My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the book, Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published by Chapman Publishing Company in 1895.  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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JOHN DAVIS is a retired merchant and capitalist of Warrensburg, where in 1870 he started a bank in company with his brother-in-law, George Colburn. For several years thereafter he was connected with the institution in a clerical capacity, and ever since the bank was started has been Secretary and a Director of the same. Though he has transacted a large amount of business in his day, it may be said that, greatly to his credit, he has never had trouble with any man, has kept free from lawsuits, and for years his life has exemplified the teachings of the Golden Rule.

The Davis family is of Welsh descent, the great-grandfather of our subject having emigrated from Wales to Virginia. There Richard and Harrison, the grandfather and father of our subject, respectively, were born, the last-named in 1781. He was a nephew of William Henry Harrison, who became President of the United States, and received his Christian name in honor of the Harrison family. In 1807 he moved to Logan County, Ky., where he followed his trade of a millwright, and assisted in putting up all the best mills erected in Logan County at that time, many of them lying along the Red River. About 1811 he made a visit to his old Virginia home, and soon after his return to the Blue Grass State was married. Later he became the owner of a large plantation and many slaves, but in 1837 sold out his interests there and started with his household effects in a wagon for Cass County, Mo. He there bought about six hundred and forty acres of land, living thereon until his death, which occurred in May, 1849. The mother died in Kentucky in 1826, and the father afterward re-married. Four of his children came to Missouri with him, and one of them, a daughter who had been married, was accompanied by her husband, Daniel Cusenbary, who settled in Jackson County, Mo. After the father’s death, although all of his children were of age, his estate was not divided until nearly twenty years had passed, when they had a reunion of the family and made a settlement of affairs. The old homestead is yet in the hands of the heirs.

John Davis was born in Logan County, Ky., April 23, 1818, and was a youth of nineteen years when he came to this state. Soon afterward he began to trade in stock, in this way getting a start in business life. Though he had had poor opportunities for obtaining an education, he was naturally an apt student, and on reaching his majority taught a country school, following this occupation during the winter for several years. When he was in his twenty-fourth year he entered a tract of Government land, and his father deeded to him a quarter-section of timber. For his future companion and helpmate along life’s journey he chose Sally J. Colburn, of Warrensburg, their marriage being celebrated November 17, 1847. The young couple began housekeeping on the farm owned by Mr. Davis in Cass County, but at the end of a year and a-half moved to Warrensburg, where Mrs. Davis was born.

In 1858 our subject obtained a clerkship in the general store conducted by his wife’s father in this city and while in his employ obtained a practical knowledge of the business. April 7, 1851, he started out for himself in that part of the city called “Old Town,” where he had built a good storeroom. Two years afterward, however, he sold out and returned to agricultural pursuits. Soon his old taste for trading asserted itself, and, buying a lot of mules, he took them to Pleasant Hill, Cass County, where he exchanged them for a stock of goods. During the next two years his time was given to his business at Pleasant Hill, but while living there he lost his three children, and this so preyed upon his mind that he found it necessary to lead a more active life. After entering some land on Sugar Creek and stocking the place, he built a good home and moved thereto; living in that vicinity until the beginning of the war. During that troublesome period he lived quietly at Warrensburg, having no difficulties with any one, but attending strictly to his own affairs. In early days he was a Whig, and his first Presidential ballot was cast for his great-uncle, William Henry Harrison, in 1840. Since 1856 he has given his allegiance to the Democracy, but has never been in any sense of the word a politician.

October 7, 1890, the first wife of Mr. Davis was laid to rest and he was thus left alone in the world. November 28, 1894, he married Mrs. Isadore M. Mitchell, daughter of Dr. J. T. and Catherine (Arnold) Hunt. She was born in Polk County, Mo., November 9, 1852, and when she was five years old moved with her parents to Texas. A few years later she returned to this county, and March 7, 1877, became the wife of Thomas M. Mitchell, a farmer of Jasper County, whose death occurred September 8, 1879.

At the age of sixteen years John Davis became a member of the Free-Will Baptist Church, but on coming to Warrensburg he identified himself with the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and on the separation of the church went with the southern division. In his early manhood his ideas of Christianity were somewhat hazy, for in 1852, when he kept a general store, he kept drugs, including whiskey. At last, becoming convinced of the inconsistency of this, he one day knocked in the heads of ten whiskey barrels, letting the contents run out on the ground, and from that time he has never handled the article in any way. A man of generous disposition, he has been very liberal in helping to sustain religious and benevolent work, and has paid out for these purposes probably over $40,000.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Johnson County, Missouri portion of the book,  Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published in 1895 by Chapman Publishing Co.  For the complete description, click here: Johnson County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Johnson County, Missouri family biographies here: Johnson County, Missouri Biographies

View a map of 1904 Johnson County, Missouri here: Johnson County, Missouri Map

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