Samuel W. Davis papers [electronic resource], 1820-1914
- Davis, Samuel W., 1839-1914
- [University Park, Pa.] : Pennsylvania State University Libraries, 
- Copyright Date:
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- Davis, Mary Catherine, 1851-1926
Allegheny College (Meadville, Pa.)
Methodist Church (U.S.). Pittsburgh Conference
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unrestricted access.
- The collection includes diaries, a book of sermons, correspondence, essays, and other sundry items. The bulk of these papers are Samuel Davis' diaries that cover the years 1868 to 1914 in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and the Pennsylvania towns and cities of Dale City (Meyersdale), Uniontown, Belle Vernon, Mt. Pleasant, Homestead, McKeesport, Pittsburgh, and Wilkinsburg. Samuel Davis recorded entries, often lengthy, nearly every day. Davis often pasted items of note in the books including newsclippings, correspondence, publications, photographs, and other items. Davis' diaries are primarily spiritual in tone as he fears often for the state of his faith and prays incessantly for the salvation of his soul. Davis often went beyond the mere personal to explore the meaning of larger issues in nineteenth century life, such as the death of several of his children, or natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and train wrecks. Davis wrote detailed descriptions of his travels to various temperance conventions, his 1872 honeymoon with his new wife, Mary Catherine Stone Davis, when he witnessed the devastation wreaked by the Chicago fire the year before, Philadelphia, Europe and the Middle East, Washington, D. C., and Boston. However, descriptions of the towns in which Davis lived and worked are lacking; there is no mention of the kinds of social or economic interaction that went on in these areas, aside from church activities. The diaries also contain detailed descriptions of the Methodist ministers conferences held yearly in Pittsburgh, which are quite useful for understanding and determining issues surrounding religion in the Pittsburgh area at the turn of the century. Furthermore, the diaries kept while Davis was affiliated with the Coke Mission provide very strong documentation of the Methodist Church's efforts to assist the recent immigrants in the Fayette County mining towns.
Mary Davis's diary is not as comprehensive as her husband's diaries but documents events in her life between 1876 and 1884, often with brief and sporadic entries. In accordance with the times, Mary worried often about the state of her faith, and her ability to remain patient and to keep her temper when dealing with her seven children and her husband. She wrote that she often felt "burdened on account of the children," and mentioned occasional bouts of what she herself called "mental depression." That Mary also had opportunity to escape some of these trials and that she involved herself with larger issues, such as presidential elections and her own election as president of a chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, was not unusual for the times.
- Davis, Samuel W., 1839-1914—Archives
- Davis family
- Methodist Episcopal Church—Pennsylvania
- Coal mines and mining—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Coal miners—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Floods—Pennsylvania—Johnstown (Cambria County)
- Hungarian Americans—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Immigrants—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Slavic Americans—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Slovak Americans—Pennsylvania—Fayette County
- Temperance—Societies, etc
- Crawford County (Pa.)—Education
- Europe—Description and travel
- Fayette County (Pa.)—Religion
- Fayette County (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- Homestead (Pa.)—Religion
- Homestead (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- McKeesport (Pa.)—Religion
- McKeesport (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- Pittsburgh (Pa.)—Religion
- Pittsburgh (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- Somerset County (Pa.)—Religion
- Somerset County (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- West Virginia—Religion
- West Virginia—Social life and customs
- Westmoreland County (Pa.)—Religion
- Westmoreland County (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- Wilkinsburg (Pa.)—Religion
- Wilkinsburg (Pa.)—Social life and customs
- Type of File/Data:
- Text and images.
- Original Version:
- Originals: Papers in the Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Technical Details:
- Mode of access: World Wide Web.
The full text of the papers is available as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file; Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view the file.
- Permission to reproduce these images in any form must be obtained in writing from the Heinz History Center.
- Administrative History:
- Samuel W. Davis was a Methodist Episcopal minister who was active as a missionary and temperance reformer in southwestern Pennsylvania in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Davis was assigned to Methodist Episcopal Church congregations across the region and also worked with the Coke Mission, set up to preach to the Hungarian and Slovak coal and coke workers in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He was born on November 9, 1839 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. After serving as a teacher for one year, Davis attended Allegheny College in Meadville (Crawford County), Pennsylvania for two terms in 1861. Davis left the College and studied privately to earn a license to preach in the Methodist Church. In 1868, Davis accepted his first post as a minister in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Besides serving as an extremely active and fervent minister in these early years, Davis was closely involved in temperance work both in West Virginia as well as at the national level. Though Davis' temperance society activities subsided in the years after he was assigned to the Coke Mission in the early 1890s, he spoke out relentlessly against the evils of consuming alcohol. Although apolitical for the most part, Davis called himself a Republican and each year noted that he had voted for the Prohibition ticket.
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