Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who was this Mary Marshall?

I couldn’t resist continuing to explore the neighbors and neighborhood of William Hunter Davis that I discovered from the 1870 census page described in my May 19 post.  The rich lady, 87- year-old Mary Marshall, really intrigued me.  She shows up in an 1874 Savannah city directory as “Marshall, Mrs. Mary M, wid James, r 47 West Broad” which translates as  “widow of James Marshall, residing at 47 West Broad.”  You can enter the address in Google maps and it takes you to current day Savannah, where Broad St exists as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  It’s hard to tell from a stroll down a Google satellite map if Mrs. Marshall’s home still exists.

A quick search on Google takes me to the history of the Marshall House Hotel, claiming to be the oldest hotel in Savannah having been built by Mary Marshall in 1851.  Born Mary Leaver, she was the daughter of a shrewd cabinetmaker and real estate investor named Gabriel Leaver.  He left land to Mary who continued to purchase and develop land in Savannah.  She lived to the ripe old age 93.  She died in 1877. (History of the Marshall House website)

In the same city directory, my William H. Davis shows up living on Zubly St at the southeast corner of Ann, which is right around the corner from Mrs. Marshall’s home on West Broad (Estill, p. 55). Today, there’s not much at the intersection of Zubly and Ann except for a parking lot, some boarded up apartments, and some industrial buildings. 

The city directory lists William H. Davis as a “down freight agent, CRR,” so he is still working for the Central Rail Road in 1874.


Estill, J. N. Publisher.  Estill’s Savannah Directory for 1974-’75. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Estill’s Savannah Directory. J. N. Estill Publisher, 1874. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.  Accessed 11 March 2009.

History of the Marshall House.  Accessed 26 May 2013.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More than names and dates

In the previous post we saw a picture of W. Hunter taken sometime between 17 June 1865 and 1 August 1866.  Where did he go after that?  The next record I have of him is the 1870 U.S. Census showing Wm. H. Davis living in Savannah at age 32 with his wife Annie and seven-year-old son, Wm.  W. Hunter’s occupation was listed as R. R. Clerk (Railroad Clerk).

The 1870 census doesn’t indicate a street address so we can’t tell where in Savannah that his family lived.  We could try to find a city directory that would show an address, but before leaving this record I started to look at it more closely and discovered some things about the world of Hunter and Annie Davis.  Look below and you’ll see a different snapshot that I took of the same census page.

In the first column the numbers indicate “dwelling-houses numbered in order of visitation.”  The second column shows numbers indicating “families, in order of visitation.” 

So the Davises lived in a “dwelling-house” with multiple families!  The listing for this particular dwelling-house, (number 1324) continues onto the next page with one other family – six families altogether.  What struck me was not only how diverse this dwelling-house was but also the diversity of the neighborhood surrounding them.   Out of the six families living in the “dwelling-house” four are black and two are white.  The other white family included a man from Prussia, whose wife was born in Pennsylvania.  By looking at the dwellings and families nearby we see a mixture of blacks and whites, most working in various occupations including pastry maker, tanner, drayman, seamstress, dressmaker, laundress, domestic servants, and laborer.  And by looking at the preceding census page we see people from different countries, as well as children living in St. Joseph’s Orphanage.

Just three houses away from W. Hunter was a rather wealthy, elderly lady, Mary Marshall, whose real estate is shown valued at $400,000.  Mrs. Marshall is 87, but has 11-year-old Mary M. Barclay living with her, along with a governess, a coachman, a gardener, and three domestic servants.

W. Hunter does have a domestic servant, Mary Ann Barnes living in their household.  She was black and 28 years of age. He claims his personal property as valued at $800.  You can look at images of the original census pages for free at The web address for this specific page of the census at FamilySearch is:

Another good place to learn about the social history of Savannah during this time is the book Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War by Jacqueline Jones (Vintage, 2009).


"United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 May 2013), William H Davis, Georgia, United States; citing p. 201, family 1438, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 545640.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Post-war W. Hunter Davis

From the timeline in my April 27  post we know that W. Hunter Davis took the Oath of Allegiance and was released from Fort Delaware Prisoner-of-War camp on 17 June 1865.  What happened to him after that?  We have a photograph of W. Hunter Davis below.

We could try to use his clothing to pinpoint a time period, but that can be a little more difficult with men's clothing.  The back of a photograph may give us some clues.

The blue stamp is a revenue stamp required by the the United States government to raise money to fund the Civil War.  The tax began on 1 August 1864 and was ended on 1 August 1866.  So this photograph could have been taken anytime between 17 June 1865 and 1 August 1866.  In addition, the back of the photo shows the photographers rather intricate engraving which says:
"Photographed by HOPE

Successor to W. H. Kimball
477 Broadway
New York"
So far my attempts to find "HOPE" in city directories in have been unsuccessful.  Finding out when a photographer was in business at a certain location could possibly narrow down the date.  

Still, we do know that this photograph shows W. Hunter within about a year after his release.  He looks rather thin but well-dressed.  

Doing the photo detective work is rather fun.  I got some good ideas how to find clues from Maureen Taylor's Family Photo Detective (Family Tree Books:  Cincinnati, Ohio, 2013).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Prison Times

As we saw in the last post, W. Hunter arrived at Fort Delaware prisoner-of-war camp in February of 1865.  I don't have specific information about his time there, but in the Library of Congress' American Memory collection there are images of a handwritten newspaper that the POWs at Fort Delaware created themselves. Although imprisoned and probably living in overcrowded conditions, the men appeared to have tried to participate in activities that would improve their day-to-day life -- clubs, musical groups, and literary societies.  The newspaper featured advertisements, poems, announcements and a directory. See the images and explore more at
Search on "Prison Times" in key word.  Let me know if you find W. Hunter Davis in the newspaper!

[Note:  Since first discovering the Prison Times, the Library of Congress no longer offers the link to the digitized image through the American Memory collection.  But I updated the link above to send you to the images current home within the Civil War Treasures collection on the New York Historical Society's website.  MME - 9 April 2015]

While reflecting on W. Hunter's POW experience, I wondered why he wasn't released until June of 1865, when I knew that Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.  The following web page provides some details about how Lee's surrender was only for the Army of Virginia, and the other armies of the Confederacy then had to come to surrender separately.  It gives a timeline of departures from Fort Delaware.

You can learn more about Fort Delaware from the Fort Delaware State Park website and the Fort Delaware Historical Society website

Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society,