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Martin Davis House and Farm keeps history alive for all

Even as many local citizens begin looking toward the future and new year, Chickamauga resident Jim Staub preserves the past; he is the director of the Martin Davis House Foundation and often gives tours of the historical property.

The Martin Davis House and Farm dates back to 1850, when the late Martin Davis became the owner of 160 acres along Chickamauga Creek at what is now called Davis Crossroads. After building a 1.5-story dog trot-style frame house, Davis moved his family to the home that still stands today.

On his tours of that house, Staub recounts that Davis died in 1859, leaving his widow, Julia Tate Davis, and six children ages 4-18 to manage the farm. On Sept. 11, 1863, the Civil War Confederate and Union troops clashed at the farm.

Davis’ widow passed the farm down to their son John Davis Jr. and his wife, Ruth Hall Davis, who owned the farm from 1882-1897, when J. W. Lee purchased the property. The home and farm ownership changed hands again in 1920, when Mary Eudie Lee Trotter, J. W. Lee’s daughter, and her husband, Frank Trotter, became the owners. On Jan. 1, 1948, Frank Clements Shaw purchased the farm and moved into the house with his wife, Myrtice Dunaway Shaw, and their son, Frank Clements “Bug” Shaw Jr. From 1948-2006, the Shaws, most recently Frank Clements Shaw Jr., preserved and managed the farm.

“Mr. Shaw [Jr.] established a foundation through a trust fund to preserve and protect the property,” said Staub, adding that the junior Shaw passed away in 2006. “I was hired to carry on the work and his interests.”

In the four years that Staub has managed the property, a lot of restoration and maintenance work has taken place, he said.

A winter kitchen, added in the 1970s, leads to the historic portion of the home.

The south parlor blue room that today contains an antique piano, mandolin and violin is missing one of its historical artifacts; a marble-top table in the room was once buried to hide it from Union troops. In the adjoining hallway visitors can check out photos of some of the family members who called the house home around that time. Portraits of the late Martin Davis, his son and grandson adorn the walls that surround an antique piano.

“The hallway had double doors in the front and double doors in the back, so this hall had dog trots, and with the doors open, it stayed cool in the summertime,” said Staub, adding that the back doors were taken out to enclose the courtyard into the house. “In the hallway we stripped the Sheetrock to re-expose the history of the 1851 planked wood walls.”

The north parlor also bears the planked wood walls restored for historic appeal. The 19th century furniture throughout the home belonged to the Shaw, Clements, Suttle and Park families, all ancestors of Frank “Bug” Shaw.

To showcase the 19th century style of a detached kitchen, a blacksmith shop, weaving shop, doctor’s office, schoolhouse and general store, he added six small buildings for guided tours around the property. Shaw’s father owned Frank Shaw Grocery, and the added store building on the property represents the business he helped his father run. Frank Shaw Jr. personally was a mail carrier, a farmer and a historian that loved Walker County.

Living history

The Martin Davis House and Farm includes a number of smaller detached houses built by Shaw to depict a rural 19th century village. The farm showcases the history of rural family life in Walker County during the 19th and 20th centuries. Reservations for tours can be made by calling 706-539-2244 or 423-774-6784.

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