Tuesday, July 14, 2009

John Stonewall Davis

John Stonewall Davis was born May 15, 1886 in Itawamba County, the son of James William Anderson Davis and Annalizer Morrow. John and my great-grandfather, James Kelly (Jim) Davis, were brothers, John being the younger of the two. There is a story that my mother told me about the two brothers. As teenagers, the Davis brothers were picking cotton when John spotted a lizard crawling by, picked up the lizard and threw it at Jim who was deathly afraid of lizards (something he passed along to my grandmother, Beck). In retaliation, Jim picked a green cotton boll and thew it at John, hitting him on the head. It must have hit John just right because it knocked John completely out. He never threw another lizard on Jim again!

In his early twenties, John left Mississippi to go work in the coal mines in Walker County, Alabama.

Itawamba County News
September 10, 1908
Local News

Mr. John Davis, who is working in the coal mines near Kansas, Ala., is visiting relatives here this week for a few days.

By 1910, John was married to Lula Mae Fikes and living in the Carbon Hill community of Walker County, Alabama. In 1918, his World War I draft registration card indicates that he was working as a coal miner for "Davis and Bowrey" in Carbon Hill. I don't know who the Davis of "Davis and Bowrey" was - it possibly could have been John himself. John's brother-in-law and sister, Lan and Lizzie Davis Spencer, also were living at Carbon Hill where Lan worked in the coal mines as well.

John's draft registration indicates that he was of medium build, had black hair and gray eyes.

John and Lula had at least two children, Glen Davis and Irene Davis.

Within the next decade, John had moved on, probably to Kentucky, because he is not found living in Walker County, Alabama in the 1930 census. I found Irene as a thirteen year old living with her aunt Anna Johnson in 1930. I don't know what happened to her mother and brother. John eventually wound up as a coal miner in eastern Kentucky and married to a woman named Marie.

John came back to Itawamba County for visits. He apparently was known to be a sleepwalker, and during one visit he kicked out the window at Pa Davis's while sleepwalking. Family lore indicates that John stayed in a lot of "trouble" and may have been associated at one time with Pretty Boy Floyd, although that story can't be corroborated. Once when visiting kinfolk in Fulton, John insisted on hiding his car inside a garage where it couldn't be seen. He also had a wooden leg, something that probably added to his reputation but most likely was due to a mining accident.

John died in Kentucky in 1958.

John Stonewall Davis, right, at work in Kentucky with some of his fellow miners

John and Marie Davis

John Davis standing in his garden in Kentucky.
Note the railroad and coal car behind him.


Ma Jean said...

Enjoyed your tale of Uncle John, he was a character. He did lose his leg in a coal mining accident. That wooden leg was an amazement to me.I can just see it now.By the way in the first picture at the top, I believe that is Uncle john on the right.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

You're right. I said left but meant right, as usual.

Anonymous said...

oops you said right as left...

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