Biography of John E. Davis

JOHN E. DAVIS. For many years one of the well known business men of Anderson, Mr. Davis has spent nearly sixty years of his life time in Madison County, and has been very familiar by experience with the development of the country east of Anderson from pioneer times to the present, During the many years of his residence in the County, he has prospered, has enjoyed many of the good things of life, and has well provided for his family, and is still active and vigorous in business affairs at the County seat.

John E. Davis was born on a farm two and a half miles from Connersville in Fayette County, Indiana, December 24, 1849, and is a descendant of one of the very first settlers of Fayette County, His father was Thomas Jefferson Davis who was born in South Carolina, March 31, 1810, The grandfather was Paul Davis, born it, North Carolina, August 6, 1769, and a son of John and Jane Davis, About the close of the Revolutionary war, the Davis family moved from North Carolina, to the southern part of South Carolina, and lived there until about 1812 or 1813. They then came north, crossed the Ohio river, and lived near Harrison, Ohio, until 1814, Their next move brought them to the territory of Indiana, and they settled in the wilderness a short distance west of the present site of Connersville in Fayette County, Two years passed before Indiana was made a state, and they were practically no settlements north of the White River. Fayette County itself was an almost unbroken wilderness, and Madison County had not yet been occupied by a single permanent white resident, Grandfather Paul Davis bought a tract of land, three miles west of Connersville, gave his labor to the clearing of a large portion of that place, and that he was a *man of more than ordinary circumstances and enterprise is indicated by the fact that he erected a brick house, one of the first in that County, He lived there until after his second marriage, and then moved to Henry County awhile, but returned and died in the home of his son in Fayette County, in 1858. Paul Davis first married Margaret Alexander, who was the mother of his children. She was born January 31, 1767, and belonged to the noted Alexander family of the Carolinas, one of whom attached his signature to the Mecklenburg declaration of independence, some years before the declaration of 1776, Paul Davis and wife reared nine children, named: George, James, Wilburn, Robert, John, Dulcina, Paul, Thomas J. and Jasper.

Thomas Jefferson Davis, the father of John E. was about four years old when the family moved to Indiana, and he was reared amid the pioneer surroundings of Fayette County, That County continued to be his home until 1845, when he moved to Madison County and bought a tract of land in the timber, five miles west of the courthouse, a country now a smiling landscape of beautiful farms, but at that time little more than a wilderness, although the railroad, known now as the Big Four, already traversed that section of the County, In the midst of the woods he built a substantial house of hewed logs, and it was in that mansion that the Davis family of the present generation had their first home, While he was in the midst of the heavy work of clearing the timber off his land, death came to him in 1855. Thomas Jefferson Davis married Maria Ball, who was born in Fayette County, Indiana, a daughter of Doctor Bunnell and Rachael (Denman) Ball. Her grandfather, Aaron Ball, owned and operated a ferry across the Miami river in Ohio, and was drowned by operating his ferry over that stream. Doctor Bunnell Ball (the first name was not a title of profession) came to Indiana, and also was one of the pioneers of Fayette County, He bought government land a few miles west of Connersville, and there gave his labor to the improvement of a farm, and continued its management until his death. After the death of Thomas Jefferson Davis, his wife was left with nine children, most of whom were still under the roof-tree, and the sons took up the work left by their father, and under the able supervision of the mother cleared the land, and tilled the soil, until they had made a productive and well improved homestead, Some years later the mother moved to Anderson, where her death occurred at the venerable age of eighty years, She was the mother of nine children who grew to maturity, namely William, Jasper N., Eliza, James H., Doctor Ball, Sarah, Elizabeth, Rachel A., and John E.

The early circumstances of the life of John Davis have thus been sketched in connection with the family, and he was about five years old when he became a resident of Madison County, and has a keen recollection of the old log house and many of the surroundings in which he spent his boyhood, While growing up he attended the rural schools, and was still very young when he took his share of the labor in clearing up the land and tilling the soil. For several years he had the management of the home place. He subsequently moved to Anderson, and spent four years in business in the sale of agricultural implements, Then he joined forces with his brother Doctor B. Davis, and manufactured drain tile for three years, After that he returned to Anderson and followed his trade as a carpenter for some time, About 1899, Mr. Davis engaged in his present business as dealer in feed and coal at his present stand, 1015 Fifteenth Street.

In 1874 Mr. Davis married Elizabeth Stephens, She was born in -Wayne County, Indiana, a daughter of Thomas and Lovina Stephens, The five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Davis are mentioned as follows Thomas, Quincy, Edna, Clarence C., and Berthat May. Thomas died at the age of six, and Quincy at the age of five, Edna married Ed. Bardeene, and has one daughter, Marion, Clarence married Emma Kephart, and their four daughters are named Jessie, Mary, Agnes, and Edna, The daughter Bertha first married Thomas Stanley, who died, leaving one daughter named Helen. Mrs. Stanley is now the wife of Ed, Gerhamer. Fraternally Mr. Davis is affiliated with the Tribe of Ben Hur.



Madison County IN,

Forkner, John. History of Madison County, Indiana: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests. Chicago: The Lewis publishing company, 1914.

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