William J. Davis was born in Franklin County, Tenn., February 6, 1814, and came to Cooper County, Mo., April 27, 1827, and to Morgan County in 1840, his parents, Phil. E. and Cynthia (Jennings) Davis, coming at the same time. The father was a farmer and a great lover of hunting, which taste was fully satisfied in Missouri, for at that time deer, bear and all kinds of small game were very abundant. His children's names are as follows: Aklas (who died in infancy), William J., Porter E., Elizabeth J. (widow of Trustain Adair), Mary Ann (wife of Stephen Adair), George W., Susan Emily (wife of A. O. Briscoe), Charles B., Louisa Jael (wife of James Howard), Nancy (deceased, was the wife of J. S. Logan, M. D.), and Fanny (wife of William Hunter, of Moniteau County). William J. Davis, our immediate subject, took a trip to Mexico with his father in 1837, and before his return home he traveled quite extensively throughout the West. The incidents of this trip are of thrilling interest, and only limited space prevents their insertion at this place. After making a short stay in Missouri Mr. Davis went to Mississippi and Louisiana, but in 1840 returned to Missouri, and the same year came to Morgan County, where he purchased 120 acres of wild land, which he was engaged in improving until 1844, then hired out to A. M. Clark and John M. Reed to drive cattle to St. Louis. After reaching that city he went by boat to Memphis, Tenn., and some time after engaged in hauling logs to Taylor's Mill on Big Creek, and was interested in different occupations until April 9, 1845, when he went by boat to Crawford County, Ark., and June 14, 1840, started for Morgan County, arriving on the 3d of July, 1845. Until about 1848 he was engaged in farming, and at that date engaged in canvassing the county for the office of sheriff, and in August of that year was elected by the Democratic party, and was re-elected two years later. About 1853 he went to Cooper County, and was married, March 14, 1854, to Miss Maria Collins, and afterward purchased and entered 206 acres of land, on which he resided until 1863, when he sold out and rented a farm near Syracuse, and the following year bought 400 acres where he now lives, on which he moved in 1865. Here his wife died two years later, leaving him with two children: Charles, who was born in 1855, and died in 1886, and Lizzie, wife of John W. Gearheart. She was born in 1858. November 16, 1871, Mr. Davis married Mrs. May (Kirkpatrick) Parks, who died May 24, 1886. Mr. Davis is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.