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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Captain Joseph Davidson

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


Capt. JOSEPH DAVIDSON. This gentleman is widely and favorably known throughout Champaign County as possessing more than ordinary ability, and one who has proved himself an important factor in the farming and business community of Philo Township. He is pleasantly located on a fine stock farm, which occupies part of section 18, and also has a tract in Tolono Township, the whole including 455 acres, all of which is finely improved. The residence of our subject is a fine and imposing structure, and the grounds surrounding it are beautifully laid out and ornamented with choice shrubs and trees, the main feature being a fine grove which protects it form summer's heat and winter's storm. The barns and other outhouses correspond with the dwelling, and the whole estate forms a picture to delight the eye and attract the attention of the passer-by.

Capt. Davidson took possession of his present homestead in 1867, although he had been a resident of Champaign County since the close of the war. His first purchase consisted of 160 acres, to which he afterward added by degrees. He has been uniformly prosperous in his business and agricultural undertakings, and has contributed his full share toward the development of Philo Township. He is a native of Ironton, Lawrence Co., Ohio, and was born June 15, 1820. His father, Col. Joseph DAVIDSON, was for some years Sheriff of Lawrence County, which he also represented in the Ohio Legislature for a period of four years. He owned a fine property in the Buckeye State, and was a man who commanded admiration and respect wherever known. After reaching middle life he moved to Iowa, locating near Farmington, Van Buren County, where his death occured. The mother died in Ohio when her only son Joseph of our sketch, was but nine years of age.His father in due time was married again, and our subject remained with him until seventeen years of age, when he set out to do for himself. He had no money and the occasion of his leaving home was a severe chastisement which his father gave him without cause. He commenced the struggle with the world as a flatboatman on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and for eight years following journeyed up and down between Cincinnati and New Orleans. During that period he saw many strange sights and met with some hard experiences; sometimes possessed of a full purse and sometimes had nothing. Later in life he began to operate a steamboat up and down the Tennessee River, and during the war was engaged in transporting Government supplies, which proved quite a bonanza. He became Captain of the J. H. Done, and later built a boat, J. H. Done No. 2. He transferred the first Ft. Donnelson prisoners from the fort to Vicksburg for exchange, and his craft was afterward utilized entirely for army officials. He became one of the most skillful pilots and Captains throughout that section of country. In June, 1864, he sold out his boats and business to good advantage, and located in Ironton, Ohio, whence later he removed to Champaign County, Ill., invested in land and began to operate as a general farmer. He was for a few years engaged in merchandising in Ironton, but confesses more of an affection for Champaign County than any other locality where his lot has been cast.

Our subject was first married in Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1850, to Miss Eliza FRAMPTON. This lady was a native of Ohio, born in Lawrence County, and died in that county, at Ironton, in 1856, leaving two children. Ada became the wife of Chester A. BOWMAN, now a successful young farmer of Philo Township, this county; Joseph M. is engaged as a grain dealer at St. Louis, Mo.

The present wife of our subject, to whom he was married at Ironton, Ohio, in May, 1865, was formerly Miss Susan HOVER. She was born in Pennsylvania of which State her parents were both natives. She possesses in a marked degree the energy and intelligence of her husband, and their home is the resort of the cultured people of Philo Township. Capt. Davidson is strongly Republican, but has steadily declined to become an office seeker.

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