Biography - Raney Davis

RANEY DAVIS, so long identified with the best interests of Pitman Township, yet lives, and will long live, in the hearts and memories of the friends, neighbors and general business community, by whom he was much beloved and highly respected. His biography is well known, but a brief recital here may still more firmly establish the record of his honorable, upright and useful life.
The parents of our subject, Alfred and Ann M. Davis, were both Southerners. Alfred Davis was a Tennessean, but the promise of prosperity in the North caused his immigration to Illinois, where he and his wife settled in Macoupin County at a very early day. In the new home Raney Davis was born, October 12, 1838. Years passed by, and in the quiet uneventful life of the farm, the child grew to man's estate. Mr. Davis had no extended opportunities for an education, but he punctually attended the district schools when he could be spared, and lost no chance to gain the knowledge he coveted. Farming duties early and late engrossed much of his time; hours of work were long and the labor often tiresome, but books or newspapers that came in his way were eagerly devoured for the varied information and news thus obtained from the outside world.
Keeping pace with his work conscientiously as a faithful son and bread winner, he also found time to learn a trade. Alfred Davis, the father, was a blacksmith and naturally taught his son a trade, so necessary in a new country. Thus, arrived at the age of twenty-one in his native county, our subject found himself doubly armed for the battle of life. To do his best work for man and beast seemed to have been his earnest effort, and in the double avocations of farmer and blacksmith he found no idle time. Self-educated, mainly, he gained beside the anvil and in the field an insight into many problems of life, and it was a common saying that no man was better posted on the topics of the day than Raney Davis.
Within the walls of his blacksmith shop, eager and convincing arguments for the right were listened to with respect by friend and neighbor. The district school had planted the seeds of integrity and honor which Mr. Davis' life developed to full maturity. But farming and work at the anvil did not occupy the whole of our subject's early years. He found plenty of leisure to woo and win, and on November 21, 1861, married Miss Emeline McCluer, also of Macoupin County. This lady, a daughter of John and Hannah McCluer, was born in Indiana, August 15, 1840. The McCluers soon after removed with their infant daughter to this State, and thus together boy and girl they grew up side by side, each a favorite in the county and neighborhood. Into the new home just founded six children brought sunshine and joy, though two of them have passed beyond. Charles R., Bertie L., Annie M. and Albert L. still survive. Joseph R. and Frank died in early childhood. In the spring of 1861, Mr. Davis and his family removed to Montgomery County and settled on the farm which is still the family homestead, and began in the new neighborhood the life which brought to them both much happiness and honor. The land upon which Mr. Davis located was unbroken prairie, but his energetic management soon yielded him goodly crops, and the improvements of to-day are a monument to his skillful toil.
As before mentioned, he continued his trade of a blacksmith, in which he found ready custom from the surrounding country. Although always a busy man, he yet found time to serve the public as Highway Commissioner of his township. He was also a valued member of the School Board, acting at times in the capacity of Clerk of the Board and School Director. Mr. Davis was a lifelong Democrat, and together with his wife belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which they were valued members. As a kind friend, adviser and public-spirited citizen, Mr. Davis was widely known. The entire township became mourners when death called him from its midst, May 7, 1891.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 281-282.

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