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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ELIAS DAVIS, who resides on section 16, Elkville Township, Jackson County, is one of the substantial farmers of southern Illinois. His parents were William and Catherine (Woolrock) Davis. The former was a native of North Carolina, in which state his father, James Davis, settled at a very early date. About the year 1810 William Davis accompanied his parents to the Mississippi bottoms in Illinois. Fertile farm lands teeming with grain were then unknown, but the lakes and swamps abounded in wild game. Bears, deer and turkeys were far more common than domestic fowls or cattle, and in hunting game Mr. Davis did a profitable business. After a hunt he would take his game by ox-team to St. Louis, where it was sold at a good price.

Land at that time was worth only $1.25 per acre, and William Davis, who readily foresaw that this country would soon become thickly populated, and that land in consequence would rapidly rise in value, purchased more than a thousand acres in Jackson County, where he settled with his family. While his principal occupation was hunting, he also engaged in farming to some extent with the old wooden mold-board plow. The soil was very rich and yielded abundant harvests, seventy-five bushels of oats and one hundred bushels of corn to the acre being gathered. Mr. Davis also engaged in raising horses, cattle and hogs, and the wild prairies afforded rich pasturage. The monotony of the work was often varied by hunting matches, for there was a number of expert shots in this locality. One fall the different hunters agreed that they would hunt through the season and the one who shot the most deer was to set up a bottle of rum. James Davis killed one hundred and eighty-two deer that season.

In 1832 William Davis shouldered a flint-lock rifle and for a short time did service in the Black Hawk War. He reared his son Elias in this locality. The latter received but limited educational advantages, for the schools of the community were not numerous, nor were they noted for their excellence. On arriving at man’s estate he purchased land and began farming for himself. In 1849 he married Miss Delitha Crews, and they became the parents of six children, four of whom are still living. Leonard married Eliza House; Edward first married Eliza Sivilts, and afterward wedded E. E. Degenhardt; Delia became the wife of John Cann, who died in 1880. The Davis farm is one of the best in the community, highly cultivated and improved, and our subject is ranked among the leading agriculturists of the community. He is enterprising and industrious, and his success is well

One eccentricity in the life of William Davis was the way in which he kept his money in safety. Long before his death he was considered one of the wealthiest farmers of southern Illinois. From the sale of game and cattle he acquired much gold, which he was in the habit of hiding in queer places. He was three times married, and his third wife on one occasion hid $3,300 of his gold in a soap barrel. The Davis boys suspected their step-mother of the appropriation, and by working upon her superstitious fears induced her to confess. The money was then placed in nail kegs, the heads fastened down and put in the corn crib in the corn. Just how long it remained there is a mystery, but after a time rats ate their way into the kegs and much of the gold was scattered in the corn. The time came when it was necessary to purchase feed for the stock, and thus the golden coin was turned into golden grain.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Jackson County, Illinois family biographies here: Jackson County, Illinois Biographies

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