Pages 528-530, 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 DAVIS. of Iola, seven years a Sunday School Missionary in Oklahoma, and a resident of Allen county for nearly a third of a century is a contribution from the citizenship of Indiana. He cast his lot with Kansas, and Allen county, in 1869, a time when good honest citizenship was in need of encouragement and reinforcement here, and when permanent settlements were only beginning to take substantial hold.

Of the eastern states whose sons were looking in the direction of the prairie states for settlement, just after the war, Indiana furnished her share and, from 1865 to 1875, they poured into Kansas in a steady stream. Johnson county, that State, gave Allen county many men whose character and personal worth won them a conspicuous prominence in the confidence of our citizens. William Davis is one of these. He was born in Franklin township, Johnson county, Indiana, January 12, 1838. The blood of the Scotch and Irish courses through his veins and his remote ancestors were among the settlers of the Colonies and in the ranks of the Revolutionary armies.

This family of Davis emanates from New Jersey. William Davis, our subject's grandfather, was born in Mercer county, that State, and came by wagon, westward to the Monongahela river, in Pennsylvania where he built a flat boat and floated down the river to Ohio Falls and from that point went into Mercer county, Kentucky. Farming was his vocation. He served in the War of 1812 from that State and, late in life, went into Clark county, Illinois, and died there in 1874, aged ninety years. He was a son of a Revolutionary soldier, married a Miss Covert and was the father of four sons and eight daughters. The sons were: John W., William Samuel and Daniel Davis.

John Davis, father of our subject, was born in Mercer county, Kentucky, February 17, 1813. He left his native State in 1822 and settled on the Ohio river in Switzerland county, Indiana. Two years later he went into Johnson county, and there lived a successful farmer and an honored


citizen. Like his forefathers he was a Democrat, but the firing on Ft. Sumpter caused him to unite his political fortunes with the Republicans. He was a man of much piety, of strong Christian character and was a lifelong Presbyterian. His first wife was Mary F., a daughter of William McGee from Mercer county, Kentucky. The McGees were a Scotch and Irish mixture while the Davis' proper are believed to be of Welch origin. John Davis' second wife was Martha, a daughter of John Vanarsdale. She resides on the family homestead in Johnson county, Indiana. Mr. Davis' first wife died February 14, 1853. Their children were: William, Martha J., deceased, married Elisha Vanarsdale; Mary E., deceased, married John W. Davis and left two children; Daniel C. Davis, deceased Rachel A., deceased; Abraham V. and John H. Davis, both deceased, are children by his second wife. Mr. Davis died July 24, 1880. He was an intelligent, strong-willed positive citizen. His character showed in all his acts and his life was one good example to be followed with profit.

William Davis, our subject, was educated in the better schools of his time and he reached his majority as a farmer. His first experiences away from the parental home were as farm hand and as clerk in a Franklin store. He entered the army at the first call for troops, joining Company H, 7th I. V. I. The regiment went into West Virginia and was engaged in the first battles of the war, Carricks Ford, Bealington and Laurel Hill. It was enroute home to be mustered out when, at Bellaire, Ohio, the joy over their successes was turned into gloom by the news from Bull Run. Mr. Davis was discharged in August and re-enlisted in Company F, 7th Infantry as private and went back into West Virginia. In December was in Cumberland, Maryland, aided in the relief of General Reynolds in West Virginia and in March, 1862, was in Winchester, Virginia. Skirmished through to Rockingham county, Virginia, as a part of Shields' Division and to Fredericksburg under General McDowell. The regiment hurried back to the Valley to catch Stonewall Jackson, but failed. Their went to Alexandria where it waited till the Pope campaign. It was in the battle at Slaughter Mountain and the preliminary skirmishes to second Bull Run. The 7th Indiana Infantry was in the fights at Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam. At Port Republic a piece of Federal artillery was deserted dangerously near the Confederate advance and Mr. Davis was one of eight to volunteer to recover it. It was brought off under the fire of eighteen guns. At 2nd Bull Run, Virginia, the color bearer was killed and our subject caught the flag and carried it till a new detail was made. At Union he caught the flag under similar circumstances and was its bearer for the regiment till his promotion to orderly after the battle of Fredericksburg. He was in the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns and back to Mine Run on the Rapidan, the following winter. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in February, 1863. In the battle of the Wilderness he was wounded in both thighs and lay for hours between the lines while the fight raged. He lay in the Wilderness hospital, and in the Lynchburg hospital for the convalescent, a prisoner. He slipped away from the Rebel lines on the 19th of June, 1864, and, in company with John A. Griffin made his way to


the Union lines at Lynchburg. He was recaptured just before he reached the Union army but was only robbed and released. He was sent home, reaching there July 4th and found the family in mourning for him, as he was reported among the dead after the Wilderness fight and his capture had prevented the real facts from being known. He was discharged at the close of his enlistment September 20, 1864.

Mr. Davis engaged in merchandising at Franklin, Ind., and only closed out the business to come to Kansas. His first permanent location was in Iola where he established a business (a partnership) and conducted it till 1875. The following three years he spent in colportage work for the Presbyterian church traveling about through Kansas and the Indian Territory. In the fall of 1878 he was elected Clerk of the District Court in Allen county, serving four years. He spent three years on his Carlyle farm and in January, 1890, began his work in Oklahoma as Sabbath School Missionary for the Presbyterian church. In the eleven years he has organized 147 schools, made 22953 visits and traveled 51166 miles.

In politics Mr. Davis is an uncompromising Republican. He became a protectionist when a boy from reading American history and cast his first Presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Davis was married at Brownsville, Nebraska, May 16, 1872, to Candace, a daughter of Alexander Grimes. Her mother, Mrs. C. G. Boyce, resides with her. The Grimeses were from near Richmond, Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Davis' surviving child is Miss Grace B. Davis, born October 10, 1882.

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