Traces is a newsletter that we are sending to over 100 family, friends, and the many nice people we have met through years of research into the Davis families of Ulster County and vicinity. We hope it will help all of us learn more about our Davis ancestors. Please contact us if you have stories to share, would like more information, or just want to let us know how we are doing.
For those who may wonder the building that forms the background of our Traces banner is the front of the Davis Tavern which is featured in this issue. The family photos running across the bottom are a few of our ancestors.
Who we are:
Richard Davis of LaHave, Nova Scotia, descendant of Moses Davis and Lydia Markle.
Diana Davis Deppe of Hudson Falls, N.Y., sister of Richard.
Barbara Davis Schaffer of Livingston, NJ, descendant of William Davis and Maria Kittle.
To contact us:
E-mail Richard Davis at
or Barbara Schaffer at
Regular mail: Diana Davis Deppe, 28 Thomas Ave., Hudson Falls, NY 12839
We are always delighted to meet new "cousins." Feel free to contact us. We would especially like to hear about your Davis ancestors who fought in either the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. With your permission your stories and photos could appear here.
Traces is free, if you would like to subscribe send an e-mail to Richard for an e-mail version, or to Diana for a paper copy. If you know someone who would appreciate receiving Traces feel free to forward it, or send us an e-mail or postal address and we will send it to them. And please e-mail or write if you do not want to receive Traces in the future.
More Davis Genealogy:
Many Davis names can be found in our gedcoms, which are online genealogical databases:
Another Davis Family Tree
This Geographic Project is focused primarily on the Davis surname but is open to all families with roots in Ulster County, New York, and surrounding area. The purpose of this project is to provide a place where Y Chromosome DNA test results from this geographical area can be shown side by side so that family connections, and non-connections, can be easily seen.
Our goal is to use Y-DNA testing to firmly establish the relationships of the various early Ulster County area families, including the well known and documented family of Christopher "Kit" Davis, one of the earliest European settlers of what is now Ulster County, New York. We encourage any males with early paternal line roots in Ulster County to join us. Females whose direct paternal line originates from this area can have a paternal side male relative test for this project.
How to Join
To join our project simply go to the FTDNA website (link below) and click on the Projects link at the top of the page. There you will find links to the various projects. Under the Y-DNA Geographical Projects click "U", then click on our abbreviated title to go to our Join Project Page. There you fill in your name, e-address, and in the box provided briefly tell us what you know about the Ulster County family you are researching, and the name of the most distant ancestor of the person being tested. Once you have joined our group (or any other) you will be able to order DNA kits at the reduced price.
You can also go directly to our Project Page (link below) where we list the kit prices for group members, and where you can see the results of our tests so far (click Y-DNA Results in upper left). You can also request to join our group from our Project Page, link upper left.
The Y-DNA test is easy to do. A simple mouth swab is mailed in with a completed form. Results take 4 to 6 weeks. And, please, if you are interested but have more questions don't hesitate to contact us.
Family Tree DNA
Ulster Co Y-DNA Project
The following wills recorded at the Ulster County Courthouse. Anyone who would like a photo of any of these wills can e-mail Richard Davis. We also have a list of many more Davises from the Will Index, 1792-1916, with our own explanation of who we believe these people are. That list is also available by e-mail.
Will of Thomas M. Davis, written Feb 22, 1854, probated Nov 9, 1863. People mentioned, wife Elizabeth; sons Uriah, Henry, Raymond, Oakley, Gould, and Ira; daughters Maria, Sophia, Jane, Phebe, Julia Ann, and Permelia; executors, Uriah and Henry; witnesses Samuel Hadon and John Shorter, both of Sampsonville.
Will of Cornelius T. Davis of Marbletown, written Aug 25, 1871, probated March 18, 1879. People mentioned, sons James Andrew, Warren, Silas and John B.; daughter Mary E; executors Silas and James Andrew; witnesses Hector Abeel, Stone Ridge, and Radcliff Delawater, Marbletown.
Will of John I. Davis, 70+ years, Rochester, Ulster Co., Nov 19, 1881. People mentioned, wife Patty; daughters Joanna Westbrook, wife of Jacob Westbrook, and Hannah Harnden, wife of Edwin Harnden, Mary Crozier, wife of John Crozier, Gertrude Van Wagenen, wife of Richard Van Wagenen, and Lusetta Harnden, wife of George Harnden; grandsons John S. Brodhead and John Harnden; witnesses, Solomon F. Wood, Marbletown, Harriet Bailey, Marlborough.
Will of Patty Davis, 66 years of age, Rochester, Ulster Co., signed Oct 8, 1881, probated Feb 17, 1885. People mentioned, daughters Mary E. Crozier, wife of John L. Crozier, Gertrude Vanwagenen, wife of Richard Vanwagenen, Hannah K. Westbrouck, wife of Jacob Westbrouck, Luzeta Harnden, wife of George Harnden, and Hannah M Harnden, wife of Edwin Harnden; grandsons, John J. Broadhead and Frederick K. Broadhead; executors, George Harnden and Edwin Harnden of town of Rochester.
Will of Sarah J. Davis, signed Sep 11, 1903, probated May 22, 1905. People mentioned, Mary Mowris, Catherine Davis DuMond, May Ver Noy, Frances Du Mond Davis, and Joachim H. Davis; executor Joachim H. Davis; witnesses, Russell Mowris and Charity V. Davis.
Will of Abram Davis, signed Feb 11, 1909, probated April 19, 1910. People mentioned, sons R. B. Davis and George Davis; daughters Emma F., Lizzie Upright, Anna Griffin, Margaret Paterson, Nettie Wilkinson, and Belle Davis; grandsons Abram D. Patterson and Harold Griffin; granddaughter Hellen Griffin; witnesses Charles W. Osborne and Calvin Sherman both of Kerhonkson.
Will of Richard Davis, signed June 5, 1823. People mentioned, wife Caty; sons John R. Davis and Richard R. Davis; daughters Ann, wife of Thomas Sheely, Polly, wife of Daniel Osterhout, and Caty, wife of Rev. Jacob R. H. Hasbrouck; granddaughter Caty Osterhout; executors Richard R. Davis, John R. Davis and Daniel Brodhead Jr.; witnesses Moses Cantine, Abraham Sahler Jr. and Daniel Brodhead Jr.
Will of Henry Davis, signed Oct 19, 1896, probated March 9, 1914. People mentioned, wife Lide Allen; daughter Mary Emma Churchwell; witnesses Moses Wolf and Michael Lundregan, both of Kerhonkson.
Will of Joshua P. Davis, signed July 8, 1868, probated, Jan 24, 1870. People mentioned, son Alonzo Davis; daughter, Polly, wife of Benjamin Winchell, Betsy, wife of John M. Burgher, Mary O. Bell, wife of Jacob Bell (deceased), and Hannay, wife of William Hurlburt; executor John M. Burgher; witnesses Dewitt C. Davis and Mary A. Davis.
Will of Johannis D. Schoonmaker, signed March 23, 1866, probated May 9, 1866. People mentioned, wife Maria C.; sons Wilkins, Benjamin J., and Henry W.; daughters Jane, Sarah Elizabeth, and Mary Ann; brother Benjamin; witnesses Meeker Gorham, Cornelius Kortright and Charles J. Brundage.
Will of John B. Davis (of Marbletown), age 35, signed Sep 10, 1891, added Nov 26, 1892, probated Jan 4, 1893. People mentioned, mother Eliza C. Davis; brothers James A. Davis and Warren Davis; sister Mary E. Osterhout; niece Mabel Osterhout; nephew Olie Davis; executor Willis L. Schoonmaker; witnesses Simon P. Lyons and W. L. Schoonmaker.
Taken from the Baptism Records of the Reformed Church of Marbletown, New York.
Date: May 30, 1748
Parents: Benjamin Davids, Henrichje Brink
Child's Name: Susanna
(child’s name “Cornelia” crossed out)
Sponsors: Melchert Keter & wife, Debora Kinni
Date: May 30, 1748
Parents: Christoffel Davids, Elisabeth Bradhaet
Child's Name: Hester
Sponsors: Matheus Nieuwkerk & wife, Annaatje Cool
Date: October 4, 1748
Parents: Frederich Davids, Margerie Van Leeuwen
Child's Name: Rachel
Sponsors: Stephen Nottingham & wife, Neeltje Bradhaed
Date: October 29, 1749
Parents: Samuel Davids, Elsje Roberse
Child's Name: John
Sponsors: Frederich Davids
Date: October 16, 1750
Parents: Frederich Davids, Margerie Van Leeuwen
Child's Name: Joris
Sponsors: William Pik, Anna Pik
Date: January 26, 1751
Parents: Benjamin Davids, Henderichje Brink
Child's Name: John
Sponsors: Nicholaes Keter, Sara Keter
Date: March 5, 1754
Parents: Samuel Davids, Elsje Robberson
Child's Name: Jannetje
Sponsors: Abraham Keter, Jennekie Keter
Date: January 11, 1755
Parents: Cristophel Davids, Elisabet Brodhead
Child's Name: John
Sponsors: Levy Pawling, Mary Olliver
Date: August 7, 1756
Parents: Isaac Davidse, Elisabeth Krom
Child's Name: Benjamin
Sponsors: Ezechiel Constable & wife, Dina Constable
Date: January 10, 1757
Parents: Benjamen Davis, Henderekje Brink
Child's Name: Peter
Sponsors: Christopher Davis, Elizabeth Davis
Date: July 13, 1757
Parents: Christopher Davis, Elizabeth Brodhead
Child's Name: Elizabeth
Sponsors: Stephen Nottingham & wife, Nieltje Brodhead
Date: March 21, 1759
Parents: Samuel Davies, Elsie Robeson
Child's Name: Maria
Sponsors: Jacobus Davies, Janneke Davies
Date: January 13, 1760
Parents: Christopher Davis, Elizabeth Brodhead
Child's Name: Rachel
Sponsors: John Brodhead jr, Annatje Pick
To be continued……
By Richard Davis
Since genetic genealogy testing was first made available to the public in 2000 it has become an increasingly important tool to genealogists. Y chromosome tests (Y-DNA) are used to determine a paternal lineage. Used in conjunction with a traditional genealogy paper trail, Y-DNA tests offer added proof of a male-to-male line.
In our own case, we had DNA testing done because we had some clues that my ancestor, Moses Davis, born probably in Ulster County about 1800, could have been related to Barbara's ancestor, William Davis, born in New Jersey about 1750. We didn't know their parents. Could Moses have been a son or close relative of William?
We turned to DNA testing to find out. I did a Y-DNA as did Barbara's brother. (Only males have Y chromosomes so only a male descendant can do a Y-DNA test.) But when the results came back we did not have a match. Moses was apparently not a direct male descendant of William. But to be certain of this we needed to know that my DNA was in fact handed down from Moses, and Barbara's brother's from William.
To prove with some certainty that I was a direct descendant of Moses, I attempted to trace all his lines forward: his sons, then his grandsons, etc. I was finally able to find a living male descendant of Moses and his first wife, Jane Van Benschoten (I am a descendant of Moses and his second wife, Lydia Markle). Lucky for me, this new-found cousin was immediately willing to do the Y-DNA test. This time we had a significant match, 36 of 37 markers, the one marker difference the result of a mutation in one of our 4 and 5 generations back to Moses. With the solid paper trails I had for both lines this match shows that at least 36 of these DNA numbers were passed down directly from Moses to me.
Meanwhile, Barbara was doing the same with her Davis line. She was equally successful in finding another descendant willing to take a Y-DNA test. Her new-found cousin was from a second son of William and they too had a solid 36 of 37 marker match between the two lines. So now we can be sure I am a descendant of Moses, and Barbara and her brother are descendants of William. There can be almost no doubt that Moses and William are not related along the paternal line. But where did they come from, who were their ancestors? Perhaps further DNA testing will tell us.
To see if we can find the ancestors of Moses or William we have continued to try to find Davis descendants with early roots in Ulster County. New DNA results from the various Davis families would show if Moses or William were related to one of those families or not. And at the same time such results would help prove or disprove paternal relationships between the various families.
Kit Davis DNA Research
One of the best known and documented Davis families in early Ulster County is that of Christopher (Kit) Davis. Research suggests that Kit and his second wife, Maria Martensen, settled near Kingston. The baptism of two of their children, Abraham, born 1662, and Debora, born 1665, are recorded in the Old Dutch Church in Kingston. Research suggests they had at least one other child, Isaac, born about 1661, but no baptism has been found for him. Isaac had a large family and many now claim to be descendants of Isaac, and therefore Kit. Genetic Genealogy could be used to prove these lines. Finding Davis descendants of Kit's first family from the Albany area, with Cornelia DeVos, and using genetic genealogy to match them with descendants of Kit's second family could prove this entire line.
We believe we already have the DNA numbers of Isaac Davis, born 1661. One participant in our Davis DNA project has a strong paper trail to Isaac through Isaac's son, Frederick. And we have a perfect, 37 of 37 marker match with another possible descendant of Isaac, this time through his son Samuel, strongly suggesting we do have the DNA numbers of Isaac. There is one possible hitch, however: the family research of the above descendant of Samuel says that Samuel came over from England in the early 1700's, and was therefore not a son of Isaac. This is the same finding as that found in David Davis' book, The Descendants of Samuel Davis of Ulster County, New York, published in 1968. But the DNA match strongly suggests that Samuel was the son of Isaac. For now the controversy remains.
We recently received yet another DNA result from a possible descendant of Isaac, this time Benjamin, born about 1715, but these DNA numbers do not match the above two. Benjamin's position as a son of Isaac is controversial. His baptismal record lists no father and it's apparently hard to tell in the original church records who the mother was, Isaac's wife Jannetje, or her sister, Elizabeth. Plus there is a suggestion that Isaac was already deceased at that time. The DNA findings further suggest that Benjamin was not a son of Isaac.
More participants in DNA testing could help clarify some of the above confusion. As well, Davis descendants from the other branches of the various Ulster County Davis families would help prove, or disprove, their relationships. We strongly encourage any Davis descendants with roots in the Ulster County area to join us in this interesting research.
Join Our New Y-DNA Project
We now have our own Y-DNA Project! Titled "Ulster County, New York, Y-DNA Project" and hosted by Family Tree DNA, our project gives us a place to put all our Davis Y-DNA results side-by-side. And as a geographic project, rather than a surname project, it is open to anyone, Davis or not, with paternal line roots in the Ulster County area.
We chose to use Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) simply because it has the largest number of participants. The more participants the more likely of finding a match. Prices for the various tests can be found on their website, but note that joining one of their Projects, such as ours, reduces the cost. For more information about this project see "NEW" at left.
Note also that FTDNA has a large Surname Project for Davis/Davies/David with over 360 members. Any Davis participating in our Ulster County Project should also join the Davis project. There is no extra charge for joining other projects. I should also point out that we have no affiliations with FTDNA. They simply host our project and offer discount prices to our members.
A Visit to Ulster County
by Diana Davis Deppe
The tidy little museum of the Friends of Historic Rochester was filled with Davises all comparing notes about their ancestry on June 3.
We had announced in our Traces newsletter that Richard, Barbara and I would be visiting Ulster County that week. Visiting us at the museum were Philip Davis and Warren Davis, who recently found out they were related through DNA testing. Both appear to be descendants of Isaac Davis, who is believed to be a son of Capt. Christopher "Kit" Davis.
Richard and I were surprised by a visit from our first cousin, Ed Bishop, and his two boys, all from Orange County. Ed's mother was Ida Davis, our father's sister. Also at the gathering were Ed Davis, cousin of Philip, Vivian Piper, a descendant of William Davis and Maria Kittle who has photographed many of the gravestones in the region, Don Markle, who has been helpful to us with our Markle ancestors, and members of the Friends of Historic Rochester.
From left to right, Weidner "Ed" Davis, his cousin Philip Davis, and new found cousin Warren Davis. DNA testing has confirmed Philip and Warren are related, likely both descendants of Isaac Davis, born 1661.
Our host at the Friends museum was Richard Rider, who can be found there from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays when the museum is open. Richard maintains the computer database, a thorough listing of names from families of the Town of Rochester and Ulster County. He was busy typing in Davis information as we sat around the table talking about our Davis connections. He is always willing to offer his knowledge of Rochester history.
The museum also has interesting artifacts from Rochester's early days and a huge collection of old photographs. A future project is to continue looking through this collection. Anyone with roots in Rochester would be interested to see this museum, which is on the main street in Accord.
Barbara and her distant cousin, Rick Davis, pore over Davis research at the UCGS library. DNA testing has proven Barbara and Rick's lines back to William Davis and Maria Kittle.
We also visited the Ulster County Genealogical Society in Hurley. The librarian and Society president Florence Prehn graciously opened the library for us on a day when it isn't usually open. Again there were a bunch of Davises looking through books and the Davis files. Everyone was interested in the amazing Kit Davis descendant chart. We have collected a wealth of information there and always visit when in Ulster County. The Genealogical Society is located in the basement of the Reformed Church in Hurley. It is open the second Saturday and third and fourth Monday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
We also spent a morning at the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston looking up wills. Wills are located in the Surrogate's Court and it is very easy to look at the big books of early wills. Richard photographed several wills, which are listed at left under "Recent Discoveries."
Diana, Richard and Barbara, in the Accord cemetery posing around the gravestone that marks the plot of the family of Henry Davis and Lydia Schoonmaker. Henry was a grandson of Moses Davis and Jane Van Benschoten.
The three of us spent some time at the Accord Rural Cemetery photographing and mapping the Davis graves for a future article for Traces. We think we have most of them figured out, and we think the various Davis families may be related but don't know how they relate yet.
Barbara and I took a quick trip to the Tongore cemetery looking for the grave of Clayton Davis, who was featured in the last issue of Traces.
Richard and I took a walk down Jenny Lane in Minnewaska State Park where our Davis ancestors lived. We found the area a bit more overgrown and was untouched by the fire that swept through the state park in 2008. We made a quick stop at the Stone Ridge Library, a good place to use a computer. The library has a nice selection of genealogy and local history publications.
We did a lot of driving around the area to look at local landmarks and get re-acquainted with beautiful Ulster County.
The Davis Tavern
by Warren Davis
The Davis Tavern as seen in 2001.
Isaac Davis was believed to have been born in 1661 though there is no known record of his birth. Most researchers believe he was a son of Christopher “Kit” Davis and Maria Martensen. Kit was an early pioneer, a trader, trapper and interpreter between the Dutch, English and Indians. Kit is also believed to be the first white settler in Ulster County.
Isaac Davis took up residence in Marbletown (formerly known as Mormel) and built the stone house there that later became known as the Davis Tavern. It is still there today. It was built on the western side of the trail called the Old Mine Road and Kings Highway, now State Route 209, and to the east of the Esopus Creek. The exact date of the initial construction does not appear to be available but it is thought to be between 1680 and 1700, according to various sources. Later built were the Bevier house just to the northeast on the same side of the trail and the North Marbletown Church with its cemetery just to the southwest on the other side.
Marbletown was settled in 1669 and formally established by a patent from Queen Anne in 1703. The Davis Tavern became the meeting place for town business. It is referred to in the town meeting records as the “house of Janitje Davis” (Isaac’s wife), “the house of widow Davis,” and “the house of Frederick Davis” (Isaac’s son). It is believed that the town meetings were held there for 100 years or more and that it is the oldest town meeting place still standing in New York. Town records show the meeting at “the house of Isaac Bloom” in 1813. So before during and after the Revolutionary War the Davis Tavern was the “town hall” of Marbletown.
Some of the descendants of Kit, Isaac and Frederick have always lived in Marbletown from the earliest Davis Tavern years until today.
A side note on some more recent developments concerning the Davis Tavern is that it was purchased in 2002 by actor Barry Nelson and his wife Nansi. According to newspaper accounts, due to a sequence of unusual events the property was put up for auction for back taxes in 2005. (Marbletown apparently has a three-year limit on back taxes). The property was purchased by a group of three investors who had formed a company called WVD 2906209 LLC. Apparently Barry and Nanci were unaware of the proceedings due to a mix-up in mail addressing. Further, it was discovered some time later that their personal belongings had been removed from the building.
The Nelsons of course started a legal proceeding against all involved in the taxes, sale and removal of personal property. Barry Nelson died in 2007 after a long illness and Nansi is still continuing her legal battle to recover the Davis Tavern as well as some belongings. Among those are films of movies and other live performances that they made as well as some antiques including a collection of about 2,000 apothecary jars. Nansi values this personal property at $1 million. The legal proceeding continues and was last known to be in the US District Court Northern District of New York.
Sadly, no one is caring for the Davis Tavern property while the title is in dispute so it has become a bit more overgrown with brush and weeds than anyone (with an appreciation for historic buildings) would like to see, especially those with Davis ancestry.
The tavern photographed recently, in need of some tender loving care.
Warren Davis is a descendant of Isaac Davis.