James Davis (1787-1862)
The First African-American Born in The Northwest Territory
From: the History Collection of Henry Robert Burke's "Emancipation Stations"
Source: Original Newspaper Article - CLEVELAND GAZETTE - January 31st, 1891 by Mr. J.J. Wheeler, Dayton, Ohio
James Davis, who is still fresh in the minds of many Daytonians, was the first Afro-American born in the state of Ohio. He was born at Harmar Village, (Marietta, Ohio) on March 6, 1787. A short sketch of his career may be interesting. He came to Dayton when he was quite a young man, and soon became a leader of our people here. He was (sixty-years ago) one of the leading hunters in Ohio, and had the credit of killing the largest bear of his day. He also was the leading violinist and barber of this city, and the first president of the American Sons of Protection, (Underground Railroad Affiliated) the oldest benevolent (colored) society in this city, which he helped to organize in February, 1849. This society today is worth in money and real estate, $3,000.
November 6, 1811, he shaved General W.H. Harrison while the general sat upon a log. The next day the great battle of Tippecanoe was fought, and the red men of the great Shawnee chief -- Tecumseh -- killed upward of sixty men of Harrison's army and more than one hundred wounded.
Father Davis, as he was called, was born to be conspicuous, and was a highly esteemed member of the Weslyan Methodist Church. He died a devout Christian January 17, 1862, aged seventy-four years, ten months and twenty days.
He was laid to rest in the beautiful Woodland Cemetery where the remains of General Robert C. Schenek, the great Republican leader, and the remains of C. L. Vallandigham, the great Democratic leader, lie. The colored soldiers, and state and United States officials, the colored citizen and the white merchant are sleeping their last long sleep peacefully together, waiting for the general resurrection. The colored and white citizens (in Dayton) always buried their dead together.
Submitted by Henry Robert Burke - Marietta, Ohio