Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bouncing Back In Time via the Census

We continue our journey back in time with William Hunter Davis, who I like to call W. Hunter (I'll tell the reason why in a future post).  Let’s springboard through some census records so we can connect W. Hunter to his pre-Civil War self.  

In the 1870 US Census, we find W. Hunter with his family in Savannah.  His son, William A. Davis is seven years old.  Wife "Ann" is 38 (and probably very pregnant).  John Bart isn’t there yet as he won’t be born until August 21st according to the family bible.  The birth dates all jive with the July 20, 1870 ages: William H., 32; Ann, 38; William A., 7.

There is no street name written on the edge of the page or any indication of locale except for Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia.  But they live near St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, as written on the margin in the previous page.  The census lists W. Hunter’s occupation as RR Clerk, which I'm guessing means Rail Road clerk.  It will be fun to delve into the context and details later, right now lets move on back in time.

I came up with no strong matches for W. Hunter in the 1860 census.  I found a 22-year old William H. with a birthplace of Georgia in Cass County, Texas surrounded by a lot of other Georgia natives.  The age and birthplace match, but not enough for me to say it’s probably our William Hunter Davis.  I’ve encountered too many other William H. Davises, so I can’t quite make that leap.  Also, the Texas William H. Davis has a wife and infant son named William H.

I won’t totally rule them out. I’ll just add "search Cass County records" as another task on my research to-do list.  (He could have had a first wife and child and maybe they both died, who knows.)

In 1850, W. Hunter would be 12-years-old.  The 1850 Census reveals a William H. Davis (age 12) living with his parents John W (aged 34) and Martha C. (age 37) and a sister Georgia A.C. Davis (age 14) in Chatham County, Georgia.  the parents’ names match the family bible.  

So now we have a sister (Georgia!) who we can track down at another time! 

The 1840 census does list a John W. Davis (when W. Hunter would be age 2), but in the 1840 U.S. census only the head of household's name is listed, so the other names of family members only show up  as tick marks under age ranges.

In the next post we’ll make a U-turn and move forward in time, following W. Hunter in Civil War Savannah as he marries Annie and welcomes his first child, William into the world, all while serving in the Confederate infantry and cavalry.


"United States Census, 1850," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 Mar 2013), William H Davis in entry for John N Davis, 1850.  Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 64. 1009 rolls); District 13, Chatham, Georgia; Roll:  M432_64;  Page:  259A; Image:  73.

"United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 Mar 2013), William H Davis, Georgia, United States; citing p. 201, family 1438, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 545640.

William A. Davis Family Bible. THE-DEVOTIONAL AND PRACTICAL-POLYGLOTT-FAMILY BIBLE. (Cincinatti, Ohio: National Publishing Co. and Chicago, Ill: Jones, Junkin & Co., 1870) Privately held by Margaret M. Eves.

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