David L. Davis, late of Sacramento county, whose death occurred August 17, 1899, on his fine ranch about seven miles east and south of Ilk Grove, was for many years a foremost representative of the agricultural and stock-raising industries of this portion of the state. He was more than three score and ten years of age at the time of his death, but had been active and vigorous in the prosecution of his business, and his worth as a citizen and his virility and strength of character made his loss a severe one throughout the county. His efforts had benefited the county for forty-five years, and he was accounted among the pioneers of his section of the county.

He was born at Dayton, Ohio, March 28, 1827, being one of the ten children born to John J. and Mary (Humphreyville) Davis. His father was an Ohio blacksmith for a number of years, and also sheriff. He moved to Iowa when it was a territory, being a resident of Cedar county until his death at the age of seventy-one years. On his mother's side Mr. Davis was second cousin to Rutherford B. Hayes, president of the United States; their great-grandfather was the same.

Mr. Davis was eleven years old at the time the family took up its abode near Tipton, Iowa, and he grew to manhood there and became early acquainted with the practical side of life. When a young man of twenty-two, on November 7, 1849, he was married in Iowa to Miss Elizabeth Murray, who was his faithful wife and companion for almost fifty years, and now as his widow occupies the old home place and gives care to its management and successful conduct. She was born in Cedar county, Iowa, January 4, 1832, being a daughter of Henry and Jane (Galbraith) Murray, both of Scotch descent. Her grandfather William Murray was a grandson of the famous Earl of Murray of Scotland. Her maternal grandfather, Alexander Galbraith, was also a Scotchman by birth. Mrs. Davis's parents were among the early settlers of Cedar county, Iowa.

In November, 1851, Mr. Davis, with his wife and one child, started for California. Leaving Iowa, they went to New Orleans, whence they took ship to the isthmus, and from there came up the coast to Santiago, from there to San Francisco, where they arrived on March 8, 1852. The ship was in a calm for forty days. The delay caused the passengers to be short of food, and they were put on an allowance of food which was one and one-half ounce of bread per day, and one half pint of bean soup and one-half pint of water. Ten of the passengers died of starvation and were buried at sea. For a time he had his home near Diamond Springs, in Eldorado county, was engaged in mining for a time with moderate success, and in the fall of 1854 settled in the Sacramento valley upon land which he plowed with ox teams. He carried on agricultural operations there very successfully for seven years. In 1860 he returned to Iowa by way of the isthmus and New York city, but in the following year, with his wife and four children, made the trip overland to the coast, being about four months on the road. In 1861 he located upon the ranch which remained his home the rest of his life. This community was named in his honor the Davis district, and the Davis school and school district were also named after him, in deference to his high degree of public spirit and enterprising character. At one time he owned eleven hundred and thirteen acres of land, all of which was devoted to the culture of grain and live-stock. He was known as one of the successful ranchers in Sacramento county, and at his death left a fine estate. He was strictly Republican in his political views, and while not a member of any church he was liberal in his contributions to the cause of religion and benevolence, and his integrity and exemplary life were reckoned among the best assets of the body politic. Mrs. Davis resides on the home ranch of four hundred and six acres, and is passing her remaining years as one of the honored pioneer women of Sacramento county. She is a member of the Presbyterian church at Hicksville.

Of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Davis there are eight children living at this writing: John J., of Pendleton, Oregon; Mary, wife of Deloss Watkins, of Sacramento, California; Henrietta, wife of Clinton Cantrell, of Sacramento county; Elizabeth, wife of Edward Riley, of Arno, California; David L., in Sacramento county; Thomas N., Jason H. and Charles D., also in Sacramento county.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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