EDWARD AMES DAVIS, M. D., a prominent practicing physician of Ava, and
one of the leading citizens of that place, is so widely and favorably known
that he needs no special introduction to our readers, yet this volume would
be incomplete without the record of his life. He was born in Red River
County, Tex., June 17, 1849, and is of Welsh descent. His grandfather, Amos
Davis, was a pioneer farmer of Indiana, having made settlement there when
the entire country was a wilderness infested by Indians and wild animals.
The father of our subject, Rev. Absalom Looney Davis, was born in East Tennessee in 1812, and at the age of two years was taken by his parents to southern Indiana, near the present site of New Albany. Two of his uncles were participants in the battle of Tippecanoe, and one of them, William Davis, was killed in that engagement. During the Mexican War, and prior to the annexation of Texas, Rev. Mr. Davis removed to the Lone Star State, and visited Dallas when that now flourishing city contained but a few log shanties. He was licensed as a local preacher in the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church, but while he followed that profession, his occupation in life was that of farming.
Removing to Illinois in 1859, Rev. A. L. Davis engaged in the mercantile business for a few years, and afterward devoted his attention exclusively to the ministry. He was the principal factor in the organization of the Southern Methodist Church in Illinois. In youth his advantages were meagre, and he attended school only a few days, yet by diligent study, by the reading of good books, and by the exercise of determination, he obtained considerable knowledge of the English language, which he spoke fluently and wrote correctly. He was an eloquent speaker, a perfect judge of the Methodist doctrine and law, and a leading member of his chosen denomination. His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth C. Lidaka, was born in East Tennessee in 1816, and was descended from an old Pennsylvania Dutch family. When about three years old she was taken to Indiana by her parents. A lady of devoted Christian character, she was loved by all who knew her, and her death in 1864 was widely mourned.
Of a family of ten children, four are yet living: Green Berry, Postmaster and druggist of De Soto, Ill.; Amos J., a farmer of Texas; Edward A., of this sketch; and John L., a carpenter of De Soto. Rev. Mr. Davis was a second time married. His death occurred in April, 1882, and his remains were laid to rest in De Soto, where he had made his home since 1859. He was a man of great energy, yet was modest, kind-hearted and charitable to a fault. He loved his family and humanity, and endeavored to make the world better for his having lived in it.
At the time of coming to Illinois, the subject of this sketch was a lad of ten years. The trip was made overland with sixty horses and one hundred and fifty cattle, and he rode horseback the entire distance of one thousand miles. Upon his pony he swam the Canadian River, a very wide and swift stream of water. After settling in Illinois he suffered for some time from chills, and during the first eighteen months in this state was accustomed to attend school two days and "shake" at home the third day. However, he had a splendid constitution, and although he was sick a great portion of the time in boyhood and for three years suffered from rheumatism, he is now quite robust.
The Doctor was educated in Illinois and one of his teachers was Cyrus Thomas, now entomologist in the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D. C. He taught school one term, then engaged in clerking, also worked at the carpenter's trade and in a drug store. In 1869 be began the study of medicine under Dr. Robinson, of De Soto, and after attending a course of lectures in the Missouri Medical College of St. Louis, he located at Ava and began the practice of his profession. He passed the examination before the State Board in 1880, carrying off the highest scholarship in the class of fifteen. He was graduated from the Missouri Medical College in 1887, and has since continuously engaged in practice at Ava.
As a physician, surgeon and gynecologist, Dr. Davis has acquired a more than local reputation, and in many surgical operations, such as herniotomy, tracheotomy and laparotomy, he has been uniformly successful. While he does not fear to undertake any kind of an operation, he is yet cautious and sympathetic to an unusual degree. One of the most difficult operations undertaken by him was the removal of a five-pound tumor from the right lumbar region, the patient being a lady sixty years of age. She neither lost rest nor appetite, and the wound healed by first intention. The Doctor is a man of large heart and the utmost generosity, and never collects a bill for medical services from dependent widows, girls that depend upon their own labor for support, and charitable subjects. Realizing that the road of life is brief and will be traveled but once, it is his desire to do all the good possible while passing. In his practice he does not use alcoholic liquor, and is an enemy of the liquor traffic.
Politically, the Doctor adheres to the principles of the Prohibition party, and in 1890 was their candidate for Congress, and in 1888 was nominated upon that ticket for the office of Coroner. He opposes monopolies, and believes that railroads and telegraph lines should be under the control of the Government; that emigration should be restricted; that the Government should issue all money's direct to the people; that both sexes should have equal rights of suffrage; and that the American public school system should receive the support of every true American citizen. He opposes the bond system and national banks as banks of issue, and also opposes alien ownership of land.
Dr. Davis has been alike prominent in church work, has been Superintendent of the Sunday school, is an earnest worker in the cause of temperance, and has served as Worthy Chief and is now financial secretary in the Good Templars' lodge. He also belongs to the Masonic fraternity and is now Junior Warden. In politics he is a stalwart advocate of the Prohibition party, and does all in his power for its advancement. He is a friend to the public schools and to the best interests of his town. In 1893, he was elected President of the Village Board of Ava, and we can thus sum up the opinions of his fellow-citizens by quoting what one paper said of him: "Dr. Davis, the newly elected President of the Board, is a man of whom nothing but the best can be said. He is a man to be admired, loved, honored and respected, and one who can only be appreciated most by those who are familiarly acquainted with him. Honest, and true to the dictates of his conscience, he stands boldly before the people of Ava as a genuine specimen of true manhood."
May 7, 1871, the Doctor married Miss Lucy C. Walker, who was born in Somerset County, Pa., July 18, 1846, and was a daughter of Gabriel and Eiizabeth Walker, noble Christian pioneers of German blood. Lucy C. was educated in English and German in Pennsylvania, and when a girl at home was noted for many kind acts, one of which was to carry food to a family afflicted with smallpox, she and one of her associates being the only persons in the community that dared venture near the house. Coming to Illinois in 1869, she made her home with her brother, Samuel Walker, until her marriage. She was a girl of noble character, lovely and pleasant in her daily life, gentle and tender in heart, and of an energetic disposition. Her face was beautiful, but not less so than her character. She was never idle, and won the Doctor's heart one day as he was passing while she was at the wash tub. Her home, though plain and humble, she made a paradise of love, peace, happiness and harmony. In Pennsylvania she was a member of the Lutheran Church, but after coming to Illinois was identified with the Presbyterian Church. Her only child, May L., was born February 18, 1872, and is an amiable and accomplished young lady and a talented musician; she is the wife of Charles Brett, a young man of noble principle and character.
Mrs. Davis was called to her final rest April 13, 1893. In an obituary notice was written the following: "Notwithstanding the fact that robust health was never hers, few women have done more in the cause of good in every walk of life than she did. A persistent worker in the church, a true friend, an untiring helper of her husband and a most tender mother, she united in herself those virtues which made her so lovely and lovable."
The following resolutions were passed by the Ava Presbyterian Sabbath-school:
"Calm on the bosom of thy God,
Dear sister, rest thee now.
E'en while with us thy footsteps trod,
His seal was on thy brow.'
"Resolved, That in the death of his beloved wife and companion, our worthy brother and his daughter have sustained one of the greatest sorrows that fall to the lot of man.
"Resolved, That we tender to our esteemed brother and his daughter our heat-felt love and sympathy in this their darkest hour, and hope they may be sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust in Him who doeth all things well.
"Resolved, That in the death of our esteemed sister, Lucy C. Davis, this school has lost a worthy teacher and consistent worker, a kind and loving friend, whose presence was a bright ray of sunshine, dispelling the gloom from our hearts; her husband, a devoted companion; her daughter, a loving, kind and gentle mother."
Her Sunday-school class passed the following:
"Whereas, The all-wise God has called our beloved teacher, Mrs. Lucy C. Davis, from earth to Heaven, we as a class have lost a very earnest and devoted teacher, but our loss is Heaven's gain. Her place in the class will never be forgotten. The tender love and kindness she had for us will never die. We extend our great love and sympathy to her husband, Dr. E. A. Davis, and daughter, Mrs. Charles Brett."
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union also passed resolutions speaking of her untiring service
in the cause of temperance, and closing it with these words:
"Resolved, That we tender our deepest sympathy to the husband and daughter and commend to them her glorious awakening from the bed of pain and suffering to regions of perennial sunshine and glory in full communion with her Savior. We commend to them as a rich legacy the blessing of her memory, which will rest upon all who knew her. We commend to them the tender welcome which must have been hers as she entered the sunset gate and the Master's smiling approval as He said:
" 'Thine is the crown of the toilers
Who gathered for Me in thy name.
And the bells of Heaven were ringing
While the angel choirs were singing,
She has come.' "
Extracted 26 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 621-623.
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