Mackinac County MI


J.W. DAVIS, who is one of the popular residents and representative merchants of Mackinac island, Machinac county, Michigan, has been a resident of the far-famed and beantiful isle since the year 1866, when he came hither and began operating the C. L. Abel, a sailing vessel plying the straits in the freighting basiness. He acquired title of this boat at Grand Traverse, Michigan, and very soon afterward he put the vessel into service from Mackisac island, as already noted the enterprise proving successfuL On disposing of the boat he engaged in merchandising here on a moderate scale, putting in a small stock of goods and deriving his trade chiefly from the fishermen of the section, whose efforts at that period constitnted the basis of quite a flourishing indnntry. Each successive year found his stock in trade in excess of what it had been the preceding year, the increase in profits being in a due measure applied to increasing the limitations of his business, until a point was reached where it became evident that any greater accretion of stock would not be justified by his trade. He had, however, established a standard, and from this he has not lapsed is any particalar, his establishment being all that the limitations of his trade territory can demand.

Mr. Davis originally conducted the enterprise alone, but in 1875 he admitted his son, J. D. Davis, to a partnership, since which time the latter has been his father’s faithfnl coadjutor, assuming his due share of the management and responsibility.

Our subject was born in Oswego county, New York, January 25, 1826, and as his father was a farmer be matured under the sturdy disciplline of the husbandman’s art, acquiring his educational training in the district schools. His father, John Davis, was a native of France, and upon coming to America he at once took up his abode is the old Empire State, where he passed the residue of his days, dying at Oswego in 1877, at the age of seventy-seven years. In his earlisr life be followed a seafaring business, but abandoned this to engage in agricultural pursuits. His marriage was celebrated at Sackett’s Harbor, New York, the lady of his choice being Miss Ann Sager, who bore to him eleven children- Of this number only four are now living, namely: Rosa. wife of Nelson Hibbard, of Oswego, New York; H. S. Davis, of Saginaw Michigan; Mary, wife of Dr. S. Benedict; and our subject, who was the fourth in order of birth. The mother of these children lived to the advanced age of ninety-three years. Her son, J. W. Davis, was a great comfort to her in her old age.

J. W. Davis began an independent career very early in life, being but sixteen years of age when he engaged himself as cook on board the Potomac, a vessel plying between Oswego and Chicago, which latter city was but a village of a few hundred inhabitants at the time he made his first landing there. He rose by successive promotions until he held command as Captain of the brig Hampton and other vessels, whose route was the same as that of the first vessel on which he set sail. Up to the time that he had engaged is business on Machinac Island Mr. Davis had sailed the Great Lakes continuously from the time when he first went aboard the Potomac, with the esceptios of nine years, doring which interim he was successfuly engaged in farming in Grant County, Wisconsin. From this long association is needless to say that his home on the beantifal sea-girt inland is one that has many attractions for him, in that here he may at all times look out upon the blue waters cradled him on many a voyage. Mr. Davis has been a thorough business man and has manifested no inclination to wonder into strange packs or speculations. He has been honorable and straightforward in all his actions, and the esteem in which he is held is the strongest evidente of his sterling manliness. Is his political proclivities he is a stanch Republican, but he has never consented to accept preferment as a public functionary, believing the honors and emoluments sufficient to juslify the sacrifice of time.

The marriage of our subject was solemnized in his native county in 1848, when ho was united to Miss Priscilla King, a daughter of Ezra King. She is now sixty-seven years of age (1889) and has been her husband’s faithful helpmeet and devoted companion during a long and happy married life. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have two sons, namely: J. D., who has been twice marriied, his first wife having been Eva Smith, and his present companion, whose maiden some was Nellie Truscott, being a daugbter of Thomas Truscott, of Mackinac laland; the second son is Ray C., who married Rosa Truscott, who also is a daughter of Thoms Truscott.

From the "Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula 1895."