Bio: Davis, William Llewellyan (1914)


Surnames: Davis, Ford, Shoemaker, Whiddeir, Ingram, Bowron, Kimball

----Source: History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin (1914) pages 693-695

William Llewellyan Davis, president of the Dells Paper & Pulp Company, the largest manufacturing industry in Eau Claire, was born at Neenah, Winnebago county, Wis., January 22, 1858, a son of John R. and Jane (Jones) Davis. John R. Davis was an energetic Welchman, born in Wales in 1817. He learned the wagon maker's trade in Liverpool, England, and in early manhood came to America and first located in Canada, later moving to the state of New York, where for a time he was engaged in the manufacture of carriages and omnibuses at Utica. In 1846 he came to Wisconsin and conducted a carriage factory at Milwaukee until 1848. The following year (1849) he located at Neenah, where he carried on the same business until 1852, then purchased the old government flouring mill and conducted it for all the output he could get, until one night in the winter of 1874 the mill took fire and with some saw and shingle mills near by was entirely consumed. In 1872-73 he was actively engaged in lumbering on the Wolf river, and after the destruction of his mills he organized the Winnebago Paper Company, himself being president, with John R. Ford secretary and H. Shoemaker treasurer. The original capacity of the mill was two tons of print daily, which was increased during his lifetime to three times the original output. He gradually took over the stock of his company, and after his death, on June 7, 1885, William L. Davis had charge of the mill until the death of his brother, David, at Eau Claire, when he moved to this city and took charge of the Dells mills, in which he controlled a large interest. Mr. and Mrs. John R. Davis were the parents of seven children, as follows: John R. Davis, of the John R. Davis Lumber Company, located at Phillips; Myra, wife of A. J. Whiddeir, of Bothel, Wash.; David R., who died in Eau Claire on August 3, 1903; Henry, deceased; William L.; George A., who for several years was secretary and manager of the Electric Light Company at Neenah, died January 10, 1914, and Benjamin W., who for several years was secretary of the John R. Davis Lumber Company and mayor of Phillips before that place was destroyed by fire, and had the honor of being the youngest man ever elected to the office of mayor in the state of Wisconsin. Mr. Davis, Sr., was in the best sense a thorough and practical business man, whose clear cut, honorable methods, skillful management of affairs and sterling manliness made him a leader among his associates and a force for good in the community in which he lived. He was an honored member of the Methodist Episcopal church, a Mason and Knights Templar.

The Dells Paper & Pulp Company is the successor of the Eau Claire Pulp & Paper Company, which was first operated on a small scale by local people. In 1894 the present company was organized by W. L. Davis, D. R. Davis and O. H. Ingram, of which D. R. Davis was president until his death in 1903.

William L. Davis, the genial manager of the Winnebago mills at Neenah and a large stockholder in the Dells company, came to Eau Claire in 1903 and assumed the presidency, in which capacity he is still serving. This is the largest institution in the city; gives employment to about four hundred people, and its products are sold in all parts of the United States. Mr. Davis is also president of the Eau Claire Dells Improvement Company, a director in the Union National Bank, president of the Davis Falls Land Company, and is now engaged in the construction of a large water power plant at Davis Falls, near Jim Falls, on the Chippewa river, which is probably for the use of additional pulp and paper mills. Mr. Davis was reared in Neenah, receiving his education in the public schools. At the age of seventeen he entered the mill of the Winnebago Paper Company and there learned the business in all its details and step by step arose to the commanding position he now occupies. A man of influence, he is prominent in commercial and financial as well as social circles of the city. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of Eau Claire, the Chicago Athletic Association, the Neenah-Nodoway and Oshkosh Yacht clubs. He is also a member of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Society of Chicago.

On December 14, 1881, he married Miss Anna Bowron, of Oshkosh, Wis., daughter of Stephen and Frances (Kimball) Bowron, and they are the parents of two children, Stephen Rogers and William L. Davis, Jr.



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