History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by  Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(biographicals transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
Page 348
Energy, industry and perseverance have characterized the life record of Thomas J. Davis, who is now practicing veterinary surgery in Gravity, where he has resided from the time of the establishment of the town.  Born in Mansfield, Ohio, on the 19th of December, 1844, he is a son of Abednego and Almena (Barns) Davis, the former a son of Abednego Davis, Sr., and the latter a daughter of Thomas Barns, who was a prominent farmer of French origin.  The father of our subject was born in Ohio in 1822 and came to Iowa in 1854, settling upon a tract of land which at that time was practically raw prairie.  He broke the sod and brought his fields under a state of cultivation, devoting considerable time to general farming.  He was an extensive sportsman, hunting wolves and wild cats, while for about thirty years he was a well-known auctioneer throughout the county, and he also followed the occupation of tombstone cutter and engraver.  Aside from the subject of this review he had the following children: John, Francis, Abednego and Hanna.
Thomas J. Davis spent the days of his boyhood under the parental roof and at the usual age enrolled as a pupil in the school at Garden Grove, Decatur county, Iowa, where he remained until 1862.  After completing his education he returned home and remained upon the old homestead until the year 1865.  In the meantime he assisted his father in the cultivation of the fields and early learned lessons of value concerning the best methods of plowing, planting and harvesting.  In the year mentioned he took up the study of veterinary surgery under the direction of V. S. Nevin, this course covering a period of two years, and in 1867 he returned to the farm and assisted his father until (page 349) 1873.  He then removed to Gravity, which town was founded in 1881 and there in partnership with Dr. McCullom, he established a drug business, which they conducted for about eight years.  This was the pioneer enterprise of the town, theirs being the first store of any kind to be opened in Gravity.  Later, however, he severed his relation with Dr. McCullom and took up the practice of his profession and has since been engaged as veterinary surgeon.  He has become very well known in the community because of his skill and ability in his chosen work and also on account of his honorable business methods, and he now enjoys an extensive and constantly increasing patronage, which is a source of most gratifying revenue to him.  He is also manager of the Mutual Telephone company, and he and his wife own the old Harlan farm consisting of one hundred and sixty acres, while he is ranked among the leading and influential business men of the town.
It was in April, 1866, that Mr. Davis was united in marriage in Holt township to Miss Mary Harlan, a daughter of George and Perry (Edgington) and a sister of Aaron Harlan, who passed away in 1909.  Her parents were farming people who settled in Taylor county in 1855.  The home of Mr. and Mrs. Davis was blessed by the birth of one daughter, Ida, who is the wife of Dr. Martin, of Pella, Iowa.
Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Davis has given his political allegiance to the Democracy and has been very active in the affairs of that organization.  He has been a delegate to the state conventions and on that ticket held the position of postmaster for four years.  Public-spirited in an eminent degree, he is not only interested in the material welfare of the community but has been deeply interested in the moral development as well, and has been one of the most prominent and liberal contributors in the building of practically every church in the town.  His life has ever been in keeping with the principles that govern honorable and upright manhood and he occupies today a foremost place among the influential and valued citizens of Gravity.