George Davis

b. circa 1768, d. 1 April 1850

Great-grandfather of George Poindexter Munson Sr.
3rd great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Munson and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for George Poindexter Munson II
     George Davis was born circa 1768 in London, Middlesex, England.1 He married Rosetta before 1803, presumably in London.2 He died on 1 April 1850 in Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, at age 82.3,1 He was buried on 1 April 1850 in the Jewish section of the old Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.2,3
     George and Rosetta Davis emigrated in 1809 from London.

     George Davis made a deed of gift to Betsey Davis, George Davis Jr., and "amiaboe little daughter," Adeline Davis, all minors, on 21 August 1822 at Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.4 He made a deed of gift to James Davis and Isaac Davis, both minors, on 17 September 1822 at Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.5

     Following is Bertram Wallace Korn's treatment of George Davis in The Jews of Mobile:

     In late 1823 or early 1824, George Davis, Sr., an English Jew who had been running a store and the Eagle Hotel in Tuscaloosa since 1820, decided to move to Mobile. He discovered that his was so common a name, once he was in Mobile, that in 1825 he began modestly to refer to himself as "the ORIGINAL George Davis" (generally capitalized in that fashion), in order to differentiate himself from others. Davis engaged in various ventures in his pursuit of a livelihood; he conducted an inn, ran a store, kept a livery stable, acted as the local agent for a New Orleans Jewish slave-dealer named Levy Jacobs, and bought and sold property on speculation. He was best known as an auctioneer, however, and the day after he died on April 1, 1850, at the age of eighty-two, the Mobile Register devoted most of its comment to his memorable achievements in the art of conducting public sales:
…For this avocation, he had peculiar qualifications. A quick shrill voice, a flexible manner, ready wit, and free and exhaustless humor, made his sales attractive as well as effective, and rendered him an agreeable companion for all the lovers of mirth and jovial social intercourse. Large sums of money passed through his hands but they were always accounted for with scrupulous fidelity. His heart was generous and liberal, and he rendered aid to the full extent of his abilities, to the needy and meritorious…
But this was too serious a vein for the reporter; he felt compelled to emphasize the unique qualities of Davis' public personality:
It is difficult to depict the peculiar characteristics of Mr. Davis, but he was, in many respects, remarkable and eccentric, possessed of a boundless fund of anecdote and many odd forms of speech, greatly attrractive of the crowd, and he will long be remembered by all who knew him, as one of the most singular personages of this city. He well deserved the appellation of "The Original," which he himself assumed, to distinguish him from other citizens of the same name. We could relate many laughable incidents connected with his history, but they are inappropriate on this occasion…
     Only a thin line divided Davis the auctioneer from Davis the entertainer. He loved the theatre, on one occasion cancelling a sale so that a performer's benefit might not suffer. Several times he himself took to the stage in order to attract patronage for the benefit performances of another unusual personality — a comedian named Albert J. 'Roley' Marks, who was the paid secretary of the Jewish congregation in New Orleans from 1834 to 1842 and served as its rabbi for the last three years of that period. Marks was probably an Englishman, too, and it is possible that the two comedians had known each other before they came to the United States. In the Mobile Register of April 12, 1828, the advertisement for the benefit for Marks and his wife announced that "Between the Play & Farce, Mr. George Davis, Sen'r (who has volunteered his services for the night) will sing a Comic Song, called the JEW PEDLAR…" Marks and Davis both seem to have used their Jewishness as part of their stock-in-trade. The advertisements for Marks' benefit in 1833 also featured Davis' participation as an added attraction for his friend: "In the course of the evening the ORIGINAL GEO. DAVIS (who has kindly volunteered his services), will sing two Comic Songs."

     Infrequent as were his appearances in such comic presentations on the stage, Davis continued to entertain the customers at his sales and the readers of his advertisements. Even when he was in business difficulty, and was attempting to collect sums of money owed to him, he raised a smile by reminding his customers that even if they could not pay in cash, a promissory note "in case of mortality would save much trouble to Administrators…" In 1839, after a great fire destroyed much of the business district of Mobile, including Davis' headquarters, and an epidemic had run riot among the citizenry of the city, and an economic depression had grasped the entire country in its cruel clutches, Davis' advertisements still voiced his jaunty, indomitable spirit:

On May 16, 1839 —
     GOING — GOING — BUT NOT YET GONE… The ORIGINAL GEORGE DAVIS, — Star Auctioneer, &c., &c., still continues to offer for sale at public auction or outcry, at his original stand, corner of Royal and Conti streets, in the well known city of Mobile, slaves, horses, cattle, and other live stock, to the highest bidder for cash down and no grumbling. Those who "have music in their souls," can enjoy the soft enchantment of his cry, from the hour of 11 until 2, each and every day of the week, (Sundays only excepted) by lingering near the spot which he has chosen to bless with his presence — being well assured that he is not going, going to suspend, stop, or go down…
On November 13, 1839 —
     KNOCKED DOWN, BUT NOT GONE. The ORIGINAL has rode out the storm, the fever and the fires, and is now "as good as new," ready to cry for the amusement of his friends and the advantage of himself. The Original conceived it his melancholy duty upon this occasion to announce to those who know and love him, that the Red Banner which floated so long and so proudly over their old and honorable friend, whose broad folds and bright "star" gave assurance to all who saw it, that nothing but honesty and good faith could hope to find shelter or protection beneath its shade … is gone, gone forever!! having been destroyed … in the "great con-flag-ration" … Now, therefore, I, the Original George Davis, Star Auctioneer, &c. &c., make it known to all the world, Palestine excepted … that I have taken my stand at the north east corner of the streets known as Church and Royal … where … I shall sell to the highest bidder, for cash down, animals of all sorts, kinds and colors, quadrupeds and bipeds, from the roaring lion to the cooing dove …
After an illness in 1840, he informed the public that all of the auctioneers in Mobile, other than two recalcitrants, had agreed to give him a monopoly on the sale of animals and slaves, "in consequence of the great age and exemplary character of the ORIGINAL, thereby leaving the field open to him, who is proverbially the 'father of Auctioneers,' being the oldest man now living who cries as well for the benefit of his friends, as he does for his own interest." He therefore reported that he had set up his banner and auction stand "amidst the ancient ruins where the classic columns of the Government Street Hotel once reared their lofty heads," and was prepared to sell "Negroes, Horses, Mules, Cows, Asses, quadruped and biped, and all other animals in the Catalogue of Creation … for Cash down and no grumbling … "

     Davis had some interest in politics. In 1835, and again in 1843, he joined other citizens in the sponsorship of Democratic Party mass meetings. In 1838 he announced his candidacy for an aldermanic vacancy, but quickly withdrew his name. This however, may have been as much a joke as was his campaign for the office of Mayor in 1841, when he suggested that he would remain unpledged by the simple refusal to answer any and all questions about his plans and programs for the administration of the city's affairs!

     Davis' name is nowhere recorded as a member of the first Mobile Jewish congregation, but he and his wife Rosetta (who died on January 16, 1849) were buried in the Jewish section of the old Magnolia Cemetery. Their son, George Davis, Jr., was married three times. Although none of his wives seems to have been Jewish, his grave (he died on September 7, 1853) and those of his first wife and a number of their children, in the Jewish section of the Church Street Graveyard, are marked off as "The Oldest Jewish Graves in Alabama" — the earliest being the baby Isaac who died at the age of one year on April 4, 1829. Nothing is known, however, which would indicate that any children of George Davis, Jr., identified themselves as Jews.

Additional Data

George Davis Sr. appeared on the 1830 U.S. Census in Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama. Others enumerated in the same household were one male 5-10, two males 15-20, one male 40-50; one female 5-10; one female 40-50.6 Click to view image

George Davis appeared on the 1840 U.S. Census in Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama. In his household were one male under 5, one male 5-10, four males 15-20, three males 20-30, one male 30-40, one male 70-80; one female under 5, one female 15-20, one female 70-80; eight male slaves, four female slaves; one person employed in commerce.7 Click to view image

Children of George Davis and Rosetta (—?—) (Davis)


  1. [S467] Bertram Wallace Korn, The Jews of Mobile, Alabama, 1763 - 1841 (Cincinatti: Hebrew Union College Press, 1970), 23.
  2. [S467] Bertram Wallace Korn, The Jews of Mobile, Alabama, 1763 - 1841, 35.
  3. [S472] Obituary, Mobile Daily Register, Mobile, 2 April 1850.
  4. [S451] Pauline Jones Gandrud, comp., Alabama Records, Vol. 3 (Columbus, Mississippi: Blewett Company, 1980), 36, citing Tuscaloosa Deed Book 1, p. 194.
  5. [S451] Pauline Jones Gandrud, Alabama Records, 37, citing Tuscaloosa County Deed Book 1, p. 209.
  6. [S1117] George Davis household, 1830 U.S. Census, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, page 384; National Archives micropublication M19, roll 3.
  7. [S1118] George Davis Jr. household, 1840 U.S. Census, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, page 93; National Archives micropublication M704, roll 10.
  8. [S468] Dr. W. Stuart Harris, online <>, Dr. W. Stuart Harris (unknown location), downloaded June 2002.