Seneca Sunrise

The Life and Times of Frederick Davis, Jr.

by Frank W. Steber

Frank W. Steber lovingly recreates a life lived long ago. That life belonged to Frederick Davis, Jr., and in the late 1800s, he made a large impact on the small town that is now Watkins Glen, New York. Davis’ accomplishments and his life have been all but forgotten, but Seneca Sunrise will allow you to travel back to the time before cars, before vaccines, before running water and electricity, and witness how the character of a man helped shape a town.

EXCERPT FROM Seneca Sunrise
“Now I’ve been going on about this man and how Watkins was busy and growing during the War Between the States. And all that was true. But let me tell you, when the war was over, life in this town really took off! It was as if the fighting and all took up about half of everybody’s attention, and then it ended and pop! – it was over and everybody really got 100 percent back to business. It was a great time in Watkins in the late 1860s.”

Author’s Note:

Frank Steber

When I wrote a history of Saint James Episcopal Church in 1980, I discovered what an outstanding man – a renaissance man in his time – that Frederick Davis, Jr. was. He moved to Watkins in 1857 and lived here the rest of his life. I asked around, but noone knew of him or was even  aware of his existence. I wanted to somehow resurrect his life and bring him back to public attention. I learned a great deal about him and what he did from church records and old Watkins Express newspapers that went back to 1864.

You never find out everything you want to know from old records, but you do get a picture of a real human being who lived, worked and struggled for his own ends and for his family and community. The book is a biographical fiction. I learned quite a bit about other people with whom he worked, and felt I could draw conclusions about him from what others said. I just felt good knowing that my main goal was accomplished, letting people know about a forebear who lived a great life in Watkins Glen.

Every community has a history that deserves to have a life, but too much of it gets lost. Whatever we can do to recapture and hold on to it, the better off everybody is. Although it may sound trite, I truly believe that we don’t know who we are until we know where we came from.

paperback, 8.5 x 5.5, 134 pages
ISBN: 0-9725571-0-5

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