Throughout his entire career as a farmer, Willis H. Davis, Hitchcock, South Dakota, advocated better farming methods and inspired many South Dakotans to follow his practices.
Mr. Davis was born at Elkader, Iowa, December 31, 1856. Although not born on a farm, he was always interested in farm life and early in the movement of settlers to South Dakota, filed a tree claim in Brookings County.
In 1880, Mr. Davis married a Clayton County, Iowa, girl, Carrie Richardson. Two sons were born to them. Both were given college educations, and both studied agriculture.
Upon moving to Huron, South Dakota, in 1880, Mr. Davis started a hardware business which he operated for nine years.
In 1889, he moved his family to Hitchcock, South Dakota, settling on a homestead of 160 acres. By 1929, his farm, known as Grassland Farm, comprised 800 acres. The Davis’ practiced a diversified system of farming with emphasis on cattle, hogs, and corn. Mr. Davis was always a true pioneer in the farming industry. He grew his first alfalfa in 1896, and was one of the first farmers to grow sweet clover. Mr. Davis was also recognized throughout the state as a breeder of purebred Shorthorn cattle.
When the Better Farming movement was started in Spink County in 1911, Mr. Davis was one of the leaders. He also assisted in the organization of the Farm Bureau in 1912, serving as director from 1912 to 1927. He was chosen as president of the Spink County Farm Bureau in 1921 and president of the State Farm Bureau in 1923. He also served as a member of the State Council on the St. Lawrence Waterway project.