CAPTAIN ASA DAVIS  - WAR OF 1812 
Mexico, NY

By G-G-G-Granddaughter Esther Rancier.  Below is a list of sources for this biography.

       In the winter of 1800 an ox drawn sled arrived in Mexico, Oswego Co., NY bearing brothers, Phineas, Asa and Enoch Davis plus Asa’s wife, Polly (Herring) Davis.  Phineas had brought his bride, Sally Smith to Mexico in 1799.  In spite of her pregnancy, he had left her for an expected three-week trip to Hartford, CT, but five months had passed.  Her baby died on 3 December 1799 hours after its birth.  Sally’s husband had returned to a seriously unhappy wife living without adequate food, alone and ill.

      Phineas probably thought that the arrival of his family would elate Sally.  Maybe it did eventually.  Sally kept an excellent diary of Mexico’s earliest days.  Without this document much of the data about the town would be unknown. But Sally didn’t always record her personal thoughts or family matters.  While she wrote at length about the leadership of Phineas, his brother Asa received scant mention.  (Enoch returned soon to Rutland, MA, the family home.)
 Mexico’s Asa Davis was the oldest son and namesake of Asa and Mary (Smith) Davis of Rutland, MA.  Asa. Sr.’s father, Captain Peter Davis, born 25 September 1707,  was considered the richest, most powerful man in town with his large land holdings.  He fought in the French and Indian Wars earning the rank of Captain.  Peter was the son of Simon Davis, born 12 October 1661, of Concord, MA. 

      The Davis family began at Barnstable, MA as carpenters building the town.  Then they moved on to Concord to build some more.  Simon’s parents were Lt. Simon and Mary (Blood) Davis.  American born in Massachusetts about 1636, he earned his title fighting Indians with the militia. His father, Dolor Davis, born in England about 1600, came to America about 1634 with his wife, Margary Willard and several children on the Elizabeth. 

      Asa Davis, the g-g-g-grandson of Dolor, coming from two hundred years of pioneers, became himself a military leader of early Mexico and the father of a remarkable group of children whose stamp would influence life in Mexico for the next century.   His wife, Polly Herring, born 16 October 1773 at Dedham, MA, was the g-g-granddaughter of Thomas Herring, considered the first Danish immigrant to America.  Thomas, in America by 1654, came from Hirring, Alburg, Denmark.  Polly was possibly the first Mexico resident not entirely of English heritage aside from the Native Americans. Her father, Benjamin Herring, served on 19 April 1775 as a Minute Man in Col. Heath’s Regiment to stem the British troops. 

      Mexico teemed with wolves, bears, deer and other animals of varying degrees of dangerousness.  Men carried guns with them at all times.  The forest trees made a green overhead mat blotting out the blue sky.  In the gloom, vigilance prevailed.  The area was both beautifully untouched and a trap for the slow witted. Living in Mexico meant a stream filled with salmon while the soggy marshlike banks produced cholera epidemics.

      As the son of a Revolutionary War Minute Man from 19 April 1775 at Cambridge, MA, Asa volunteered for the militia on 11 April 1805 when a regiment was formed of men from Mexico, Camden and Redfield.  Jonathan Parkhurst was chosen Captain; Asa Davis, Lieutenant; and William Cole, Ensign. By the War of 1812 Asa had risen to Captain.  Parkhurst became a Colonel.    The group, known as Parkhurst’s Battalion, participated in the Battle of Sackett’s Harbor, Battle of Henderson Bay and several other encounters. Most of the Mexico group served after the Invasion of Oswego on 5 May 1814 until the end of the war. Some of these men were paid $8.00 per month for their service. 

      Asa’s lot 90 that he purchased in 1801 sat in an area which came to be called Lamb’s Corners.  David Lam settled on lot 91 and the area came to be called after him.  Many roads were later built through the place including Co. Rt. 58 which became the property’s official address. 

      Asa’s son William Augustus Davis, born 20 January 1806, built a new house for himself in 1830 on lot 90.  This house remained in the family until the turn of the century when Fred Frey died in 1999.  When the house was cleared out prior to sale, an old loom was found.  This loom was donated to the Half-Shire Historical Society of Richland where it was placed on display at the Richland School Facility.  The loom was also   shown at the 2000 Oswego County Fair. 
 In May 1811 some people including Polly, Sally and Mary Davis joined together to form a church called, “The First Congregational Society of Mexico.”  In spite of its name this church operated under Presbyterian forms.  In 1818 they changed the name to “Church in the Presbytery.”   By 1828 the congregation had split into two parts and there were built churches in Prattville and Mexicoville.  The entire Davis family attended the Prattville or Pratham Church. 
 Asa and Polly had 7 children, all born in Mexico, except the oldest, Lucy and Mary.  The other offspring were (in birth order):  Betsey, Polly C., William A., Joseph Henry, and Benjamin Dean.  Church going and farming filled the lives of the Davises.  Their Puritan roots left no room for idleness. They lived harshly by God’s law.  There were no grey areas.  Life was black or white based on Biblical teachings. No one was allowed to complain.  They were taught to be grateful for what they had. 

      On 13 January 1820 “Wm. Augustus, Joseph Henry, & Benjamin Dean, children of Asa Davis” were baptized according to the church records.  Mary Davis was baptized on 22 April 1821.  William A. was made an elder in 1834 after he passed some required testing before the congregation.  He served this church leadership role until his death.
 Asa, born 30 May 1772 in Rutland, Worcester Co., MA, died at Mexico 17 February 1851, age 82.  He was laid to rest in the Primitive Cemetery with his wife, Polly who died 8 August 1855, age 82. 

      Daughter Lucy Davis, born Rutland 18 July 1796, married George Sampson, born in Massachusetts 18 February 1804, a Mayflower descendant of Pilgrim Henry Sampson (Lewis5 John4 John3 Stephen2 Henry1).  George, a farmer and schoolteacher, attended the Pratham Church.  Their children were Asa Lewis Sampson and William Augustus Sampson who died 28 January 1859.  Lucy died 1 May 1859, age 61.  George died 6 November 1889.  Husband and wife were placed in graves at the Primitive Cemetery.  Their son, Asa Lewis, born 13 December 1828, married Elvira M. Porter in 1852.  They had 8 children of whom 2 died before 1903.  Orville A. resided in Troy, PA; while Mrs. Martha L. Wilson lived in Shortsville, NJ.  The others, Ernest S., William A., George H., and Charles E., all lived in the Mexico in 1903.  William A. Sampson became the second husband of his cousin, Ann Eliza (Davis) Spoor.   Asa L. died 10 January 1903.   In the “Grip’s” book there was a picture of Asa L. on p. 62 plus pictures of 3 of his sons on p. 62-63.  By 1936 Ernest lived in North Syracuse, NY.

      Polly C. Davis, born 18 October 1803, wed John Morton whose father built and owned the Eagle Tavern.  In the spring of 1834, 11 years after their marriage, the couple sold their farm in Mexico on lot #88 to Jeffery Greene from Rhode Island and went by wagon to Syracuse, the Erie Canal to Buffalo, steamship to Detroit and wagon to Cambridge, Lewanee Co., MI.  In the 1850 census for Cambridge, MI John was age 44.  Their son, George was age 8.  This child died young.  John Morton died 16 November 1892 thirteen days short of his 90th year in Adrian Township, MI.  He operated a sawmill at Cambridge from 1834 to 1876 when he moved to Adrian.  He was laid to rest in Oakwood Cemetery. After his death Polly Morton returned to Mexico and lived with her nephew, Asa Lewis Sampson, son of her sister, Lucy. Polly died in 1897, age 94.

      William Augustus Davis married Lucy Sampson, a Mayflower descendant, daughter of Lewis and Mary (Weston) Sampson.  This couple had 4 children:  Charles Herring Davis, born 20 November 1831; Althea R., born 28 March 1835; Ann Elizabeth, born 9 June 1845 and George W. Davis, born 27 August 1848.  In the 1850 census this family lived with Lucy’s mother, Mary (Polly) (Weston) (Sampson) Blount, age 80 and her second husband, Jared Blount, age 81.  Mary Blount was buried in the Primitive Cemetery along with her grandchildren: George W. Davis who died young 16 January 1866 and Althea R. who died 1 February 1859, age 24. 
William A. Davis died 19 May 1871at age 65 from neuralgia of the stomach.  The funeral was held in the Presbyterian Church followed by burial in the Primitive Cemetery. Rev. A. Parke Burgess, pastor of the Pratham Church, wrote that William A. was “a man of marked and uncompromising piety.”  The Rev. L. N. Stratton said that William  “compared every enunciation of theological belief and, out-growth of practice, with the Bible standard.”  Burgess further added, “He was a godly man.”  In William’s obituary from the Mexico Independent newspaper, “Mr. Davis was a man of more than ordinary strength of mind.  His principle book of study was the Bible, although in current religious literature he was well read….  Let his unusual generosity, regulated on Bible principles, his gifts to charitable purposes, his large payment, for a man of his means… and his love for his wife and children speak for themselves….” 

      Joseph Henry Davis, born 19 August 1811, married Catherine Rider, born 1817.  Joseph bought the Eagle Tavern in 1834 from John Morton, Sr. operating it until 1839.  In many records Joseph H. was called Henry.  In the 1860 census his children were Mary J., age 20 and Amos R., age 17.  Amos at 36 in 1880 census was still unmarried.  Joseph H. died 3 March 1882, age 71.  He just fell over on the hay mower while alone. His wife who usually was called Katie died in 11 March 1906, age 90.  In her newspaper obituary her daughter was reported as living in the west.  Amos survived his mother, but he was later buried in the Primitive Cemetery near his mother.  Both lie in unmarked graves.  This Amos may have been the last direct descendant of Asa’s bearing the Davis name in Mexico. 

      Benjamin Dean Davis, named for his maternal grandfather Benjamin and his wife, Miriam Dean, was born 19 April 1815.  He married Orinda Buell, a woman who apparently hated her name for she didn’t always use it, making it unclear what her official name was. She was a great weaver and owned her own loom. Plus she smoked a clay pipe in the outhouse. The clay pipe is still owned by the family.  In 1846 B. D. was elected a trustee of the Pratham Church.  In the 1850 census this couple had two children: Asa D., age 6, and Emma C., age 8 months.  By the 1880 census Ella J., age 25 had been added.  The 1850 and 1880 censuses both referred to Orinda as Rachel L. In 1860 she was listed as Marinda [sic].  Her nephew, Charles H. Davis, who kept family records for posterity, gave her name as Miranda [sic]. Many family documents call the couple Uncle Dean and Aunt Orinda.  Her shared tombstone in the Primitive Cemetery said, “Orinda 1819-1894” and “B. Dean Davis, 1814-1906.”  They were buried close by a stone for “Emma Charlotte, Oct. 30, 1851.” There remains a photograph of the house taken in 1888 showing Orinda, B.D. and Ella standing alongside. The original picture still hangs in the living room.  Daughter Ella wed Albert Dean Field.  This couple took up residence in the house of her parents.  Ella learned to weave alongside her mother.  She continued using the loom after her mother’s death.  Ella died before 1908 when Albert married Julia I., age 58. With Ella’s demise there was likely no further use of the loom in the upstairs bedroom.  Asa D., only son of B.D., died from disease at Key West during the Civil War on 31 August 1864.  In August 1862 he enlisted in the 110th NY Infantry, an Oswego County unit which only lost 14 men in battle, but 192 died from disease. For years it was believed he fell in battle at New Orleans, but the official records say otherwise. In 1872 Rachel O. Davis applied and received a Civil War Pension  #275,689.  After her death in 1894 Benjamin D. Davis also received a pension #430,736.  When he died 29 March 1906 his obituary said he was “an earnest and genuine Christian, and ever sought to walk upright before God and man…. Three years ago he had a shock and since that time had been confined to bed and tenderly cared for by his daughter, Mrs. Field.”
Most of the Asa and Polly Davis descendants in the 21st century came from William Augustus’s family.  His daughter, Ann Elizabeth (Eliza) married George Spoor, son of Lucy Spoor on 22 April 1863.  This couple had 2 daughters, Grace A., born 27 April 1872, who never married and Jessie M., born 7 September 1878.  Jessie married Clarence Rose of Mexico 19 April 1899.  Grace became the genealogist of the family.  Using records kept by her uncle, Charles Herring Davis, she joined the now defunct Asa Davis Society of Rutland, MA and established ties with Asa and Mary (Smith) Davis’ other descendants.  Grace also joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, Silas Town Chapter on 25 March 1925 when Emma Penny Shutts was Regent, using Asa as her patriot ancestor. Before her death she left family records with her Greene cousins. 

     George Spoor died 16 August 1878.  Ann Eliza remarried on 9 June 1879 to her cousin, William A. Sampson, born Mexico 31 March 1859. “Uncle Will” was a great favorite in the family.  He served as President, 1920-25 of the Village of Mexico.  His wife brought her mother, Lucy (Sampson) Davis into their home in her final years.  After the death of Ann Eliza in 1908 he continued to make a home for his stepdaughter Grace on Lincoln St.   He died in November 1936.  George Spoor and Ann Eliza were buried together in the Mexico Village Cemetery.
Jessie Spoor and Clarence Rose had 3 children who lived into the 1980’s.  The oldest Dorothy Althea (4 October 1899-4 November 1983) married Howard Frey (8 October 1901-2 February 1979), son of Jacob Frey whose father had migrated from Germany.  Howard bought the “Davis” farm from Julia Field just before his 8 September 1926 marriage to Dorothy.  They continued operating it as a diary farm.  Dorothy Frey did make some use of the loom to make rugs which still are in use. They had one son, Frederick Allen Frey (6 May 1928-3 January 1999). He never married.  After the death of his mother he never cleaned the house.  Relatives considered him “eccentric,” but never any problem.  He wasn’t wise about money.  He gave to every charity that sent him a letter the exact amount that they requested.  As his health began to worry him straining his finances, he visualized himself placed in long term nursing care with the farm taken for payment.  He tried to get living relatives to buy the place.  None could afford it.  Finally he offered the house as a gift to the widow of his cousin, Donald Rose, to protect it from seizure providing he could live there rent free and tax free until his death. 

     Upon his 1999 death there was a huge cleaning job.  The contents were sold or given away.  The Oswego County Historical Society came with a camcorder to take pictures.  Everything remained in the house since it was built. Many furniture items were taken to the Richland School’s domestic arts exhibit.  One correspondent wrote regarding the exhibit, “We have seen Dorothy’s living room suit & a lot of her old cooking pots & pans & her old oil stove.  It sure brings back a lot of memories.”  The farm was sold to a retired Navy man who fell in love with the peg construction of the house and barn and who will preserve it. Many furniture items were kept by the Rose children who treasure the family history they represent. 

     The Rose’s son, Percy (27 August 1901- 6 February 1983) married Beulah Rude who resides in St. Cloud, FL.  Percy ran a large and successful Mexico dairy farm.  Two children were born.  Donald R. (25 April 1935-4 December 1990) married Louise (Sherman) (Armstrong) from New Haven, NY on 19 September 1959. They had 4 children: Carol Ann, Ronald Robert, Allen Donald plus an adopted child, Peggy, all of whom are living.  It was a brother in-law of Peggy’s that bought the 1830 house.  Donald’s sister, Dawn Marie was born in Syracuse, marrying 8 October 1966 Clifford Lewis La Flamm.  The La Flamm’s have 2 children who are living.

     Gertrude May Rose (24 January 1904- May 1989), the youngest daughter, married on 19 November 1939 Ishmael Victor Dorsey (29 February 1904-March 1984). Gertrude and Ish continued the running of his family’s diary farm.  They remained childless. 

      Another daughter of William Augustus Davis was Ann Eliza’s sister, Althea R. who died at age 24, but she had married Charles D. Porter on 24 June 1854.  They had 2 children, Frances A. Porter, born 15 December 1856 and Martha H. Porter, born 23 March 1855 who died before 1860.  Frances A. married C. H. Churchill.  They had Marvin, Gertrude and Owen Churchill.
 William Augustus Davis’ son, Charles Herring wed 5 October 1857 Elvira Van Dressen Belding, daughter of Job Kelsey and Rebecca (Ferris) Belding. This couple had 3 daughters: Lenora Althea, born 18 June 1860; May Theresa, born 14 March 1863; and Lucy Rebecca, born 13 October 1865.  Lucy, always called Lula, married twice: (1) Alfred G. Burlingham and (2) John Litzendorf.  Both men were well off leaving her a young childless widow of means. Her estate in 1934 left items from the 19th century Mexico to her heirs.  Her sister, Lenora, always called Nora, married twice: (1) M. F. Sayles and (2) Perry Weeden Lyons who died in 1918 at their home in Butterfly.  “Uncle Weed” as Percy was designated and “Aunt No” played essential roles in the lives of their Greene nieces after the death of their mother.  Her nieces became her children.  At the end of her life she suffered from Alzheimer disease. She died 25 March 1931 at her home on Lincoln St., Mexico. 

      Charles H.’s middle daughter, May married on 7 February 1883 Theodore Ray Greene from an old Mexico family.  They lived in the Eddy District on the original Jeffery Greene farm until 1911 when they moved into Mexico on Cemetery St. and finally had gaslights and lace curtains.  May died 6 April 1914 from Bright’s disease.  She had been the mother of 3 sons and 2 daughters.  May, her son, Glenn (1897-1901) and her daughter, Helen May (Greene) Rancier (1901-1981) lie in a row together in the Mexico Village Cemetery. 

      Charles H. died 2 November 1908 at the home of his daughter, Lula Burlingham. His wife, Elvira had died 7 September 1886, age 51.  She had been active in the Presbyterian Church all her life. In 1888 Charles H. married again to Lydia Hollister who died in 1905. He was buried with Elvira in the Mexico Village Cemetery. There are dozens of Asa’s living descendants via May (Davis) Greene.  None remain in Mexico.  They live in California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and various other places. Some have participated with the U.S. military.  Others work at NASA facilities at Cape Canaveral.  They have attended universities achieving academic careers.  The religious side continues with laypersons and a pastor now active in the pulpit. Their interests span from the traditional farming, housekeeping, construction and nursing to computer programming and database administration. 
 

Sources: 
 Benjamin Dean Davis obituary, January 1906, Mexico Independent.
 Burgess, A, Parke.  The Old Pratham Church.  Syracuse: 1877.
 Charles Davis obituary, November 1908, Mexico Independent.
 Churchill, John.  Landmarks of Oswego County, New York.  Syracuse: Mason, 1895.
 Civil War Pension Index.  Available [online] http://www.ancestry.com [20 October 2002]
 Correspondence from Mrs. Louise Meyers, Mexico, NY. 
 First Presbyterian Church (Mexico, NY).  Church Records, 1810-1870. (LDS microfilm #0503587).
 Foley, Janet Welthy.  Early Settlers of New York State, v.2.  Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1993.
 “Grip’s” Historical Souvenir of Mexico, New York.  Syracuse: 1903.
 Half-Shire Historical Society Y2K Calendar.  2000.
 Hill, Don Gleason.  The Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths … in the Town of Dedham, v. 1 & 2.  Dedham: 1886.
 “Inscriptions from Mexico Village Cemetery,” Tree Talks, v.33, no. 1 (March 1993), p. 63; v.33, no.2 (June 1993), p. 123.
 John Morton obituary, November 1892, Mexico Independent.
 Johnson, Crisfield.  History of Oswego County, New York. Philadelphia: Evarts, 1877.
 Marriage notice for Frey-Rose wedding, Mexico Independent.
 Mrs. Chas. H. Davis obituary, September 1886, Mexico Independent.
 Mrs. Katie Davis obituary, dated 19 March 1906, Mexico Independent.
 Mrs. Lucy Davis obituary, dated 13 April 1904, Mexico Independent.
 Mrs. Theodore R. Greene obituary, April 1914, Mexico Independent.
 Notes of Charles Herring Davis, Mexico, NY.
 Papers of Grace Spoor, Mexico, NY.
 Reed, Jonas.  A History of Rutland. Worcester: Mirick & Bartlett, 1836.
 Simpson, Elizabeth A.  Mexico: Mother of Towns. Buffalo: Clement, 1949.
 Social Security Death Index.  Available [online] http://ssdi.genealogy [10 October 2002]
 U.S. Census for Lewanee County, MI, 1850. 
 U.S. Census for Oswego County, NY, 1850, 1860, 1880, 1910 & 1920. 
 Vital Records of Rutland, Massachusetts. Worcester: Rice, 1905. 
 William Augustus Davis obituary, May 1871, Mexico Independent.
 W.A. Sampson obituary, November 1936, Mexico Independent.
 Wilder, Patrick A.  The Battle of Sackett’s Harbor.  Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Pub. Co., 1994.
 


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