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Below is a family biography included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  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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William N. Davis is of Scotch and English descent, and on the maternal side is a descendant of the celebrated Witherspoon family, of Revolutionary fame. He is a son of James W. and Syrena (Witherspoon) Davis, and grandson of James Ball and Sarah (Martin) Davis. The latter were born in South Carolina and Kentucky, respectively. The grandfather was a farmer, and moved to Tennessee at an early date, where he became a wealthy slave-holder. They were the parents of one child, who was born in Kentucky in October, 1819, and was reared and married in his native State. His wife was a daughter of Hardy Witherspoon, and they became the parents of eight children, six of whom lived to maturity: Malinda J., William N., Rumsey O., Sarah E., Mary F. and Louisa E. After his marriage Mr. Davis lived on a farm in Warren County, Ky., for about four years, and in 1844 came to Lawrence County and settled seven miles northeast of what is now Peirce City, where he lived until 1850. He resided in different portions of Lawrence County until 1863, and from that time until his death, which occurred in 1881, he resided in Mount Vernon excepting his service in the army. He was a Union man during the war, and served in the Lawrence County Home Guards and State Militia, and was quarter master sergeant of Company B, Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry. William N. Davis, son of the above, was born in Warren County, Ky., March 1, 1843, and was brought by his parents to Lawrence County when less than two years of age. He received a good common-school education, and at the age of eighteen enlisted in the Home Guards, serving three months. He was in the E. M. M. service from August, 1862, to November 1, 1863, when he enlisted in Company B, Fifteenth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, serving in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and the Indian Territory, principally scouting and skirmish fighting, and discharged June 30, 1865. He was taken prisoner by the enemy in February 1862, but escaped after a short retention. After his return from the army he attended school for some time, and then engaged in teaching, and in 1868 was elected superintendent of public instruction of Lawrence County. He took a full law course at the Michigan University at Ann Arbor, graduating in 1873. Since that time he has been engaged in practicing his profession at Mount Vernon and in collecting pension and other government claims. He is a Republican and belongs to the Masonic fraternity. May 2, 1875, he was united in marriage to Ida Martin, a daughter of John S. Martin and Jane A. (Kelso) Martin and by her is the father of two children, Winona and Ora. Mr. Davis is one of the test lawyers in Lawrence County, and has been notary public for many years He belongs to the G. A. R, and was first commander of Jewell Post, No 118, organized at Mount Vernon, Mo., 1883.

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This family biography is one of 272 biographies included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Lawrence County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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