423 Davis, Pearl

The home of William and Artie Davis as it looks today.

The home of William and Artie Davis as it looks in 2013.

Living at 423 South Adams in 1900 are William Davis and his wife, Artie. William was a carpenter born in Ohio in the mid-1850s. In 1896 he married a woman named Artiamishar, born in Canada in 1850. She worked doing ‘general housework’ and is listed as having five children, four living. No doubt from a previous marriage.

Living with them was William Pearl (or Perrell). William was born in Wayne Township, Green County Pennsylvania to Bassel Pearl and Catherine Hilton, tenant farmers and “free persons of color.” At 18, William joined Company B of the 32nd United States Colored Troops in February of 1864. The 32nd was sent to South Carolina and was often in the same location as the Michigan raised 102nd USCT. Pearl was discharged due to disability and spent a number of months ill in the hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina.

After the war, it appears that the Pearl family moved to Colchester, Canada and moved back and forth between there and Michigan for the next several decades. In the 1880 Census, William and his brothers are listed as working in a saw mill in Montcalm County, Michigan.

32nd USCT in formation at Camp William Penn, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

32nd USCT in formation at Camp William Penn, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

In 1893, William married Alice McCurdy in Colchester, Ontario. William was 41 and Alice 34, it was probably not their first marriage. Shortly afterward, they moved to Ypsilanti where Alice’s daughter, Ida, aged 13, died on December 14, 1897. Two days later Alice died. The death certificate lists consumption. William lost his step-daughter and wife in the course of two days.

Back in Colchester in 1911 and then Lansing in 1920. William was admitted to the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio in 1926. His closest relative is listed as Vena Pearl in Lansing, Michigan. Pearl may have been ‘passing’ for white. He answers ‘white’ on the 1911 and 1920 Census. His  Disabled Home admittance also lists him as white, just as it lists him as a member of the United Sates Colored Troops.

William Pearl, National Home for Disabled Volunteers.

William Pearl, National Home for Disabled Volunteers.

USColoredTroopsMilitaryServiceRecords18611865_49474803

William Pearl, Discharge Papers.

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