Simeson Davis was born in Somerset, Pennsylvania on July 25, 1809, the eldest son of James L. Davis and Mary Patterson.
He married Margaret Ann McConnell on January 7, 1840, in Jefferson County, Ohio. Simeson and Margaret were my great-great grandparents. Margaret was born on September 11, 1811 in Jefferson, Ohio. She is the daughter of William McConnell (1775-1835) and Mary Mahon (1770-1852). Mary Mahon was born in Ireland and William was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Below is Simeson and Margaret's family tree.
Before we go into Simeson's history let's find out a little bit more about Margaret and her family.
Margaret was born on September 19, 1811 in the city of Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio. She was the eldest of five children. Her mother was born in Ireland and I haven't been able to trace her family. Her father's family also came from Ireland though he was born in Pennsylvania. Below is her family tree.
Below is information I have discovered on Margaret's siblings and their children.
Simeson and Margaret's Journey Through Life
The map below will serve to help tell the story of their life together as well as a timeline of what was going on in the world during their lifetime.
As we continue with the story I wanted to give some background on the place where Simeson was born. Simeson's father, James L. Davis was born in Loudoun, Virginia so at some point he and his wife Mary moved to Pennsylvania and to Somerset where Simeson was born.
Somerset and Somerset County History
Created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named for Somersetshire, England. Somerset, the county seat was laid out in 1795 and incorporated as a borough on March 5, 1804 (Simeson was born in 1809).
Traversed by the Forbes Road in 1758, it became legal to settle the Somerset area after the “New Purchase” of 1768. German Brethren groups from New Jersey settled Brothers Valley, and the radical preacher Harmon Husband joined them in 1771. A rye and whiskey economy involved the area in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 against the federal government’s tax on distilleries. Although punished, Husband, who died June 1795, saw the county created that April.
Robert Philson, also a Whiskey leader, lived on as Somerset’s political leader. More land was added in 1800, but some was yielded to create Cambria County in 1804. An Agricultural Society was formed in 1828 to pursue intelligent farm methods. Cattle and sheep were very productive, and the cloth called linsey-woolsey was manufactured. Maple sugar was also important.
The map of Somerset County above is from 1895 with an inset that shows where the county is located in the state of Pennsylvania. As an aside history note, if you look just to the right of the town of Somerset you’ll see Shanksville, the site of the crash of United Flight 93 on 9/11.
Simeson and Margaret Get Married - January 7, 1840
From the family bible we know that Simeson and most, if not all, of his siblings were born in Somerset, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. By the time Simeson was 30 he was in Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio. What brought him there is not known as I can not find any other Census records showing where he lived. It’s about 340 miles driving modern highways from Loudoun to Jefferson so its most likely that Simeson was living in Jefferson when he met Margaret. The only Census records for Margaret are when she was living with Simeson.
Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio: the population of Ashtabula County in 1840 (when Simeson and Margaret got married) was 1,711. Jefferson is the county seat since 1807 and laid out on a level plat of ground. Jefferson was a hotbed of abolitionism and John Brown spoke there. Several of the houses there served as stations for the Underground Railroad.
Wedding Clothes: Simeson was a farmer and most likely not very wealthy. Most poorer families of the time had one good suit or dress that they wore for church or special occasions and it could be that they wore something very much like these below.
1841 - Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
I don’t have any Census record that they lived here but their first child, Theresa Ann Davis was born here so I am making the assumption they lived here. Steubenville is location along the Ohio River and is the Jefferson County Seat. By the 1840’s Steubenville was a flourishing community of seven thousand people. It had eleven churches, five woolen mills, two glass factories, a paper mill and an iron foundry. Beer brewing was a major industry in Steubenville for much of its history since access to the Ohio River provided easy access to to Wheeling and Pittsburgh, the brewers’ major markets.
1850: Cross Creek, Jefferson County, Ohio
Nine years have passed before I found a Census record from August 30, 1850 that shows Simeson and Margaret were living in Cross Creek Township, Ohio. Simeson's occupation was farming. Cross Creek is a township in Jefferson County and not far from Steubenville. By this time their family has grown to include James, William, Edwin and Sylvester. Simeson’s occupation is listed as “Farmer.” There are still two more children to come. In 1850 Simeson was now 41 years old and Margaret was 38 years old.
One thing I noticed when looking at all these Census records is that the "Enumerator", the people who enter all this information mostly likely did not ask each person how to spell their name. This one shows Simeson with an "i".
1856 - Simeson Purchased 40 Acres of Land in Missouri
Simeson purchased 40 acres of swampland on 12/17/1856 in Putnam County, Missouri; Southwest quarter of Northeast quarter at $1.25 per acre for total cost of $50.00. Wonder whatever happened to this land?
1856 - Jasper, Iowa
There wasn't a date on this Iowa Census so I'm not sure when Simeson was in Putnam, Missouri to buy that swampland above but this Census finds the family living in Jasper, Iowa. Simeson is still farming and is now 47 years old. Margaret is 44. Daughter Theresa is 14, James is 13, William is 11, Edwin is 9, Sylvester is 7, John 3 and Steward is 2. The population is this county in 1850 was 1,280. It was organized in 1846 and is named after Sergeant William Jasper, Revolutionary War hero. Jasper is about 36 miles east of Des Moines.
1860 - Chariton, Schuyler County, Missouri
The family does seem to move around quite a bit. Perhaps Simeson went to check out the 40 acres of swampland he purchased in 1856. the 1860 Census indicates that Simeson owns his farm and it's worth $800. His personal net worth is $530. All the children are still living at home but there's a bit of a mystery. There is another William listed on the Census with a birthdate of 1856, one year after what I thought was their last child Steward who was born in 1855. They already have a son named William Bates Davis who was born in 1845. This William never shows up again in any other Census. Mmmm.
Simeson and Margaret's oldest daughter married James Washington Wells on November 27, 1860 in her father's home in Chariton by Daniel D. Smith, Justice of the Peace. I'll go more into Theresa and their other children in Part II.
1870 - Grant, Putnam County, Missouri
After another 10 years the family has moved again and is now living in Grant Township. The township is located approximately in the center of Putnam County. By this time Simeson is 61 years old and still farming. He must be doing well as his personal net worth is stated at $2,000 on the Census. Margaret is also 61. Only two of their children are still living with them at this point. John Henry, 17, who is a farmhand and Steward who is now 15.
1880 - Grant Township, Putnam County, Missouri
The 1880 Census finds the family has put in roots in Grant. Simeson, now 70 is still farming but he has help from their boarder, Thomas York, 22, who helps work the farm. Simeson and Margaret's son-in-law, James Washington Wells, is now a widower and lives on a nearby farm. William and Edwin, Simeson and Margaret's two sons work and live on James' farm. There is also a Fred, listed as a a "Servant." He is 22, African American and born in Texas as were both his parents.
1881: The Journey Ends for Simeson and Margaret
On July 3, 1881 Simeson died in Grant Township, Putnam Country, Missouri, 13 months after the last Census recorded where he lived in 1880.
Margaret lived another 15 years before she died on August 10, 1896 in Wells, Iowa*. From the 1885 Census she was living with her son, John Henry Davis in Caldwell, Iowa. From the 1895 Census she was still with John Henry, now in Wells, Iowa.
*I don’t have a source record for her death but my assumption is she was still living in Wells, Iowa at her death. I haven’t found cemetery records for her or Simeson at this point.
Part II - Simeson and Margaret's Children--click here