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Daniel Davis (c.1759-1838) was an arms contractor from Orange County. Davis was born probably in King William County. He married Lucy Breedlove of King William County about 1780. First noted on Orange County tax lists of 1782. About 1790 he moved to neighboring Albemarle County, Virginia. On November 29, 1800, he wrote to Governor James Monroe renewing his application to be appointed Superintendent of the arsenal at Richmond and then again, on July 17, 1801, he wrote applying for a position as gunsmith at “the Armory”.[ Virginia State Papers]. In the early 1820s he moved to Fredericksburg, in Spotsylvania County where he died on September 27, 1823. His obituary appeared in the Virginia Herald: “Died- On Saturday, September 27, in his 68th year, Mr. Daniel Davis, Sr., a member of the Baptist Church for forty years.”
On 23 December 1810 the State of Virginia contracted with Daniel Davis, Sr. to manufacture 30 stands of arms. On 10 February 1815 Samuel Davis, Jr., along with his father, contracted to manufacture an additional 100 stands of muskets. Daniel Davis Sr. was born on 11 February 1759 in Chester Pennsylvania. He died on 5 April 1838 in Cabell County, now in West Virginia. In 1779 he married Elizabeth Stephenson, born in 1756 in Virginia. They had 11 children all born Virginia. Daniel Jr. was the third youngest, and was born in 1790 in Greenbrier, now in West Virginia. There seems to have been no question in Cromwell’s mind that Davis manufactured the contract rifles although there is no evidence that he ever engaged in any other arms manufacture or gunsmithing work. That opinion is buttressed by the fact that on 23 December 1809 Davis posted bond for performance of his contract. His sureties were W. D. Merriwether and James Barbour, both of Orange County.
Know all men by these presents that we Daniel Davis, W.D. Merriwether, and James Barbour of Orange County are held and finally bound unto John Tyler, Governor if the Commonwealth of Virginia in the just and full sum of nine hundred dollars, to be paid to the said John Tyler or his successor in office, for the use of the Commonwealth aforesaid, to which payment well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves jointly and severally, our and each of us joint and several heirs, executors, and administrators, firmly by these presents. Sealed with our seals and dated this 23 day December 1809.
The condition of the above Obligation is such that whereas by the 11th section of the Act, Further to amend the laws respecting the Militia of this Commonwealth it is executed that the Executive be authorized to contract for the making of Three Hundred Rifles annually by such persons as they may think best qualified, provided that the cost of each rifle complete shall not exceed Fifteen Dollars; and the said Daniel Davis having contracted any by these presents, doeth contract with the Executive to make Thirty of the said Rifles, according to the Model prescribed by the Executive. Now if the said Daniel Davis shall well and faithfully make or cause to be made the said Thirty Rifles, precisely in conformity with this model aforesaid, on or before the 23 day of December 1810, for which on a faithful completion thereof, he is to receive from the Public Treasury the sum of fifteen dollars for each Rifle; then the above obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.
On 23 December 1809 Governor Tyler ordered the Auditor to advance Davos $150 toward the cost of the rifles. On 18 July 1811 the governor paid Daniel Davis $300, the remainder of the $450 due on his account. It seems probable that Davis actually made the rofles and delivered the small contract in a timely fashion, making his eligible to contract for additional stands.
The second contract, involving Daniel Davis, Jr., with his father was completed almost three years after it had been let. The receipt dated 1 December 1817 shows that they had delivered the 75 rifles for which they had contracted and for which they were bonded so The Commonwealth owed Davis and Son $1125, to which it added $37.50 carriage. The governor had extended Davis $500 in 12 February 1814 and on 13 October 1815 an additional $600, plus $25 toward the shipping. The latter payments were not dated. That left a balance of only $37.50 for shipping, paid on 16 December 1817.
His son, Madison Davis (c.1793-1829), was also a gunsmith. It is unknown if he was involved in the Commonwealth of Virginia rifle contract. He had a shop in Fredericksburg where he died on January 24, 1829
Gunsmith's Tools --- for Sale: On Monday the 18th inst. at the shop of the late Madison Davis I shall offer for sale, his entire Stock of Gunsmiths' Tools, consisting of every Article used the prosecuting the business of a Gunsmith. The Tools are all of the first quality, and well worth the attention of those engaged in the above line. John M. Shepherd, Serg. Cor. of Fred'g. All persons who are indebted to Madison Davis, deceased, are required to make immediate payment - Those who may have work at the shop are desired to call and receive the same. J. M. S.
[Virginia Herald, May 9, 1829]
Another son, Daniel Davis, Jr. (c.1785-1841), was also involved in the manufacturing of arms. He advertised as a gunsmith in Fredericksburg as early as 1823. He also had a brass and iron foundry in Fredericksburg and held a patent to a threshing machine. He was an ordained Baptist Minister and lived in Baltimore, Maryland, in the early 1830’s. He was born c.1785 and died in 1841 in Fredericksburg.
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