The gently rolling hills of central Montgomery County, seen here near Glen, were likely part of the draw for three Ulster County Davis families who moved to the area in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
When I first started planning what I would write for this issue of Traces I expected it to be a small story about the delight of finding a couple of documents that helped solve a difficult genealogy puzzle. But those documents, plus extensive research (including a trip to the Montgomery County archives in Fonda and the local cemeteries), new DNA matches, then more documents, have led to a story that is much bigger than I first imagined.
The story started a year ago when we, at Traces, were contacted by two Davis descendants, completely independently of each other, both with their Davis roots in Montgomery County, NY, and both believing they were descendants of Isaac C. Davis and Sarah Smith from the Marbletown area of Ulster County. One had a solid paper trail to Henry Davis, likely born about 1787, and who married Jane Van Patten. The paper trail of the other led back to Matthew Oliver Davis, born about 1797. Both believed these earliest proven Davises were sons of Isaac C. Davis and Sarah Smith. My own first reaction was that this was unlikely. I'd seen no evidence Isaac was in Montgomery County, and it would take solid evidence to prove otherwise. But we always like a good Davis mystery to solve so we started searching. It took us a year but the mystery has been solved. What little I knew when I said it was unlikely these lines were related to Isaac C.
What we discovered very quickly was that there was indeed a little-known Davis connection between Ulster County and Montgomery County. (The Brodhead Genealogy had made the connection and got several pieces right.) Richard Davis and wife, Elizabeth Hoffman, were there in the early 1800s. Their son, Adam Hoffman Davis was there as well. Also Valentine Davis and his wife Sarah Hoffman, and their sons Benjamin Hoffman and Valentine. There was even a church record of John C. Davis and Sarah Smith. We immediately wondered if this could be Isaac's brother, the wives of both being named Sarah Smith.
Once we realized there definitely was a Davis connection between Ulster and Montgomery counties our new Davis descendants both decided to join our DNA project. DNA matches to our other Kit Davis descendants would help prove their case, and two solid matches is what we got.
The search was on for documents that would prove, or disprove their connection to Isaac C Davis. A big part of the proof we were looking for came in March when Libby Nies, a direct descendant of Matthew Oliver Davis, found the first of three important documents.
Above are small sections of three recently found documents, the first, a letter of administration for the estate of Isaac C. Davis, the second, a letter of guardianship for Josiah Davis, and the third, a letter of guardianship for Mathew Oliver Davis. Click on the above sections to see images of the full documents.
The first document, dated 1 Feb 1813, is a letter of administration appointing James Davis as administrator of the estate of "Isaac C. Davis of the said town of Charlestown… (who) lately died intestate". The second, a guardianship document, dated 25 May 1818, states that, "Josiah Davis, son of Isaac Davis late of the town of Charleston… hath chosen his Brother Richard Davis Junr. of the town of Johnstown… for his Guardian. And the third, also a guardianship document, 25 Sep 1815, states that, "Mathew O Davis, son of Isaac C Davis, late of the town of Charlestown… hath chosen James Davis of the said town of Charlestown, practitioner of physic, for his guardian."
So in these three documents we have proof that Isaac C Davis died in Montgomery County shortly before Feb 1813, and that Mathew Oliver, Josiah, and importantly, Richard Davis junior, were all his sons. We assume, but have not proven, that the James Davis who was appointed administrator of Isaac's estate, and guardian of Mathew Oliver, was also the son of Isaac.
A gravestone I found in the Glen Rural Cemetery, for Isaac Davis, who "departed this life Jan. 17, 1813, aged 61 years" perfectly connects Isaac Christoffel Davis, who was baptized in Marbletown in 1752, with the above Isaac C Davis who "lately died" before Feb 1813, in Montgomery County.
Three Davis Families
What we ultimately found was that there were at least three Davis families that moved from Ulster to Montgomery County in the late 1700s to early 1800s; John C. Davis and Sarah Smith about 1794, Valentine Davis and Sarah Hoffman, and Isaac C. Davis and Sarah Smith about 1802-1804. We do not know exactly why they moved. We believe they were all farmers. Isaac C. and Valentine seem to have settled near the hamlet of Glen (Valentine removed to Waverly, Tioga County late in life), John C. settled across the Mohawk river in the township of Johnstown, now Mohawk.
An early 1800s map of central Montgomery County shows the location of Johnstown and Glen. The present town of Fonda is shown by its original name, Caughnawaga. Montgomery County is about 40 miles north-west of the city of Albany.
Nearly all the Davises mentioned in Traces can be found in our RootsWeb GED, Traces, along with more information and more family members.
Christoffel Davis and Elizabeth Brodhead
1755 to 1837
By Richard Davis and Barbara Davis Schaffer
John C. Davis was a Revolutionary War veteran who survived several important battles of the war. In 1777 he was at Fort Montgomery under General Clinton, just prior to its capture, and the first battle of Saratoga against Burgoyne under General Gates. In 1778 he was at Valley Forge under Colonel Van Cortlandt, and the Battle of Monmouth under Generals Lee and Washington. Detailed accounts of his service can be found in his pension declaration dated 19 Sep 1832. (Part of that document, along with a full transcription, can be found here.) He was then 77 years old and a resident of Johnstown, Montgomery County. Although the record contains no information about his wife or children, it does state that he was born 5 Jan 1755 in Marbletown, Ulster County, and that a record of his birth was in the family Bible. He was baptized 11 Jan 1755 at the Reformed Dutch Church of Marbletown.
Three generations of the John C. Davis family are clearly outlined in the Davis plot at the Maple Avenue Cemetery, Fultonville, New York, above and right. Three sides of the central monument show John I. (J) Davis, "my father" James Davis, and "my granfather", John C. Davis.
The marriage of John C. Davis and Sarah Smit, 26 Sep 1782, was registered at the Old Dutch Church, Kingston. The births of their known children, Susanna, 1783, Elizabeth, 1785, James, 1787, and John, 1789, are all registered at the Reformed Dutch Church, Marbletown. We know from John's pension claim that he moved to Montgomery county about 1794 when he would have been about 40. A John C. Davis appears in two Montgomery County censuses, Johnstown, 1810 and 1830. The number and ages of family members suggest that, if this is the same John C., he is likely living with at least one of his grown children, and grandchildren. Sarah isn't apparent in the 1830 census and she is not mentioned in John's 1832 pension claim, so she may have died before 1830. John's date of death is recorded on his tombstone, 14 May 1837.
We've found no further information on three children of John and Sarah: Susanna, Elizabeth and John. James married Annyte (Ann or Nancy) Vosburgh on 14 Jan 1810, and they had four children. Their first child, John James, was born 6 Sep 1810; the christening was witnessed by James' parents, John C. Davis and Sarah Smith. Their three other children were Garret Vosburgh, b 1813, Abraham, b 1814, and Sarah Catherine, b 1817, but we've found little on them to date.
John James Davis, son of James and Annyte, married Sarah Dockstader in 1832. They appear to have had only one child, Garret, who died in 1852 at age 15. John died in 1883 at age 75, Sarah in 1903, age 90.
A Soldier of the Revolution
Marbletown, Ulster, NY
By Barbara Davis Schaffer
Valentine Davis and his wife, Sarah Hofman, first of Marbletown, Ulster, NY, then Glen, Montgomery, NY, both received benefits relating to Valentine’s service in the Revolutionary War. Having never received a written discharge, the War Department required a declaration from the applicant and testimony from persons with whom Valentine was “well acquainted” in order to consider his benefit. Thus, Jacobus Smith, boyhood friend; Isaiah DePuy, resident of Glen; Abraham Van Aken, clergyman and resident of Johnstown; and, Andries Davis of Marbletown, all attested they knew Valentine personally or had served with him during the war. Valentine’s signature “VD” is from his Revolutionary War Pension Record. (Part of that document, along with a full transcription, can be found here.)
On September 19, 1832 at the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, NY, Valentine declared that he was a resident of the town of Glen, “aged sixty-eight years the 26th day of February last.” To the best of his recollection, he entered the service in “March 1779 or 1780 in Marbletown” and served nine months as a private under Captain Levi DeWitt in the regiment commanded by Col. Albert Pawling. He re-enlisted in “1780 or 1781” and was assigned to three military stores—Ensign Hardenburgh’s, DePuy’s Fort, and Van Noe’s Fort in Wawarsing—located about two miles from neighboring houses and barns that were burned by the Indians. He served a third nine month term during which “the Indians and tories were very troublesome and committed much violence and injuries.”
Valentine stated he was born on the “26th day of February in the year 1764” at Marbletown and that he did not have a record of his age, other than a copy of family records from his “Father’s Bible,” or what might be found in the records of the “church books” at Marbletown. He moved from Ulster County to Montgomery County “about 30 years since.” Valentine was entitled to receive a benefit of $80.00 per year beginning March 4, 1831. He died October 13, 1839 and is buried at Factoryville Cemetery, Waverly, Tioga, NY.
On April 19, 1843, Valentine’s widow, Sarah, appeared before the Court of Common Pleas in Tioga County, NY, stating that she was the widow of Valentine Davis who was a private in the Revolutionary War and that she was seventy-four years old and a resident of Factoryville. Jacob Newkirk, Esq., a justice of the peace, attested that he personally knew the applicant. Sarah declared that she was married to Valentine Davis on August 23, 1786 by the Rev. Mr. Van Benschoten, Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church of Deerpark, NY. She received a pension of $80.00 per year beginning March 4, 1843.
An extract of Valentine and Sarah’s marriage record as it appeared in the church records. Courtesy Fold3.com.
On May 20, 1848, Sarah took a second oath to apply for additional benefits for surviving widows of the Revolution. She was eighty years old and had received her last payment on March 4, 1848. Sarah died May 31, 1852 and is buried near her husband.
Christoffel Davis and Elizabeth Brodhead
1752 to 1837
By Richard Davis
Isaac Christoffel Davis, son of Christoffel Davis and Elizabeth Brodhead, was baptized in Marbletown, Ulster Co. NY, 31 Dec 1752. About 1777 he married Sarah Smith, no record of their marriage has yet been found. Their first child, and only daughter, Sarah, was baptised 29 Mar 1778, Marbletown. Sarah may well have married in Marbletown and remained there. Most researchers say she married Benjamin Krom, in Marbletown, on March 24, 1799.
Isaac and Sarah then had at least 8 sons, all of whom, we believe, moved to Montgomery County. The baptisms of Richard, 4 Apr 1780, John Brodhead, 6 Feb 1785, Hendricus Smith, 22 Apr 1787, James, 21 Jun 1790, Christopher, 1794, and George, 15 Feb 1800, are all found in the Marbletown church records. Records for the births of sons Matthew Oliver, b 1797, and Josiah, b 1802, have not been found. Matthew was apparently born in Marbletown, but Josiah could have been born in Montgomery County, since it was about that time that Isaac and Sarah moved their family north to Charleston (later Glen). (See my article, "Sons of Isaac C. Davis and Sarah Smith", above, right, for more information on these eight sons.)
Isaac Davis appears in the 1810 Charleston census, with about the right number of young sons (his older sons were on their own by then), and likely his wife, Sarah. We don't know when Sarah died, but the tombstone in the Glen Rural Cemetery tells us that Isaac Davis died Jan. 17, 1813, aged 61 years.
Little is known about Isaac's service in the Revolutionary War. It appears he signed the 1775 Articles of Association in Marbletown, and again in the Troop of Horse in Kingston. The Troop of Horse regiment, commanded by Capt. Phillip Hoghtelenge, was made up of men who resided in different parts of Ulster County which may be why he signed in both places.
A New Format and New Archive Page for Traces
You will notice this issue of Traces has a slightly different look. We changed the format a bit so that we can get more use out of the smaller column, now widened and moved to the right.
Also please note that we have expanded our Traces Archive Page, which now includes a set of Projects as well as quick links to the large size documents we reproduced for the newsletter.
Our Projects are an attempt to collect, all in one place, various Davis records such as, baptisms, obituaries, marriages, etc., mostly, but not all from the Ulster County area. We are already finding these projects very useful for our own research and hope they will be equally useful to others.
We will continue to expand these projects, so if you have access to info that is not yet found there, and want to help us, please get in touch. Or if you have baptisms, marriage records, obits, etc., that you would like added, or corrections, please let us know.
Sons of Isaac C. Davis and Sarah Smith
By Richard Davis
Dr. Richard Davis Jr.
married Elizabeth Hoffman
Apparently Richard Davis, son of Isaac and Sarah, went by Junior his entire adult life. He married Elizabeth Hoffman in Marbletown about 1799. They had their first son there, Adam Hoffman Davis, in Jan 1800, where the father was listed as Richard Davis Jr. The baptisms of Richard and Elizabeth's next 3 known children, Sarah Ann, 21 Jun 1807, Elizabeth Catharine, 1 Sep 1811, and Jane Maria, 12 Jun 1814, are recorded in the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in Glen, Montgomery County. Their last 2 children, James Oliver, born 30 Jul 1818, and Richard Montgomery, born 14 Nov 1821, were baptized in the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Caughnawaga (Fonda), Montgomery County. The baptismal record for Richard Montgomery lists the father as Dr. Richard Davis Jr. The proof that Richard Jr. was the son of Isaac came in the second document, at left, that states He and Josiah were brothers, both sons of Isaac.
In Richard's very brief will, dated 27 Jun 1844, he simply leaves his estate to his wife, Elizabeth, and appoints her executor. The will was witnessed by James Davis and James O. Davis, likely his brother and son. The will was probated Aug 1844.
After Richard's death part of the family removed to the Albany area. Richard M. Davis and family, including his mother, Elizabeth, can be found in Watervliet, Albany Co. in the 1850 census. Oliver Davis and family, as well as his nephew, Barnard, son of Adam Hoffman Davis, are in the 1850 Albany census. Elizabeth, son Richard M. and his family apparently moved to the Bergen, New Jersey area around 1855. Richard died there 3 Apr 1857 and is buried in the Edgewater Cemetery, as are several other members of the family, including his brother, James Oliver, and his mother, Elizabeth Hoffman Davis, who died 5 Mar 1862. A brief death notice in the NY Daily Tribune states, "DAVIS--At Fort Lee, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 5, Elizabeth Davis, relic of Dr. Richard Davis of Montgomery County, New York, in the 83rd year of her age. Albany papers please copy."
John Brodhead Davis
married Sarah Van Antwerp
I do not have absolute proof that the John Davis who married Sarah Van Antwerp in Caughnawaga, Sep 1808, was the son of Isaac Davis and Sarah Smith, but their marriage record states that John was a “son of Isaac”. As well, there is a John Davis, age 15-25, living 4 doors from Isaac Davis in the 1810 census for Charleston, Montgomery Co., NY. In that census he is with a wife, 15-25, and one daughter under 10. In the records of the Dutch Church, Glen, there is a John Davis, wife Sarah Van Antwerp, who had a daughter, Maria, b 13 July 1809. In all likelihood this is Isaac’s son, John Brodhead Davis, but it needs verification. (Many researchers have John Broadhead Davis married to Cornelia Hardenburgh Kelder. We are convinced this is not correct. See the entry in our Traces GED, for John I. Davis, b 1798, son of John R Davis and Catherine Van Wagenen, who we show married Cornelia Kelder.)
Hendricus (Henry) Smith Davis
married Jane VanPatten
As with John, I do not have absolute proof that the Henry Davis who married Jane VanPatten was the son of Isaac and Sarah. But the naming pattern of his first children, second son Isaac, first daughter Sarah Eliza, suggests a connection. And the DNA match of our descendant of Henry with our other Kit Davis descendants shows these Davis lines are related. As well, the age given for Henry in the 1850 census, 63, 1856 census (Iowa state), 69, and 1860 census, 73, all suggest he was born about 1787. We continue to search for solid evidence but we are convinced we've made the right connection.
Between 1805 and 1829, Henry and Jane had 12 children, but I've only investigated them a bit, having found son Isaac in the 1850 and 1860, Glen, censuses, and son Daniel in the 1850, Glen, census, then in Clinton County, Iowa, in the 1856 State census, and 1860 and 1870 Federal censuses, then in the Harrison County, Iowa, census of 1880.
James Davis and Christopher Davis
I have found only hints for James Davis, son of Isaac. The two documents, above left, that mention James Davis do not show conclusively that he was the son of Isaac. As well, the will of Richard Davis, witnessed by James Davis, does not say James was Richard's brother. There are several James' in the local censuses, but I have not yet found a way to prove any are Isaac's son.
Similarly with Christopher, there is scant evidence. There is a record of a gravestone in the Glen Rural Cemetery (same cemetery Isaac C. Davis is located) for Hannah Davis, “wife of Christopher”, who died 10 Feb 1819, age 25. Hannah would have been born the same year as Christopher, son of Isaac, but I’ve found no other records that make this connection. There are also birth records in the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, Glen, of 2 children, Isaac, 1817, and Maria, 1815, of Christopher Davis but no mother’s name was given for either. There seems to be no hint of Christopher in the early censuses for Montgomery County and area.
Matthew Oliver Davis
married Clarissa Graff, Catalina Landt
Matthew Oliver Davis married twice, first to Clarissa Graff, who died in 1828, then to Catalina Landt who also predeceased Matthew, dying in 1865. Matthew and Clarissa apparently had 4 children, Peter Graff, b 1820, Sarah, b 1822, Isaac M., b 1824, and Elizabeth, b 1826. There is some debate about the number of children Matthew and Catalina had but the records suggest they had only two, James, b 1830, and Jannetje, b 1831. Matthew was head of a prosperous branch of the family, and much has been written about his son, Isaac Matthew, and grandson, Erastus Corning. As well, Erastus had done extensive research into the family genealogy, coming up with the names in our list of Matthew's siblings, plus a couple more (Reuben, supposedly born 1783, and Isaac, 1792).
married Rebecca Van Antwerp
There is a George Davis of the right age in the records of Montgomery County, but I have no proof as yet that he was the son of Isaac. The marriage of a George Davis and Rebecca Van Antwerp was recorded in the Caughnawaga, Fonda, church records, 23 Nov 1829. George and family can be found in the census for Glen in 1830 to 1870. Though somewhat confusing these censuses suggest George and Rebecca had only two children, Susan born about 1830, and Abraham, born about 1835.
married Sarah Veeder
Josiah Davis and Sarah Veeder were married In Fonda in Nov 1824. Baptism records are found in Fonda for their first three children, Sarah Maria, 1825, John Veeder, 1827, and Robert Campbell, 1829. The births of the remaining children believed to be Josiah and Sarah's are calculated from census records, Richard, 1834, Barney, 1836, Deborah, 1838, Jane, 1842, Catalina, 1848, and Isiah, 1850. I have no record of the death of Sarah, but it does appear that Josiah married again late in life. Josiah Davis, 67, is found in the 1870 census, for Mohawk, Montgomery County, with wife Elizabeth, 35, and two children likely hers from a previous marriage, plus Pamela Davis, 1 month old. Elizabeth Davis, 47, is in the 1880 census for Florida, Montgomery county, with Nettie Davis, 10, Elizabeth Davis, 7, and Harrie Davis, 4 months old, presumable children of Josiah.
Judson Davis, 1928 - 2011
We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Judson Davis, who died Dec. 3, 2011, at his home, age 83. Judson was a descendant of Cornelius Davis and Agnes Winfield, a branch of the Kit Davis family that moved to Michigan in the mid 1800s. Our thoughts are with his wife, Marjorie, and their family.
Since our last newsletter we have five new members in our project, a descendant of Horatio Gates Davis, b 1822, Olive, Ulster County, a descendant of Charles L Davis, b abt 1805, lived Ulster County, married Susannah Lounsbury, a descendant of John Davis, b abt 1810, Ulster County, married Bridget Hendrickson, and two descendants of George Sedan Davis, b abt 1820, Wawarsing, Ulster County. Three of these have only recently joined so it will be a few weeks before we get their results. The results from the two descendants of George Sedan Davis are in, however, and they raise questions about this line since they do not have the expected match with our descendants of William Davis/Maria Kittle. We assumed that George was a grandson of William and Maria. Apparently more research is needed.
We also had several members upgrade their kits. The two descendants of Isaac C. Davis, mentioned in this issue, upgraded to 67 markers, but the results were not entirely conclusive. With 3 markers off at 67 they are not as close as we might have expected, but still close enough to suggest a recent common ancestor. As well, four members of our group have upgraded to 111 markers. We are awaiting the results from the 4th before drawing too many conclusions, but, interestingly, the one descendant who we believe is from Kit and his first wife Cornelia DeVos, is only 2 markers off, at 111 markers, from one of our descendants of Kit and His second wife, Maria Mertensen. This is a remarkably close match considering we believe their common ancestor is Kit himself, 10 and 11 generations back.
by Richard Davis and Diana Davis Deppe
Our recent trip to Montgomery County, enjoyable for the very successful research, was made more so by our time spent at the archives in the old courthouse in Fonda. Several rooms of books, documents, maps, photographs, and the like held out the promise of finding those elusive pieces of our genealogy puzzle.
The staff at the archives, County Historian Kelly Farquhar, as well as Earlene Melious and Delores Dumar, were very helpful in pointing out what is where, and how to use their system. It was not difficult to quickly become immersed in church records and cemetery lists. Names and addresses of other Davis researchers were also found in their Davis file folders. And what a joy to see the old 48-star flag that once belonged to Erastus Corning Davis, grandson of Matthew Oliver Davis, which was donated to the archives by Ralph and Betty MacLachlans.
And you never know who you will meet at these places. While there we met another Davis researcher, up from Ulster County. As it turned out she was researching a different Davis line, but, wouldn't you know it, she just happened to be a friend of Richard's new neighbor, 1,000 miles away in Nova Scotia! It's a small world.
Photos courtesy K. Farquhar, Montgomery Co., Archives.
"We receive over 3,000 visitors annually to our library," Mrs. Farquhar says on the Montgomery County NYGenweb website, "researchers from all over the country diligently 'digging' to find their roots."
Besides church and cemetery records, there are hundreds of surname files and bound family genealogies, military records, newspapers and historical documents. The archives are open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday from September to June, and 9 to 4 in July and August. It is closed on holidays.
For more information on the Montgomery County Archives in Fonda visit their Website.