This is the seventh in a series of biographical sketches and articles written or edited by Thomas M. Dunshee between 1903, when he started collecting the material, and 1910, when he finished entering the sketches in a small blue "tablet" notebook now in the Lucas County Historical Society collection. The subjects of the biographical sketches all were fellow pioneers in the Newbern neighborhood of English Township, Lucas County.
By Mrs. Hiram Wilson
Edmund Davis was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, February 18, 1825. He was what might be ccalled a Scotch Yankee, his mother being a Scotch lady and his father, a native of Vermont.
He was married to Susanna (or Susanah) Pinkerton September 1847. She was a native as the same county as her husband, where she was born in 1830. They had eight children, six girls and two boys: Clarissa, Luella, Mary, Emma, Letitia, Matilda, Charles and Elmer.
Mr. Davis passed his early years on the farm. He received his education from the common schools. At the age of thirty-one years, he determined to try the west as there were so many stories of opportunities to young men. He accordingly in company with his family moved by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Keokuk and thence to Chariton at which place they landed late in the evening in May, 1856.
They tried to obtain lodging at a log hotel situated on the southeast corner of the square where Ed Lewis's brick grocery now stands. The proprietor told them they were full and running over, so they had to move on, thought they would try to get to an uncle of his, John Willoughby, in English Township, a distance of six or seven miles north. (They) came to Whitebreast Creek, there being no bridge had to ford. Their front wheel struck a log and stopped the team. After repeated efforts they were forced to give up the idea of getting out.
His daughter says, "so we unhitched and left the wagon in the stream until the next day. I remember well the howling of the wolves that first night in Lucas County.The impression made on my mind at that time will always stay with me. We all wished we were safely back in the old home.
"It was late when we reached our destination where we were made welcome. We moved in a double log house which was afterwards known as the Spray place on the Newbern road. Here we remained until September, when we moved on to 80 acres of land in sections twenty-three and -four in the east part of English Township. Father bought this land of Thomas Crandell for which he paid eight hundred dollars in gold. This place had fifteen acres broke out, a log cabin with one room, a clab-board door and a clab-board roof.
"We had to haul our stove and furniture from Eddyville. Milling was done at Gosport and Thompson's Mill on Whitebreast. We got our mail from Chariton, a distance of eleven miles. The Post Office was kept in a log cabin. The first school house in our district, No. 6, was built by Milton Keys in 1860 out of brick that were burned by himself. The desks were made out of slabs with slabs for seats. Mr. Keys taught the first school. In those days the blue stem prairie grass grew as high as a man's head."
Mrs. Davis died the 5th of March, 1878, and Mr. Davis died November 1888. He was a Republican in politics. At his death he left a good home and 440 acres of land. This he had accomplished by years of patient industry. He was a quiet orderly citizen, a man well known to the early settlers.
Note: Mrs. Hiram Wilson was Emma, daughter of Edmund and Susanah Davis. According to her tombstone, also at Brownlee Cemetery, she was born during January of 1856 and would have been an infant upon arrival in Lucas County. So it's unclear who remembered the wolves howling that first night in Lucas County, but it probably was not Emma. The photos here, by Doris Christensen, are from the Find a Grave Web site.