Ernest Nathaniel Davis, Biography

My maternal grandfather, Ernest Nathaniel Davis, was born on January 2, 1898 in Ansley, Nebraska to Anna Bristol and Charles Frederick Davis. He was the youngest of six children;  Katie (1885-1937), Chauncey Weston (1887-1948), Ethel Caribel (1889-1955), Fredrick Rupert (1891-1953), and Margaret (1894-1982). When Ethel married John Hurley on December 26, 1908, the Davis family were living in Elgin, Pierce County, Washington.

Ernest, aka Ernie, applied for a Seamen’s Protection Certificate on Dec 7, 1920 in Seattle, Washington. The certificate served as identification and protected American merchant seamen from impressment while abroad. Even with certificates, American merchant seamen (also referred to as mariners or marines) were seized by other governments. To my knowledge, Ernie did not suffer that fate.

He met my grandmother, Nora Ethel Waller, through her older brother, Lawrence. Nora was 14 years old and her father did not approve of her dating at such a young age and nor did he approve of Ernie who was 28 years old. Her mother conspired with Nora and allowed Nora to disobey her father. Nora and Ernie often double dated with Lawrence and his girlfriend Lillie.

Nora and Ernie were married on August 3, 1927 in Bremerton, Washington. She was 15 years old so her father had to give written consent to the marriage. Nora was seven months pregnant when they wed. Their first child and son, Kenneth Ernest, was born on October 14, 1927 in Tacoma, Washington. Wayne Lewis was born on Jun 21, 1929 and my mother, Irene Nora, was born on April 7, 1932. The family lived in Tacoma and in Moclips, Washington.

Grandpa Ernie worked for the Aloha Mill and Shake Company (known to locals as the Aloha Lumber Co). The mill was founded by R. D. Emerson and W. H. Dole in 1905.  Mr. Dole’s family members (of the Dole Corporation) selected the name for the mill. They made solid cedar surfboards (another link to the Hawaiian family) as well as shakes and timber products. The Aloha Mill and Shake Company provided timbers and shakes for the Yellowstone Lodge at Old Faithful.

Ernie also was a commercial razor clam digger (harvester). The razor clams were so plentiful during the 1930’s that gunny sacks of clams would be dug during a low tide. The clams were sold directly to buyers who resold them to restaurants. I have been told that good money was made by digging clams if one was fast and Ernie had a solid reputation as an successful clam digger.

As tensions rose during WWII along the western and eastern coastlines of the United States, the US Army started preparing for possible attacks along the coast. The town of Moclips was literally taken over by the Army. The residents witnessed training maneuvers along the beach and bunkers being dug in the sand dunes. My mother remembers sitting on the back porch of their house, which was built on the sand dunes, watching the soldiers dig the bunkers and train directly behind their house. Determining that Tacoma was a safer location for their young family, the family moved back to the NE Tacoma house in about 1943.

Back in Tacoma, both Ernie and Nora found work in the shipyards. They divorced a couple of years after returning to Tacoma. Ernie remained in the house and had custody of the three children. Nora lived nearby in downtown Tacoma and saw her children often.

Ernest married Alice Adkins on July 1, 1955. Alice and her teenage daughter, Vickie, lived with him in the NE Tacoma home.  I was born in February, 1956 and my brother was born in December, 1957. We were Ernie’s only grandchildren. My mother said he delighted in us and enjoyed his visits with us. I remember how much fun we had when Grandpa Ernie, Grandma Alice, and Vickie visited.

Ernie suffered a fatal heart attack on January 21, 1965 and was laid to rest in Mountain View Memorial Park, Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington.


Nora and Ernie 1927

Alice Adkins Davis, Ernie Davis, baby Christine, Mary Stevens Walko March 1957

Ernest Davis, Alice Adkins Davis, Vickie, Christine Wentworth 1958

Ernest Nathaniel Davis undated picture

Ernie Davis portrait

Ernest Nathaniel Davis obituary

Posted in Davis, Maternal line.

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