Wednesday, February 22, 2012


     William Howard Davis was born the day after his three year old sister died.

     Billy was the youngest child of Samuel George Davis and Josephine Duper Davis.  He had four older siblings - Eleanor, Daniel, Samuel, and Dorothy.  His mother was deaf due to Scarlett Fever at a very young age but his father's hearing was fine.  There was no communication problem between Billy's parents because his father's parents were deaf as well.
     In January of 1927, tragedy struck.  My great-grandmother, Josephine was home with her youngest child, Dorothy.  I'm guessing that the older three were in school because it was a weekday and they were schooolage.  My grandmother, Eleanor was 9 and her brothers Danny and Sammy were 7 1/2 and about 5 or 6.  If Sammy was too young for school (photos look like he's only a year or two younger than his brother) then he might have been with a relative that day.  If Sammy had been home then he would have alerted his mother to Dorothy's screams.  Little Dorothy had gotten too close to the gas how water heater causing her clothes to catch on fire.  Josie never hear her daughter scream and by the time she realized what happended, the little girl was too badly burnt to survive.  Dorothy died on Friday, the 28th of January in Brooklyn,NY.
     The following day, Josie welcomed a new baby boy.  Althoough this should have been a joyous occasion, it was a bitterswet event.  William Howard Davis was born on the 29th of January in 1927 surrounded by sadness and mourning.  I believe Josie's stress and the trauma brought William into this world earlier than expected.  Dorothy was buried in the Davis family plot at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery which is located about 86 miles north of Brooklyn in Poughkeepsie, NY.  I don't know if the whole family travelled up to Poughkeepsie for the burial and if all the children stayed with their parents after the trafgedy.  Three years later, my grandmother, Eleanor, Billy's oldest sister is living in Brooklyn with their grandmother, Teresa.  Where was Billy?  I still haven't found the Davis boys or their parents in the 1930 census.
     Billy did not have the carefree, happy go lucky childhoold that children are supposed to have.  He did not grow up in a stable, loving home.  If his sister was living with their grandmother then where was he?  Did the boys stay with their father?  Where was their mother?  I truly believe that Josie had some kind of mental breakdown; why else would the family be wplit up?  Billy's cousin told me that her mother (his father's sister) wanted to adopt Billy but her father didn't like the Davis family and wouldn't allow it.  Was Billy unwanted by his own mother?  Why would his aunt want to adopt him?  I'm hoping to find Billy and his siblings and parents in the 1940 census.
     Billy escaped life at home when he was sent to Greer School in Millbrook,NY.  He attended this residential school from September 1941-January 1944.  He then moved to Dover, DE before joining the navy.  After serving three years, he attended college then was recalled to duty in Korea.  He served a short tour then returned to college taking advantage of the G.I. Bill to further his education.  Billy received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and retired after 30 years with the Chrysler Corporation.  Billy had been living in California for many years.  He got married and had two children.  He eventually moved back east and spent the rest of his days in Wilmington, DE.

                                             William Howard Davis    ♥R.I.P.♥
                                            b. 29 January 1927 Brooklyn, NY
                                            d. 12 February 2010 Wilmington, DE

1 comment:

  1. Such a sad story. You are one of many looking forward to the 1940 census.