William Watts Hart Davis papers

Collection 1837

(3.0 Linear feet 7 boxes, 7 volumes, 1 flat file)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Davis, W. W. H. (William Watts Hart), 1820-1910
William Watts Hart Davis papers
Date [inclusive]
3.0 Linear feet 7 boxes, 7 volumes, 1 flat file
Finding aid prepared by Weckea D. Lilly.
Mixed materials [Box]
Mixed materials [Volume]
Mixed materials [Volume]
William Watts Hart Davis was graduated from military school in Norwich, Vt., in 1842, was professor at Portsmouth (Va.) Military Academy, studied law, was an officer in the Mexican War, returned home to Doylestown and practiced law, was appointed to various government offices for the territory of New Mexico, 1853-1857, returned home where he purchased the Doylestown "Democrat," recruited the 104th Pennsylvania Regiment, and served through the Civil War, returned home to spend the rest of his life managing and editing the Democrat, and speaking and writing on historical subjects. Davis's papers are arranged into several volumes. His incoming correspondence, 1832-1846, 1857-1860, 1880-1882, from family and friends touches on all his activities, with many passing references to politics, although the content is primarily of personal affairs. One volume of the correspondence has been designated "autographs" and includes letters of political and military men, together with clipped signatures. There are also two volumes of "Literary Remains" containing school essays, articles, addresses, reminiscences, diary entries, queries, acknowledgements, invitations, and clippings. There are additional manuscripts of consolidated reports, returns, special and general orders of his command which included regiments of 11th Maine, 56th New York State, 52nd Pennsylvania, and 104th Pennsylvania; History of One Hundred and Fourth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers; other works on the Mexican War and Bucks County; more scrapbook material, invitations, cards, notes, and newspaper clippings. The Doylestown Guards minute book, 1849-1860, is also in this collection.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series her], William Watts Hart Davis papers (Collection 1837), The Historical Society of Pennsylvani.

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Background note

William Watts Hart Davis (1820-1910), born to John Davis and Amy (Hart), became an influential military leader and prominent supporter of local community affairs in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

William’s early educational opportunities were acquired at a number of institutions including the private school of Anna Longstreth, the parish school at the Southampton Baptist Church, the Doylestown Academy, and the boarding school at Burlington, New Jersey. He then attended Partridge’s University and Military School in Norwich, Vermont, graduating from there in 1842. Not much later, he studied law with the Honorable John Fox when he enrolled in a law course at the Dane Law School at Harvard University. However, it was during his studies at Harvard in 1846, at the outset of the Mexican-American war, he enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry. Thus, he commenced his military career and was commissioned as First lieutenant in the United States Army. In 1847 he was appointed adjutant and promoted once more before he was mustered out of service as Captain in 1848.

He returned to Doylestown where he practiced law for about five years until called to serve office in the territory of New Mexico from 1853 to 1857. There, he primarily served as the district attorney of New Mexico where he also functioned as the governor and superintendent of Indian affairs. As well, he pursued an interest in publishing, establishing the the Santa Fe Gazette which was published in Spanish and English. During this time, he returned east to marry Anna Carpenter, of Brooklyn, in 1856. While back in New Mexico, only a year later, he would resign his post and return to Bucks County to establish a household.

Continuing his journalistic interests, in 1857, he also purchased the Doylestown’s local weekly paper, the Democrat, which he managed until his retirement. Davis edited the paper quite carefully thereby making it an exceptional and recognized paper in the state at the time. It is through the paper that he galvanized local interests of the Doylestown Guards whereby to form the 104th Pennsylvania Regiment during the Civil War. Of those efforts to establish the regiment, the President appointed him colonel on August 6, 1861. His influence then led to his appointment as the provisional brigadier gerneral and first brigade of the First Division of the Fourth Corps of the army of the Potomac which included the 104th regiment, the 56th New York, the 52nd Pennsylvania, and the 111th Maine regiments; and, in 1864 was charged with the management of Morris Island in the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. The close of his participation in the war was precipitated by an injury sustained to his hand (loss of fingers) by shrapnel.

After the war effort, William Watts Hart Davis returned to Doylestown and pursued a number of interests including genealogy, local community history and related historical matters. These interests allowed him to produce a number of books and writings concerning his family’s history, the military, and his hometown community. Some of his writings included El Gringo, or, New Mexico and Her People (1857);  A History of the Hart Family (1867);  Spanish Conquest of New Mexico (1869);  History of Doylestown Guards (1887);  The Fries Rebellion, 1798-99: An Armed Resistance (1899);  History of Bucks County (1905).

As well, Davis was a member of many social, civic, and military groups and organizations including the American Historical Society, Aztec Club, Board of Charities of Pennsylvania (Lunacy Committee), Bucks County Historical Society (founder), Doylestown Literary Club, Grand Army of the Republic – Post No. 1 of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Society of Foreign Wars, Society of the Army of the Potomac, Survivors of the Mexican War, Western Reserve Historical Society, and the vestry of the St. Paul’s P. E. Church. Chief among Davis’s organizational memberships was his association with The Doylestown Guards. It was established in 1835, an offshoot of the Doylestown Grays which preceded it. Davis was a signee of the company’s constitution when it was reorganized in 1846. They are well known for their participation in the Civil War as the first company from Bucks County to enter service upon the President’s call for patriotic citizens.

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Scope and content note

Davis enjoyed a long life of multiple careers as an educator, journalist, author, and government and military official, which allowed him to produce a great deal of writings and communications. The papers here show the work he engaged in and the people he worked with, or who were impressed by the worked he produced. Contained with William Watts Hart Davis's papers are correspondence, various writings and compositions, newspaper clippings, military records, and artifacts.

Box 1 contains a number of compositions including historical overviews, biographical sketches, correspondence, commentary, extracts from personal journal, and historical notes about the war and other contemporaneous events in the United States and Europe. Among the many entries included are “Pennsylvania;” “Benedict Arnold;” “The Abolition of Slavery; “Washington;” “Farming,” and “History of the Hart Family.” Items are housed as they were included in the volume where they were previously bounded.

The items in Box 2 primarily concern the public’s response to Davis’s “History of Buck County” and the “History of the 104th PA Regiment.” The commendations show their appreciation of his works saying “it is a work of great labor and research” and “the remarkable contribution you have made in the ranks of historical research.” Also included are various newspaper clippings discussing social and civic engagements, and Davis’s printed speeches most notably his remarks offered at the Bicentenial Celebration in Doylestown in 1882. Other items include thank you letters regarding invitations to events other civic and social engagements.

Box 3 include a number of drafts of Davis’s writings including the “History of the 104th PA Regiment;” “Mexican War: A Military Execution;” “The Mexican War;” “The Capture of General Valencia;” “With General Cushing in Mexico;” “Indian Trial at Santa Fe;” “History of Bucks County Historical Society;” “The Military Spirit of Bucks County;” “A Description of Pennsbury Manor Reformed Church, Bucks County;” “Major Joeph O. Archambault”; and “From Over the Sea” all of which are hand written. Other miscellaneous material includes a mathematics notebook, newspapers clippings on the Mexican War, the 104th Regiment badges, and correspondences.

Boxes 4 and 5 contain returns and consolidated reports for the 104th Pennsylvania regiment. The reports show the promotions of military personnel, ranks, attendance records. Box 6 also contains a variety of documents related to the military including correspondence, orders, invoices, circulars, and memos.

There are seven volumes in the collection of a variety of documents including correspondents, autographs, newspaper clippings, invitations, cards, and notes. Most notably, among the volumes, is the Doylestown Guards company book (1848-1860). The loose items from these volumes were removed and rehoused in Box 7.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2015.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107


Purchased, 1961.

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Related Materials

Related materials

At other institutions:

Davis, W. W. H. (William Watts Hart), 1820-1910, Norwich University Archives.

Davis, W. W. H., Papers, 1727-1905, Bucks County Historical Society.

Davis, W. W. H., Historic scraps, 1902-1904, Bucks County Historical Society.

Davis, W. W. H., Military record of W. W. H. Davis, 1846-1865, Bucks County Historical Society.

Davis, W. W. H., Papers, 1861-1865, Bucks County Historical Society.

W. W. H. Davis Collection (1681-1904), AC 059, Museum of New Mexico.

W. W. H. Davis papers (1846-1864), WA MSS S-1323, Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

W. W. H. Davis papers, 1863-1864, Manuscripts P, University of South Carolina

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Bucks County (Pa.)


  • Doylestown democrat
  • Doylestown guards, Doylestown, Pa.
  • Pennsylvania--History.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--104th Pennsylvania Infantry.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military Documents
  • United States--History--Reconstruction, 1866-1877--Democratic Party Platform

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Davis, W. W. H. 1820-1910. History of the Doylestown Guards. Doylestown, PA: [Press of "Democrat" job Dept.], 1887.

Davis, W. W. H. Life of John Davis. Doylestown, PA: [Press of "Democrat" job Dept.], 1886.

Davis, W. W. H. 1820-1910. History of the Hart Family of Warminster, Bucks County, Pennsylvania To Which Is Added the Genealogy of the Family, From Its First Settlement in America: To Which Is Added the Genealogy of the Family, From Its First Settlement in America. [Doylestown, Pa.]: Print. priv. [W.W.H. Davis, printer], 1867.

Hart, Thomas. A Record of the Hart Family of Philadelphia : With a Genealogy of the Family, From Its First Settlement in America ; Augmented By Notes of the Collateral Branches, 1735-1920: With a Genealogy of the Family, From Its First Settlement in America ; Augmented By Notes of the Collateral Branches, 1735-1920. Philadelphia: [s.n.], 1920.

Hart Genealogy; With Collateral Family Lines: With Collateral Family Lines. West Hartford, Conn. :b O.S. Hart, 1970.

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Collection Inventory

Literary Remains, Volume I 

Box Folder

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 1) 

1 1

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 2) 

1 2

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 3) 

1 3

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 4) 

1 4

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 5) 

1 5

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 6) 

1 6

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 7) 

1 7

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 8) 

1 8

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 9) 

1 9

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 10) 

1 10

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 11) 

1 11

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 12) 

1 12

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 13) 

1 13

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 14) 

1 14

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 15) 

1 15

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 16) 

1 16

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 17) 

1 17

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 18) 

1 18

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 19) 

1 19

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 20) 

1 20

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 21) 

1 21

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 22) 

1 22

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 23) 

1 23

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 24) 

1 24

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 25) 

1 25

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 26) 

1 26

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 27) 

1 27

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 28) 

1 28

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 29) 

1 29

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 30) 

1 30

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 31) 

1 31

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 32) 

1 32

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 33) 

1 33

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 34) 

1 34

Literary Remains, Volume I (P. 35) 

1 35

Literary Remains, Volume I (Front Cover) 

1 36

Miscellaneous Certificates 1701 - 1887; n.d. 

FF 1

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Literary Remains, Volume II 

Box Folder

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 3) 

2 1

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 4) 

2 2

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 5) 

2 3

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 6) 

2 4

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 7) 

2 5

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 8) 

2 6

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 9) 

2 7

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 10) 

2 8

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 11) 

2 9

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 12) 

2 10

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 13) 

2 11

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 14) 

2 12

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 15) 

2 13

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 16) 

2 14

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 17) 

2 15

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 18) 

2 16

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 19) 

2 17

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 20) 

2 18

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 21) 

2 19

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 22) 

2 20

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 23) 

2 21

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 24) 

2 22

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 25) 

2 23

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 26) 

2 24

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 27) 

2 25

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 28) 

2 26

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 29) 

2 27

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 30) 

2 28

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 31) 

2 29

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 32) 

2 30

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 33) 

2 31

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 34) 

2 32

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 35) 

2 33

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 35a) 

2 34

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 36) 

2 35

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 37) 

2 36

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 38) 

2 37

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 39) 

2 38

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 40) 

2 39

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 41) 

2 40

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 42) 

2 41

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 43) 

2 42

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 44) 

2 43

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 45) 

2 44

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 46) 

2 45

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 47) 

2 46

Literary Remains, Volume II (P. 48) 

2 47

Literary Remains, Volume II (Front and Back Covers) 

2 48

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Miscellaneous Manuscripts Prose: Mexican and Civil Wars; Bucks County, PA 

Box Folder

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 1-3 

3 1

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 4-6 

3 2

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 7-9 

3 3

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 10-12 

3 4

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 13-15 

3 5

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 16-19 

3 6

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 20-22 

3 7

MS - History of 104th PA Regiment, Chapters 23-25 

3 8

"History of the 104th PA Regiment" 

3 9

"A Military Execution" (Mexican War Incident) 

3 10

"The Mexican War" 

3 11

"The Capture of General Valencia" 

3 12

General Caleb Cushing: "With Gen'l Cushing in Mexico" 

3 13

General Caleb Cushing: "With Gen'l Cushing in Mexico" 

3 14

"Indian Trial at Santa Fe" 

3 15

History - Bucks County Historical Society 

3 16

"The Military Spirit of Bucks County;" Other Local Interest Papers 

3 17

A Description of Pennsbury Manor; Reformed Church, Bucks County 

3 18

Major Joseph O. Archambault, Obituary 1874 

3 19

Mathematics Exercise Book of General W. W. H. Davis 1834 

3 20

Newspaper Clippings: Mexican War, Civil War, & W. W. H Davis 

3 21

104th Regiment Badges (Removed from last page of Volume V - Invitations, Cards, Notes and Other Matter) 

3 22

"From Over the Sea" (An account of the trip of W. W. H. Davis to the Paris Exposition) 1872 

3 23

Miscellaneous Letters 1858-1906 

3 24


3 25

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IV Corps 3rd Division 1st Brigade: Returns and Consolidated Reports 1861-1864 

Box Folder

Returns 1861-1862 

4 1

Returns 1862 

4 2

Returns 1863 

4 3

Returns 1864 

4 4

Consolidated Reports 1861 

4 5

Consolidated Reports January - May 1862 

4 6

Consolidated Reports July - November 1862 

4 7

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Consolidated Reports 1863-1864 

Box Folder

Consolidated Reports April - June 1863 

5 1

Consolidated Reports July 1863 

5 2

Consolidated Reports August 1863 

5 3

Consolidated Reports October 1863 

5 4

Consolidated Reports November 1863 

5 5

Consolidated Reports January - March 1864 

5 6

Consolidated Reports April - August 1864 

5 7

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IV Corps 3rd Division 1st Brigade: Correspondence 1861-1864 

Box Folder

Orders, Memos, etc. 1861 

6 1

Orders, Memos, etc. January - July 1862 

6 2

Orders, Memos, etc. August - December 1862 

6 3

Orders, Memos, etc. January - August 1863 

6 4

Orders, Memos, etc. December 1863 

6 5

Orders, Memos, etc. January - March 1864 

6 6

Orders, Memos, etc. April - August 1864 

6 7

Orders, Memos, etc. n.d. 

6 8

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Items Removed From Volumes 1774 - 1886; n.d. 

Box Folder

Items removed from Volume 1 1843-1846 

7 1

Items removed from Volume 2 1853-1881 

7 2

Items removed from Volume 3 1774-1886 

7 3

Items removed from Volume 4 n.d. 

7 4

Items removed frm Volume 5 1852 - 1859; n.d. 

7 5

Items removed from Volume 6 1865-1883 

7 6

Items removed from Volume 7 1854 - 1859; n.d. 

7 7

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Volumes 1670-1883 


Letters, 1809-1846 


Letters, 1857-1883 


Autographs Volume, 1670-1882 (Broken Series) 


Reconstruction Newspaper Clippings 




Scrapbook: Invitations, Cards, Notes, etc. 


Company Book: Doylestown Guards, July 28, 1849-April 10, 1860 


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