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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  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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Joseph Henry Davis, the well kept appearance of whose farm indicates his success and also his prominence in agricultural circles, is widely known throughout the county as a prosperous stock-feeder. He lives on section 22, Grant township, where he has three hundred and twenty acres of land that has become very fertile and productive owing to the practical methods in which he has carried on the work of cultivation and improvement. This place has been his home for eighteen years, while for twenty-eight years he has been a resident of Union county. A native of Fulton county, Illinois, he was born January 16, 1852, a son of Ebenezer and Margaret (Cline) Davis. The father, who was born in Indiana, May 29,1833, was a farmer by occupation and when a young man removed to Illinois, where he met and married Miss Cline, who is a native of Ohio and is now seventy-eight years of age. On the 5th of August, 1862, he joined the One Hundred and Third Illinois Volunteers and remained in the service until discharged, April 6, 1863. The death of Mr. Davis occurred in Abingdon, Knox county, Illinois, in 1899, when he was sixty-six years of age, and the mother of our subject is still living in that city.

Henry Davis, for so he is known to his many friends, is one of a family of eight children and was reared upon the old homestead farm. Good educational privileges were afforded him by the public schools and his parents gladly gave him the opportunity for mental culture in this way. When not busy with his text-books he was trained in the work of the farm and remained at home until he had attained his majority when he went from Fulton to Mercer county, Illinois, where he remained for four years. He next removed to Henderson county, Illinois, and invested the capital which he had saved from his earnings in forty acres of land which remained his home for four years. He then sold out and the year 1880 witnessed his arrival in Union county, Iowa, where he has since made his home.

Mr. Davis was married in Henderson county, Illinois, December 12, 1874, to Miss Sarah J. Reynolds, a native of Henderson county. On coming to Iowa in 1880 he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land where he now resides but owned it for eleven years before taking up his abode upon that place. For four years he rented and occupied the Galloway farm and afterward rented and cultivated land on section 21, Grant township, for four years. He then purchased eighty acres on that section adjoining his former purchase of one hundred and sixty acres on section 22. Beginning the development of his property he set out trees, made many substantial improvements and today has one of the best improved half sections of land in Union county. In the midst of his farm stands a commodious and attractive residence and he has also put up good barns and outbuildings, cribs and sheds. There is also a windpump and he uses the latest improved machinery to facilitate the work of the fields, in fact no accessory or convenience of the model farm is lacking and his fine place is the visible evidence of a life of well directed thrift and diligence. He has eight forty-acre fields enclosed by tight woven wire fences thirty-two inches high, while the forty on which he lives is divided into fifteen lots.

In addition to tilling the soil Mr. Davis has been successfully engaged in raising horses. He has kept Percheron stallions for fifteen years, having three different imported animals in that time. He has also kept a Spanish imported jack for seven years and has sold forty-two spans of mules sired by that jack. He likewise raises shorthorn cattle and has fed stock for fifteen years, selling about five carloads of hogs and cattle per year. He makes a specialty of thoroughbred Chester White hogs and has also for ten years raised Scotch wool sheep, raising about two hundred head annually. He is indeed one of the best known stockmen of this part of the state, carrying on an extensive and profitable business. His fields are also well tilled and he has raised as high as eleven thousand bushels of corn in a year.

Unto Mr. and Mrs Davis have been born nine children but they lost twins in infancy. The other children are as follows: Charles, the eldest, married Florence Dilly, who died two years later, leaving one child, Fern, who is now a member of the household of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Davis. Charles Davis afterward wedded Esther Louden and follows farming in Sand Creek township. Willis married Nellie Gripp and they have one child, Pearl, who is with them on their farm in Grant township. Joseph, a resident farmer of Union township, wedded Anne Williams and they have one child, Ernest. Effie married William Cole, a resident of Union county, Iowa, and they have one child, Lexie. Arthur is living on the home farm. Alice is the wife of John Cassidy, a resident farmer of Grant township, and they have one son, Ernest. Roy, who completes the family, is at home.

Mr. Davis has been a stalwart republican where national issues are involved since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. Locally he casts an independent ballot. He has been school director for twenty-one years and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal church for twenty years, facts which indicate his trustworthiness and the confidence reposed in him. He is a charter member of the church and does all in his power to promote intellectual and moral progress. He belongs to Knights of Pythias Lodge at Shannon City, in which he has held some offices. Living in the county for many years he has engaged in breaking prairie here and in otherwise promoting the substantial improvement of this part of the state. Everything about the farm is developed according to modern methods and his work is carried forward along scientific, practical lines, making him one of the foremost agriculturists and stock-raisers of the community. In all of his business affairs he has displayed an aptitude for successful management and his sound judgment and earnestness of purpose are indicated in the prosperity that has attended him. He is a man of many friends and wins the respect and good will of all with whom he is associated.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Union County, Iowa family biographies: Union County, Iowa Biographies

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