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Rev. Jonathan Davis Family Collection, 1832-1908

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Biographical Sketch

Jonathan Davis was the only son of Captain James and Mary Ederington Davis, born August 16, 1786. He became a Baptist preacher about 1835 and served Rock Creek, Little River and other Baptist churches in the Fairfield District. Davis was pivotal in finding and acquiring land for the Furman Theological Institute in the Fairfield District, and was elected president of the first Board of Trustees in 1835. He resigned in 1842 due to financial problems. Davis served as vice president of South Carolina Baptist Convention for 10 years.

Davis was a wealthy planter and owner of enslaved persons. He lost his estate in 1846 as a result of incurring debts while acting as security for his sons, Dr. James B. Davis and William K. Davis.

Davis married Rebecca Kincaid (1787–1870) on January 22, 1807 and they had eleven children, nine that survived to adulthood. Davis died October 5, 1855. Rebecca lived with her daughter, Mary G., after her marriage to James C. Furman in 1856. Rebecca died at Cherrydale on June 9, 1870.

  1. James Bolton Davis (1807-1859) was a physician, but abandoned his practice to pursue agriculture and raising stock. He married Mary Elizabeth Scott (1811-1868) in 1830. They moved from Fairfield to Richland County circa 1844 and lived at “The Mills” near Columbia, until he went to Turkey in 1846. He was appointed by President Polk to teach cotton cultivating and agriculture. Four enslaved men went with him, while his brother Nathan brought James’ wife and children after a year. They returned in 1849.
  2. William Kincaid Davis (1809-1871) studied law but did not practice. He was a planter near Monticello for many years, but moved to Charleston after losing his estate and became a merchant. He married Sarah Margaret Zimmerman (1815-1857) in 1833.
  3. Benjamin Franklin Davis (1812–1853) was called “Franklin.” He studied law with the Hon. William C. Preston in Columbia, entered Yale in 1832, and after his admission to the bar in 1834 began practice in that city. After the outbreak of the Seminole War (1835) in Florida, Davis went into service as a volunteer. He married Grace Weston Adams (1815-1898) circa 1840. He returned to Yale and studied medicine, graduating in 1841. Correspondence indicates Davis had a serious drinking problem. He moved to Yazoo County, Mississippi in 1852 and practiced medicine before he died on June 13, 1853.
  4. Harriett Eloise Davis (1814–1849) – married James C. Furman on April 3, 1833. They lived in Society Hill, Darlington County until Furman became Senior Professor of the Furman Institution and they moved to Winnsboro, S.C. They had six children between 1834 and 1849. Harriet died of consumption in 1849 and was buried in the family burial plot in Jenkinsville, Fairfield County.
  5. Jonathan Rutledge Davis (1816–1890) was called “Jona.” He graduated from S.C. College in 1837 where he studied law. He married Mary Ann Carter (1818 –1844) on February 22, 1844, but she died on October 15 that same year. Davis served as an officer in the Mexican War from 1845-1848 and was wounded twice. He went to California in 1849 to try his fortune in prospecting. On December 19, 1854, Davis survived an ambush where his two companions were killed. He managed to kill the gang of eleven men who attacked them. The story was published locally and then republished in newspapers throughout the U.S. A narrative poem was written about the incident in 1855, “Battle of Rocky Canyon. Davis lived for a time in Idaho (mid-1860s) working quartz claims. He moved back to California and died in San Joaquin County on October 16, 1890.
  6. Rebecca Ann Davis (5 May 1818 – 18 Aug 1838) attended Barhamville Academy (South Carolina Female Collegiate Institute), located outside of Columbia. Little else is known about her other than she died at the age of 20.
  7. Nathan Hervey Davis (1820 – 27 Oct 1901) graduated from S.C. College in 1838. He studied law at Harvard, leaving in 1842. He never married. He went to Turkey to serve as private secretary to his brother, James B. Davis, who was United States minister to Turkey. Davis went to California upon his return and practiced law. He was back in South Carolina in 1863 and volunteered to join the Army as private at age 43 and served on the staff of Gen. Hampton for a short time. By 1874 Davis was living in Greenville, S.C. and was Editor of the Enterprise and Mountaineer. He died in Greenville on October 27, 1901.
  8. Mary Glenn Davis (1824–1911) – second wife to James C. Furman (1809-1891). Mary took care of her parents before her marriage and was called Sis. She married June 4, 1856. They had four children between 1857 and 1867. They lived on the Cherrydale plantation where James C. Furman died on March 3, 1891. Mary continued to live there until in her last few years she went to live with her daughter in New York. Mary died there January 9, 1911.
  9. John Bunyan Davis (1826–1889) was called “Bunyon.” He attended West Point 1845-1849. He then studied medicine opening a medical practice in Fairfield District. He married Violet Lawson Patterson (1839–1857) September 24, 1856 in Gallatin, Tennessee, but she died July 10, 1857. In January 1861 with others of Fairfield District he organized and was appointed as Captain of a Company of the 1st S.C. Volunteer Infantry Regiment. When the Regiment's original term of service expired he returned to Fairfield and organized the "Monticello Guards," which was assigned as Company E of the 15th S.C. Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Davis was elected as the Captain of the Company and served from 1861 to 1863. Following the war he returned home to Fairfield County and resumed his medical practice. He married Esther “Hetty” Barnwell Fuller (1839-1881) in 1866. In 1879, Davis was appointed sheriff of Fairfield County. Davis died on November 26, 1899.