John Davis was born in Massachusetts, or possibly Searsport, Maine, about 1870, the son of Andrew Davis and Charlotte Spencer (approximate date of birth from census records) He was raised in Blackstone, Worcester Co., Mass.
On 15 October 1922 he married Grace Pearle Ellis at Falmouth, Mass. They were members of the Baptist Church there. Grace had married, first, Nahum Leach on 4 April 1906, at Carver, Mass.
I am not related to John and Grace by blood, but they raised my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis. Arthur, nicknamed Art, was born 25 May 1913 in Plymouth, Mass., to Carrie Washburn. His birth was illegitimate as no father is listed on his birth record, but his sister said Carrie told her his father was George B. Smith, who died in a tragic accident before he was born. I wrote about Arthur here.
|Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis|
Carrie married Everett “Pete” Ellis on 28 August 1914 in Plymouth, Mass., and they had 10 children together. Their son, Francis, was born in 1915 and he also sometimes lived with John and Grace Davis. From what I understand, it wasn’t uncommon for couples with large families to send children off to live with relatives when money was tight. Grace and John also had a son Merle born in 1927.
|Grace and John Davis|
Grace Ellis Davis was the sister of Everett “Pete” Ellis. She was born 16 October 1889, in Bridgewater, Mass., to William and Maude Ellis.
Grace and John lived at Maravista Ave. and also Gifford Street, in Falmouth, Mass., and had a mushroom growing business and later a pig farm. Grace’s mother married, second, a man named Henry Coulter and they lived near Grace and John in Falmouth.
From Jack Sheedy and Jim Coogan’s book, Cape Cod Voyage, "Falmouth - America's Mushroom Capital." In 1911 the enterprise known as Falmouth Mushroom Cellars Inc. began doing business near the corner of Gifford Street and Morse Road. It was an 18 acre complex with growing rooms that maintained a steady 58 degrees. It prospered and by 1914 was not only producing a large number of high quality fresh mushrooms for the Boston market, but boasted that it was the largest commercial grower in the world. In the fall of 1916, the mushroom end of the business succumbed to a blight. With the US poised to enter WWI, the company shifted emphasis to the canning side of the business: tomatoes, beets and beans. It kept over 100 workers busy during the war years and provided a good market for Cape Cod farmers. After the war, fresh produce replaced the canned market and the company closed for good in 1922. The property was purchased by John Davis of Falmouth Heights who used the large cement buildings for a piggery. Today, as well heeled diners enjoy the ambiance of the nearby Coonamessett Inn there is nothing to mark what was once the largest commercial mushroom business in the entire world.
Mike Crew has a blog entry with old postcards depicting the mushroom cellars:
I never knew my grandfather growing up, so one of the most rewarding aspects of family history research has been finding out more about Art and his family and having the extreme pleasure of meeting my Aunt Dot. I would love to hear from descendants of Francis, Merle or Arthur. I’m always eager to learn more about the family and am curious as to where John and Grace were buried.