For over one hundred years, the Davis family owned a farm in an area of Frederick County, Maryland, called New Market. William Morsell, Sr. (1745-1813), grandfather of Rachel Morsell Davis, originally bought land in the 1780s and added to it through smaller purchases throughout his life. Morsell, a Quaker, was a surveyor and apparently a merchant as well. He had three daughters and one son, William Morsell, Jr. (1778-1846). He employed a number of servants and enslaved an individual named Abraham.
William Morsell, Jr., continued to accumulate more land adjacent to the original tract. Various portions of this land were referred to as Prather's Adventure, Partnership, Solomon's Flower, Long Range, and the Lady. William Morsell, Jr. had only one child, Rachel Morsell Davis (1809-1886), who became his sole heir. The 1830 census reports that one man was enslaved and one free person of color lived on William Morsell Jr.’s property.
George Davis (1775-1850), a Quaker farmer and merchant who was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the father of Eli Davis (1809-1887). Eli married Rachel Morsell in 1832, and the story of their elopement was "a little romantic," according to J. Thomas Scharf in his History of Western Maryland. "The young pair conceived the notion that their marriage would be opposed by parental authority, and so they, deciding to brook no obstacle to their happiness, walked away to Clarksburg one fine morning and were wedded." Eli and Rachel most likely expected disapproval because she was the daughter of a landowner and he was a laborer on the farm she was to inherit. After eloping, however, they experienced their parents' blessings. The couple raised seven sons who survived to adulthood. Eli added more land to the farm Rachel inherited until it encompassed approximately 1,100 acres. Eli Davis enslaved one boy and girl under the age of 10 and there were three people of color living on Davis’ farm in 1830 according to the census. In the 1840 census, there were 3 free people of color living on David’s property. The 1840 and 1850 census reports that 3 free people of color were living on the farm. The 1850 Slave Schedule describes that a 20 year old woman, an 18 year old man, and their 1 year old daughter were enslaved on Davis’ farm. In 1860, the census reports that a free man, woman, and girl under age of 10 were living on the Davis farm. The 1860 Slave Schedule indicates that a 35 year old woman, a 30 year old man, an 11 year old girl, and three boys ages 7, 5, and 3 were enslaved by Eli Davis. Upon his death, Eli Davis divided the farm among his many sons, including Samuel and Isaac.
Samuel B. Davis (1846-1902) owned and operated a general store at Fountain Mills across from the Davis farm; he also ran a mill and a small farm. He married Rebecca Ebert in 1877, and they raised two children, Saidee and E. Carlton (Carl). Isaac T. Davis (1841-1913) inherited the original house and about 250 acres. He married Sarah Frances Spalding (1842-1905), a Catholic, and raised five children, R. Lee (1867-1939), Charles (1871-1955), Nellie (1873-1950), Louis (1880-1918), and Rachel (1882-1948).
R. Lee played an active part in managing the farm for his father from 1895 onward, and he did much to modernize the Davis Farm operations, specializing in dairy farming. "He [was] one of the most successful young farmers in this section, intelligent and fully 'up-to-date' in his methods," according to J. C. Thomas Williams in his History of Frederick County. Lee's stationary featured the farm's new name, "The Old Homestead Stock and Dairy Farm." For the dairy operations, he bought and bred Holstein-Friesian cows, joining Holstein-Friesian associations and obtaining official certificates for some of his cows. He sold milk and cream to retailers and merchants in Baltimore via the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Monrovia station. At his father Isaac's death in 1913, Lee paid his four siblings and his uncle Charles in order to have full ownership of the farm. For a brief period (circa 1919-1920), Lee owned an automobile garage with his nephew, Frank Gaither (1896-1970), the Davis Overland Garage. During the last two decades of his life, Lee invested in oil and mining stocks in the South and West. These investments did not increase the family fortune; Lee's granddaughter, Cora Lee Davis Winchester, investigated the value of the stocks and leases in 1967, discovering that the companies no longer existed. A number of tenant families lived on the Davis property during R. Lee's lifetime, including the Toodle family, who may have been descended from the family enslaved by Eli Davis. R. Lee Davis married Cora U. Layton (1868-1915) in 1888. Together they raised three sons, R. Leslie Davis (1891-1942), Bernard M. Davis (1893-1981), and Aubrey Gaffney Davis (1895-1959), and a foster daughter, Florence Fair. Davis's sister, Rachel, lived on the farm with the family until his death and when she joined her other brother, Charles, at his residence.
Although Davis continued to manage the farm until late in his life, his son Aubrey began to assist him with the farm operations as early as 1908. Aubrey married Ursula Burke Brown (1895-1967) in 1916; they lived on the farm and there raised their three daughters, Catherine Davis Warner Voiles (b. 1917), Cora Lee Davis Winchester (b. 1918), and Audrey Davis Watkins (1920-1982). When his father passed away in 1939, Aubrey bought his two brothers' shares of the farm to become sole owner. In provisions of R. Lee Davis's will, Rachel and Florence received small inheritances as well. Aubrey continued to modernize the farm, and he built a new dairy barn in 1943. His ledgers reflect that he relied upon farm labor from outside the family, often the sons of his tenant farmers. While demand for milk remained steady during World War II, there were shortages in supplies and labor. Aubrey's daughters married men who were not interested in working on the farm. In January 1945, Aubrey sold the Davis farm to the Doody family intending to retire to Frederick, Maryland. Several years later he purchased a small farm nearby, which he ran until 1955.
In 1998, Aubrey's daughter, Cora Lee Davis Winchester, recorded the memories of her childhood on the farm with detail and affection. She remembered the farmhouse where she lived: "When I was about ten the old kitchen and loft were torn down and an ell consisting of kitchen and dining room on the first floor and a bedroom, bath, and loft with a long hall was built by Mr. Will Hendrickson. This house with its long, screened front porch stands today (minus the shutters I used to hang from!). It had all the usual farm buildings: meat house, chicken house, spring house, and, of course, privy (each of the two houses had its own set of outbuildings)." Of particular note is her description of family heirlooms in the living room: "An ancient grandfather clock (built for William Morsell, Sr. by Eli Bentley of Taneytown) dominated the room, which was furnished with a piano, arm chairs, and two Hitchcock chairs. Grandmother's desk (a Larkin) was there. . . . The bow-front china cabinet was also in this room. . . . Eli and Rachel Davis' gold-framed photo portraits hung over the mantle."
Although the size of the farm varied during the period when the Davis family owned it, the main portion was located near the intersection of present-day Maryland Routes 80 and 75 (Green Valley Road), in New Market, Frederick County.