Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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Martin V. Davis

MARTIN V. DAVIS, senior member of the firm of Davis & Son, who conduct a general merchandise and feed store at Parsons, Kansas, located in Labette county in the fall of 1868, following some friends who had. settled here some time previously. Mr. Davis was born in Clark county, Illinois, in 1837, and was reared in Paris, Edgar county, Illinois. He is a son of Thomas and Narcissa (Craig) Davis.

Thomas Davis was a pioneer farmer of Illinois, and died about 1885. He was a lifelong Democrat, and descended from one of the first families of Kentucky. Mrs. Thomas Davis, who is still living in Illinois, and has attained the great age of eighty-five years, is of Scotch-Irish ancestry, her grandmother having been born on the ocean, en route from Scotland to America. Thirteen children were born to this worthy couple, the eldest of whom is Martin V., the subject hereof. The second and third died in infancy. The others are: Nancy; Ardilla; Mary; Clarinda; twins, who died at birth; Melissa; Thomas B.; Amanda; and Isaac. Nancy (Moffett) died, leaving five children. Ardilla (Adams) is a resident of Charleston, Illinois. Mary first married a Mr. Ellege, who is deceased; she is now the wife of Mr. Wells, who lives at Paris, Illinois, but formerly lived in Labette county, Kansas. Clarinda married a Mr. Hancock. Melissa (Winkleblack) resides in Illinois. Thomas B. is a Baptist minister in missionary service. Amanda is the wife of Rev. Henry Toles, a Christian preacher, residing three miles south of Oklahoma City. Isaac is a prosperous farmer, living near Westfield, Illinois.

Mr. Davis had in his youth limited educational advantages. Previous to coming west, he followed agricultural pursuits in Illinois. Upon arriving in Labette county, Kansas, he took up a claim in North township, to which he added from time to time, and now owns a 500-acre farm. He followed farming until 1890, when he was elected county treasurer of Labette county, and served two years, during which he lived in Oswego, the county-seat. The following year (1893), he returned to Parsons and opened a grocery and feed store in a building which he erected for the purpose; this building was afterwards sold, and is now occupied by Mr. Holcomb.

Mr. Davis then removed his stock to his present large and commodious store at No. 1805 Johnson avenue. This store is 25 by 150 feet, in dimensions. Mr. Davis admitted his son, Thomas Jefferson, into partnership, and the firm carries a stock of flour, feed, dry goods and groceries, a fine line of dry goods having been added, in 1900. Two other sons assist in the store, and two additional clerks are employed, - making a total of five persons required to handle the business.

In the early days, owing to the absence of railroads, Mr. Davis was obliged to send into Missouri for provisions. The settlers, were then mostly along the water courses, and traveled by boat, all the best claims having been taken as early as 1870.

Mr. Davis has been thrice married. His first union was in Illinois, in 1858, with Theresa Downs, who died in 1863, leaving two sons, Thomas Jefferson and Robert James. The elder son is the junior member of the firm of Davis & Son; he married a Miss Eldridge, and they have one child, Hope. Robert James has been twice married. His first wife was a Miss Peak, before her marriage; at her death she was survived by one child, May. His second wife, Mary Reid before marriage, is also deceased, having left three daughters and one son. Robert James Davis resides at Neal, Greenwood county, Kansas, where he is successfully engaged in the hardware and grocery business. Mr. Davis gave each of his boys a farm. Farming, however, was not to their taste. Promptly disposing of their farms, they entered mercantile life.

In 1864 Mr. Davis contracted a second matrimonial alliance, being united at that time, with a Miss Wells, who died four years later, leaving an additional son to the care of her husband. This son is Isaac Nelson. He is now married and has one child, Ray, who is connected with the hardware firm of Steel & Company, of Parsons.

Again Mr. Davis forsook the state of single blessedness, and contracted a third marriage; this time Clarinda Eldridge, a daughter of Otis Eldridge, of Illinois, became his wife. Five children were the result of this union. May, the eldest of these, married Dr. Peak, a prominent dentist of Parsons; Otis, the next in order of birth, was a member of the class of 1901, at the college at Emporia, Kansas; Orin T. and Martin Ernest, - both high school students; and Hollie M., aged four years.

Mr. Davis has lived to see his efforts crowned with success. In addition to his fine farm, already mentioned, and his splendid store building, he also owns a handsome residence at No. 1331 Washington avenue. Previous to his election as county treasurer, he was a Democrat, but now votes the Fusion ticket. Fraternally, he is a member of the Sons and Daughters of justice, and of the Select Friends, of which Mrs. Davis is also a member. In his religious convictions, Mr. Davis is a believer in the old and time-honored teachings of the Church of Christ. He has made a study of the most successful business methods, and is a useful, upright and law abiding citizen, on the sunny, western slope of life.