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FAMILIES D-H: DAVIS ~ Joseph Davis

Until research proves otherwise, we will assume that Joe Davis was the first Davis to live in the Darrtown vicinity; thus making Joe Davis the Darrtown Family Tree "pioneer" of his family.


In 1884, Joe Davis, the son of Alamon Davis, moved his family to the northwest corner of the Rt. 177 and Rt. 73 intersection in 1884, thus launching the Davis legacy that is associated with the farm located at, what in now known as, the "Davis Corner."

"Alamon Davis, the grandfather of Nelle and Maria Davis, came west from New England and first settled in Warren County, where he married Maria Harr, and then moved to Liberty Township in Butler County (Ohio).


While living in Liberty Township, Alamon Davis bought the 160-acre Milford Township farm located at the northwest corner of the Hamilton-Richmond Pike and the Oxford-Trenton Road. The property, which Alamon purchased several years prior to his death in 1883, included a stone house that sat close to the crossroads. That structure, which included a building stone dated 1816, initially served as a toll house and inn for the drovers, who guided livestock south on the Darrtown Pike towards the Cincinnati slaughter and packing houses.


For several years, while Mr. and Mrs. Alamon Davis continued living in Liberty Township, the dwelling at the corner of the "Darrtown Pike" and "Oxford-Trenton Road" was occupied by tenants. The tenants included Charles Krebs and family; Gottlieb Wagonfield and his family; a brother-in-law, Peter Harr and his wife, and a son, Moody Davis.


On November 16, 1882, Joseph Davis and Lena Kapp were married, and initially lived in the Alamon Davis home in Liberty Township.


In 1884, Joseph and Lena (Kapp) Davis and their baby son, Paul, moved to the Davis family farm, a mile north of Darrtown.


Initially, the Joe Davis family lived in the original toll house. At some point, a large frame washhouse was built to the northwest of the toll house, further from the road, and the family moved into it for a time.


In 1892, the original building that had served as a toll house, was torn done, and the brick from that structure was used to construct the house that presently stands at the intersection of Rt. 177 and Rt. 73. In the newer (and existing) family homestead, there are now two cornerstones, the original (tollhouse) one, dated 1816, and a newer one, marked "Jo D." and dated 1892.


The Joseph Davis family eventually numbered five as two daughters, Nell, and Maria, were born on the Davis property. Nell Davis was born in the original toll house at the crossroads corner on April 12, 1891. Sister, Maria was born in the newer house on August 7, 1893.


Joseph Davis was a prominent farmer, raising grain and livestock, and he was an original member of the Butler County Farm Bureau, as well as an early member of the Darrtown Livestock Protective Association. Lena (Kapp) Davis passed away in 1925 and Joseph Davis died ten years later, at which time his daughters became owners of the farm, little Paul having succumbed to spinal meningitis at the age of seven.


Although the Davis sisters contracted for the actual operation of the farm, they too, took an active part in rural-interest groups and are longtime members of the Milford Township Farm Bureau Discussion group, one the first to be organized in Butler County. They are also lifelong members of the Darrtown Methodist Church.


Both Nell and Maria graduated from the Milford Township High School located at Darrtown, and while in school, Miss Maria began her service as local correspondent to the Butler County Democrat. Soon after the Oxford Press was started, Miss Maria began contributing 'Darrtown notes,' and she and her sister became the oldest and most faithful Oxford Press correspondents."

Webmaster Note: The information (posted at the left) about the Davis family was gleaned from a 1973 Oxford Press article that reported the official naming of "Davis Corner" - which, as those who are familiar with Darrtown know, is the intersection of Ohio State Routes 177 and 73.

LEFT: This image shows the intersection of state routes 177 and 73 - aka - "Davis's Corner" or simply "Davis Corner."

In this photo, Ohio State Route 177, also known as the Hamilton-Richmond Road, runs left and right (south and north).

Ohio State Route 73, also known as the Oxford-Trenton Road, runs from behind the camera (east) - and up the hill (west) - toward Oxford.

For many years, locals routinely referred to this intersection as "Davis Corner," out of deference to Joe Davis and his two daughters, Nell and Maria. As reported below, the farm, situated in the northwest corner of this intersection, was owned for nearly a century, by the Davis family. The barn is visible at the right; the house stands behind the trees. In 2014, the historic house operates as a bed and breakfast, known as the Presidio Pines.

In 1973, local officials succeeded in having the Ohio state legislature officially designate the intersection of Ohio State Route 177 and Ohio State Route 73, as "Davis Corner."

See more about the naming of this intersection at the "Davis Corner" page.


This image of the Davis family barn was taken,

when it was newly painted (2003), with the Ohio Bicentennial logo.


Allan Miller, of "Impressions by Allan Miller,"

shot the original photo. In May, 2012, Allan agreed to have the image scanned, which led to this copy.


Sandy (Ward) Jolivette contacted Allan and arranged for the scanning of the image.

Nell Davis - A familiar figure at Darrtown's Memorial Day Service

Nell Davis attended (at least) 80 consecutive Darrtown cemetery Memorial Day services - beginning with the first-ever service in 1898, according to the following May 27, 1978 Hamilton (Ohio) Journal-News article, written by Pete Chappars.

Webmaster Note: The image above and the article at the left were taken from a photocopy of the original Hamilton (Ohio) Journal News article that was dated May 27, 1978. Unfortunately, some portions of the photocopy were indistinguishable, as indicated by the “blanks” that appear in the reprint.

"Monday morning, Nell Davis will don white gloves and head scarf and go to the Darrtown cemetery to attend her 80th consecutive Memorial Day service.


The 10:30 service, featuring an address by Rep. Thomas N. Kindness, Eight Ohio Congressional District lawmaker, will be held in the United Methodist Church in Darrtown, if it should rain.


Otherwise, it will be among the big trees of the shady little cemetery a mile southwest of this intersection of Ohio 73 and Ohio 177. It was named Davis Corner, almost five years ago, honoring Nell’s family of true pioneers.


Nell will take no part in the program. Arranged by the Darrtown Memorial Association – James A. Hoerner, president; William Miller, vice-president, and Irene Young, secretary-treasurer – it will give her something to write about.


Nell is the Darrtown correspondent for the Oxford Press weekly, and for many years both Nell and sister Maria, who died in September, 1973, wrote the local news for the Journal News.

Nell Davis

She’ll note again that the Rv. Lynn Huffman, minister of the Darrtown Methodist Church (the church she attends), gave the opening prayer and the benediction. She’ll say the Miami University Naval ROTC unit conducted the Flag Ceremony, assisted by the Cub Scouts of America in the Pledge of Allegiance. She’ll report that Irene Young presented “In Memorium” and that taps was played by David Reister.


That’s what this reporter thinks she’ll report next Thursday in the Press. But, she needs no assistance in writing, or talking, or thinking.


In a very pleasant half hour, in the high-ceilinged white brick house on the northwest corner of the roads’ intersection, she talked about times past and people who have gone away, to the cemeteries or to other places.


One recent loss to the community ___ her comment: “I almost wrote him a letter ___ referred to Kirk Mee, who sold his land and who moved to Oxford a few months ago. The Mee farm ___ Davis farm had been operated by the resident families for more than a century.


Nell lives alone in the big house, but she’s never really alone. Neighbors and relatives, especially George Hansel and his family, care for her garden and farm the land. But, she keeps her home in ord___ does for herself in every way.


She needs glasses to read the Journal-News ___ doesn’t read books any more. But, she hears well and she moves well, although slowly.


And, she talks well. Her laugh comes easily ___ does a worried frown when she recalls a___ “gossipy news” (which she doesn’t report); s___ when she said persons looking at the big house __ aren’t sure which part is the front.


Was she born in that house?


“No, but my sister was. I was born in the house that stood out there” – she pointed to the sloping corner of the crossroads – “April 12, 1891. That house was built in 1816. Part of it was once a tavern. When they built this, they used the bricks from the old one.”


I told her I wanted to come back some time and talk to her some more and she said graciously “Please do. I sit out on the porch a lot. You’ll see me.”


Graciously and unself-conscientiously, Nell __ name is Nellie) posed for a photo.


“Is this the 80th Memorial Day service for you? Mr. (Jim) Hoerner says it is.”


Nell said, “It may be. I’m really not sure. I was seven, when I went to the first one. I may have missed one, but I don’t recall that I did. You know, sometimes there weren’t many there…”


Many people from rural America are familiar with tractor "pulling" contests.


The image at the right and the news story below provide evidence that "horse pulling" contests pre-date "tractor pulling" contests.

The image, caption, and news article appeared in a newspaper clipping that Harry and Sue Fillager contributed during the April 21, 2012 Darrtown "Gathering."


"Weight Dragging Contest Held on Farm


"Above is pictured a part of the "Long Pull" taken by one team, when a weight-dragging contest was held Tuesday, as part of the Butler County Corn Husking Contest at the Joe Davis farm near Darrtown. Teams of William Hand, Jr., Reily Twp. and Joe Leslie, Milford Twp. tied for first place, when they succeeded in dragging 4500 pounds of pig iron across the earth. Nearly 2000 persons witnessed the contest."

Webmaster Notes: 


          Wow! 2000 attendees! Think about organizing any event that would attract 2000 people and then think about trying to accomplish that feat in 1933. Drawing 2,000 spectators who had to travel in depression-era vehicles on less than ideal roads seems like a significant accomplishment.


          The photograph was hand-dated as "October, 1933."


          Assuming that the structure seen in the background/right is the Joe Davis house (note the chimney), which is situated south of the Davis barn, then the horse pull was likely staged in the field immediately north of the barn, along St. Rt. 177.


          The round structure, seen between the pulling area and the barn, is likely a straw pile, created by a threshing machine, while grain was being harvested.


          Corn-husking contests, still conducted at some 21st century farm festivals, were a chance for contestants to demonstrate their proficiency in using "husking pegs," to pull and clean the corn husks, before throwing the ears of corn into a farm wagon, for transportation to storage.


          Added to the document was a note from Dave Leslie: "Ulysses O'Dell, brother of Fred O'Dell, won the corn-husking contest."

More webmaster notes:


On May 8, 2012, Harry Fillager provided the following information regarding the "Weight Dragging" contest reported above:


          Dave Leslie, who is credited with adding the note about the corn-husking contest, was a brother to Ruth Leslie. Dave's full name was Davis Leslie.


           Joe Leslie, listed as the co-winner of the pulling contest, was Harry's maternal grandfather; i.e., Joe Leslie was the father of Harry Fillager's mother - Ruth (Leslie) Fillager.


          The Joe Leslie family lived on the farm located in the southeast corner of the intersection of Rt. 177 and Somerville Road. That farm is now (2012) known as the Hurley farm.


           Fred O'Dell, brother of Ulysses O'Dell, who won the corn-husking contest, was a half-brother to "Ish" Cox. Mr. Cox, also known as "Coxie" to many in Darrtown during the middle of the 20th century, was an accomplished machinist and had a shop, at his residence on Main Street in Darrtown.


           Fred O'Dell was married to Edna Leslie, sister of Ruth Leslie. The O'Dells lived in a house that was located on a farm that was owned by Lawrence Gaiser. The Gaiser farm was situated on the west side of Rt. 177, between Rt. 73 and Harris Road. The house sat in the southwest corner of the intersection of Harris Road and Rt. 177. During the 1950's the Arthur Russell family lived there.

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