Albert B Osborne.

Makers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) online

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and in the years 1501-02, under the rule of Henry VII, one
William Smith was Lord President of Wales.

Among the eminent collateral members of the present Smith
family is John Bushead Moss, of the Moss family of Virginia
and North Carolina. It appears from the records of Goochland
County, Virginia, that Hugh Moss, ancestor of the Moss family
in Jassamine County, was commissioned Captain of the Gooch-
land County Militia in 1760. He served in the Revolutionary
War and was wounded in 1780. His father, James Moss, was
born in England in 1719, where he married Elizabeth Henderson.
Hugh Moss married Jane Ford, and they left six sons, one of
whom was probably the direct ancestor of John Bushead Moss.

In the early reign of Henry II John Smythe (successively
spelled Smyth, Smith and Smithe) was settled in the Parish of
Corsham, Wilts, and was styled "Yeoman." The freehold farm
upon which he lived had descended in unbroken succession from
father to son through two hundred years. He amassed lands and
moneys, and at his death left considerable sums to be expended
in several parishes in "Masses for my sowle." In the next
generation the family had risen above the rank of yeoman and
clothier, and John Smythe, second, received the grant of a coat-
of-arms, and married a daughter of Lygon, of Richard Castle,
Herefordshire. A younger brother of John, Thomas by name,


formed the Customs of the Port of London and its dependencies
under Queens Mary and Elizabeth, and was styled "Customer
Smythe," at Osterhanger, where he lived in great state, dis-
pensing lavish hospitality and giving freely to the poor.


A SURVEY of the lineage of Grin Datus Davis, Banker and
Financier of Salisbury, North Carolina, bears evidence
that his ancestors transmitted to him not only the sin -
ling qualities of industry, wisdom and integrity, but the
priceless inheritance of an honored name, and furnished the
ever-present incentive to preserve that inheritance unblemished.
Mr. Davis is the third son of the late Dolphin Alston Davis,
and was born in Salisbury, February 27, 1851. His two older
brothers are the Reverend Win. H. Davis, formerly pastor of the
Sharon Presbyterian Church, in Mecklenburg County, North
Carolina, and the Reverend John W. Davis, D.D., for nearly
forty-four years a Foreign Missionary in Soo Chow, China, and
for some years a Professor in the Presbyterian Theological
Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. His youngest brother,
Robert Moore Davis, was a business man in Salisbury, North
Carolina. The four brothers are all graduates of Davidson Col-
lege, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, of which their father
was for many years an honored and useful Trustee. His youngest
sister is the widow of Captain Joseph G. Morrison, of Mariposa,
Lincoln County, North Carolina, a brother of Mrs. Stonewall

D. A. Davis, the father of these children, was a native of
Fayetteville, North Carolina, and in his early days was a Clerk
in the Fayetteville Branch of the Bank of the United States. In
1837, he became Cashier of the Branch Bank of Cape Fear, in
Salisbury. Dolphin Davis, the father of D. A. Davis, was a
native of Halifax County, Virginia, a soldier in the Revolutionary
War, and a participant in most of the battles fought in the
Carolinas, especially in the battle of King's Mountain. He was
appointed to the office of Keeper of the Port at Fayetteville,
North Carolina, on account of his services during the Revolu-
tionary War and for many years filled that position. He married
Ann Stevenson, w r hose father emigrated from Scotland to the
Cape Fear region of North Carolina soon after the disastrous
battle of Culloden, in which he took an active part. Through
the Stevensons, the Davis family are descended directly from
the Scottish Covenanters.

Through his mother, Orin D. Davis is descended from a
long line of Irish ancestors. She was the daughter of William
Henry Horah, for a long period the Cashier of the Salisbury




Branch of the Bank of Cape Fear. William H. Horah was the
only sou of Hugh Horah, and his wife, Mary Moore, who was a
native of the western section of Rowan County, North Carolina.
As the genealogical scale is ascended, it is found that Hugh
Horah was the son of Henry Horah and his wife, Margaret
Gardner, who was the daughter of an Irish nobleman. Tradition
in the family relates that her father did not approve of the mar-
riage of his daughter with a man who was not her social equal,
but the fair Margaret preferred to follow the dictates of her
affections rather than the dictation of her father, and promptly
proceeded to marry without his consent. Whereupon the proud
father at once disinherited his disobedient daughter, and the
loving couple immediately emigrated to America and settled in
Rowan Countv, North Carolina. The same tradition relates that

/ /

the somewhat singular name, Horah, was originally O'Hara,
which, pronounced with the broad Irish accent, was very nearly
the same in sound as the correct pronunciation of the family
name. It may be inferred that the prefix, O', was dropped into
the Atlantic Ocean during their voyage hither, as has been done
in many other instances.

Mr. Davis' mother died when he was quite young, and in
due time he came under the care of a faithful and judicious
stepmother, whose intelligence and piety admirably fitted her for
her difficult position. Although she was a member of a different
denomination, and was ardently attached to the church in which
she was brought up, she transferred her membership to the
Presbyterian Church, of which her husband was a Ruling Elder,
in order that she might bring up his children in the faith of
their father.

The ample means and social position of Dolphin A. Davis
enabled him to furnish to his children the advantages of good
elementary and classical schools at home. Among the later
teachers of the children were Mr. John E. Wharton, a distin-
guished graduate of the University of North Carolina, and Mr.
Samuel H. Wiley, who was trained in the once noted Caldwell
Institute, in Greensboro, North Carolina. After full preparation
O. D. Davis entered the Sophomore Class of Davidson College in
1870, and graduated with distinction in 1873, in a class of
twenty-six, with a Commencement assignment of the Latin Salu-
tatory and a record of not having been absent from a single
College duty during his entire three years' course. After teach-
ing one year in the Salisbury Academy, he became a student in
the Eastman National Business College at Poughkeepsie, New
York, to more thoroughly equip himself for his chosen business
in life.

It is nothing strange that a young man, brought up within
the very walls of a bank, with his father, grandfather and uncle


employed in the bank, should feel a natural impulse to be a
banker also. In fact, the business of banking has been popular
in Salisbury for about one hundred years, certainly since 1815.
As early as 1831 William H. Horah's name appears as Cashier
of the Salisbury Branch of the State Bank of North Carolina.
In 1837, D. A. Davis became Cashier of the Branch Bank of Cape
Fear at Salisbury. In 1874, O. D. Davis became Cashier of
D. A. Davis' private bank in Salisbury, and in 1880, Cashier of
the Davis & Wiley Bank, and in 1909 its President, which office
he now holds. For thirteen years his son, James McCorkle Davis,
has been associated in the bank with his father. Thus, four
generations in a direct line have been engaged in the banking
business, covering a period of eighty-six years, and it may be
said that all of their dealings have been characterized by upright-
ness and honesty ; that none of the various banks have failed and
that no one has been wronged in the smallest degree in his trans-
actions with them.

For forty-three years O. D. Davis has been constantly en-
gaged in this one occupation, and has enjoyed perfect health and
strength during all that time, although he has taken only a few
days of vacation at rare intervals. This may be accounted for,
in part, by the fact that he is naturally of an equable tempera-
ment, temperate in eating and drinking, is a total abstainer
from liquor and tobacco, and methodical in his habits. He is not
a member of any clubs, societies or fraternities, finding sufficient
employment in his office, rest and comfort in his peaceful home,
and satisfaction and solace in the exercise of his religion, and in
the public services of his church.

Though Mr. Davis has given such special and constant atten-
tion to his chosen work in life a work which has developed and
prospered in his hands, and yielded a liberal income on w^hich
he has been able to live in comfort, educate his children, give
liberally to benevolent objects, and accumulate a handsome addi-
tion to his patrimony, he has frequently been called, in the
ordinary course of affairs, to give time and attention to various
other interests of a public and private nature. He was a Director
and Treasurer of the Salisbury Gas Light Company for twenty
years ; has been a Director, Secretary and Treasurer of the Salis-
bury Cotton Mills for twenty-four years; Treasurer of the Pied-
mont Toll Bridge Company; a Director in the Salisbury Hard-
ware and Furniture Company, which offices he still holds, a
Trustee and Treasurer of Davidson College for many years, and a
member of its Executive Committee; Treasurer of Concord Pres-
bytery for ten years. He has taken charge of the financial affairs
of a number of persons and families, has been a teacher in his
Church Sabbath School for twenty-five years, and for a number

/ ts '

of years was Assistant Superintendent of the Sabbath School.


His religious life has been in keeping with his training and
education. Brought up in a home where the family altar was a
fixed institution, where obedience was a fundamental require-
ment, where truth and candor were invariably expected, where
the Bible and the shorter catechism were family text-books, where
the example of a pious father and devout foster-mother were ever
before him, it seemed but natural that he should grow up into a
consistent Christian man. At the age of sixteen he presented
himself before the Session of the Salisbury Presbyterian Church,
and was received into full communion in 1880. At the age of
twenty-nine he Avas elected to the office of Ruling Elder in the
church of his childhood and regularly ordained and installed into
that office, and for more than a year there was the singular coin-
cidence of a father and son sitting together as members of the
same church session, the father, the eldest of the session, having
served there for forty-two years, and the son, the youngest mem-
ber. For thirty-seven years he has filled this office, the time of
service of father and son amounting to a period of seventy-eight


In his capacity of Ruling Elder Mr. Davis has served the
church in various ways, including the guardianship of its in-
vested funds. He has been its representative many times in
Presbyteries and Synods, and was a Commissioner to meetings
of the General Assembly in Lexington, Virginia, and Bristol,

In his married life Mr. Davis has been as fortunate as in
other matters. Seeking guidance from the Giver of all Good, he
selected Miss Elizabeth May McCorkle as his helpmate and com-
panion in life. She is the eldest daughter of the late James M.
McCorkle, Esq., a leading lawyer of the Salisbury Bar, and a
lineal descendant of Colonel Richard Brandon of Revolutionary
fame. Colonel Brandon's daughter, Elizabeth, it will be remem-
bered, was the "little woman' 7 who provided a hasty breakfast for
General Washington on the occasion of his visit to Salisbury in


1781. Elizabeth Brandon was the grandmother of Colonel James
M. McCorkle.

Five children have been given to Mr. Davis and his wife,
three of them still living and two taken away in infancy. The
eldest son, James McCorkle, after attending High School in his
native town and Davidson College, Meckleburg County, North
Carolina, took a business course in Eastman National Business
College, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1900, and for the greater
part of the time since has been a trusted Bank Clerk in the First
National Bank, Denver, Colorado, and the Davis & Wiley Bank,
Salisbury, North Carolina. April 21, 1917, he was married to
Miss Rebecca Price Walker, daughter of a prominent physician
of Charlotte, North Carolina.


The second son, Henry Wiley, attended High School in Salis-
bury, North Carolina, and was prepared for College at Bingham
School, Mebane, North Carolina. He graduated from the Univer-
sity of North Carolina in 1905, pursued his business course at
Eastman National Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York,
and for several years has been Chief Bookkeeper for the whole-
sale dry goods house of V. Wallace & Sons in his native town.
November 4, 1913, he was married to Miss Minnie Louise Wom-
ble, and this union has been blessed with two bright and interest-
ing children, Dorothy and Henry Womble.

A daughter, named Mary Elizabeth, after her grandmother,
Davis, and her ancestor, Elizabeth Brandon, the youngest of the
family, was a pupil in the Public High School in Salisbury, North
Carolina, and finised her education with a four years' course at
the celebrated old Moravian Academy and College, Winston-
Salem, North Carolina, graduating in May, 1915. May 10, 1910,
she was married to Kenneth K. Trotter, a well-known business
man of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a sweet little daughter,
named Elizabeth May, after her grandmother Davis, is the joy
of her parents and grandparents.


SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA was not visited by the white
man for many years after the discovery of America. Lying
west of the mountains, which in some measure formed a
barrier, its only roads were Indian trails, the only eyes to
delight in its magnificent scenery, those of the savage.

Governor Spotswood, who was appointed Lieutenant-Gov-
ernor of Virginia in 1710, worked towards the development of
the colony's commercial and educational interests, and it was
through him that iron works were introduced and improvements
made in the tobacco industry. In order to induce emigration
to the vast wilderness west of the mountains in Virginia, he
established the order of the "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe"
or "Transmontane Order." He made up a party of horsemen and
rode at their head, giving to each of his companions a miniature
golden horseshoe bearing the inscription, "Sic Jurat Trans-
cendere Montes" (thus he swears to cross the mountains).
Not until 1732 was there a really permanent settlement in this
part of the State.

At this time the great Palatine immigration was at its
height, and many of the emigrants landing first in Pennsylvania
and New York, later went into Virginia and settled there. Many
of these thrifty, hardy, honest people found a haven in the rich
and fertile valleys of Washington and Smyth Counties.

Among these refugees was one Grtiber, from Rotterdam. In
those days the English clerks frequently spelt the German names
from sound and not from letter, as it was impossible for them
to understand the foreign language of the immigrant. In this
case no doubt the dotted "u" pronounced like the English "ee"
and the "b" were changed and the name was recorded Greever
instead of Grliber. This Greever came, as some one has aptly
said, with four hands ; ready to do and dare, to work and suffer,
and to try to accumulate for himself some of the good things of
the world. Adding each year to his acres, he found himself be-
fore many years the owner of much land.

Hiram A. Greever, son of the pioneer, was born October 30,
1806, and died May 23, 1882. He was a Colonel of Militia before
the Civil War and served in the House of Delegates from Smvth


County. He later served one term as Senator in the General
Assembly from his district, after which he retired to private
life on his estate, part of which had been left him by his father.



He married Rachel Holmes Scott, and in September, 1837, they
were blessed with a son, whom they named James Scott Greever,
a child destined to become a political as well as a military leader.
Another sou, William Snead Greever, entered the Civil War at
the age of sixteen as Sergeant. At the battle of Kernstown,
when the flag-bearer was killed, he volunteered to carry the flag,
and was killed while bearing the colors of his regiment.

As the years rolled by, and James grew to manhood, he
entered Emory and Henry College. It w r as during the able ad-
ministration of Reverend E. E. Wiley, D.D., who had been a
professor in the institution almost from its beginning in 1838,
that James S. Greever pursued his college course. He was the
honor graduate of this institution in 1859. In 1867 the college
conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts.

From 1863, when Burnside entered east Tennessee, until the
close of the Civil War, the counties of southwestern Virginia had
scarcely an hour of quiet or a minute free from anxiety and
suspense. Greever entered the Confederate service as a Captain,
commanding Company A of the 48th. Virginia Infantry, and saw
many weary days with his suffering comrades in the unequal
struggle between the North and the South.

In 1869, he was elected to the State Senate from Smyth and

/ *

Washington Counties, the first Democratic Senator after the
war, and was re-elected, serving through the Walker and Kemper
terms of governorship. During the former's administration, Cap-
tain Greever was appointed General of the Militia, a compliment
of which he was very proud. "In those days," as Mrs. James
Scott Greever says: "Of carpet-bag and scallywag rule, it took
great sterling character and high principle to overcome the dan-
gers and misfortunes that had befallen the Government."

On the morning of April 27, 1870, in the room of the Court
of Appeals, on the third floor of the Virginia State Capitol, were
gathered many distinguished men, among them General James
Scott Greever. Suddenly and without warning the floor gave
way, and all of those assembled were hurled below. The scene
was heartrending; in the debris of the floor and galleries lay
the dead and dying; sixty-five were killed and more than two
hundred were maimed or wounded. Among those who escaped
were the General, Major John W. Daniel, General Teny and
other of their colleagues.

General Greever was in the State Senate when Major John
W. Daniel ran in opposition to John W. Johnston for the United
States Senate. He managed the election of Mr. Johnston and
defeated the brilliant and distinguished Confederate officer.

In 1873, he was married to Miss Mary Scott, only daughter of
Richard Woolfolk and Jennie Haskins Scott. Her father was the
son of Robert Scott, who married Nancy Coleman, and who was


descended from the family of the Episcopal Minister, Scott. The
Keverend Scott came from Scotland and settled in Carolina, Staf-
ford or Hanover County. Through him the family claims connec-
tion with Sir Walter Scott. Mrs. Greever was born in Prince
Edward County, Virginia, and was graduated from the Woman's
Female Institute, now the Woman's College of Richmond.

The rather remarkable series of Scott intermarriages in this
family deserve mention here. In some cases there was no recog-
nized relationship. Mrs. Greever's maternal grandmother, Mary
Jane Scott, married Branch Osborne Scott (possibly a cousin) ;
her mother, Jennie Haskins Scott, daughter of Mary Jane and
Branch Osborne, married Richard Woolfolk Scott, and she her-
self married General James Scott Greever, whose mother was,
before marriage, Rachel Holmes Scott. It may be noted in this
connection, as a coincidence that General and Mrs. Greever's
daughter, Virginia, married a Mr. Greever.

The illustrious name of Scott is evidently of Scotland, being
nothing more nor less than Scot with an additional "t" in the
spelling. There are a number of traditions concerning the origin
of the word and the first person who bore it. "Sciute," a
wanderer, is given as the original word; while skati, a lordly
man, skotti, archer, skot, a dart, are also given as derivatives.
One tradition is that the name was given to Scotland in honor
of Scota, daughter of Pharaoh, who fled with her husband, Gathe-
ius, son of an Athenian king, and some followers, landing in what
is now Scotland. Another account claims that the family is
descended from Japhet, son of Noah, through one Heber Scott.

The most probable founder of the family is Uchtredus Scot,
who lived in the early twelfth century. He was the son of Scoti,
and the father of Richard, ancestor of the Scotts of Buccleuch,
and Michael, ancestor of the Scotts of Balweary. Who knows
but that the members of this family, in their many intermar-
riages, have felt the call of the clan as "kinsman of the bold

Sir Walter Scott bore the clan name of Scott. The Duke
of Buccleuch is the chief of this clan and attempts to claim Nor-
man origin for the surname in the form of 1'Escot.

In Scotland the name is one of power and wealth. "The
Scotts, of Scotts Hall, could travel from Brabourne to London,
sixty miles, without leaving the estates of the family connec-
tions." There are many monuments of the family in the old
Norman Church at Brabourne, while in London are preserved
many ancestral portraits, one of a Crusader. During the reign
of Charles II, Lady Anne Scott was one of the greatest heiresses
in England. The earliest Scottish poem, written on the death
of a Scottish king, was composed by Michael Scott in 1286; and
the Lord High Chancellor of England, under Pitt, was John
Scott, who became Lord Eldon.


In this country, the name is widely known. Kichard Scott
\vas a close friend of Roger Williams and his neighbor for thirty-
eight years. To the family of the Reverend Alexander Scott, of
Stafford County, Virginia, belonged the Maryland pioneer, Gus-
tavus Scott, as well as the Virginia Scotts.

The Reverend Alexander Scott settled at a place called
"Dipple Parish," named, no doubt, from Dipple in Moray County,
Scotland, from whence the family came.

Bishop Meade mentions this Mr. Scott as being the first
pastor in Stafford County in 1711. "According to his report to
the Bishop of London in 1724, there were six hundred and fifty
families in the county, and eighty to one hundred communicants.
This county then extended to the Blue Ridge and eighty miles
along the Potomac," part of this land including his home, Dipple,
on the river. On his tomb are found engraved the arms of the
family and its motto, also the date of his birth and death
July, 1686, and April, 1738. He had a brother, James, who was
also a minister and who may be the real progenitor of this
family of Scots.

It is said by some that Colonel John Scott, of St. Peter's
Parish, New Kent County, w r ho died in 1729, was a brother of
Alexander and James. He was of great assistance in the early
wars with the Indians.

General Charles Scott, born in Cumberland, and his brother,
Major Joseph Scott, are believed to be descended from this
branch. The former \vas celebrated as a great Indian fighter.
He went to Kentucky with the first pioneers and became Gov-
ernor there in 1808. He went at one time to Washington to
visit the President and, against the advice of his friends, ap-
peared at the White House dressed in a rough hunting suit and
wearing a long beard. When Washington noticed his approach,
both he and Mrs. Washington hastened to greet him, welcoming
him right heartily.

General Winfield Scott entered the army at the age of
twenty-two. Early in 1814 he began a vigorous and systematic
training of the troops with which he afterward defeated the
English at Chippewa and Lundy's Lane. He was offered the
position of Secretary of War by President Madison, but declined
the honor. Scott held the chief command of the American armv


for twenty years, and Virginia, in naming one of her counties
after the renowned general, paid him a well-deserved tribute.

Gustavus Hill Scott, born in Fairfax County, Virginia, 1812,
became a distinguished naval officer. He served in the Union
army in the Civil War and died in Washington in 1882. He was
a grandson of Gustavus Scott, of Maryland, who was a member
of the Continental Congress of 1784 and 1785, and who died in

Online LibraryAlbert B OsborneMakers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) → online text (page 47 of 48)