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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 702~


William E. Davis


The record of Mr. Davis is that of a man who by his own unaided efforts worked his way form a modest beginning to a position of comparative affluence and influence in the business world. His life has been of unceasing industry and perseverance and the honorable methods which he followed while actively engaged in business won for him the unbounded confidence of his fellow citizens of Maynard.


William E. Davis was born March 5, 1840, in Velyncwm, Cardiganshire, Wales, and is the son of Daniel and Elenore (James) Davis, both also natives of the same place. The father was a farmer there and in the year of the subjects birth the family came to America, the slow-going sailing vessel in which they took passage requiring three months for the voyage, which was characterized by much rough weather. They landed in New York city, where they remained a year, at the end of which time they went to Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Here for a year he was employed in the mines. at the end of which time he secured a farm of one hundred and nineteen acres in Susquehanna county. At the time he secured possession the land was almost entirely covered with timber. Mr. Davis put up a log cabin on this place and entered at once on the task of improving it. After putting in three years hard labor at this task, he moved to Pittson, where he lived the ensuing three years. He then returned to the farm, where he lived until seventy-five years old, when he retired from active labor and in 1876 came to Iowa, locating at Maynard, Fayette county. His death occurred in 1877 at Hazelton. His wife had died in 1852. In political belief he was an old-line Whig and later a Republican. Religiously he was a member of the Congregational church. They were the parents of twelve children.


William E. was reared by his parents and educated in the public schools of Pennsylvania, completing his education in the Hartford University, Hartford, Pennsylvania, and Poughkeepsie, New York. After his marriage, in 1867, Mr. Davis located in Adams, Minnesota, where for six years he was engaged in the mercantile, grain and stock business. In the fall of 1873 he came to Maynard, Iowa, where he opened a general store, in connection with which he also conducted the grain and stock business, meeting with excellent success. Eventually he formed a partnership with S. P. Cushman, which association was continued for four years. Later he was in partnership with C. B. Rich for two years, at the end of which time he disposed of his interests to John H. Wells. He then bought four hundred and twenty acres of land, part of which he afterwards sold, now being the owner of one hundred and eighty acres, all of which is located in Harlan township. He has for some time been practically retired from active business life and is now enjoying the fruits of his former years of earnest toil. He is literally a self-made man and during his active years he performed much hard labor, never sparing himself when he had an object in view. His business life was characterized by absolute integrity and the highest sense of honor, so that at all times he has enjoyed the confidence of all who have had dealings with him. He is widely known in Fayette county and enjoys a large circle of warm and loyal friends.


Politically, Mr. Davis has always voted with the Republican party, though he has never been an aspirant for public office. Fraternally he is a member of the Masonic lodge at Maynard, while his religious belief is in harmony with the creed of the Presbyterian church, of which he is an earnest and liberal member.


On December 11, 1867, Mr. Davis was united in marriage with Helen J. Wells, who was born August 15, 1841, at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the daughter of George Holbert and Charlotte (Hallock) Wells, the former a native of Goshen, New York, and the latter of Orange county, the same state. Mr. Wells studied law a Montrose, Pennsylvania, and after his admission to the bar he moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he was engaged in the active practice of his profession for fifteen years. Because of the failure of his health he went to Susquehanna county, that state, where he engaged in farming for several years, also engaging in the dry goods business at Gibson, that state. he died in 1879 and his wife in 1872. Mr. Wells was a stanch Republican in politics and stood high in the counsels of his party, being at one time a member of the Legislature. Fraternally, he was a member of the Sons of Temperance. In religion he was a Universalist and his wife was a Baptist. They were the parents of eight children, namely: Helen, wife of the subject of this sketch; Charles, deceased; Emma, who resides in California; Hallock, deceased; John H. of Denver, Colorado; George D., deceased; a son that died in infancy; Charlotte lives in Pennsylvania. To the subject and his wife have been born eight children, namely: 1,George Lincoln, who is a successful farmer in Idaho, married Lottie Bell Day and they have seven children, Hallee, Arthur, Robert, Maude, Dean (deceased), George and Catherine (deceased). 2.Lena is the wife of Prof. G. E. Finch, of Dillon, Montana, and they have four children, Helen, Fred, Eugene, and Robert. 3. Walter, who is an attorney at Spokane, Washington, is connected with public works there. He was a professor in the Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, and also in Grinnell College, Iowa. Subsequently he took post-graduate courses in the Leland Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and Yale University and also graduated at the Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa. He married Hazel Klinger and they have two children, Ruth and Mildred. 4. Arthur, who is an attorney at Spokane, Washington, attended the Upper Iowa University, at Fayette, and after taking a course in law at Iowa City, was admitted to the bar there. He married Florence Carpenter and they have two children, Rachael and John. 5.Benjamin attended the Upper Iowa University and was then two years in an art school in Chicago and one year in art study at Indianapolis, Indiana. He is now a professional baseball player with the Spokane, Washington club. 6. Jessie is the wife of John L. Seaton, professor of Greek in the Wesleyan University, at Mitchell, South Dakota, and they have two children, William D. and Mary W. 7. Charlotte, who is unmarried, is general secretary of the Young Woman’s Christian Association at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was formerly a preceptress at the Upper Iowa University for two years, and was afterwards stationed at Chicago for training-school work and later at Montgomery, Alabama, as general secretary for the Young Woman’s Christian Association two years. 8. Irving graduated form the high school at Maynard and later from that at West Union, and also graduated at Grinnell College. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar at Seattle, Washington, and is now practicing his profession in partnership with his brother Arthur, under the firm name of Davis & Davis, at Spokane, Washington.

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Mary Aldrich


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