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History of Davis City
Decatur County, Iowa

Near the western limits of what would become Davis City there once was a spring. The Sac and Pottawattamie would come from miles around, proclaiming that water from this spring possessed great medical power.

Approximately four miles southeast of the spring once stook an lone oak tree, nearly ten feet tall with branches that spread out 25-feet each way. The lower limbs were close to the ground so that a person could climb the branches like stair-steps. The Sac and Pottawattamie believed that this oak was a sacred tree. They brought their sick here, hanging them in hammocks in the upper limbs. It was said that the sick would not die while embraced by the oak tree. Many early settlers attested to visiting the sick in this tree.

Nearby, was a point called Falls of Grand River. Allen Scott, early pioneer of Decatur County, immediately recognized the value of this unbridled source of water power. He entered the adjoining land with the expectation of using the falls to his advantage at some future time. William Davis heard of the Falls of Grand River. He came from the East to look things over and entered into a partnership with Allen Scott.

In 1854, Allen Scott and William Davis constructed a log cabin and a water-powered sawmill on the banks of the Grand River. Davis bought out Scott and built a frame house the following year while W. H. Cheever laid out Davis City, a town of four blocks nearby.

During the autumn of 1856, William Davis built the first store. G. W. Jenre operated the store for a while before selling out to Arnold & Davis, which was succeeded by Davis & Bowman. With a population of fifty residents, Henry Bowman built and opened a hardware store in 1872 and J. R. Frisbie erected a second mercantile store. Other early businesses were Oscar Severe's harness shop, Archibald Rankin's drug store, Young & Wren's "Chicago Store," and Morris & Clark's store which was the first brick building in Davis City.

Clark's Addition was laid out in 1870, with other additions following in successive years.

W. F. Craig was Davis City's first postmaster. He was followed by Henry Bowman, James Teale, and Carter Scott.

RAILROAD

The Leon, Mount Ayr and Southwestern railroad came through Davis City in 1879.

Note: The Davis City Wagon Bridge (1911) and the Jefferson Highway Bridge are the same bridge. It was replaced by the current bridge circa 1930. The highway coming through Davis City was paved circa 1928. ~SRB

LODGES & POSTS

Davis City Post No. 306 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was organized on March 31, 1884. There were twenty-two charter members mustered in by Hugh White of Mount Ayr under the direction of the department mustering officer, W. T. Wilkinson. The G.A.R. purchased a building in the spring of 1885.

Davis City Lodge No. 375 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons organized in 1874.

Davis City Lodge No. 314, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) was organized in 1876.

Davis City Lodge No. 89, I. O. G. T. was organized with fourteen memebers in December of 1885.

BANKING

The Decatur County Banking Association established the Citizens Bank in 1879.

In 1894, a private institution, The Farmers Bank, was established with S. Radnich, president, and A. C. Dorn, cashier. On August 1, 1902, J. A. Frazier was the president with O. L. Frazier as cashier.

On May 15, 1900, The Valley Bank was established with J. N. Gates, owner and president.

GERMAN VILLAGE

A colony of German immigrants settled on land located approximately one mile northwest of what would later become the town of Davis City. The colony consisted of mechanics, merchants, laborers and physicians. It flourished for a while until fever broke out among the immigrants. Everyone who came down with the fever died despite all the physicians did to attend to the sick. The deceased were interred in a cemetery located in a grove standing near the colony.

The few who survived the fever eventually moved on. The location of this colony has been lost over time.

SOURCES:

"Davis City." "Biographical and Historical Reocrd of Ringgold and Decatur Counties, Iowa." Lewis Publ Co. 1887.

Howell, Professor J. M. and Smith, Heman C. "Decatur County Towns - Davis City" History of Decatur County and Its People. Vol. 1. S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1915.

"Davis City Advance" articles.

Compiled & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013

History of Davis City
By Geo. T. Williams

The Davis City Advance, Jan. 7, 1897

  • Part One, Description of Davis City

  • Part Two, Schools, Churches, Civic Societies, Telephone
        SURNAMES: Adams, Anson, Arasmith, Brown, Bowman, Campbell, Croix, Doss, Griffith, Halstead, Howell, Keshlear, Kling,
       Lanning, Mark, Mitchell, Patterson, Post, Prose, Robertson, Robinson, Severe, Shirley, Shoemaker, Sparks,
       Sylvester, Teale, Tilse

  • Part Three, The Press, Horton House, Banking
        SURNAMES: Bolon, Dorn, Eustis, Radnich, Shirley, Wickes

  • Part Four, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Campbell, Frazier, Halstead, Jeffries, Laney, Morgan

  • Part Five, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Arnold, Curry, Frazier, Halstead, Robertson, Robinson, Woodmansee

  • Part Six, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Grimes, Kling, Teale

  • Part Seven, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Harvey, Horner, Post, Wailes, Wheeler

  • Part Eight, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Banton, Burrell, Gore, Emmons, Joy, Keshlear, Shoemaker, Thompson

  • Part Nine, Businesses & Business Men
        SURNAMES: Evans, Grimes, Hyde, Jones, Keller, Sparks, Tharp, Wells

     

    Davis City Business Directory
    Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum


    Click on thumbnail photo or the link to see an enlarged view of the directory page.
    Click on "back button" to return to this webpage.

    Mount Ayr Record-News
    Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
    Thursday, July 26, 1916

    KELLERTON: S. E. Smith has traded his property in Kellerton for a restaurant in Davis City and will move there soon to take possession.

    Photograph courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum

    Davis City Photograph Album

    Click on thumbnail photo or the link to see an enlarged view of the photograph.
    Click on "back button" to return to this webpage.


    Davis City Depot

    year unknown

    Davis City Depot

    1972

    Main Street

    1909

    Davis City Opera House
    1910
     

    Jefferson Highway Bridge

    1918

    Davis City Bridge

    year unknown

    Frazier Bros. Roller Mills

    1903

    Frazier Bros. Rolled Oats

    1901
     

    Railroad Bridge

    1907

    Railroad Bridge & Mill

    1909

    Wagon Bridge

    1911

    Jefferson Highway Bridge

    year unknown

    Davis City Wagon Bridge and Jefferson High Bridge are the same Bridge.
    Per Don Latta, it was replaced by the current bridge around the year 1930.
    The highway was paved around the year 1928.


    Davis City Bridge

    1937

    CB&Q Bridge

    year unknown

    Wagon Bridge

    1911

    Jefferson Highway Bridge

    year unknown
     

    Davis City Bridge

    year unknown

    Looking west from the park

    1906

    Ice Harvest

    1916

    A. Schelfield & A. Hare

    & 4-foot catfish
     

    Ed and Art Teale

    1906

    Residential Street

    year unknown

    Teale Auto Garage

    year unknown

    Keshlear Store

    year unknown
     

    Laying Water Works

    1915

    Floyd Kirk, barber

    year unknown

    Marshalls, Davis City Reunion

    1901

    Rebekah Lodge

    before WWI
     

    Old Settlers Reunion

    1907

    Businessmen

    year unknown

    Brick Masons/Plasterers

    1930s & 1940s

    Henderson & Scott

    1910

    James Henderson Family

    1915

    Gladys Rogers

    year unknown

    Shelby Arthur McDaniel

    Courtesy of Conni McDaniel Hall

    Cecil Sutherlin

    year unknown
     

    Sgt. Burris M. Howell

    WWI

    Arlo Hullinger

    year unknown

    Professor J.M. Howell Family

    1897

    Howells & Andrew

    1917
     

    Verda McDaniel

    year unknown

    Turpen Residence

     

    Otto, Dorothy & Nora
    Turpen, 1938

    Porch Detail

    of Turpen House
     

    Turpen House, 2009

     

    Davis City Park

    1907

    Davis City Park

    1915
     

    Park Shelter

    year unknown
     

    Davis City Park

    1937

    Park Shelter

     

    Davis City Park

     

    Davis City Sign

     
     

    Earld Scott home

    year unknown

    Judd Maxwell &

    Larry Shoemaker

    Parker, Robbins & Baker

    year unknown

    Dr. Reed Family

    year unknown
     

    Davis City Baseball Team

    1952

    West side N. Main Street

    1954

    Lumber Yard

    1954

    DX Station

    year unknown
     

    Elston Station

    1954

    Water Tower

    Davis City Cafe

    Davis City Residence, 2009
     
     
    DC Tire

    West Side Main Street
     

     

    Articles about Davis City

  • Mercer Boys Kill Davis City Marshall, 1881
        SURNAMES: Allen, Caster, Enloe, Farquhar, Foster, Gardner, Goodman, McKelvey, Mercer, Sankey

  • Description of Davis City, March 1895

  • Street Lights Installed, July 1901

  • Coal Found Near Davis City, date unknown

  • Davis City Reunion, 1908

  • Dr. Guy Reed, 1951

  • John McConnell 1915 - 2012

     

     

    NOTE: Many people have generously opened up their photo albums and collections
    to graciously share with us. Please extend the same courtesy back to them ~
    ask for permission from the coordinator of this site before you "borrow" these images. Thank You.

    Davis City's churches may be found on Decatur County's Church Pages.

    Davis City's schools may be found on Decatur County's School Pages.