Wednesday, August 19, 2020

52 Ancestors - CHOSEN FAMILY: Will the Real Maggie Please Stand Up?

In last week’s drama surrounding the antics of Amaziah Nathaniel Davis, his reputation as an adulterer was revealed. His wife Annie Long Davis filed for a divorce in 1908 claiming Nathaniel not only had been abusive and neglectful but also he had been seeing several other women. The testimonies of witnesses focused on one woman in particular: Maggie Vines or Viands.

Who was she?

Maggie was the daughter of William Joseph Vines and Angelina Stanton. William was a Confederate veteran of the Civil War and worked in an ore bank. Angelina, like most women of the time, kept house and took care of the children: Nettie, Foley, Julia, Ida, William, Maggie, and Walter. William Sr. died from typhoid fever in August of 1886.

In the 1900 census for Rockingham County, Angelina reported that 5 of her 7 children were still living. Maggie was at home with her while all the others were married. It seems neither Angelina nor Maggie was employed. Another person in the household was a 2-year old named Lula, identified as a daughter. However, since Lula was born two years after William Viands died, it could be that Lula was Maggie’s child, yet it is still within the biological realm of possibility that Lula could have been Angelina’s child instead. Unfortunately, there is no sign of Lula after the 1900 census, so we may never know.

But back to Maggie
According to witnesses in the divorce case of Nathaniel Davis and wife Annie, Maggie was not married but had a little boy.
from Rockingham Co VA Chancery Cause 165-1909-095
Nathaniel Davis's sister Ida Morris reported that Maggie left sometime around 1908 or 1909 and moved to Pennsylvania to stay with her sister, at least for a time. The 1910 census shows Maggie, her mother, and a 12-year old son Lester living in York County, Pennsylvania where Maggie’s sisters lived too. Their brother William and his family lived in a nearby county. Angelina claimed her own income, probably the Civil War widow’s pension she obtained in 1904. Maggie found a job at a sewing factory.
from Rockingham Co VA Chancery Cause 165-1909-095
Ida Morris stated that Maggie was going to Pennsylvania to stay until Nathaniel came for her. Did he do that?

Where was Nathaniel? 
A marriage record for Nathaniel Davis and Maggie VIA dated November 1909 suggests he finally made an honest woman of her. But wait – VIA? OK, clerical errors abound. Viands. Vines. Via. I can see how a clerk misunderstood.
Rockingham Co VA Marriage Register Book 3, p 46
But then there was the entry of the bride’s parents as John and mother unknown. John? Not William? 
Rockingham Co VA Marriage Register Book 3, p 46

I can believe and accept that maybe Maggie forgot her father’s name – maybe – after all, he had been dead a long time, but, surely, she had not forgotten her mother’s name.

There was also the mention of Maggie being a widow. Had the witness erred in saying Maggie had never married – OR is this indeed a different Maggie?

In 1910 while Maggie VINES was living with her mother in York County, Pennsylvania, Nathaniel and his much younger wife Maggie were in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nathaniel worked as an agent for a buggy company (interesting – wonder what that entailed?). The couple had been married 0 years. Maggie had 2 children. A 9-year old boy named Edgar R. lived there too, enumerated with the last name “Davis,” most likely a clerical error.
1910 Census Charlottesville, VA
In the 1920 census, Maggie VINES had become the head of household in York County, Pennsylvania. She and her mother both worked in a tobacco factory. Lester had married and moved to Baltimore.

That same year Nathaniel and Maggie were still in Charlottesville with now 4 children PLUS a stepson Roy Via. Nathaniel worked in a stave factory.

1920 Census Charlottesville, VA

After 1920, neither Maggie Vines nor her mother Angelina can be found in the usual online records. But in Charlottesville, Maggie L. Davis was head of household in 1930. Her four daughters were with her. Roy and Edgar had both married and were living in an apartment not far away from their mother and half-sisters.
1930 Census Charlottesville, VA
Nathaniel wound up at Western State Hospital, known as Western State Lunatic Asylum in its early days. What his mental issues were is unknown. I hope he was not bad off enough to catch the attention of the director, Joseph DeJarnette, a noted eugenicist who openly favored and performed electroshock therapy, lobotomies, and sterilization.

Nathaniel died at Western State Hospital in 1934.

Amaziah Nathaniel Davis’s life came to a sad end, that’s for sure. But I can’t help being somewhat amused at the irony of his love life, to have carried on an affair with Maggie B. Vines only to marry Maggie L. Via just months later.

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. Fascinating! The scandal it must have caused back then!


  2. Too sad. And those lobotomies were performed too long in the mountains of Virginia. It makes me feel sick.

  3. Too many Maggies. I'd be all confused.

  4. Wonderful story. Great job sorting out the Maggies.

  5. We have a Western State Hospital in Washington, too. Good "reporting".