Isaac S. Davis

b. 8 May 1815, d. July 1861
Isaac S. Davis|b. 8 May 1815\nd. Jul 1861|p110.htm|George Davis|b. c 1768\nd. 1 Apr 1850|p981.htm|Rosetta (—?—) (Davis)||p1158.htm|||||||||||||

Grandfather of George Poindexter Munson Sr.
2nd great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Munson and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for George Poindexter Munson II
     Isaac S. Davis was born on 8 May 1815 in New York City.1 He was the son of George Davis and Rosetta (—?—) (Davis). He and Matilda S. Blakely, daughter of George Blakely, obtained a marriage license on 6 April 1841 in Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.2 They married on 11 April 1841 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.1,3,4,5 He was baptized in the Catholic Church on 24 December 1842 in Mobile.6 He died in July 1861 at age 46.1
     Isaac, the youngest child of George and Rosetta Davis, was about five years old when the family settled in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There, on 17 September 1822, George Davis made a deed of gift to James and Isaac Davis, both minors.7 In about 1825 the family moved to Mobile.

     The federal government at that time was committed to a policy of removing all eastern Indians to reservations west of the Mississippi River. To that end a treaty was signed in 1832 with the Seminole Indians of Florida. When the time came in 1835 to begin the move, many Seminoles refused to go. Resistance was led by the Indian chief Osceola, whose father was not an Indian. In November the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) erupted. Federal troops were sent to Florida but had little success against the Indians, whose raiding parties struck quickly and then vanished. Osceola was taken prisoner in 1837 while negotiating under a flag of truce; he died in prison on January 30, 1838. The American Forces did not overcome the Seminole resistance until 1842. The cost of the U.S. was 1500 dead and $20,000,000.

     Isaac was studying medicine when the Florida War (Second Seminole War) broke out in 1835.8 Although very young, he joined a company and served out his term with honor. According to his obituary , he held the position of 1st Lieutenant in the Alabama Militia,8 though in an index to service records, he is listed as a private in Blount's Company of Chisolm's Alabama Militia Volunteers in the Florida War. It's possible he was promoted to lieutenant after the war.9

     Family tradition is that Matilda Blakely's father, a man of some importance, disowned her for marrying a Catholic. Isaac and Matilda did marry in the Catholic Church, and the marriage record proves that one of them was not Catholic. However, that doesn't necessarily support family tradition. The text is as follows:
In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & forty one, & on the eleventh of April I the undersigned Cath. Priest of Mobile, certify that I have joined together in the bonds of matrimony Isaac S. Davis & Matilda S. Blakely - the license of the court having been obtained dispensation from the publication of the banns and disparitate cultus granted & two witnesses present. In faith whereof I have signed. James McGarahan.4
"License of the court having been obtained" simply means they got a marriage license. "Dispensation from the publication of the banns" means that banns had been published one or more times and need not be published again. "Disparitate cultus granted" (disparitas cultus) means that permission to marry in the Catholic Church was granted even though one of the parties was either of another faith, or an un-baptized Catholic.10

     As explained in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, dispensation for disparitas cultus is not possible unless one of the parties is a baptized Catholic because the Church has no jurisdiction over the unbaptized. Therefore, either Isaac or Matilda was a baptized Catholic at the time of their marriage, and there is proof that Isaac was a Jew, and was not baptized in the Catholic Church until well over a year later.
In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty two and on the twenty fourth of December, i the undersigned vicar general of the right Rev. Bishop of Mobile certify that i have baptized with the [ ] rites of church Isaac Davis, aged about twenty eight years, who abjured judaism and joined the catholic church. Godmother Margaret Berranjan. in faith whereof i have signed[,] J. Bozin.6
     The first step in conversion is abjuration of heresy or profession of faith. Abjuration is a denial, disavowal, or renunciation under oath, and in common ecclesiastical language this term is restricted to the renunciation of heresy made by the penitent heretic on the occasion of his reconciliation with the Church. The Church has always demanded such renunciation, accompanied by appropriate penance. In some cases the abjuration was the only ceremony required.10 It is unclear to the writer if Isaac was allowed to join the Catholic Church as soon as he "abjured judaism," or if it was required that he be baptized before he could join; also whether these three events occurred on the same day or over a period of time. What is more important, though, is that the baptism record proves Isaac was a Jew when he and Matilda married, the only conclusion possible being that Matilda was Roman Catholic. Her obituary states she was a convert, however. If true, her conversion preceded the marriage. Whatever the complete story may be, the facts render family tradition inaccurate, either wholly or in the details.

     In Mobile Isaac was at various times, a clerk, a merchant, and an auctioneer (see census and city directory entries). He was also a volunteer fireman, and apparently each time he moved, he joined the nearest volunteer fire department. He resigned Torrent Engine Company No. 5 on 6 May 1844.11 On 3 April 1848, he was on the roll of Washington Fire Company No. 8.12 He appeared on the roll of Neptune Fire Company No. 2 on 9 April 1850.13 In 1860-61, Isaac S. Davis was an honorary member of Washington Fire Company, No. 8.14 This contradicts Isaac's obituary that states he moved from Mobile in 1858. The three possibilities, it seems, are that the obituary is wrong, or the fire department report is wrong, or Isaac was retained as an honorary member in the event he moved back to Mobile. His obituary lends support to the latter possibility: "He held the position... of honorary member of two Fire Companies in Mobile; one of the latter he organized, and is now one of the largest companies in the city."

     Isaac S. Davis was a member of the Can't Get Away Club, and was on that society's standing committee in the 6th Ward as reported in a Mobile newspaper on 8 September 1853. The Can't Get Away Club, incorporated in 1854, was a voluntary society in Mobile founded in 1839 by gentlemen to provide healthcare to yellow fever sufferers.15 Although statistics have not been located for yellow fever deaths in Mobile for 1853, that nearly 8,000, or 5% of the population, died of the disease in New Orleans alone that year illustrates the severity of the epidemic that was general throughout the Gulf South.

     In 1857, there was a financial panic in the United States caused by government interference in the economy through the banking system. In the depression that followed, "Capt. Davis lost a fortune, but seemed to bear it without a murmer, as coming from the hands of Divine Providence."8

     In 1858, Isaac, with his family, left Mobile and moved to Galveston, Texas, with the intention of making it their home.8 How many living children they had at the time of their move is not known. Of Isaac and Matilda's seven known children, at least four had died before the move (the first Matilda Agnes, Alloissious, and both Isaacs). Isaac Vincent, the youngest known child, probably lived only a few days. Of the remaining three children, Clotilda doesn't appear on the 1860 census, but whether she died in Alabama or Texas, or somewhere in between, has not been determined.

     Why the family was in San Antonio in the summer of 1860 when the census was taken is a mystery. Perhaps they moved there, decided they didn't like it, and returned to Galveston; or perhaps they left the coast for the summer for health reasons. No epidemic was reported in Galveston, or anywhere on the Gulf Coast, in 1860, but Isaac certainly would have recognized any conditions that might lead to an outbreak of yellow fever or other dreaded disease. Another possibility is that Isaac's obituary is incorrect. The family may have moved directly to San Antonio from Mobile, or they may have stayed in Galveston only briefly as there were yellow fever epidemics there in 1858 and 1859.

     In January 1861, sixteen years after Texas joined the United States, the Secession Convention met in Austin and, on February 1, adopted an Ordinance of Secession and a Declaration of Causes on February 2. The proposed ordinance was approved by the voters, but even before Texas could become "independent" as provided for in the text of the Ordinance, Texas was accepted as a Confederate state on March 1, 1861.

     Isaac "was the first to raise a company to protect Galveston, but was ordered to the Rio Grande. The day previous to his departure he was attacked by severe illness, but said he would be carried aboard the vessel before he would resign."8 He enlisted on 9 March 1861 in Brazos Santiago, Cameron County, Texas, CSA, for six months unless sooner discharged. He was commissioned 1st Lieutenant in Captain August A. Tomlinson's Company F, Infantry, Rio Grande Regiment, John S. "Rip" Ford, commanding.16

     In his service records, Isaac was described as 5'6" with blue eyes and dark hair, 45 years old, born in Mobile [sic]. He traveled 500 miles to place of rendezvous.16 Having been gravely ill when he left Galveston for the Valley, "he had several severe attacks afterwards which resulted in his death. He died in his country's defence"8 in July 1861, probably in Cameron County.

Additional Data

Isaac S. Davis lived in 1838 in Mobile on St. Emanuel Street at the corner of Monroe.17

Isaac S. Davis lived in 1842 in Mobile on the lower end of Joachim. His work address was 43 Dauphin. Just above his name in the city directory is that of his brother, George Jr., who worked at the same address, but in his listing, his place of work is identified as "country store." Isaac is listed as a member of Torrent Engine Company No. 5 and was a delegate to the fire Department Association. He was also treasurer of Torrent No. 5.18

Isaac S. Davis lived in 1844 at 86 Joachim, Mobile. He was a clerk at 77 and 75 Water, working for M. Durand, an Auctioneer.19

I.S. and Matilda Davis appeared on the 1 June 1850 Federal Census of Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, enumerated 22 July 1850. Their children Claudius, Clotilda, Alloise and Matilda were listed as living with them.20 Click to view image

Isaac Davis lived in 1855 in Mobile on the corner of Massachusetts and St. Lawrence. He was an auctioneer at 62 Royal.21

Isaac Davis lived in 1856 in Mobile on the northwest corner of Lawrence and Massachusetts. He was an auctioneer at 62 Royal.22

I.S. Davis lived in 1859 in Mobile on the northwest corner of Massachusetts and Lawrence, and was working as an auctioneer at 11 South Water. It does not necessarily follow that the year of his move to Texas, as stated in his obituary, is incorrect, as it is impossible to determine exactly when the data for the directory was gathered.23

I.S. and Matilda Davis appeared on the 1 June 1860 Federal Census of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, enumerated 30 June 1860. Their children Leo and Agnes were listed as living with them.24 Click to view image

Children of Isaac S. Davis and Matilda Sophia V. Blakely


  1. [S18] Family data, Agnes Davis Munson Bible, unknown bible title (n.p.:, unknown publish date); original owned in 1996 by Della (Caldwell) Hanly (Rosharon, TX). Mrs. Hanly is now deceased; present owner unknown.
  2. [S448] Mobile County Marriage Book 5: 121B, County Clerk's Office, Mobile, Alabama.
  3. [S446] Married, Mobile Daily Commercial Register and Patriot, Mobile, 12 April 1841, 2.
  4. [S447] Mobile Catholic Records, Marriage: 276, p. 85, , The Catholic Center, Archdiocese of Mobile, Mobile, Alabama.
  5. [S448] Mobile County Marriage Book Book 4, p. 5.
  6. [S440] Mobile Catholic Records, Baptism: 1313, , The Catholic Center, Archdiocese of Mobile, Mobile, Alabama.
  7. [S451] Pauline Jones Gandrud, comp., Alabama Records, Vol. 3 (Columbus, Mississippi: Blewett Company, 1980), 37, citing Tuscaloosa County Deed Book 1, p. 209.
  8. [S452] Obituary, Galveston Weekly Civilian, Galveston, 20 August 1861.
  9. [S453] Virgil White, trans., Index to Volunteer Soldiers in Indian Wars and disturbances, 1815-1858, Vol. 1, A-K (Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing Co., 1994), 350.
  10. [S454] New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, online <>.
  11. [S455] Lois Dumas Mitchell, "Torrent Fire Co. No. 5 Mobile, Alabama 1838 - 1888," Photocopy of page 35 of an unnamed book or journal from the city [Mobile] museum files, sent to Marianne Gilbert 2/2000 by Carley Anderson; copy from Gilbert.
  12. [S456] Annual Report, Report of "Washington Fire Company No 8" (Mobile: The Museum of Mobile, 3 April 1848), Box 18008, Envelope 2, Folder 1, Document #6. Photocopy from Carley Anderson to Marianne Gilbert, 29 Apr 1997 with cover letter identifying the repository as the city museum, presumably the Museum of Mobile. However, there is also a fire museum in Mobile which seems a more likely repository; copy from Gilbert.
  13. [S457] Annual Report, Report of the Neptune Fire Company No. 2 (Mobile: The Museum of Mobile, 9 April 1850), Box 18008, Envelope 7, Folder 2, Document 22. Photocopy from Carley Anderson to Marianne Gilbert, 29 Apr 1997 with cover letter identifying the repository as the city museum, presumably the Museum of Mobile. However, there is also a fire museum in Mobile which seems a more likely repository; copy from Gilbert.
  14. [S458] O.L. Keeler, Report of the Chief Engineer of the Mobile Fire Department, 1860-'61 (Mobile: Farrow & Dennett, Printers, 1861), 15.
  15. [S459] Can't Get Away Club, The Mobile Daily Advertiser, Mobile, Thursday, September 8, 1853, 2.
  16. [S460] "Confederate Muster Rolls", Capt. Tomlinson's Company F infantry, Col. John S. Ford's Rio Grande Regiment; Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Austin, No. 1344.
  17. [S461] Fay's Mobile Directory (Mobile: Fay's, 1838), 30.
  18. [S462] Vail's Mobile Directory (Mobile: Vail's, 1842), 21, 71, 72.
  19. [S463] Wood's Mobile Directory (Mobile: Wood's, 1844), 60.
  20. [S443] I.S. Davis household, 1850 U.S. Census, Mobile County, Alabama, population schedule, City of Mobile, page 437B, dwelling 2519, family 2409; National Archives micropublication M432, roll 11.
  21. [S464] Mobile City Directory (Mobile:, 1855), 54.
  22. [S465] Mobile City Directory (Mobile:, 1856), 30.
  23. [S466] Mobile City Directory (Mobile:, 1859).
  24. [S444] I.S. Davis household, 1860 U.S. Census, Bexar County, Texas, population schedule, San Antonio, page 31/384, dwelling 714, family 702; National Archives micropublication M653, roll 1288.
  25. [S440] Mobile Catholic Records, Baptism: 1521, The Catholic Center, Archdiocese of Mobile.