Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tuillar Jacques Davis (1864-1931)

From the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 28, 1931.

  This past August Iowa fielded a number of unusually named political figures, several of whom were profiled on the site in the latter part of that month. One of those discoveries not featured back in August is the man profiled today, Tuillar Jacques Davis, a native Mainer who found distinction in Linn County, Iowa, being a lumber dealer, banker and leading Mason, amongst other activities. Davis earns placement here on the site due to his 1908 candidacy for the Iowa state senate, as well as being an alternate delegate to the 1928 Democratic National Convention from Iowa. Born in West Newfield, York County, Maine on July 26, 1864, Tuillar Jacques "T.J." Davis was the son of Albion K. and Octavia (Challis) Davis. 
   Removing to Iowa with his family at age 12, Davis and his family settled in Marion, where Tuillar attended public school. At age sixteen he left school to join the workforce, and in 1881 joined the staff of R.D Stevens' First National Bank of Marion. His time there extended six years, during which time he was a teller, and left in 1887 to join W.J. Collar in establishing a grocery store in Marion. Operating under the firm name of Collar and Davis, their store continued until 1889, whereafter Davis sold off his interest in the business. Tuillar J. Davis married in December 1887 to Nellie Elliott (1868-1911), with whom he had several children, including Esther Primrose (1891-1977), Laverna Elliott, Priscilla Mayflower, J. Elliott (1900-1976), and Donovan Albion (1907-1927). 
  Following his marriage T.J. Davis saw lucrative opportunities in Iowa's lumber industry, and, alongside his father-in-law, Johnstone Elliott, formed the Eliott and Davis Lumber Co. Their firm would be acknowledged as 
"One of the most important in Marion, being heavy dealers in lumber, coal, wood, tilling, etc. This firm does an extensive trade not only in Marion but throughout Linn County."
  After several years of partnership, Johnstone Elliott retired from the business in 1895 and in that year Davis took on J.C. Fulkerson as a partner, the firm continuing under the name Davis & Fulkerson Lumber Co. Fulkerson too would later retire and Davis continued operations under his own name.
   In addition to success with his lumber interests, Tuillar Davis' name became one of the most prominent in Marion business circles, and through the 1890s and 1900s added additional titles to his resume, including service as secretary-treasurer of the Young Men's Business Association of Marion, and president of the Marion Building and Loan Association. In 1894 Davis helped to organize the Farmers and Merchant's Bank in that city. In the year following he assumed the post of bank vice president, and remained connected to its operation until 1909.

From the Marion Sentinel, December 24, 1908.

From the Marion Sentinel, October 29, 1908.


   In 1908 Tuillar Davis made his first move for political office, announcing his candidacy for the Iowa State Senate from the 26th district. Remarked by the Marion Sentinel as a "worthy citizen" with "gentlemanly instincts", Davis' candidacy was featured prominently in the Marion Sentinel throughout the 1908 election year. Running as a Democrat, Davis' opponent that year was two-term Republican incumbent Willard Coldren Stuckslager (1869-1931). When voters went to the polls that November it was Stuckslager who won out, garnering 6,421 votes to Tuillar Davis' 4, 888. Following this win, Stuckslager would be elected to two further terms in the state Senate and was later named to the Iowa state board of education in 1915. 
   Despite his loss at the polls in 1908 Davis achieved a measure of consolation that year when he was named as president of the First National Bank of Marion, entering into office in January 1909. He continued in that role until his resignation in 1917, and for several years afterward dabbled in real estate. During WWI he served as a Liberty Loan drive director and member of the county examining board and returned to banking in 1921 when he accepted a position of the Federal Land Bank of Omaha, being its secretary for Linn and Jones County, Iowa.
  Long an active Mason in Linn County, Tuillar Davis was first initiated in the Molay Lodge in 1889 and would serve as grand treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Iowa in 1903. Davis was also a past master of the Marion Lodge No.6 of Free and Accepted Masons, a high priest in the Marion Lodge No. 10 of Royal Arch Masons, and a commander in the Patmos Commandry, No. 27 of the Knights Templar Lodge.
   Widowed in 1911, Tuillar Davis never remarried following his wife Nellie's death and suffered further tragedy in 1927 with the death of his twenty-year-old son, Donovan. In 1928 Davis was an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Houston, Texas that saw New York Governor Alfred E. Smith nominated for the Presidency. Tuillar Jacques Davis died at his home in Marion on November 27, 1931, aged 67. He was later interred at the Davis family plot at the Oak Shade Cemetery in that city.

Davis (with fancy hat), from the Grand Lodge Bulletin of Iowa, 1902.

From the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 28, 1931.

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