Lost in Stone…William and Thankfull Davis

Today I’m trying out a new topic for an ongoing series much like my, “What is the Jargon!?!” series. It is no surprise that I enjoy exploring cemeteries wherever I go. The closest cemetery near me is Bayside Cemetery, here in Potsdam and when the weather is nice, I like to walk to it. There’s a lovely path that runs along the Raquette River that goes all the way to the rural cemetery.

Now, almost every time I adventure around Bayside or another burial ground, I take tons of pictures of gravestones that interest me for one reason or another. I figured I could share some of those gravestones with you all, along with information about the person who the stone represents.

The first story and stones I wanted to share with you are the gravestones of William and Thankfull Davis, located in Section E, Lot 168.

William and Thankful Davis
These are the gravestones for William and Thankfull Davis. They are buried in Bayside Cemetery located on the outskirts of the village of Potsdam. When you drive into the cemetery go right up the hill and go down the hill. There should be a “road” path to your left; it runs through the section of the old stones. These stones are located on a slight hill near a couple of trees.

The timing for this post was completely unplanned until I looked at a calendar on Tuesday and realized that May 25, which is today, is the death anniversary of William. He was a Patriot during the American Revolutionary War and possibly the War of 1812, though I couldn’t confirm that.

William Davis was born September 30, 1762 in the town of Rutland of Worcester County in Massachusetts. His parents were Nathaniel and Ellen (Hubbard) Davis. William was the youngest of 15 children! When he was 17, William enlisted in the 7th Worcester County Regiment.

Enlistment Information
This information comes from, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. A Compilation from the Archives. By the Office of the Secretary of State for Massachusetts, published 1896. The information is found on page 548. William’s father or oldest brother, also named Nathaniel, is listed on page 528 of this volume.

On July 5, 1787, William married Thankfull Nye in Hardwick, Massachusetts. Thankful (Nye) Davis was born February 10 1764 and was the daughter of Joseph Nye Jr. of Sandwich and Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye of Barnstable (they were married in Hardwick on October 20, 1757). Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye was the eldest child of Ebenezer Goodspeed and Elizabeth (Bodfish) Goodspeed; AKA Thankful Davis’ grandparents. On a side note, Thankfull’s gravestone is the only place where her name is spelled with two of the letter, “L.”

Both William and Thankfull passed away in 1833 in Potsdam, NY. 

William Davis

Thankfull Davis

Close Up of Gravestone
This close-up shows how much weathering the stones have faced from the elements. I assume the stones are carved out of either limestone of marble both of which can be weathered quite easily from rain. The iconography looks to be rays or a rising run, or maybe a setting sun. The rays or rising sun are symbolic of renewed life or resurrection, while the setting sun motif represents death.

So how did William and Thankfull get all the way from Hardwick, Massachusetts to Potsdam, NY. Well, it’s unclear when exactly they arrived in Northern New York. A source I used for initial information, indicates that they were in Potsdam by 1820 – they would have been in their 50’s.

The other curious thing about the couple, looking at the detailed family trees for both William and Thankful, none of them indicate that they had kids, which seems really weird. Especially when you envision two middle age people in the early 19th century moving all the way to Northern New York from Massachusetts. That’s normally a 6 hour car drive – imagine doing that on horses and wagons. Plus, during this time, it was usual to have large families because of infant mortality rates and having more kids meant having more helping hands on a farm. So that’s why I thought something must be missing in the record.

I went back to the New York State DAR blog that explained William’s service during the American Revolution and checked to see what records were used, so I could check them out for myself. Census records from 1820 and 1830 were used, so I found those online. Looking at the 1820 Census records, I kind of found the answer I was looking for. William Davis is listed and in the row associated with his name, marks were made to indicate that in his household there was one “Free While Male over 45,” and one “Free White Female over 45” and that one person worked in agriculture. A few lines under William, another Davis is listed, Joseph!

1820 Census
William Davis is the second from the top. Joseph Davis is fifth name from the top.

The markings in Joseph’s row indicate one male aged 16-25, one male aged 26-44, and one female aged 16-25. From this I assume, Joseph Davis is either a son or other close relation of William and Thankful. Joseph doesn’t show up on the family tree from William Davis’ family but they’re actually buried next to each other at Bayside.

Looking through online records for Bayside Cemetery and searching for the last name, “Davis” I was able to make some more connections. Mary Harwood Davis (1797-185?) was married to a Joseph N., the “N.” is probably for Nye, Thankful Davis’ maiden name. Mary Harwood Davis was the mother of Ebenezer H. Davis, who was born 1832 and passed away 1911. By the way, they’re all buried in a row next to each other at Bayside. So they all have to be related! Ebenezer is an interesting name to choose…it would have been same name as Thankful (Nye) Davis’ grandfather.

Mary Harwood Davis and Daughter
The “our Daughter” stone maybe for Thankful Davis who died in 1836…there’s no stone for this Thankful but she’s apparently buried in this same Section and Lot as the rest of the family members.

Ebenezer H. Davis

So based on the new information and comparing that to the 1820 Census information for Joseph’s household we can conclude that: Joseph is the, “male aged 26-44” and Mary would be the “female aged 16-25.” Her birth year is 1797, in 1820 she would have been 23. The other male in the household, I have no idea because their son, Ebenezer, wasn’t born until 1832, so it can’t be him. I assume it must be a relative of either Joseph or Mary. If the other male was a brother of Joseph, that would mean William and Thankful Davis had another son but why isn’t he living with them? I think it might be a relative of Mary Harwood, maybe a brother. That would make a little more sense…

I went back to the 1810 Census and William Davis shows up there too; I couldn’t find Joseph Davis listed on his own.

1810 Census
William Davis is the name in the middle. There are a lot of markings in his row, which indicate a total of 8 people living in his household in 1810. The first five columns relate to free, white males and the second five columns after the double line, indicate free, white females. According to the census: 1 male aged 10-15, 2 males aged 16-25, 1 male aged over 45; 1 female under 10, 1 female aged 10-15, 1 female 16-25, and 1 female 26-44. It’s very unclear who all these people are other than assuming William and Thankfull are the eldest in the group. Joseph Davis must be one of the older boys. Joseph didn’t marry Mary Harwood until 1816, so she shouldn’t be any of these people living in the household. This means there’s at 5 unidentified members of this household.

Looking through the Bayside Cemetery records further, I found some other Davis family connections and another Joseph Davis. I found the Joseph Davis that I have been talking, about via the census records from 1820 and 1830. In the cemetery records for Bayside, the Joseph Davis that is listed is occasionally listed as the husband of Mary Harwood. Sounds correct right? Well it’s not the same Joseph. This new Joseph that keeps getting confused with our correct, old Joseph, was born 1860 and died in 1872…..Mary Harwood Davis died in the 1850’s. The other glaring issue- this new Joseph would have been 12 when he passed away.

I assume the mix-up has happened because of a few possibilities:

There are two different Joseph Davis- our adult Joseph Davis, the son of William and Thankful and the child Joseph Davis, maybe a relative in someway;

The old Joseph Davis’ gravestone in actually broken and embedded into the ground next to Mary’s stone- it was never seen during the original inventory of the cemetery;

There’s only one Joseph Davis and his birth year has been recorded incorrectly but he still died in 1872.

If the last one scenario is the correct mix-up- Joseph when he passed away would have been at least 75 years old, assuming he was born the same year as Mary Harwood, his wife.

Joseph Davis

The other Davis family members that are immediately related to Joseph, Mary, and ultimately William and Thankful include:

Thankful Davis (died 1836) Apparently this Thankful doesn’t have a stone but is buried in Section E, Lot 168).

Catherine Davis Averill (died 1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. Her spouse’s initials are E.W. buried in Section E, Lot 106.

Thankful Davis Chapman (1838-1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. She is buried in Section E, Lot 105.

? Elmina S. Davis Barnes (1838-1859). No parents are listed for her entry in the cemetery records. Her husband was Charles. She is buried in Section D, Lot 019. I included Elmina because her maiden name is Davis and her birth year is very close to the other “confirmed” Davis daughters. Maybe she is a cousin.

1830 Census
William Davis again is the middle name. His row indicates four people living in his household: 1 male aged 30-40, 1 male aged 60-70 ( this is William), 1 female aged 50-60), and 1 female aged 60-70 ( this is Thankfull). It’s unclear who the two older people living in their household are.
1830 Census Joseph
This is the 1830 census record for Joseph’s family. The markings are for 1 male aged 30-40 (Joseph), 1 female under age 5, 1 female aged 5-10, 1 female aged 20-30, and 1 female aged 30-40 (Mary). Let’s take a guess and assume one of the young girls is Thankful who passed away in 1836 and the other is Catherine whose birth year is unclear. In the 1840 Census, there are marks for a boy age 5-10 and a mark for 1 girl under age 5 and another girl between the ages of 15-20. These would be Ebenezer, the newborn Thankful Davis, and Catherine Davis.

A few final points about the family to make. William Davis was a supposed veteran from the War of 1812. I researched and I couldn’t find any records officially indicating this. Joseph Davis though, served during the War of 1812 in Darius Hawkins Company of the NY militia. The record for his pension also lists that he married Mary Harwood on September 16, 1816.

Joseph’s son Ebenezer H. Davis was a veteran from the Civil War. Ebenezer was a private during the Civil War. He served in Company B of the 50th NY Volunteer Engineer Regiment. Ebenezer’s enlistment lasted from September 1, 1864 to June 1865, when the regiment was mustered out.

So that makes three generations of the same family, veterans in a number of wars fought in the early years of American history.

Family Gravestones

Researching this family showed a couple of interesting issues in that can happen when researching history of a family. The first issue was the lack of information in William and Thankful’s family trees especially in regards to their own family and whether or not they had kids. Based off of their family trees it would appear they didn’t have kids but the census records and location of gravestones at Bayside would indicate they moved to Potsdam with some children. The lack of clear information can indicate a couple of things: records along the frontier area of the United States weren’t well maintained AND it can be assumed that once William and Thankful moved to Northern New York, their communication with their family back in Massachusetts was very limited.

The other unplanned aspect of this post is that it’s right in time for Memorial Day, which is May 29th here in the United States. So maybe if you have time this weekend, head to your local cemetery and see what graves you can find of veterans of the United States Army and Navy, and pay respects to our pass veterans.

If you have questions or comments, leave them below.

Thanks for reading!

Further Research and Sources

William Davis –

– Family Genealogy, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DAVIS/2000-09/0969922594 AND, http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=DESC&db=:1585920&id=I69178081

Revolutionary War Service Information, http://nnysardarjpp.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_19.html AND

https://archive.org/stream/massachusettssolcdrymass#page/548/mode/2up/search/davis

-1830 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYY-33J?mode=g&i=40&cc=1803958

-1820 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYJ-SH1C?mode=g&cc=1803955

-1810 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYY1-9F6L?i=1&cc=1803765

Thankful (Nye) Davis –

Nye Family, https://archive.org/stream/genealogyofnyefa02nyeg/genealogyofnyefa02nyeg_djvu.txt AND https://www.geni.com/people/Thankful-Davis/6000000028181467753

-Goodspeed Family, https://books.google.com/books?id=im8ZAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=thankful+nye+goodspeed&source=bl&ots=T-c_JERiHx&sig=_SHPEGGGhwk5GulabmDB5cLVSKw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJkoyPn4vUAhUm1oMKHZMWCcQ4ChDoAQgnMAI#v=onepage&q=thankful%20nye%20goodspeed&f=false

Bayside Cemetery Records: http://www.interment.net/data/us/ny/stlawrence/bayside-cemetery.htm AND http://www.potsdampublicmuseum.org/ (At the bottom of the page is a link to a PDF of cemetery records).

Joseph N. Davis – http://files.usgwarchives.net/ny/stlawrence/military/1812/pensions/1812vet.txt

Ebenezer H. Davis: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~stlawgen/CENSUS/1890/Potsdam213a.HTM AND https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/other/50thEng/50thEngMain.htm

Gravestone Iconography: http://www.thecemeteryclub.com/symbols.html

 

 

 

Bayside Cemetery: Photographs and Thoughts

For most of the month of October, I was on vacation with my boyfriend in Austria. Before I start sharing all the highlights of that trip, I wanted to focus on one of the local cemeteries before the month is over. The cemetery that I frequent is Bayside Cemetery, which is located slightly outside of Potsdam on the Back Hannawa Road. A majority of the cemetery overlooks the Raquette River.

Cemeteries are interesting places to investigate and photograph. For me, cemeteries seem timeless: life is moving outside the cemetery gates but within, it just seems kind of at a standstill. The stones represent not just people but specific moments in time: birth, death, and maybe an achievement. It’s probably my own morbid curiosity but I wonder what my headstone will say someday, and if a curious passerby will take photos of it and wonder who I was.

When I walk through the tree lined lanes and past the moss covered headstones of Bayside, lots of feelings run through my mind.

Silence.

Beauty.

Remembrance.

Loneliness.

Peace.

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I don’t want to delve a lot into the history of Bayside because I really want the focus of this post to be the above photos and the importance of cemeteries to our local history. The shortened version of Bayside’s history is that it was established in 1865. It is considered a “rural cemetery” because of its landscaped, park-like layout designed by Boston architect and surveyor, Luther Briggs. When it was finally finished, about 720 graves were moved from earlier cemeteries that had once been within the village of Potsdam on Willow Street and Pierrepont Avenue.

For more information on Bayside Cemetery, visit their website. They have a lot of great information on the history of the cemetery and the work that the Bayside Cemetery Association is doing to maintain the property: http://www.baysidepotsdam.org/.

If you have any thoughts or want to share your thoughts about your own local cemetery, just leave a comment below! Thanks for reading.

A Grave Site Located in the Woods

We’re going to be looking at War of 1812 graves located basically in the middle of nowhere in the woods. It also happens to be the 204th  anniversary of Elijah Sacket’s death and his companion’s death.

RoadSide_Marker

This marker is for two soldiers who perished on a march from Plattsburgh to Sackets Harbor in the spring of 1813. The location of the graves and marker are on County Route 24, which is also known as the “St. Lawrence Turnpike” or the “Russell Turnpike.” The road ran all the way from Malone through to Carthage via Russell and was very important during the War of 1812 because it allowed Sackets Harbor to be connected to Plattsburgh via Malone. This allowed transportation of troops and supplies during the war. The actual information on both the roadside marker and grave marker are lacking any real substantial information, so I decided to do some research.

HINT, HINT- If you see something interesting and historic, but lacking information, research it! And, share your findings because someone, somewhere is probably also interested.

Researching Elijah Sacket was not easy. There’s still some unanswered questions. Records are not the clearest and some have been lost to time. So from what I could find, this is the story of Elijah Sacket, a militiaman during the War of 1812.

First off, there are two Elijah Sacket(t)s! Both lived during the same time and were involved in their local militias.

Just for your records, the first Elijah Sackett (two “T”s) was born in 1751 and lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was involved in the American Revolution; eventually he moved to Ohio and died at the old age of 86 in 1837. He’s not our guy but at least he seems to have lived an interesting life!

Back to our Elijah Sacket (only one “T”).

Elijah was born in 1768 in Sheffield, Massachusetts. He moved with his parents (Benjamin and Dorothy) and siblings to New York State shortly before the American Revolution began. In 1789, he married Dorothy Hitchcock. Eventually with his wife he moved to Hartford, NY located in Washington County. Elijah and Dorothy had five children: Elisabeth, Erminia, Electa, Ebenezer, and Erwin.

Elijah had been part of the militia in Washington County from 1800 to 1807 in Colonel Solomon Baker’s Regiment of the Brigade of the Militia of said county. During that time, Elijah was promoted from private to lieutenant.

Sometime between 1807 and 1809, Elijah decided to move his family to Northern New York. They settled in Gouverneur, where Elijah worked as a miller. He must have decided to join the local militia, the 123rd Regiment, which was also known as Benedict’s Regiment (Thomas Benedict) located in St. Lawrence County.

Elijah’s movements during the War of 1812 are unclear thanks to the lack of both surviving and digitized documents. His name does not show up on any digital records of muster rolls for the regiments of St. Lawrence County. Solely based on his grave site in Pierrepont, NY, we know that Elijah was en-route to Plattsburgh from Sackets Harbor. He died from some kind of sickness, which was very common in the military camps during the War. Oddly enough, Elijah has a second gravestone in Gouverneur, where his wife and some of his children are buried.

The unknown soldier is still a mystery. I haven’t been able to find any real information from the muster rolls for St. Lawrence County. As I already mentioned, Elijah is not listed on any lists I was able to find online and there was nothing related to the death dates of April 7th and 13th.

Researching Elijah Sacket was difficult. Many of the online resources I found had a lot of conflicting information or just general lack of information, which made things confusing.

For example on Ancestry.com I found a record that listed Elijah Sacket as “Benedict’s Regiment, NY Militia, Private” and another listed him as “Elijah Sacket (1768-1813) lieutenant, Washington County Regiment, NY.” This is the same Elijah, just the information is not a lot to go on and are about two different times during Elijah’s life. Finding other sources online helped piece together what little is known.

I also think it’s interesting to look at the maintenance of a very small grave site, along with the remembrance of soldiers who died during the War of 1812. A lot of books and articles on the War of 1812 call it the “forgotten war.” Have we forgotten the War of 1812? I’m not sure. Being a historian who’s interested in local and early American history, I know it happened and I’ve done some research on it (as in this blog post). I also know that Northern New York played a very important role being the Northern frontier to Canada (British Territory) during the War.

The town of Pierrepont is in charge of the maintenance of the property. As you can see in the images, it’s not a very noticeable place and parking isn’t easy. Today when I was at the site taking pictures, it was obviously I had been the only visitor so far. So what happens when a place isn’t easily accessible. Do we forget about it? Should the effort be put in to preserve it and remember it? How do we make it so that people notice this marker more?

Maybe by spreading the word that it exists. I’m not sure if there are “right” answers to these questions. But on that note, this is the final resting place of two soldiers who fought to protect early America and they died 203 years ago to the day. Let’s spread the word that they lived.

GraveMarker

If anyone has thoughts or ideas on how to find more information on Elijah’s movements during the War or how to figure out the identity of the unknown soldier, leave a comment or send me a message.

The following is a list of resources I found online that were helpful in figuring out the story of Elijah Sacket. They also might be helpful if you have your own personal genealogical research you’re working on.

Elijah Sacket Family Tree Information:

Thurmon King’s New Sackett Family Tree, http://sackett-tree.org/getperson.php?personID=I1439&tree=1, accessed 04/09/2016.

The Sackett Family Association: Sacketts in the Military, http://sackettfamily.info/militarysacketts.htm, accessed 04/08/2016.

Information on the Grave Site:

Soldier’s Graves, War of 1812, Town of Pierrepont, http://stlawrencecountycemeteries.org/Pierrepont/soldiers.htm, accessed 04/11/2016.

Images of the Grave Site:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=28033906, accessed 04/09/2016.

http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=77837, accessed 04/10/2016

Elijah Sacket and St. Lawrence County:

What was going on in St. Lawrence County 200 years ago? Here’s a town-by-town look, from Canton to Waddington,” July 3, 2012. http://northcountrynow.com/news/what-was-going-st-lawrence-county-200-years-ago-heres-town-town-look-canton-waddington-061006, accessed 04/08/2016.

St. Lawrence County Quarterly, Volume 3, 2011. The entire journal is about the War of 1812 in St. Lawrence County. There’s a lot of cool information and a little information on Elijah Sacket. I found a copy at the Potsdam Public Library.

De Kalb’s Own General: Thomas Benedict,” Bryan Thompson, De Kalb’s historian. http://www.dekalbnyhistorian.org/LocalHistoryArticles/DeKalbGeneral/DeKalbGeneral.html, accessed 04/10/2016.

Documents of the Senate of New York, Vol.9   https://books.google.com/books?id=LKIlAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA498&dq=elijah+sacket&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiglsLvzofMAhULWxQKHc0IB304ChDoAQgbMAA#v=onepage&q=elijah%20sacket&f=false, accessed 04/09/2016.

Information on the War of 1812:

War of 1812 Bicentennial, http://slcha.org/warof1812/bicentennial.php, accessed 04/07/2016.

St. Lawrence County War fo 1812 History Trail, http://slcha.org/warof1812/sites.php, accessed 04/07/2016.

A note on Ancestry.com: I do not have a subscription to Ancestry.com, the Potsdam Public Library does. If you’re in the Library using their WiFi, you can get access to Ancestry.com through their website. It’s really cool that the Library has access to Ancestry.com and it helped when I was researching!