Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sad, Sad Saturday - Death of Walter Davis

This won't be a long post. Right now, I don't even have enough words to express the jolt of sadness I'm feeling this morning after reading this very descriptive article about the death of my maternal great-grandfather, Walter Davis; but I must honor him right this minute, by sharing (what I know of) his story, here on my blog.

Walter Davis was born July 16, 1875, in Brunswick County, Virginia to parents Lewis Davis and Dolly Ann Crutchfield. He spent his childhood in Warren County, NC (which is the only place I'd known the family to live until recently discovering his tie to Virginia). In 1895, 20-year-old Walter married Minerva Brown, and by 1900, the couple (still residing in Littleton, Warren County) had given birth to two children, Samuel (1896) and my grandmother, Mary (1897). By 1910 the family was living in Norfolk, Virginia, where Lewis was a Foreman (Coal Trimmer)* at the coal piers, located in the same Lambert's Point section of the city where the family home stands to this day. Sadly, little Samuel is no longer with the family and is presumed to have passed away.

Just about a year ago, I obtained this photo of my great-grandfather, Walter, who I'd never seen a confirmed photo of, before that point.
Walter Davis
I'd been told by my mother and her siblings that their grandfather had died in a tragic accident at the coal piers where he worked, but I never knew the of the gory details that are included in the following article. At the time of this tragedy, my mother would have only been 15 months old. Her brother, Howell, was 3. Their sister, Jane, wasn't yet born. My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my mother and uncle all shared a home in Lambert's Point, so this loss had to have hit the entire family very hard, although it gives me comfort to know that my great-grandmother, Minerva, was not alone during this horrible time. However, what makes this even more dismal is that, 12 years earlier, my grandmother, Mary, had lost her first husband in just as tragic an accident at the same location that had now claimed the life of her father. I wrote about that calamity in my post, "Sentimental Sunday - My Grandmother's Loss".

Just looking at Walter Davis in this photo, I sense that he was a hard-working, very determined, and perhaps serious-minded man. I can't help but wonder if there is something more to this story. Didn't he hear the bell ringing? Did he not get off the tracks on purpose for some reason? Could someone have pushed him onto the tracks?

My heart is truly aching this morning after reading this article. (Click to enlarge.)


Walter Davis, I say your name. 
May you forever rest in peace.

Your great-granddaughter,

Thanks for reading.

* A coal trimmer or trimmer is a position within the engineering department of a coal-fired ship which involves all coal handling tasks starting with the loading of coal into the ship and ending with the delivery of the coal to the stoker. 

Coal trimmer definition  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_trimmer)

HOLD FINAL RITES FOR ACCIDENT VICTIM. (1935, Jul 06). New Journal and Guide (1916-2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/567336517?accountid=44788

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