Casper Ealy Davis, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: Casper Ealy Davis is known as a Bedford County gunsmith from a tax roll and a militia roster.

1849: According to his tombstone, Casper Ealy Davis was born in 1849.

1850: In the 1850 federal census of Napier Township, taken on August 25, 1850, Pennsylvania-born Casper Davis was enumerated as a a one-year-old child in the household of 29-year-old Pennsylvania-born smith Luther Davis. Also in the same household were 31-year-old Anna Davis, 4-year-old John Davis, and 3-year-old Benjamin Davis, all Pennsylvania born.

1853: The following article from the September 21, 1906 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" indicates that Casper's father Luther Davis built his new Paris Home in 1853. Casper would have been about four years old at the time.

1870: As shown by this census excerpt, Casper E. Davis is still living in his father Luther's home in 1870. His occupation is "works on farm".

1877: As far as I can determine, Casper Ealy Davis does not appear in the Napier Township portion of the 1877 "County Atlas of Bedford, Pennsylvania". That makes me wonder if he was living at his father Luther Davis's home in New Paris. The following image from the 1877 atlas identifies the residence of Luther Davis. This was Casper's boyhood home, and a blacksmith shop is located next door. Casper Ealy Davis would have been about 28 years old in 1877.

1878-1879: In the 1878-1879 issue of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", Luther and Casper Davis appear as a New Paris, Napier Township blacksmiths.

1883: The following obituary from the October 2, 1941 issue of the "Johnstown Daily Tribune" indicates that a son named James was born to Casper and Almira Davis at New Paris in 1883. The obituary names other children of Casper and Almira Davis. The death certificate of James Davis gives a slightly different date of birth.

1884: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", C. Davis Elly (sic) is identified as a gunsmith on the 1884 tax roll of the borough of New Paris in Bedford County. The book suggests that Elly may have only been engaged in repair work, because no guns made by him had been identified.

1884: Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" lists Ealy C. Davis as a gunsmith in Bedford, Pennsylvania based on an entry in an 1884 directory. Presumably, Sellers was referring to Bedford County rather than the town of Bedford. Since Sellers' book is a compilation of information found in other sources, I wonder if the directory reference (represented by the code "d") is a typographical error.

1885: The death certificate of Pansie (Davis) Mangus indicates she was a daughter of Casper Davis and was born on August 6, 1885 in New Paris.

1886: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that Casper Ealy Davis was known as "Eli" and "Doc" and is listed as a blacksmith in the 1886 Farquar Directory (evidently the Bedford County directory).

1888: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz indicates that an 1888 militia listing identifies Casper Ealy Davis as a gunsmith. I think this is a reference to the Bedford County militia. The book indicates that he was known as "Eli" and "Doc", and indicates that his father-in-law, the gunsmith Benjamin Vore, moved into his household after Benjamin's wife died.

1900: The following entry is from the 1900 directory of Bedford County:

1906: The 1906 newspaper article included above indicates that Richard Coplin was then living in the house that Luther Davis built in New Paris.

1910: The following excerpt from the 1910 census identifies Casper E. Davis as a blacksmith:

1928: Casper Ealy Davis is buried in the Cuppett Family Cemetery, New Paris, Bedford County, Pennsylvania and his tombstone indicates he was born in 1849 and died in 1928. His wife Almira was the daughter of Benjamin and Eliza (Beaver) Vore.

1928: The obituary of Casper Ealy Davis was published in the May 17, 1928 issue of the "Johnstown Daily Tribune", and states:

"Funeral of C. E. Davis - Funeral services for the late Casper E. Davis, aged 79 years, who died of pneumonia at the home of his son, Glen Davis, 313 Ferndale avenue, will be conducted at the Ferndale residence at 9:30 o'clock Saturday morning. The funeral cortege will leave at 10 a.m. for New Paris, Bedford County, where burial will take place. C. E. Davis, a native of New Paris, was quite well known in Somerset and Bedford counties. He came here about two weeks ago. Surviving the deceased are his widow, Mrs. Almira (Vore) Davis, and the following children: Mrs. W. H. Berkebile, of 704 ½ Somerset Street; Mrs. Pansie Mangus, of rear 552 Central avenue; Mrs. George Nicodemus, of Holsopple; James Davis, of New Paris; Glen Davis, of Ferndale, and Leon Davis, of rear 552 Central avenue. He is also survived by the following grandchildren: Mrs. Ruby Collett, Mrs. Althea Landafield and Mrs. Ida Mae Brisky, all of Pttsburg; Mrs. Harry Mock, Dorothy, Vida and Thelma Mangus, of Johnstown; Robert, Catherine and Elizabeth Davis, all of 313 Ferndale avenue; Charles and Harry Berkebile and Mrs. George Von Lunen, of Johnstown; Eliza and Ben Nicodemus and Mrs. Grover Johnson, all of Holsopple, and Edmund Davis, of Ferndale."

1929: Elmira's tombstone indicates she was born in 1852 and died in 1929, stating "Mother Almira V. Davis 1852 -- 1929". (This corrects the 1928 death date given in the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania".) Elmira is also buried in the Cuppet Family Cemetery.

1929: The following obituary of Elmira, the wife of Casper Ealy Davis, is from the October 15, 1929 issue of the "Altoona Mirror" newspaper. It indicates that she and her husband lived in New Paris for many years.

1929: The obituary of Elmira (Vore) Davis was also published in the "Bedford Gazette" on Friday Oct 18, 1929 and states:

"Mrs. Elmira (Vore) Davis died at the home of her daughter Mrs. E. Manges of Johnstown on Sunday night Oct. 13, of complication. She was the daughter of Benjamin and Eliza (Beaver) Vore was born in Somerset Co. aged 77 years, 6 months and 27 days. She was united in marriage to Eli Davis who preceded her in death.

Their home being near New Paris for many years. Mrs. Davis is the last one of her family. She is survived by the following.

Tobitha wife of Howard Berkebile, Pansy, wife of E. Manges of Johnstown; Myrtle wife of George Nicodemus of Holsopple; Glen and Leon of Johnstown; James Davis of New Paris. Funeral services were held at New Paris Wednesday morning at 11 O'clock in the Evangelical Church, Rev. Weaver minister of the church of the Brethren officiated. Interment in the Reformed Cemetery, New Paris."

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