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.


  1. What railroads were in Savannah at that time?

  2. The Central Rail Road (later called the Central of Georgia Railroad) is the only one in Savannah that I am aware of at that time. It was started in 1833 in response to a threat of another railroad being built from Charleston to Augusta that investors feared would cut into shipping into Savannah. W. Hunter Davis's father (John Washington Davis) may have worked for the C.R. R. as well.

  3. Welcome to Geneabloggers! Your reference to Pogo caught my eye since my Dad used to love Pogo too. One of my ancestors was a Davis from Maryland, but I don't know too much about that family yet. Looking forward to your future posts.


  4. It was tantalizing, seeing your blog mentioned in GeneaBloggers today, to discover that you, too, are researching Davises! To top it off, yours were evidently working in the railroads, too. But, just like researching Smith or Jones, we all find that Davis is a surname with little promise for connection, owing to being so widespread. While yours were evidently in Savannah, mine were just over the North Carolina state border in the hills of eastern Tennessee.

    Welcome to GeneaBloggers, and best wishes as you continue blogging!

  5. Kathryn and Jacqui,

    Thanks for the welcome! Yeah, these Davis surnames are frustrating sometimes. My mom tells me about the family lore of "12 Davis brothers" that came to this country. I think it's more like 1200 guys with the surname Davis who all happened to descend from different Davids. (David's son, Davis, Davison, Davidson Davies, etc.). And I have TWO different Davis lines in my family!!! (My grandmother was a Davis from Virginia.) So I try to keep those pedigree charts separate, just to help maintain my sanity. :-)
    Have a great holiday weekend making more family memories!

  6. What a great story. I found your site via Good luck with your blogging and I hope you find all your missing links in the process.

  7. Follow-up to your question, David Eves. The 1870 Savannah city directory lists the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, the Central Railroad and Banking Company, and the Savannah, Seaboard, and Skidaway Railroad.