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Fayette County, Iowa
Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa
Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of
Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
John L. Davis
"John L. Davis, of West Auburn, Iowa, is a native of New York. He was born in Schaghticoke Point, Rennselaer County, February 25, 1824, and is a son of D. W. C. Davis, who was born in 1800, of Welsh and English descent. When a young man he learned the trade of a miller and followed that business for many years. He married Miss Pauline E. Singer, who was born in New York, in 1805, of German parentage. She died leaving five children and Mr. Davis was afterward twice married, having in all, a family of fifteen children. Of the immediate family of our subject, he is the only son and also the eldest child. Minerva M., born in October 1826, married J. W. Burhans, of Wisconsin and died in 1883, leaving one child; Sarah A., born July 24, 1828, became the wife of J. H. Burhans, of Whitewater, Wis., and with their only child they reside in Castalia, Iowa; Lydia M., born May 8, 1830, married John D. Bennett, of Maryland, Otsego County, N. Y., is now the mother of three children and resides in the State of Washington; Rachel D., was born April 3, 1832, and became the wife of James M. Lawrence, of Wisconsin, who was accidentally killed in 1855, leaving two children; she is now the wife of C. S. Farley, of Chicago.
In the Empire State our subject was reared to manhood, spending his boyhood days under the parental roof, and on attaining to mature years was joined in wedlock in Otsego County, N. Y., March 1, 1846, with Miss Mary J. Brown, who was born December 14, 1826, and is a daughter of Stephen S. and Betsy (Salisbury) Brown. The marriage was celebrated in her native city and by their union were born nine children, the eldest of whom is George Read. He was born in Maryland, N. Y., January 17, 1847, served three years during the late war on the Western frontier as a member of Company C, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, and is now a resident of Montana. Jay Clay, who was born in Maryland, N. Y., on the 28th of October, 1848, and is now living in Wisconsin, enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Iowa Regiment, May 1864, and served until the close of the war; he married Sarah E. Gordon, February 18, 1870; John Penn, born in Middlefield, Otsego County, N. Y., August 17, 1850, married Sarah Wells, February 12, 1872, and resides in Billings, Mont.; Delos Guy, born in Westford, N. Y., October 23, 1852, is a resident of Spokane Falls, Wash.; William Wirt, born in Westford, July 21, 1854, married Harriet F. Nichols, August 18, 1875; Charles Sumner, who was born in Douglas, Iowa, September 12, 1856, was married on the 22d of October, 1877, to Beatrice Kennedy; Paulina Elizabeth, born August 20, 1858, in Douglas, became the wife of W. A. Elliott, February 27, 1878; Abraham Lincoln, born in Douglas, April 29, 1862, died February 5, 1863; Ulysses Sanders, born in Douglas, May 12, 1865, is now engaged in railroading with headquarters at Minneapolis, Minn.
When a young man John L. Davis learned the trade of a miller with his father, and became expert in the business. He came to the young State of Iowa in 1855, his services were in constant demand in the line of his chosen profession. He was employed to operate the West Auburn Mills for nine years and ground the first grain ever sent out from that mill. In August, 1859, he went to Fayette and operated the Westfield Mill until the autumn of 1861. In the month of October he rented the East Auburn Mill which he was operating when, believing it his duty to aid his country in her struggle to put down the Rebellion, he enlisted in Company C, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, September 22, 1862. He served with his regiment on the western frontier and was taken sick in March, 1863, but remained with his command in Dakota until the following June, when he was sent home on a sick furlough. This was the origin of the lung trouble which has made him an invalid ever since. Although still in poor health, he was ordered to report at Davenport, Iowa, December 26, 1863, and in May, 1864, received a discharge furlough which authorized him to remain at home subject to the orders of the Government. Receiving no permanent benefit from medical treatment he was finally discharged from the service July 4, 1864, on account of physical disability.
Mr. Davis at once returned to his home in West Auburn where he has since resided. He has taken an active interest in public affairs and has been a worthy citizen. Politically he is a stanch Republican and a recognized leader in his party. Few conventions have met in the last twenty-five years that he has not attended and his opinions carry weight with them with his colleagues. He has held various township offices, for fourteen years served as Notary Public and has held the office of Justice of the Peace for eight consecutive years. He was Secretary of the Board of School Directors of Auburn Township for fourteen years and sub-director for nearly as long. Socially he is a worthy member of Fayette Lodge, No. 60, I. O. O. F., a Past Grand of that order and served one term as Representative to the Grand Lodge and district deputy Grand Master of the District. He is also a member of West Union Encampment, No. 57, I. O. O. F., having joined the order of the Triple Links in September, 1852, since which time, over thirty-eight years, he has been a contributor thereto. Mr. Davis has been, during his more youthful and healthful years an active worker in and defender of the principles of Odd Fellowship. A pioneer citizen of Fayette County, he is likewise a pioneer Odd Fellow of Iowa, having joined the order in New York previous to the organization of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. The writer hereof had the pleasure of reading the preamble and resolutions adopted by the Elk Creek Lodge, No. 383, of New York, April 24, 1855, which expressed their deep regrets on the occasion of Mr. Davis' removal to Iowa for they thus lost one of their best members. He is an honored member of Abernethy Post, No. 48, G. A. R. of West Union. We have thus given a brief summary of the life on one of Fayette County's most valued citizens, who since the early days in its history has been identified with its growth and progress and made many warm friends who esteem him highly for his sterling worth."
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