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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Davis

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 990-992 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

Matthew Oliver Davis, born June 11, 1799, died October 11, 1874, was a farmer of Tryon county, New York, a carpenter and an innkeeper. He was a man of substance and represented his party in the state legislature. He married and had issue.

(II) Isaac M., son of Matthew Oliver Davis, was born in Caughnawaga, Montgomery county, New York, November 20, 1824, died April 8, 1908. He was educated in the public schools and was reared on the farm, remaining there until he was in his twentieth year. He had, from boyhood, a desire to leave the farm and become a merchant. At last the opportunity offered and, June 12, 1844, he secured a clerkship in the general store of Snyder & Fish, at Fonda, New York, and began work on that day. His salary was fifty dollars for the first year, not including board. At the end of the first year he received a bonus, or present, of a five dollar gold piece, and a raise in salary of twenty-five dollars. During the second year he had become so sure that merchandising was his best chance in life that he induced his father, Matthew O. Davis, to purchase the business from Snyder & Fish. Isaac was placed in full management of the store. In the succeeding years he so increased the business that larger quarters were a necessity, and a new building was erected on Main street, where the Davis block now stands. At that time, no buildings were near it on either side. The stock and fixtures were moved to the new building and prosperity continued. In 1850 he purchased his father's interest, and later in the year acquired an interest in the hardware business of G. H. Teller. This interest he held in partnership with Mr. Teller for three years, when he acquired full ownership by purchase and operated both stores successfully for the following twelve years. He was rapidly acquiring wealth in real estate, and stock in other enterprises. He was interested in the Garoga Plank Road Company, Fultonville; Fonda and Johnstown Plank Road Company, Hardenburg Mill, at Berryville; owned a two hundred-acre farm at Sand Flats, besides other village and country property. In 1865 he sold his hardware business, and before the year was out repurchased it and the building in which the store was located. July 23, 1884, in the disastrous fire that destroyed the principal business houses of Fonda, his building and stock was burned. He moved his business to a block that escaped the fire and at once began the erection of the present establishment, which was completed in December, 1884. In 1902 he admitted his son, E. Corning Davis, to a partnership and the business was continued under the firm name of I. M. Davis & Son. This continued until his death, April 8, 1908, covering a period of sixty-four years in active business life in one line and one village. He was active to the very last, arriving at the store at seven in the morning and remaining until closing time at night, keeping a careful eye on every detail of the business. June 4, 1904, he celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his business career. No goods were sold during the day, an orchestra discoursed appropriate music, and the day was given over to receiving and entertaining the great throng that came to offer congratulations. He survived the anniversary four years. In 1853 he built the Davis home in Fonda. He had the timber hewn from the woods in the rear of his lot and all material worked out by adze, plane and chisel. From childhood he was interested in church and school work. He imbibed his early religious doctrine from the Rev. Abram Van Horne, in the old Caughnawaga stone Dutch Reformed Church, built before the revolution and pierced with loopholes so it could be used as a fort and place of refuge in those times of trouble and danger. On removing to Fonda, he joined the Dutch Reformed Church there and served as an elder until his death. He was one of the active agents in the development of the Mohawk Valley, saw the first train go through on the now great four-track New York Central Railroad, and in his latter years, with sight, hearing and memory unimpaired, was a most interesting character and the source of much valuable information to the historian and genealogist. He married, March, 1848, Rachel Maria, daughter of Adam Douw and Lydia Sammons Fonda, both celebrated families in Mohawk Valley annals and fully traced in this work. (See Fonda, and Sammons). The children of Isaac M. Davis were all given a good education, and the daughters were all graduates of Vassar college. Children:

  1. Lydia, born 1849, married George F. Mills.
  2. Bradley, died at the age of five years.
  3. Clara, born 1853, married Rev. John Campbell Boyd and had
    1. Rachel, who married Rev. J. C. Caton, and has two children, Donald and Cuthbert Caton.
    2. Hamilton.
    3. Donald, a physician, married Grace Wells.
    4. Margaret.
  4. Leslie, born 1855, died 1856.
  5. Flora, born 1857, married William S. Barnes, and has Davis and Sidney.
  6. Josephine H., born 1859: married W. E. Noxon, and has Florence and Marion.
  7. Erastus Corning, born July 24, 1864, see forward.
  8. Isaac, born 1866, married Everett M. Kennedy.
  9. Marion, born 1868.

(III) Erastus Corning, seventh child of Isaac M. and Rachel Maria (Fonda) Davis, was educated in the schools of Fort Plain and Amsterdam, New York. In 1880 he was taken into his father's employ and thoroughly qualified for a future mercantile career. In 1902 he was admitted to a partnership and half interest in the business, which was thereafter conducted under the name of I. M. Davis & Son. On the death of Isaac M. Davis, Erastus C. succeeded to the entire business, which he has since conducted in the same able manner that characterized his father's operation. He is a Republican, serving on the county committee, of which he has been secretary for the past ten years. He is also a member of the State Loan Commission. He is a member of the Montgomery Historical Association, and holds fraternal membership in Fultonville Lodge, No. 531, Free and Accepted Masons, Fultonville Lodge, No. 773, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Royal Arcanum and Chief of Records Lodge, No. 121, Improved Order of Red Men. He married, November, 1885, Helen M., daughter of John V. and Louise M. (Nhare) Quackenbush. John V. Quackenbush was a contractor and builder, beginning work at the carpenter trade when he was twelve years of age. He improved his nights in study, and was a well-informed man. In 1849, he went to California with the "gold hunters," remaining until 1856. On his return to New York state, he engaged in railroad and other heavy construction. He was the contractor for building the West Shore Railroad between St. Johnsville and Utica, New York; built the electric railroad from Herkimer to Little Falls, and from Frankfort to Utica, also a section of sewer for the city of Boston; the water system of Washington, District of Columbia and seventy-two miles of extensions of the Norfolk & Western railroad in Virginia and Kentucky. He married Louise M. Nhare, who bore him four children:

  1. Helen, married Erastus Corning Davis.
  2. Edward, married May Ranney.
  3. Ralph, married Flora Daly, and has a son John.
  4. Blanche, died in infancy.

Children of Erastus C. and Helen (Quackenbush) Davis, all born in Fonda, New York:

  1. Ralph, born 1887; educated in the public schools; entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was graduated C.E., class of 1910; now engaged with the American Bridge Company.
  2. Lydia, born 1889.
  3. Erastus Corning (2), born 1891, was graduated from the Fonda High School and Gloversville Business College; now engaged in the paymaster's department of the General Electric Company of Schenectady.
  4. Clara Louise, born 1895.

The elder daughter is a graduate of the Fonda High School, where the younger is still a student.

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