MATTHEW H. DAVIS, farmer, P. O. Iola. Among the prominent and best farmers of Clay County is the jovial, hospitable gentleman whose name heads this memoir. He is a native of Wilson County Tenn., and was born March 27, 1819. His father, Basil Davis (deceased), was a native of Carolina, and removed with his family to Clay County in 1834. Mr. Davis did not enjoy the advantages of educational facilities, as do his children and his neighbors' children at present. His term of school consisted of just 21 days. This school was taught by Judge William Erwin, in a log cabin in the Judge's own door-yard, and the seats consisted of split poles with pins in them for legs; the floor was of puncheon, and the window was simply a log cut out of one side of the cabin, with nothing over the aperture. They however kept a plank with which they covered this crack when the weather was too cold. The room was warmed by a huge fire-place, and the chimney was made of sticks and mud. Mr. Davis killed many a deer and other wild animals. He saw at one time sixty-three deer in one herd. When the Davis family settled here, there were fifty-two voters in Clay County. Mr. Davis was all over the ground where Flora now stands, when there was not a rail or a house in sight. They ground their corn in a horse mill, and drove their stock to St. Louis and Evansville to market. Our subject began life poor, with no capital save willing hands and an iron constitution, and as a result has provided a competent fortune for his family. Although he has passed through many trials and troubles, yet he is jovial and witty as a person of twenty-five years. He owns over 300 acres of valuable land, and is engaged in farming and stock-raising. He has been married four times, and is the father of twelve children, seven living-Sarah J. (Armstrong), Peter, Stephen A. D., William S., Charley, Victoria and Nevada. The names of the deceased were Mary E. (Patrick), John J. and Robert, besides two that died in infancy. Mr. Davis was Deputy Sheriff and Constable for Clay County many years.
Transcribed by Laurel White from 1884 History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois, Part IV, page 149.