Diary of Professor Josephus Newton Davis
A sketch of the life of Josephus N. Davis, son of Solomon Davis, whose father was a Welchman, but his given name is not now recollected, but he married Elenor Howe (my great grandmother of a English lady, who was of an excellent family.)
My father’s mother was named Martha Jordon, daughter of Peter Jordon, who was an Irishman and Martha D. Spennett, a French lady.
My mother’s name was Lavisa T. Roberts, daughter of Thomas Roberts and Englishman and Elizabeth Newton an English lady, who was also of an excellent family.
My father was born December the 22 A.D. 1776, a short time after his father had enlisted in the Revolutionary struggle for freedom therefore he never saw his father, for his father never returned from the war. He was born near the mouth of Meadow Creek where it empties into Little River in Montgomery County, Virginia, but as the war continued long and times became very hard his mother, finding it a difficulty to support and clothe her children (she had four) and as land was not valuable at that time she was compelled to let other people raise them for her. So, Jacob Lorton raised Peter and Margaret, Moses Scaggs raised Garrett and Joseph Copher raised Solomon till he was fifteen or sixteen years old. Peter moved to the Ohio State with his uncle Patrick Jordon, Garrett married Sarah Pepper in the State of Kentucky, whither he himself had moved with Moses Scaggs and became his only heirs. Margaret married Allen Con of Botetourt County, Virginia. When he was about nineteen years old, but I must here state that although Joseph Copher was exceedingly good to him he gave him nothing neither did he educate him at all, which was one of the greatest injuries he could have done to him. But Israel Lorton who was the captain of the Company with which my grandfather enlisted on his return from the war pretending to settle the business for my grandmother got hold of the titles he had for a most splendid tract of land on Meadow Creek Montgomery County, Virginia. So that my father had nothing to commence housekeeping with but he had not been married but a few years, their separation took place they had no children, I cannot state when she died precisely. So a few years after my father married Lavisa T. Bryan a widow (formerly Lavisa T. Roberts) of whom he had four children. The name of the first was Amanda Melvina born May the 12th A.D. 1816. The second Josephus Newton (named for Wm. Newton his great Uncle and Josephus the Jewish Historian) born June the 5th, A.D. 1818. Nancy, the third was born (ct. ___ , A.D. 1820, Mary Ann, the fourth was born June the 16th A.D. 1824. My mother bore to her first husband, James Bryan, two children, Thomas the first, born and Elizabeth born ____. Thomas Bryan married Lavisa Snider in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia, by whom he had seven children. All their names I do not recollect. He was married about A.D. 1828.
My father was married the second time A.D. 1815. They were married near Chrlstiansburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. My father after the birth of Amanda, moved to the upper part of west part of said County (which now forms part of Pulaski County) near Newbern, at present the County seat of Pulaski County) to a place once owned by Joseph Mierheid, now by William P. Kerrin, at which pince, I, Josephus N. Davis was born, shortly after my birth my grandmother Roberts, who was then living with my mother and father died. Sometime after this my father removed again to the Eastern part of Montgomery County, on Roanoke River. Though that part of Montgomery County to which he removed is now in Roanoke County. He there followed milling and working at the carpenter’s business several years. But following up the last mentioned business he again removed westward to Meadow Creek in Montgomery County, thence to Little River in the same County and finally to Peek Creek in Wythe County where he lived till he moved with Benjamin Fortune to Kentucky, Madison County, in the fall of 1847. But before my father moved to Little River, I went to school to John Shieldi near where Conrad Wall then lived to the same place I afterwards went to Archibald Whitt. The former taught me my letters, A, B’s & C’s. He taught me to spell all the words in Webster’s Easy Standard of Pronunciation. I went to him about two months while my father lived on Little River, I went to school to William Pillar, an Irishman, about two weeks, also to Henry Taylor, a crabid old fellow about three months, who taught me to read. I went to school no more till the year 1825 at which time I went three months to James H. Griffin, a Carolman, who taught me to write a little and to cipher as far as practice in Pike’s Arithmetic. I then studied of nights by pine fire light and sometimes by candle light, after I would finish my day’s labor (for my father hired me from home) I would walk two or three miles home to study at night, and would study till a very late hour, I did not spend the Sabbath as some who went to preaching, nor as others, who would gamble and spend the day badly. But, I would go off to myself and study all day. At that time I was about seventeen years old . In this way I continued for a year or more. In the winter of 1836, I went to school eleven days and studied Aritmetic. In the year 1837, I went to school 2 1/2 months more again I studied Adam’s Geography. The man to whom I went was named Lewis R. Ashworth, During this I examined a11 the Arithmetics I could get until I had mastered about twenty and that without the assistance of any person, except about two months assistance from James H. Griffin, and 11 days from L. R. Ashworth. For several years before this I bad lived with John Floyd, Governor of Virginia, his sons and with Samuel T. Fergus, who lived in a stone house two miles west of Newburn, Va., But I had to suffer the loss of my youngest sister August the first 1833, and my mother, who died September the 21st 1836. In the year 1838 I lived with John G. Cecil, Esq., till after which time I taught school during a session of four months in Shiloh Meeting House. Teaching only Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Geography. It was about this time that I began to think about being married, and had contracted a marriage before my session was terminated. But not being satisfied with the very limited education I then had, I concluded to go the term of school next, at least a while longer, so I made arrangements with a Mr. Henry Honaker of Draper’s Valley for boarding during the summer of 1839, therefore, I went to school very nearly five months to George Painter, a Presbyterian Minister, who was a very learned man, especially in the languages. He taught me English Grammar. I also studied Surveying, during the same time but without his assistance. I also commenced the study of Algebra with him.
The system of Grammer he taught me was Smith’s though, I studied Murray’s, Kirkham’s, Greenleaf’s, etc. I studied Gibson’s and Flint’s system of surveying. I afterward examined some other authors. I studied Bonycastle’s and Day’s Algebra but the study of Algebra I accomplished myself without the aid of a teacher1 passing over all that I could not solve afterwards several long and hard trials but though I passed over them and studied rules and problems farther on yet I would finally turn back and having my mind strengthened by the knowledge of the rules etc. ahead, solve every one that I had before passed over. The same is true with respect to Arithmetic and Surveying. But as I was a poor man and had made a marriage contract I concluded that I had better teach school a while before marriage in order to be the better prepared to commence housekeeping. I, therefore taught a session of four months about a mile southwest of Newbern, Virginia, but I should have noticed that as Mr. Painter saw that I was a learning youth, told me that if I would continue going to school to him he would teach me the Latin and Greek languages, and wait with me ten years for the pay or longer, years till I could conveniently pay him, telling me also that if I could not get board with Henry Honaker, the very wealthy old farmer with whom I had been boarding that I could board with him although he had many boarders himself. On making known the kind proposition Mr. Painter had made me, Mr. Honaker told me that he would board me if I could continue, and wait with me till I could pay him let the time be long or short.
But the marriage contract was made, and I thought it would not do to put off the marriage so long. I, therefore neglected the best opportunity of doing something for myself that ever I had. So after I had finished my four months session before mentioned, I made ready to redeem my promise. But as my wife’s father was opposed to her marrying (for what reason I cannot tell) though he never attempted to assign any reason at and therefore, we had to go to North Carolina or Tennessee in order to marry if we married at all, but as the distance was much shorter to North Carolina than to Tennessee, we went to North Carolina starbing on the eleventh of May, A.D, 1840, and were married directly after our arrival at Mount Arie, in Surry County, on May the twelfth (about 5 o’clock), I obtained license at Col. Waer’s large brick house and were married at Mr. Barner’s at the far end of town when travelling southward. We were married by Richard Marshall, Esq. We tarried the following night with Mr. Moore at or near this end of town. We tarried next night with Samuel Calfer, Esq. at his ferry on New River. The next day we came to William Baines’s one and a half miles west of Newbern on the Baines Bridge road.
We boarded at William Baines’s three and a half months paying eight dollars per month. We then moved to a place belonging to the family of Owens’, who lived five miles west of Newbern on the State Road. The Owens’s above mentioned were related my wife. For John Whittiker, my wife’s father, married Judith Owens, daughter of Anthony Owens and Elizabeth his wife, who marriage was a Young (they had nine children, viz: Milly (she married a Hambrick in West Tennessee near Memphis) Judith who is living in Mississippi, Jubul (I think he lives in Texas Nimrod (he moved to East Tenn. and died) John Burdine (dead) Charles and Anthony, the last two mentioned, are living on Now River in Pulaski County, Va. My wife’s father was a son of Joseph Whittiker and Biddy (Zebedia) his wife, who was a Perdew, both English Families. All their children, viz: Elizabeth who married Elias McGrada of Maryland, Nimrod who married Elizabeth Hask, Burdoin, who died when young, William who married Lucy Ann Curtis, daughter of Elder Claiborne Curtis, Virginia whom I married, Margaret, who married Joseph Rhodes, Thomas and Elvyra and Eluyra, who were twin sisters. Elvyra married John Viers. My wife’s mother died shortly after the birth of the last two.
Having made this digression, I will now return to my subject again, we 1ived but a few months on the place near New River belonging to my wife’s uncle, we moved near Jas. Pierce and Dr. Edwin Watson’s mills on Peek Creek. They then belonged to Gov. Floyd’s family. We continued until November of the same year (1841) but I will here state that I had taught school during a session of twelve months at Shiloh which embraces the time that we lived with Wm. Raines, on Owen’ land and part of time near the above mentioned mills. On the first day of February of the same year (1841) my oldest son Augustus Newton, who was named after Augustus Ceaser and Sir Isaac Newton warn born at Floyd’s mills on Peek Creek (now Pierce & Watson’s). He was born at my father’s house when he lived at said mills.
I will also notice here that during the early part of the winter of 1840 and 41 I began to read a book titled “The Almost Christian” which led me to reflect upon the Bible reading that I had done before that time. For I had read the Scriptures all attentively also to reflect upon the condition in which I was then placed. For I concluded that I knew my Master’s will and that if I did not do it I would be beaten with many stripes and that- justly. I also knew that life is uncertain as to its duration, and that death is sure, and also, after death the judgment. I saw that in judgment I could not stand in my own righteousness. Therefore, I concluded that I must put on Christ that I might stand justified in his righteousness. Therefore, I wrote to Chester Dullard to meet me at Richard Rynyon’s on New River and immorse me, which he did the next day on his return from Harmony Meeting House where he had been preaching. I was Baptized on the 18th day of January A.D. 1841 just four years and one day after my father had been baptized by the same man in Peek Creek at Brown’s and Aiken’s Papermill. My faith was that faith worked by love and changed the heart, Repentance changed the life or actions and Baptism changed the State and that these together were for the Remission of Sins — not that any one can get remission for doing them but that in and through then remission is granted. I believe that the Blood of Christ was the prime cause, the procuring cause of remission. I believe that faithful and sincere prayer to God is for the remission of the sins or errors of the Disciples of Christ, but same have taken the to call me a Reformer, a Christian Baptist, A Ballardite (in Va), A Campbellite, etc. I do not believe in the name Christian as the only true name for it was given through derision to Disciples of the Annointed first at Antioch besides Christ is not purely an English word. It signifies in English Annointed. Therefore, the followers of Jesus might be called the annointed word is used as a noun may be either singular or plural. I again return from the foregoing digression.
About the first of November A.D. 1841, I moved Draper’s Valley to Agnes McGavock farm in Wythe County (Agness McGavock has since married a Mr. Richardson). During the time I lived there I taught a five month’s session near my friend Mr. Pointer. I also taught very nearly ten months on St. Clair’s Branch, below Mrs. McGavock’s. She being one of my paironosses and my particular friend. My second son Constantine Campbell was born while I lived there. He was born o the 18th of July A. D. 1842. – seventeen months, seventeen days and about seventeen hours after his brother Augustus Newton. He-was named after Constantine the Great and Alexander Coinpbell, Pres. of Bethany College, Va. During the tiwe I lived there I attentively studied Natural Philosophy and Chemistry. Various histories, etc. I also wrote the solution of the problems in Day’s Algebra principally filled a blank book with the solutions of the Pramescuous Examples in Flint’s survey, Gibsons, also the hard problems from some eighteen or twenty Arithmetics.
I styled the book thus filled by “Cents”. I did the writing at night for which reason it is badly done – I did it also in a great hurry I like all other writing of one, during the time I lived in Draper’s Valley. I was chosen to bear a part of the Eldership of the Harmony Congregation along with Samuel T. Calfee, Fesse Honaker, Flemon B. May’s ard Stephen Sanders. The first public speaking that over I did was at Benjamin Morris’s in Draper’s Valley. I on the 19th of June A.D. l845 moved from MoGavock’s in Wythe County near Galbreath’s and Andrew Boyd’s in Pulaski County. I still may be said to have lived in Draper’s Valley while living at the last mentioned place. During the time I lived there I taught school fifteen and half months in Harmony Meeting House and three months for Andrew Boyd in the house near said meeting house. I also helped to build a sawmill on Peek Creek for Jas. Pierce and Dr. Edwin Watson while I lived at said place. During the time I lived there my third son (Solomon Cephas) was born. He was born on the seventeenth of January A, D. 1845. He was named for his grandfather Davis, my uncle Cephas or Peter Davis and Cephas Shelburn, a Christian Preacher, a nobleman, one that my wife “thought a great deal to use such an expression. On the tenth of March A.D. 1845 moved to Will Rayone’s place (the place belonging to the man whom we boarded after were married). I then had removed from neighborhood of the Harmony Congregation into that of the Shiloh. I, of course, resigned my office of Eldership. Though I continued to admonish the Shiloh and some other Congregation. occassionally. I received the following letter of commendation from Harmony to Shiloh. I shall, however, copy that first which I received from Shiloh to the Harmony congregation. It was written by Elder Edwin R. Vermillion.
“This the 20th day of Nov. 1841. As brother J. Davis expects to leave the immediate neighborhood of the Shiloh Congregation and wishes to connect him to the Harmony Congregation, being more convenient, has required at our hands a letter of recommendation and we the members of the said congregation feeling it our duty to give from under. our hands a letter certifying that his conduct as member has been such as to entitle him to membership in the Harmony Congregation or any congregation with which he wishes to connect himself. This being drawn off and signed by order of aforesaid Congregation.
“Elders Russell Patton
The following was written by Elder Samuel T. Calfer.
“Wythe County, Va., March 30, 1845: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following testimony is cheerfully submitted. This is to certify that Bro. Josephus N. Davis has for some years been a member of the Harmony Congregation of Disciples, has been chosen as an Elder, has, we believe, endeavored faithfully to discharge the duties thereof, has engaged the confidence and fellowship of the brethren as a man of piety and devotion to the cause of truth and righteousness. We also state that sister Virginia Davis was upon a confession of the faith in Christ baptized and received a member of the Harmony Congregation. We therefore recommend her to the admonition end fellowship of our brethren elsewhere.
Signed by order of the Church.”
“Sam T. Calfer
F. B. Mays
Stephen Sanders (Elders)
It will be seen in the above that my wife had joined herself to the church. She was baptized with a number of others by Chester Ballard in the Pine Run in Draper’s Valley on the 24th day of ____ A. D. 1842, during the time we lived at McGavock’s in Wythe County. I lived on the said Raine’s land till the 11th of November of 1845. During the time I lived there I laboured on a farm until in July. I then taught school three months at Aeon Meeting House on the east side of New River where I had the largest school that ever I had in the State of Va. My school being at Aeon I on the 10th of November moved to a place belonging to Reazan Vermillion near the mouth of Peek Creek (which empties into New River). The place is adjoining the one on which I was It is about one and one-fourth mile from Newbern, During the time we lived there I taught school ten months in one room of my house, laboured a good deal and also surveyed a good deal. But having determined to move to the west, I moved from that place on the 26th of March 1847 to a place belonging to Jas. Pierce and Edwin Watson opposite their mills, until my family would be able to travel. During the time we lived at the last mentioned place my fourth son Robert Shannon was born. He was named for James Shannon of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and Robert Richardson, professor of Bethany College, Va. and my wife also for the good will she had for Robert Craig of Newbern Va. called him Robert. He was April the 18th A.D. 1847. The place at which he was born is about eighty yards (100 maybe) from the place his brother Augustus Newton was born, Peek Creek intervening.
I made survey of my property on the 21st day of May. On Sunday afterward James Runyon, my nearest neighbor, concluded to move with me and sold on the 28th. On Sunday the thirtieth a large congregation of my neighbors came in to see me before I left. I on that day admonished them the last time.
There was a great deal of sorrow manifested on the occasion. I should have noticed that on May the 22nd I was ordained or set apart for an Evangelist at Shiloh Meeting House by the imposition of the hands of Elders A. B. Walthall, Chester Ballard and Cephal Shelburn. It was at a general or cooperative meeting which was being held at that place.
All things being ready we started on the last day of May 1847 to Kentucky. Being moved thither by John C. Gun, my wife’s brother-in-law, who had married her half sister, Sally. We had a very favorable time to move. So on the 15th day of June we stopped at James McWilliams on Madison County, Kentucky, where we stayed a few days. I then moved to a school house on Hay’s fork of Silver Creek and Runyon lived near me during the summer. I taught three months near B.F. Moore’s. At the end of that, took a trip through Garrard, Lincoln Casey, Adair, Green, Marion, Mercer (probably part of Boyle) Jessamine, Fayette, etc. to see the country and to find if’ possible where my uncle Garratt Davis lived as I had understood he lived in Kentucky. But on my return home I found that my father, my brother-in-law Bejamin Fortune and my sisters had moved to Kentucky and were at my house. We then lived together in a house we rented from Jefferson Moppin until March. I during that time taught school in the house and did but poor business at it.
Benjamin Fortune moved to a place belonging to James McWilliams on Silver Creek where Williamson Boulware had lived and I moved to a place belonging to Wm. Roberts, Sr. I then commenced teaching school on the 13th of March 1846 where I had taught the summer before with a subscription of 25 scholars at $6 per scholar for five months, which school I am now teaching, I shall include an apology in brackets below considered a digression.
(Owing to forgetfulness I have made a great many offsets In the foregoing but state more to the great hurry in in which I have written it.
The latter has caused me to make a great many repettions and ingranmiatical expressions which I have not been careful to avoid. Let it be remembered by my posterity that this is written not to show that I could write a little but for their pleasure. It has been written in a few hours, therefore, styled has not been thought. Neither has the nice form of letters occupied my mind. You will see yet some irregularity in the following for I have still forgotten things that I shall mention which ought to have been mentioned before, and I shall state here that the various sciencew that I have studied and the mmiy books that I have read are not all mentioned. Indeed I studied all the sciences and cemmenced the study of Latin and Greek. I have also neglected to state that my mother had four brothers, viz: Vwilliam, Thomas, Charles end Joseph. The first three of which moved to the West somewhere end Joseph married Martha Roger of Hagerstown, Md. by whom he had fourteen children. Four only of the nimber lived, His wife died at the birth of the last. He after some time married Miss Lincus of Montgomery County, Va, and is now living near Pepper’s Ferry on New River. She a1so had sisisters, viz: Elizabeth, Mary, Sally, Nancy, Martha and Caroline, Elizabeth married James Irvin of Tenneessee. Sally married Thos. Sparty of Tenn, (Sparta). Mary married Abram Williams of Giles County, Va, Nancy married Walter Raine of Montgomery County, Va, Caroline married Price Lucas of Missouri (I think). Martha never married and is living in Montgomery County, Va.
On my leaving Va., A. B, Waithall wrote me a letter of commendation in the following words, viz:
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS MAY COME GREETING:
“We commend our beloved Brother Josephus N. Davis to the Christian love and esteem of all the holy brethren, among whom he may sojourn. As a citizen of the Kingdom, he is worthy of confidence and as an Elder, who labours in the word and doctrine, he is well read in the living oracles. May the Lord bless and sustain him in his journey to Kentucky end during his pilgrimage on earth Amen. Signed by order of the church worship at Shiloh, Pulaski County, Va., May 30, 1847.
Ordinances, May 22, 1847 James Boyd
I was received as a member of the Glade Church Madison County, Kentucky with the following endorsement written on the back of the above by Thos, Kincaid:
“This is to certify that we received our beloved brother , J. N. Davis in full fellowhsip with us. Done by order of the Glade Church. This third Lord’s Day in Nov. 21, 1847.”
On the day of the date above I attempted to address them the first time. This 23rd day of June 1849 to continue the last mentioned matter. I continugd to preach to the people at that place about a year pretty generally twice in the month. But for several reasons I concluded to quit preaching at that one of which was that Mr. Allen Wyle, A Presbyterian Minister, had in my presence and in the presence of a large and respectable congregation most gross1y perverted and misrepresented the views and doctrine of the Reformation. At the conclusion of his discourse when he had sung I attempted in civil and friendly manner to correct him. He said he could prove it from the writings of the Reformation. I called on hin to do so, He said he was not then prepared though naming the books, I then called on him to put his finger on the place or places. He said he would when he preached there again The time came for him to preach again but he entirely changed the ground of difference. I said he had changed the ground, he said not but that his words the first and second times were the same and that when he returned he would assuredly bring the proof, but he found that I could prove by the most respectable and intelligent, who attended first and last, that he had changed the matter entirely. So when he returned again he never mentioned the matter at all. But some of the reformation very much out of humor because I had corrected him threatened to leave the congregation although Thomas Kincaid, their Elder and Preacher had told me to correct him. Some of the rest said that if I did not correct such misrepresentations when the persons were present that they did not went me to take the stand when they were absent. This kind of division did not suit me. For the foregoing end other reaoons of equal importance I said I would preach at the Glade no more though the many solicitations and hard coxing of the Brethren to continue preaching for them almost made me wish I had not made such resolution. The church granted me to still go elsewhere at my own will preach to whom I would.
I continued teaching school at Hickory Plain school house till near the fall of 1848. When I was solicited to teach on Walnut Meadow Creek at the Walnut Meadow Seminary I taught a hundred day session at $5.00 per scholar. I had about 40 scholars, though only about 30 subscribed. The session ended on the 14th of February 1849, Mr. G. C. Ballard giving the school children a picnic. I did not move my family until the session expired. I moved to walnut meadow creek on the first day of March 1849 to a place belonging to John M. Elder, known by the name of the Blackburn place near G.C. Ballard’s where I had boarded during the last school above mentioned. I commenced another school at the Walnut Meadow Seminary on the 19th of March 1849 subscription of 25 or 26 scholars.
I shall here relate some curious events that have happened or taken place in my recollection. Things which I had forgotten to mention in their proper places. In August 1830 the sun was darkened for several days, though fair weather, so that it would scarce make a shadow when high in the sky and when in or hear the horizon would make none. The moon was very red at the same time, Some persons said they had seen several. I recollect but once. The moon appeared pert of the time of pale green color but mostly red. In November 1835 on the 13th and 14th at night there appeared thousands of something like stars to be falling the greater part of the night. There was some noise attached to the Great Phenomenon. The alarm was considerable. On the first day of April 1838 the sun was so darkened (there was a dark cloud passed at the same time) that at noon we had to light a candle to see how to eat dinner though in a light room. There was one or more spots on the face of the sun for several days afterwards. I never was superstitious giving credit to dreams, etc. notwithstanding I have had warnings of some kind of fore-knowledge of things in that way.
In June 1847 a few night. after I had reached Madison County, Kentucky, I saw in a dream an exceedingly large eagle flying from the Northwest toward the southwest. I thought its wings spread nearly across the heaven and I also thought that it was so exceedingly lean that I could see the light skinny throat and its carcass. Behind it I saw thousands of thousands of birds of prey, mostly crows. I thought Someone said that it was the American Eagle. I beheld till sometime of after it and it. tram had passed when I beheld instead of the one great eagle four very fat eagles and the train return from the Southwest. The mother appears plainly to have indicated the March of the United States forces to the city of Mexico where the great battle or battles were fought. Four great general returned. The great eagle, the American.colors, etc. I once lay down in a spring night, March I believe as the weather was yet cold. The sky was clear and no snow on the ground. I dreamed during the night that I was sowing clover seed in the snow which I thought was on the ground. I also thought that I was very much pleased being the company of many young people who were very mirthtul. It was on Friday night that I hcd the dream. On Saturday morning when I arose I found a snow on the ground about 5 inches deep, about sunrise a neighbor (Samuel Ingram) came to get me to help sow cloverseed as he wished to sow in the chaff before tile snow should be melted off and he should not have the chance again to sow in the snow that spring. I went and sowed very nearly all day. On Sunday some thirty or forty young persons met at my fathers’ and we put up a swing and spent the day very mirthully. I might name several other instances I never dreamed of bees, wasps, jackets, etc. stinging me or of being interrupted by dogs, etc. or fire, full water, etc. without being mad afterward. I never dremed of flying and swimming well without being pleased by some means afterwards. I never dreamed of eating any kind of nuts but that I was sick afterward. I never dreamed of shooting without being disappointed afterward. I never in my recollection dreamed of being confused or seeing light. without having learned something afterwards.
From the above wanderings I shall return only to wander again perhaps.
The District School system was pretty generally adopted throughout the state of Ky. The law required that every teacher in order to teach under that arrangement should get from under the hands of the board of examination a recommendation or he could not teach. Therefore I asked from the board a certificate. It was on Court Day in Apr. 1849. The time was not sufficient to go through the whole routine of Sciences so therefore they gave me a certificate as for as the examination was extended, the board saying that they would be much pleased with my examination On the whole, believing it would confer Sn honor on the board of examination. The words are as follows; viz:
“By power vested in us by the Legislature of Kentucky, we, the subscribers do hereby certify that Josephus N. Davis appeared before the Board of Examiners of Teacher for the County of Madison and State of Kentucky and we have found him, the said Josephus N. Davis, well qualified in English grammer, Arithmetic, Geography, surveying and Algebra and do recomnend him as well worthy of the patronage of the public.
Done in the presence of J. L. Campbell this 2nd day of April 1849.
Robert A. Broadhurst
Broadhurst is the principal of Washington Institute Mad. Co. Ky. T. L. Campbell is teacher in the Madison Seminary (Female Academy) Richmond, Ky. C. Burnam is an attorney-at~law, a learned man.
I am ashamed of the manner in which I have written all the forgoing but I have not the time now to write it in an orderly and grammatical manner.
This is now the 29th of June 1849 and I have been nearly three weeks in a very sickly condition and I an very sick at present and tired of writing.
During the illness above mentioned Dr. Wm. Downton of Kirkeville visited me to give medical aid. His visits were four. The disease was cold settled on the lungs. During the time of my illness my oldest son, Augustus Newton, wan very bad with Chronic affection of the heart and Dropsy of the belly and thence the whole body. Drs. Walker Scott and Freman attended him nearly thirteen months. But all the asaistance that could be given him was in vain. He lay several months on- his face not able to straighten his legs or scarce move his arms, being exceedingly bloated and heavy with water and suffering beyond any power of descuiption till the 25th of April 1850 about 12 o’clock he resigned his spirit to its Author. The day on which he a rainy day and I being confined at home on his account was in the granary shelling corn when being called to the house to him. I being very nearly done did not go at first bidding but a thought came to my mind that I would go anyhow before finishing. Notwithstanding the rain and mud. So I went and as soon as I knew that he could not survive but a few minutes and made signs to my wife to make known to Mr. G. C. Ballard’s ( who lived within a hundred and fifty or two hundred yard.) for I had to hold hm according to his request on his feet. Mr. Ballerd’s family were gathered in a few minutes, they all being at dinner. I had held him but a few minutes on his feet when he said to me that he was “dying and that his breast would burst open”. Said he, “Pa, I am in such great misery I want you to chop my head off”. I said something in way of denial and consolation. Said he, “Then wring my neck and let me be out of misery”. I said something I know not what.- He said “Lay me down.” I laid him down. Said he, “I am gone, Good-bye to all”. Said Miss E. A. Ballard, “Shall I fan you Gussy?” Said he, “No madam”, Said I, “My son do you want to die?” Said he, “Yes-sir” and never spake more, with a slight struggle with the monster (his dying eyes upon me as for help) and he joined the cotnpany of departed spirits and returned to his God of whom lie would talk with delight. Next day he was buried on the hill between Mr. Wm, Ballard’s and Walker Moore’s where some months before he had chosen for that purpose. He considered by all who knew him an example of patience and was I believe without doubt one of the best children and most sensible of his age ever born.
But after the illness which attended me before mentioned I taught school during the balance of the summer, fall and winter in the Walnut Meadow Seminary. About the time I got well again my fifth son was born~ He was born about sunrise on Lord’s Day morning August the 5th, A.D. 1849. Augustus Newton wished him named William Ballard, I suppose because it seemed to be his Mother’s choice. The William he thought was for his Uncle Wm. Whittaker and Wm. Roberts, Jr., but indeed by me for Wm. K. Pendleton of Bethany and Elder Chester Ballard, an able minister of the Gospel, year my father in the Gospel.
I still continued to live at the place of J. M. Elder’s on Walnut Meadow Creek, during the year I doing very poor business renting and farming on consequence of the season being so exceedingly dry. Lost clearly twenty-five to thirty dollars at it. I taught school six months of that year in Madison Todd’s new brick house except about 3 weeks in the new School House near said Todd’s, I did tolerably good business in the school that spring, summer and fall.
But in the latter part of June during the time I was teaching at Todd’s I was attacked by a severe inflamation of bowels and probably spleen which I with great difficulty survived, the attack was sudden and in an hour or less I had no thought that I could live but a few minutes. My neighbors thought so too (for the house was soon filled). I was taken about sun rising or a little before I was so near gone that I began to – lose my sight, feeling and hearing, but my immediate medical aid and close attendance I was able against the next day evening to write a letter, Though I did not recover for some time from the effect of strong medicine. The worst thing that appeared to me was the idea of leaving my wife and helpless children in a wicked and unfriendly world with nothing to support and educate the children. The latter effecting me the more if possible of the two, I for the time being thought that I would like to see Bro. Wm. Terrill about them to see if he would take them raise and educate them as they ought to be in English (or at least in Arithmetic and grammar), Dr, Freeman attended me.
Toward the latter end of the summer or rather the fall I urged the necessity of the Big Glade Church attending members, who made a profession of vinding spiritious liquors to every person that would buy and thereby creating a great deal of disorder in the neighborhood. The resolution of the Chuch was that they should be informed of the displeasure it gave the Church etc. But they refused to listen to the good end wholesome requests made, getting angry, etc. refusing to submit to the desires of the Church. qiherefore, they were excluded. They laid the whole of the matter on me saying that the Church to please me had excluded theme When I had done all I could to redeem them — therefore, in this way I got some enemies, but I seek not to please men when their course of conduct Is wrong or injurious to society in any sense whatever. Thus passed the year 1850.
But having rented a place of James D. Bowen from Williamson Boulware his guardian, I moved on the first day of January 1857 near Kingston, on on the west side of the road. I there taught a six inonths school in the Pleasant Valley Seminary or Kingston School house standing on the west side of the road a little south of Kingston. I did tolerable, business there. It was a district school, Having from 40 to 45 scholars pretty generally until hooping caugh, itch and flux were in the neighborhood. I, during that school, wrote out a sort of Key to Davies Algebra and Bourdon. I cultivated some four acres of corn also and preached also two days in the week, generally somewhere in the county Madison.
In consequence of the great corruption in the Electioneering schemes and in politicians and the people generally I would not vote for near all the officers to be filled that year. I resolved never to vote for any man that wruld treat or beg votes directly or indirectly or suffer his friends to treat for him, thus degrading himself, his family, or relations and the femilies and relations of those from whom we would buy or whom he might treat. I considered the injury done to religion, morality or society politics and the rising generation. Thought in politics a democrat and and the Emancipationest. I have declared that with me a good Christian etc. even an honest moral man is a better man than a Whig or Democrat, a pro slavery man or an Abolitionest. I have said it as one having to be judged for all I think, do and say that I would not have the best slave in the world and be bound to keep him, nor all of them, that if I had slaves I would Emancipate then selling as some do). I believe that there is as much or more harm in selling them than in keeping them lest they be changed into worse hands or to those who feel under no obligation to them, having paid their money for them.
I would rather that all my posterity in all time to come should be as poor as I am rather than to be placed under such difficult circumstances as a matter or under the curse of such an Institution. It has been whispered to me that some of my pro-slavery brethren have no use for a man belonging as I do but I cannot help that, I will endeavor to not act rashly for what they may say or think of me. I have thought it no sin to believe as I do. I read that the Welch have alwnys hated oppression as well as the Irish. They would not submit to the English until a Prince was born in Wales. My great grandfather Davis left Wales for liberty and his son my grandfather fought and died in the American Revolution for it. A Frenchman loves liberty and as I am made up of Welch, Irish, French and English I love it too. Therefore, I dislike to be put down by pro-slavery men who are opposed to all men enjoying the right of life, liberty and posterity. But all are not capable of enjoying it. Enlighten them and they will be.
My thought in regard to the scourge during the summer of 1857 or great epedimic which was principally Flux or which a vast number died, viz: There cannot be any effect without a cause and no well regulated machinery can have an affect on.its own operations but will always produce the same effect. Therefore, in the great machine or course of nature there is no power in itself to alter, hence, we see the laws of nature fixed. Therefore, without some arrangement in some respect of that course the result would always be the same but none but God can make any derangement in providence or the order or course of nature so as to produce any other effect. But if the same causes in nature always exist the same as similar results would always be effected. Therefore, some great epidemic of fever, black tongue cold plague, cholera, scarlet fever, flux or something of this kind would always be produced without change but disemses.various and those new or unknown are produced – therefore1 we conclude that as is the same as heretofore. Therefore nothing but a being supernatural can so word or derange as to produce those effects but we believe it is all for good, universal good, though we may not see how it is so. Hence, as the Constitution of man, religious or irreligious is the same. The righteous as well as the wicked are taken away. Some wicked recovering providentially have a chance to reform and some righteous die and are taken from the trouble and wit to come herefore on the 19th and 20th of July 1851, yesterday and my thoughts are wLet the will of the Lord be done. I say with Pope nearly
“This day be bread and peace my lot
All else beneath the sun
Thou knowest if best bestowed or not
And let thy will be done”
I feel somehow easy while the sick and dying are all around me, although I go among them. It is said by some to be contageous but I know not. I feel not like praying for the scourge to be over for it would be somewhat like dictating to God who knowest best when he hath accomplished his purposes. The God of All is doing, ever has done and will do rightly, therefore, for myself and mine I will use the means which he has given to preserve that life which he has given and which I dare not throw away without sinning. But, if his will it is, let it be done.
But one thing I cannot bear to be denied though unworthy to receive, having never merited- I, a poor beggar am at a throne of favour I wrestle as did Jacob. I beg as did Hannah though I have no right to command, still I hope to receive from Him who is able to give. I mean, this to draw Spiritual Life from the Fountain of Life. To breathe the breath of righteousness of my spriit that life for which I sigh and groan for this I will ask while I have any senses and being – therefore I find natural as it were the words of a poet in my mouth, viz:
“Prince of Peach and righteousness
Most unworthy Lord I am. Thou art
full of love and grace Thou of
life the fountain and freely let me
take of thee. Spring thou up within
my heart, Rise to all Eternity & C. July 20th.
I feel lost somewhat today not filling an appointment to preach at Bethany in Madison County, Kentucky. I do not believe in failures of that sort but the distance being 16 or 19 miles and the sickness so great I did not like to leave. My partner to preach with me not having come. to go with me probably from the same causee. I assisted in putting away a man today who died of flux.
Foreknowledge of God with God all is one eternal now but in scripture I believe it means what he has before made of his will and purposes by the Prophets who spake at sundry times- The term not being found in the old scriptures but only in the New. Or the fore-knowledge of God may mean what was before known what was before know of God about or concerning him etc.
This is now the 2nd of August 1851. The scourge is yet raging. I yet have not prayed for its termination but I preach to the people to become reconciled to God – to be prepared to meet him at any moment that God will remove it at his pleasure.
We should learn something profitable every day or teach something to someone profitable every day. I, last Saturday preached at Redlick from Proverbs 14 & 12. “There is a way”. On Lord’s Day following I spoke on singing and prayer at Kingston Schoolhouse. It was not my appointment, there were but few hearers.
This is now the 9th of March A. D. 1852. I taught school at Mt. Vernon, Kentucky during the past winter for $31.00 and an extra month I preached some 26 or 27 times in Mount Vernon and vicinity giving great satisfaction to the Brethren and Baptist friends. I probably did more to effect a union between the Reformation and the Baptists than any person that ever preached in Rockcastle County. I boarded during the time with Anna Terrill, widow of Col. James Terrill, deceased, who was clerk of the Court of that County. She is a noble, pious old sister. During the time I was in Mount Vernon my sixth son was born. He was born Dec. 17th, 1851 at my residence near Kingston, Madison County, Kentucky. He was named Virginius Newton. Virginius for his mother, the State from which we moved toKentucky, there being an ancient Roman Senator a great man of that name – Newton after his father his brother that died, Sir Isaac Newton and the Newton family who were his ancestors – see in the beginning of this book.
I, at this time owe no man upon earth amything but good will. My present intention is to buy land in Illinois and raise my family on free soil.
This is now Nov. 25th, 1852. Since I last recorded anything I have taught a second school at Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky. I had a large school. I hired to H. Carpenter and T. J. Smith one hundred days for $160.00 with the promise of $30.00 extra for the scholars that would study surveying. In all $190.00. My health was not very good during the latter part of my school. I boarded with the widow Terrill who one week before my school termination died. She died of flux. The flux was exceedirigly fatal about that time (middle of August).
I preached about a good deal. I preached in County with R. A. Broadhurst and Kirkvill during which about fifty or sixty were immersed and a great many reclaimed, a church organized, etc. I at other times preached and at these meetings immersed the following viz: Coleman Haley and wife – on the same day I immersed John Hays in a large trough. He had flux and died of it. I wish never to have to do such a thing again. Indeed I have but little faith in such obedience, but he insisted so hard saying that it had been his intention for something like a month to be immersed, or I should not have immersed him. He could yet walk about. The first chapter of Mal. &c makes me have little confidence in such offerings. I also immersed old Mrs. Williams a pious Presyterian lady, wife of old Col. R. G. Williams of Mt. Vernon and her oldest son, Jesse, a merchant of Mt. Vernon, one of the most intelligent and moral men in that County. T. K. Adams the most wealthy men in point of land in Rockcastle. He married old Col. Terrill’s youngest daughter. He became well acquainted with me while I boarded with his mother-in-law.
J. Milton Miller, Clerk of the County Court, who married a Smith, Kitchell Merit and wife. His wife was a sister to the widow Terrill with whom I boarded and daughter of old Gen. Smith of Mt. Vernon. Miller is a very intelligent man of respectable family. He “hares a large portion of the confidence of his brethren and the people. Many of his family were afterward immersed. A old black woman of F. Ramsey’s belonging to the Methodist Church over whom there was much rejoicing. James A. Reynolds of London, a merchant. A sensible moral young man who like the Ethiopian queen’s treasure alighted from his chariot where I was preach before and demanded baptism at my hands. He had heard me preach before at London. Mrs. Kirtley of Mt. Vernon, wife of Wm. H. Kirtley, merchant of that place and elsewhere, also a sister to said Reynolds above mentioned.
I have proached this fall at the fo1lowing places in Madison County, Little or Brick Bethal near Kentucky River and mouth of Taits Creek, log meetinghouse about 9 miles north of Richmond, Mt. Olivet 5 miles from Richmond, toward Lexington, Union between Muddy Creek and Otter Creek. I gave great satisfaction.
In Estill County at the annual meeting on Miller’s Creek I was regarded the most talented of the preachers in attendance. I gave great satisfaction. I preached in the Methodist Church. After many pressing invitations I promised to visit then again if convenient.
London, Laurel County, I preached and gave much pleasure to the hearers generally.
Barbourville, Knox County. Here I preached from an agreement made at the Estill annual meeting with members of the Barbourville church who attended that meeting and heard me then. It was the first annual meeting ever in Knox. I pleased all denominations and the people generally better than anyone that ever preached previously in that town, notwithstanding many talented men had preached at that place. They believe I did them more good service than ever anyone did before such prejudice was removed. They said to me. “If we had you to cast the seed” and then named other men that had preached for them so harrow it in meaning by their powers of exhortation. For my gift is in teaching, not exhortation.
Somerset, Pulaski County, and Walnut Flat, Lincoln County. My appointments not being well known I did not have many hearers though I highly pleased those who heard. I had just or very nearly recovered from a severe spell of something like pleurisy.
I did poor business renting land this year, in consequence of the bad management of the man that agreed to cultivate it. I have lost stock one way or another considerably. I have read a great deal this fall. Madison County, Kentucky.
Being nearly two years since I attempted to write I now write a few things more. I left Madison County on the day of December 1852 and after being water bound several days on the road, staying principally at Samuel Evan’s near Buck Creek in Pulaski on the last day of the year 1852, I reached Somerset, with my family having been about $15.00 cost and loss in the seminary and commenced teaching in a few days having engaged with ten men to teach six months at $2.00 per day with my own (3) children and some other scholars extra. My school numbered 73 scholars. I had Wm. Menifee of Rockoastle County to assist me 6 weeks. The school being too large I could not give myself nor all other. that satisfaction that I wished.
But then commenced all the sectional prejudice, that of the Sons of Temperance so called. Free Masons, etc. together with the other teachers of the town and their friends. I may still add formidable host; but that which was worse was the wait of one of the preaching brethren who through misrepresentation had become prejudiced against me. So that I had to quit preaching in town regularly in order to preach. I however preached occasionally in Somerset regularly once a month at Salem, Union and at Freedom or in its vicinity, i.e., Buncombetown, Briary Creek, etc. The other day at Sardis, Caney Fork, Antioch, etc. having none to assist me but Elisha Dungan a faithful man. I taught a second school at Somerset in the Reform Church. I did not do very good business on account of prejudice and opposition. The third session I did very well for by that time I had begun to wear out prejudice etc. so that at present they are beginning to acknowledge that they had not done their part end that I had under all circumstances.
We stayed 10 days in the house of Richardson when we first got to town. Then moved to the place which we now occupy at the southern part of the town on Monticello Street or road, known as the Dr. Elliott place. This is the second year of our occupying it here.
I rather accidentally found two first cousins of my fathers family near me, Allen Cox end his sister Nancy Hodge. I am now resting rather from a preaching tour in Barbourville, London and Mt. Vernon, Kentucky end expect to commence a fourth session soon.
This 20th day of May, A.D. 1854, Somerset, Kentucky.
This is now the 23rd day of September 1854. Since wrote there has been a greet deal of sickness in my family. The flux was very severe in my family. Robert Shannon was taken severely and died and was buried on the 4th day of August after awful suffering. He, however, died easy and in his right mind till the last moment. I had much ill luck this season,- I lost my horse often valued at $100.00 Horses were then exceedingly cheap and money scarce) and some fine hogs, large bills by physicians and for other sickness. Virginia on the 8th day of September had a fine daughter. Her name is Mary Elizabeth.
My present session (4th) of school is fine, better than usual. It is near the close, This summer has been the dryest ever known in this country. There has been scarce any rain since the first of June. I neglected to state since I moved to this town that I obtained a good letter of recommendation from the Brethren in Madison County. I delivered it to the Elders of the Somerset Church viz: Wm. Ward and Thos Hansford and never got it again in order to get a copy.
Last summer, Rev. John James of the Baptist Church, a talented man and a graduate of Georgetown College, publicly challenged me to debate all the differences between the Baptists and the Reformation. I accepted. We made out five propositions debated them at Union in this County from July 27th to August the 2nd, debating early and late. The propositions were in substance the following, vizi The commencement of the Christian Church or Kind of Heaven; 2nd, The order of Faith and Repentance; 3rd, the design of Baptism; 4th, The Baptists are consistent in record to Christian Communion; 5th, The final perseverance of the saints. The, Perdoes who were present declared in my favor in every point. The Reformation claimed a complete victory. The Baptisy have given up some points. There were disappointed in all. I held a meeting at the same place a few days afterward and took six intelligent confessions and one Baptist I believe. One a Methodist gentleman who attended the whole debate since that again near the same place have been 30 more of which several were Baptists and Methodists. There were soon added over 150 members near about the place and the presiding moderator had declared that I gained every point. His brethren have taken him to account and he has left, saying however that I was more talented than he anticipated (the fact is, I have no very intelligent look and people are all disappointed in me), I continued to teach school in Somerset for 6 years.
I moved from the Dr. Elliott place to a place belonging to Henry Reynolds on Mt. Vernon street, here we lived just one year when Reynolds wanting property for his own use, I rented a house a little below town from William Denham, Here we lived about one year and moved into town into the property of William Frazure, next door to Ann Perkins (now William Harvey). There we lived one year when by choice we removed a second time to the place formerly owned by Reynolds (but then to John F. Cassen). There we stayed one year and moved 9 miles east of town to a placo belonging to Job Gaetineau whore we lived at present. During the rest of the time I lived at Somerset I had much opposition, but overcome all to that extent that I could get a larger school than anyone else. The year 1855 was a hard time for me. Knownothing-son sprang up and every person that did not go into its rites was prescribed and nothing respected by their fraternity. However a majority was with me, but by no means all of the citizens of Somerset. So I lost that year. I did not preach in town for a considerable time on account of their prejudice. Finally I ventured again and had, contrary to my own expectations, a large and attentive audience. During the time we lived in town at Frazure’s house we had born to us a second daughter whom we called Cleopatra Ann. She was born April the 20th 1857 – while there I was challenged by the presiding Elder (Bird) to debate the “Revision of the Scriptures.” I accepted the invitation, we arranged the terms of debate and the time but Rev. William Wanter and others found that he would be used up and persuaded him to back out. So Reverand John Cox informed me. Nothing else of importance occurred during my stay in Somerset.
On the 26th day of November 1858 I moved to Flat Lick near Salem meeting house, expecting to stay 4 months. I taught school in the meeting house and had 91 scholars. I employed John S. May a part of the time and Malvina Barron (now Zachery) the other part. I made $101.85 per month. I continued to teach there nearly to the present (Feb. 24th, 1863). Three months of the time I taught in sight in the District school house three months I taught at the Union schoolhouse in the fall of 1861 and made about $60.00 per month three months also at the James or Phelps schoolhouse (but rather) and made about $30 or $35 per month besides teaching my own children. This was in the fall of 1862 – During this year on account of the dreadful war and great interruption of the people so as to break up schools generally, I had to quit my avocations of teaching and surveying and try farming. So I had about 12 acres in wheat which did very about 35 acres in oats which yielded a very poor compensation, and about 40 acres in corn which also on account of the wet winter and spring and dry summer yielded but a small profit. Although myself and 4 sons labored hard and cultivated exceedingly well, All my sons took a good and wholesome lesson in the fields, which indeed was necessary. We fattened a lot of 7 hogs which netted some 1,000 pounds. As the horses had all been stolen or siezed by the Rebels I concluded to buy 2 more colts which I did for $50.00. But I must here omit that on the 24th of 1859 our third daughter was born. We called her Elenor Victoria, Elenor after the most distant female relation in regard to time on my father’s side, Elenor Howe an English lady and one the first families of Virginia. Victoria for the present queen of England, who is a remarkably pious woman. Before I close remarks for the present as I have had a little time after 8 years to scribble a little in this book on account of having a very severe attack of joundice, having to call in medical aid (Dr. Wm. Robinson) I shall state that lately I hold an interesting meeting and took 9 respectable confessions. I am the only one in the county that seems to be doing much or indeed any good. The war has ruined all it seems. My sentiments in regard to the war, causes, etc. I was formerly a Democrat, but in the year 1860 when I saw the corruption in that party displayed at the Charleston and Baltimore Conventions, I said that I was ashamed that ever I had had any thing to do in politics at all. I voted not at the presidential election thinking indeed that I would never vote again but remarked that the same men that split up and withdrew from the Charleston convention would split and divide the Union of States. I have been true in all respects for the Union of the States for many reasons which I cannot notice here, I have ever been opposed to slavery as it exists in the United States. I have ever preferred our government I am in favor of Emancipation and compensation that is reasonable in order to peace. I believe Abraham Lincoln to be an upright and honest man. I believe that God has an interest in the happiness and elevation of the black race as well as in the white, and that if He seems it right for them to be free or has any purpose to accomplish for them it will be done in spite of all opposition. I know that my Father rules in the Kingdoms of men, and when he is at the helm all is safe to his children. I grieve not at the surrounding storm though I am troubled at so much evil and disrespect toward God. Sometimes, however I am overtaken and excited. I believe the mock Democracy of the present time and slavery are the two greatest political evils in the world.
This is now the 24th day of February 1863. I have so studied with the last 8 years as to make myself able to teach the Latin and Greek languages – I continue as ever to preach the gospel without charge–that is, I never preach with an understood price though I sometimes receive a small gift if it may be called such. I have probably never received exceeding $120.00 in every respect. I have been offered $500.00 per annum by individuals but I have hither to denied that money shall control me. When I came some 10 years ago into the county (Pulaski) there were but about 3 persons in it that could properly teach English grammer or arithmetic thoroughly but now principally by my efforts there are hundreds that can teach those sciences, Algebra, Philosophy, Chemistry Astronomy, and the other sciences and some Latin and Greek. It is said that no other man has ever been so useful to the people of this county as I have been, but according to human nature and the ways of the world as soon as usefulness is done my respect will be gone–therefore to God and myself I must look for help and respect–This is now the 20th of Feb. 1865 and I am yet bad with Jaundice but I can record the truth that I have never in any sense wronged any person and my trust is in Jesus Christ and God the Father.
I at the right place neglected to say that owing to bad church government at Somerset I removed my membership to Union some 6 miles from Somertet where it remains to the present. The date of removal I have forgotten. It was contrary to the wish of the Church at town, but having done all I could to restore order there I gave notice of my intention unless they would keep the ordinances of God and live as becometh Saints.
For my present illness I write a request of my children brethern and in another blank.
This is now August 10, 1870–being unwell and not able to do anything else I take this strange jumble to scribble down a few more thoughts–I cannot mention events, etc., in order but must if at all, state them as I may be able to call them to mind–Memory is at present very defective-I continued to live near Salem on the Gastineau place till about the year 1864, during which time our youngest and fourth daughter was born (June 13, 1863) named Eliza Matilda for old sister Matilda Gastineau and her daughter Eliza. The last yeat that we lived there I taught school three months for Jefferson Gilmore n Buck Creek.
As before stated, I moved in the close of the year 1863 or beginning of 1864 to a place in the Floyd neighborhood, between the Stanford road and Fishing Creek in the Buncombe and Waynesburg road, known as the Dr. (Singleton) Floyd place–there as the war was raging. I taught school, farmed, surveyed, etc., taught school mostly, and taught several sessions at the Cox or Thompson schoolhouse and one at Cuba. Here on the 7th day of April 1865, Constantine having been shot through with a large ball in a fight with Guerrillas in Tennessee was brought home by the command of Capt. Josiah Beatie and was nursed with great care and trouble many months both day and night. For all this the government made no allowance. Hence we had beside the trouble and labor much expense. Here in the year 1864 Cephas joined the Christian Church and was baptized by Martin Owens. Here our younges and last son was born Oct. 5th, 1865 named John Paul ater the Apostles of Jesus Christ of those names–Here I entered a very good piece of land and bought a small tract in the forks of Cumberland–Here we had general good health and prosperity excepting the case above mentioned–During the latter part of the last year (1866) I taught a five months session for Jefferson Gilmore.
On the first day of January 1867 I moved to a place half way between Somerset and Mt. Vernon belonging to Jeff Gilmore. Here I taught school in one room of the house in which I lived till the Gilmore Seminary was completed. Here I had no doubt the best school every taught in Pulaski County. It was mostly a boarding school for young men and young ladies. A great many attended it. On the close of one session there were in attendance persons from Louisville, Danville, Houstonville, Somerset, Stanford, Crab Orchard, Lanchester, Mt. Vernon, Monticello and other little towns or villages and the surrounding country from Somerset a great many attended. The Seminary was burned by some incendiary in Dec. 1868. The schoolw as then moved into one of the rooms of my house again. Here the school was reducted to 71 students. Very many were turned off for want of room, but Mr. Gilmore dying on the first day of August 1869 there was no rebuilding of the Seminary as was intended. Hence my labours in that neighborhood ceased. While living there we had much ill luck. On the 2nd day of April 1869 we had two excellent mares stolen and carried to McMinnville, Tenn. And there sold. One was mind and the other belonged to Constantine Campbell. There were both very valuable. We got them back with much cost and a great deal of danger and trouble. In this arrangement we believe that we outmanaged the thieves in getting the start after them, in pursing after them and obtaining them.
During the year 1869 I lost a mighty fine young mare of distempor. I lost in the renting of land, hiring labor1 etc. this year (1869) about $130.00 on account of the dry season, our horse. being stolen, etc.
Hereby disease I got out of hogs entirely – My entire loss this year (1869) was over $300.00. While living at this place I was the school Commissioner of Pulaski County. This gave me much labor in redistricting the whole County, making records, etc. (116 districts). The bounds of all the districts were written three times and all the schools twice visited and lectured by me. My official bond was $6,000. R. Gibson, Brent Girdler and John E. Cassen security.
I had white living here and at the Floyd place some trouble in the Union Church with those who would make, sell etc. spirituous liquors. I finally required them to give me a dismission or dismiss me if they did not quit. They, after three or four years, gave me a dismission.
Review– During the war I preached as ever with the respect of both parties viz: Unionists and Rebels Many persons called on me to baptize them, among whom were Mrs. Ellen Gilmore, Jeff Gilmore, N. G. Farres, Maj. W. H. Owens, Mr. Wm. McQuary, P. Paschal, Va. Gilmore and Tipton Cooper McQuary and Paschal I did not baptize on account of sickness; Va. Gilmore was rebaptized on account of her not understanding and not acting from a principle of faith. She was first baptized when a child at Midway, Ky. under great excitement.
I lately baptized a little boy eight yearn old (Halleck Ballou an extraordinary child, having the discretion of an old person and understanding well what he was doing, who demanded to be a member of the Church, his father Elder Joseph Ballou was present and became convinced of the property and baptized him. I baptized many others.
I have attended to some strange marriages. My first three marrige were on three successive days. I married two men when two couples that could not speak or understand English, an educated deaf mute and an English lady, a father and son to two sisters, the father marrying the younger and the son the elder sister, one woman a second time, and the name couple a second time, etc.
In the latter part of the year 1869 having finished the surveying of the Gilmore lands (amounting to $116.00) for which I was appointed by the Court; we moved to a place near Pisgsh Church, below Somerset on the Monticello road near Cumberland River. We moved on the last days of the year. I cammenced teaching in Pisgah Church on the fourth day of January 1870. The weather being very severe my school did not increase fast. I had something more than sixty students in the course of two months mostly young ladies and young men.
Our houses were unfinished and we had no pleasant time, other property was bought for our dwelling and those unfinished building were taken for Pisgah Seminary. All this was contrary to contract. I, however, not intending to be contrary moved to the last bought property April 2nd, 1870 and commenced teaching in Pisgah Seminary April 27th. We had some 1osses while living at the first place. We lost a large young cow worth $35 or $40.
But the last move was the most unfortunate perhaps, that we ever made.
But the school being made up principally of young men and young ladies, there was more than ordinary disposition manifested to engage in compliments, courtships etc. Hence note and letter writing became common among them which as soon as I became acquainted with the facts I forbade, but this prohibition seemed to be disregarded so that I had to declare than a continuance therein would result in exclusion from school (the school was much effected by it) whether male or female.
Among the most notorious was W. Perry Owens, son of Maj. A. N. Owens. This Perry Owens a notorious villian preferred exclusion rather than to cease corresponding with the young ladies at school – hisself exclusion was I think on Apr. 20th. He was quite angry but concealed his wrath very much.
On Lord’s Day morning April 24th he armed himself with a revolver (his father’s I believe) and went to Pisgah Church to Sunday School no doubt with the intention to kill me or any of my sons that he might raise a fuss with. At the Church he wrote on a board or strip of plank and placed it in a prominent place near, and in the way where I or some of my fondly would see it, the following words viz: “one half mile to Hell and the same distance to the Preacher Davis’s”. More insulting terms the Devil himself could not have suggested for he either made thin a threat to kill and in his own conception send the soul of the slain to hell, or that my residence was Hell and that I was the Devil. Dr. Owens, Wm. Newell and others seeing the writing endeavored to conceal it, but my son, W. A.V. Davis saw its author — by and V Newton Davis saw the writing and being stung as any other child respecting a father would be at such gross insult, said in his boyish way “I can whip whoever did it, and that no gentleman would do such a thing”. Perry Owens was passing at the time with a young lady of his choice who was boarding at Wm. Newell’s, said to Newton Stay here till I come back and I will give you what you want.” Said Newton, “I shall not stay for you won’t come”, meaning that he would tarry all the evening with girl or that he was not brave enough. But Newton walked on after Owens, not close, or in conversation with him, along with L. P. James and some little boys and when he had got within about 200 yards of home in the lane from Pisgah to W. M. Newell’s Owens coming across the field from said Newell’s to Pisgsh met Mr. P.L. James and told him that he was going back to the meeting house, but hearing some noine where Newton and the boys were playing, near 100 yards distance hollowod to Newton to come down there and he would settle that matter with him. Owen’s then turned out of the path through the field and walked toward the lane meeting Newton in the lane but before he got to the lane fence, stopped and fixed his revolver (no doubt drawing back the hammer) in his pocket and then placed it in his coat pocket for convenience. James who saw all this, stepped back to see the result. Newton when called by Owens, says James, reluctantly walked toward Owens in the lane he had been whittling in his hand and when he came within ten or fifteen steps of him said, “Perry, I will fight you a fair fight”, by this he meant a fist or boy fight as he explained while dying. Upon this Owens shot him, either through the right lung or through the belly, but Newton not falling and approaching to prevent his shooting again, Owens shot him a second the the ball passing as above said. By this time Newton reached him and strove to prevent his shooting him again trying to strike him with the little stick before mentioned; They clinched, Owens tried to shoot him again but James hindered. Newton fell, Owens fell on him, Newton strove but in vain. James pulled Owens off, Newton trying to get up said, “Oh, Perry, you have killed me.” Owens with a horrible grin said, “Have I?” Owens left then as report of the pistol had brought several out of my house wild the hollowing of James. He went in much hurry not stopping at his father’s only to get a horse to leave on.
Newton then was borne to the house where he lived about 10 hours in great suffering. He died a little before 5 o’clock A.M. Apr. 25th and was buried by the side of his brother R. S. Davis in the Baptist Church Cemetery, the same day. The ladies of Somermet soon adornod his grave with beautiful flowers and shrubs.
I was not at home when this murder was done but arrived some two hours after it was done. He testified that he had no thought of killing or being killed, but that he only expected to fight a fist fight, calling it a fair fight, but the insult was very great and made him very mad. He said he had nothing against Perry and if he could live he would not interrupt him for it. He said that he did not desire us to take vengence on him for what he had done and that he desired or hoped to meet in heaven. lie declared that he had no ill feeling toward any person livinng, though he had been shamefully mistreated by a wretch by the name of John Bobbitt. He said he had no fears of Christ was his advocate with the Father. He told me at the first interview that the death bed is a poor place to pray or seek the favor of God, because his sufferings were so great but he a little time desired that I should pray for him and also Stephen W. Sloan, one of his school mates. He warned his schoolmates present to take warning from him. When asked whether he desired singing he said yes, though he could not enjoy it on account of pain. He requested that they would sing these words “O sing to me of Heaven”, etc. He said to me that he would never see his brother Constantine again but to tell him to “leave the beggarly elements of this world and to come into beautiful Kingdom.” He then looked at his brother Billy who was weeping by said by and said “Billy, leave the beggarly elements of this world and came into this beautiful Kingdom”. He then said to Cephas,,” and you, too, Cephas.” To Mary Lizzie he said, “Mary Lizzie, don’t be so high tempered.” To John Paul to whom he gave his testament, he said, “Sweet Boy.” He then charged me to raise up the children in their prayer’s. He then prayed many earnest prayors to God but sometimes I have neglected to pray, perhaps, nearly a week at a time, but I hope my heavenly Father will forgive me”. He requested me to write to James Walker Bobbitt in Missouri, a schoolmate and special companion of his (who wrote to him the very day that he, Newton, was killed and sent him his photograph (which was received soon after) and let him know how he died, also W. T. Tibbs.
In his great ouffering he said “Not my will, but thine be done.” He relied on the strong arm of his savior. He would say when he had to drink “Oh how gwoet the water is” and when Dr. Owen. told him not to drink so much said he “let me have enough for I shall not want it 1ong.” He then was allowed what he wanted. Dr. Walker when about to leave said he would send Dr’. Perkins to which Newton replied to me saying that I need not for no one could do no good. He looked at me seeming cheerful and said I suppose to cheer me, “Pa, you have always been so kind to me”. He said “Mother, you are much more troubled or distressed than I am.” When someone admonished the weeping that it distressed him, he said not at all, that nothing that kind interrupted him in the least. Being asked whether he preferred being buried at Salem (the Church to which he belonged) or at Somerset with his brother at Somerset, he said “at Salem, but Pa I do not know that it makes any difference what is done with my body.”
He now began to be very weak and talk with great difficulty therefore plainly and distinctly he made the most beautiful prayer that ever I heard. He never spake but twice afterward, once warn “water”, the last I think relating to the end of his suffering was, “I hope so”.
He looked me in the face to the last struggle with monster, when a beautiful calm settled down on his countenance and he became far more beautiful than he ever was in life looking serene, composed and delighted — I indeed think the presence of attending angels made him so.
He was a greater lover of his Bible and would read it when all other’s were asleep or when all others were taking rest. He loved to attend Church, Sunday School, his Bible Class preaching, exceedingly well, better than anyone of his age that I recollect. He was distinguished for his kindness to the poor and afflieted. He would go and set up with sick people night after night and read for them, etc. He never was heard to swear an oath or curse, or take & dram; indeed he refused a little toddy by his physicians till I told him to use it. His brothers say that they never know him to tell a falsehood in life. This did he live and die. He was bold, fearless and high tempered but soon his passion was subsided.
BODILY APPEARANCE, ETC.
Virginius Newton Davis was about 18 years old when he was killed. He was about five feet and 6 or 7 inches high. He was tolerable heavy built, being tolerably large in the chest, a little round shouldered. He was very active and strong for his age seemingly of good constitution. Him hair was dark colored, his head round and common size, him forehead high and tolerably full especially just the eyes, his eyebrows were tolerably full and considerably curved arched owing to a disposition he had to raise them, his eyes were of good size and sufficiently full and between a blue and brown color approaching probably nearer a blue than a brown color, tolerably face, somewhat slim about the jaws; his mouth warn of medium size, his teeth well set and the upper face teeth a little projecting over the lower teeth, his chin ordinary, his neck tolerably short and feet common size. I here write an incident to further show his character – I was very sick along in latter part of the winter and spring past and he began to think that I would not or might not live long so he planned off how he would have to labor ond manage to support her and raise and educate his little sisters and brothers, pay whatever debts I might be owing, for he was prompt to pay any little debt that he made. Stating that the Girls would have to help when he should be pressed. This plan one day he revealed to his mother sympathizing much with me in my affliction.
I am now nearly done writing in this blank – but the most strange thing to me is that I forgot to mention the death of my father Solomon Davis who was stricken with paralysis Oct. 20th, 1856 when attempting to rise from prayer in his closet. He lasted 9 days and died at his son-in-law’s, Benj. Fortune’s Madison County, Ky. Was buried with his grandson Augustus Newton Davis, my first son. Their graves are in full view of the town of Berea, Madison County, Ky. I visited him during his illness and heard him express his hopes of life eternal. He stated that I had never disobeyed him that I was the best boy he had ever seen. This I have testimony of a dying father and a dying child, one declaring my obedience, and the other my kindness.
Constantine was married and joined the Church while we lived at Gilmore’s. He was married on the 16th of Feb. 1869 to Nancy Meece. Newton was baptized while we lived at Gilmore’s 1866 by Eld. Wm. Jarrat.
This is now the 12th day of Aug. 1870 and late in the evening so here I close at least for the present.
J. N. Davis