Biography of Willard R. Davis
Merced County, CA Biographies





WILLARD R. DAVIS
The life which this article narrates began in Brookfield, Mass., on November 16, 1847. The only son and survivor of three children, Willard R. Davis has experienced many hardships and struggles against adversity, and has seen many changes in the space of seventy eight years. When he was a small boy his father, Benjamin F. Davis, went to Pikes Peak and was never heard from. His mother, Alice (Rice) Davis, a native of Massachussets, moved to Chicago and died there in 1853. The children were then taken to Bowen Prairie, Jones County, Iowa, where Willard was reared on his uncle's farm, attending school until he was fifteen. When he was eighteen he hired out to some men who were coming to California, but on the way he stopped at Reese River, Nev.; from there he went to Virginia City, encountering many tough experiences common to those days. In 1868 he came on to California, and stopping in San Francisco, heard there was a good chance to get work at Mountain View, Santa Clara County, and thither he made his way. He spent some time working on ranches, then went to White Pine, Nev., and from there packed in to Hamilton. In 1871 he went to Kansas and took up a government claim on the Osage Indian reservation. He suffered many set backs and decided he would return to California. He then spent five seasons in Mountain View section, and in 1877 went to Eastern Washidgton and staid four years. He returned to California and bought forty acres in the Kearny tract in Fresno County and tried raising raisin grapes, but it did not pay at 2c per pound; then he went to Cotati and tried the poultry business there and in Santa Rosa, but the Mississippi Valley cold storage eggs forced him out again and he spent two years in the quicksilver mines in Lake County. In 1904 he bought eighteen and one half acres one and one quarter miles from Atwater and raised beans and sweet potatoes as a double crop; he also set out fig trees, getting the stock from George Roeding in Fresno in 1905. He developed his property and now has ten acres in figs. In 1920 he built his house and the following year his barns and installed lighting facilities in his home. His sister, Violet Huff, came from Walla Walla, Wash., and lived at his home about eighteen months, until her death in 1918.

Mr. Davis was married in San Diego on January 1, 1921, to Mrs. Helen (Rogers) Wright, a native of Wetumpka, Ala., born in 1848, who on September 17, 1867, was married to Dr. W. A. Wright, a prominent surgeon in Waco, Texas. He died in 1908 and his widow came to California in 1909, accompanying her daughter, Mrs. Annie Willet, to her home at Yam. Mrs. Davis is the mother of five children, as follows: A. M., R. E., Mrs. Annie Willet, J. B. of Indianapolis, and Ella. There are twenty two grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Mr. Davis has prospered well of late years and is now living comfortably in his home.

From:
History of Merced County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by John Outcalt
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1925


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