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Research on Turner A. Davis and Family

This page is a record of my hunt for Turner A. Davis’ roots. It seems a little futile, me writing all this stuff about my search for this one guy – like, who is going to care? But the fact is that he lived. And he had an impact on a lot of lives. He also had children of his own. I am descended from one of his children – but I must have cousins. Surely there are others of you out there – Charlotte’s great great grandchildren – or Beatrice’s or Martha Ann’s – I know that the rest of my cousins, Bertie’s offspring, do not seem all that interested in the history of the family. There are a lot of them in the world, but I don’t know them. Anyway – this is what I know about it, and I hope it is of use to somebody:

I have spent years hunting for Turner A. and his family. It’s been an interesting search, but also a frustrating one. In the last couple of years, I have pretty much ascertained that the theories I used to have about this man were summarily wrong. But at the last, after twenty years of dogged trying, I’ve had the unbelievable experience of actually, finally, finding some things out.

NAMES: Turner A. Davis, Gabriel P. Davis, Charlotte Virginia Davis, James Thomas Davis, Permelia Davis, Beatrice Davis, Washington Davis, Tabitha Davis, Samuel Davis (of Abbeville, SC. and Greene and Sumter County, AL), Elizabeth Jane Cherry, Bertie Turner Davis, Penelope Cherry, John D. Arrington, Nicholas Arrington, Martha Ann Holbrook, Pleasant Wright, Orrin Davis, Elizabeth Davis Arrington, Nancy Davis Calwell (Caldwell), Edmund Calwell (Caldwell), Walter Anderson, Tabitha Long, John Read Long, Frances Anderson of Virginia, Robert Chapman of Caroline County, VA., Chesley Davis, Gabriel Washington Davis, Littleberry Davis and more...

COUNTIES: In South Carolina: Newberry, S.C. Abbeville, S.C. In Alabama: Sumpter, Ala. Greene, Ala.

Before I get to the specifics of this research, I want to explain something. There are two tools that are very important in this kind of study: name patterns and allied families. It took me a while to figure this out - I now pass it on to you.

Families in the South (perhaps in the North also, I don’t know, not having done any work there yet) were large, and from generation to generation, parents often used much the same pattern of names. Sometimes a name shows up a lot in a single period of years because of recent historical events: George Washington Smith, George Washington Davis, etc. It’s when you see whole troops of children who bear the same names from generation to generation that you need to sit up and take notice. It’s funny—you can start reading a census list and feel completely disconnected to the names - and then suddenly, you hit a patch where the names are all familiar, like a list of your own neighbors. Of course, both the wife or husband will bring his or her own list of traditional names to the family (which is just another nice bit of evidence) - but where the surname is constant, often the cluster of given names shows a definite pattern.

The most important tool I have found is this: Pay Close Attention to Allied Families. Families often lived, intermarried and migrated in clusters. When I was trying to connect my Cherry family with the N.C. Family, I knew I was on the right track because I could trace the same surnames in a cluster through a migration from the home county through about five more counties in North Carolina before they settled in Greene County, Alabama. After that, the children of the next generation, brought up in Greene, intermarried, Cherrys to Briggs and Gullys and Bizells. Sure enough - the records finally proved me right. Never disregard those so-far unaligned but omnipresent “other” surnames.

I tell you this because the history of the Davis family is a puzzle of great complexity. They say seven brothers came to VA. from Wales early in the 1600s (I have no proof of this, by the way). Seven brothers – in two generations, that’s going to mean a whole passel of Davis’. There’s been a lot written about Chesley Davis, Harmon Davis and Reason (or Rezin) Davis. Nobody really knows how these guys are related – and the fact is, there are many, many men in the south who carried these names through the generations.

I have to say this, also. Genealogy is not a hard science. And what will happen is – somebody will do research, make assumptions about generational links – filling in gaps between documented events with speculation – and then publish the whole package. Soon, the assumptions are accepted by all the folks downstream as the truth, even though the assumptions are sometimes pretty darn wild and not even logical or time-reasonable. Because the information is often so complex, the downstream researchers don’t want to take the time to do the math – accepting the author as an authority is a lot easier, and the answers seem satisfying. In the end, the assumptions are published all over the place – books, net, everywhere, and accepted alongside documented info. The truth may never be found, because people, satisfied, have stopped digging for it.

Too, I am always amused when a miraculous find like a family bible record is discovered—and lo and behold, the information on that record, written however many decades or centuries ago—does not agree with the conventional wisdom. More often than not, in my experience, the researchers will scrunch up their faces and decide that the Bible record must be wrong, somehow – that the writer, a member of the family who actually has walked and talked with the people we are seeking, knows less about birth and death dates and ancestors’ names than some person, two hundred years later, who is trying to piece a 70 year old life together with only two or three vague legal documents to go on.

Conclusion: do not accept information that is not documented. Ask for sources. Do the math – do you really believe that this guy didn’t father his first child until after he was 56? How could this child belong to the first wife, when the death date of the first wife and the birth date of a child of the second wife come before the birth date of the child in question? Their lives were complex – lots of children, lots of death, lots of marriages due to death – but they were real.

It is easy to become excited and to draw conclusions on circumstantial evidence. I have done it myself, and have posted mistakes I have later been ashamed of, and appalled to find quoted later. I apologize for this. I still make assumptions (you almost have to – a thesis to be proved), but I try to mark my guesses as guesses only. Sometimes, also, I quote other people without the care I should take. Do not take my conclusions, therefore, as truth – unless I show you my proof and it satisfies you.

South Carolina:

In South Carolina, in 1785, Newberry, Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, Spartenburg and Union Counties were created out of what had been called “Old 96,” District 96. Greenwood County would come out of Edgefield and Abbeville in 1798, Saluda from Edgefield in 1896 and McCormick in 1916. So Abbeville, Newberry, Greenwood, Edgefield and Laurens Counties fit together like puzzle pieces, in time and records as well as in legal boundries.

Davis is a Welsh name, a darned common one, so we expect to see a slew of them all over the countryside when we look at the census. What we want to see are developing patterns and familiar names.

Turner A. Davis, the man I have been following.

This whole thing – the last ten years of research, this web page – they are all about Turner. When I started trying to find my family, I had the information my great aunts had given us: their grandmother was Bertie Turner Davis. That’s where the information ended. While I was in grad school, I started messing with the research. I figured Bertie’s middle name was probably her mom’s maiden name or something. But as I dug up records, I was surprised and gratified to find that her father’s name was Turner A. Davis. Her mother’s side, having been in Greene County for some time, was easier to locate – up to a point. But that’s another story.

In the 1880 census, I learned that her father had been from South Carolina, so I started looking for him in census indexes, and found him in 1830. The fact that I found him clustered on a page with Chesley Davis and all his sons led me to conclude that Turner must have been Chesley’s son as well, so I started searching for information on that family. There are a few “definitive” books on the subject – often quoted. While there is good information in those books, there is also bad information (IMHO). Glaring questions are raised by some of the assumptions, questions that are never addressed – about census entries that seem to have no relationship with conclusions drawn, decades unaccounted for. One of the greatest flaws is in the leaps made to link families. There were dozens of Chesley Davis’ living in the south – all over the south. One of these books coolly connects the Chesley in Newberry with the Chesley in Abbeville – but offers me no good evidence.

I wrestled with these questions for a long time – assuming everybody else was right, and that I was being obtuse, not being able to connect the dots as the books had done. It seemed obvious that if the Chesley Davis in Abbeville was indeed the son of the one in Newberry, there could have been some first marriage that resulted in children I had not yet found. I knew, from Greene County records, that Turner (who had not been mentioned in Chelsey’s Abbeville probate while all the other sons on that page had been left legacies) had a sister named Nancy. I also knew that Chesley had a daughter named Nancy. I felt especially connected to her because the Books so often referred to her as Nancy Heczebah— lumping two sisters together into one, because the clerk who wrote the probate didn’t bother to put commas between them. I had found proof—easily found by anybody— evidently overlooked or undiscovered by the earlier researchers and thus not figured into their “definitive” conclusions, that these were two separate women with two separate husbands. Therefore, I “naturally” jumped at Nancy, decided she was the sister of Turner (the fact that Turner’s sister’s husband, Edmund Caldwell—an unusual name for the area— was close to this Davis family on the South Carolina census only made the conclusion seem more inevitable) and used that as my proof that Turner was Chesley’s son, evidently of a first marriage.

Exactly the kind of conclusion that leads to Way Wrong Information.

When I went back to the records, I found that Chesley’s Nancy had married somebody else altogether, and thus easily disproved my own, semi-published conclusions. And pretty much erased any hope that I’d found Turner’s actual family.

Some years later, I happened on Barbara Langdon’s Abbeville County Marriages as implied by the equity court records. Barbara is the first person who will tell you that her work is only a reference, a cashe of hints – that anything you think you find there is only the beginning of research, not the end. Anyway, I’d been tracking a Tabitha Davis—I’d found her name attached to Turner Davis in all kinds of ways in Greene County, and I’d found her nearby in Abbeville, South Carolina as well. As I say, that kind of thing – patterns of names showing up in places, states away from each other – is a Big Sign to me. I’d wondered if Tabitha was his sister – even concluded it at one, grossly ignorant, point. Slowly, it began to occur to me that she might be his mother (duh).

The name, Tabitha Davis, is rare in 96. In fact, the name Tabitha is generally not all that common. In Langdon, I found a Tabitha Anderson who married and unnamed Davis. It was a huge breakthrough. I immediately ordered the micro film of that Equity Court record from Salt Lake and settled down to pore through it. One of the first things I learned about the Equities is that the index stinks. The only names in the index are the complainor and the complained against – thus, you can have John Smith vs James Jones – one being the husband of an oldest daughter, the other the administrator of a will – and the whole record is actually about Heziciah Barnbutton – and might include his entire will and a list of his children and their spouses and even their children and his siblings (I mean, most of them aren’t this full - ). But you would never know that info was there unless you were incredibly lucky, or unless you used Langdon, or unless you read the entire collection of some 2800 records. That’s why I’m going through them to make sloppy, terrible, but perhaps helpful abstracts.

I learned tons about the Walter Anderson family in that record. About the interlacing of Abbeville families (most significantly the name LONG), about the migration to Greene county of many of the members. The only thing I was not able to get out of it was WHO Tabitha had married. And even after all of that, I could not link Tabitha and Turner together in any solid way. I began to find Turner’s name on documents that bore on Anderson family business – including one breathtaking throw-away document on which Walter Anderson (Tabitha’s father), Tabitha Davis and Turner A. Davis (he is always Turner A. Davis) are bound together in a guardian bond – one that makes Turner A. Davis the guardian of the children of William Davis, dec. (More on that later – primarily the question – WHO the heck is Wm. Davis????)

The only Davis signature I find on any other Anderson document is that of Thomas Davis, whose name appears in the probate of Lewis B Sims, abt 1804, the husband of Lucy Long Anderson, Tabitha’s sister. That probate bears the name of every “other” Anderson son and son-in-law (excepting Charles Hodges, husband of Sarah). Many researchers who have gone before me have indicated that Thomas Davis is the husband of Tabitha – or one researcher concluded that, and all the rest have simply quoted him. But there is, so far, no documentation of this union. NO PROOF at all, and when I ask people for it after seeing it in their records, nobody has any recorded reason for the assertion. There is also the fact that a Thomas Davis is listed immediately after Pleasant Wright (husband of Walter Anderson’s daughter Suzannah – who later goes to Greene County, AL.) Pg 4, Abbeville 1800 cnesus:
Thomas Davis: 1 boy (under 10) – (I have to point out that Turner was born in 1799), one man (26-45). One girl (under 10), 1 woman (16-26)
Pleasant Wright: 1 man (26-45), 3 girls (under 10), one woman (26-45)

Page 18, 1800 Abbeville: William Davis: 4 boys (under 10), one man (26-45), one woman (26-45).
Pg. 34, 1800 Abbeville: William Davis: 1 man (26-45). 2 Girls (under 10), one woman (26-45)
Pg. 38, 1800 Abbeville: William Davis: 2 boys(-10), one (16-26), a man (45+), 1 girl (-10), 2 (10-16), a woman (45+)
There might also be a William on pg 29 -

I’m making a little guess, then, based on the Lewis Sims probate, the proximity to Pleasant wright and the census stats that there’s a good chance Thomas could be Tabitha’s husband and Turner A’s father. But in the back of my mind, there is always this nagging thought: I cannot find any information on the William Davis of whose children Turner A. Davis is made guardian. In my experience, going through the equity records, often a guardian is a father, a brother, an uncle. This William – I can’t find him anywhere. He evidently died after 1820. His children move to Greene County with Turner, and Gabriel P (one of two sons) signs papers having to do with both Tabitha Davis’ death and Turner A.’s probate. This is obviously close family. Could William have been Tabitha’s husband? Was Thomas Davis his father? Was that the link between the Andersons and the Davis’?

A bible record I quote below, written by Gabriel Washington Davis (do you see the two Gabriels here?), son of Chesley Davis of Abbeville who also moved to Greene County, Alabama, and who had a little daughter, Eliza Jane, born in the years when Eliza Jane Cherry Arrington was married to Turner A. Davis—this bible record states that Cheesley’s son Gabriel spent his youngest years in Edgefield (part of which later became Greenwood County, South Carolina, the very neighborhood we are researching in South Carolina) and that his grandfather’s name was Thomas. I am hoping to find more equity records that might shed some light on the interworking of these families, and the roots of this Davis branch).

The thing that complicates all of this further is that Turner A. Davis shows up as a witness for another William during roughly the same period of years: William W. Davis, married to an Elizabeth, who later marries Joseph Wardlaw and sues everybody in the county. This is a completely different set of children, and Turner is not the guardian of them. This was a maze it took me about a year and a half to get out of. Please do not name any of your children William or John.

To make the long story short, in the last month, I received from Roger Anderson a bible record written by Samuel Anderson, son of Walter Anderson. This bible record is one of the reasons I actually believe in miracles. Roger found this record as he was browsing through a Virginia library – found a file folder stuck between books with one sheet of paper in it, a two hundred year old page from a family bible with the names of Walter Anderson’s children and the dates of their births – and some deaths. Roger didn’t even know at the time that this was a family he would come to care about very much – but he muscled the librarians into letting him take a copy of it, and finally sent it to me. On that record were the names of two children I’d never heard of before, even after all my reading and digging: Polly Long, who died – and thus was never mentioned in any probate or court record. And Turner Anderson. Turner Anderson who died when he was 18 years 10 days old – as stated carefully in the record. Now, I knew for sure what the precious “A” in Turner Davis’ name was for. And I knew where his name had come from.

This is still not proof. It is not a court record that names Turner A Davis as Tabitha Davis’ son. But I have read things in the equity records that were actually quite wrong: neighbor testimony that contradicted other testimony, clerks who have written names incorrectly, or attributed children to the wrong parents in sub records. We will never know the truth until we are all safely dead.

But that bible record is enough for me. I am now concluding that Tabitha was indeed Turner A. Davis’ mother. Now, if I could only figure out the father thing….

What follows is a bit of the old research, edited on the basis of present understanding:

Abbeville County and environs (Including edgefield) top of page

In the 1790 Census for South Carolina ,on pages 57-61, there are listed: (57) Jonathan Anderson, Moses Davis, (58) Walter Anderson, David Davis, Granville Davis, Augustine Davis, (59) Nicholas Long, Nathan Sims, John Sample, Alexander Sample, Robert Sample, Robert Swancey Elizabeth Agnew, (60) Henry Long, (61) William Davis, Thomas Davis, Aron Davis, John Sims, James Long

In the 1800 census , there is a slew of Davis’, spread over a bunch of counties. In Abbeville alone, there are 15. Walter Anderson is listed on page 22, as are Thomas Davis, Sarah Pulliam, Thomas Pulliam, William Wardlaw and John Read Long . On (4) we find another Thomas Davis and Pleasant Wright (7) Robert Davis, (14), Augustin Davis, (16 another Augustin Davis, (35) Robert davis, (38) Israel, Mosey and William Davis, (39) Machlin Davis). (40) Alexander Davis and on (18,29,34) other Williams and on (26,7) John Davis.

We find Walter Anderson on pg 61 along with a William Davis, Nathan Anderson, Thomas J Anderson, Benjamin Pulliam. James, John, Zachary, Sarah, and Benj. jr. Pulliam.. On (62) Thomas Davis. (50) Samuel Anderson (son of Walter), Pleasant Wright. (55) Joseph davis. (48), Ely Davis. (47), John Davis. (42) richard Long Anderson (Walter’s son), Josh Davis. Many more Davis names – maybe brothers or sisters of Turner or William or Thomas, maybe not. There are Williams also on (18,29). There’s a Chesley in Edgemont Co, pg. 33.

To understand this census, you have to know that our neighborhood listing starts on page 61 – “That part of Abbeville Dist. South of the Road leading from the upper bridge on Long cain Creek to Swanses Ferry by Col. Jno Logan’s, east of said Creek.” In the next few pages are lists of neighbors so familiar I am amazed that I do not have their images in my mind’s eye. The William who is nearly first on this list has a boy (-10), which could still be Turner, if the month were right, a man who is 26-45 (probably 36-45 by now), one girl under 10 and one wife 16-26. If Tabitha were born about 1774, as later census suggests, she would be too old to be this wife.

The Thomas Davis listed on pg 62 amongst the many Samples and Merriwethers, the Bowies and Pulliams, Stuarts, Neeleys, Lipscombs and Brightmans, has 1 boy (-10), 1 (10-16), 1(16-26), one man 26-45. 4 girls (-10), 1 (10-16), and two women 26-45. There is nothing conclusive here beyond the almost surety that these people were part of each other’s lives.

In 1820: Walter Anderson is found on pg 31 along with Alexander and John N Sample, Lucy Pulliam, Tabitha Davis, James R. Rayner, James Pulliam, William Neeley, Nicholas Long, Wm. Spraggins and many others. Tabitha apparently has no husband in her home; the oldest male is 18-26 (Turner would be 20-21). She has two younger boys and seven girls living with her. I will interject at this point that in 1823, there is recorded a marriage between Turner A. Davis and Mary Ann Rayner in Wilkes County, GA., which is across the state line a piece. I have been turning up some family in Wilkes County lately, but don’t have a solid enough line on it to draw conclusions. I did, however, spend hours trying to chase down the name Rayner in that region and find it non-existent. No Raynors or Rayners in all of Georgia. Only one in South Carolina, and he is living next door to Tabitha Davis in Abbeville. Because Turner is so particularly “Turner A. “, also rare, and because of this juxtaposition, I have assumed that this marriage was actually between Tabitha’s son and James R’s daughter. The census has marks that line up with this idea. It is not hard proof by any means, but I am working it into my picture. Any input on either side of the question would be welcome. William W. Davis, for whose probate Turner signed witness has died by this time. Turner’s own father? I don’t know. The William for whose children Turner would function as guardian may be dead by now, but the guardianship doesn’t really show up until some 1824. Turner’s marriage, if the above reasoning proves to be true, wasn’t until 1823, so maybe he couldn’t be a guardian till then. Perhaps the children were living with Tabitha? I just don’t know if any of this is true.

Chesley Davis is found on pg (30), (31b),includes Samuel and Elizabeth Davis.

1830. By this time, Walter Anderson is dead and the family a bit scattered. Pleasant Wright had taken his part of it to Alabama by 1820 or so. Richard L doesn’t show up in this census for SC. Samuel Anderson is found on page (5). Tabitha is on pg (12). Turner Davis is on pg (7), where we also find Chesley Davis and all his sons. Others of the Anderson family are scattered along pgs 5-12, here and there. The old neighborhood is broken. There is one William Davis on pg 83, but he is not the one we’re looking for, as they are dead. There are two Thomas Davis, but they are both 30-40, not the generation we were looking for. Edmund Caldwell, husband of Nancy Davis, sister of Turner A. Davis is found on page 8 next to Jesse Beasley, who had an issue with Lucy Long Anderson Swancey Beasely Sims Pulliam (yep – those are her names), Nancy Davis Caldwell’s aunt, at one point about this time. On page 10, we find Charles B Fooshe and Margaret Mitchell, both related to Lucy Long Anderson etc, etc through the Pulliam line. And on page 12, with Tabitha is Elizabeth Wardlaw, who I am assuming to be the widow of William W. Davis (Turner witnessed his probate), who married Joseph Wardlaw after and was widowed again.

There are several legal documents that crop up between 1829 and 1838, but nothing so far that reveals much about the Davis line.

Turner A. Davis, along with the kids for whom he is guardian and his own kids, moves to greene, Co., Alabama in about 1838. So do his sister, Nancy, and her husband Edmund Caldwell, and his mother Tabitha. He already has tons of family there.

One thing I have not discussed here is Samuel Davis. Chesley of Abbeville had a son named Samuel. Have I said that I suspect Chesley, because of certain bridging names, like John B. Davis (oldest son of William W. Davis) and others, not to mention proximity and name patterns—to have been a son of Thomas Davis – the older Thomas – to be the Uncle or something of Turner A. Davis? Anyway, there were two Samuels in Abbeville, and I think they were both related to this line. If you go to my GEDCOM at family or search the histories I’ve entered on this page somewhere, you will see what I mean.

One of these Samuels married Mary Sample. (There is actually a Mary Davis listed on about pg 10 in 1830, but I don’t think she’s this one) One of them was made guardian of William W. Davis’ children and continued as guardian into the 1830s. One was Chesley Davis’ son, and one wasn’t – I suspect the other one to have been Turner’s brother or uncle, too. One moved to Greene Co, Alabama and married Suzannah Campbell, and then settled in Sumter. Alabama and started a second family (one of these sons bore the name Headly – a Chesley/Reazon/Harmon Davis name).

I don’t know which one of them did each of these things – maybe one did most of them. At one point, one of them moved – it was in the very early 1830s. Can guardianships be continued if the guardian moved out of state? If not, then the Samuel who moved was not the one who married Mary Sample. Unless both of them were married to Marys – which is possible. The one who was guardian was married to a Mary – that much is established by record. The list of the Sumter Samuel’s children – both South Carlolina family and Greene family is found in the Sumter County probate of Jesse P Davis, recorded in my GED under Jesse’s notes.

The Reverand Chesley Davis Jr. This is the OLD research - raising big questions:

Born about 1760, either in Va. or in Newberry County, S.C. Died September 12, 1836 at 69 years of age (Baptist News). The 1800 census suggests that his age was between 26 and 45 yrs, and that there were 4 sons and 5 daughters in the family. Here we have another question. The children of record are as follows, as listed in Chesley’s will of 1827:
Samuel 1790
Daniel 1801
Littleberry 1803
Augustus 1805
Gabriel Washington 1807 (m. Emmaline Crawford)
Jesse 1809
Nancy 1811 (m. I believe, to Edmund Calwell)
Hepzibah b. ?? (Some people think that Nancy is Nancy Hepzibah, but I do not share that opinion and will show why later.)
Beulah 1812 (m. William Buchanan)
Susannah 1814
William C. 1816 (m. Sarah Loftus)

Look closely here, and you will see that only one of these children was born before 1800. So, who were the other 3 sons and 5 daughters listed in that census?? Here again, we have the question, would a man of that time wait thirty years before having his first child? Not likely.

I do not know if he had another wife before Susannah. We now know that he married Susannah Berry. According to DAR Patriot Index (Centennial Edition, Part I, Washington 1990), Chesley Davis b about 1763 VA (d p August 6, 1827) married Mrs. Susannah (Berry) Gorman. So...he married the Widow Gorman, whose maiden name was Susannah Berry. I do not have a date on this yet. By the way, this may explain the name of their son, Little Berry.

Suzannah signs a deed, as far I can make out from the Davis book, in 1809 along with her husband. I do not know the earliest date on which her name appears with his on County records, so I can’t guess when Chesley actually married Suzannah.

What it comes down to is that there were 9 children tallied on the 1800 census, and only one of them is listed on the will. So either there was a first wife who had eight of these, who by the time of Chesley’s death would have been adults, probably gone west, many of them, or the children in that house were somebody else’s. Also, the youngest, William C., is not mentioned in the Chesley Davis Will as far as I can see.

Greene County, AL. (Also Sumpter) top of page

Elizabeth is one of Samuel’s South Carolina children. She came to Greene early on and married Nicholas Arrington, brother of John Arrington, who was Eliza Jane Cherry’s first husband. After his death, she married Turner A. Davis, now widowed twice. Jesse P Davis’ probate names Elizabeth Davis Arrington’s son as a nephew. She, by that time, had died. The Davis Families of the Savannah book (I can’t remember the actual title, and forgive me, the author, lists Samuel Davis’ children as follows (and assumes that this is Chesley’s son, about which I am not totally convinced):

Rachel 1826 (m. Richard Walton)
James T. 1828 (m. Margaret Waine)
William R. 1831 (m. Mary Amelia Danner)
Headly 1834 (there’s that name again) (m. Mary Dial)
Hugh M. 1836 (m. A.T. Johnson)
Mary 1838
Ellen 1840 (m. Hugh Danner)
Pernicia J. 1844

I haven’t checked these names and partners against my own info at this time.

The 1850 census adds Amanda C. 1842
Samuel’s will mentions his 4 oldest children : James T., John W. Davis, Jesse Pendleton Davis and Rachel Walton, nee Davis. ( By this time, Elizabeth Davis Arrington had died )

In 1830, Samuel Davis is bound with John D. Arrington (Elizabeth Jane Cherry’s husband) and Penelope Cherry (Elizabeth Jane’s mother), to execute George Cherry’s probate (Will book B -pg.29). So we see that Samuel Davis is closely acquainted with the Greene county Cherry/Arrington connection, which makes the link with Turner A. Davis, who eventually marries into the Cherry/Arrington configuration.

In Jesse Pendleton’s probate, dated 1854, the following default heirs are mentioned: John W. Davis, living in Choctaw County, a brother; Thomas Arrington, a son of Elizabeth Arrington and a nephew of the deceased living in Greene County, and a minor (Elizabeth’s children are listed in the 1850 census, so this is a matter of solid record); etc... The conclusion must be that Elizabeth Davis Arrington is, in actuality, daughter to Samuel Davis (son of Chesley Davis), and I believe, Niece of Turner A. Davis.

In 1838, Turner A. Davis moves to Greene (his first wife must have died) and marries young Martha Ann Holbrook . In 1839, he buys E 1/2 of SE 1/4 Sec 30 T22 R5 and W 1/2 SW 1/4 Sec 29 T 22 R5 from Chandlers. (Deeds in Direct Deed Record Books: K, 922 - Turner A., 463. Martha Ann dies very soon after the marriage. In 1842, Turner marries John Arrington’s widow, Eliza Jane Cherry Arrington.

At this same exact time (Jan 22 1839), Tabitha Davis also buys SE 1/4 SW 1/4 Sec 30 T22 R5 from Holstons. (Deeds Book I, Greene). The deeds are recorded on the same day and are entered in the deed book side by side. Gabriel Davis (was this Washington or P?) buys land in sec 20 R1.

In the 1840 census for Greene , there is a T.A. Davis listed; I’m betting it’s Turner A. on page 125 (The entry shows 1 boy under 5/ 2 under 10/ 1 person between 20 -30, one between 40-50 (Turner is, by this time, 39-40). One girl under 5, 2 under 10, a woman of 20 - 30. In his 1844 probate (he died of pneumonia, contracted on a winter trip into Greensborough. He was, by the way, a Methodist – the religion of the Anderson family since way back) – in his probate, as I was saying, are listed the following heirs: James Thomas Davis, Charlotte Virginia Davis, Beatrice Davis, Martha Ann Davis, Bertie Turner Davis (daughter of Betsey (Elizabeth) Jane Cherry Arrington Davis) and an infant, name unknown to the clerk. We do not hear about the infant after this – no younger child shows up in subsequent census, so I imagine that little child did not live long. He may have had some of the Arrington children living with him also at the time of the 1840 census? no - too early for that. William Davis’ kids, of whom Turner was guardian, were in their twenties and thirties by this time.

On the same page (125) is an Orrin Davis who, we find on the 1850 census , lists a son named Chesley. His place of origin, however, is North Carolina. The question is, given proximity and the child named Chesley – is this more extended family? Don’t I wish I knew all these stories? On page 111 is Tabitha Davis, and with her are listed Edmund Caldwell and Margaret Caldwell – Edmund being her son-in-law, the one who married Nancy N Davis. In Sumpter County, I don’t find Samuel, even though I know he is married and living there. But I do find Littleberry, Chesley of Abbeville’s son. By 1840, Littleberry and Gabriel Washington Davis, sons of Chesley Davis of Abbeville, have moved to Greene or Sumter. And Samuel, if this is the Samuel who is Chesley’s son.

On October 31st of that year, Turner A. makes out a deed to his sister, Nancy N. Calwell, a gift of land that is very clearly not to fall into the hands of her husband or his creditors. Turner A. mentions specifically her sons, John S. Calwell and Washington J. Calwell and her husband Edmund Calwell. (Pg 922, Greene county).

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When Turner A. dies, his property doesn’t satisfy his debts. We sent for pages of his probate packet, file 675.

In the packet, we find that Turner A. Davis has the following surviving heirs:
Elizabeth Davis, widow
James Thomas Davis
Beatrice Davis
Charlotte Virginia Davis
Mary Ann Davis (she would be the one child under five on the census, and I’m guessing she was Martha Ann Holbrook Davis’ child)
Elizabeth Turner Davis and
an infant, name unknown. All under 21 years.

Betsy Jane Cherry Arrington Davis marries Raines P. Travis after Turner’s death.

In the Probate (pg 347-349 Vol H) the following people have claims:
Gabriel P Davis (William Davis’ son)
James Avery (There’s a link here with South Carolina that I haven’t yet worked out).
Nancy N. Calwell (Turner’s sister)
Sarah L. Davis (William Davis’ daughter)
Margaret Davis (Don’t know who this person is)

Meanwhile, back in Abbeville, there is a farmer named Turner G. Davis. He was born in 1821, and his name is very interesting. I know nothing about him, but I can’t help but wonder if he might not be Turner A.’s son? Or a cousin? He has a son Asa and one named Gabriel – there’s the name Gabriel again.

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Here is a transcription of Gabriel Washington Davis’ (Chesley’s son; I believe Turner A.’s cousin, maybe?) Bible entry, October 22, 1879:

God has permitted me to live to see my seventy second birthday. I regret that I have done so little to advance the kingdom of my blessed master.


Our first parents emigrated from Wales, and was among the early settlers of Virginia. My line of the family early emigrated to South Carolina, settled in Newberry and Edgefield Countys [sic]; my grandfathers name as well as I know was Thomas Davis; my fathers was Chesley Davis; he was about grown at the close of the Revolution war and later became an eminant [sic always] minister of the Gospel; the writer of this was borned in Edgefield, raised mostly in Abbeville District or county; Emmigrated to Green County, Ala. In 1830; then to Madison Co Miss in 1844; where I now live at this writing.

I will the Bible to my oldest son George W. Davis during his lifetime and then to his second son John Gabriel Davis his lifetime so on to the oldest son through all generations if the male should run out of rai the regular line I will that this bible should decend to the youngest male kin of the name Davis; I trust that Bible will be taken care off by all who own or handle it, and that all will follow its presepts.

There are several interesting clues here - Edgefield is a good one. I hadn’t looked there for records, and that is where we first see Chesley’s name, all alone on pg 33, but close to Hightower Davis and Hanah on pg 34, and Ben on 38. Gabriel was born in 1807, so would show up on the 1810 census.

Gabriel left Greene county in 1844, the year that Turner A. Davis died. I will tell you why this seems significant to me:

According to Gandrud (108):

Gabriel Washingron Davis b. 14 Feb 1809 d. 24 Dec 1896
married in Abbeville 31 July 1828
Emmiline Crawford (daughter of Samuel Crawford and Rosannah Hannah)


George W. Davis (m. Laura Bovard 1866 La.)
Westley Franklin Davis b. 12 Dec 1829 Abbeville d. 10 June 1831 Greene Co. Ala.
Martha Emmeline Davis b. 5 Dec 1831 Greene d. 16 May 1918 Miss
Julia Franklin b. 29 Sept 1833 Greene d. 16 March 1853 Miss
Samuel Thompson b. Nov 1835 Greene d. Oct 1837 Greene
Augustus ---field b. 29 Oct 1837 Greene d. 22 Oct 1858 Madison
William Harrison b. 29 Oct 1837 Greene
Eliza Jane b. 4 Nov 1842 Greene d. 28 Nov 1844 Greene
George Cookman b. 21 Feb 1845 Madison Co. Miss
Valentine Asbury b. 20 Aug 1847 Madison
Alice Gabriel
la b. 20 Feb 1850 Madison

I figure, if some of the children or family of Chesley Davis were not closely tied - very closely tied - to Elizabeth Jane Cherry and her Arringtons, why would Gabriel have named the little daughter born to him in 1842, the year Turner and Elizabeth Jane were married “Eliza Jane”? I love it that I have this little bit of human joy in my records. But tragedy follows. Turner A. died in 1844, leaving Elizabeth alone again. And later in that year, the year Gabriel and Emmiline left for Miss, little Eliza Jane also died.

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The questions:

Was Thomas Davis or William Davis the father of Turner A. Davis and the husband of Tabitha?

Who was Margaret Davis?

Which Samuel moved to Greene?

Was Chesley of Edgefield and Abbeville the son of Thomas Davis? The brother of Thomas Davis the younger? Were Chesley, Thomas and William Davis all brothers? Where are the records of that family?

Further notes:

Margaret Conway Shumate was the daughter of Peter Conway Shumate of Missouri and Elizabeth (Bertie) Turner Davis of Forkland, Greene County, Alabama. The story is that Peter came down South during the civil war, was wounded, and fell in love with Bertie. Wish I knew more - that could be quite a story.

Bertie Turner Davis was the daughter of Elizabeth Jane Cherry of Forkland and Turner A. Davis , of many places.

Elizabeth Jane - Betsy Jane - was the oldest daughter of George Cherry (of Duplin County, North Carolina) and Penelope (no maiden name).
George and Penelope’s children:

Elizabeth Jane (m. John Arrington, Turner A. Davis, Raines P. Travis)
Thirza M (m. Sam Briggs)
Willis Hiram (m. Sarah Rackley)
Eliza Rebecca (M. Duncan Briggs)
Sarah N. (m. John King)
Bythenia (m. Wm. H. Bizell)
George R.

Betsy Jane Cherry first married John D. Arrington , Jan 1829. They had the following children:
Martha Arrington
James P. Arrington
George C. Arrington
Robert Arrington (m. Susan M. Gully)

John D. Arrington died, and on August 29, 1842, Betsy Jane married Turner A. Davis, and that is what this page is all about.