Robert Davis

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Longtime Wallace State history professor and genealogy expert Robert S. Davis is the recipient of the 2014 Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck Distinguished Service Award from the Dallas Genealogical Society in Dallas, Texas. The award is in recognition of Davis’s respected career as a teacher, writer, researcher and lecturer.

Davis, who has been an instructor at Wallace State for almost 23 years as, said he especially honored to receive the award named after Bockstruck.

“He is one of the nicest people I know, and his books are an enormous help to a great many people,” said Davis, who recently cited one of Bockstruck’s books in an article he wrote about Austin Dabney, an African American who was wounded while fighting as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The Dabney research recently appeared in “American Spirit” magazine, a publication of the National Society of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution; “Prologue: The Quarterly of the National Archives;” the “Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly;” and the “Atlanta Constitution.”

The article is one of several projects, including a book, which Davis has in the works regarding Dabney, whose story is a much-celebrated tale of heroism, loyalty, love, and respect. Permanently disabled from wounds he received in the war, Dabney joined the household of a white family. For the rest of his life, Dabney supported his benefactors and vice versa, Davis said. Dabney was the first African American to receive a state pension and a federal pension, all as a disabled veteran of the American Revolution. His bravery and loyalty is remembered in monuments, books, and educational online games.

Davis has garnered national recognition for his more than 1,000 publications. Along with history classes at Wallace State, he also teaches continuing education classes on genealogical research in the college library’s well-known genealogy center. He is also a popular speaker on book writing with the Alabama Humanities Foundation’s Roads Scholars Program, presenting to genealogical and historical societies across the South each year. He will soon speak to the Birmingham and Grant, Alabama Civil War roundtables about his books on Andersonville Confederate Prison.

Davis has also been interviewed by The History Channel for documentaries about the Civil War, most recently in November for an upcoming four-hour documentary in April commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ending of the Civil War.

Davis’s research was recently used to convince the Library of Congress to make the rare move of changing its catalog to reflect that the anonymous book, “American Husbandry” (1775), was actually the work of Richard Oswald. One of the richest and most powerful men of his day, Oswald wrote the book as a way to promote reconciliation between Britain and its colonies, and he later negotiated the treaty that ended the American Revolution, Davis said.

Other recent awards, recognitions and publications by Davis include:

  • Lifetime achievement award for scholarship by the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, the fourth oldest American Revolution Roundtable.
  • Silver medals by the George State Chapters Sons of the American Revolution for scholarly research.
  • Interviewed by the “Wall Street Journal” for upcoming article on gold and treasure of the Confederate States of America.
  • Co-author with Dan Elliott on the National Park Service report on Robert Carr’s fort in Wilkes County, Ga., the first such report done on a colonial fort that was privately owned. It was the site of a Revolutionary War battle.
  • A book of his most important Civil War essays being considered by University Press, under the working title “Untold Civil War.”
  • Mentioned for his genealogy work in Janice Johnson’s new biography of Carrie Anderson, the founder of the Augusta Genealogical Society.