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Friday, June 1, 2018

Friday's Photo: Claude L. Davis

Unknown year - Claude Davis had red hair and blue eyes. 

This is for Aunt Dora Page is written on the
back. Dora Page is Betha Davis' sister. 
 This is the earliest photo I have of my grandfather, Claude Lewis Davis. He was born in City Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky on September 28, 1893. He had a complicated childhood. His mother was very young and his father is not known. 

His mother, Bertha Davis, was born in Edmonson County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Olive Caroline Davis and the granddaughter of Seth H. Davis and Margaret "Peggy" Jones. 

As a young child, it doesn't appear he lived with his mother as he was found as Claude D. Smith on the 1900 census living as the adopted son of Isaac Jefferson Smith and Nancy J. Sanders Smith in Coldbrook, Warren County, Illinois.

Isaac and Nancy were both from Edmonson County. Nancy, age 30 in 1900, was the daughter of Benjamin Sanders and Mary J. Smith Sanders. Isaac, a 32-year-old day laborer, was the son of John Smith and Celia Whittle Smith.  Isaac and Nancy were married in Edmonson County in 1890. On the 1900 census record, it was reported Nancy had given birth to one child who had died.  

In November 1905, C. L. Smith was presented with a book "from a friend" and in it was written, C. L. Smith Elko, KY.  Claude would have been 12 years old. This book, on my bookshelf, is only one of a few pieces of evidence showing my grandfather's surname as Smith. 

In 1910, Isaac and Nancy were living in the Parker community in Edmonson County along with a four-year-old son, Walter. A 16-year-old Claude Smith lived nearby as a lodger with the Robert Page family.  At the time of the census, Claude's mother was Bertha Cooksey, a widow living in Louisville. A few months later she married Frank Hawkins.  

Little else is known about my grandfather's childhood. Did he know his birth mother as a child? When did he decide to use the name Davis instead of Smith? It is said he joined the Navy soon after his mother remarried. Did he go in as Smith or Davis? 

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© 2018

Sources 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Family photographs and documents from the collection of Diana Bryan Quinn

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