Saturday, December 1, 2018

W. Hunter introduces Aunt Henrietta

William Hunter Davis has done it again. His photograph in my family album led me to his Civil War story. (See the video at )  Then, his photograph in my tree caught the attention of a distant cousin who introduced me to a 3rd grand-aunt I never knew about.

When I  posted his photograph on I received a message from a gentleman who informed me that he had the exact same photo of William Hunter Davis in his family's collection. The connection? William Hunter Davis' aunt was Henrietta Davis, a third great-grandmother of my newly found cousin. She is gorgeous in the 1860s era photo my cousin emailed me.

The best part of the new connection? A new potential name and locations for William Hunter Davis' grandfather, who I've been seeking for years. His name is William Washington Davis of Charleston and he comes perhaps from the part of Virginia which became West Virginia.

I've been trying to smash through this brick wall for years. This is only a clue, but I'll take clues. Henrietta, dang glad to meet you!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Betty”

My grandmother, who I knew as Betty, or Grandma Betty, was born Mary Elizabeth Davis on November 28, 1899, in Cumberland County, Virginia. 

Although born in the 19th century to a Presbyterian minister, she truly became a 20th-century woman.

Back row:  Suzanne Davis, Mama Blanton, Frances Davis, Margaret Davis, Miss Happy Blanton.
Front Row: John H. Davis, Jr. (Betty’s Father), John H. Davis III, Willam Davis, Susan Morton Davis (Betty’s mother) and Mary Elizabeth Davis (Betty).
Photographer unknown.

In this photo, taken around 1910, Betty is the young girl looking over the shoulder of the seated lady in the black dress, her mother.  Betty’s blurred image may be an indication of her active personality.  

All the people in the photograph are members of the Davis family, except for two:  Mama Blanton and Miss Happy Blanton.

These two ladies helped to care for Betty when her mother was busy with John and Will, Betty’s two younger brothers. (Eves, 2008)
They must have been very close to the family to be included in the photograph.

Married Life

On June 30th, 1925 Betty married George L. A. Davis. Although his last name was Davis they were not related.  (Last Will and Testament, Mary Elizabeth Davis Davis, 1959)

George and Betty Davis. Photographer unknown

Betty and George had two daughters, Mary and Georgene.  Both married and had children.

Work Life

Betty was a history teacher at Ocala High School, even after she had children.  During the Great Depression, her job gave the family a stable income. (Eves, interview, 2008) (Ocala High School, 1943)

Ocala High School, Ocala, Florida. Now Osceola Middle School.
(Photo credit: Ebyabe, 2008)

Used by permission from the author, Ebyabe.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5, Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 and Attribution ShareAlike 1.0 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one.

Betty lived much of her life in Ocala, Florida.  She was living near her daughter, Mary, in Gainesville, Florida when she died at the age of 89 on October 15, 1989. (State of Florida, 1989) She had a full life.


1. Davis Family Bible.  (Published 1890). Births page.  Entry possibly made by Susan Morton Davis. Photocopy.  Retrieved from records of Mary Elizabeth Davis.
2. Interview with Mary Elizabeth Davis Eves (daughter of Mary Elizabeth Davis).  Recorded December 25, 2008.
3. Last Will and Testament of Mary Elizabeth Davis Davis dated July 13, 1959.
4. Ocala High School. (1943) Ocaleean Yearbook. Faculty page.
5. State of Florida. (1989) Death certificate of Mary Elizabeth Davis Davis.
6. Ebyabe. (2008). Osceola Middle School, formerly the Ocala High School. Ocala Hist Dist Osceola Middle School.jpg. Wikipedia Commons.  Retrieved January 4, 2009.

Monday, December 18, 2017

How To Find More Clues In your Genealogy Research

One of the many reasons to make an ancestor story video is that the process can reveal clues from your evidence you haven't noticed before.  The editing process requires you to look at images and listen to narrative closely and repetitively, which I think, gives our brains the chance to see things with a slightly shifted perspective.

It happened to me with a video I made, W. Hunter Davis: A Civil War Journey.

When I found the two archival photographs that are featured in the video, one of William Hunter Davis and the other of his son William Albert Davis, they were sandwiched between the pages of a beautiful 19th century embossed leather bound photo album with crumbling binding.

I didn't find the two photographs together in the album.  The photograph of the elder Davis, printed on thick four by two and a half-inch card stock has the photographer's engravings on the back.  The photograph of the son, William Albert, has no markings on the back, just a handwritten note: "W. A. Davis - about 1866."

It wasn't until I edited these two scanned images next to each other in the video that I noticed the similarities of the photo cards.

I won't go into detail now about my theories of when and under what circumstances the photographs were taken as not to spoil the video.  But I have come to question my original theory about the circumstances leading to W. Hunter's visit to the photographer.  I'll compare those theories in a future blog post.  For now, watch the video and see what you think.

Any ideas or suggestions are welcome in comments below.
Have you made some assumptions about an ancestor and then discovered new information after taking another look? Share your discoveries in the comments.

Would you like to make a video but are not sure where to start? I invite you to visit my website, Video Genealogy to discover more articles and tips on sharing your family history.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Finding Annie in New York

From census records and her death certificate I knew my 2nd great-grandmother was from New York.  My burning question was how she got from New York to Savannah in the 1860s??  I knew I needed more details about where she was from but wasn’t finding anything definitive until I was able to discover her father’s name “Albert Graham” on her 1910 Montgomery, Alabama death certificate.  I combined Albert’s name with Annie when searching on FamilySearch one day and hit pay dirt!  An index of New York births and christenings revealed a record from the First Dutch Reformed Church in Rochester, Ulster, New York with Albert Graham as the father and Anna Rebekkah Graham as the child.  It lists the birthday as March 13, 1832 which is two days off from the March 15 listing in the family bible, but the year does match.  And it revealed a potential name for Annie’s mother: Rachel Cole.

I still need to find more documentation, but it’s pretty exciting to narrow down the possibilities from a whole state to a county and town AND to find a possibility for her mother’s name. Census records showed Albert in 1850, in Ulster County, but not Annie, when she would have been 18.  Perhaps she moved out to work elsewhere??

New York, Births and Christenings, 1640-1962, index, 13 March 1832, First Dutch Reformed church, FIRST DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH,ROCHESTER,ULSTER,NEW YORK, FHL microfilm 823668.; : accessed 10 May 2014.

"Alabama, Deaths, 1908-1974," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Apr 2013), Annie Rebecca Davis, 17 Jun 1910; citing reference cn 289, Department of Health, Montgomery; FHL microfilm 1894077.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Notes from Maureen Taylor's full-day seminar

Back in October, Family Album Journey made a sojourn to a terrific full-day seminar put on by the Georgia Genealogical Society featuring Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective.  I’ve purchased and read several of Maureen’s books and try to use her advice and knowledge when I look and share my own archival photographs.

Some of the new ideas I learned and plan to apply:

1.     Transfer my cassette interviews to digital!!! (Note: I finally contacted my “Virginia Davis”** cousins about these recordings.  They were very excited about getting them.  I did the transfer into digital. )Now I just have to:
2.     Upload and send cousins the digital files
3.     Double and triple check the source citations on my website, including citations for photographs from my own collection.
4.     Look again at Reel Genie

5.     Find some timeline reference books to enhance my timelines with historical and cultural context.

**I have two Davis lines in my family tree.   I believe they are unrelated, although my mom likes to talk about the "Twelve Davis brothers" legend she heard as a child, which apparently is a common myth in many families of common surnames.  My grandmother's Davis line was from Virginia, my grandfather's from Georgia, at least as far back as I've researched.  If genealogy weren't confusing enough...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More babies!

Time for the girls now.  These are girl cousins of the Davis brothers.

Annie Josephine Davis
This photo is labeled Annie Josephine Davis.  She is the daughter of John Bart Davis, who my mother new as Uncle Bart.  He was the brother of my great-grandfather William A. Davis.    Annie was named for her grandmother, Annie, and her mother, Josephine.  So Uncle Bart must have thought highly of his mother.  Being the youngest of the family, he may have inherited some of the family photos and artifacts and perhaps he passed that down to Annie Josephine.  I don't have any information on her besides this photograph.

Kathleen Clark
Next is Kathleen Clark, daughter of Marion Armstrong Clark who was my great-grandmother's (Florence Armstrong) sister.  My mother tells me that Florence lived with her family in the early 1940s.  She was very senile at the time and would talk a lot about "Marion."

You'll see in both the photographs, that these young children are both holding props.  In Annie Josephine's case, it's a cat!

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of them as young women.  As a researcher, finding out more about these cousins could possibly uncover more information about our shared ancestors - Benjamin Armstrong, Eliza Ferguson Armstrong, William Hunter Davis and Annie Rebecca Graham Davis.  The cousins descendants might have information and photographs that I don't have.  Again, more research leads, so little time!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Old vs. young

 More baby pictures with after and before shots – this time of brothers Cecil Davis and Albert Davis -- and an amazing portrait of the Brothers Davis as young tough guys.  First Albert –

Albert Davis, my great uncle, who I knew as Unk, had a personality that shines through in his photographs – he had a real zest for life.

Albert Davis 1960
Albert Davis - about 1919
Albert Davis 1903

Cecil Davis was a musician – an accomplished pianist.

 And I can't resist this comparison of the Brothers Davis as boys to men.

Cecil, George and Will Davis about 1900
George, Will, Albert, Will Sr., Cecil abt 1917-19

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cute babies!

So this week we go from rather serious looking women to...BABIES!  What's amazing is that the men I knew as old guys--grandpa, uncles-- were once cute little babies.  So here they are with some after and before shots.

George L.A. Davis
Baby George

William A. Davis, Jr.
Baby William A. Davis, Jr.

Will, Jr. is my great uncle.  But I never knew him.

William A. Davis, Sr.
Will Davis, Sr. as 4 yr old (1866)

Will Davis, Sr. was my great-grandpa.  Someone who I never met.

Cecil Davis

Albert Davis (Unk)

I'm not finding the baby pictures of Uncle Cecil and Unk.  But I know I've got them.  Unk looks almost like a baby in this teenage picture.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maggie the Mystery Woman 2

As we continue with the Maggie the Mystery Woman of the Armstrong-Davis Family Album, I couldn’t help but see a resemblance between her and Annie Graham Davis. 


But, I’m flummoxed by Maggie’s identity.  I haven’t found any Maggies (or Margarets) in this Davis line so far.  Some possibilities: 
1.  She could be a cousin of W. Hunter Davis. 
2.  Her resemblance to Annie makes me wonder if she’s a Graham who could have married a Davis also. 
3.  Maybe her photo was mislabeled. 

In an attempt to date the photo I’ve been going through Savannah City directories to determine the years the photographers (Launey & Gloebel) were in business.  The engraving on the back of the cabinet card print provides an address:  141 & 143 Broughton St.

It's pretty time consuming to go through the Savannah City directories on Ancestry.  I'm lucky that some of the photographs in my album show photographs from the late 1890s that were taken by Launey's studios without Goebel.  By the look of the rather puffy sleeves on Maggie's dress, this photo was most likely taken in the early 1890s.

Still, it will take a lot more research to figure out the identity of Maggie the Mystery woman.