JESSE H. DAVIS, present postmaster at Grinnell, has some interesting associations as a pioneer of that town. He put up the first business building there, was one of the first merchants, and when Gove County was organized in 1886 he was honored by the local democratic party as the first nominee for the Legislature.
He was born in Greene County, Tennessee, February 15, 1862. Some of his remote ancestors lived in Denmark and there is a strain of Danish stock in his blood. The Davises were colonial settlers in New York. Mr. Davis' grandfather, John Davis, was born in Virginia in 1800. He went to Greene County, Tennessee, and became a farmer in that mountainous district. He was a stanch southerner in his sympathies, and lived in a region where most of the sentiment was for the North during the Civil war and his death, in 1864, followed a personal encounter upon him by northern sympathizers. He married Sarah McNeff, who was born in Tennessee in 1818 and died at Tarkio, Missouri, in 1888.
John H. Davis, father of Jesse H. Davis, is alive at the age of seventy-eight and resides in Miami County, Kansas. He was born in Greene County, Tennessee, in 1840, grew up and married there, and in 1869 moved to a farm at Tarkio, Missouri. He is a democrat in political affiliations, has held various township offices, and is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and for years has been active both in church and Sunday school work. He is also a veteran of the war between the States, having enlisted in 1861, and served all through the war. He was at the siege of Vicksburg, at the battles of Shiloh and Lookout Mountain, and concluded his service at Appomattox. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity.
John H. Davis married Elizabeth McCurry. She was born in Greene County, Tennessee, in 1848 and died in Miami County, Kansas, in 1901. She was the mother of seven children. Jesse H. being the oldest. A brief record of the others is as follows: Dr. J. M. Davis, a physician and surgeon at Craig, Missouri; Thomas J., a resident of Tarkio, Missouri, serving as bookkeeper and general manager of the Tarkio Electric, Water, Ice and Cold Storage Company; Frank, a superintendent of the Government Indian Farm at White Rocks, Utah; Minnie, wife of Henry W. Wendelle, formerly a farmer but now in charge of the public school buildings at Maryville, Kansas; Lizzie, wife of Everett Tatman, who has a woodworking shop at Craig, Missouri; Elsie, wife of Cyrus Rhea, a farmer in Miami County, Kansas.
Jesse H. Davis was about seven years old when his parents moved to Tarkio, Missouri, and he grew up there attending the local public schools. He was on his father's farm to the age of seventeen and then gained a business training as clerk in a hardware store at Tarkio. He also had a course in the Bryant & Stratton Business College at St. Joseph, Missouri. He continued clerking at Tarkio for seven years, and took a post-graduate course in the Gem City Business College at Quincy, Illinois.
As already noted, Mr. Davis was one of the first settlers at Grinnell, going there in 1886. After erecting his business building he engaged in business as a druggist until 1889. He then returned to Missouri and operated a livery business at Tarkio until 1893, when his barn was destroyed by fire, involving a loss which compelled him to retire from business and recuperate his resources on his father's farm near Tarkio. From 1899 to 1903 he was a resident of Fort Smith, Arkansas, conducting a farm and dairy business. In 1903 he removed to Drexel, Cass County, Missouri, where he continued farming and stock raising until 1908. That year he returned to Kansas, locating on a farm at Menlo in Thomas County, and also conducted an elevator and a hotel. He returned to Grinnell in 1912, and became manager of the elevator of the Shellabarger Mill and Elevator Company. He is also proprietor of the Grinnell Hotel. Mr. Davis was appointed postmaster of Grinnell by Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson on March 21, 1914. He has all the qualifications for efficient work in that position and has made his office a medium of service to all its patrons.
He has been very active in war activities, and is chairman of the American Red Cross at Grinnell. He is an elder of the Christian Church, is a democrat, and is affiliated with Coldwater Lodge of Masons at Drexel, Missouri.
In 1885, at Tarkio, Missouri, Mr. Davis married Miss Hallie Caudle, daughter of Ezekiel and Flora (McAllister) Caudle. Mrs. Caudle lives with Mr. and Mrs. Davis. Mr. Caudle, who is deceased, was a Missouri farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have an interesting family of children. E. W., the oldest, saw much of the world as an army man. He was electrician sergeant of the second class, stationed at Fortress Monroe, Virginia; New London, Connecticut; Fort Mills, Long Island, and saw two years of service in the Philippines, and for four months was stationed at San Francisco. He was finally stricken with paralysis and was honorably discharged for total disability at Washington in April, 1917, and is now a resident of Grinnell and is clerk in the local postoffice and editor of the Grinnell Record. John E., the second son, is first sergeant in the Tenth Motor Supply Train, and is a resident of Detroit, Michigan. Arch L. is a farmer in Sheridan County, Kansas. Ethel M. married William F. Howell, who is station agent for the Union Pacific Railway at Quinter, Kansas. Gladys F. is the wife of Forest J. Eaton, a Grinnell farmer, now in Camp John Wise at San Antonio, Texas. The youngest child, Helen E., is still at home with her parents.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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