1863: Thomas Davis to Rev. Francis Gailey

What Thomas Davis might have looked like
How Thomas Davis might have looked

This letter was written by Thomas Davis (1818-1888) from Locust Grove, Franklin Township, Adams County, Ohio. He resided on the East Fork of Ohio Brush Creek. Though no date is given for the event, a history of Adams County says that “while Thomas Davis, who resided on Brush Creek just above the Fristoe bridge, was away from home, an Indian squaw stole John and Katy Davis, two of his small children, and carried them to the camp on East Fork.  The mother of the children gave the alarm, the squaw was followed to the camp, and the children were rescued.”

Davis wrote the letter to Rev. Francis Gailey (1805-1872) a clergyman of the Scotch Covenanter society from Ireland who resided in New York City at 115 Troy Street in 1859. A history of Adams County, Ohio says that Rev. Gaily, a “suspended licentiate” of the church, led away some of the people from the Reformed Presbyterian Society in Adams County in 1845. By 1850, Rev. Gailey had relocated to New York City and married a woman named Jane from Maryland 25 years his junior. After Rev. Gailey’s death, Jane appears to have moved to 804 W. Saratoga Street in Baltimore, Maryland.

Davis speaks of the conflict between Republicans and Democrats in his county arising from Vallandingham’s 13 January 1863 speech delivered in the House of Representatives entitled, “The Constitution-Peace-Reunion.” In the speech, Vallandingham openly criticized Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, saying “War for the Union was abandoned; war for the Negro openly begun.”

1863 Letter
1863 Letter

Addressed to Mr. Francis Gailey, Station C., New York City, New York

Locust Grove [Ohio]
February 2nd 1863

Dear Sir,

John received a letter from you about a week ago. You requested him to write and send you the pamphlets. He did so immediately after receiving yours, but made a mistake in the direction. He sent 7 pamphlets and a letter directed to No. 115 Troy Street, New York City. Also, he thinks he had written a letter some time ago to you with the same direction.

Our people are all well here so far as I know. I have not been over west lately, but I hear all are well.

God has preserved us in his kind Providence while the weapons of destruction have been all around us. But the hand of God lays heavy on some prominent opposers of the cause of Christ. The [Emancipation] Proclamation of the President has caused quite a stir in the west. Party spirit runs high again. I fear destruction will come yet further. Democrats generally oppose sternly the administration, the proclamation, &c. The republicans do all thy can to sustain them. Vallandingham peace speech before Congress is well received by Democrats and strongly opposed by Republicans.

The corn crop last year was very light in this neighborhood — the heaviest drought ever known here. The winter so far has been unpleasant but I think there will be enough grain by using economy to get through the winter.

William Ralston lives near me on Jacob Wickerham’s farm. ¹ Joseph R. & William Davis lives on John’s place. This makes our society large on East Fork. All attend generally, love & harmony prevails. So far there is a unity in sentiment — both civil & religious — which is not found outside our covenanted uniformity. I wish you to visit us with the gospel or more publick ordinances whenever you can without too much danger to yourself. Unless things change, it is more favorable here now than when you were out last.

Mr. B. Baker ² of Cincinnati has moved to New York. Jane Baker wrote a letter to Mary Ann Davis, ³ her sister, requesting you to call and see them. They live on [No. 77 W.] 38th Street, east of Broadway between Broadway and Sixth Avenue on the north side of street, three or four squares southwest from the reservoir. The firm is B. P. [Benjamin P.] & B. C. [Bowman Caspar] Baker & Co., No. 62 Front Street [110 Pearl Street in 1865]. They moved last fall as well as I remember to New York.

Yours truly, — Thomas Davis

¹ Jacob Wickerham (1794-1846) was the son of Peter and Mary Magdalene (Platter) Wickerham of Washington, Pennsylvania. Jacob was married to Eve Amen (1806-1844) in 1823 in Adams County, Ohio. Jacob grew up in the brick home built by his father in 1801 on property in Adams County, Ohio. The home was originally a tavern on Zane’s Trace. When Morgan’s Raiders passed through the county in 1863, they slept in this inn. It is located on State Route 41 between Peebles and Locust Grove, Ohio,

² Bowman Caspar Baker (1811-1893) was a grocer in Cincinnati in 1860. He was married to Jane Wickerham McCague (1817-1885) in 1838. We learn from this letter that Bowman gave up his business in Cincinnati and relocated to New York City during the winter of 1862/3.

³ Mary Ann McCague (1820-1896) was the daughter of James Kirker McCague (1794-1829) and Mary Wickerham (1799-1853). Mary Ann married James Davis (1818-1865).

One thought on “1863: Thomas Davis to Rev. Francis Gailey

  1. Hi, I’m trying to link up my family of Davis’ with Thomas or some of his kin. My great-grandfather was Robert Davis, son of (I believe) Joseph W. Davis. Do you know of a connection? Didn’t realize there were so many in the area. My Davis’ were also part of the Covenanter Church. In fact my Great- Grandmother was the daughter of R. J Sharpe, a minister sent down from Pittsburgh. If I’ve got the right family, would love to share the info I have gathered.

    D. Smith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s