Biographical History of Montgomery and Adams Counties, Iowa - 1892 - D

Montgomery County  >> 1892 Index
Adams County

Biographical History of Montgomery and Adams Counties, Iowa. 
Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1892.


Unless otherwise noted, the following biographies were submitted by Dick Barton.

Francis Marion Davis, attorney at law and farmer of Adams county, was born near Columbus, Ohio, August 13, 1831, a son of Joseph and Edith (De Ford) Davis, the father a native of Maryland and the mother, of Delaware. He is a descendant of John Davis, an aide of La Fayette in our Revolutionary war. His grandmother was Ann Simpson, a near relative of Hannah Simpson, the mother of General Ulysses Simpson Grant. Our subject still has in his possession a [musket that] was used in the battle of Trenton. Joseph Davis is a farmer, still residing on the old homestead, now aged ninety years; but his wife has been dead about sixteen years. They had six children, of whom three are still living.

The subject of this sketch, the second child and eldest son, was brought up on a farm and attended Blendon College (Presbyterian), and finally graduated at the Ohio Wesleyen University at Delaware, in the class of 1852. Then he took a trip to the South, but owing to the social ostracism of all Northern men existing at that day in the South, he was not encouraged to remain there. In 1853 he returned from the South to Columbus, and for two years studied law in the office of Dennison & Carrington, Dennison afterward becoming Governor of Ohio, and Carrington, a Brigadier in the Federal army. In 1855 he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Ohio. Soon thereafter he came to Iowa traveling on the cars to Rock Island, and from thence by stage to Des Moines, and from there on foot to Adams county, carrying a surveyor's compass and staff, where he arrived at Quincy on the 5th of August. Here he immediately opened out in the practice of his profession of law and surveying, having at the first term of court thereafter thirty-seven cases and a large business, entering land for the early settlers, working night and day. The first three months after his arrival he earned $1,500, which he was able to invest in land; of this he still retains 200 acres. When at the South, he was fully impressed with the belief that a great slavery war would soon be inaugurated, and in 1856, during the Fremont and Buchanan campaign made several speeches in his neighborhood in which he told the people that the election of Buchanan would terminate in war between the South and north. True to his convictions, as soon as Buchanan was inaugurated, in 1857, he organized a company called the Quincy Guards, which during the following years was thoroughly drilled in the duties of soldiers. After Fort Sumpter was fired on the whole company was mustered into the United States service for three years and became Company H, Fourth Iowa Infantry. This company became specially noted for efficiency in the years of the war that followed. In the spring of 1862 he organized Company D, Twenty- ninth Iowa Infantry and was chosen its Captain. This company saw active service in Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. At Fort Pemberton, on the Yazoo, he was leading a charge of the regiment across a bayou against the fort, and received a wound in the stomach, which resulted in permanently disabling him from the service; and he was discharged by order of the Secretary of War, for in incurable disability, in 1864. The wound is still a source of great disability to him, for which he receives a pension.

In 1876 he built the elegant residence which he now occupies, and his landed property now amounts to 2,000 acres; and he is also largely interested in stock. As a farmer he is one of the most extensive in the county. He is a member and commander of Lewellyn Post, G. A. R., which post was named for one of the original Quincy Guards, which he organized. He was made a Freemason as long ago as 1852, in the South, being a member of the same lodge with the noted rebel, John B. Floyd. For many years he has been a pillar in the Congregational Church. In personal habits he is a model man. During his life he has practiced in all the courts, having many of the most noted cases in the United States Supreme Court, winning the Adams county swamp land case, the Hunter defalcation case, etc.

In politics Mr. Davis has always been anti-slavery and union, taking part in favor of the anti-Nebraska (Republican) party of 1854, at Columbus, Ohio, and opposing the Douglas doctrine of giving opportunity to the extension of slavery. He has been county Attorney and county Judge; was a member of the Legislature of 1871-'73, aiding in the enactment of the Code of 1873.

He was married in 1857, to Miss Julia Clark, a native of Michigan, and of their three children two are living, one having died in infancy. Mrs. Davis died in 1880, and Mr. Davis was married again in 1883, to Miss Sarah Brown, the daughter of one of Adams county's prosperous farmers, by whom he has two children, a boy and a girl, who are the present associates of his declining years, in their happy home.

J. B. Davis, a lumber merchant of Prescott, Iowa, was born June 26, 1859, the son of George J. and Martha Davis, the former a native of Virginia, and the latter of Indiana, and both were old pioneers of Adams county. The father came West in 1857, and located in this county, where he engaged in farming, and in addition to that occupation is engaged in carpentering. The parents had seven children, five of whom survive. Our subject, the second child, received his education in the common schools of Adams county. He remained on the farm with his parents until twenty-one years of age, when he commenced work for $20 per month, continuing three years, and at the end of that time had saved $400. He then rented a farm in Adams county until the spring of 1890, when he engaged in the lumber business. He is the only lumberman in the place, and keeps a good stock. He has an extensive patronage in this part of the county, which has been built up by fair dealing. Both he and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, and the former is a Democrat politically.

Mr. Davis was married to Miss Winnie Moon, who was born in Appanoose county, Iowa, and whose parents are still living in Adams county. They have had two children: Nellie and Floyd.

J. H. Davis, a general merchant at Mt. Etna, was born in Indiana, November 2, 1851, the son of T. H. and Anna (Fees) Davis, both natives of that state. His father, a farmer, came to Iowa in 1852 and settled in Eureka, and several years afterward located where he now resides, a mile and a half southwest of Etna. He and his wife are both living, honored and respected residents. He has never aspired to public office, but has ever given his best attention to farming interests and the general welfare of his community. His farm comprises 240 acres, conveniently located, well-stocked and well watered. It is mostly "second-bottom" land.

Mr. Davis, our subject, the eldest in the above family of ten children, set out in life for himself when of legal age, teaching school during the winter and breaking prairie and farming during the summer. After continuing thus for nearly ten years he embarked in 1884, in the mercantile business in Mt. Etna, and now carries the heaviest stock in the city, - dry-goods, notions, boots and shoes, queensware, glassware, hardware, groceries and school books. He takes a commendable pride in the enterprises of his neighborhood, and is a responsible and worthy business man. Several times has he been elected to office, but has refused to serve, except a term or two as Clerk of his township. As to the nominations made by the political parties he votes independently, but generally with the Republicans, especially where they favor prohibition. He is a highly esteemed and worthy citizen. He and his wife are members of the Evangelical Church at Mt. Etna, in which body he is a prominent trustee and assistant Superintendent of the Sunday- school.

He was married November 1, 1881, to Miss M. A. Black, daughter of W. B. and Margaret M. Black, of Adams county, both of whom are still living, well-known and highly respected citizens. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have two children, viz.: Alvin Roy and Lora Elma.