Margaret H. Davis was born 19 January 1861 in Johnstown,1 Pennsylvania to David H Davis and Catherine Annie Harris, both immigrants from Wales. She was the 5th child of 13 born to David and Catherine.
Margaret Davis married Henry Herman Updegraff in 1881. Her siblings considered her “marrying well.” The young couple moved to New Castle between 1885 and 18892 (just before the horrendous Johnstown Flood of 1889). Margaret and Henry raised four children: Clarence David, Royer Howard, John William, and Alma Catherine. Margaret’s younger sister, Rachel Davis also lived with Margaret and Henry until she was married to William G. Fischer in 1901.
Margaret hosted many social events for her children, especially her daughter Alma.3 They had a cottage at Brady’s Lake in Ohio and in one instance in 1904, Margaret and her sister Rachel Fischer took the two oldest children (Clarence and Royer) and their girlfriends (to whom they were later engaged) on a vacation there. The family appeared in the “Society Section” of the New Castle News over 20 times between the year 1900 and 1920.
Margaret was certainly the matriarch of the Davis and Updegraff family. Not only did she host many family and social gatherings but she also cared for many. In addition to caring for her younger sister Rachel, she also took in her niece, after her sister-in-law (widow of Margaret’s brother Luther John Davis) passed away unexpectedly. When her niece, Irene married, the couple continued to live with the Updegraffs until they could afford a place of their own.
In 1923, Margaret’s husband, Henry Herman Updegraff passed away. She moved to Youngstown, Ohio to live with her son John William and became the primary caregiver for her two grandsons Robert Lee (my grandfather) and John Leroy. Margaret was a very important person in my grandfather’s life and according to my mother “she could do no wrong in his eyes.”
Margaret passed away on 26 September 1945 of heart failure. She is buried with her husbad in Graceland Cemetery in New Castle, Pennsylvania.
1 The obituaries posted in the Youngstown Vindicator and New Castle News have conflicting birth dates: 23 January 1861 and 19 January 1861, respectively. Margaret’s death certificate lists the birth date as 19 January 1861.
2 Royer Howard was born in 1885 in Johnstown and the next child, John William, was born March 1889 in New Castle, indicating the family moved sometime between 1885 and March 1889.
3 To read more about the events and gatherings Margaret hosted with her daughter Alma, click here.
Click here for a list of sources used.