Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Sad Affair of Kitty Davis

Today I just spent a few hours at our local library. Deciding to concentrate on the mystery of Hortense Davis Stewart's short life and mysterious death, shortly after her divorce went through, I went back through the Davis files to see if anything there would give me any hints on her cause of death, her daughters name, who Kitty Davis was exactly or what happened to William after her death. I know well the siblings of my ancestors, and even their children, but had never gone down a generation from that, unless I had cause to. Several individuals descended from our Patriarch Job Davis contributed their trees, down to living individuals. 

Hortense's father Edward Winfield Davis aka Neddy, married late in life, age 56 to be exact, so his children were much younger than their first cousins. Example, Benjamin Franklin Davis, the oldest son of Neddy's brother Henry was born in 1829, while Hortense was born in 1861, 32 years apart, but they were first cousins. 

In the file I discovered a record of Frank Davis' Family Bible. Frank is what Benjamin Franklin Davis was known as. This had been submitted by Luther McIntyre. Two of Frank's daughters, married brothers who were McIntyres's. The McIntyres's, coincidentally, were also members of the Murray family, mentioned in earlier posts. 

The Bible starts with a list of the 14 children born to Frank and his wife Julia Sibley Davis. How many descendants from this family do you think are out there now?

Lula Davis  March 27 1855
Sally Davis   August 1857
Mathew A Davis  December 11 1858
J F Davis  December 2 1860
Thomas Davis   July 3  1865
Mary Davis  December 27  1866
Hart A Davis   January 15  1868
John S Davis   December 8  1870
Mary A Davis  September 21 1872
H. E. Davis   August 18 1874
Nannie Davis  May  6  1876
Kitty Davis  September 15  1878
Susie Davis  March 7 1880
Lillie Mae Davis  May 31 1882

The Bible also has listed that Benjamin Franklin Davis died  December 21 1898 and Julia Sibley Davis died  Feb. 18 1914, and Hart A Davis died August 2 1902.

But there she was ...Kitty Davis. Of course, she was in my family tree already, but not as Kitty. Matching  up the birthdate, Kitty turns out to be Wincey Catherine Davis. 

Sarah Hortense Davis Stewart claims in her divorce papers that her husband, William R Stewart, was having an adulterous affair with Kitty Davis, who as it turns out, is her first cousin once removed. Hortense married in 1891 and by 1894 had been abandoned by W. R. Stewart, with a two year old daughter, who was then found to be teaching music in Chester, Chester County, South Carolina. 

Stepping back at looking at what I have found out so far, Billy Stewart appears to be a cad who has left a trail of broken women. Billy was born in 1868, Hortense in 1869. In 1894, when he is accused of having an affair with Kitty Davis, Kitty, who was born in 1878, was a mere child of 15 or 16. Bill 10 years her senior. In modern America, Bill would have been arrested for indecent liberties with a minor, but in Victorian North Carolina, Kitty would have been considered of marriageable age, many girls married then in their early teens. 

At some point Kitty married a Cox, and her death certificate stated she had lived in Polkton, NC, which is just over the Rocky River in Anson County. Her death certificate is telling and tragic in other ways as well. 

Kitty's Find a Grave Tribute

Kitty died at the age of 43 in Broughton State Mental Hospital. She had been there nearly 18 years, entering at age 25. What happened between her affair with Billy Stewart at 16 and being admitted to an insane assylum at age 25? Who was this Cox that she married? I will have to check the surrounding counties for marriage records for Kitty and Mr. Cox. Anson will be the most likely, as the death certificate said that was her last residence. It also states that she was married, which means Mr. Cox did not go to the trouble to divorce her. She died of pulminary tuberculosis. Probably a chain smoker. I see a vague image of her in my mind, thin, wan, yellowish tint in her skin, legs crossed tightly, smoking like a freight train and twitching nervously. Was this Kitty?

I attempted to gain more information on one family tragedy and came upon another. 

I am waiting on a copy of Hortense Stuart's estate papers and also the official copies of her divorce papers, instead of the ones I photographed from microfilm. I am also going to search for the mysterious Mr. Cox and perhaps a marriage license. Below are some old photos of Broughton State Mental Hospital and the cemetary where Kitty is buried. 

An old post card of Broughton State Mental Hospital in Morganton, North Carolina

The State Hospital cemetery where Kitty Davis lies. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting story. I live In Morganton NC. The cemetery is about half a mile from my house. I am going to look up Kitty's grave. Thanks for sharing your story.