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The Family of Trip & Esther Davis


Trip Davis was born a slave in 1805. He first shows in the 1870 Census as Theodore Davis in Township No. 8 (Fishing Creek), Warren County, NC, living alone, next door to his son James (listed as John) Davis.  Trip was a farm laborer, as most of the other former slaves were at the time; the earliest confirmed record I have found for him was in the slave inventory of Peter R. Davis, who died in Warren County in 1850. As one of the 164 slaves named on the list, Trip was aged 44, where he was assessed with the value of $350 and was among those given to John B. Powell, who was married to Peter R. Davis' sister, Nancy. The rest of Trip's family were split up between the other sisters and brothers of Peter R. Davis, all who lived in Warren County. When John B. Powell died in 1858, he divided up the slaves he received from Peter R. Davis between 3 of his children. Trip last appeared in the 1900 Warren Co. Census where he was living with his son, James, and the family was recorded under the surname of POWELL; it is possible that members of the family were known to be POWELL former slaves and were erroneously listed with that surname.

Esther, born in 1807, does not seem to have survived past the end of slavery, she does not appear in any of the census or cohabitation marriage records. When her son, James, got married for the 2nd time in 1875, it was indicated that his father, Trip, was still living, but the section was blank for the status of the mother; it is possible that they did not know what had happened to Esther.  Esther was listed in the slave inventory of Peter R. Davis as age 42, as of the first of January 1850, and was valued at $200 when she was given to Peter's sister, Polly Kearney, wife of Edward Kearney, at the time of the distribution in November 1850. Also in the inventory was a listing of Esther's children- Tom, Sumner, Jerry and Jim- which was the earliest record I have found of their relationship to one another; Sumner and Jim were the only one of the children who went to the same slaveowners as did their mother.

Thomas Davis, born 1829, was first listed as the 20 year old son of "Ester" in the slave inventory of Peter R. Davis; he was valued at $800, and was among the slaves who went to Dr. Stephen Davis, the brother of Peter. Stephen Davis died in 1857 and gave the bulk of his slaves to his son, Peter R. Davis.  Thomas, listed as Theodore Davis in the 1870 Census, was married to Emily Davis and they had about 11 children together -Henry, Anna, William, Alice, Simon Trip, Benjamin, Mollie, Thomas, Jen, Eliza and Garfield Davis. Thomas was a farmer in Fishing Creek, where he lived near his brother, James.  The last record of Thomas is in the July 1898 will of his brother, Sumner, but by September 1898, when the will was probated, Thomas was deceased, so he obviously died sometime between those dates.  I've had varying success in locating his children after that time and so far have only found records on Henry, who married 1st, Louisa Davis in 1876, and  2nd, Mollie Eaton, in 1889; Ann, who married Richard Powell in 1875; Alice, who married Edward Dowtin, in 1887; and Garfield who married 1st, Bell Bullock, in 1896, 2nd, Roberta Davis in 1900, and 3rd, Mariah Roberson, in 1913. It is probable that some of the children had died prior to 1898 since only Henry, Garfield, Ben and Alice were listed as heirs of Thomas Davis in his brother, Sumner's will. Also of note is that in a later court proceeding in 1902, it was stated that Ann, William, Trip, and Thomas Davis had moved away from Warren County to whereabouts unknown. (See file of Sumner Davis)

Sumner Davis was born in 1832 and was the only one of the brothers to have left a will, which proved to be tremendously helpful in identifying the members of the family.  He was first listed in the slave inventory as "Summer, age 18, son of Ester", where he was assessed at the value of $800, and given to Polly Kearney, along with his mother, Esther, and brother, Jim. Sumner only appears in the 1870 Census in Warren Co. where he was listed as Solomon Davis, along with his wife Mary, and 4 children - James, Gracy, Maria and Peter.  He registered in his Freedmen's Marriage record in Warren County (as Somerville Davis) that he had married Mary Davis in 1855, which was also the age of their oldest child, James. All of Sumner's children must have died prior to his own death in 1898 because he left all of his property to his wife, Mary, his grandson, Eddie Green, and to his 3 brothers, or their heirs if they did not survive him.  Sumner's daughter, Gracie Davis, b. 1862, married Edward Dowtin in 1878; however, she died in December 1879 of dropsy (an unnatural swelling of the body due to watery build up in the tissues); Dowtin later married Gracie's cousin, Alice Davis, daughter of Thomas Davis.

Jerry Davis-Foote was born in 1834 and he was listed as "age 15, son of Ester" in the slave inventory of Peter R. Davis, where he was valued at $650; Jerry was separated from his family when he was given to Elizabeth Pitchford, the sister of Peter R. Davis.  He is the most elusive of the brothers, there is very little on him outside of the inventory and only shows up in the 1880 Census in Six Pound Township, Warren County, where he was working on the farm of Benjamin J. Egerton. Although Jerry Foote was listed as married in that census, there is no sign of him in any other Census. In the 1898 will of his brother, Sumner Davis, he is called Jerry Davis, but in the probate recorded in September of that year, he was called Jerry Davis, alias Foote; the surname possibly came about because Jerry was given to the family of Elizabeth Pitchford; her daughter, Nancy, later married Henry Foote, and he was among the slaves who went with the FOOTE family in a later distribution.
Additionally, he was among the slaves included in the Slave Distribution of Henry A. Foote in 1863, and from the way he was listed, he may have been married to a slave named Fannie, b. about 1833, and had children George, b. 1861, and Sam, b. 1858. There was also a girl named Mariah, b. 1855, who was listed following them, however, I don't believe she was theirs since there was a person by that name and approximate age among the children of Ben and Betsy Foote in the Census.
 Jerry does not appear in the 1900 Census, but he (as Jere Davis) was last recorded in the November 1901 Court proceedings for the settlement of the Estate of his brother, Sumner Davis, where it was indicated that he was no longer in the State. I don't know whether he was dead or had moved elsewhere.

James Trip Davis, born 1839, was listed as "Jim, son of Ester, age 10" in the 1850 slave inventory; he was valued at $400 and was given to the family of Polly Davis-Kearney, the sister of Peter R. Davis, along with his mother and brother, Sumner.  Although James only appears in 3 census records, his family has been the easiest to document because most of his children lived to adulthood and have left many valuable paper trails. James was first married in 1862 as slaves to Emma Clanton, born 1843; they were first listed in the 1870 Census in Township No. 8 (Fishing Creek) as "John Davis" age 30 Farm Laborer, with a personal value of $45, but his wife Emma was listed as head of household. It could have been an error since this was the first year the former slaves were listed in the census, and there were a lot of mistakes and misspelled names in them, as a matter of fact, Emma was listed as "Laura" Davis, where there was an apparent attempt to change the "L" to an "E"; Emma was probably related to Young Clanton, b. 1837, since the name "Young" runs in James Davis' descendants.  Young Clanton was the son of James Verser, b. 1798, and Sarah Meater, former slaves who were married in 1820, and it is very possible that they were also Emma's parents. James & Emma's children were James Young, Mary Eliza, Maggie Ann, Nervie, and Jessie Davis; with the exception of Jessie, they all lived to adulthood.  Emma died about 1874, perhaps in childbirth when Jessie was born, and James T. Davis married for the 2nd time to Lucy Lines-Williams, born 1850, on December 15, 1875 in Warren County.  Lucy was the daughter of Allen and Edna Lines, whom I have not been able to locate in any other records, although they were probably deceased by the time of the marriage since there was no indication that they were living on James and Lucy's marriage license; this was also Lucy's 2nd marriage, having previously been married to John Williams, b. 1842.  James and Lucy had children Robert Young, Willie King, Baldie Tevie, and Enolia Davis; it was indicated in the 1900 Census that Lucy had given birth to 5 children and that they were all still living, while in the 1910 Census it said that she had given birth to 6 children with 4 still living, however, I am not sure which was correct, although it is unlikely that she had given birth to another child between 1900 and 1910.  It is probable that she had given birth to and lost 2 children prior to 1900. In the 1880 Census where James & Lucy were first listed as a family, the children listed in their household were James, Mary, Maggie, Nettie (was actually Nervie), Jesse and Samuel, aged 2 months old; Samuel was most likely the same person as Robert, who was born in 1879. Robert Y. Davis, as he was known, was my great-grandfather, and he started out working as a farm laborer in the cotton and tobacco fields around Warren County, and later became the owner of a successful sawmill in the area.  With the money he was earning as a laborer, he attended North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, where he learned not only the practical agriculture and mechanic arts which were part of the curriculum, but also became skilled in business and mathematics that enabled him to become a prominent businessman in and around Warrenton.  He managed to  buy and sell several properties in Warren County and among them was the land he bought in the Marmaduke community that became his family homeplace. Around 1910, he built the Little Zion Baptist Church across from his home and it became the family church and cemetery, where many generations of Davis family members are now buried, including Robert Y. Davis himself. Robert married for the first time to Betty Hardy, born 1883, the daughter of Henry Hardy and Peggy Newell who lived in Littleton, Halifax County, but were originally from Warren County. Betty had a tragically short life, dying at the age of 23; she lost her father at a very early age, and in 1887, her mother remarried to Ned Powell, born in 1845, who lived near the Davis family in Fishing Creek. Betty and sisters Nannie and Minnie Hardy (2 other siblings, Polly & Walter, had died in childhood) were raised in the large Powell household along with step-brothers and step-sisters from Ned's previous marriage, and half-brother and half-sister, Lindsay and Cora Powell, the children born to Ned and Peggy.  Betty and Robert Y. Davis had 3 children, Robert Garland, Ivery May, and Walter Scott Davis.  Robert Y. remarried in November 14, 1909, to Emma Cheek, born 1880, daughter of William Cheek and Sallie D. Alston of Warrenton, NC. Although their marriage was also fairly short-lived because of the death of Emma in 1915 due to tuberculosis, Robert Y. and Emma had 4 children together: Sallie Will, Charlie King, Percy Stravis, and Floyd St. Clare Davis, who died of croup at the age of 4, just a few hours after his mother on October 30, 1915. Robert Y. married for the third time on October 28, 1917,  to Pattie C. Davis, born 1892 in Franklin County, the daughter of Sandy Davis and Ada Virginia Fogg.  Pattie, affectionately known as Mammie by the family, became the mother to all of the children of Robert Y. Davis, and she also bore 8 children of her own with Robert: Virginia, Melvin, James Ollie, Macy B., Lydia, Joseph Young (died in infancy), Cleo Bernadine, and Connie Barnes Davis. Robert Y. Davis died only a few weeks after the birth of his youngest child in 1938, and although he was a man from the humblest of beginnings, the son of former slaves, he left behind a legacy of honesty, pride and a true sense of community for the future generations.


See this family on Slaves of Peter R. Davis



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