With the "Nose Flute Pioneers" series, Noseflute.org enters a little cycle of research. I hope it won't be too arid for a blog, but I really think that the facts I found have to be published. The sources : Google patents, US Census and an access to newspaper archives. But also, depending on the topic, correspondence by e-mail with descendants. Let's better say : internet searching tools available for a Frenchie not able to access US real paper archives.
Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest Davis
Newspapers: Ernest Davis' life
Patents give no more info that what we published in Part I, but fortunately, local newspapers and census sheets do.
What stood for the "W", in "Ernest W. Davis" ? William? Walter? Wayne? Wilbur?
There is one and only place where I found it : the Town Records book of the city of Boston, MA. So, Ernest Winfield Davis was born in Boston, on March 19, 1881.
The Davis live at 2709 Washington St. in Boston, and we also learn that his parents were both born in Lubec, Maine. The father, Luther J. Davis is a baker (his father was a millman). He was born Jan. 3, 1846, and was the youngest of 8 children. Elle B. Davis (born Berganson), was born Aug. 2, 1850.
In 1870, the Davis Sr. are married and live in Boston :
And in 1880, they have a 7 years old daughter, Lillie, Ernest's sister :
The next year, Ernest was born, and in August 1883, it's the turn of the young Alice.
The Davis family moved later to Chicago, and the occupation of Luther will become "Engineer Stationary".
We know, from the patents, that Ernest lived in Forest River and Oak Park, Cook district, in West neighborhood of Chicago.
The two first "Ernest W. Davis" of Oak Park/Forest River entries I found date from 1895 - Ernest is already 14 - and deals with Tilton School graduation. The first one teach us that he interpreted Douglas Club Two Step (1894) by George Schleiffarth (1848-1921), as a commencement exercise. So, the boy was already musician and played the piano (according to the sheet music).
The second article tells that Davis has decided to continue his studies.
Oak Park Vindicator, Jun.21 and Jul. 5, 1895 :
A Tilton school class in 1887 :
Then, no news from Ernest Winfield Davis until 1900. His older sister has disappeared from the census (married?). Ernest lives at his parents home in Chicago, with his youngest sister Alice, and work as a clerk.
In 1910, Ernest has become Head of the family, hosting his father Luther (64), who has become "Electric Engineer". What happened to the mother Ella B.? We know she's still living. But another name is written on the census sheet "Davis Mary C." as "mother"... Did the Davis parents divorce and Luther re-married with Mary? Probably.
But more! Ernest married Anita C. (born Ashler) on the 6th of March, 1910.
Anita - sometimes written Hannah - Ashler was born in October 1874 in the State of Illinois, from Frederic W. (b. Oct 1830) and Ivanna (b. 1838, Altenberg, DE), both German. Frederic imigrated in 1851, was naturalized in 1858 and was laborer.
Anita has 4 sisters and 1 brother.
On 28th of September 1919, Luther J. passed away.
In 1920, Ella B. lives at her daughter Alice, who has married a dentist, Charles E. Douglas. They have one son, Malcolm E. (b. 1915) :
The Davis live in Marion St., Oak Park (West of Chicago). They have a 7 years old daughter, Ruth Estelle, and they host Fred W. Ashler, Anita's father (certainly after his wife Ivana's death).
In Oak Leaves, Dec. 31, 1936, we learn Ruth Estelle was born in Kenniwick, WA.
But in 1924-25, she is "freshman" at Oak Park Highschool (Oak Leaves, Dec. 13, 1924), "senior" in 1927-28 with an average of 90 per cent or more and elected member of the National Honor society (Oak Parker Jun. 22, 1928), register to Wisconsin University in 1930 (Oak Leaves, Dec. 5, 1930) where she is elected to the Sigma Epsilon Sigma fraternity (Wisconsin State Journal, Oct. 24, 1930) and enrols in the general Letters and Science course (Oak Leaves, Feb. 3, 1933). She awards sophomore honors in 1931 (Wisconsin State Journal, Oct. 6, 1931).
Ruth Estelle is a very good student, and besides the school, she's scout girl, member of Troop 12 and of the Citizen Troop of Oak Park district. It's a pleasure to notice she's fond of wind instruments (she plays the bugle) and physics :
Oak Leaves, Apr.7 and Oct. 28, 1928 :
Occasionally, Ernest W. is involved in his daughter scouting activities... as a singer :
But when at university, Ruth Estelle is more interested in dancing and parties with her friends, notably a certain C. Byron (sometimes Barney) Flinn, whom name is always printed just besides hers (hehe!), and who'll become her husband after 1937 and before 1940, according to her name (Oak Leaves, Apr. 8 1937 and Aug 29, 1940). On Aug. 29, 1940, Ruth Flinn is invited to one of her High School friend :
The Flinn will move then to Ashland, IL (Jacksonville Daily Journal, Sep. 16, 1948), and Ruth become member of Soroptimists on Dec. 8, 1952 (Pottstown Mercury, Dec. 9, 1952)
What did she become? Here is the answer, Ruth E. passed away in 1986 :
In 1933, Ernest is 51, works for Stewart-Wagner, and has already applied for 63 patents... He regularly receives awards for his inventions. He is married with Hannah(Anita) C., who's member of a circle of Forest River Presbyterian church and of the Forest River Women's Club. We don't know much about Anita, but thanks to the "Social Affairs" chronicle of the Oak Leaves newspaper, we are aware of the Davis' holidays, hobbies and residential address...
Oak Leaves, Aug. 18, 1938, Jul. 6, 1939 and Aug. 29, 1940 (year of Humanatone filing) :
Indeed, as learned in this last newspaper article, Ella B. left Illinois in 1928 for California, where she lived 10 years, before to come back to Oak Park and live her last years at her son. She passed away on 14th of August 1944, at the age of 96.
After his daughter's wedding and his mother's death, another event left Ernest W. totally alone : Anita's death, which happened on 24th of May, 1948 :
Oak Leaves, May 27, 1948 :
Daughter married and away, wife and mother dead, were probably the reasons which made Ernest W. move from his big house to a smaller one. Indeed, thanks to the very inquisitive newspapers, we can even precisely trace Ernest's homes, and we can notice he moved from Park Avenue to Washington after Anita's death.
1881 - : 2709 Washington St., Boston
1900 - : 31 Lincoln Street, Chicago
1910 - : 2134 Hampton Court, Chicago
1918 - 1922 : 229 N. Marion St., Oak Park
1930 - 1938 : 133 S. Harvey, Oak Park
1938 - 1948 : 538 Park Ave., Oak Park
1950 - : 448 Washington Blvd., Oak Park
1956 - 1965 : 808 S. Cuyler Ave., Oak Park
I don't know when exactly Ernest retired, but it was probably around 1950, after his last patents were filed.
In november 1965, Ernest Winfield Davis passed away at the age of 84, after a life of work, rich of 132 patents, among which the plastic Humanatone one.
One last thing : in 1893, at the Columbus Chicago Fair, the first metal nose flute was presented. Ernest is 12 and (probably) lives already in Chicago. In the 1920s, several Jug Bands of Louisville came to play nose flute in Chicago. Ernest is in his thirties. He is musician, engineer... His first professional wishes were turned to entertainment. Is it so astonishing he drew the plastic Humanatone in 1939/40 ?
Ernest Winfield Davis is elected to The Nose Flute Hall of Fame !
On the same topic :
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part III
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Nelson Ronsheim
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Garrett J. Couchois