interesting story of a horseback ride from North Carolina to Indiana in 1809 by Edward Bond and Adam Davis on our Woodward Web Site. The two were going to Indiana to visit sons of Edward Bond, one of whom was married to Adam Davis's sister-in-law, Phebe Commons. Though the story is written as though Adam accompanied Edward all the way from North Carolina, it appears more likely that Edward picked up Adam in Grayson County, Virginia. Edward had a son living in Grayson County whom he also visited.

More on the ancestry of Adam Davis is given below in the section on "Quaker Ancestry of Adam Davis."

Land Purchases in Mercer County

Adam’s son, Robert Davis, purchased 40 acres in future Suez Township (NWSE Sec 2), on 10/18/1838, so he may have been the first one to arrive in the County. On 9/27/1839 he purchased 80 acres in future Keithsburg Township (W/2 SW Sec 35).

Adam Davis bought land on 9/27/1839 in future Keithsburg Township on the same day as son Robert. Adam's purchase totalled 400 acres and was probably partially bought for speculation, as he seems to have actually lived in New Boston Township. The parcels included portions of Section 12, Sec 34, aand Sec 35.

Adam’s son, Alexander Davis, purchased two small parcels in Keithsburg Township: S2SWFR Sec 10, 18.3 acres 10/8/1951 amd Lot32FR Sec 16, 11.00 acres, 5/8/1852.

The above were all public land purchases. The 1875 plat map of New Boston shows John & Alexander Davis owning land surrounding the Davis Cemetery in Section 36 in New Boston Township, so it is known this is probably where Adam settled, and that the Davis Cemetery was named after this family.

Children of Adam amd Lydia Commons Davis

Steven Coulter furnished the following information on the Adam Davis family from an 1831 Davis Family Bible (be aware that the Bible [publication date] is much later than the information, meaning the information was entered from memory, therefore there may be small errors):
Adam Davis born June 10, 1781; Lydia, Consort of Adam Davis, born October 28, 1781
Ruth Davis born March 25, 1804
Elizabeth Davis born September 22, 1805
Mary Davis born May 16, 1807
Phebe Davis born May 4, 1809
Jemima Davis born July 16, 1811
Jesse Davis born December 13, 1813
Robert Davis born January 22, 1816
Alexander Davis born May 4, 1818
Adam Davis born July 22, 1822
John & Lydia Davis born October 13, 1824
Steven points out the naming patterns: the first two daughters named for their grandmothers, and first two sons named for their grandfathers. This was a common custom in the eighteenth century and well into the ninteenth. Keeping this in mind can often connect families in your research. Since there is some discrepancy in census records on birthplaces we have not attempted to assign them.

Ruth Davis died in childhood. We have nothing further on daughter Mary. Daughter Elizabeth married William Nicholson 12/5/1838 in Washington County, Indiana, and the name is too common to find additional information. He may have been brother of John Nicholson who married Phebe Davis in 1832 in Lawrence County, In.

Phebe Davis Nicholson Justice: Phebe Davis married first John M. Nicholson, on 6/4/1832 in Lawrence Co, In (record as Nichols.) She had a daughter Emily Nicholson, born 2/18/1833 in Washington County, Indiana, who is with her in 1850 in Mercer County. Emily Nicholson married Josephus Wade 10/16/1851 in Mercer County.

Phebe came to Mercer County with the family and on 11/1/1838 married Daniel Justice in Mercer County. The History of Mercer County, 1882 tells us that Daniel Justice began to improve a farm on the SW/4 of Section 1 in Keithsburg Township in 1836, where he made a fine home and resided until the summer of 1851, when he sold to John Doak and moved to Polk County, Iowa. The family is in T13N R5W in 1850: #83 Daniel Justice, 44, farmer, born Va; Phebe, 40, Va (later censuses indicate North Carolina); William, 10, Il; James M., 8,Il; Mary, 6, Il; Amanda, 4, Il; Jesse Melton, 30, laborer, In; Emily Nicholson, 17, In. In 1860 they have moved to Douglas Township, Polk County, Iowa and have an additional daughter Lydia, age 7. Daniel (1805-20 Sep 1879) and Phebe (1809-7 July 1904) are buried in Berwick Cemetery, Polk County, Iowa.

Jemima Davis: Jemima Davis married John Speer on 12/15/1831 in Lawrence County, Indiana. She married second on 10/28/1843 in Mercer County to Amaziah Murphy. Jemima is probably the extra young female with two children in the 1840 census in the Adam Davis's household. Jemima Murphy is found as a widow, age 58, born North Carolina, in the 1870 census in Keithsburg Township. She has children: William Murphy, 26, born Illinois, Lucien Murphy, 23, born Illinois, Lydia Speer, 33, born Indiana, Effie Hurst, 11, Clarence Hurst, 7, born Illinois. Lydia Speer married Francis M. Hurst on 10/30/1856 in Mercer County so the two Hurst children are no doubt hers, and grandchildren of Jemima. Francis is censused at his work as a clerk in Sunbeam in 1860 but Lydia is not found. Francis is not found in the 1870 census.

Jemima supposedly died in 1876 but is not found in the cemetery records of Mercer County. Son Lucien is buried in Greenmound Cemetery. In 1880 in Keithsburg: #234 Lucien Murphy, 33, farmer, born Il, father Virginia, mother North Carolina; Lydia Spear, 42, sister, born In, father Kentucky, mother North Carolina; Effie, 21, niece, Il, Il, In; Clarence, 17, nephew, Il, Il, In. William Murphy is not in Mercer County and the name is too common to trace him elsewhere.

Robert Davis: Robert Davis and his first wife, Lavania, are in T13NR5W in Mercer County in 1850: #45 Robert Davis, 37, farmer, born In; Lurana, 26, In. He apparently returned to Lawrence County, Indiana, to marry as he married Lavania Whisnand there on 10/4/1842. Lurana/Lavinia evidently died shortly after the 1850 census as he married, second, Nancy Van Eaton on 6/27/1852 in Henderson County (Next to Mercer County - see Van Eaton family in a separate section below as three Davis children married Van Eatons). Robert and Nancy moved to Hardin County, Iowa, before 1854. Gold was discovered in Hardin County in 1853 and this may have been the reason for the move. They are found in Pleasant Township in Hardin County in 1860: #694 Robert Davis, 44, farmer, born In; Nancy, 28, In; the family is all girls E.B., 5, Ia; O., 3, Ia; M. E. 10/12, Ia.

About 1867 the family moved to Rock Island County, Illinois. They are found in Drury Township, Rock Island County in 1870: #206 Robert Davis, 55, farmer, In; Nancy, 38, In; Eldora B., 15, Ia; Alice, 13, Ia; Mary E, 10, Ia; John, 3, Ia.

The family then returned to Iowa about 1885 and settled on a farm west of Marshalltown in Marshall County. Nancy died there at age 56, and Robert died on Christmas Eve, 1890, age 74. They are both buried in Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown. We found Robert, died Dec 24, 1891, born 22 Jun 1816, in the Riverside Cemetery WPA records but did not find Nancy.

Alexander Davis: Son Alexander Davis was living with his father and his brother John in 1850 (see John Davis below). Alexander sufferred several tragedies in the 1850's. He married Agnes Carr on 6/6/1852 in Mercer County. Agnes died on 11/26/1853, shortly after the birth of twins who also died. Alexander married second to Nancy Pullen on July 26, 1858 in Mercer County. Nancy died 1/25/1859 and a child she bore in December soon died also. We find no evidence that Alexander ever married again.

Alexander is listed in Keithsburg in 1860, age 40, single, and a painter. Alexander is listed on the 1861 tax list for delinquent taxes on about 230 acres of land in Section 4, 5, 9, & 10 in Township 14N R6W. This would have been timberland located directly on the River in New Boston Township. We do not find him in the 1870 census in Mercer County, but he is found in 1880 in Keithsburg Township: Alex Davis, 64, In; father born NC, mother born Va; Charlotte [Carr] Waters, sister-in-law, 51, born Eng; parents born Eng; Agnes Waters, niece, 17, born Il; Mary, niece, 15, born Il; Ed, nephew, 13, Il; Fred, nephew, 13, Il; Cyrus Lowe, carpenter, 61, born Ma, parents born Ma. Alexander was apparently taking care of his sister-in-law Charlotte after the death of her husband, James Waters (see Carr page and be sure to continue on to the Keithsburg Chronicles link to see more about Alexander and the Carr and Waters families). Alexander, Agnes, and Nancy are all buried in the Davis Cemetery in New Boston Township: Alexander Davis 1818-1899; Agnes Davis 1821-1853; and Nancy Davis 1834-1859.

John Davis: In the 1850 census Adam Davis, age 67, born North Carolina, is living with his sons John and Alexander Davis in New Boston Township. Alexander is age 30, born Indiana, John is 25, born Indiana. John has a wife Lucinda, age 22, born Indiana, and a daughter Alice, age 1, born Illinois. John married Lucinda Van Eaton on 2/21/1848 in Henderson County, Illinois (see below for a summary of the Van Eaton family.) In the 1860 Mercer County census John & Lucinda have added a son Thomas, age 2. Adam is listed with them, age 80. Adam died in 1861.

In the 1870 census John's family is found in New Boston Township with son Thomas, age 12. Daughter Alice married James Leslie Willits on 3/21/1867. They are living next door to John and Lucinda in the 1870 census.

Son Thomas Davis married Nellie Leona Calhoun on 2/14/1882 in Mercer County They had three sons: Fred Carl; John David (named for both grandfathers), and Walter C. Davis.

John Davis died 3/17/1890 in New Boston Township and Lucinda on 11/23/1890 according to the LDS Library Ancestral File. Both are buried in the Davis Cemetery in New Boston Township. The tombstones read: John Davis 1825-1890; Lucinda Davis 1822-1890.

Lydia Davis: Daughter Lydia Davis married Ferdinand Van Eaton 10/16/1851 in Mercer County. Ferdinand was a brother of Lucinda & Nancy, who married Lydia’s brothers (see below on the Van Eaton family.) We do not find them in the 1860 census.

Ferdinand Van Eaton served in the Civil War. He is listed as a recruit in Co H 84th Illinois Infanty, enlisted Feb 18, 1865 and on February 22 transferred to Co F, 21st Illinois Infantry. He is listed as mustered in 18 Mar 1865 in Co F 21st Ill Infantry and mustered out 16 December 1865 at San Antonio, Texas and is listed as "distinguished service." Now the Civil War ended in April 1865 and the work of emptying out hospitals began immediately. We are not certain why he was not mustered out until December but he must have been in a hospital?

The family is found in the 1870 census in Keithsburg: Ferdinand, 46, retired farmer, born Ohio; Lydia, age 46, born Indiana; Emma, 17, Carey (male), 15, Viola, 13, all born Illinois. Ferdinand Van Eaton's health was broken by service in the Civil War and he died 9/17/1870 in Keithsburg and Lydia in 1892 in Abingdon Township. Emma Van Eaton married John Anders in Mercer County on 2/23/1871; Cary Van Eaton married Marilla J. Willim in Mercer County on 12/11/1884.

Quaker Ancestry of Adam Davis

Adam Davis's father and grandfather are found in Quaker records. Center Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina, records that James Davis (grandfather of Adam), one of the early settlers of Randolph County (North Carolina) died 3/15/1805, age about 69 years and is buried on his own premises. His wife, Patience (Miller) Davis, died 6/6/1813, and was buried beside her husband. James married widow Patience Miller Bishop on 5/30/1754 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. James Davis wrote his will in Randolph County, North Carolina (Will Book 3, page 18) on 8/16/1800 and it was probated May 1805. Among his children he names son Jesse Davis, who was father of Adam Davis. James Davis had lived a long time in Randolph County (formerly part of Rowan County), as on September 24, 1764, in Rowan County, he signed a recommendation to Pennsylvania Quakers for Abraham Woodward (ancestor of Jill Martin and Nadine Holder of this Web Site). There is a good chance he may have gone to Rowan County from Chester County, Pennsylvania, as his other Quaker neighbors had done.

The marriage of Jesse Davis to Elizabeth Reynolds, daughter of David & Mary Reynolds, is recorded at Center Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina, on 1/11/1781. Their first born son Adam Davis is recorded as born 6/10/1781 at Center Monthly Meeting. (This agrees with his age as given in the 1860 census.) Jesse & Elizabeth had twelve more children: Edith, Joel, James, Mary, Warner, Miller, Jesse, Joseph, Ruben, David, Hannah, Alice. As far as we know none of them came to Mercer County. Jesse died 7/26/1829 and Elizabeth died 10/12/1815. Both are buried at Marlborough Monthly Meeting in Randolph County, North Carolina.

There are two likely candidates for Adam Davis's greatgrandfather. A James Davis died in 1765 in Rowan County, North Carolina. His will was written 8 May 1765 and probated October 1765. He mentions his carpenter tools. Wife, Elinor, to have 441 acre homeplace which at her death will be equally divided between sons James & John Davis. Son Samuel, a minor, to have land bought from Robert Elrod. Son Evan is lame. Daughter Mary Enoch and her children. Daughter Ann Turner and her children. Daughters Elinor Douthit and Ruth Davis. Exrs. wife Elinor, sons James and John. He seems a good candidate for the father of our James Davis as the time and place is right (Randolph and Guilford Counties, North Carolina, were later split off from Rowan County).

Another candidate is Abraham Davis who died 1764 in East Bradford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His will mentions wife Susanna and children: John, James, Joseph, Mary, Alice, & Hannah. His widow, Susanna, was daughter of Samuel and Alice Bishop. The wife of our James Davis, Patience Miller, was actually widow of Charles Bishop, brother of Susanna Bishop. And this time and place is right also as James and Patience came from Chester County, Pennsylvania. We found a 1969 article in the North Carolinian where a descendant claimed that Abraham Davis was the correct ancestor but he offerred no proof. After having made the case above for using naming patterns in genealogical research, we find they fail us in attempting to settle this question!

Van Eaton Family

Three Davis children, John, Robert, and Lydia married Van Eatons: Lucinda, Nancy, and Ferdinand. They were brother and sisters and children of Levi and Sarah Loyd Van Eaton. Levi and Sarah married 27 August 1818 in Clermont County, Ohio and they had children Lucinda, Nancy, Ferdinand, and Louisa. Sarah Loyd Van Eaton is supposed to have died 8 July 1838 in Sangamon County, Illinois. Levi Van Eaton is found in Center Township in Wayne County, Indiana in 1830: 1 male 30-40; 1 5-10; 1 female 30-40; 2 10-15; 1 5-10; 1 under 5. Levi Van Eaton is found in 1840 in Sangamon County, Illinois (federal census roll 69, page 28) but we were unable to access the record on Ancestry to determine if Sarah was deceased. Levi is a widower in 1850 in Township 12N Range 4W in Henderson County, Illinois: #771 Levi Vaneaton, 53, farmer, born Ky; Ferdinand, 27, Oh; Nancy, 19, In; Louisa, 16, In (Lucinda had already married John Davis in 1848.)