Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Revolutionary War

Elizabeth P. Davis Miles
Family Ambrotype

The fifth grade had tests on the Revolutionary War yesterday. I thought that it might help my grandson to relate more to what he was hearing about, if he knew that some of his ancestors were involved in the events of that time.
The thing that I remember most about history from my days in Calvert High School was the time that I took my great-grandfather's sword from the Civil War to school to show my classmates that I really did have someone who served in the Civil War. Of course, I had things all mixed up, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I took the time to figure things out. The sword was actually my grandfather's father's sword. But, to me, I saw my grandfather polishing it, every time he came to visit, so I assumed that it was his. And, since my grandfather walked with his knees bent, I assumed, again incorrrectly, that this was due to the fact that he was hit behind his knees by another sword in a Civil War battle. It seems that he actually was injured by an axe while cutting wood as a boy. I asked about Grandpa, his knees, and the Civil War, but no one corrected me, so that is what I always believed. Not having a great sense of time or ages, it never occured to me that my grandfather would have been too young to have been in the Civil War. And no one ever talked about his family and my grandmother's family was heard about even less.
My mother and a neighbor decided to do the research to get into the DAR, the Daughters of the American Revolution. I think that Mrs. Porter got in. My mother said that she had all the work done, but my dad was not happy about spending money on that sort of thing. So, she put all her information away and turned to her painting and her music. All those names and dates gave me a headache, so I didn't pay attention. However she said that we do qualify, if we ever want to belong.
As I began my search for family history, after my mother died, I thought that all the research had been done and that everything we needed to know was in two books. One book on my mother's family is "Your Inheritance" Vol. II by Robbie Lee Gillis Ross. The one on my father's side is "A History of the Conitz/Keil Families" by Dione Smith. However, as I started trying to label old family pictures, I realized that I didn't know who many people were, and that there is a lot of information not included in those books.
The above picture is of Elizabeth P. Davis Miles, my great-grandfather's mother. This is an ambrotype on glass and is in a little case. My mother had this picture in a box, and, at one time, displayed it on a little round curio table in our living room. There is also a picture of her husband, Aquilla Miles, their son James DeGraffenreid Miles, and another man who I assume is another son. There were two more ambrotypes, but one is only glass now, with no photo, and the other only had two eyes left on it.
James DeGraffenreid Miles is my great-grandfather, the one who really did belong to the sword. Elizabeth is J.D.'s mother.
The relation to the Revolutionary War is that Elizabeth's father was Lewis Cookson "Old Club Axe" Davis of Autauga County, Alabama. Davis was a "fire and brimstone" Baptist preacher and, went into the Army during the Revolutionary War. He was not much more than a teenager when he went into service. He is listed as a private in the Virginia State Troops. He enlisted in the main army under General George Washington a few days after the Battle of Germantown and he was with the army in winter quarters at Valley Forge. He was also in the battle of Chesnut Hill, the battle of Monmouth, marched into New Jersey, and was at the storming of Soney Point. He served for three years, according to his pension application.
I don't have a picture of others in the Davis family, but I do have this one picture of Elizabeth. And, thanks to Cousin Larry, I have photos of the tombstones of Elizabeth, Aquilla, daughter, Josephine, the church and cemetery where they are buried.
With 16 children and two wives, there should be a lot of descendants of Lewis Cookson Davis. Hopefully someone out there has some pictures of them and their homes.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Davis and his second wife, Sarah Perkins. His first wife was Sarah Anderson.
There is quite a bit about Davis online and in old records. I thought that the story about his nickname, "Old Club Axe" was interesting. I've read this in several places, but this was posted by one of his descendants, Linda Davis.

"On a Sunday in an Alabama Baptist church, Rev. Davis was presented with a problem by his deacons. It appeared that someone was stealing livestock right out of their pens in the middle of the night. No one could catch the thief.
Rev. Davis listened carefully to the complaints and thought for a while to consider what should be done. He then stood up, walking slowly toward the pulpit to start his sermon.
"The Lord has given me the wisdom to find a thief," he said. With that statement, he lifted a huge axe above his head and started swinging it in a circle, over his head.
"Lord, I am going to let the axe go and I know that You will let it hit that thief", Lewis cried in a prayer.
At this point, the thief jumped up from his pew and ran toward the door. The deacons were waiting for the thief, thus the thief was caught without throwing the axe.
From that day on, Rev. Lewis Cookson Davis was called "Old Club Axe Davis".
While thinking about veterans, reading again about Lewis Cookson Davis, and looking at old photos yesterday, I thought that this poem by Linda Davis would be appropriate. I asked for and received her persmission to share it with you. This is a poem that she wrote for a D.A.R. competition. Thank you, Linda, for writing this and other poems that remind us of our heritage.

They Simply Fought
Linda Davis

Oh, how our history has written about the tea,
in far Boston Harbor wasted for you and me,
You know, there were others who fought?
Yes, Southern men with fredom's thoughts

Brave men who paid their dues...
No uniforms of red, white, and blue
Militia brown this patriot's attire
Simple farmers, no country squire

While plowing fields, heard the call
Freedom is waitin' for us all.
Kissed the wife, grabbed the gun.
Thoughts of freedom for everyone

They too had their place in history
To them, neither honor nor courage was mystery.
God fearing frontiersmen in every way
Carolinians, Virginians, Georgians had their say.

In blood and ink 'twas penned,
The greatest document that has been
A battle called the Hornet's Nest
Each gave it their very best.

Gwinett, Jefferson, Lee, Lyman Hall,
Walton, Middleton, Penn, and that's not all.
They put in words their freedom's thoughts,
But please remember, the heroes who fought.
I feel sure that we have more ancestors who were in the Revolutionary War. So far, however, I have found more about Lewis Cookson Davis. I haven't gone into researching the Miles, Day, Beckwith and other families who came to the United States in the early days of our country. We do know that there were Cherokee ancestors who were here to greet the others when they arrived.
We backed out of going to the dedication ceremony at the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial last evening. Rain was moving in and there were tornadoes spotted by radar to the south and east. I didn't want to get caught outside if it should start to rain as I wouldn't have had a car handy where I could seek shelter. This morning, the local paper reported that, due to the weather, the event was being moved to a pavillion at the park. I wish I had known that before the ceremony!
Oh, well. Uncle Eddie's name has been added to the Memorial and, one of these days, we will get over there and take pictures.
I really would have liked to have seen the Aggie band, the Ross Volunteers, and listen to Chet Edwards speak.
I'm sure it was nice for those who attended. I hoped that my grandson would have been able to see it. We don't have enough patriotism today in school. He did say that they had a short video at school to celebrate the special day. Not nearly enough, to my way of thinking.

Elizabeth P. Davis Miles (detail)

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