A man of marked individuality, the subject of this review is a typical
representative of that large and enterprising class of business men to whom
the great commonwealth of Illinois owes much of its prosperity and
development, and his record shows him to have been faithful in the
performance of his duty in the community, to his neighbors and to himself.
John L. Davis was born in Centralia, Marion county, April 30, 1858, the son of Thomas P. and Wilhemina C. (Beal) Davis, the former having been born in Tennessee, March n, 1827. The mother of the subject was born in Steinfeld, Germany, April 8, 1835. They were married in Belleville, Illinois, in 1853, and they were the parents of ten children, eight boys and two girls, our subject being the second child in order of birth. The subject's father was a carpenter and contractor in Centralia, to which place he came in 1855. His death occurred in 1899, and that of his wife November 6, 1908. Thomas P. Davis was a soldier during the Civil war, enlisting in 1862 in Company H, Eightieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, as a private. He served with bravery and valor in many hard-fought battles in which his regiment participated, and became corporal of his company. He was mustered out in the fall of 1864.
John L. Davis worked first on the fruit farms in Centralia township, until he was eighteen years old, having in the meantime attended the public schools in Centralia, where he received a fairly good education, having applied himself in a most diligent manner to his text-books. He went to work on the Illinois Central Railroad when a young man and continued in the employ of the same until 1901, having given this company entire satisfaction. Two years were spent in the shoe business, and in 1901 he returned to the same business and he is now to be found daily in his store where he has a liberal patronage owing to his courtesy and his intimate knowledge of the shoe business, always giving his customers, many of whom come from remote parts of Marion county, the worth of their money, for he handles a high-class line of goods. His store is well kept, everything about it showing system and careful management. The store is located at 144 East Broadway.
Our subject was united in marriage to Mary C. Marsh, December 16, 1880. She is the refined daughter of R. L. T. and Catherine (Sherwood) Marsh, who were the parents of four children, our subject's wife being the second in order of birth.
The pleasant and comfortable home of Mr. and Mrs. Davis has been brightened by the birth of the following children: Thomas M., who married L. Myrtle Denny, living at Cliffs, Washington; Ralph R., who married Edith Pease, and who is living in Springfield, Idaho; John June is assistant State Entomologist at Urbana, Illinois; Harley A. is in the Art Institute at Chicago, Illinois; Reba C. is now (1908) at home and is attending high school at Centralia.
John L. Davis, our subject, is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, Lodge No. 201; the Royal Arch Chapter No. 93; Council No. 28; Commandery No. 23; Oriental Consistory of Chicago. He also belongs to the Order of Railway Conductors, Centralia Division, No. 112.
In politics Mr. Davis is a Republican and takes a great interest in local affairs, always desiring good men in the county offices and lending his aid in placing them.
In religious matters Mr. Davis is identified with the Baptist church, as is also his wife and children.
He has been frequently called upon to serve the public in some official capacity, and has very ably held the office of Alderman for one term and has been on the Board of Education for three terms, during which time the interests of the city and the schools were carefully considered by Mr. Davis and much good accomplished by his suggestions, which were usually followed out. He has filled all the chairs of the lodges of his membership to the Consistory, and is now treasurer in all these four lodges of which he is a very loyal member. He has been secretary of the railroad division of the lodge of Railroad Conductors since 1890, and also was its first secretary, from 1884 to 1886. He was also chief conductor from 1886 to 1888.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 562-563.