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George W. Davis
Born December 23, 1843


GEORGE W. DAVIS, farmer, Greenfield Twp., Sec. 19; P.O. Lisbon; he was born December 23, 1844, in Ireland: came to Philadelphia in 1853; October 19, 1856, he came to Jones Co.; he owns 185 acres of land. Married Miss Anis Jones September 16, 1868; she was born in Lawrence Co., Ind., in 1850; they have five children—Thomas W., Henry E., Lottie J., George W. and Ira Lincoln. He enlisted in 1861 in Co. I, 2d I.V.C.; served to the end of the war, participated in the siege of Corinth, siege of Vicksburg, Nashville, Atlanta, Hurricane Creek and others.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879, page 586.

George W. Davis is one of the prosperous farmers of Jones county and with the history of agricultural development in this part of the state has been closely associated for more than a half century. He was born in County Donegal, Ireland, on the 23d of December, 1843, and is a son of George and Susanna (Fisher) Davis, who were natives of Ireland but were of Scotch descent. The grandfather was Thomas Davis, and the great-grandfather, George Davis. The maternal grandparents were James and Ruth Fisher, natives of Ireland, but of Scotch lineage and on both sides George W. Davis is descended from a long lived race. In the year 1854 his parents came to America with their family and settled in Philadelphia. They were twelve weeks in making the voyage on one of the old-time sailing vessels and after reaching their destination the father became connected with the grocery business in Philadelphia but was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, for his death occurred there in April 1856, when he was fifty-two years of age. In October, 1856, the widowed mother and her children came to Iowa, residing for a few months in Linn county, after which they came to Jones county. James, the eldest son of the family, afterward wedded Mary Ann Clark and resided in Mount Vernon, Iowa, until his death in 1907. Thomas F. Davis, the next son, married Jane Kepler and had four children: Frank T., Ella, Robert and Clarence. William Davis, the fourth son, married Ruth Fisher and resided in Cedar Rapids until his death which occurred in 1907 when he was seventy years of age. He had but one child living at the time of his death, Harvey. Martha became the wife of John McPherson, of Greenfield township, and her children are John, George D., Samuel, Thomas, Ruth and Anna. Ruth Davis, the second daughter of the father's family, became the wife of John Fink, of Lisbon, Iowa, who died in 1907. Their children were Anna, Hattie, James, George, John and Sophia. George W. Davis of this review is the eighth of the family. Belle became the wife of Dan Conner, of Mechanicsville, Iowa, and their children are George, Bird, Joseph, Mrs. Mattie Baughman, John and Lewis. Jane, a twin sister of Belle, is the wife of John F. Oldham, of Horton, Missouri, and their children are Edward, George, Mattie, Jessie and Mabel. The youngest of the family is John A. Davis, who married Julia Chapman and resides in Springville, Iowa. Their children are: Nellie, Mabel, Harley, Clarence, Blanch and two who died in infancy.
George W. Davis, when but twelve years of age, or at the time the mother and her children reached Jones county, started out in life for himself. He was just out of school in Philadelphia. At that time there was no railroad west of Rock Island and the family came from Davenport to Jones county by wagon. The early death of the father left the family in straitened financial circumstances and on reaching Lisbon, before the family had decided on a location, George W. Davis started out in a snow storm and walked from farm to farm asking for employment. At length he reached the home of Samuel Pfoutz, who agreed to give him his board for his services. In the spring Mr. Davis went to Linn Grove, where he arrived in April, 1857, and there engaged with a farmer, Abner Laycock, for forty dollars per year. He was then but thirteen years of age. He remained there until the spring of 1859, after which he hired out to another farmer at eight dollars per month. He continued in the service of Henry Bausenburg through the summer of 1889 but afterward entered the employ of Ed Clark with whom he continued through the winter of 1860-1. In the spring of the latter year he returned to his former employer, Mr. Laycock, who agreed to pay him ten dollars per month for his services and he was thus employed until the 1st of July, 1861, when he could no longer content himself to remain at the plow while the Union was in peril. Responding to the country's call he enlisted as a soldier of Company I, Second Iowa Cavalry, under command of Colonel Washington L. Elliott of the Second Division of the Sixteenth Army Corps. At Camp McClelland the regiment remained a month or six weeks, when Colonel Elliott formed a camp of his own at Davenport and named it Camp Joe Holt. They left Davenport on the 7th of December following, for Benton Barracks, Missouri. At Davenport Mr. Davis had been chosen out of the regiment of many men as Colonel Elliott's orderly. In February, 1862, the troops proceeded to Bird's Point, Missouri, and then to Island No. 10. The Second Iowa was the first regiment on the works. From that point they raided through Missouri, after Jefferson Thompson, and later joined Pope's fleet of forty-eight steamers at Island No. 10 and went down the river as far as Fort Pillow, when under General Grant they were ordered up the Tennessee river to Pittsburg Landing and formed the left wing of Pope's command. The brigade was then joined by General Sheridan, who was a captain in the regular army and had just received his commission as colonel of the Second Michigan Cavalry.
On the 9th of May, 1862, the regiment made the charge at Farmington, four miles from Corinth, where it lost fifty men in ten minutes. They formed the left wing of Pope's division under Colonel Elliott and made the first raid of the war on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. The purpose was to cut off Beauregard's supplies and forty miles of the railroad were torn up. Colonel Elliott had been promoted to brigadier general and General Phil Sheridan had been placed in command of the brigade in which Mr. Davis was serving. Then Mr. Davis, with the Second Iowa participated in the battle of Booneville, Mississippi, after which the troops returned to camp. Mr. Davis was then chosen Sheridan's orderly and under him they fought the battle of Iuka and Ripley. Colonel Sheridan was then made brigadier general. In 1862 the troops were camped at Rienzi and Sheridan named his famous horse for the place. From that point they returned to Corinth and on the 3d and 4th of October participated in the battle there. Following this Sheridan was made major general.
After the battle of Corinth the Second Iowa went to White Station, Tennessee, near Memphis. The rebel General Forrest had gone to Jackson, Tennessee, and the regiment followed him and engaged his troops in battle there in the winter of 1862-3. The troops then proceeded to Guntown but Forrest had blocked the retreat and they were cut off from camp. They then fought the battle of Moscow, Tennessee. While there General Hatch, who had been breveted brigadier general, was shot through the right lung but afterward recovered. The troops were ordered back to White Station where they remained to have their horses shod and get their arms in condition for the great Grierson raid. They left La Grange in April, 1863, and went as far as Columbia. Mississippi, with Grierson, fighting Forrest and Wheeler back to White Station, thereby drawing the forces away from Grierson so he could make the raid through the Confederacy. Having taken the Sixth and Seventh Illinois Cavalry with him, he made his famous raid, cutting the Confederacy in two. He went through Baton Rouge and on to Port Hudson. From White Station the section of the army with which Mr. Davis was connected made several raids, taking part in the battles of Collinsville, Oxford, Tupelo, Coffeeville, Palo Alto, Okalona, West Point, Campbellsville, Iuka, Franklin, Nashville, Hurricane Creek, Wall Hill, Lawrenceburg, Springdale, Mount Carmel, Shoal Creek and numerous others, some sixty-one in all, the regiment losing seventy-one killed with some three hundred lost from disease and other causes.
In the spring of 1863 when they formed the advance of Grant's troops going south to Holly Springs. They participated in the battle of that place and at Coffeeville and proceeded on to Oxford. On Grant's retreat from Holly Springs, Mississippi, this command formed the rear guard and tore up the Illinois Central Railroad. In the spring of 1863 they went back to camp at White Station, made several raids and did protection duty for the infantry until October, 1863, when they were ordered to join Sherman at Atlanta. They proceeded as far as Clifton, Tennessee, when they were sent back and ordered to make preparations for the greatest raid of the war. This was delayed until the 11th of February, 1864, when the troops started from Memphis southward, burning and destroying everything. They proceeded as far as West Point when under command of General W. S. Smith they were defeated. The Second Iowa formed the rear guard on the retreat for two hundred and fifty miles to Memphis. At Germantown, Tennessee, on the retreat they were met by Governor Kirkwood, of Iowa, who wanted the soldiers to reenlist. Mr. Davis did so and in April, 1864, was granted a thirty day furlough which he spent at home, after which he and his comrades were ordered to Benton Barracks and were reequipped and remounted.
Proceeding to Memphis, Tennessee, they formed the advance guard of General A. J. Smith's expedition to the battle of Tupelo, Mississippi, after which they proceeded to Harrisburg and tore up the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. While thus engaged they fought the forces under General Forrest and killed his brother. The Union troops returned to Memphis and thence to White Station. The Con federates concentrated all of their forces and proceeded to Oxford, Mississippi. General Smith was then ordered out to Oxford and Mr. Davis' regiment formed the advance. On reaching Oxford Forrest made a two nights' march, reached his destination and got away. The Union forces were ordered back to Columbia, Tennessee, and thence to Florence on the Tennessee river Hood was advancing north and later occurred the battles of Campbellville, Linnville and Franklin, in November, 1864. Then came an order to proceed to Edgefield, where they arrived on the 2d of December, 1864. They went into camp, awaiting a change in the weather for while they were at Edgefield, mercury registered ten degrees below and there was heavy snow, causing much suffering. On the 10th of December, 1864, they crossed the Cumberland river to the Nashville side when they were ordered to take the left of Thomas' army. The battle of Nashville was begun on the 15th of December, and continued through the two succeeding days. The division to which Mr. Davis belonged was the first to break Hood's left line and later they charged the first and second forts. They followed the rebel troops and participated in the battle of Pulaski, Tennessee. Their horses had been traveling for one hundred days through the mud and were almost exhausted. A call was made for two hundred picked men to be commanded by Colonel Horton and Mr. Davis was chosen as one of the number to go with Colonel Horton to follow Hood's army, to the Tennessee river, for the purpose of harassing Hood's army and burning his wagons and ammunition trains. They burned one hundred wagons at Pulaski, Tennessee, and others at different places along the route. Afterward they returned to Nashville and were ordered to Athens, Alabama, thence to Eastport, Mississippi, and afterward to Gravely Springs, then back to Eastport. From that point they went to Talladega, then to Selma, at which point they were located at the close of the war and by general order was ordered to Davenport. Proceeding to the north by steamer he reached Davenport, Iowa, on the 1st of October, 1865, and was mustered out. There he was also honorably discharged and received his pay. Mr. Davis was the youngest man in Company I at the organization of the company. At the second battle of Corinth he was wounded and was sent to Keokuk, Iowa, to recuperate. Although he was but seventeen years of age when he joined the army he proved a brave and loyal soldier, never faltering in the performance of any military duty entrusted to his care, never was in the guard house and was never reprimanded. When eighteen years of age he was offered a commission in a colored regiment by General Peach, but preferred to remain with the boys of his regiment.
After the war Mr. Davis settled in Jones county and with the money which he had saved from his pay as a soldier he bought eighty acres of land on section 19, Greenfield township, and has since occupied it as his homestead place. It was a tract of raw prairie for which he paid nine dollars per acre. He rented it the first year while he spent the time in traveling but personally began the improvement of his place in 1867. As a companion and helpmate for the Journey of life he chose Miss Anis Jones, whom he wedded in Anamosa on the 18th of September, 1868. She was born in Lawrence county, Indiana, September 2, 1850, a daughter of Thomas and Jane (Tatum) Jones, who were natives of North Carolina. Coming to Iowa in 1863 they settled in Greenfield township, Jones county, where the father died in 1880 at the age of sixty-one years while the mother passed away at Grand Junction, Iowa, in 1904 at the age of seventy-six.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Davis were born six children: Thomas Ulysses, the eldest, is living on the old homestead; Harry Elmer, also residing on the old homestead, wedded Hattie E. Card and they have three children, Lawrence, Francis and Elwin. Lottie became the wife of Philip G. Mohn, who died in October, 1906, leaving the following children: Ora R., Conrad D., Minnie E., and Florence J. George Washington Davis, the fourth of the family and a resident of Linn county, Iowa, married Mina Weston and their children are: Nellie L., Claud T. and Glen. Ira L., who resides on a farm in Greenfield township, this county, married Ida B. Abel and their children are: Harold E., Anis, George W., and Latira P. Ora, the youngest of the family, is the wife of Notley Scott, of Cedar county, Iowa, and they have two children, Grace V. and Carl. The death of Mrs. Davis occurred September 4, 1898, when she was forty-eight years of age. She was a lady of many good traits of character and her loss was, therefore, deeply regretted by many friends as well as her immediate family.
Mr. Davis is well known in Jones county where lie has now lived for more than a half century. He maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in John A. Buck Post, No. I40, G. A. R., of Lisbon. He is one of its charter members, has held every office in the post and is a past commander. He has been chosen three times as a delegate to the national encampments and carried the banner of Iowa for five miles on Market street in San Francisco in 1902 and the same banner in Toledo in 1908, and is now an aide on the staff of the present National Commander General Van Zant, of Minnesota. He is a devoted and faithful member of the Reformed church of Lisbon, of which he has been an elder for eighteen years. He cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln when eighteen years of age, being one of the soldiers who were accorded this privilege while defending the Union in the Civil war. He has since been loyal to the party, believing its principles are most conducive to good government.
In his business affairs Mr. Davis has won success. As previously stated his first purchase of land was eighty acres and to this he has added from time to time until his holdings are extensive. In 1871 he bought forty acres on section 13, Linn township, Linn county, and afterward bought one hundred and sixty acre on section 19, Linn township, Jones county. His next purchase made him owner of eighty acres more on the same section, and afterward he bought twenty acres of timber in Linn township, Linn county. He next purchased five acres on section 32, Greenfield township, Jones county, and now has in all about four hundred acres of very rich and productive land, constituting a valuable property. In his business affairs he has displayed keen discernment and marked enterprise and the success which he has won is the merited reward of his labors. When but fourteen years of age he hauled wheat to Muscatine, a distance of forty-five miles, driving a team of two horses and on reaching his destination sold the wheat for thirty-five cents a bushel taking the pay in wild cat money. He broke the prairie with seven yoke of oxen, cutting a swath three feet in width with a single plow.
That plow has been sent to Iowa City to be preserved as a relic. Mr. Davis has in his possession two things which he prizes as souvenirs of his army experiences. At the battle of Senatoba, Mississippi, he captured a Texas soldier and appropriated his saber and saddle which he now possesses. He has served as school director in his district and raised the first stars and stripes over the schoolhouse in Greenfield township. He has been a delegate to the conventions of Des Moines and to several state conventions and is at all times a stanch advocate of any measure or movement which he believes to be right.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 490.

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