As part of my “Genealogy Do-Over” efforts AND to force myself to get crackin’ on my James Franklin Jollett book, Jollett Reunion, I will be researching and writing brief biographies of James Franklin, his wives, and his children.
Mary Frances Jollett Davis
Child #5 born to James Franklin Jollett and Lucy Ann Shiflett was named Mary Frances but most often went by “Mollie.” At five months of age, she made her first appearance in a federal census, having been born January 10, 1870. Like her brothers and sisters, she attended school near Swift Run and learned to read and write. She grew up surrounded by her mother’s brothers and sisters and their children. Perhaps that is how her strong love of family began and grew.
With such close ties to family in Greene County, Virginia, it almost seems a surprise that Mollie met and married a boy from Rockingham County just across the mountain. Walter Beriah Sylvester Davis grew up in Beldor which is just off today’s Skyline Drive, a park that did not exist in their courting days. Mollie’s home was near Swift Run in Bacon Hollow, also just off the Drive. So while they came from two different counties, both lived near the dividing line.
Mollie was 20 and Walter 23 when they married just before Valentine’s Day, February 11, 1890. They lived for a time in Greene County, but by 1899, they had settled in the town of Shenandoah in Page County, just a few miles north of where Walter and Mollie had grown up. Shenandoah was booming with the Norfolk & Western steam railroad. As a major hub, the town boasted a large number of repair shops. However, Walter was not a railroad man; he was a carpenter like his father.
In the 1900 census, the young Davis family was living next door to two of Mollie’s sisters and their families. They all owned their homes, free and clear. Mollie and Walter had two boys, Millard and Orvin, but they had lost their first child in 1893, another boy, Elsworth who lived just over a year.
The 1910 census reported four children living at home: Millard, Orvin, Violetta, and Velma. However, another child had been born and died. Her name was Josy, and she lived a brief two years. Two years after this census, Kenneth came into their lives only to die after eleven days from neonatal jaundice.
Mollie and Walter and their four children lived a good life. Walter built many of the homes in Shenandoah, many from Sears plans, including their own new home on Sixth Street. Mollie made sure the children were dressed well and that they had “nice things” for the home. They were not wealthy, by any means; Mollie was just a good money manager. According to one family story, she used to buy the children’s clothes too big so that they could wear them longer. One day Orvin walked downtown wearing some rather large pants; as he passed a group of men sitting outside the barbershop, one of them called out, “Pants, where are you taking that boy?” Laughter could be heard up and down Front Street.
Being frugal was just part of Mollie’s makeup. She was a devout Christian and active member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. She enjoyed singing the hymns and being part of the Gleaners, a woman’s society dedicated to missions. In the early years of the congregation, the Gleaners raised money to buy a piano for the church. Mollie was one of the signers on the note guaranteeing payment over time.
|The Gleaners of the Evangelical United Brethren Church|
In addition to building houses, Walter opened a grocery store on the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. He put his sons to work there, Millard for just a while before he went to work for the railroad, and then Orvin. Orvin owned a car repair business too, so his wife Lucille took care of day to day business at the store.
|The Davis store|
|Standing: Thelma Hockman, Velma Davis|
Sitting: Addie Hockman, Mollie Davis
While the sons were put to work, Walter and Mollie sent the girls to college. The girls often brought friends home for weekends and holidays. Walter and Mollie seemed to enjoy having their young friends around.
|Walter was a dapper dresser and|
he loved the girls!
Velma Davis, Violetta Davis, Walter,
Thelma Hockman, Leta LaVow
It is easy to see why Mollie and Walter were so loved by their children and grandchildren.
|Mary Frances on the porch at Violetta's|
Shortly after Walter died in 1934, Mollie went to live with Violetta in Harrisonburg. Mollie died in 1950. She and Walter are buried in the Coverstone Cemetery in Shenandoah, Virginia.
|This photo of Mary Frances |
was always on a dresser
in my grandparents' home
- Ellsworth O. DAVIS (27 Mar 1892 – 28 Sep 1893)
- Millard Mitchell DAVIS (19 Oct 1894 Greene Co, VA – 27 Dec 1951 Shenandoah, VA) and Edith Irene KITE (7 May 1895 Page Co, VA – 24 Feb 1985 Shenandoah, VA) married about 1914
- Orvin Owen DAVIS (12 Dec 1899 Shenandoah, VA – 16 Oct 1963 Portsmouth, VA) and Lucille Mary RUCKER (9 Oct 1904 Shenandoah, VA – 1 Nov 1990 Chesapeake, VA) married 17 Sep 1923 Hagerstown, MD
- Josy DAVIS (1 Aug 1901 Shenandoah, VA – 15 Dec 1903 Shenandoah, VA)
- Violetta Lorane DAVIS (Jan 1904 Shenandoah, VA – 21 Dec 1989 Harrisonburg, VA) and Virgil Franklin RYAN (20 Aug 1898 Rockingham Co, VA – 2 Jul 1941 Harrisonburg, VA) married 16 Jun 1936 Harrisonburg, VA
- Velma Hilda DAVIS (15 Feb 1908 Shenandoah, VA – 5 Jun 1968 Harrisonburg, VA) and Arthur Henry “Woody” WOODRING (13 Jun 1903 Pennsylvania – 21 Jan 1951 Martinsburg, WV) married 15 Jan 1927 Shenandoah, VA
- Kenneth Leland DAVIS (25 Jul 1912 Shenandoah, VA – 6 Aug 1912 Shenandoah, VA)
© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.