Pages 408-410, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.



William E. and George S.

DAVIS BROTHERS,—William E. and George S. Davis are sons of the late Edward S. Davis, who founded the Davis Mills on the Neosho river, and who will be remembered by old residents of the Neosho Valley. Davis Brothers were the immediate successors to their father's business and conducted it successfully for more than thirty years.

This particular Davis family is not one of the original Colonial families although it was established in New England near the opening of the nineteenth century. Commodore Davis, grandfather of our subjects, was born in Wales, came to the United States, a boy, grew up in New England and became a sea-faring man. He followed the coast and river trade of New York and New England. He married in Maine and removed his family to the Ohio river country at Marietta, at which place he died. His family consisted of three sons, and a daughter, viz: Stephen, William and Edward S. Davis and Patience, who married Mr. Burck and made her home in St. Louis. Stephen reared a family at Marietta, Ohio; William reared a family in Pike county, Illinois, and all three brothers were boatmen in an early day.

Edward S. Davis was born in Maine in 1808 and died in Iola in December, 1870. His early manhood was passed on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and flat boating and steam boating comprised his business. He made twenty-eight trips from Marietta to New Orleans and in the years that he followed the river he amassed considerable property. He gave up the river at forty-two years of age and took his family into the new state of Iowa. He had two aims in going to the prairie state on the north; one was to get himself away from the river, of which he had become tired, and the other was to get his growing sons onto a farm. He bought a three hundred and fifty acre farm, but hardly had he obtained possession when he decided to engage in the milling business. He located in Ottumwa and opened business the next year. He conceived the idea of running a steamboat on the DesMoines river and went back to Marietta and built one. In this venture he made a mistake. He got the boat around to St. Louis and while tied up there a woman came aboard with smallpox. It was contrary to his nature to turn her away from shelter under even such circumstances


and it was the cause of his contracting the disease himself. When he finally got through with the authorities and the disease he had lost his boat and effects. A Pike's Peak venture then presented itself to Mr. Davis. He took his first son and crossed the plains in the spring of 1860 and stopped to prospect in Quartz Valley. There was no money to be made there with the pick and pan and they began getting out saw logs. They returned home in the fall of the same year and again the ferry proposition took possession of them. A boat was built at Ottumwa and, in the seven years it was run by the Davises, it yielded large profits. In 1868 they sold out their Iowa interests and came to Allen county, Kansas.

At Iola D. R. Hovey had built a grist mill on the Neosho river and this plant the Davises purchased for the fabulous sum of $14,250. It consisted of two burrs, a saw-mill and thirteen acres of land. The mill was situated on the river bank just above Riverside Park and it was operated there as a steam mill till 1880, when the dam at the bridge was constructed and the mill moved there and rebuilt.

William E. Davis was born September 6th, 1839, and George S., March 8, 1845. The brothers formed a partnership in early life. They were less than thirty years of age when they came to Iola and their business life has been almost wholly passed here. Their recollection of the early days of the Davis mills reveals the fact that much of its custom came from points far beyond the confines of Allen and Woodson counties. It was no uncommon thing to toll grists from Independence and to wait on trade from Eureka. They have served the public for little less than a third of a century and their labors have been liberally rewarded.

Edward S. Davis' wife was Drusilla Alcock. Their children are Patience, widow of Joel D. Myers, residing in Tampa, Florida; Martha, who died in 1864, married Oliver Harlan; Francis, deceased, married Don Mitchell, Sarah, deceased, became Mrs. Elmer Marsh; W. H.; George S.; Drusilla, wife of Elias Bruner, and Marietta, the widow of Colonel W. C. Jones

William E. Davis enlisted in Company K, Forty-seventh Iowa Infantry at Ottumwa, was in the service one hundred days and was stationed at Helena, Arkansas. He received his discharge at Davenport, Iowa, when his enlistment expired and he returned to his business at Ottumwa.

In 1867 Mr. Davis married Sarah Stevenson, a sister of Robert B. Stevenson, of Iola. She died February 28, 1878, leaving one son, Edward S. Davis. A few years later Mr. Davis married Lydia, a daughter of Zadock Vezie. The children of this union are: Bertha, born December 26, 1882; Laura, born March 6, 1888; Drusilla, born December 13, 1900.

George S. Davis was married June 3rd, 1873, to Ada J., a daughter of Joseph Norton, from Maine, who came to Allen county in 1871. Estella, the wife of Harmon Hobart, is the only heir of Mr. and Mrs. George Davis.

The politics of the Davises is no uncertain quantity. On the other hand they are of the positive and outspoken sort. The brothers were rocked in an abolition cradle and fed on Republican doctrine. T ey[sic] are not politicians beyond their interest in securing the adoption of such prin-


ciples of public policy as will insure greatest good to the greatest number. They believe in every man having an opportunity to earn a dollar, good the world over, and have great faith in the efficacy of the United States as a civilizing power.

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