DAVID A. DEVARES. - David A. DeVares came to Sangamon County in 1861. His father and mother, John and Mary Alvies DeVares, were natives of the Madeira islands and came to America with a large colony from the islands, who had embraced the gospel during the labors of Rev. Robert R. Kalley, missionary from Scotland to the islands. Religious freedom was not tolerated and many were compelled to leave their homes and their lands on account of the troubles that arose. Friends of the new converts in England and America were active in providing for them. His father's family and a large number of other families were provided with passage from Madeira, some going to the West Indies, while others came direct to America. The DeVares family on their way decided to stop at Trinidad, a port of Spain, and remain there about four years, after which they continued their journey to the United States. Having landed at Baltimore in the year 1856, this colony settled in Jacksonville, Illinois. The DeVares family then consisted of five children, one girl and four boys, Antonio, Mary, John, David and Daniel. A short time after the family settled in Jacksonville both father and mother died. The children were scattered.
David DeVares found a home with Mr. And Mrs. Theodore Stout, the former an extensive farmer and a prominent stock-dealer in Morgan county, Illinois. Young DeVares lived with Mr. Stout about five years. His education was of the most limited character. While living with Mr. Stout in the winter months he attended the district schools and worked on the farm in the summer. However, by pursuing a course of readings he has acquired a knowledge of the principal branches of an English education, including history, mathematics and the sciences of building. In 1861 he came to Springfield and made his home with his sister, Mrs. Mary Mendonsa, who was married and living in Springfield. While with his sister he started out to earn his own living as a newsboy on the Wabash Railroad, running from Springfield to Danville, Illinois. He sold the Springfield morning papers, containing the latest news from the war. In 1863 and 1864 he was employed in the press department of the old Journal printing office, then located on North Sixth Street.
On the 10th of October, 1866, Mr. DeVares was married, by the Rev. A. De Mattos, to Miss Mary Nunes. Miss Nunes and her parents were natives of Madeira islands. By this marriage she became the mother of five children, one boy and four girls, Eva, Fred, Ada, Esther and Irme. Fred, the only boy, was educated in the private school of Professor A. J. Brooks until he was admitted to the Springfield high school, where he graduated in the class of 1888.
Retiring from the printing business in 1868, Mr. DeVares embarked upon a more independent business career, purchasing a small stock of groceries on the corner of Tenth and Mason streets, where he carried on the business for about three years. His efforts met with success, and as the business increased he secured a lot, erected a one-story brick building on the corner of Ninth and Reynolds streets. From time to time, as business justified, additions were made to this property until the business increased beyond his expectations. In 1883 Mr. DeVares sold his stock of groceries and buildings to Joseph DeFrates, who has continued the business that was established in 1873. In 1880 Mr. DeVares engaged in the business of buying and selling city lots in the southeast part of the city, erecting homes and selling them on the installment plan. For twenty years he has engaged in the real estate and building business. He purchased ten acres of land in Woodside township, which he subdivided, laying out what is known as D. A. DeVares subdivision of Woodside township, which has lately been annexed to the city of Springfield. In 1897 he purchased the property on the corner of Capitol avenue and Second street, opposite the Illinois state capitol. On part of this lot he has erected one of the most complete three-story flats in the city of Springfield. In 1888 he entered the general contracting and building business, and from the beginning he has managed in a very conservative way one of the largest businesses in the building line in Sangamon county. In Springfield and the surrounding country he has to his credit some of the largest and best buildings that stand as a monument to his courage and ability as a builder. In making up this record we refer to only a very few of the buildings erected by him, as follows: The store buildings for Dr. C. M. Bowcock, Springfield; the large brick store building for Warren & company, Springfield; the Loomis business block, Meredosia, Illinois; the Lutheran church at Hillsboro, Illinois; the Douglas Avenue Methodist church, Springfield; the Boys Orphans Home, Lincoln, Illinois; the Methodist church at Williamsville, Illinois; and the large Odd Fellows building on the corner of Fourth and Monroe streets, Springfield. This building, erected in 1896, is one of his greatest achievements. We also take pride in mentioning a few of the beautiful residences he has erected in Springfield, as follows: Mrs. N. B. Hannon, Mrs. A. A. Jess, W. C. Hippard, Charles Ulrich, T. M. Dolan, T. W. Lewis, Andrew Reid; also the beautiful Washington Park pavilion, completed in 1904.
When a young man Mr. DeVares attended Hon. J. C. Conkling's bible class of the Second Presbyterian Sunday school. He also became a member of this church about the close of Rev. Albert Hale's pastorate. In the years that followed he became an active worker in Sunday schools of Springfield. In the course of time he placed his church membership with what was known at the time as the Second Portuguese Presbyterian church, the Rev. A. De Mattos being then pastor. DeVares was placed on the official board of the church. He became very much devoted to the cause of Christ and labored among his own people. His labors were especially zealous in behalf of the young people. He truly believed in the injunction of the wise man who said, "Train up a child in the way it should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." In 1871 he was first elected superintendent of the Sunday school and has held the office of superintendent in different Sunday schools of Springfield for ov er thirty years, excepting the year he visited California. He was first elected superintendent of the Second Portuguese Sunday school and his friends invited him to take the superintendency of the First Portuguese Sunday school, corner of Seventh and Reynolds streets. He accepted and labored in both schools, serving in one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In 1876 he visited New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and the World's Fair at Philadelphia. Moving to the southeast part of the city, he became identified with a successful movement to organize a church for that part of Springfield. Mr. DeVares became one of the founders of the Plymouth Congregational church, was superintendent of its Sunday school for nine years, and also served as deacon and chairman of the official board. In 1889 he visited some of the principal cities of California and of the west. In 1895 Mr. DeVares withdrew from the Plymouth Congregational church work, resigning his official positions. After this time his family untied with the Third Presbyterian church, corner Seventh and Bergen streets. He served as superintendent of its Sunday school four years and also served as trustee from 1897 to 1904, and holds the position of chairman of the financial board. In fraternal circles Mr. DeVares is a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, No. 465; Capital Lodge, No. 14, K.P.; Tent NO. 1, K.O.T.M., and the uniformed rank.
Mr. DeVares now resides with his wife and two daughters, Esther and Irme, who are students in Springfield schools, in his own building, flat A, DeVares flats, opposite the Illinois state capitol.