Pike County Illinois GenWeb

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Biography of Sidney W Davis

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


Sidney W. Davis is numbered among the honored pioneer settlers of Lesueur county, Minnesota. He has not only been an eye witness of its growth and development but has also taken an active part in its progress and has been a leading factor in the promotion of its material interests. His name is inseparably linked with its history, and in this volume he well deserves prominent mention.

Mr. Davis was born in Lower Canada, sixty miles from Montreal, June 11, 1825, a son of Orange R. and Adelaide (Barlow) Davis, who were also natives of Lower Canada. When our subject was eight years of age his parents removed to New York, spending the winter of 1837-8 at Sackett's Harbor. In 1839 they emigrated to Pike county, Illinois, locating on a farm three miles from Pittsfield, the county seat. In 1853 the father came to Lesueur county, where the following spring he was joined by his family. They settled on the shore of Lake Emily, two miles east of St. Peter, the first to make a claim in that locality. Indians were numerous in the neighborhood, far outnumbering the white people, and the family, situated thus on the extreme frontier, had to endure all the hardships and privations of pioneer life. The father improved one hundred and sixty acres of land and carried on general farming until 1880, when he removed to St. Peter. His death occurred in 1881, in his eighty-second year. His wife died in 1887, in her eighty-fifth year. They were well known people in the county, respected by all. Sidney W. Davis is the second of their eleven children, seven sons and four daughters. All reached mature years and seven are now living, namely: Ebenezer R.; Isaac; Henry C.; Louisa, wife of Alex. Pettis; Sarah, wife of Solomon H. Pettis, of Lesueur county; Caroline, wife of John Hartew, of Aberdeen, South Dakota; and Harriet, widow of John L. Pettis.

Sidney W. Davis spent the greater part of his school life in Pike county, Illinois, being educated in the primitive schools of that period. He assisted in the cultivation of the home farm until he had attained his majority, when he began farming on his own account in Pike county. He was married in 1846 to Miss Mary O. Pettis, of that county, a daughter of Stephen Pettis. They lived a happy married life until July, 1851, when Mrs. Davis died of cholera, leaving two children: Lillian, now wife of William McQuat, of Lesueur county; and Hon. C. R. Davis, a prominent attorney at St. Peter.

In 1853 Mr. Davis came to Minnesota, settling in Lesueur county. He pre-empted a claim of one hundred and sixty acres two miles east of Kasota, and with characteristic energy began the development of his land. For several years he successfully carried on general farming and stock-raising, and in 1857 removed to St. Peter, where he opened a meat market. His business steadily increased until it had assumed extensive proportions. He not only had a large general trade, but also had a contract to furnish the meat for the State Hospital for the insane for a period of ten years, supplying about nineteen thousand pounds per month. In addition to conducting his store he was also largely engaged in buying and shipping live stock, sending many car-loads of hogs and cattle to Chicago annually. When the time of his contract with the State Hospital had expired he sold his market and devoted his energies alone to the live-stock business, as a member of the firm of Pettis & Davis, his partner being Alva Pettis, and they being the largest live-stock dealers in the Minnesota valley. He also owns two hundred acres of valuable land, which he rents. He is a man of excellent business and executive ability, possessed of sound judgment, keen discrimination and foresight. His efforts in consequence have been crowned with success, and although in earlier years he experienced the trials of pioneer life in Lesueur county he is now one of the substantial citizens of St. Peter.

Mr. Davis was again married in 1875, his second union being with Mrs. Lydia Cole, widow of Sylvanus Cole, They have in St. Peter a comfortable and commodious residence in the midst of pleasant surroundings. Mr. Davis served one term as county commissioner of Lesueur county, and was assessor for a number of years. In politics he is a Republican, warmly supporting that party. He is also a prominent Mason, belonging to both the blue lodge and chapter of St. Peter. (pages 251-252)
Contributed by Doug Peterson