Samuel Emory Davis


Samuel Emory Davis, the father of Jefferson Davis, was born in Georgia around 1755-58. His father, Evan Davis, died soon after Samuel's birth, leaving his mother, Mary Emory Davis, to care for him and his two half brothers. Little is known of his formative years, but he was literate, indicating at least some formal education.

Apparently following the lead of his half brothers, Samuel enlisted with the American forces soon after the beginning of the Revolution. He may have briefly been a member of a Georgia regiment, but the majority of his service was with South Carolina troops. One account states that he was a private in a company of "mounted gunmen"; in 1779 he organized his own company, probably of mounted infantry. Various accounts place him at the Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia (Feb. 14, 1779) and the sieges of Savannah (Sept.-Oct. 1779) and Augusta (Apr.-June 1781). According to Joseph E. Davis, Samuel was wounded twice during the conflict.

After the war Davis returned to Georgia and was appointed clerk of the courts. He married Jane Cook, whom he had met in South Carolina during the war, in 1783, and the first of their ten children was born the following year. They remained in Georgia until about 1797 when they moved to Kentucky, perhaps with a short period in South Carolina in between.

Shortly after Jefferson's birth, the family left Kentucky for Louisiana and then Mississippi, settling in Woodville, in Wilkinson County, where they built Rosemont. Samuel Davis died while visiting eldest son Joseph in 1824. Jefferson Davis named his first son after his father.

For more information, see Volume 1 of The Papers of Jefferson Davis. Much of the correspondence between Davis and his parents was destroyed by Union troops in 1863.

The Papers of Jefferson Davis
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Houston, Texas 77251-1892

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