Mr. Davis was born April 13, 1826, in Flintshire, Wales, and after receiving a common-school education was bound out to learn the trades of boiler making and ship building, spending four years in Scotland as an apprentice. About 1843 he came to America, locating first in Schenectady, N.Y., where he spent some time in the employ of the Schenectady Locomotive Works, and the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Later he was employed in a similar establishment in New Jersey, and at one time he had charge of a boiler manufactory at Galena, Ill. He was also employed as foreman of railroad shops at various points, his skill being undisputed, and previous to 1860 he was for a time in charge of the Chicago & Alton shops at Bloomington, Ill. In 1860 he removed to Milwaukee, where he opened a small boiler shop in Lake street, and for thirty years he carried on a successful business, his trade enlarging until the help of two hundred workmen was needed at times to complete his orders. His plant was the largest of its kind in Milwaukee, and he furnished the boilers for nearly all the craft built at that place, as well as for a good proportion of all the vessels afloat upon the Lakes. As the business increased he transferred it to a new location in Oregon street, and in 1890, having decided to retire from active work, he sold out to the Milwaukee Boiler Company, the few remaining years of his life being spent in well-earned leisure. While his early educational opportunities were not of the best, he was well-informed, having always been fond of reading, and he took great interest in all public questions. In political faith he was a staunch Republican and at times he was active in local work in his party, serving for one term as alderman. Socially he was identified with various orders, including the F. & A. M., I. O. O. F. and the K. of P.
In 1849 Mr. Davis married Miss Patterson, of Schenectady, New York, who died about 1853, leaving one son, Price Henry, now a resident of Milwaukee. In 1854 Mr. Davis married a second wife, Miss Ann Bond, of Chicago, who passed to the unseen life February 14, 1882. By this union were four sons: Oscar F. and William I., who are mentioned more fully below; Walter R., a resident of Milwaukee, and Russell E., who died in 1895.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.