Our Colonial Davises in Gloucester
Our Maine Davis line first showed up in the colonies in 1638 some 30 miles north of Boston at Ipswich, Massachusetts when John Davis appeared in an Ipswich court, perhaps to take his freeman’s oath.
His actual arrival is speculative, but all agree he came from England during the period of the Great Migration of Puritans (1620-1640). Religious motivation for immigration is highly probable given that his sons and many of the subsequent generations have biblical names, every family seeming to have an Aaron, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and Mary. All Davises in Gloucester were descendants of John until 1700 when various other Davises came into the area.Our Davis families lived in Gloucester, nearby Ipswich, and Attleborough, Massachusetts for 4 generations before making the leap to Bakerstown Plantation - now Poland, Maine - and then to Woodstock.
The Davises and Days were among the 50 settlers living in the Gloucester area in 1650 where the Town Green is now a traffic rotary on Mass Rt 128. Our Haskells, Browns, Brays and Tybotts arrived in the latter half of the century. They were mainly farmers, leaving it to the next generations to take advantage of fishing and commerce. As the little community grew and spread, in 1718 a Second Parish Church was established to make Sunday meeting attendance easier and it is here Davis births and marriages can be found.
John1 Davis (Abt 1608, England - 1680 Ipswich) was a young man about 27-30 years old when he came to New England. The date and ship of his immigration is unknown, but likely mid-1630’s.
Ipswich was a Puritan settlement started in 1634 by John Winthrop, son of the Governor John Winthrop of the Winthrop Fleet which brought over thousands of colonists.
Some speculate our John Davis was a follower of Rev. Richard Blinman who brought members of his Welsh congregation to the small fishing village of Marshfield in 1640 and within a year moved to Ipswich, just on the border of Gloucester. Review of NEHGS papers of Rev. Blinman’s congregation, however, does not mention a Davis.
John may have married Alice (1612-1682), identified as Newman, in England before immigration as no Newman families are found in the early settlers of Gloucester. They had two sons who survived to adulthood, James and our 9th GGF Jacob; the daughters are unknown.
John made a living as a shoemaker and town herdsman with land in both Ipswich and Gloucester. He may also have been a house builder as a record in 1640 shows he was hired as a “joiner” to build a new house for another individual.
John bought a house, barn, orchard, and land near Walker’s Creek in Gloucester in 1656. He was a selectman of Gloucester for several years, twice a constable, and lieutenant of the military company. In later years, he returned to Ipswich where he died in 1680, age 72.
Jacob2 Davis (1640-1685) was born and raised in Gloucester, but lived off and on between Gloucester and Ipswich. He married Elizabeth Bennett (1641-1685) of Gloucester in 1661 at age 21 and the following year received a grant of land at the head of Long Cove in Gloucester. In 1682 Jacob “and others have the liberty of the stream at the head of Little River to set up a sawmill.”
Jacob may have been a potter as well as a farmer and sawmill owner.
Elizabeth’s parents were both English immigrants who arrived by the 1630’s. She and Jacob had 8 children over a span of 22 years, all born in Gloucester - Jacob (our 8th GGF), Elizabeth, Susanna, Moses, Mary, and Aaron; two sons named John died in infancy.
Jacob was drafted in the town’s quota for King Phillip’s War in 1675, but most draftees hired substitutes to do the actual soldiering.
Jacob and Elizabeth both died young in 1685, age 45 and 44 respectively, seven months apart, most likely from infectious causes. They left six children age 18 and under; only our GGF Jacob Jr. was over 18 and may have had to assume responsibility for some of the children. An article in NEGHR shows at least one of the children, Joseph, 11 years old when their parents died, was placed under the guardianship of brother Moses for the first two years until guardianship was transferred to an uncle. Jacob Sr. left an estate that included a house, upland and meadow, cart yoke, half of a sloop and four canoes, cattle, sheep and swine, and gun, cutlass and belt, so he and Elizabeth had worked hard and done well before their early death.
Jacob3 Davis (1663-1717) was 22 years old when his parents died. Two years later he married Mary Haskell from a nearby farm. He carried on his father’s mill in Gloucester, and also lived back and forth between Gloucester and Ipswich.
Mary’s grandfather - our 9th GGF- William Haskell, immigrated about age 20 from Charlton Musgrove, Somerset, England to Beverly, MA, with his mother, stepfather, and two brothers in 1635. He was a mariner and fisherman who moved his family to Gloucester in 1645 and purchased land on the west side of Walker’s Creek. Son, William Haskell, Jr., inherited the family farm, but was also a fisherman and owned saw and grist mills in what is now Rockport, MA. He married Mary Walker from a neighboring farm and our Mary Haskell was the first of their 9 children. Both William Sr. and William Jr. left considerable estate. The family home built in the mid 1600’s is on the National Register of Historic Homes and operates as a bed and breakfast.
Jacob3 and Mary married in 1687 in Gloucester and had 8 children. Their first, a son Jacob, died soon after birth. The second son, Captain Moses Davis, was a mariner who moved to Rowley, Massachusetts. Third son, William, had the tragic loss of three children within a week’s time in the winter of 1729, very likely from an influenza epidemic. Fifth son, Joseph, apprenticed to a cabinet maker and became a well known furniture maker in Boston.
Jacob acquired land at the head of Little River and built a house and mill by 1712. The house has been variously occupied as a hostel, tavern, home of a descendant of Gloucester slaves, now restored and serves as a homeless shelter. This house is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
|Jacob Davis House, Gloucester, 1712|
Jacob died age 53 in the winter of 1717, a year of severe influenza epidemic in New England. Mary experienced a lifetime of losses, including a brother who died when she was 13, a son when she was 20, two sisters within 5 days when she was 22, another son when she was 35, death of her father when she was 40, her mother at 47, husband at 48, and a brother at 49. Mary remarried to Ezekiel Woodward with whom Jacob had done business in Gloucester but she, too, died two years later at age 53, leaving 7 minor children, including Aaron4.
Aaron4 Davis (1704 - abt 1743), 4th son of Jacob3 and our 7th GGF, was born while Jacob and Mary were living in Ipswich. Aaron was 12 years old when his father died.
In 1725, 21 year-old Aaron married 19 year old Phebe Day (1706-1791), descended from the Day settlers of Gloucester. By 1728, the family was living in Attleboro, documented by a sale of land Aaron and his brothers inherited from their father, and by the birth location of their 7 children. Attleboro is a fair distance from Gloucester, about 80 miles south, due west from Plymouth, just north of Fall River.
Like his father, Aaron4 died young at age 39 in Attleboro. Phebe lived to be 71 years, acquiring another three husbands along the way - Benjamin Hoppin, Nehemiah Ward, and John Hoppin - the last when she was 70 years old.
Phebe married second husband, mariner Benjamin Hoppin, in 1745 and had a son, also Benjamin Hoppin. The elder Benjamin was lost at sea soon after. She died in Providence, RI, in 1791 as Phebe Hoppin.
The Davis family moves to Poland
Captain Zebulon5 Davis (1733-1820), the eldest son of Aaron4 and Phebe, was 9 years old at his father’s death. His mother remarried in Attleborough in 1745 and Zebulon’s guardianship was assigned by Essex County court in 1748 to Abner Day (cordswainer), Ezekial Woodward (shoreman), both of Gloucester, and Joseph Marshall of Ipswich. Ezekial's son, Davis Woodward, also moved to Poland Maine, and the Day family were early settlers of New Gloucester, Maine (not to be confused with Gloucester, MA) as well as a pioneering family of Woodstock.
Several of Aaron and Phebe’s children may have been taken into Gloucester families as Zebulon’s brother, Aaron, was living in Gloucester at the time of the Revolution and fought at Bunker Hill with a company of Essex men, “by the rail fence, in the thick of fight all day covered only by scattering trees, they poured the most destructive volleys on the enemy.” Zebulon’s youngest brother, Timothy, was a shipmaster who drowned in the Little River in 1769 at age 27 when his boat upset.
Apprenticed into sea faring families, Zebulon took up the mariner’s life. At 18, he married Mary Bray (1730 - ) from the Gloucester Bray family in the Second Parish and their 7 children were all born in Gloucester.
Sometime between 1768 and 1776, Captain Zebulon gave up the sea and moved his family to Bakerstown Plantation, Maine, a wilderness at the time. Two sons remained behind in Gloucester - Eliphalet who was successful in trading and commerce, and Zebulon Jr. Young Zebulon Jr. served in the Revolution in 1776 while still in Gloucester, and soon after removed to Bakerstown Plantation in the Minot area with a fellow soldier.
The area of Bakerstown Plantation that is now Poland began to settle in 1767, and at the 1790 census there were still only 7 permanent settlers here. One of these 7 families was Zebulon’s.
The whole of Bakerstown Plantation had 217 households in the 1790 census. Bakerstown was incorporated in 1795 as Poland, but various towns were set off over the next 100 years, including Minot, Mechanic Falls, and part of Auburn. The entire area of Bakerstown/Poland was in Cumberland County until it became part of Androscoggin County in 1854.
On July 21, 1776, Zebulon and 21 other male Bakerstown settlers signed an agreement setting up a town militia to serve in the American Revolution.
History of Poland states Zebulon Sr. was held prisoner and endured suffering and hardship confined at Halifax by the British, but corroborating evidence is not available. He was a Captain in the Bakerstown Company of militia assigned to Isaac Parsons’ nearby New Gloucester regiment from at least 1781-1786. That he was in the militia or naval service and captured in these intervening years is likely, but not documented other than in the history of Poland. He died in 1820 before Revolution pensions were available to other than disabled Revolution veterans.
Three sons, Zebulon, Eliphalet, and our 6th GGF, Aaron, also served in the Revolution. Zebulon Jr. served 9 months as a drummer in 1776, assigned to protect the Gloucester coast. He married the same year, and moved to Minot, ME. Eliphalet served 3 years from 1777-1780. Aaron was in the Bakerstown militia of which his father was Captain.
First wife Mary died sometime after the birth of her last child in 1766 and 1779. Zebulon married second time around 1779, widow Hannah Sawyer Marble, and started a second family of an additional 3 children.
The 1790 census shows Zebulon, 2 males under 16, and 2 free white females living in Bakerstown Plantation.
Zebulon and Mary’s children
- Zebulon, Jr. (1753-1838) married Tryphosa Herrick in Gloucester as soon as he finished his Revolution service, and moved to Minot, Maine. They had 7 children, all born in Bakerstown Plantation (Minot), one of whom was named Zebulon (1785 - ). His son, Benjamin, served in the War of 1812.
- Moses (1755-1841), moved to New Gloucester, then to Bakertown, lived on Pigeon Hill (Mechanic Falls) and married Olive Bodwell at age 24. They had two children, but she died within a couple years. At age 33, he married 15 year old Deborah Marble from nearby New Gloucester, Maine, and they had an additional 9 children.
- Eliphalet (1756-1804) was born, raised, and died in Gloucester. He served as a drummer in the Revolution, but subsequently enlisted in the Continental Army and rose to the rank of General according to History of Gloucester. Eliphalet settled in Harbor Parish of Gloucester where he kept a shop and engaged in foreign commerce. He married 16 year old Hannah Somes at age 23, and they had at least 8 children.
- Aaron6 Davis (1757-1837), our 5th GGF, married Thankful Strout.
- Molle “Mary Polly” Davis (1761-1820) married Joshua Dunn of Bakerstown who served in the Revolution. Joshua enlisted at Falmouth in 1776 as a 15 year old and served in New York City at the time Washington lost to the British. Joshua and Molle were married in 1783 by Isaac Parsons in nearby New Gloucester under whom Molle’s father served in the Revolution. Joshua gave the name of “The Empire” to the area of Poland in which he lived. He was described as “possessing a fine physique, and a noted wit and practical joker.” Molle and Joshua had 8 children born in Poland over a period of 19 years. She died at age 43, three years after the birth of her last child.
- William (1763-1845) was born in Gloucester and still a child when the family moved to Poland. In 1786, he married step-sister Hannah Marble, a skilled midwife, and they had 5 children, one of whom was named Zebulon. William lived on Pigeon Hill, but moved in with his father and stepmother/mother-in-law in 1791 when he was 28 years old. He built another house on the property the following year to accommodate the large family. William had 4 young children; step-mother Hannah Sawyer Marble and father Zebulon had 3 young children. Total = 11 people. Needed a bigger house!
Altogether, Zebulon Sr. and Mary had 48 grandchildren. Among these were five Pollys, four each Williams, Eliphalets, and Benjamins; and two each Aarons and Zebulons, almost all of whom lived in the Poland, Minot, Woodstock area. Imagine Christmas.
Zebulon died in Poland in 1820, age 87. What a life!
And on to Woodstock . . .
Aaron6 Davis (1757-1837), fourth son of Zebulon and Mary, was born and lived in Gloucester until his early teens when Zebulon moved the family to Bakerstown Plantation. Aaron married Thankful Strout (1757-1825) in 1784, both age 27. Thankful was from the prominent seafaring Strout family of Gloucester. Even starting their family at relatively late ages, Aaron and Thankful managed to have 11 children over a period of 22 years. According to Lapham’s Woodstock history, all were born in Poland, I verified the births in early vital records of Poland as Thankful’s age of 50 at the last birth is unusual.
Aaron signed the 1776 Bakerstown Agreement establishing a militia and served as a private in the regiment commanded by his father, Zebulon. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors indicates he was on the disastrous Penobscot expedition of 1779.
Aaron and Thankful's children
- Hannah (1785-1860), married farmer William Faunce of Paris in 1804 in Hebron, ME, died age 75, in Oxford, ME; 11 children.
- Aaron7, Jr., (1786-1870), our 4th GGF married Lucinda Oraing Brooks.
- Thankful (1788-1863), married lumberman Robert Stockman; at least 2 children.
- Sally (1791-1885), married farmer Seth Curtis, sergeant in War of 1812; they lived in Woodstock until his later years, then moved to Paris; 4 children.
- *Polly (1792-1873), married Samuel Nute; 3rd step-great aunt to the Nute family; see below.
- Phebe (1795-1835), died age 40, unmarried, likely lived with Aaron and Thankful as an “old maid.”
- Benjamin (1797-1870), married Ruhamah Chase; 9 children.
- Eliphalet (1799-), married Lydia Lurvey; children and death date unknown.
- Eliza (1801-), married Richard Lurvey who was a representative to the state legislature in 1836.
- Nehemiah Strout Davis (1804-1832), never married, died in Woodstock a age 28. His estate was appraised by brothers-in law, Seth Curtis and Samuel Nute, and consisted of $260, a bridle, a 3 year old colt, and wearing apparel.
- Julia Marie (1807-1887), married Benjamin Stephens (1807-1890), son of our 4th GGP’s Captain Samuel Stephens and Emma Swan, and brother to Jane Stephens, our 3rd GGM who married Joseph Davis, son of Julia’s brother and our GGF Aaron7.
*Polly Davis ( 1792-1873): Polly, was the 2nd wife of our 3GGF Samuel Nute (1792-1855). Samuel’s first wife died at a young age, leaving him 4 young children; a year later he married Polly who was also in her mid-30’s and she raised the children - including our Orsamus - but they had no children of their own. Samuel died in Woodstock at age 62, and in 1860 she was living with Orsamus and his first wife, Emma Stevens. Emma died in 1860, and Orsamus took a second wife, Lovena Dunn Davis, our 2nd great-grandmother and grand daughter of Aaron5 Davis, Polly’s father. That is to say, Polly was the great-aunt of Lovina. In any event, Orsamus and Lovina took Polly with them when they moved to Boston in 1862 and she died there at age 73, outliving Samuel by 18 years. Pretty confusing, eh?
|Davis memorial in Curtis Hill Cemetery, Woodstock|
Aaron Davis and wife Thankful Strout
Thankful died age 68 in 1825, leaving Aaron a widower for 12 years. Aaron applied for and was granted a Revolution pension in 1832, age 72, and died five years later. They are both buried in Curtis Hill Cemetery, a beautiful little cemetery on a hill overlooking Woodstock.
Aaron Davis7 (1786-1870), like the rest of his sibs, was born in Poland, and we know he was living in Woodstock by 1811 as his son, Joseph, was born here. As a private in the War of 1812, he was ordered to the defense of Portland in September 1814. History of Poland notes Aaron Jr. was in Woodstock before his father who arrived by 1815, and both Aarons were at a Woodstock town meeting in 1815.
Aaron married Lucinda Oraing Brooks, daughter of our 5th GGP’s Dr. Peter Brooks and Betsey Bryant, before 1809. They had 11 children between the years 1809 - 1830. Lucinda died in 1839 at the age of 52, and Aaron married 43 year old Eliza Dudley in 1843.
Aaron's and Lucinda’s children:
- Cynthia (1809-1887) married shoemaker Alexander Bryant, grandson of our 5th GGF Solomon Bryant, and they had 11 children.
- Joseph Davis8 (1811-1886), our 3rd GGF, married Jane Stephens (1812-1893).
- Stephen Denning Davis (1813-1864) was a boot maker in Ashland, MA, three times married per record at his third marriage. His first wife, Abigail, was “injured at a tent meeting in the rage of Millerism in 1843. During the meeting someone threw a hemlock knot at the minister and it struck Mrs. Davis. The injury finally resulted in her death ,” per Libby notes. He moved the family to Ashland, Massachusetts where he died age 51 from a “canker rash” and scarlet fever.
- Charles Brooks (1815 - 1884), farmer, married Harriet Nute (1818-1899), daughter of our 3rd GGP’s Samuel Nute and Betsey Fickett. They had 6 children. Charles and Harriet were living in Woodstock through the 1870 census. By 1880 they were living in Paris and are both buried in South Paris.
- Phebe (1817 - after 1855) married Joseph Cotton and had 4 children.
- Lorenzo (1820 - 1902), a farmer, married Eleanor Packard in Woodstock. She died from tuberculosis while they were living in Ashland, MA, in 1856. He married second Laura Upton in Ashland, MA, in 1857 and returned to live in Woodstock. He died from a stroke at age 84 in Auburn, ME.
- Betsey (1821 - 1898) married shoemaker Aaron Thurlow and they lived in Paris. She died in Mechanic Falls with heart disease in 1898.
- Thankful (1823 - ) has left no footprints.
- Aaron (1825-1870), married Lucy Fickett; died age 44 from consumption within a month of his father’s death and his land was sold at auction to pay debts. Lucy took up nursing and lived with her mother in Paris to support herself and her daughter.
- Seth C. (1828 - 1902), carpenter and farmer, married Almira Herrick; died age 73 in Auburn, ME, from “gastric catarrh,” stomach gastritis, perhaps a bleeding ulcer.
- Lucinda ( 1830 -) lived with her father until his death in 1870. Two years later at age 50, she married 80 year old farmer, Jeremiah Curtis, from Rumford.
According to the 1850 census, 62 yr old Aaron, 50 yr old Eliza, 27 yr old Betsey, 25 yr old Aaron, 23 yr old Seth, and 20 yr old Lucinda Davis are living in the family home. Son, Joseph, is living on the farm next door. Eliza died before 1854 when intentions to marry third wife Nancy H. Stephens of Paris were published, likely a widow so we do not know her birth surname. In any event, the 1860 census shows Aaron is a 74 year old “gentleman” living with only 65 yr old Nancy. Aaron died in Woodstock, age 84, in March 1870 from a stroke and his son, 40 year old Aaron, died from tuberculosis the following month.
Aaron Davis Jr. and wife Lucinda
Nute Stephens Cemetery, Woodstock
In the background is the Nute obelisk and row of Nute headstones
Joseph8 Davis (1811-1886), our 3rd GGF and oldest son of Aaron and Lucinda, grew up on the Davis farm in South Woodstock and married Jane Stephens, daughter of Captain Samuel Stephens and Emma Swan. Joseph was a farmer and had a saw mill with his brother, Seth, on a brook in Woodstock. Joseph and Jane had 5 children, all born in Woodstock, and the oldest married into our Nute line.
Joseph's and Jane's children
- Lovina9 Dunn Davis (1835-1880) married Orsamus Nute.
- Joseph Henry (1837-1908) enlisted in the Maine 23rd Infantry Regiment in 1862 and went with his regiment to Washington during the Civil War, assigned to guarding the forts of the upper Potomac, but never under fire. He married Juliett Irish and lived out his years in Woodstock as a farmer until 71 years of age.
- Antonett Davis (1839-1922) married Charles Chase and lived in Paris where he was a farmer.
- Jane Lurvey Davis (1842 -) was 18 years old living at home in 1860 but left no further footprints.
- William Stephens Davis (1847-1922), farmer, married Georgianna Irish. He died age 74 with influenza and parkinsonism.
|Joseph Davis and Jane Robbins Stephens are both buried in South Woodstock Cemetery|
|South Woodstock Cemetery|
Twenty five year-old Lovina9 married 41 year-old Orsamus Nute (1820-1907), a widower with 5 children, in 1861. In the 1860 census she was living at home with her parents, working as a teacher, and this may have been her connection to Orsamus, also a teacher in Woodstock. Lovina and Orsamus had another 6 children, including our GGF Joseph10 Nute. The first two, including Joseph, were born in Woodstock. The last four were born in Boston but two of these did not survive infancy. She died with pericarditis at age 45. Lovina and Orsamus are both buried in the Nute Stephens cemetery in Woodstock.
|Nute momument and markers|
Even though Lovina died in Boston and Orsamus in Monsey, New York, they both came home to Woodstock to be buried. Orsamus made his fortune in Boston and built an obelisk memorial for the Nute family in the Nute Stephens Cemetery. Along with Orsamus are buried,
Samuel Nute (1792-1855), his father
Betsey Fickett (1794-1826), Samuel’s first wife
Polly Davis (1792-1873), Samuel’s second wife and daughter of Aaron7 Davis, Jr.
Rebecca Wentworth (1765-1828), Samuel’s mother and Orsamus’ grandmother
Emma Stephens, (1822-1860), Orsamus’ first wife
Lovina9 Dunn Davis( 1835-1880) Orsamus’ second wife
Children of Orsamus and 1st wife Emma
Emma F, died in infancy, 1857
Samuel, died age 20, 1864
Ruth Anna, unmarried, died in 1880, age 28, in Boston
Children of Orsamus and Lovina
Ernest, died in infancy, 1868
Frankie, died in infancy, 1870
We have two hundred fifty years of history with our American Davis family, through wars, hard times, huge families, tragic losses, all with that New England work and survival ethic to become the hardy "stock" of Woodstock. They funneled from Gloucester, up through Maine and into the wilderness, and finally returning to "civilization" in Boston.