Wednesday, March 25, 2020

52 Ancestors - NEARLY FORGOTTEN: My Grandfather's Brother

When I opened up the Davis family bible that my cousin sent me, this slip of paper made me gasp:

Someone carefully wrote out in pencil the names and birth dates of my great-grandparents Walter and Mary Frances “Mollie” Davis and their children, some of them anyway. The last 2 are not listed for some odd reason.

What took me by surprise was not the missing children nor the misspelling of "Violetta" but the addition of Elsworth O. Davis, a child I had never heard of.

My grandfather Orvin Davis had spoken of his precious baby sister Josy who died when she was just 2 years old. Her picture was always on my grandparents’ mantel in their living room.
Josy and Orvin 1902 or 1903
Josy Davis and Orvin Davis
probably 1903
I knew about a brother Kenneth because he shares a tombstone with Josy in the Coverstone Cemetery in Shenandoah, Virginia.
at Coverstone Cemetery
Shenandoah, Page Co, VA
But Elsworth? Nope. Not even a tombstone for him. As important as family was to my grandaunts Violetta and Velma, they never spoke of Elsworth. Maybe it was because he was the first child and none of the other children ever knew him since he died before they were even born.

Mary Frances made sure her children sat for professional portraits.
Millard, Orvin, Josy about 1902
Millard, Orvin, Josy
Portraits of Violetta and Velma on opalotype
Violetta and Velma
portraits on opalotype
Unfortunately, Kenneth did not live long enough for that. He was just 12 days old when he died of jaundice. However, Elsworth lived 18 months (27 Mar 1892 - 28 Sep 1893).

But maybe he sat for a portrait. Could this unidentified cutie be little Elsworth? 
Unidentified baby in Mary Frances Jollett Davis's album

I certainly hope so.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Intriquing story. You are fortunate to have so many photos and that list is a treasure! I hope you discover who that little unnamed boy is. Hopefully it is Elsworth.

  2. I sure hope you're right. It would be a nice treasure.

  3. So much loss of children at early ages! How did the parents endure?


  4. I've been contemplating writing about my grandfather's brother who also died very young. But losing so many children? Unimaginable.

  5. Best Friday Ever! Please let me know what happens in the stories.

  6. I'm finding myself drawn to search out the stories of children who died young.