Biography of John Davis

John Davis, of Jonesburg, familiarly known as “Uncle John,” is the oldest son of the late Thomas Davis, of Shenandoah Co., Va. John was born October 30, 1791, in Shenandoah County, and is now nearly 85 years of age. When he was about sixteen his parents removed to Bourbon Co., Ky., and when the war of 1812 began, he enlisted in the army and served under Generals Winchester and Payne. He was stationed at Forts Wayne and Laramie, in Ohio, for some time. In 1820 he came to Missouri, and stopped a short time in St. Louis, which then had only one principal street, and most of the houses were made of square posts set upright, with the spaces between filled with straw and mud, the chimneys being built of the same material. The court house was surrounded by a post-and-rail fence, and young Davis was sitting on this fence when the announcement was made that the Territory of Missouri had become a State. From St. Louis Mr. Davis went to Pike County, and settled in Clarksville, where he lived forty-six years. In those days rattlesnakes were much more abundant than they are now, and the old pioneers would occasionally go on “snaking” frolics. They always came back vomiting from the effects of the poisonous smell of the snakes. On one occasion Mr. Davis and his neighbors went to a knob near Clarksville, and killed seven hundred rattlesnakes in one day. This is a pretty large snake story, but it is nevertheless true. Mr. Davis had failed in business in Kentucky before his removal to Missouri, but he worked hard for ten years after he came here to get money to pay those debts; and he often says that that was the happiest period of his life. Bankrupt and exemption laws had not been invented then, and when men entered into obligations they generally endeavored to fulfill them. For many years after he settled at Clarksville, the population was so thin that it required all the men within a circuit of ten or fifteen miles to raise a log cabin. At that time the government sold its public lands at $2 per acre, payable in four equal installments, with interest on the deferred payments. But in 1825 a new system was adopted, .and the public lands were sold at $1.25 per acre, for cash. Mr. Davis has a son living at Nauvoo, Ill., who is 62 years of age; and his brother-in-law, Rev. Thomas Johnson, was Indian missionary where Kansas City now stands, many years ago. His children still reside in that vicinity.


Bryan, William Smith A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri: With Numerous Sketches, Anecdotes, Adventures, Etc., Relating to Early Days in Missouri. Also the Lives of Daniel Boone and the Celebrated Indian Chief, Black Hawk, with Numerous Biographies and Histories of Primitive Institutions. Bryan Brand & Company. 1876.

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