Catharine Harris Davis of Wales

Obituaries are fantastic sources of information.  Dates and names are great, but hints at what kind of people your ancestors were are priceless.  I love searching through old newspapers, especially the society section and obituaries.  Usually the articles are short and give a couple little clues, but this particular obituary of my 3rd Great-Grandmother Catherine Harris-Davis is practically a novel in comparison!

Here’s the obit.  I’ve inserted some links and notes below for more information.

Monday, August 19, 1895
The Cambria Tribune

Mrs. Catharine Davis

Catharine Davis, relict of David H. Davis, who died in the First Ward, this city, in June 1886, passed peacefully away at her home — No. 249 Walnut street — at 11 o’clock yesterday morning. 

Mrs. Davis became ill in January when she took her bed, and remained there until the end came.  Her death had been expected for the past week, and seven of her nine surviving children and a number of her friends were gathered around her bed when she passed away.

The deceased was born in Blan Avon, South Wales, August 19, 1833, her parents being Walter and Sarah Harris, who died in this city many years ago, and whose remains now lie in Sandyvale Cemetery.  She was united in marriage to Mr. Davis in South Wales, November 21, 1851, and in 1854 they came to America, locating in Johnstown in the same year.  A son and a daughter were born in Wales, and when the family were crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the latter died and was buried in the mighty deep.

When Mr. and Mrs. Davis came to this place they made their home for a while with the latter’s parents, on Vine street, Mr. and Mrs. Harris having preceded them to the city by six months.  Not long after the arrival of Mr. Davis he purchased a lot of ground and built a house at the corner of Vine and Walnut streets, where he died. For several years he was proprietor of a hotel on Washington street.

The surviving children are: John H. Davis, married of Butte City, Mont.; Sarah Ann, wife of Fred Ruscoe, of Shropshire, England; Susanah, wife of Charles Schultz, of Alliance, O.; Margaret, wife of H.H. Updegraff, of New Castle, Pa.; Mary E., wife of J. J. Woods, of Pittsburgh; Louther J., married, and living in the Eleventh Ward, this city; William G., married and lives in the Sixteenth Ward; O. Glyndwer, of Lorain, O., and Miss Rachel G., at home. 

The deceased is survived by one brother — David Harris — of Penn Station, her last surviving sister — Mrs. Mary Davis having died a short time ago in the State of Ohio.  She was the mother of sixteen children, seven of whom are dead.  One of her sons — David — was killed in the State of Montana a number of years ago.  

Previous to Mrs. Davis’ marriage, she united with the Congregational Church, but not long before she and her family sailed for this country she had transferred her membership to the Welsh Baptist Church.  

The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon from the deceased’s late residence, internment to be made in Sandyvale Cemetery.

Catharine and David Davis had SIXTEEN children!  I only have 13 of them, and 12 of their names; I don’t have the name of the young daughter that died at sea. Catharine buried seven of her children, one of whom was killed in Montana – David Davis was stabbed in the abdomen, according to his death certificate.

Catharine died on 18 August 1895, one day before her 63rd birthday, after she became ill and took to her bed eight months prior.  She was buried in Sandyvale but later reinterred at Grandview Cemetery.

My favorite part of this obituary is that it gives the actual city – Blaenavon.  I think this definitely requires a trip to Wales for more research!

Catherine (Harris) Davis –> Margaret (Davis) Updegraff –> John “Jay” William Updegraff –> Robert Lee Updegraff –> Barbara Lynn (Updegraff) Pirolt –> Me!

This post was updated July 3, 2017.


5 Responses

  1. Sarah Chapman

    Can I find an obituary from a Blanaevon paper online? I am looking for one on Derek Robinson of Blanaevon, 1928-2001, who created the concept of Migraine Art & curated a large collection of pictures made by migraine sufferers. I have failed to find an obituary for him through a general internet search. Thanks.

      1. Sarah Chapman

        Thanks for this. I only know that this man’s home town, in his youth, was Blaenavon and his parents were there for some time beyond that. I don’t know the current newspaper but it’s a good idea to chase that up.

  2. Alan Holcomb .

    Hi Katie
    I just visited your web page very impressive; I noted that you would send a copy of Catherine’s obit upon request. A transcribed obit is already on Ancestry, however I would like a copy of the original for my records. The transcribe article states her sister Mary Davis from Ohio recently passed; this article would document that I am a descendant of Walter Harris b. in Wales and d. in Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania. I am the 3rd Great-grandson of Mary Ann Harris Davis of Ohio. According to LDS transcribers on the death record she died 17 Dec 1892 in Barnhill, Tuscarawas, Ohio and her father’s name was listed as Walter Harris. She and her husband Evan D are buried at Union Cemetery Tuscarawas, Ohio; Memorial # 89773977.


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