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Ventura County









            A pioneer of Santa Paula, Mrs. Miriam (Garrison) Davis is beloved by the residents of this city and has here made her home for forty-eight years, witnessing a notable change in the aspect of the locality during that period.  She was born in San Francisco and pursued her education in the schools of that city.  Her father, Lewis Butts Garrison, was at one time sheriff of San Francisco County.  With ox-team and covered wagon he made the overland journey to California in the gold rush of 1849 and remained in the state until his death in San Francisco.  He married Mary McNary, a native of Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York, and of Scotch ancestry.  Early in the decade of the ‘50s she made the trip to California by the Isthmus route and became the wife of Lewis Butts Garrison in 1862.  She has also passed away.  Of her children, two survive:  Mrs. Davis; and Miss Carrie Garrison, of Los Angeles, whose service in the office of the county recorder have covered more than a quarter of a century.

            On September 1, 1884, Miriam Garrison became the wife of Frank Elwell Davis, who was born in Derby Line, Orleans County, Vermont, May 12, 1857.  He was graduated from Vermont Academy at Newport in 1873 and soon afterward sought the opportunities of the west.  Locating in San Francisco, he handled refined oil, which he sold to the trade there until 1884, when he removed to Santa Paula.  In association with I. E. Blake, he organized the Mission Transfer Oil Company, of which Mr. Davis became president and general manager.  This company laid the first pipeline for the transfer of oil from the Newhall fields to Ventura.  Mr. Davis was one of the chief factors in the development of the oil business in the Santa Clara Valley of the south, the operations of his company in this valley being conducted on the old Mission ranch, where the growth of the industry was greatly stimulated through his efforts.  In 1884 the success of this company brought other oil men to the valley and among them were Messrs. Hardison and Stewart, who afterward played so important a part in the development of Ventura County.  The Mission Transfer Oil Company was sold to the Union Oil Company in 1885 and for many years thereafter Mr. Davis was identified with other oil concerns, as well as with ranching, commercial and banking interests.  He was a stockholder of the Limoneira Company, and a director of the First National Bank of Santa Paula, which he aided in founding.  He served as president of the Ventura Mill & Lumber Company and was one of the owners of the Santa Paula Horse & Cattle Company. He was an expert judge of horses and owned the famous pacer, “Waldo J.”  He was one of the organizers of the Santa Paula Driving Park Association and a moving spirit in many projects and enterprises which proved of benefit to his community.  For nine years he was a supervisor of Ventura County and served as chairman of the board during four years of that period.  He belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; to Santa Paula Lodge, No. 291, F. & A. M., of which he was a past master; the York and Scottish Rite bodies of Masons; the Mystic Shrine; and was a past patron of Santa Paula Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.  His religious affiliation was with the Universalist Church, to which he gave generous support, as he did to all worthy benevolent or charitable objects.  He passed away at Santa Paula, November 22, 1920, at the age of sixty-four years.  His death removed from Ventura County one of her most substantial and highly esteemed citizens and a man whose kindly nature had won for him a secure place in the hearts and affections of his many friends.

            Mr. and Mrs. Davis were the parents of three sons, of whom Walter E., a veteran of the World War, is the only one now living.  He is connected with the Hunt Brothers Packing Company and resides in San Jose, California.  Frank Garrison also fought for his country, serving as corporal of his company.  A local paper said of him:  “It was at the battle in the Argonne Forest, while in action, that on September 28, 1918, this hero of the American defense was pierced by a German machine gun bullet and soon after became one of the immortals of the World War.  He lies in the Argonne Cemetery, probably the most beautiful resting place of war-fallen patriots, now being marked by marble monuments erected by the American nation, and carpeted by the time celebrated wild flower coverings of the Argonne field.  Corporal Frank Davis was as popular with his comrades over in France as he was with his companions here.  He left Santa Paula, September 5, 1917, went direct to Camp Lewis, and soon from there to France, where he was in continuous action until shot on September 28, 1918.  As a Santa Paula youth everybody loved him.  He became a teacher in the Los Angeles Business College when in 1915 Hon. Roger Edwards took him to Sacramento as his private secretary, where he served with faithfulness and ability.”  In the same article the following tribute was paid to the third son:  “We cannot say that his brother, Dudley Lewis Davis, paid any less supreme sacrifice.  Lieutenant Dudley L. Davis enlisted at Fort McDowell in San Francisco, April 21, 1918.  He went direct to Edgewood Arsenal, Baltimore, and became engaged in chemical warfare explosives and deadly gas manufacture.  In a statement made since the War, Colonel H. Walker, chief at the gas production headquarters, in an isolated region in Maryland known as the Edgewood Arsenal, said that casualties among the enlisted men working at that plant could not be equaled on the battlefields of France.  Lieutenant Dudley L. Davis became ill from the effect of gas poison, and returned to his home, where he passed away.  His remains rest in the beautiful Santa Paula Cemetery.”  Both Frank G. and Dudley L. Davis were Masons, the latter belonging to the Scottish Rite bodies and to the Shrine.  He was a capable young businessman and the first field manager of the Lima Bean Growers Association of Oxnard, California.

            The mother of these fine sons was long active in civic, social and fraternal affairs but now lives quietly in the desirable home erected more than twenty years ago and adjoining the family home of more than forty years ago.  Mrs. Davis attends the various lectures and meetings of the Ebell Club of Santa Paula, in which she has a life membership, but is no longer active in its affairs.  She is one of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served for three terms as district deputy of the Eastern Star, of which she is also a past matron.  Few residents of Santa Paula have so wide an acquaintance and no one stands higher in the esteem of its citizens than does Mrs. Davis, who has fulfilled every duty and obligation in life to the best of her ability, manifesting those attributes which grace her sex.




Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: California of the South Vol. IV, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 305-308, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  V. Gerald Iaquinta.