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1899 Biographies


DAVIS, Mahlon James, M. D., of Lewis, Cass county, is one of those fortunate individuals who, by a peculiar combination of qualities, rapidly accumulates fast friends. His service in the legislature and his activity in politics has given him a state-wide acquaintance, and wherever he has become known the genial doctor is very popular, for he always has a pleasant word for his acquaintances and is always cheerful and never loses his temper. He was born in Juniata county, Pa., October 17, 1837, and was the son of Judah Davis and Charlotte Lease Davis. The family lived on a farm and was in fair circumstances. Mr. Davis was of Welsh descent and his wife of German parentage. They gave their son a good education, in the Airy View academy and Kishacoquilla seminary, both in Pennsylvania. Then he graduated from the medical department of the University of New York, in March, 1862, and in the following July was appointed an acting assistant surgeon in the United States regular army. In the following year he was appointed by the governor of New York assistant surgeon of the Second New York heavy artillery, with which he served until near the close of the war, when he was appointed surgeon of the Two Hundred and Fourth New York Volunteer infantry, but as the war closed before he could be mustered in, he never joined the regiment. From July 6, 1864, until the surrender at Appomattox he served as surgeon-in-chief of the artillery brigade of the Second corps on the staff of General Hazard, chief of artillery of that corps. When the war closed. Dr. Davis, in 1866, came to Iowa and located in Lewis, his present residence, where he combined the practice of medicine with the drug business, with notable success in both. For two years, 1873 to 1875, he had a partner, Dr. D. Findley, now of Atlantic. He served as examining surgeon for pensions from 1874 to 1878. In 1880 Dr. Davis retired from the practice of medicine to devote all his attention to the drug business, which he still continues.

Dr. Davis has always been a republican and an active party worker, several years chairman of the republican county committee. He was appointed postmaster of Lewis by President Grant in 1869, and held the office until 1886. He was elected member of the house of representatives in 1893 and 1895, serving as chairman of the committee on pharmacy in the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixith General Assemblies, in 1894 and 1896, and in the extra session of 1897. He was the author of the law prohibiting registered pharmacists from selling malt liquors, and of several other bills in relation to the practice of pharmacy. Besides, he was alive to the general interests of the state and was a working member on many important committees.

The doctor is a member of the Masonic order and was master of Lewis lodge for four years, and for five or six years a delegate to the Grand Lodge of Iowa. He was married December 27, 1864, to Priscilla K. Shuman, in Harrisburg, Pa. They have three sons, the eldest of whom, W. B. Davis, is associated with his father as partner in the drug business. The second son, B. B. Davis is a practicing lawyer in Chicago, and the youngest son, Charles P. Davis, is at this time, 1898, studying law in the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. With a comfortable fortune, friends everywhere he goes, and a happy and well-to-do family, Dr. Davis is now enjoying the results of a well-directed period of activity.

From Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa, Leaders in Business, Politics and the Professions, Together with an Original and Authentic History of the State, by Ex-Lieutenant-Governor B. F. Gue. Des Moines: Conway & Shaw Publishers, 1899, pp. 490-491.

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