Thomas Jeffrey Davis

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
September 26, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 282
Ritchie County

THOMAS JEFFREY DAVIS, prosecuting attorney of Ritchie
County, with residence at Harrisville, the county seat, was
born in this county March 19, 1879, and is a scion of an
old and honored family of what is now West Virginia,
a family that was founded in America in the early colonial
era. The genealogy of the Davis family has fortunately
been preserved in careful record, from which the following
data are drawn:

William Davis was born in Glamorganshire, Wales, in
1663, and was educated at Oxford University, his parents
wishing him to become a clergyman. At the university
he became interested in the teachings of the Society of
Friends, which he joined, and in which he became a speaker.

In 1684 he came to America with others of this faith
to join the colony of William Penn. In 1698 he became
a member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Penn-
sylvania. He first married Elizabeth Brisley, and after
her death wedded Elizabeth Pavior. Four children were
born of the first and seven of the second marriage. Several
of the children became members of a Seventh Day Baptist
colony at Monmouth, New Jersey, about 1740, and with
these children William Davis passed the closing years of
his life. He died in 1745, aged eighty-two years. Rep-
resentatives of the family were prominent members of the
old Baptist Church at Shrewsbury, New Jersey. Rev.
Jacob Davis enlisted as a chaplain in the Patriot Army
of the Revolution, and his father, James, Sr., was killed
by a stray bullet while in service as a soldier in that war.
William Davis, Jr., served on the staff of Gen. George
Washington. William Davis, Jr., and his family became
members of the colony from the old Shrewsbury Church
that came to Virginia in 1789, the immigrants, who came
with a train of fifteen wagons, making settlement on White
Day Creek in what is now Monongalia County, West Vir-
ginia. James Davis, son of William, Jr., was sixteen
years old at the time of this migration to the wilds of
Virginia. His son David married Lydia Jeffrey, and they
became the parents of ten children, of whom the fifth was
Thomas Neely Davis. who was born in 1824 and who mar-
ried Amelia Zinn. Thomas Engle Davis, son of Thomas
N. and Amelia (Zinn) Davis, was born July 11, 1846, at
Oxford, Bitchie County, West Virginia, as now constituted.
December 24, 1868, Thomas E. Davis wedded Alethea Anna
Leggett, and they became the parents of four children:
Winifred married Homer B. Woods, September 10, 1890,
and they became the parents of seven children, of whom
two are deceased; Juniata Davis married Wheeler Boggess,
June 23, 1892, and her death occurred February 20, 1920,
she being survived by six children; Thomas Jeffrey, the
immediate subject of this review, was the next in order
of birth; and Dada died in infancy.

Thomas Engle Davis attended historic old Washington
and Jefferson University at Washington, Pennsylvania,
and he had the distinction of being the teacher of the
first public school established in Ritchie County. He be-
came one of the leading members of the bar of Ritchie
County, which he served two terms as prosecuting attorney,
besides which he served in earlier years as deputy sheriff
and deputy county and circuit clerk. He was a man of
fine intellectuality and marked professional ability, was
a leader in public affairs in his native county, and rep-
resented his district in the State Legislature. He was
a stalwart advocate of the principles of the republican
party, was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, and was
a zealous member of the Baptist Church, as was also his
widow, who died January 7, 1915, at Harrisville. Brief

record has already been given concerning the four children,
but it may be stated that Winifred graduated from the
Wheeling Female College and that her husband is now
Judge Homer B. Woods of Harrisville; Juniata, who at-
tended Broaddus College, became the wife of Rev. Wheeler
Boggess, who served as a missionary of the Baptist Church
in India, from 1892 to 1915, the death of Mrs. Boggess
having occurred at Phillipi, West Virginia, February 20,
1920, as previously stated.

Thomas Jeffrey Davis gained his early education in
the public schools of Harrisville, West Virginia, com-
pleting his public school education in Washington, D. C.,
and was thereafter graduated in Woods Commercial Col-
lege in that city. He also attended Broaddus College,
Clarksburg, West Virginia, and in 1900 he was graduated
in the law department of the University of West Virginia.
He received at this time the degree of Bachelor of Laws,
and later he received the degree of Master of Laws from
Columbian University, Washington, D. C. In 1901 he was
admitted to the bar, and he has since been successfully
engaged in the active practice of profession at Harrisville,
save for the interval of his service as private secretary
of the president of the Senate of the West Virginia Leg-
islature. He was elected prosecuting attorney of Ritchie
County in 1912, and that his administration has been spe-
cially efficient is indicated by the fact that in 1920 he
was re-elected for a third consecutive term. He is a re-
publican and is an influential figure in the councils of his
party in his native county. Mr. Davis is the owner of a
considerable amount of real estate in his home city and
county, including his attractive home. He is a director
of the First National Bank and is interested also in oil
production enterprise in this section of the state. He and
his wife are specially zealous and valued members of the
Baptist Church at Harrisville, and he served nearly eleven
years as superintendent of its Sunday school, besides having
served twelve years as secretary of the Ritchie County
Sunday School Association, and is also serving as record-
ing secretary of the West Virginia State Sunday School
Association and as secretary of its executive committee.
He is past master of Harrisville Lodge, No. 98, Ancient
Free and Accepted Masons; is a member of Odell S. Long
Chapter, No. 25, Royal Arch Masons; is a past eminent
commander of Pennsboro Commandery, No. 20, Knights
Templars; and is a member of Nemesis Temple of the
Mystic Shrine at Wheeling. Both he and his wife hold
membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, in which
he is a past patron of the local chapter and a past grand
patron of the grand chapter of the state, Mrs. Davis being
affiliated also with the Daughters of Rebekah.

June 27, 1917, recorded the marriage of Mr. Davis and
Miss Hermoine Goff, of Burnt House, Ritchie County.
She attended Marshall College at Huntington, and the Fair-
mont Normal School, and for four years was a popular
teacher in the schools of Ritchie County prior to her mar-
riage. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have two children: Thomas
Jeffrey, Jr., born September 1, 1918, and George L., born
May 4, 1921.