Anne Davis Williams

Helen West Stewart Ridgely’s writing about Anne Davis.
Helen West Stewart Ridgely’s writing about Anne Davis.


Anne Davis Williams (1835-c. 1890) came with her large enslaved family, the Davises, to Hampton from an estate in Frederick County in 1841. According to Uncle Jim Howard, Anne was married while still enslaved to a free man named Jack Williams. The couple had three children between 1857 and 1861: Sam, Nancy, and Lydia. Sam Williams was later employed by Captain John Ridgely as a farm worker in the late 1870s. Anne and Jack lived separate lives for the most part, and he remarried according to Uncle Jim.

After Emancipation in 1864, Anne continued to be employed on the estate for the rest of her life as a skilled nurse and caregiver. She was a favorite of Dr. James McHenry Howard, Margaretta Howard Ridgely’s half-brother. Helen West Stewart Ridgely, wife of Captain John, also noted Anne’s nursing skill: “Anne Davis, known to us all as “Annie Bones’ because of her particular skill in bandaging and nursing.”

E. Ridgely's description of Anne Davis Williams's funeral.
E. Ridgely, 1875, describing Anne Williams’ funeral.


In his 1894 memoir of the Ridgely family, Uncle Jim extolled Anne's character and talents:

“Anne was one of the best nurses I have ever seen, and to the instincts of a lady she joined the qualities of a quiet manner and soft footfall and seemed to know exactly what to do and how to do it whenever any change was necessary in the sick chamber….When she died, which was only three or four years ago, all of the family who could well get there, attended her funeral services—which were held in the Hall at Hampton, and conducted by a preacher of her own color and faith, who made quite an able address. The singing was done by the colored people of the farm and vicinity and was quite characteristic of the race. She was buried in the South-West corner of the Negro burying ground—under shade of a forest Oak tree—may the leaves fall lightly upon her grave!”

Last updated: June 6, 2020

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