James A. Davis
Biography

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 307-308, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  James A. Davis, farmer and stock grower, post office, Virginia, Illinois, was born one and one-half miles south of Ashland, Cass county, Illinois, October 29, 1824. His parents, James and Elizabeth (Foster) Davis came to Cass county in 1822. The father settled on Indian Creek, where he improved a little farm, which he afterward lost by another man "entering him out." He was born in Kentucky in 1796, coming here from Monroe county, and died, March 6, 1856, in this county. Mother was born in Cumberland county, Tennessee, in 1800, and is still living. She resides with her son George, who owns the old homestead in township 17, range 11. She was the mother of fourteen children, eight of whom are still living. Mr. and Mrs. Davis, Sr., moved from Ashland to the place where the mother now lives, when James, Jr., was four years old. Here he grew to manhood, was taught in the subscription schools of that day and was reared a farmer. At twenty years of age he learned the house carpenter trade which he followed until seven years ago. He worked five years in Beardstown, afterward returned to his home neighborhood, where he worked fifteen years inside five miles of his home, and was never out of a job.
  He was married in Beardstown in 1849, to Martha A., daughter of Philip Schaeffer, a farmer who had come from Montgomery, Ohio, in 1832. Her birth was September 16, 1830. Mr. Davis has witnessed a wonderful development in Cass county during his sixty-eight years' residence here. His first memory of the country is as a vast wilderness, the settlers few and far between, with only occasionally a horse-power mill where the farmers had their grists ground by turns, often remaining all day to get one sack of corn ground. Mr. Davis has seen men reaping wheat on ground which is now covered with heavy timber, the early settlers preferring to clear up the timber land, some of which has since gone back to its primitive state. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have six children: Minerva, wife of Richard Way, residing in Cass county; Valentine, residing in Butler county, Nebraska, a farmer; Sarah Ellen, who wedded A. C. Robinson, living near Virginia, Illinois; James Philo, residing three miles south of Virginia; Cyrus Edward resides six miles east of the same place, and Charles L., a farmer living in Douglas county, Illinois. On July 21, 1884, Mr. Davis suffered the loss of his estimable wife, to whom he had been married thirty-eight years. A glowing tribute to her memory, as a lady of great worth, appears in a clipping in the local paper, in which appears the action of the I.O.O.F. lodge in the premises, of which she and her husband were valued members. She was a worthy member of the Union Baptist Church. Mr. Davis was married to his second wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, March 16, 1887. Her maiden name was Thompson, and she was born in Ohio in 1840. They are both members of the Union Baptist Church, in Virginia, and take an active interest in Sunday school and church work. He is a member of Saxon Lodge, No. 68, I.O.O.F., and of Advance Encampment, both located at Virginia. He has held various official positions in this town. He voted the Democrat ticket until the nomination of Tilden, when he voted the Greenback ticket for several years, but is now a Prohibitionist and has always advocated temperance and sobriety, and the legal control of the liquor traffic. He joined the Sons of Temperance, in 1849, and has worked for the cause all his life. He uses neither tobacco nor liquor, and is one of the representative men of Cass county, and his family is one of the first established here.



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