John Elkanah Davis was born near Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Ky., in May of 1844, one of nine children of Achilles and Melinda (Moore) Davis of that city.
His great grandparents came to America before the American Revolution from England and Wales. Most of his ancestors were farmers, though one was a well-known attorney in Kentucky and was elected mayor of Lexington.
Two uncles, George and Harrison Davis, served as soldiers in the battle of 1812, and also in the Mexican War. Another uncle was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Indiana for many years. Harrison Davis, one of John's brothers, fought in the Civil War and later was in the furniture business in Kentucky, where another brother, Henry, was a doctor.
John E. Davis attended the public schools of McAfee, Ky., and at the age of 23 began to study medicine with his brother Dr. Henry C. Davis. He attended the University of Louisville, and graduated in 1869. In the same year he traveled to Lowell, Ind., to start his practice.
Soon after his arrival in Lowell, he associated himself in the drug business with Charles Post, under the firm name of Davis and Post, but in a few years his practice became so large that he was compelled to give up his part in the business. His office was above the State National Bank, located at what is now 422 E. Commercial Ave. in Lowell.
The busy doctor was also very much interested in the affairs of the Town of Lowell, as was his friend and sometimes associate, Dr. E.R. Bacon. Dr. Davis served as a school trustee and was secretary of the Board of Health.
Just two months before he died, Dr. Davis was elected to the position of president of the State National Bank of Lowell, filling the vacancy caused by the death of John Lynch. His obituary was in the August 24, 1905 'Lowell Tribune,' and in the same paper was an advertisement for the bank, naming Davis as its president, with J.A. Kimmet as vice president, H.M. Johnson as cashier; and Arthur Foster as bookkeeper. The directors were Albert Foster, T.A. Wason and Dr. E.R. Bacon.
On Oct. 8, 1873, John E. Davis, by then a doctor, married Marietta Himebaugh, daughter of Francis and Mary (Phelps) Himebaugh, early settlers of Kane County, Ill. Marietta was born in Geneva, Ill. in 1853. She and John were married at Rochelle, Ill., her family home.
Dr. John and Marietta had five children: Achilles, who also became a doctor but died while still a young man; Judson, also a doctor, who moved to Montana; William, who lived in Lowell near the home of his parents; and Bertram and Grace, who both died when only two years old. Marietta later took into her home as a foster daughter a little girl who later married Justin Trelease. Marietta passed away in 1935 at the age of 82.
Grandchildren of Dr. John E. and Marietta were: Clayton Davis of Lowell; Russell Davis of Butte, Mont., and yet another Dr. John Davis of Libertyville, Ill.
Dr. Davis joined the Methodist Epsicopal Church of Lowell under the pastorate of Rev. Demetrius Tillitson, and was an active worker. The good doctor fulfilled his duty well as a husband, father and citizen.
On Friday evening, Aug. 4, 1905, the doctor had a severe pain, but got it under control, and was able to be about his usual business the next day. He even attended a meeting of the directors of the bank. But later that evening he again suffered an attack, and on Monday was sent on the Monon Railroad to the Wesleyan Hospital in Chicago, Ill. He was accompanied by his son, Dr. Achilles Davis, and a Dr. Willits.
An operation was necessary, and though he stood it well, he suffered heart trouble and passed away Aug. 15th. On the day of his funeral, Aug. 17, 1905, the body was escorted from the church to the cemetery by seventy-five members of Colfax Lodge and visiting brethren.
According to the obituary, those among his eight brothers and sisters surviving were his brother Dr. Henry Davis of Harrodsburg, Ky.; brother Harrison Davis of Louisville, Ky.; and sisters Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Bond of Louisville, Ky.; sister Mrs. McMinimy of Pretty Prairie, Kan.; and sister Mrs. McConnell of Strusburg, Neb.
In the Lowell division of the Lake County Directory of 1909 was the address of "Mrs. J.E. Davis, 302 E. Commercial Ave.," the address of the large brick house they built about 1888, which was their home for many years. The home is now a part of the Sheets-Love Funeral Home on the same corner of Commercial and Union Sts., but with the different address, 604 E. Commercial Ave. Addresses were changed with the east and west division of Lowell was moved from Clark St. to the Monon Railroad.
Some of the other doctors who served the area of Lowell in the early days were Dr. Jabez Clark, who came in 1837; Dr. James Wood; Dr. John Hunt, who came in 1855 and remained three years; Dr. Crane in 1858; and Dr. E.R. Bacon, 1867-1906.