52 Ancestors #23: Nellie Davis, Wherefore art thou?

Was Nellie Davis born on January 26, 1886? Or, was Nellie Davis born on February 25, 1886?

The short answer is … both.

The Davis Family

I haven’t done a lot of research on Chili’s side of the family. I have my own family mysteries to solve and adding his family mysteries just makes my head hurt! However, I recently ran across some information that caused me to go digging for Davises … and ultimately caused my head to hurt!

My husband’s 2nd great grandfather, Ephraim Davis (1861-1939) had three children: Nellie, Maude and Walter.

Full disclosure … I’m an avid Ancestry.com user, but I’m always careful to check accuracy as much as possible when records come my way. While poking around looking at new leaves, I noticed that Nellie had a TON … nearly an entire tree branch full.

I was excited to see photos, a birth certificate and an obituary. Upon further inspection, however, I realized this wasn’t my Nellie … but everything matches so well, including birth year, that it would be easy to confuse the two.

Nellie Sarilda Davis

Many people have Nellie S. in their family trees as the daughter of Ephraim Davis. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the right Nellie.

Nellie S. was born on January 26, 1886 to Charles (1858-1951) and Emaline Davis (1863-1940) in Shelby County Illinois. She married Edward Ruff in 1909 and they had four children.

Nellie S. Davis Birth Certificate

Nellie S. Davis’ Birth Certificate

She appears on the 1900 census in Shelby County with her family.

Nellie S. Davis 1900 Census

Nellie S. Davis 1900 Census, Shelby County, Illinois


Nellie Davis, Chili’s Great Grand Aunt

My Nellie Davis was born on February 25, 1886 to Ephraim and Laura Davis in Vergennes, Illinois.

Nellie Davis Birth record

Nellie Davis Birth record

Vergennes is in Jackson County, about 2 hours south of Shelby County. Nellie was the first born child and appears on the 1900 census with her parents and two younger siblings.

Ephraim Davis 1900 Census

Nellie Davis 1900 Census, Jackson County, Illinois

I completely lose track of her after 1900.


Oh, But, the Photograph!

Normally, I would simply dismiss this and move on … There are enough Davises around here to populate their own planet, and most had very common names and are easily confused. However, along with Nellie S.’s information was a photograph of her father, Charles, herself and her siblings. It quickly caught my attention. Remember, Nellie S. isn’t Chili’s direct line – or even related for all I know.

Charles W. Davis and Children

Charles W. Davis and Children

My father-in-law bears an uncanny resemblance to Nellie S.’s father, Charles. Mind you, these men were born about 80 years apart!

Charles W. Davis and Thomas Davis

Charles W. Davis and my Father-in-law, Tom.

And … Chili bears an uncanny resemblance to Nellie’s brother, Andrew. They were born 90 years apart!

Andrew Howard Davis and Jeff Davis

Andrew Davis and Jeff Davis

Maybe I’m seeing things, but I think it’s spooky!

With such strong resemblances, I’m determined to prove (or disprove) how Nellie S. and Nellie are connected! Whish me luck and send me some Excedrin!


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