MS065
JOSEPH J. DAVIS AND FAMILY PRIVATE PAPERS

1862-1894

 

Joseph Jonathan Davis (1828-1894) was a US Representative from the Fourth District (NC), (1875-1881); first president of the state (NC) bar association, (1885); North Carolina Supreme Court Justice (1887-1892); Confederate officer and prisoner of war; lawyer; and ranking leader of the Ku Klux Klan.  Davis was born in Franklin County on April 13, 1828 and was the tenth child of Jonathon Davis, a planter, and Mary Pomfret Butler.  Joseph studied at Louisburg Male Academy, Wake Forest College, the College of William and Mary and the University of North Carolina.  He read law under W.H. Battle and graduated with an LL. B. degree in 1850.  Davis was admitted to the bar in June 1850 and opened his practice in Oxford, NC.

 

Davis was initially opposed to secession but at the outbreak of he Civil War enlisted in the Confederate Army. He accepted a commission as captain in Company G, 47th North Carolinian infantry.  Davis served with the Army of Northern Virginia and was captured at Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863 in the Pickett-Pettigrew charge at Gettysburg.  Davis was interned at Fort Delaware and was later transferred to Johnson’s Island Ohio.  While interned at Johnson’s Island, Davis established a law school among the prisoners.  He was paroled at Johnson’s Island and transferred to City Point, Virginia for exchange on February 24, 1865.

 

After his exchange, Davis resumed this law practice in Louisburg along with his partner, Charles M. Cooke.  He began his career in politics as a Conservative.  In 1866 he was elected as a Democrat to the House of Commons from Franklin Country.  In 1870 and 1872 Davis canvassed for the Democratic Party, and in 1872 was a state elector-at-large for Horace Greeley.  It was at this time Davis was a high-ranking leader of the Ku Klux Klan.  During his tenure in the US House of Representatives, Davis was a southern spokesman against federal interference in election procedures and defended southern claims for war damages and extension of Mexican War pension benefits to ex-Confederate soldiers.  He retired from Congress in 1881.

 

After his stint in politics, Davis resumed his law practice in Louisburg.  In 1885 there was an attempt to organize a state bar association in North Carolina.  The Fledgling association elected him their first president.  Although the association was short-lived, Davis was not responsible for its demise.

 

Governor Alfred M. Scales appointed Davis to the North Carolina Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1887.  He was elected to the court Davis frequently held the tie-breaking vote between the liberal and conservative justices.  Important cases decided by Justice Davis were:  Cagel V. Parker, 97 (on easements);   McCanless V. Flinchum, 98 (on contributory negligence); Michael v. Foil, 100 (on establishing the definitive North Carolina rule regarding privileged communication between lawyer and client; Goodman v. Sapp, 102 (on failure of a witness to take the stand as subject of comment in trial procedure; and Wilmington and Weldon Railroad v. B.I. Allsbrook, 100 North Carolina 138, the landmark decision that upheld the state’s right to tax the railroad’s property even though an exemption had been granted before the Civil War.  His judicial opinions appear in volume 96-110 North Carolina Reports.

           
Davis served on the board of trustees of the University of North Carolina from 1874-1891.  He was on the committee with William A. Graham and Kemp P. Battle that recommended a plan of organization for the University when it reopened after the Civil War.  In 1883 he was chairman of the visiting committee and received an honorary LL. D. Degree in 1887.

           
Katherine Elizabeth Shaw (d. 1881) of Louisburg married Davis on October 21, 1852.  Five Children resulted from this marriage:  Mrs. Katherine McAden Davis Crenshaw, Robert Henry, Hugh Levin, Mrs. Mary Helen Davis Allen, and Lily Davis, who died while still a child.  Davis married a second time to Louisa Kittrell (d. 1899) of Oxford, NC in 1883.  Davis died in Louisburg on August 7, 1892 was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Louisburg, NC.

           
This Collection contains xerographic copies of letters and notes from Joseph Jonathan Davis to his wife Katherine Elizabeth Shaw; a letter and a Crenshaw, Davis’ daughter, and a Scriptual Accrostic [sic].  Many of the letters in this Collection from Davis to his wife are printed in T.H. Pearce’s, They Fought:  the Story of Franklin County Men in the Years 1861-1865.  Davis’ letters to his wife dealt with instructions to her in the management of things at home and to alleviate her fears. 

           
Arrangement of the Collection in chronological. 

 

It has been designated Accession Number 65 of the Manuscripts Collection, Special Collections Department, William Madison Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403-3297.

 

There are no access restrictions on this collection. 

Processed by Lana Donaldson Taylor
Special Collections Librarian
Manuscripts Collection
William Madison Randall Library
The University of North Carolina Wilmington
April 20, 1989 

 

JOSEPH JONATHAN DAVIS

(1828-1892) 

CHRONOLOGY

 

1828 April 13

Born in Franklin County NC to Jonathan Davis (1796-1842) and Mary Pomfret Butler

 

1850

Received the degree of bachelor of laws from the University of North Carolina

 

1850-1852

Practiced law in Oxford, NC

 

1852

Moved law practice to Louisburg, NC

 

1852 October 21

Married Katherine Elizabeth Shaw [d. 1881] of Louisburg, NC (Children by this union: Katherine McAden, Robert Henry, Hugh Levin, Mary Helen, and Lily)

 

1862 March 29

Commissioned Captain of Company G. 47th Regiment North Carolina Troops [Infantry]

 

1863 July 3

Wounded and captured at the Battle of Gettysburg

 

1863 July 12

Confined at Fort Delaware, Delaware

 

1863 July 18

Transferred to Johnson’s Island, Ohio; established a law school among prisoners

 

1865 February 24

Paroled at Johnson’s Island, Ohio established a law school among prisoners

 

1866

Resumed the practice of law in Louisburg in partnership with Charles M. Cooke

 

1866-1867

Elected as a Democrat to the House of Commons from Franklin County, NC

 

1870-1872

High-ranking leader in the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan

 

1872

State elector-at-large for Horace Greeley

1874

Served on the Democratic State Executive Committee

 

1874-1891

Served on the board of trustees of the University of North Carolina

 

1875-1881

4th District Congressman

 

1881

Katherine Elizabeth Shaw Davis Died

 

1883

Served with William A. Graham and Kemp P.  Battle on the committee that recommended a plan of reorganization of the University of North Carolina on its reopening after the Civil war

 

1883

Married Louisa Kittrell (d. 1899) of Oxford, NC

 

1885 January 25

Elected first president of the short-lived [NC] State Bar Association

 

1887

Awarded an honorary LL. D. from the University of North Carolina

 

1877 February

Appointed by Governor Alfred M. Scales to the North Carolina Supreme Court as an associate justice

 

1888-1892

Re-elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court

 

1892

Cast the deciding vote in Wilmington and Weldon Railroad V. B.I. Allsbrook (100 NC 138) upholding the state’s right to tax the railroad’s property.  Railroad v. Allsbrook was regarded as a landmark decision in the struggle for effective railroad regulation. 

 

1892 August 7

Died in Louisburg, NC

 


 

Bibliography

 

Blackwelder, Fannie Farmer.  “Organization and Early Years of The North Carolina Bar Association”.  The North Carolina Historical Review XXXIV (January 1957):  36-57.

 

Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century. . . . . Madison, Wisconsin:  Brant & Fuller, 1892, Vol. II, pp. 86-89.

 

Davis, Edward Hill.  Historical Sketches of Franklin County.  Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Co., 1948, pp.  150-155.

 

North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865; A Roster.  Vol. 7, pp. 484-485.

 

Pearce, T. H. They Fought:  The Story of Franklin County Men in the Years 1861-1865.  [Chicago]:  Adams Press, c[1969] pp. 92-102, 111-117, 143-147.

 

Steelman, Bennet L.  Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.  Chapel Hill and London:  The University of North Carolina Press, 1986.  Vol. 2 “Davis, Joseph Jonathan”.

 

Inventory

Manuscript/Box/File

Note:  Pearce refers to:  Pearce, T.H. They Fought:  The Story of Franklin County Men in the Years 1861-1865.  [Chicago]:  Adams Press, [c. 1969], pp. 95-102; 111-117; 143-147.

065/1/1

1862 October 12, Letter; Camp Vance near Petersburg, VA from Joseph J. Davis (JJD) to “My Own Sweet Dove”,  [wife], Katherine Elizabeth Shaw Davis (KSD); 4pp. (See Pearce pp. 95-96)

 

065/1/2
1862 October 22, Petersburg, VA; from JJD to KSD; 2pp. (See Pearce p. 97)

 

065/1/3
1862 October 25, Letter, Camp Vance, near Petersburg, VA; from JJD to KSD; 2pp. (See Pearce p. 97)

 

065/1/4
1862 October 28, Letter; Camp near Petersburg, VA; from JJD to KSD; includes enveloped Evangelical Tract Society, Petersburg, Virginia; 2pp.

 

065/1/5
1862 November 2, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 4pp.

 

065/1/6
1862 November 3, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 3pp. (Sea Pearce p. 98)

 

065/1/7
1862 November 5,  Letter; Bivouac in the Pines 2 miles from Weldon; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N. Carolina; 2pp. (See Pearce p. 99)

 

065/1/8

1862 November 6, Letter.; Weldon; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, North Carolina; Weldon postmark; paid 10; written on ledger paper; 1p (See Pearce p. 99)

 

065/1/9
1862 November 7, Letter.; Bivouac in the Pines 2 miles from Weldon; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, North Carolina; Weldon postmark; paid 10; written on ledger paper; 1p. (See Pearce p. 99)

 

065/1/10
1862 November 9, Letter; Camp near Weldon; from JJD to KSD; 1 p.  (See Pearce pp. 99-100)

 

065/1/11
1862 November 10, Letter; Tarboro; from JJD to KSD; 1p.

 

065/1/12
1862 November 13, Letter, Tarborrough [sic]; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N. Carolina 2pp. [2 items]

 

065/1/13
1862 November 15, Letter; Weldon; from JJD to KSD; 2pp.

 

065/1/14
1862 November 17, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 4pp. (Sea Pearce pp. 100-101)

 

065/1/15
1862 November 19, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 4pp.

 

065/1/16
1862 November 20, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N.C.; return address Evangelical Tract Society, Petersburg, Virginia; (Kindness of Mr. Barham); 2pp.

 

065/1/17
1862 November 23, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N. Carolina; 2pp. (See Pearce pp. 101-102).

 

065/1/18
1862 November 24, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 4pp.  (See Pearce p. 102) 

 

065/1/19
1862 November 25, Letter; Louisburg, N.C.; return address Evangelical Tract Society, Petersburg, Virginia; (Kindness of Mr. Barham); 2pp.

 

065/1/20
1862 November 28, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 4pp.

 

065/1/21
[ca. 1862 November 23-29], Note; from KSD to JJD; includes envelope addressed to Capt. Joseph J. Davis, Care of Col. S.H. Rogers, 47th Reg. N.C.T., Petersburg, VA; 4pp. (Some pages appear to have been removed from this file.)

 

065/1/22
1862 November 30, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; 3pp.

 

065/1/23
1862 December 2, Letter; Camp French; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N. Carolina; 1p. (See Pearce p. 102)

 

065/1/24
1862 December 17, Letter; Camp near Goldsboro; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, N. Carolina; 4pp. (See Pearce p. 111)

 

065/1/25
1862 December 18, Note; Near Goldsboro; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. J. J. Davis, Louisburg; Kindness of Dr. Gloss; written on 3 x 5 piece of ledger paper; 1p. (See Pearce pp. 111-112)

 

065/1/26
1862 December 19, Note; Near Goldsboro; from JJD to KSD; written on 3 X 5 piece of ledger paper; 1p. (See Pearce pp. 111-112)

 

065/1/27
1862 December 19, Letter; Near Goldsboro; from JJD to KSD; 2pp. 

 

065/1/28
1862 December 20, Letter; Near Goldsboro; from JJD to KSD; includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg N. Carolina; written on 3 X 5 ledger paper; 2pp.

 

065/1/29
1862 December 23, Letter; Franklin [VA]; from JJD to KSD; 4pp.  (See Pearce pp. 112-115) 

 

065/1/30
1862 December 23, Letter; Franklin [VA]; from JJD to KSD; 4pp. (See Pearce pp. 113-115)

 

065/1/31
1862 December 31, Letter; Camp 47th Reg. N.C. Troops. [Franklin, VA]; from JJD to KSD; 4pp. (See Pearce pp. 115-117)

 

065/1/32
1863 April 17, Note; from JJS to KSD; 1 p.

 

065/1/33
1863 June 21, Letter; 47th Reg. N.C.T.; from JJD to KSD includes envelope addressed to Mrs. Jos. J. Davis, Louisburg, North Carolina; 6pp. (See Pearce pp. 143-147)

 

065/1/34
1874 June 3, Letter; Raleigh; from JJD to KSD; 1 p.

 

065/1/35
1894 December 23, Letter; Bakersville, NC; from H.W. Rice to Mrs. Crenshaw {Katherine McAden Davis Crenshaw, daughter of JJD and KSD]; 4pp.

 

065/1/36

A Scriptual Accrostre [sic] on one of the best of officer

 

 

COPYRIGHT:  Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States  copyright law.