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Biography of Charles R Davis, Pike County, Illinois

Memorial Record of Southwestern Minnesota, 1897, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois


Hon. Charles R. Davis - Whatever may be said of the legal fraternity, it cannot be denied that the members of the bar have been more prominent factors in public affairs than any other class of American people. This is but the natural result of causes which are manifest and require no explanation. The ability and training which qualify one to practice law also qualify him in many respects for duties which lie outside of the diametrical line of his profession and which touch the general interests of society. The subject of this record is a man who has brought his keen discrimination and thorough wisdom to bear not alone in professional paths, but also for the benefit of the community in which he makes his home, and with whose interests he is thoroughly identified. He holds and merits a place among the representative legal practitioners of Nicollet county and is a prominent citizen of St. Peter.

Mr. Davis was born September 17, 1849, upon a farm near Pittsfield, in Pike county, Illinois, and is a son of Sidney W. and Mary (Pettis) Davis. His mother, who was a native of Ohio, died in Pike county, Illinois, in 1851. On the paternal side he is of Welsh descent, his great-grandfather coming from Wales, but his grandfather, Orange Davis, was born in Lower Canada, near Quebec. The wife of the latter was born in Montreal, of French parentage.

Sidney W. Davis, the father of our subject, was born in Kingston, Canada, in 1825, and with his family removed to northern New York, in 1837, where he remained one year, and then went to Pike county, Illinois, locating upon a farm just outside the corporation limits of Pittsfield, the county seat. On the 10th of May, 1853, with his family he came to Minnesota, and settled upon a farm in Lesueur county, where he continued to engage in general farming and stock-raising until 1867, which year witnessed his arrival in St. Peter. Here he has since resided and for ten years was actively engaged in Merchandising.

The boyhood of Charles R. Davis was passed upon the home farm in Lesueur county, and his early education in the village schools of Kasota. Later he pursued his studies in the high school of St. Peter, which at the time was taught by Porter & McGill, the latter subsequently governor of Minnesota. Afterward he was taught at a private school by Professor Creary, a noted educator, where he was a classmate of Lieutenant John A. Lundeen, professor of mathematics at West Point, and in 1857 he took a complete commercial course at the St. Paul Business College.

For the ensuing two years he was engaged in the grocery and produce business at St. Peter, Minnesota. Then, selling out his interest in that business, he took up the study of law, under the preceptorship of Hon. Alfred Wallin, the present chief justice of North Dakota. March 6, 1872, is the date of his admission to the bar. At once he formed a partnership with his former preceptor, under the style of Wallin & Davis, and they engaged actively in general practice, having offices in both St. Peter and New Ulm.

Mr. Davis early began his official career, being elected county attorney in 1872, in which capacity he faithfully served for six years. In 1878 he was also elected city clerk and attorney, which former position he has acceptably filled for the last sixteen years and still continues to do. On the 25th of April, 1888, he was commissioned captain of the National Guards of Minnesota, serving four years. In 1888 he was also elected to the legislature, on the Republican ticket, to represent Nicollet county for a term of two years, and subsequently was made state senator from the seventeenth senatorial district of Minnesota, serving in the sessions of 1891-3. He took a prominent part in the work of those bodies, being a member of several very important committees, among which was that on the judiciary. He took and especially active part while serving on the committee for the hospital for the insane, and was chairman of that committee. His investigations aroused much antagonism among those who had charge of the financial affairs of that institution.

In 1874 Mr. Davis was united in marriage with Miss Emma Haven, who was born and reared in the city of Chicago, and is a daughter of Aaron Haven. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have two children, namely: Isabel H., a graduate of the State University of Minnesota; and Russell.

In his social relations, Mr. Davis is connected with Nicollet Lodge, No. 34, F & A. M.; St. Peter Chapter, No. 22, R. A. M.; Mankato Commandery, No. 4, K. T.; Oris Lodge, Scottish Rite, of Mankato; The Mystic Shrine, Ozman Temple, St. Paul, Minnesota; and also St. Peter Lodge, No. 12, I. O. O. F. He takes quite an active part in politics, local state and national, and has often made speeches throughout his district in behalf of the Republican party. During the time he served the public in an official capacity he made an admirable record, and as a lawyer he stands high with the profession. (pages 305-307)
Contributed by Doug Peterson