Early Davis Family in Beaufort and Carteret County

Davis Island and its proximity to Beaufort
The Davis family has been in Beaufort and Carteret County since William Davis (1692-1756), son of James Davis (1669-1716) and Elizabeth White, came to this area in the early 1700’s. Research by Mamr√© Wilson states, “Their ancestry goes back at least to 1607 when William’s great-great grandfather sailed to Jamestown…According to family history, William himself came to this country in 1700 from Wales and, in 1715, arrived in Carteret County.”

Stories of Davis by Mabel Piner relates that William Davis was “of Welsh descent, whose grandfather William Davis came to Virginia in 1622 on the ship “Margaret and John.”

Other sources claim that William Davis, carpenter, came to the Core Sound area in 1736 after selling his land in Perquimans. According to Maurice Davis' History of the Hammock House, Davis had sued Robert Cox in Perquimans County after Cox had accused him of stealing an axe and hiding it in a potato patch.

In 1723, Joseph Wicker (1679-1743) came to Carteret County and bought a small island where he and his wife and children made their home. When Wicker died, he left the island to his daughter, Mary, who had married William Davis about 1716. They raised eight sons and a daughter in what is still known today as the Davis Island family home.

Maurice Davis wrote, “It is interesting to note that in March 1728 Joseph Wicker, Esq., Warden of the Anglican Church, was ordered to pay William Davis for the construction of a new court house” [in Beaufort].

One of Mary and William’s sons, Solomon White Davis (1746-1794), moved to Cedar Point at the western end of Carteret County, but eventually came to Beaufort. Even though family trees note other possible wives as the mother of Solomon’s many children, it seems most probable that, in 1768, Solomon married Joanna Wade, granddaughter of John Shackelford of Shackelford Banks. Solomon’s son, Allen Davis (1792-1835) married Mary Chadwick in 1814. They had 11 children. Mary Chadwick was the daughter of James Chadwick and Mary Bell of Carteret County. Family trees show these Davises, as well as James and Mary Chadwick, all died in or near Beaufort.

Though it is not clear who built The Allen Davis House circa 1774 on Queen Street in Beaufort, it is possible that Allen Davis, son of Solomon White Davis, was an early owner. The 1850 census shows Allen Davis, Sr.'s widow living in Beaufort with her children --at that time Allen Jr. was sixteen.

Though not documented, it is said that General Ambrose Burnside used this house as his headquarters during the Civil War - thus the double plaque. If the family did not already own the house, perhaps Allen Jr., a druggist, purchased it after the Civil War and Federal occupation. In 1980, Jean Kell, in The Old Port Town, wrote that the Davis family had owned and lived in the house for over 100 years.