Davisville, Mississippi and the Old Salem Cemetery

by

Keith E. Wilkerson, Bill Eddins, Carolyn Ogle

In the infancy of Jasper County, a limited network of roads existed. Most of these intersected at the city of Paulding, then referred to as the Queen City of the East. Early Mississippi maps, published in the 1850 time frame, list the community of Davisville. Davisville was located approximately 10 miles to the southeast of Paulding and was situated on the main road that led toward Waynesboro, MS and Mobile, AL. Early land patents support the notion that the Davisville community was centered north east of the present day intersection between the Vossburg/Paulding Road and Interstate 59.

How this community came to be know as Davisville is unknown, but it is reasonable to assume that it may have been named after Hosea Davis. Davis settled in the area on an unknown date, later securing the title a 40 acre parcel during January of 1841. While the founding date of Davisville is unknown, the community likely pre-dates 1833. This claim is supported by the Edward Young Terrall Sr. grave that lies within the Old Salem Cemetery. Following, and likely before, the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit, settlers began to move into the Choctaw Territory. Many of these people built cabins and made land improvements before they had any legal claim to the land. Naturally, this caused a great deal of grief for some who fell victim to land speculators who sought out developed lands and purchase it from the government when legal sale began during January of 1841. Subsequent settlers appear to have favored the same area as Hosea Davis and secured lands in or near Section 26, Township 2 N, Range 13 E. Most likely, this choice corresponded with the availability of water. Most of these people purchased small plots of 40 to 80 acres, indicating that the community was mostly comprised of small sustenance farmers.

From official U.S. Post Office records, we know that a post office was established at Davisville on January 4, 1852. A stage coach stop, a general store, and at least one community church, Salem Baptist (Old Salem Baptist), also existed. Land patents for the area also support that, Drury Allen Morris, owner of the general store and the Davisville postmaster, May 1, 1857 until December 7, 1871, lived near the location of the remaining Old Salem Cemetery. Records also confirm that Morris served as the Representative from Jasper County in the Mississippi State Legislature during the 1880 – 1882 sessions.

This photograph is believed to be a portrait of Drury Allen Morris. It was among the possessions of Lillian Morris Hays, daughter of Samuel Jackson Morris (Grandson of D.A. Morris) and Fannie Eddins Morris. During her life, Lillian conveyed that her Great Grandfather, Drury Allen Morris, lived in Jasper County Mississippi, served as the postmaster of Davisville, owned and operated a general store, was a 32nd degree Mason, and served as a Representative in the State Legislature. He was of the Baptist faith and married Phebe Terral. She also stated that Drury and Phebe are buried within the Old Salem Cemetery. (Their graves are not obviously marked).

In the death of Drury Allen Morris, of Jasper county, one of the landmarks of the state of Mississippi has passed away. He was one of the pioneers of Jasper county, and was the first to whom a marriage license was issued in the county, but his name will live forever as the instigator of an oratorical bon-mot that will never fall into disuse in his state. About fifty years ago, when Henry S. Foote and John J. McRae were stumping the state for and against secession and for the governorship, Mr. Foote, who was one of the most distinguished orators of that time, often meeting the wonderful Prentiss on the bustings and twice on the field of honor, asked in loud tones and a theatrical manner, in a speech at Paulding, "Is there in this vast assembly, any man so unpatriotic, and so lost to every sense of propriety, as to wish to dissolve this g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s union?" "Yes, by ---, here is one!" replied Mr. Morris, rising from his seat and striking his breast with his clenched fist. "Mighty God! Men of Jasper! Do you hear that!" Mr. Morris lived to be nearly ninety years of age, but it was not long enough to see the old exclamation forgotten, and the "Mighty men of Jasper"have been heard from at every state convention since that time.
[From the Daily Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), dated April 15, 1904]

In researching the community of Davisville, the author made the assumption that Salem Baptist Church was likely near the geographic center of the community. Because the cemetery lies within a stone's throw from the present day Vossburg/Paulding road (CR-119), it was assumed that the road remains near it's original location. Using a section map of Jasper county, he made the futher assumption that, due to the limited transportation means of those days, the size of the community likely encompassed no more than a two mile radius from the church. Referring to the folowing map, this equates to sixteen sections of land, the center falling at the circled cemetery.

Color Codes:

Green = The Hosea Davis Homestead

Blue = The William Eddins Homestead

Red = The Drury Allen Morris Homestead

 

By searching the records of the original land patents issued for these sixteen sections, we can piece together the names of the families who settled within the community of Davisville. Many of these names appear on the few stone grave markers that remain within the cemetery. The folowing list of names corresponds to the land sections described in the above map.

 

Residents of Section 29, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 28, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 27, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 26, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 32, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 33, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 34, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 35, Township 2, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 5, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 4, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 3, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 2, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 8, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 9, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 10, Township 1, Range 13 E

Residents of Section 11, Township 1, Range 13 E

 

On February, 27th, 1878, Terrall Smith, was appointed to serve as the last postmaster of the Davisville Post Office. It was discontinued at an unknown date, most likely when the post office was opened at nearby Vossburg on April, 17th, 1882. Nowadays, aside from the unmarked cemetery, any obvious evidence of the community has vanished. Similar to the fate of Paulding, Davisville faded into obscurity when it was bypassed by the railroad. In contrast, Vossburg, with the benfit of a rail service, began to grow and flourish.

 

 

 

Based upon word of mouth recollections, the Old Salem Baptist Church was located near the center of the western boundry of the remaining cemetery. (Ref. map and GPS coordinates). This sketch (by Keith Wilkerson) of the old church, now gone, is based upon the childhood memory of Mr. Jesse Trotter and his elder brother who grew up in the Salem Community. According to WPA community records research, it is likely that this building was the location of the Salem Church School.

 

This cemetery contains many “unmarked” graves. I purposely use these quotation marks. Based upon careful probing, we know that a multitude of native stone markers were placed. One must remember that the times of this cemetery fell among the worst economic period for those who lived in the south. Post-war survival for most was harsh, at best. Unless you were rich, and most of these people were not, you likely received a native stone or a wooden marker when you died.

 

 

 

 

Only recently did I discover that my Great-Great Grandparents, William and Martha Jane Hardee Eddins once lived in the Davisville community and that they are interred in Old Salem. Thanks to a bit of luck, oral family recollections, and the efforts of a cousin (B.E.), we were able to identify the proximity of their graves. William and his eldest son, William Abner, were identified to be confederate veterans and we have since marked their graves with an appropriate stone. As a result, Old Salem and the community once know as Davisville has become a significant landmark in our personal family history.

 

 

 

William Eddins

 

 

Return to the Jasper County Pages

Contact the Site Administrator