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Thomas Kelso Davis Papers

Identifier: SC 00763

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Scope and Contents

Collection of papers and a commonplace book belonging to Thomas Kelso Davis who lived in Washington, D.C. prior to and after the Civil War. The papers include: receipts; 1856 note to William Macgill;  July 6, 1857 and June 1858  thoughts on “Boyhood Friendship” and a March 22, 1864, written from Washington, D.C.  A hand copy of a letter to President Grant by Thomas K. Davis where Davis writes that Grant’s response to a letter Davis had sent him was confusing and incomprehensible, possibly due to his (Davis) lack of intelligence, but he would “bow my head humbly, - submissively to your decree.”  December 7, 1870 Letter to Davis from Taylor Page, Commissioner of Bureau Refugees, Freedman, and Abandoned Lands, about not being able to attend a club meeting.  Undated poem, “But tis around this heart were spun…”  where "Miss Josephine A. Plummis written on the edge. August 23, 1876 (Washington) Evening Star article.

The cover of the Commonplace book is damaged, but still visible is:  K. Davis, Richmond, 1855. Glued to the insider cover is a October 16, 1857 editorial from the (Baltimore) Sun about the recent election. The Commonplace book includes:

- Poems written to or by Thomas K. Davis.  The poems to Thomas Davis appear to be from women he has courted.  Most of the poets use only their initials, but some of the names mentioned are:  Miss Hannah Wanton of Fairfax County, Virginia, Miss Jennie Hamlin, daughter of Dr. W. H. Hamlin, of Pennsylvania and Mrs. Millie Spicknall.

- Essays written by Thomas Davis, such as “Character” written February 10, 1857 when he was living opposite “Browns Hotel” on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

- Records letters he has received and written, specifically “Numbers and dates of the reception of letters from S.T.B. of Weldon, NC” and letters to S.T. B. Dated 1866 and 1867, letters to and from Miss Rose D. of Perrymansville, Maryland and  Miss E.T. Grxx of Portsmouth, Virginia.  On each date, he notes where he was living, and sometimes important events such as the death of his father.

- Copy of a letter he wrote from Richmond, Virginia on August 10, 1862 about “Seward and Pickett will pass George T. Fullerton (…3rd VA Locals) until otherwise ordered. By Command, Thomas K. Davis. He heads the letter, "Confederate States of America."

- List of many cities, possibly places he visited as a civilian or soldier.

- Two pages, each divided into 5 columns, where he has listed names.  He notes “dead” beside a few of  them.

- Some pages and the inside back cover have scribbles of math, names, notes and addresses.

- Poem and a notation about Stewart Holland who died in September 1854 on the steamer, “Artic.”

- “Married on Wednesday November 2nd, 1859, at St. Patrick’s Church, by the Rev. Father O’Toole, Mr. Thomas K. Davis to Miss Josephine A. Plummer, eldest daughter of the late Fielder B. Plummer of Washington.”

- Loose paper:  newspaper article, “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals,” undated.


  • Creation: 1855-1888

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

Per Washington, D.C. 1850 and 1860 census, Thomas Kelso Davis was born about 1837 in Maryland, the son of Charles A. and Charlotte Davis. He married Josephine Plummer in 1859 in Washington, D.C. He served, possibly as an officer, in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


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Acquisition Information:


Guide to the Thomas Kelso Davis Papers
Finding Aid Authors: Anne T. Johnson.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository