Source Information

  • Author Julia Ward Howe, Mary Hannah Graves 
    Publisher New England Historical Publishing Company, New England, 1904 
    Page 237-239 
    Periodical Representative Women of New England 
    Source Type Book 
    Source ID S614 
    Text DELILAH S. DAVIS, an earnest and liberal supporter of patriotic work, has been a department officer of the Woman's Relief Corps of Massachusetts for several years. Born November 28, 1833, in that part of the old town of Methuen now included in Lawrence, Mass., she was one of the twelve children, six boys and six girls, of John and Delilah (Smith) Graves. Her father, born September 27, 1800, in New Market, N.H., died November 23, 1880, in Palmer, Mass.

    Her paternal grandfather, Joseph Graves, was born in 1761 in Stratham, Rockingham County, N.H. His wife was Mary Badger, of Portsmouth, N.H. Her brother, Daniel Badger, was a ship-builder. He was buried on Badger's Island, near Portsmouth, N.H., and on his tombstone was recorded the number of ships he built. The mother of Mrs. Davis was born in Wolfborough, N.H., April 12, 1798. She died in Palmer, Mass., June 4, 1873. She was one of the four children and the youngest of the three daughters of James and Abigail (Pinkham) Smith. Her maternal grandfather, Abijah Pinkham, was a soldier of the Revolution, the records showing that he was a private in Captain Smith Emerson's company on Seavey's Island in November, 1775. Abigail Pinkham after the death of James Smith, her first husband, married Reuben Libby, by whom she had a son and a daughter.

    John Graves and Delilah Smith were married in 1821 in Boston, where Mr. Graves was engaged in the livery business. He subsequently bought a farm in Methuen, built a soap factory, and conducted an extensive business. After the founding, in 1847, of Lawrence, the "new city," as it was called, he removed to Billerica. Here his daughter Delilah attended a private school. She had previously been a pupil in the Prospect Street School, Lawrence, formerly Methuen: and when, in 1850, the family returned to Lawrence, she was admitted to the Lawrence High School. It being decided in the home council that she could not take the full three years' course of study, she preferred to give up school at once, which she was allowed to do. On June 22, 1851, she was married to Edwin Lawrence Davis. He was born in Billerica, February 17, 1831, son of Timothy Jr. and Susan S. (Lawrence) Davis. Timothy Davis Jr. died in Billerica in 1841. His wife, Susan S., was the daughter of the Rev. Nathaniel Lawrence, who preached in Tyngsboro, Mass., forty years, and delivered a sermon on the day of his death. He died suddenly, of apoplexy. His son, Samuel S. Lawrence, was a prominent merchant of Boston. Timothy Davis Jr. was a member of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, which was formetl in 1823. Mrs. Davis has in her po.ssession his certificate of membership, signed by the president of the association, J. Brooks; the vice-presidents, T. H. Perkins and Joseph Story: the secretary, Franklin Dexter: the treasurer, Nathaniel P. Russell; and fourteen directors.

    Edwin Lawrence Davis, enlisting in the navy in 1864, was in the United States service in the latter part of the Civil War as captain's clerk on the steamer "Miami." Mrs. Davis had two brothers in the Union army, one of whom died in a hospital at Alexandria.

    Mr. and Mrs. Davis removed in September, 1853, to Palmer, Mass., where Mr. Davis purchased a dry-goods store, and was a successful merchant. They had two children: George Lawrence, born March 26, 1854, who died Nov. 29, 1883: and Annie Elizabeth, who is still living. Mrs. Davis became interested in church and charitable work in Palmer, devoting her special efforts to the cause represented by L. L. Merrick Post, G. A. R., and its auxiliary Relief Corps, which was formed in 1886. She was elected first President of the Relief Corps, and was installed into this office five years in succession.

    At the annual State convention held in Boston in 1891 she was elected Senior Vice- President. The office of President of the Department of Massachusetts, Woman's Relief Corps, was tendered her the following year, but she was unable to accept the honor, as her husband was in failing health.

    During the destructive fire in Palmer in 1895 Mr. Davis's store was burned. They went to Gardiner, Me., in the spring of 1896, and in December of that same year returned to Massachusetts, settling in Springfield. Mr. Davis died in that city, January 6, 1897. In October following Mrs. Davis moved to Lawrence, where she now resides with her daughter.

    In 1900 Mrs. Davis was elected Department Chaplain of the Massachusetts Woman's Relief Corps, and at the annual convention of 1901 she was re-elected. Referring to this office, she said: "Fully appreciating the honor con- ferred, I assumed the sacred duties of Chaplain, and have filled the position to the best of my ability. The work lia.s been an inspiration to me and given me a better knowledge of what has been done through the State on Memorial Day."

    In her last report as Department Chaplain she stated that members assisted in decorating the graves of thirty-four thousand four hundred and fifty-one soldiers in Massachusetts, that flowers were furnished one hundred and twenty-two posts on Memorial Day, and that memorials and Horal designs for the unknown deatl who sleep in nameless graves were pre- pared by one hundred and thirty-nine corps. Memorial Day work in the South was aided by one humlred and fourteen corps in Massa- chusetts.

    The number of children who assisted in memorial exercises under the direction of corps was reported as twenty-eight thousand five hundred and fifty-five. An elaborate account of this work throughout the State was prepared by Mrs. Davis, her report containing twenty-one printetd pages.

    Elected a member of the Department Executive Board in 1902, Mrs. Davis has continued her interest with the same loyal enthusiasm as in other years. She has served as Inspector and on numerous committees. As a delegate to several national conventions she has travelled in many States, and has been recognized by national appointments in the order. Mrs. Davis is a liberal contributor to the various objects of the W. R. C, and takes special interest in its charitable and philanthropic work.

    She has been a guest of corps in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and in other Southern States. The Andersonville Prison property under the management of the National W. R. C. has received her liberal support, and she has visited these historic grounds in Georgia.

    Mrs. Davis is a woman of firm convictions, and is devoted to the principles of loyalty and justice. Her steadfast friendship and kindly deeds are appreciated by her associates.

    She attends the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lawrence. She is a member of the Charity Club of that city, also of the Woman's Christian Temperance I'nion and of the auxiliary to the Young Men's Christian Association of Lawrence.

    Her husband was a member of the Masonic lodge in Palmer, and she is therefore interested in the Order of the Eastern Star. Revere Chapter, No. 4, of that city, elected her its first secretary.

    For several years Mrs. Davis has been an active member of the Ladies' Aid Association of the SoKliers' Home in Massachusetts. As a visitor, director, and in other capacities she has given time, money, and effort for the welfare of the home. The officials and inmates recog- nize her faithful work in its behalf.

    Mrs. Davis, through her great-grandfather Pinkham, above mentioned, has membership in Bunker Hill Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Mrs. Davis has one sister living, namely: Sarah Abbie Graves, whose home is in Indiana; another sister, Octavia McFarland, who resided in San Francisco, died June 5, 1893. Her only brother, Sewell F. Graves, resides hi Alameda, Cal. He is a sea captain, was in the United States navy during the Civil War, and is now a pilot in San Francisco Harbor. 
    Linked to (22) BADGER, Mary
    DAVIS, Annie Elizabeth
    DAVIS, Edwin Lawrence
    DAVIS, George Lawrence
    DAVIS, Timothy Jr
    GRAVES, Delilah
    GRAVES, John
    GRAVES, Joseph
    GRAVES, Octavia McClary
    GRAVES, Sarah Abbie Poor
    GRAVES, Sewell Fogg
    LAWRENCE, Rev Nathaniel
    LAWRENCE, Samuel
    LAWRENCE, Susan
    LIBBY, Reuben
    PINKHAM, Abigail
    PINKHAM, Abijah
    SMITH, Delilah
    SMITH, James
    Family: GRAVES, John / SMITH, Delilah
    Family: DAVIS, Edwin Lawrence / GRAVES, Delilah 

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