Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Find – Ernest Solomon

Last summer I was looking through a book of historical images of the town of Londonderry, Vermont. One photo’s caption claimed that it was of the home of Ernest Davis [1], my great-grandfather. Since many of my Davis ancestors had lived in Londonderry, and the pages contained at least one image related to them, I bought it and brought it home.

A couple of months later I was documenting Ernest’s life.  On his wedding record, his occupation was listed as “blacksmith” [2].  I remembered one of my relatives mentioning once that my great-grandfather had been a blacksmith, so this bit of information wasn’t surprising.

As I worked my way back through his life, I again found mention of blacksmith as his occupation, this time on the 1900 census.  What was interesting this time, however, is that he was boarding with another blacksmith, Harvey Clough [3].  As I was making a note of this, I remember another photo that I had seen in Sincerely Yours, the book I had picked up earlier.  I pulled the book from my shelf and found the page with the photo I had been thinking of.

“Interior shot of Leslie Benson’s Blacksmith Shop.  June 20, 1909…” read the caption [4].  Three men were pictured in the photo.  Thinking that there probably wasn’t more than a single blacksmith shop in the small town of Londonderry, I looked at the photo closer.  Though I couldn’t remember seeing a photo of my great-grandfather before, the man in the middle of the photo reminded me of my grandfather.  I wondered if it was his father, Ernest Solomon Davis.

I asked my relatives via Facebook if the man in the photo might, indeed, be Ernest Davis.  Those who also owned the book, and therefore had seen the photo, thought that it might be, but none of us had another photo to use as a comparison.  One person remembered being told that Ernest was a tall man, which didn’t really fit the description of the man in the photo.  I later found a description of him on his World War I draft card that described him as “medium build”, [5] which did seem to fit the photo.

Without a positive way to identify if it was Ernest in the picture, I put the book away, documented some more of his life, and continued on to other things.

The photo came back to me again last night.  The other day, while I was sorting my “stuff”, I found a photograph of my grandfather that I thought had been lost a long time ago.  To my surprise, there was another older portrait attached to it.  On the back was written “Ernest Solomon Davis”.  Not only had I found my grandfather’s missing photo, I had found a photo of his father that I didn’t even know I had!

After sharing the photo with my relatives, I took out my copy of Sincerely Yours again.  Putting the portrait next to the image in the book, it appears to me that it is Ernest in the blacksmith shop.  What a cool feeling it is to see not only my great-grandfather, but also the place where he lived and worked, all thanks to a chance encounter at a bookstore, and a “lost” photo!

Blacksmith photo from page 45 of the book Sincerely Yours by George F. Newell.
Inset photo from the private collection of Elroy Davis
[1] George F. Newell, Sincerely Yours - Historic Postcard Views of Londonderry & South Londonderry, Vermont, (Poultney, VT: Historic Pages Company, 2007), 69.
[2] "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 Oct 2012), Ernest Solomon Davis and Minnie Laura Jenkins, 1903.
[3] Harvey R. Clough household, 1900 U.S. census, Windham County, Vermont, population schedule, town of Londonderry, enumeration district [ED] 253 (penned), supervisor's district [SD] 274 (penned), sheet 2A (penned), dwelling 25, family 29 ; digital image, (accessed 28 Oct 2012).
[4] George F. Newell, Sincerely Yours - Historic Postcard Views of Londonderry & South Londonderry, Vermont, (Poultney, VT: Historic Pages Company, 2007), 45.
[5] Ernest Solomon Davis World War I Draft card, 12 Sep 1918, 2850. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [DATABASE ON-LINE]. Provo, UT, USA; citing United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

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