21 May 2009

No Man Valued Friendship More Than Capt. Billy Davis

William A. Davis (4 April 1847 - 19 January 1907) was buried in the Hawthorne Ridge section of Rose Hill Cemetery. Here is an obituary and a sketch of his life:

Macon Weekly Telegraph
20 January 1907
Prominent as Mason, Citizen and Business Man for Many Years
Funeral Services to Be Held Monday
Capt. W. A. Davis died early yesterday morning at his residence on Orange street.

This brief announcement tells of the death of one of the best beloved and foremost men of Macon. Known to everybody, a familiar figure on the street, always courteous, always with a cheery word, as readily approached by the humblest as by the richest, and a friend to all, there was a pathos in the voice that passed the word from one to another yesterday that Captain Billy Davis was dead.

It was known that he had been sick for ten days or more because one so familiar and well known would be missed, but the inquiries after his health elicited no answers that conveyed any intimation that his sickness was of a serious nature. Thus the news yesterday came as a shock to the people, and to those who were close to him it brought a moisture to the eye.

It now develops that a cold contracted last summer laid the foundation for the illness that resulted fatally. The sickness following the cold left him weak, but in spite of this he plunged into his business with the same vim and determination he had always used. The strain was too great. The strength of the younger man had been diminished, and he succumbed.

It was not until after midnight did the family feel alarmed. It was then that the physician saw the end was near, and all that skill or tender nursing could do was of no avail.

Capt. Davis was a native of Bibb County. He was born on a farm eight miles from the city, near Strong creek, April 4, 1846, where his boyhood was spent. He attended school in Jeffersonville, but in 1863, at the age of sixteen years, he felt as if his services were needed by the Confederacy and at that early age he enlisted, becoming a member of Company B of the Second Georgia Cavalry. Later he was promoted to a sergeantcy and held that position until the surrender. His comrades in arms speak of him as being a model soldier.

Anxious for an education, he took up his studies at Allentown, in Twiggs County, under one of the old time educators, James E. Crossland. Later he returned to the farm to take charge of his father's affairs.

It was about this time that he first entered politics. Elected to represent Twiggs County in the General Assembly, he served with distinction on several important committees, and, as in after years, he was always looking after the interest of the public. To his efforts, perhaps more than to those of any other man, is due the location of the agricultural college at Dahlonega.

Later on, on becoming a citizen of Macon, Capt. Davis represented Bibb County in the Legislature. He was a member of the last House, and his work there was that of an able and fearless representative.

For six years he served as an Alderman for the city, four years of which he held the position of Mayor pro tem. While in Council he was alive to the city's progress and interests, and the records show that his services were valuable, and that by voice and deed he did his part in the upbuilding of the city of his adoption. For many years he was a road commissioner of the county.

It was in 1880 that he settled in Macon. Some few years later he engaged in the cotton business, first with M. C. Balkcom, and later in the firm known so long throughout this section as W. A. Davis & Co. In addition Mr. Davis had held many positions among the commercial institutions of the city.

The great pleasure of Capt. Davis was his fraternal connections. In Masonry he was a shining light. He had filled the chairs from worshipful master to grand master, and in the chapter, being a past priest of Constantine Chapter of Royal Arch Masons; past eminent commander of St. Omer Commandery, Knights Templar, and grand senior warden of the grand lodge.

He was also a member and past officer in the Odd Fellows, the Elks and the Eagles.

To him is due as much as to any other Mason, the location of the Masonic Home at Macon. To him is due in a large measure the establishment of the Georgia Industrial Home.

Of his fraternal affiliations, one of his friends says:
"No man valued friendship more than Capt. Davis. He loved the fraternal ties that bound men together in one great brotherhood, and if the obligations that men take in fraternal organizations would permit, it would be known to what extent that his voice has been heard time and time again in the earnest advocacy of brotherly love, peace among men and charity for all. In his daily life, even when absorbed by business cares and worries, no man in distress ever applied to him in vain, to my knowledge. Scarcely a day passed that he was not seeking to find employment or in some way relieving the distress of the unfortunate."

It was in 1868 that Capt. Davis married Miss Mary R. Summers. Of this union there were four children, Hattie, Edwin, Mabel and Gussie, the last named died several years ago.

The father of Capt. Davis was Elisha Davis, or sturdy stock, who had in his day served his people in the General Assembly. He died in 1866 on his farm near Macon, at the age of sixty-one.

The funeral services will be held at his late residence, 369 Orange street, Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock, conducted by Rev. T. W. Callaway, of the First Baptist Church.

The interment will take place in Rose Hill Cemetery. The following have been selected as pallbearers: Col. C. M. Wiley, R. H. Smith, C. E. Damour, Judge Robert Hodges, George A. Dure, W. H. Snowden, E. T. Holmes, R. J. Anderson.

About 12 years before his death, a biographical sketch of William's life to that point was published by the Southern Historical Association.

From Memoirs of Georgia, Volume II (1895).
Transcribed by S. Lincecum about 2006.
William A. Davis, one of the most prominent business men in Bibb county, was born on a farm eight miles east of Macon, Ga, April 4, 1847, living there until he was thirty years of age. He studied at Jeffersonville, Twiggs Co., Ga, in the years 1861-2-3. In 1863, though but sixteen years old, he entered the Confederate service, enlisting in Company B, Second Georgia battalion of cavalry, as a private, and later was made orderly sergeant, serving as such until the surrender. He fought in the battles of Chickamauga and Griswoldville, participated in many skirmishes, and left the service with an enviable record. After the cessation of hostilities he resumed his studies at the academy of Allentown, Twiggs Co., of which James E. Croslin, an educator of reputation, was principal, and then returned to his home in Bibb county, being called there by the death of his father. He managed the homestead from 1866 to 1877, during which period he was elected to represent Twiggs county on the general assembly, and during the session served with distinction on the committees on agriculture, public institutions and other matters before the legislature. A majority of his fellow-members not favoring the permanent institution of the college at Dahlonega, a bill to that end was defeated, but Mr. Davis secured a reconsideration and succeeded to having the bill passed, to which fact the agricultural college at that point now owes its existence, and for which service he received unstinted praise. Entering municipal as well as state politics Mr. Davis has been elected alderman from three different wards of the city of Macon -- serving six years in all in the city council -- and for four years of that time he acted as mayor pro tem. He has also been road commissioner from his district for several years. In 1880 he came to Macon and five years later, in company with M. C. Balcomb, engaged in the business of handling cotton, the style of the firm being Davis & Balcomb. The firm existed until 1890, when it was re-arranged under the title of W. A. Davis & Co., and now continues as such. For years Mr. Davis was a director of the Merchants' National bank of Macon, which went into voluntary liquidation in 1893. He is now vice-president and director of the Guarantee company of Macon, and has interests in various other business enterprises. He is a thirty-second degree Mason and a Mystic Shriner. He has held all the principal offices in the subordinate lodges, to-wit, past master of Macon lodge, No. 5, F. & A. M.; past high priest of Constantine chapter, Royal Arch Masons; past eminent commander of the St. Omar commandery, Knights Templars, and he is at this time grand senior warden of the grand lodge of the state. He is also a member of the I. O. O. F. and the Encampment, having held all the chairs and being at present district deputy grand master. He is past noble grand of the United Brother's lodge, I. O. O. F., and past chief patriarch of the Encampment. He is, as well, a Knight of Pythias. He affiliates with Baptist church, and, while living on his farm, was for many years a deacon of the local church. In 1868 Mr. Davis married Mary R., daughter of J. W. and Susan (Barlow) Summers; they have four children, Hattie B., Edwin, Mabel C. and Gussie M. Edwin is a graduate of Mercer university, Macon. Mr. Davis' father was Elisha Davis, a native of Burke county, Ga, who was several times elected to the general assembly. He was a jurist and served on the bench of the inferior court of Bibb county for many years. He died in 1866 at the age of sixty-one. Two of his sons, in addition to William A., served in the late war. John N. was in the Bibb county cavalry and with the western army almost all the time that army was in the field. Gilbert M. enlisted in Hampton's brigade as a private, saw service during the entire war period, and was mustered out when in command of his company. Elisha Davis' father was John Davis, a Virginian by birth and the son of John Davis, a Welshman, who emigrated from Wales to Virginia and was killed in the revolution at the battle of Brandywine. William A. Davis has won his way in life by force of individuality and honest determination to succeed, using his great natural abilities to the best advantage; and as a public-spirited citizen has won a host of friends in social, business and political circles.


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