The Ansil Davis Ranch
Ansil Davis first registered to vote in Calaveras County in 1867, noting his age as 39, born in Maine, and working as a millman in Angels Camp (Great Register of Voters 1866-1887). Three years later he was working in a sawmill in Avery (U.S. Federal Census 1870), and by 1874 he was residing in Douglas Flat with another miner and raising poultry (Calaveras County Assessment Roll 1873-4). In 1880 he was noted as a miner and millman, and by 1900 he had married Sarah, aged 44, a California native, and noted his occupation as farmer (U.S. Federal Census 1880, 1900; San Joaquin County Directory).
The year after Davis purchased the land from the Hitchcock Estate, he was noted as having a successful fruit place of 40 acres, with 3000 trees of all varieties of fruit, growing apples, pears, plums, and peaches, as well as 3000 grapevines of selected varieties (Elliott 1885:92). The Hitchcock orchard soon became known as the Davis orchard and farm. In 1887, Davis was assessed for 41 acres with a house, barn, orchard, and fence; the property was valued at $410, the improvements at $920.
In 1903, Davis was also assessed for a one-quarter mile long water right to a spring and ditch (CA-CAL-683H) from Coyote Gulch to his land, as well as five acres of land bounded east by Hitchcock, the northeast corner of the Wild Goose Claim, and part of the Texas Claim.
Davis died in 1904, and in 1910 the widowed Sarah Davis was noted as a farm operator on a general farm (U.S. Federal Census 1910). In later years her farm was described by a Douglas Flat native: “Mrs. Ansil Davis had an orchard next to the creek. She grew apples, pears, peaches, and cherries that she used to load on a wagon and peddle in Angels Camp” (Matzek 1988).
Sometime between 1910 and 1920, Sarah sold the property to Herbert Davies, a native of England who came to the U.S. in 1900. Davies and his wife Charlotte operated the place as a “general farm.” The couple had two children, Herbert and Winifred (U.S. Federal Census 1920, 1930). Winifred married Cyril McCarty of Copperopolis and the property remained in their family until sold recently to the Ford Construction Company. The orchard and vineyard have long disappeared, while the residence was recently removed.
By Judith Marvin