William M. Davis was born in Fillmore County, Minnesota, moved with his parents as a boy of six to LeRoy, Minnesota, and came to what is now Beadle County, South Dakota, in 1884. His father homesteaded on the place adjoining the Davis farm three miles north of Yale.
Most vivid of his boyhood memories is the blizzard of 1888 during which he spent the night in the nearby country school. The teacher and several children who set out for home became lost and one boy lost his life while they spent the night in the storm in the garden a few roads from the teacher’s home. Others of the group lost fingers and feet, but recovered.
Mr. Davis purchased a relinquishment on a homestead near Yale in 1896 which became the site of his permanent home. In 1899 he married Miss Agnes Marsh who taught school in the neighborhood. Nine children were born to the Davises, and all of them had the advantage of education beyond high school, several earning college degrees.
The Davis farming operations covered 880 acres. Livestock—good Shorthorn cattle, Poland China hogs, colt-raising, in addition to a large flock of Narragansett turkeys—were the backbone of the system.
Mr. Davis’ activities as a community leader are legion. At one time, he held six offices—president of the Yale bank, president of the Farmer’s Elevator Company, an officer in the telephone company, member of the board of township supervisors, clerk of the local school board, trustee and secretary of the local rural Catholic Church.
He served as county commissioner 12 years and was a member of the county Extension board since its organization in 1935. He has been a member of the board of directors since its organization.
In 1947 Mr. Davis received the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” medal from Pope Pius XII, the highest honor the Catholic Church confers on a layman. It was presented by Bishop Brady of Sioux Falls.
The Davises celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1949.