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Dr. Benjamin Franklin Davis - MS 384

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The registers and ledgers of B.F. Davis, physician and druggist in Tontogany, Ohio, cover most of his medical career, from 1865-1906. The registers and ledgers span from 1877-1906 and are an excellent example of patient and customer accounts of a very successful medical practice and private business.

Although the bulk of the material is concerned with formal financial records, there are a few diversions. The collection includes a Civil War patient-soldier account; a copied segment of a brief diary of Davis' activities between January 1-6, 1864, found inside the Davis Brothers Medical practice ledger of August 1866-April 1871; and various cards, advertising materials, blotters, and notices related to his medical practice.

The records were donated and transferred to the Center for Archival Collections in October, 1984 through the cooperation of David Mertz of Tontogany, Ohio. There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. The register was prepared by Karen Roberts in March 1986, and revised by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in March, 1991.

Biographical Sketch

Benjamin Franklin Davis (1836-1906) was a physician and druggist in Tontogany, Wood County, Ohio. He was born in Painted Post, Steuben County, New York on October 11, 1836 to J.P. and Mary Darby Davis. His father, J.P., was born in 1810 in Norwich, New York, of an old Rhode Island family; his mother, Mary Darby, was born in 1809 in New Berlin, New York. In 1837 J.P. and Mary moved and settled on an 80 acre farm near South Bloomfield, Morrow County, Ohio. In 1859 Mary died leaving seven children, Benjamin, Harriet, William, Arnold (who served during the Civil War with the 20th O.V.I. and died at Atlanta), Albert, Morgan, and Malon. J.P. then married Joanna Bishop, producing three more children, Minnie, Cora, and Ella. J.P. died in 1867 in Mount Liberty, Ohio.

B.F. Davis attended regular school until the age of 16, then went on to attend a select school at Centerburg. He was a one-term student in college at both Iberia and Delaware and at 19 began teaching. At 23, in the Spring of 1859, Davis began reading medicine in the office of Drs. Russell and Thompson of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He attended medical lectures at Ann Arbor, Michigan in the Winter of 1861-1862, and went to the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio, from which he graduated in February, 1863.

Davis' military career began in 1861 with a three month tour in Company B, 4th O.V.I, under Captain H.B. Banning. In 1862 Davis became one of the "squirrel hunters" during the Cincinnati Invasion, and in March 1863, about a month after his graduation from Starling, he was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 44th O.V.I. When the 44th O.V.I. became the 8th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in 1864, Davis served during the Lynchburg Raid and in part of the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. He was also an eyewitness to the historic ride during the Battle of Winchester at Cedar Creek. In 1865 Davis was mustered out of the Army.

Upon his return home, Davis began what would prove to be a very successful practice in Tontogany, Ohio. He opened a drugstore in 1872 with his brother Albert, an 1871 graduate of medicine at Ann Arbor, Michigan. When Albert died in 1877 at the young age of 30, B.F. continued the store in association with R.J. Collin, to become Davis & Collin.

In 1865 Benjamin married Elizabeth White (born 1846 in Delaware County) and they had three children; Hattie in 1870 (stillborn), Frederick in 1873, and Bernard in 1875. Elizabeth died in 1878, and in that same year Davis married Sarah A. Carpenter Ross. He was a Republican and was a member of the G.A.R., the Masons, and the Wood County Medical Association.

Scope and Content

The Benjamin Franklin Davis Collection spans some 43 years and consists mainly of patient and store registers and ledgers, each with their own distinctive features. The small leather and cloth bound daybook registers are presumably ones carried by Davis during his patient visits, having his name engraved on some and all in the same handwriting. The large daybook registers are probably the office copied accounts of patient visits, corresponding to the information in the smaller books. These registers contain the patient name, treatment, and cost of services, but not the account balance. The patient ledgers, which look very much like the large office registers, are the only place one finds all the patients listed in alphabetic order, along with the balance. The store registers and ledgers follow the same pattern, giving a well-rounded look at a successful medical practice and business.

Included in the collection are three daybook patient registers of Davis' associate, Dr. C.R. Hume, who shared a practice with Davis starting around 1876. The collection also contains various prescription notices, receipts, blotters, cards, and advertisements associated with the Davis practice.

One minor item in the collection of particular interest is a small soldier-patient account, listing names, ranks, regiments, and diagnoses of soldiers treated by B.F. Davis in the hospital of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, during the Civil War.

Series Description


1864-1865, 1865-1866
Beginning of volume includes an account of soldiers treated in the hospital of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, giving soldier's name, rank, regiment, diagnosis, admittance, and discharge dates. Balance of volume contains the Daybook of B.F. Davis from Nov 13, 1865-July 4, 1866.

Arranged chronologically
Pocket-sized leather and cloth registers with account of patient visits, treatment, and cost of services for both B.F. Davis and C.R. Hume.

Arranged chronologically
Day-to-day accounts of patient visits, treatment, and cost of services by Davis' practice, the Davis Brothers practice, and the Davis-Hume practice.

Arranged chronologically
Complete patient listings, the dates of their treatments, and the account balances for services by Davis' practice, the Davis Brothers practice, and the Davis-Hume practice.

Arranged chronologically
Day-to-day customer accounts at the Davis-Coudil & Co. Drugstore, and later at the Davis-Collin Drugstore. The registers also include customer number, their purchases, and the price of the order.

Arranged chronologically
Complete customer listings, the dates of their purchases, and their account balances, for Davis-Collin store


Small article from the New York Herald with B.F. Davis's account concerning the turning point during the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War

1874-1907, n.d.
Miscellaneous business cards, advertising blotters, product ads, statements, receipts, and loose papers


Box 1


  1. Civil War register/daybook, 1864-1865, 1865-1866.
  2. Small daybook register, April-September 1877
  3. Small daybook register, October 1877-September 1878
  4. Small daybook register, September 1878-August 1879
  5. Small daybook register, August 1879-January 1880
  6. Small daybook register, March-August 1880
  7. Small daybook register, August 1880-December 1881
  8. Small daybook register, January-July 1883

Box 2


  1. Small daybook register, August-December 1883
  2. Small daybook register, January-December 1884
  3. Small daybook register, January 1885-February 1886
  4. Small daybook register, March-December 1886
  5. Small daybook register, December 1886-August 1887
  6. Small daybook register, August-December 1887

Box 3


  1. Small daybook register, July-December 1888
  2. Small daybook register, January-September 1889
  3. Small daybook register, September 1889-April 1890
  4. Small daybook register, May-December 1890
  5. Small daybook register, November 1891-March 1892
  6. Small daybook register, April-August 1892
  7. Small daybook register, September-December 1892

Box 4


  1. Small daybook register, January-May 1893
  2. Small daybook register, November 1893-June 1894
  3. Small daybook register, June-October 1894
  4. Small daybook register, November 1894-March 1895
  5. Small daybook register, April-August 1895
  6. Small daybook register, August-December 1895
  7. Small daybook register - C.R. Hume, January 1877-April 1878
  8. Small daybook register - C.R. Hume, January-November 1879
  9. Small daybook register - C.R. Hume, November 1879-September 1880

Box 5


  1. Large daybook register, January 1867-December 1870
  2. Large daybook register, June-December 1868
  3. Large daybook register - Davis Brothers, January 1871-March 1872
  4. Large daybook register - Davis Brothers, March 1872-December 1873
  5. Large daybook register - Davis Brothers, January 1874-February 1875
  6. Large daybook register - Davis Brothers, February 1875-July 1876

Box 6


  1. Large daybook register - Davis-Hume, February-May 1876
  2. Large daybook register - Davis-Hume, May-September 1876
  3. Large daybook register - Davis-Hume, January 1877-May 1878
  4. Large daybook register - Davis-Hume, May 1878-January 1880
  5. Large daybook register - Davis-Hume, January-November 1880

Box 7


  1. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, August 1866-April 1871
  2. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, May 1871-May 1876
  3. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, March 1872-December 1874
  4. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, September 1874-February 1876

Box 8


  1. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, April 1875-January 1877
  2. Medical practice ledger - Davis Brothers, May 1876-April 1877
  3. Medical practice ledger - Davis-Hume, May 1877-January 1878
  4. Medical practice ledger - Davis-Hume, January 1877-November 1880

Box 9


  1. Medical practice ledger - Davis-Hume (?), January 1891-November 1906
  2. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co., December 1872-September 1873
  3. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co., September 1873-May 1874
  4. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co., May 1874-March 1875
  5. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co., April-December 1875
  6. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co., December 1875-May 1876

Box 10


  1. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co. (?), October 1876-April 1877
  2. Store register - Davis-Coudil & Co. (?), May-October 1877
  3. Store register - Davis-Collin, November 1878-January 1880
  4. Store register - Davis-Collin, January 1880-April 1881
  5. Store ledger - Davis-Collin, November 1880-June 1894
  6. Newsclipping, n.d.
  7. Advertising material/business cards, 1874-1907, n.d.

Manuscripts by Subject | Business & CommerceCivil War Collections