Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 Milton M. Davis, Vincennes Furniture Merchant

Milton M. Davis, c. 1896
I am here to sell.  You people of Vincennes and neighboring Indiana and Illinois cities who have attended my auctions know that I MEAN BUSINESS when I say "I WILL SELL EVERYTHING TO THE BARE WALLS."  I will be pleased to meet all of my old friends and buyers at the Davis Furniture Company. 

My great-great grandfather Milton M. Davis published these emphatic words in the Vincennes Sun Commercial on September 24, 1935.  For 25 years, he owned and operated the M. M. Davis Furniture Store in Vincennes, Indiana.

Milton was born to Caywood Davis and Sarah Elvira Richardson in Illinois on December 10, 1875.  He had six younger siblings: four brothers (William, Lawrence, Millage, and Paris) and two sisters (Rose and Belle.)  The Davis family lived on a farm in McCleansboro, Hamilton County, Illinois.

On September 28, 1896 he married Hester Florence Latham in McCleansboro.  By 1900, they had rented a farm next to Milton's father.  Hester's mother, Harriett, lived with them for a while.  They had 5 children while they lived in McCleansboro: Edith (1897), Golda (1901), Virgil (1903), Merle (1906), and Mildred (1910).  In the 1910 census, Milton was described as a handyman. 
An advertisement for Milton's furniture store.

Milton's family and his parents crossed the Illinois border into Vincennes, Indiana sometime between 1910 and 1914.  He and his father opened a furniture store together.  On February 25, 1916, Milton and Hester's last 2 children were born -- twins, Paul and Pauline.

After nearly ten years of partnership with his son, Caywood left the furniture business and moved to Connersville, Indiana.  Soon afterwards, Milton made an investment in some land, which turned out to be a mistake.  He was sued by the bank for foreclosure in 1924.  Milton was able to hold on to his furniture business and employed his daughter Goldie as a bookkeeper.

Then the Great Depression hit the nation.  Milton's son Virgil (my great grandfather) was driven to desperate measures and robbed a bank.  He was caught and spent three years in the Southern Illinois Penitentiary.  During that time, Milton took in Virgil's wife, Georgia, and young daughter, Henrietta. 

Milton in front of his store in Vincennes.

Upon his release from prison, Virgil began working as a salesman in his father's store.  Virgil and Goldie took over management of the store when Milton retired in 1935.  Milton still continued to have a hand in the family business.

A fire in 1939 caused severe damage to the building of the Davis furniture store.  The store had to be completely remodeled, but the business recovered from the fire and was still operating in 1954.  I'm not sure when the store finally closed down.

Milton died on August 27, 1953 in Vincennes, Indiana, two years after the death of his wife.

1 comment:

  1. I need to get in touch with you - my mother was Pauline Davis Werker -you have some wonderful information!

    ReplyDelete