Absolem and Josina Nichols Davis moved from White Co., TN to Marion Co., TN between 1825 and 1834. In about 1848 or ’49 they settled on Lot 65, Dist. 10, Sec 4 in the north part of Dade County. It was a remote area then (even though Interstate 59 intersects the land now). Absolem was the son of the Methodist minister, James Davis, of White Co. and his wife, Priscilla Panter. Josina was the daughter of David and Mary Ann Nichols of Marion Co. When the family moved to Dade it consisted of: Absolem, Josina (Sina), their three unmarried daughters: Mary Ann (named for her maternal grandmother), Priscilla (named for her paternal grandmother) and Catherine (named for a maternal aunt) and their four teenage sons: John (named for paternal grandfather), David Absolem (named for maternal grandfather and father), William, and Ephraim (named for a paternal uncle). Also moving with them were their newly married daughter, Aley and her husband, Edward Page (son of John Page of Marion County) and their baby son, John Absolem Page.
Much happened to the family between 1850 and 1860 as it carved a home in the Dade wilderness, clearing the land, building a house, and planting an orchard; Mary Ann, the eldest daughter died, we don’t know why. Priscilla married a Mr. Hale and then became a widow. She and her baby daughter, Eliza Caroline, lived with the Davis family. John married his cousin, Caroline Nichols, and moved with her family to Franklin Co., Arkansas. He never returned and Josina only saw him once in 1872. David moved to DeKalb Co., AL and married Mary Ann Prince, daughter of Greenberry and Susannah Dykes Prince. In 1858 Dave sold his farm. He, his wife, and two sons moved back to Dade County. William married Frances Hilburn and had one daughter, Sarah Samantha. After many minor scrapes with the local sheriff, Ephraim married Celia and settled down, working on railroad construction and living next door to his parents. Surrounded by three daughters, three sons, and nine grandchildren the Davis’s must have been a happy home.
The Civil War devastated the Davis family. Like many southern mountain people they owned no slaves and never expected to own one. In fact, in that remote area with a paucity of slavery it is unlikely there had been much, if any contact, between the family and the blacks. And they, like many of the other southern mountain people had little enthusiasm for secession. Nevertheless, when the call from Governor Joseph E. Brown came for volunteers to defend Georgia against possible Yankee invaders, the three Davis brothers joined Co. F of the 34th Georgia Infantry like many of their neighbors. William had earlier been in the Georgia State Guards 10thCoK and was mustered into the 34th with his brothers. John, the brother in Arkansas, joined the 15th NW Arkansas Regiment.
John served under General Sterling Price in the Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas campaigns and was so loyal to the General that he named his only son after him.
David, William, and Ephraim were captured with the rest of the company at the fall of Vicksburg on July 4th of 1863 and were paroled with the stipulation they would not take up arms again. Like most of the other southern boys paroled, that was an empty promise. David was captured again on Sept. 9 1863 near Chattanooga, and was forwarded to the infamous Yankee prison at Rock Island, near Chicago, IL. In November of 1864, David, along with 1600 other southern prisoners, became “Galvanized Yankees” and joined the US 6th Vol. to go west and fight the Indians. The agreement was that they would never be sent to fight against their brothers in the south nor be forced to fight on southern soil. He served during the bloodiest years of the western Indian fights in Wyoming and Kansas and was discharged Nov 1865. Ironically, it was later than if he had remained in prison. David walked from his discharge point at Ft. Leavenworth, KN to his home in Dade County.
Wm. was captured between Dalton and Resaca, GA on May 15, 1864 and was sent to Camp Morton, IN. where he was paroled May 20, 1865 after he took the loyalty oath to the United States.
Ephraim was re-captured on either Sept. 19 or 28, at either Chattanooga or Chickamauga, the records are ambiguous. He was sent to Camp Douglas, IN where he died of small pox on Oct. 7 1863.
Absolem died before July 7, 1866, when his will was probated. He left his farm and a reasonable estate for that time.
In 1866, R.H. Tatum, administrator of Absolem’s estate, paid taxes on $1109. This was for Lot 65 valued at $500, $350 in debts and money, $259 in other property. There was much maneuvering in the courts regarding his farm with the Davis heirs suing Tatum. Finally the daughters, Priscilla and Catherine, prevailed and won the farm that was rightfully theirs.
David died May 24 1867 from the tuberculosis he had contracted while in the Yankee prison. Catherine died Feb 2, 1870. William died before 1870 and left three orphans living in DeKalb Co., AL. By 1870, Josina’s once large family had dwindled to two daughters in the area: Aley and Priscilla. In 1874, at the urging of her son John in Arkansas, who was rearing David’s two sons, John Greenberry and Wm. Alien, she took, Martha Matilda Catherine, David’s daughter, to live in Arkansas. This must have been a traumatic train ride for a woman of about 74 years who could neither read nor write nor who had ever been more than a few miles from home. This was the last time she saw her son John or the three grandchildren. In 1880, she was living with Edward and Aley Page. Edward was her guardian and paid taxes for her on the remaining land she owned through the year 1886. Since he paid the taxes on the same land in 1887 in his own name we assumed that she had died that year.
The Davis family was traditionally Methodist. The only marked graves for this Davis family are, Aley and Edward Page’s at Brown’s Gap and for John in Francis, Oklahoma and for Ephraim in a Union Cemetery near what was Camp Morton, Indiana. Priscilla Hale may be in an unmarked grave at Wildwood Cemetery near her grandson, Jesse Gober.
There are descendants of Edward and Aley Page among the Page, Cameron, Whetzel, and Tinker families still in the Dade area. Descendants of David Davis still living in the area are the Avans families. Caroline Elizabeth Vance daughter of Paul R. L. Vance great grandson of David Absolem Davis and daughter of Kathry Mae Whitley Vance great great granddaughter of Aley Davis Page.