The John Davis house, undated


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The John Davis family home, as pictured from the back. The basement, which held the kitchen, faced the Iowa River.

John Davis was born on September 25, 1834 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. On December 25, 1856, he married a woman named Martha Estilley of Illinois. They had three children: John, William, and Alice.

In 1864, John Davis moved to Johnson County. Initially, he worked for Borland & Clark, and then the Iowa City Bale Rope Manufacturing Company. He built a planing mill in Coralville in 1869, and two years later built and operated a sawmill. He also operated a general store, and carved and polished coral he gathered from the river banks.

John Davis was also politically active: he served on the first Coralville Council in 1874, as well as two other terms, and was mayor from 1876-1879 and 1885-1886.

John Davis married again twice while living in Johnson County. On July 4, 1865, he married Anna M. Estilley. Very little is known about his third wife, other than that her name was Mary (Lovetinsky, p. 76, 98).


Coralville Public Library. Coralville Digital History Library.




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Coralville, Iowa


“The John Davis house, undated,” Coralville Digital History Library, accessed February 26, 2024,

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