Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joab Washington Davis

Maybe one day I'll have an actual picture of Joab Davis, but for now all I have is this picture of his tombstone which is located in Providence Cemetery north of Tremont. Joab was the half-brother of James William Anderson "Billy" Davis, my great-great grandfather. Uncle Joab, as my mother remembers him being called, lived near Providence Baptist Church where he was a member his entire life.

Joab and Billy's father was Jesse Davis, who is also buried at Providence. When Billy's mother died while the family was living in St. Clair County, Alabama, Jesse remarried to Mary C. Johnson Caldwell, a widow. Joab was the first child born to Jesse and Mary, and there was about nine years' difference between the two half-brothers. Altogether, Jesse had eighteen known children from his two wives, although several children died before reaching adulthood, and one son died in the Civil War.

In the September 2, 1971 issue of the Itawamba County Times, Miss Zereda Green had this to say about Uncle Joab in her weekly column:

"Mr. Joe Abb Davis, a Sparks Baptist preacher of the Rara Avis community would come to court and sit on one of the front seats. When the lawyers would start arguing a case, Mr. Davis would ease over to Judge Long and say, "Judge I heard a good joke the other day" - tell him the joke low enough to not disturb anyone and they would chuckle over it. In a short time, the judge would untangle his long legs, come down out of the stand and go over to Mr. Davis and tell him a joke. Mr. Davis would usually go home about noon on Tuesday and then the Judge would begin hurrying the lawyers around about their cases - then they would say "I wish Joe Abb had stayed and kept the Judge in a good humor."

Sounds like Uncle Joab was an entertaining sort of a fellow. All of the census records show that he was a farmer, but Miss Zereda's article indicates that he was a preacher too, although I don't know what she meant by a "Sparks" preacher. Also, the following news item from the 1910 newspaper indicates that he was a preacher.

Itawamba County News
July 28, 1910
Eld. Joe Abb Davis, of Rara Avis, has been assisting in the meeting at White Church this week.

For those of you who may not know, White Church is the former name for East Fulton Baptist Church, where I happened to be married to my present husband some thirty or so years ago.

Joab died in 1946, and in his obituary, copied below, I was surprised to learn of another brother! Nathaniel T. Davis was the last child born to Jesse Davis, born when Jesse was 65 years old. How did Nathaniel get left out of the Davis family tree? I haven't found Nathaniel listed anywhere as a child of Jesse, and would never have known about him if I had not seen Joab's obituary. For one thing, Nathaniel was born in 1881, just after the 1880 census. The 1890 census was lost so there is no record of him there, and in 1900 his widowed mother was living with her daughter with no sign of Nathan.

Joab's obituary provided more information that I was even looking for - again, another example of the importance of newspapers in genealogical research!

Itawamba County Times
July 25, 1946

Joab Davis Dies of Heart Attack Past Thursday

Joab W. Davis, prominent farmer of the Tremont community, died at his home on Tremont, Rt. 1 of a heart attack the past Thursday at 7 p.m. He was 79 years old.

Funeral services for the deceased were held on Sunday morning at 10 o'clock at Providence Missionary Baptist Church near Tremont with Rev. Gar Parker in charge assisted by Rev. Rupert Powell, Hester Underwood and Rev. B. C. Chism. He had been a member of the church where he was buried since childhood.

Surviving are a brother, Nathan Davis of Texarkana, Ark.; a daughter, Mrs. Mellie Sanderson of Paducah, Texas, Mrs. Ophelia Grissom of Red Bay, Ala., and Miss Evia Davis of Tront, and four sons, Clifton Davis of Pocohontas, Ark., Oscar Davis of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Garvin Davis and Flavous Davis of Red Bay, Ala.

Hawkins Funeral Home of Fulton was in charge of the arrangements.

Itawamba County Times
July 25, 1946
Bounds X Roads News
A large crowd attended the funeral of Mr. J. W. Davis at Providence Cemetery on Sunday. He will be greatly missed by relatives and many friends.


Ma Jean said...

What a surprise, the info you found about Uncle Joab is interesting. Pa Davis had uncles and aunts I have never heard of. I do remember him speaking about Uncle Joab. I thought that was a strange name when I heard it mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have Jesse's first wife's name as Elvira McGee? Birth/death dates?

Any pictures of Joab or Amandy Tharp to be found?

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for all your work on the Davis line. I am Angelia Burrell - Nathaniel Davis was my great grandfather!! We kept getting stuck because we had his parents listed as Jesse and Mary and we kept finding Jesse's wife was Elvira. You have connected our dots for us and I am so thankful!! Still searching for that elusive "official" document but we feel secure that we finally know where our connections are now. God Bless!!