Jeptha H. Davis, a leading farmer and stock raiser of Jackson county, belongs to that class of agriculturists who have largely contributed to the up-building of this commonwealth, and made of Kansas the great agricultural empire of the West. Mr. Davis is a Hoosier by birth, born in Scott county, Indiana, April 13, 1860. He is a son of Chester P. and Hettie M. (Close) Davis, natives of Indiana. In early life the father followed farming and stock raising in his native State, and was thus engaged when the great Civil war came on, and like thousands of other loyal patriotic boys he answered his country's call, and in 1862, enlisted in Company F, Sixty-sixth Indiana infantry, and served until the close of the war. After his discharge, he returned to his Indiana home where he remained about a year, and in 1866, removed to Monticello, Ill., where he was engaged in the mercantile business for several years. He was a Republican and prominent in local and State politics. He was a member of the Illinois house of representatives in the twenty-eighth general assembly, from 1872 to 1874, and served in the Illinois State Senate in the Thirtieth and Thirty-First General Assembly during the years 1876-1878, and 1879-1880. He was an active and influential member while serving in both the house of representatives and the senate, and was the author of many important laws, now on the statute books of Illinois. He was a man of strong personality and deep convictions, and was a natural leader of men. Jeptha H. Davis, was a child of six years when his parents removed to Monticello, Ill., and here he attended the public schools, graduating from the high school. He then entered the University of Illinois at Champaign, where he was graduated in the class of 1882, and later attended Union College of Law at Chicago, for one year. About this time he was offered a position as manager of a farm for William Watson, near DeKalb, Ill. This was the turning point of his career, and upon his decision depended whether his future should be that of a lawyer or a tiller of the soil. He chose the latter, and has made good. He remained manager for Mr. Watson about three years, when he resigned that position, and went to Ulysses, Neb., in 1887, and in July of that year became associated with the Hudson River Mortgage Company, of Kansas City, Mo., and was engaged in that line of work until March 1, 1893, when he purchased a 3,300 acre ranch in Jackson county, Kans., seven miles north of Holton, the county seat, which is now known as the "Davis Ranch." He at once engaged, extensively, in the cattle business, buying large numbers of steers on the Kansas City market, which he shipped to his ranch and fattened for market. This proved a great success, and he followed this line on a large scale about ten years. He then became interested in raising Hereford cattle, and in a short time had as fine a herd of Herefords as could be found in the State. He also continued buying and feeding cattle for market, and feeding as many as a thousand head in one year. Mr. Davis has had phenomenal success since coming to Kansas. As he had but little capital when he came here, he was obliged to assume a great deal of indebtedness in order to handle a proposition of the magnitude which he undertook, and at one time his total indebtedness was $120,000, but by 1902, this was all paid, which reflects a great deal of credit on his capability and business management. After 1904, he began to cut down on some of his business operations, and has not been so extensively engaged in the cattle business in recent years. However, he continues to keep a large herd of short horn and Hereford grade cattle, and also raises a large number of hogs, feeding as high as seven hundred in one year. Mr. Davis was united in marriage September 27, 1883, to Miss Ella M. Watson, daughter of Wm. and Joanna M. (Curtis) Watson, of DeKalb county, Illinois. Her parents are both natives of Massachusetts, and the father was a prosperous farmer in DeKalb county. He died in 1885, and the mother still survives. Mrs. Davis was born in Kendall county, Illinois, educated in the public schools and graduated from the DeKalb High School. She then entered the University of Illinois at Champaign, where she was graduated in the class of 1880, with a degree of Bachelor of Science. She taught school before her marriage and was assistant principal of the DeKalb schools. To Mr. and Mrs. Davis have been born four children: Marietta, Gertrude, Helen and Chester, all of whom are graduates of the University of Illinois, and Marietta took a post-graduate course at the University of California, Berkley, Calif. Mr. Davis is a Republican, but has never aspired to hold political office. He is one of the substantial citizens of Jackson county, where the family is well and favorably known.Pages 250-251 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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