Davis, Nicholas A. (1824–1894)

By: Donald E. Everett

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1994

Nicholas A. Davis, Presbyterian minister, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Davis, was born on August 8, 1824, in Limestone County, Alabama. His father served in the Alabama legislature from 1840 to 1851. Though he lacked college and seminary training, he studied theology with Robert Donnell of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. After ordination he spent a decade in full-time ministry in northern Alabama communities, including White Plains, where he married Nancy Isabella Worthington on November 2, 1852. With their two small daughters the Davises moved to Bastrop, Texas, in November 1857. A son was born in the following year, but he and Mrs. Davis died before Davis departed for Virginia on August 16, 1861, as a chaplain in the Confederate Army.

Davis served in the Fourth Regiment of John B. Hood's Texas Brigade. Preaching sermons, visiting the sick and wounded, and performing funerals were among the chaplain's routine responsibilities. Davis, however, became dissatisfied with the dispersion of wounded Texas soldiers throughout Richmond and obtained permission to supervise the construction of a hospital ward for these soldiers, which became known as the Texas Hospital. His services also included alms and loans to the needy, and the personal items of some men found their way to him for safekeeping. Because he believed that General Hood's men had received insufficient praise, Davis wrote Campaign from Texas to Maryland, with the Battle of Fredericksburg; the book was published in Richmond in 1863, and a slightly revised edition appeared in Houston the same year.

Back in Texas and out of uniform, Davis married Eliza E. Coley Radford, widow of Robert W. Radford, on February 7, 1865. Radford's estate included property known as the Old John Smith Plantation, which amounted to more than 2,000 acres of Sabine County. To this second marriage were born four children. Davis continued to preach in various East Texas towns and to involve himself in diverse business interests. He established the first commercial orchard in Jacksonville, a peach orchard, and made that area noted for fruit growing. He served intermittently for nearly twenty years on the board of trustees of Trinity University and was highly influential, not only on young ministers but also on businessmen. He died in San Antonio on November 19, 1894, while on a visit to his daughter.

Nicholas A. Davis, Chaplain Davis and Hood's Texas Brigade, ed. Donald E. Everett (San Antonio: Principia Press of Trinity University, 1962).

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Everett, “Davis, Nicholas A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/davis-nicholas-a.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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