Tag Archive: Civil War

Aug 22

Will of a Young Soldier

The headstone of Lewis M., son of Lewis & Nancy Davis, indicates that he died the 21st of August 1863 at the age of 31.

What caused his early demise?

This Davis family lived in Merrimack County, New Hampshire around Andover which borders Franklin on it’s western border.

Lewis M. Davis was the fifth known child, first son, of Lewis and Nancy Davis. His siblings were Sarah Jane Davis who married Nathan Gage; Elizabeth who married Mr. Brown; Catherine, who died young and is also buried in Sawyer Cemetery; Nancy who married Jeremiah Judkins; Albe C.; Laura Davis (my direct ancestor) who married Daniel Russell Woodward; Olive B. who married Calvin Call; George Davis; and Alva Davis.[1]

Search results for Lewis M. Davis and several of his siblings in New Hampshire in the records in the 1860 federal census were negative.

My next step was to investigate the Merrimack County probate records for Lewis M. Davis on the premise that by his death at the age of 31 he may have acquired some real or personal property which have resulted in a probate to his legal heirs at the time of his death. I did not expect to find that he had left a will. Much to my surprise, Lewis M. Davis did leave a will. Actually it was unusual for young men with property to write their will in preparation for marching off to war.

Lewis’ opening lines  read, “I Lewis M Davis of the town of Franklin in the County of Merrimack and State of Newhampshire beinn about to start for the ward do make a disposal of my property …”[2]

[1] Siblings of Lewis M. Davis have been reconstructed from a variety of newspaper articles, and an interview by this author with Douglas R. Woodward, grandson of Daniel Russell and Laura (Davis) Woodward, in September 1991, and from a newspaper article, “Fiftieth Anniversary: Mr. and Mrs. Daniel R. Woodward Receive Their Friends,” Franklin Journal Transcript, Franklin, N.H. 4 February 1904.

[2] Will of Lewis M. Davis, file no. 6128, Merriamck County New Hampshire Probate Court, Concord, New Hampshire.

This story will be continued.

© Linda Woodward Geiger. All Rights Reserved.

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