Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Simon Davis: Land Owner, Revolutionary War Veteran, Grandfather of Massachusetts Governor

Introductory Thoughts

     I have always been amazed at where this endeavor has taken me.  Sometimes, to a dead end; no pun intended.  This time, I am encouraged by what I've learned.  The pursuit of uncovering the story of Simon Davis, interred in our Grand Trunk Cemetery, has revealed information about his descendants and their contribution  to the history of Maine and New England. 

     This headstone was erected in the area of the cemetery where most of the Sawyer family members are buried.  This seems appropriate because Simon Davis came to the East Deering village to purchase the farm and land once owned by Anthony Sawyer and his heirs.  Unfortunately, Mr. Davis  lived but a short time after purchasing the property on December 31, 1804, he died at the age of 44 years on March 17, 1810.  

Simon Davis's headstone is damaged, but still retains some of its original beauty and the  inscription taken from the words of Isaac Watts' hymn is legible and reads:

     My flesh shall slumber in the ground,
     T'll the last trumpet's awful sound;
      Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
      And in my Savior's image rise.

     I am including, again, the document pertaining to the sale of Anthony Sawyer's property because it contains a great deal of information and names of the Sawyer children, their wives and husbands, and references as to where the land was located.  I have not tried to look into the original deeds, but leave this to others who may find it a worthwhile  challenge.

     Simon Davis was born on September 2, 1765 in Paxton in Worcester County, Massachusetts to Deacon David Davis and Abigil Brown Davis.  He was one of many children born to the couple.  He married Persis Temple Newton from the same area on February 25, 1789.  She was the daughter of Silas Newton and Deliverance Delia Howe.

     There seems to be some confusion regarding when Simon's wife died, however,information I was able to uncover regarding their children seems to hold the key.  Simon ( in some records; Simeon) and Persis Temple Newton Davis produced six children.  Early census records indicate they lived in Boylston,  Massachusetts until sometime after 1800.  Some records show Persis (Newell?) Davis having died around 1800, however, there is evidence that a daughter, Julia Temple Davis was born to the couple on February 17, 1807 in Falmouth, Maine.  Through Julia, I was able to find facts that have  led  to a more complete story about Simon Davis.

Here is a handwritten document containing the names of the children born before the move to Maine.

     It appears that Simon Davis's two daughters remained in Maine and later married.  Persis Newton Davis married Isaac Gross in New Gloucester, Maine on October 18, 1821.  Julia Temple Davis married Zadock Long and resided in Buckfield, Maine.  In 1902, Julia and Zadock's son, John Davis long applied for membership in the U.S. Sons of the American Revolution for his grandfather, Simon Davis.

This is difficult to read, but the first page contains the names of Grandparents and Great Grandparents.

You will note Persis's  last name of 'Seaver', indicating her second marriage.

     This is such a great find and we will see to it that an appropriate flag standard is added to Simon Davis's grave. 

     You will notice that it appears that Persis Davis remarried after Simon's death and bears the last name Seaver.  Records are confusing and incomplete, but none the less exciting to find out that Simon Davis was a young soldier of 18 years when he enlisted.  There is even a reference to his height of about 5 feet and his fair complexion.  Thank you Julia Temple Davis and John Davis Long for revealing these facts in the history of Simon Davis.

     I was happy to find a photograph from a family tree of Julia Temple Davis Long and a biography about her son, John Davis Long which I will share.
Daughter of Simon Davis and Persis Newton Davis

John Davis Long, Governor of Massachusetts, United  States Congressman and Presidential Cabinet Secretary, grandson of Simon Davis

     Simon Davis may have been a citizen of East Deering Village for only a short time, but it seems his legacy lived on in his children and grandchildren.  Simon Davis died on March 17, 1810.  I have not found out what became of the Sawyer farm and property he purchased.  Perhaps, some of our living Sawyer friends have some insight and will share that information.

     Finally, tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the end of the War of 1812.  We remember our Veterans interred at the Grand Trunk Cemetery for their service to our state, the city of Portland and our nation.