Carolista Davis 1863-1932
The Belle of Shasta
Carolista Davis was the daughter of Josiah Patrick William Davis and Mary Emeline “Emma” Buchanan, who were married in Howard County, Indiana on January 31, 1863 and had 5 daughters and one son.
According to family lore, Josiah and Mary Davis, were bound for California, but still in Indiana, when their daughter, Carolista was born. The couple, now a trio, continued on their 3,000-mile journey west, arriving at their destination in Healdsburg, California on June 15, 1864.
Josiah P. W. Davis and Mary E. Buchanan’s other children, all born in California are: Mary Etta or Mary Ettie Davis, Oliver Charles Davis or Charles O. Davis, Annie L. Davis, Ella May Davis and Ida E. A. Davis.
The only son of Josiah and Mary Davis, Oliver C. Davis, was killed in a mining accident at Iron Mountain, when he was just 31 years old. The newspaper erroneously reported that he was 39 years old. Oliver C. Davis left a young widow and one child, names unknown at this time.
For the newspaper article regarding Oliver C. Davis see:
For information concerning the Iron Mountain Mine see:
For “one of the most polluted places on earth” see article here:
During the 1870 Census, Healdsburg, California, Carolista is known as Carrie Davis 6, place of birth California. Her father, Josiah P. W. Davis is 34, born Ohio, mother, Mary E. Davis, born Kentucky, is 26, siblings Etta Davis 4, Oliver Davis 2 and Annie Davis 0, are all born in California.
During the Census in 1880, in Eagle Creek, Shasta County, California, J. P. W. Davis 43 and wife, Mary E. Davis 36, have six children in the household: Carolista Davis 16, Mary E. Davis 14, Charles O. Davis 12, Annie L. Davis 10, Ella May Davis 6 and Ida E. A. Davis age 2.
This is the last verifiable record for Ella May Davis in California. There were numerous young girls in the area with the same name, born about the same time, with marriage records, but none fit her profile.
Josiah P. W. Davis had only one son to carry on his name, but J. P. W. possessed a far more valuable commodity, a true rarity in the wild west towns of California. J. P. W. Davis had five lovely daughters and he may have used this to his advantage, in some very creative ways.
Carolista Davis was called the “Belle of Shasta”, a very beautiful young lady, with flaming red hair and a fiery disposition to match. Carolista married four times and would encounter tragedy and turmoil throughout her life. Her father, Josiah, reputedly shot her first “beau”.
Josiah W. P. Davis himself, had been shot, as a result of a card game ‘misunderstanding’, which turned violent. Josiah Davis, shot through the skull, carried that bullet in his head, until his death at 91. This head injury may account for a somewhat unusual incident in 1900.
On October 3, 1880, in Shasta Country, California, the 2nd oldest daughter of Josiah and Mary Davis, Mary Ettie Davis 15, married 43-year-old Robert Hall (actually 45). Robert Hall, a native of New York and Josiah Davis were contemporaries and may have even been friends.
"The consent of J. P. W. Davis, father of Miss Mary Ettie Davis, given in writing and on file in this office.” The first of J. P. W. Davis’ daughters was married.” Mary Ettie and Robert Hall would be married for almost 20 years, until his death at 64, from being “Burnt to death”.
Etta Hall would leave California and marry again on October 12, 1921 in Franklin, Indiana to John W. Chowning. Etta claims to be 49 years old, probably because her husband is only 37. If Mary Ettie Davis was 15 in 1880, Etta Hall would be 56 years old at this marriage. Etta Chowning died at age 60, in Indiana and her widower soon remarried.
Carolista Davis 17, married Charles P. Summers 33, on June 2, 1881, in Eagle Creek, Shasta County, California. The previous year, during the 1880 Census, on June 4, Charles Summers 33, Single, Miner, was living in Watson Gulch and Jerusalem, Shasta County, California.
Charles Powell Summers, a native of England, immigrated to the United States in 1871, under circumstances which just may explain his future lack of decorum. Apparently, Charles had embarrassed his family in England and was paid a remittance by them, to stay away - forever.
Charles Summers and Carolista Davis had three children: Charles H. Summers, Mabel Summers and Carrie Summers. The already tenuous marriage, would end soon after the birth of their youngest child, Carrie, in the early summer of 1885. Only seven months later, Carolista’s mother, Mary E. (Buchanan) Davis, would die at age 42.
“ONO P. O., CAL Jan. 19th, 1886 ED. COURIER: --It now becomes my sad duty to announce to your numerous readers the death of Mrs. Mary Emeline, a devoted wife and loving mother--consort of J. P. W. Davis. She breathed her last at her residence, near Ono, on Sunday night, at about 12 o'clock, P. M., January 17th. Mrs. Davis was born in Trimble county, Kentucky, on the 29th day of March, A. D. 1844--the daughter of Rev. F. C. Buchanan. She was married to Mr. Davis on the 31st day of January, 1863, in Howard County, Indiana. Mrs. Davis crossed the plains with her husband to California, in 1864, and landed in Healdsburg, Sonoma county, on the 15th day of June, '64, where she is well and favorably known. She is the mother of eight children, seven of whom are now living in Shasta county--three of whom are married and are mothers and four of the younger are left with their father. One, an infant dead, lies buried on Sunny Hill.”
“Mrs. Davis has suffered for several years from that dreadful disease, consumption. A few weeks before her demise dropsey set in and the two complaints were more than her frail body could stand. She died easy, as if passing into a gentle slumber. Four minutes before her death she called her husband to her bedside and told him that she was dying; these were her last words.”
“The funeral services were very feelingly conducted by her Pastor, Rev. W. S. Kidder, at the Ono church, on Tuesday, at 2 o'clock, January 19th--after which the remains were conducted to the new graveyard in Ono, and there interred. The reputation of Mrs. Emma Davis is so well known that it is hardly worth our while to state that she died beloved and respected--she was a member of the Baptist church, at Ono, and the members of that denomination assisted and attended the burial services as well as the interment. Mrs. Davis leaves several very young and beautiful children, and the general bereavement of the family is deeply felt by the general public. Mrs. Davis was a kind mother and a loving wife.”
The 1886 Voter Registration in California records Charles Powell Summers 39, born 1847 in England, as being a resident of Bully Choop (Mountain), Trinity County, California near Whiskeytown.
On June 30, 1886, in Anderson, Shasta County, California, Mrs. Carolista Davis [sic] (Summers) married John Harrison. The notice appeared in the July 16, 1886 edition of the Record Union newspaper in Sacramento, California. Carolista (Davis) Summers was 22, divorced, with three children and John William Harrison 53, was a widower.
John Wm Harrison 40 (42), first married on July 1, 1875 to Mary Elizabeth Joseph 15, in French Gulch, Shasta County. He was a native of North Carolina, resident of Grizzly Gulch, she was a California native, resident of French Gulch. It was a first marriage for both parties. Her parents had given their consent for her marriage. Record of note:
“That John Wm Harrison, aged 40 years was never married before is a resident of Shasta County and was born in the State of North Carolina of American Parents and that Mary Elizabeth Joseph aged 15 years a resident of Shasta County was born in California of French Parents.” Joseph Mullen and Eva Mosher witnessed the event.
Mary Elizabeth Joseph was the daughter of Charles Joseph and Marie Ragane (Mary or Maria Rebelle). On June 30, 1860, in French Gulch, Mary Elizabeth is known as Eliza Joseph, age 7 months, living with her parents Charles Joseph 31, a Farmer and Mary Joseph 33, children Heny [sic] (John Henry) Joseph 6 and Charles Joseph 4.
In 1861, Charles Joseph, the elder was killed in a saloon quarrel, probably as an innocent bystander. Mary Elizabeth’s mother, widow, Maria Rebelle Joseph married John Morrell on January 27, 1863.
On July 9, 1870 in Township 2, French Gulch, Elizabeth Joseph 11, lives with her step-father, John Moerll [sic] 40, mother Mary R. Moerll 45, children, Chas Joseph 15, Emil Moerll 4, Mary Moerll 3 and Dina Moerll, age 3 months. By 1900, Mary Morrell is a 75-year-old widow, having emigrated in 1853, she had seven children, with only 2 alive.
John Henry Joseph 22, known as Heny Joseph during the 1860 Census, married Celina Jane Wilson 17, on August 6, 1876 in Shasta. About 18 months later, he would be dead and Selina Joseph 21, would marry again on August 18, 1878 to German born, Harmon Prackel 48.
Harmon Prackel died 3 years after the marriage and Celina Prackel 25, married William Smith 26, on August 17, 1882 in Shasta. This would be the last record in California for Celina (Wilson) Joseph Prackel Smith.
Mary Elizabeth “Marybeth” (Joseph) Harrison died at 18 of Scarlet Fever, that she and her 1-year-old daughter had contracted in January of 1878. Marybeth and her baby died within two weeks of each other.
John W. Harrison, a former Mining Engineer, owner of the Mad Ox Mine and the Madam Brown House in Grizzly Gulch, was also owner of a vineyard. The Shasta Courier newspaper reported on July 21, 1888 that the Madam Brown House was destroyed by fire the previous week.
John Harrison and Carolista Davis had two children together: Mary Elizabeth Harrison, named after his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Joseph and John Bentley Harrison, named for his father, Bentley.
The children would never know their father, because John W. Harrison and Charles P. Summers, Carolista’s first husband, were embroiled in a feud, resulting in the death of John William Harrison.
In April 1890, at Woodward’s Hotel in Whiskeytown, California, a disagreement again erupted between the two men. Charles Summers, drunk and agitated, began berating John Harrison, who having had enough, beat Charles Summers with a grubbing hoe. In retaliation, Charles Summers shot Harrison in the back of the head with a pistol.
John Harrison succumbed to his injuries, leaving his widow, Carolista to care for five children. It is unclear if Charles Summers was tried or convicted of the killing or if he claimed self-defense and was acquitted. Regardless, by 1900, Charles Summers was back in Shasta.
The Shasta Courier told of John William’s demise in a rather matter-of-fact manner, dryly reporting on April 26, 1890:
"John Harrison, of Grizzly Gulch and Chas. P. Summers of this place got into an altercation at Woodward¹s hotel, Whiskeytown, Thursday, which culminated in Harrison’s striking Summers several times with a grubbing hoe, when the latter retaliated by shooting his assailant with a pistol, producing wounds which soon afterwards proved fatal. Summers came down to Shasta, on his way to Redding to surrender himself to the authorities, and was met here by J.E. Reynolds, whom he kindly escorted to the county jail."
"The examination of Charles P. Summers was commenced Thursday before Judge Knox, and still continues, there being a large number of witnesses on hand, the proportion of them that don't know anything about the Harrison-Summers affair outranking those who do know something about it." (May 3, 1890)
"The preliminary examination of Charles P. Summers for shooting John W. Harrison at Whiskeytown, closed before Justice Knox last Saturday evening, resulting in holding Summers to appear before the Superior Court to answer the charge of murder." (May 10, 1890)
On August 8, 1891, Mrs. Carolista Harrison 27, married James H. Welch 30, in Shasta County, California. He was a native of Illinois according to the marriage document. Both were residents of Stella, California at the wedding. James H. Welch is a mystery otherwise.
On June 19, 1894, in Shasta County, Carolista Welch 30, married for the 4th time to Charles H. Cummings 32, a Dentist. A witness to the ceremony was Mrs. M. E. Martin, Charles Cummings’ younger sister.
The notations on the marriage certificate for Carolista, state that she “has been various times married, do not recollect their names and some of the contracting parties are dead, some are living.”
It is highly doubtful that Carolista had forgotten her 1st husband Charles P. Summers, killed her 2nd husband, John W. Harrison, but her brief marriage to her 3rd husband, James H. Welch may have been far less memorable and did not produce any known children. It is unclear what happened to James H. Welch after his marriage to Carolista.
Charles and Carolista Cummings had one child, a son, Leslie C., Clarence or Charles C. Cummings, born a month after the wedding. Charles C. Cummings died in Shasta, California, mother’s name, Davis.
The memorial for Charles C. Cummings is here:
Charles Henry Cummings was born in Maine and came with his family to California in about 1876. In 1880, C. Cummings 19, born Maine lives in Salmon Falls, El Dorado County, working as a farmhand.
Charles Cummings’ marriage to Carolista was short-lived and by 1900, he has abandoned her and the six children, allegedly having stolen her money. Charles is now living in San Francisco with his mother, Mary Cummings 63, brother, Geo H. Cummings 41 and sister, Mattie Martin 35. All are claiming to be widows or widowers.
In the May 18, 1900 edition of the Daily Review from Hayward, California, there is an article on page 4, entitled “Deeds Away His Daughter”, in which “Miss Ida Davis, youngest daughter of Josiah W. P. Davis of Redding, California, a pretty girl with dark eyes and hair, has been deeded to Rudolph Ott, as if she were a piece of real estate.”
In 1910, French Gulch, Rudolph Ott 52, born in Switzerland, is still Single and a Boarder with 17 other Gold Miners, a Blacksmith and a Cook, ages 20-68, from 10 different countries, including France, Serbia, Austria, China, Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany and Finland.
In 1920, Rudolph Ott 61, is now a Widowed, Gold Miner, although who his wife was is unknown, because a marriage record for Rudolph Ott has not yet been found. It is unclear if Ida A. Davis ever married, she disappears from California records after her “deeding” to Rudolph Ott.
Carolista’s 4th husband, Charles H. Cummings remarried in 1906 to a woman 20 years his junior, having invested his stolen fortunes and becoming a wealthy enough man to have a building constructed in his own name in the city of San Francisco – The Cummings Building.
Charles H. Cummings practiced Dentistry, having his own office in San Francisco, until at least 1940, when he was 79 years old. Charles H. Cummings lived comfortably and died in San Francisco at the age of 82.
After Carolista Cummings had suffered the indignity of her 3rd husband, Charles Cummings’ desertion, she was forced to endure the return to Shasta of her 1st husband. Charles Summers, murderer of Carolista’s 2nd husband, John W. Harrison, was back in town.
In 1900, Shasta Township, Charles Summers 58, an Engineer at a Copper Mine, with 9 other Copper Miners, lives in the Mountain Copper Company Mine Bunk House, a short distance from Carolista.
During the Census in 1900, Caroline [sic] Cummings 37, Widowed, is in Shasta Township with her six children, from 3 different husbands, Charles H. Cummings (Summers) 18, Mabel Cummings (Summers) 16, Carrie E. Cummings (Summers) 15, Mary E. Cummings (Harrison) 13, John B. Cummings (Harrison) 11 and Leslie C. Cummings, age 6.
Carolista has changed the surname of her three oldest children, Charles, Mabel and Carrie to Cummings, to reflect the name of her last husband, but she is actually divorced and not a widow. Her children with John Harrison, Mary E. and John B. are also enumerated with the Cummings last name, as is Leslie C. Cummings, Charles Cummings’ son.
On July 2, 1902, in San Joaquin, California, a certain Annie Davis 33, possibly the 3rd daughter of Josiah P. Davis, married Millard Wells 35. This record states that Millard Wells, born 1867 and Annie Davis, born 1869, are both natives of California and residents of Clay Station, Sacramento County, California at the time of their wedding.
In 1907, in Sonoma County, California, there is a death record for an Annie E. Wells, age 38, which, could indeed, be her.
In 1910, Carolista Cummings, 43-year-old widow, with 3 children living in Dunsmuir Ward 2, Siskiyou, California. Bentley Cummings 20, Clarence Cummings 15 and Alfred Cummings 9 are in the household. Bentley Cummings is actually her son, John Bentley Harrison and her other son, Alfred Cummings, is rumored to be the child of a Paiute Indian that Carolista allegedly had an affair with in the early 1900’s.
In 1910, in Delta, Shasta County, California, Charles H. Summers 27, known as Charles Cummings in 1900, has resumed using his given surname of Summers and is a partner in a Copper Mine. Charles was born in California, father born England, mother born Illinois (an error).
John Bentley Harrison 27, would assume his given name on January 5, 1918 at his marriage to Columbia Lillian Shield 23, an actress for a stock company. After her marriage, she is still known as Columbia Shield in 1920, living with her mother Lorinda Shield 64 and brother, Ernest Shield 35, also an actor, in Los Angeles, California.
It is unclear where John Bentley Harrison was during the 1920, 1930 and 1940 Census reports and what happened to Columbia Lillian (Shield) Harrison after 1920 is also unknown at this time.
Family history says that Carolista’s daughter with John Harrison, Mary Elizabeth Harrison continued to use the Cummings surname after 1900, her whereabouts have not yet been verified. It is alleged that she never married and died in the 1920’s of a chronic, stomach ailment.
The 1920 Census records for Carolista Cummings has yet to be found in California. Her youngest son has enlisted in the Army and is known as Alfred Commings 20, born 1900, Single, living in San Diego, California in 1920 at Rockwell Field, Aviation Camp. Alfred Cummings married Verna Ellen Dorris on August 24, 1921 in San Francisco.
In 1930, in Long Beach, California, Alfred Cummings 29, married with two daughters, has a job as an Airplane Mechanic at the Army Airport. In 1940, Alfred Cummings 39, married, is now living in San Francisco, employed as an Elevator Operator. Going down….
Alfred Cummings died in San Jose, California at age 49 according to the memorial for him at Golden Gate National Cemetery: Alfred Cummings, CPL 9 AERO SQ USA AS WORLD WAR I. Alfred’s birthdate is shown as being two years earlier than actual, perhaps for enlistment purposes during WWI, as he would have just turned 16, when the United States joined the Allies during the conflict, on April 6, 1917.
During the Census on April 29, 1930, Carolista Cummings 67, widow, is now a patient at the Stockton State Hospital for the Insane. Carolista Cummings had been a patient there since December 1, 1929.
Carolista Cummings, born in Indiana, divorced, daughter of J. W. Davis and Mary Buchanan, died at the Stockton State Hospital for the Insane of Cerebral Hemorrhages, with contributory factors for death of Carcinoma of Digestive Tract (unknown site) and Diabetes Mellitus.
Which members of her family were still alive in 1932? Four sons, John Bentley Harrison, Charles H. Cummings, Clarence Cummings and Alfred Cummings were still in California, but her daughters, Mabel and Carrie Summers’ whereabouts are not known after the 1900 Census.
The day following her death, the remains of Carolista (Davis) Summers Harrison Welch Cummings were removed to Hayward, California, presumably for burial, but exactly where is unknown.
 Carolista Davis b Oct 16, 1863/5 d Apr 24, 1932; dau of Josiah Davis 1835-1926 & Mary Buchanan 1844-1886
 Josiah P. W. Davis b 1836 d 1926; born Ohio, son of Davis & Unknown
 Mary Emeline Buchanan b Mar 29, 1844 d Jan 17, 1886; b Trimble County Kentucky, dau of Rev F. C. Buchanan
 Mary Ettie Davis b Jan 10, 1865 or 1872 d Mar 1925; dau of Josiah Davis 1835-1926 & Mary Buchanan 1844-1886
 Oliver Charles Davis b 1868 d Sep 30, 1899; son of Josiah Davis 1835-1926 & Mary Buchanan 1844-1886
 Annie Davis b 1869 d Mar 21, 1907; dau of Josiah P. W. Davis 1835-1926 & Mary E. Buchanan 1845-1886
 Ella May Davis b 1874 d 1880+; dau of Josiah P. W. Davis 1835-1926 & Mary E. Buchanan 1845-1886
 Ida E. A. Davis b 1878 d 1900+; dau of Josiah P. W. Davis 1835-1926 & Mary E. Buchanan 1845-1886
 Iron Mountain Mine: Redding, California Mine containing Gold, Silver, Copper, Pyrite, Iron and Zinc
 Robert Hall b Dec 5, 1835 d Mar 5, 1899; son of John T. Hall 1808-1884 & Harriet Hemmings 1803-1871
 John W. Chowning b Feb 28, 1884 d Oct 28, 1964; son of George M. Chowning 1846-1927 & Martha Franklin 1848-1921
 Charles Powell Summers b Oct 1843 or 1847/8 d 1900+; b England son of Summers & Unknown
 Charles Summers b May 1882 d May 10, 1934; son of Charles Summers 1848-1900+ & Carolista Davis 1863-1932
 Mabel Summers b Dec 1883 d 1900+; dau of Charles P. Summers 1848-1900+ & Carolista Davis 1863-1932
 Carrie E. Summers b Jun 1885 d 1900+; dau of Charles P. Summers 1848-1900+ & Carolista Davis 1863-1932
 John William Harrison b 1833 d Apr 24, 1890; son of Bentley Harrison 1802-1891 & Elizabeth Bentley 1805-1880+
 Mary Elizabeth Joseph b Dec 1859 d Jan 19, 1878; dau of Charles Joseph 1829-1861 & Marie Ragane 1825-1905
 Step-father, John Morrell 1830-1890 and her mother Marie (Ragane) Joseph Morrell 1825-1905
 Joseph Mullen b Feb 1845 d Jun 8, 1933; son of John Mullen 1803-1862 & Margaret Connors 1810-1889
 Eva E. Shoemaker b Aug 8, 1855 d Jan 25, 1943; dau of Franklin Mosher 1833-1881 & Electa Housel 1835-1920
 Charles Joseph b Feb 2, 1856 d Jul 9, 1941; son of Charles Joseph 1829-1861 & Marie Ragane 1825-1905
 John Morrell b Feb 1830 d Mar 24, 1890; b Canada son of parents born in Canada
 John Henry Joseph b 1854 d Dec 9, 1877; son of Charles Joseph 1829-1861 & Marie Ragane 1825-1905
 Celina Josephine Wilson b Oct 3, 1857 d 1880+; dau of John Willson 1822-1886 & Josephine Pearson 1832-1875
 Harmon Prackel b 1831 d Dec 15, 1881; born in Hanover, Germany, son of Prackel & Unknown
 Baby Girl Harrison b Jan 1877 d Jan 30, 1878; dau of John W. Harrison 1833-1890 & Mary E. Joseph 1860-1878
 Mary Elizabeth Harrison b Jul 1887 d 1920+; dau of John W. Harrison 1833-1890 & Carolista Davis 1863-1932
 John Bentley Harrison b 1890 d 1961; son of John W. Harrison 1833-1890 & Carolista Davis 1863-1932
 Martha Elizabeth Cummings b Apr 1865 d 1900+; dau of Harris P. Cummings 1816-1891 & Mary A. Bogart 1838-1900+
 Clarence Cummings b Jul 12, 1894 d Jan 4, 1968; son of Charles Cummings 1861-1943 & Carolista Davis 1859-1932
 Charles H. Cummings b Feb 10, 1861 d Sep 26, 1943; son of Harris P. Cummings 1820-1891 & Mary A. Bogart 1838-1900+
 Rudolph Ott b Mar 28, 1858 d Jan 4, 1929; born in Switzerland, son of George Ott & Mary
 Annie Davis b 1869 d Mar 21, 1907; dau of Josiah P. W. Davis 1835-1926 & Mary E. Buchanan 1845-1886
 Millard Wells b Jul 16, 1868 d Oct 27, 1927; son of Peter Wells 1843-1884 & Martha Dent 1848-1910+
 Alfred Cummings b Feb 20, 1901 d Jul 3, 1948; son of Carolista (Davis) Summers Harrison Welch Cummings
 Columbia Lillian Shield b 1985 d 1920+; dau of William G. Shield & Lorinda A. Goss 1855-1949
 Ernest William Shield b Aug 5, 1884 d Dec 13, 1944; son of William G. Shield & Lorinda A. Goss 1855-1949
 Verna Ellen Dorris b Oct 12, 1904 d Nov 1990; dau of Vernile Dorris 1863-1935 & Josephine Sabrine 1872-1920