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William Edward Davis is the youngest state auditor Kansas had ever had and one of the youngest men who ever held such an official dignity in any of the states. It may also be added, to express a general opinion current at the capital and over the state, that Mr. Davis’ administration as suditor had been a synonym of efficiency and economy. He represents that splendid type of young American manhood which had drawn attention by its capacity for accomplishment.
Though most of his life had been spent in the Middle West, he was born in West Virginia, and his ancestors had lived there for several generations. He was born on a farm in Hampshire County, July 14, 1875, a son of John William and Hannah Catherine (Timbrook) Davis. His paternal grandfather, Eli Davia, was born in what is now Hardy County, West Virginia, then Old Virginia. He married a Miss Evans. Gipson P. Timbrook, the maternal grandfather, married a Miss Hott. John W. Davis was born in Hardy County, West Virginia, May 26, 1851, while his wife was born in Hampshire County, July 12, 1854. Both parenta are still living, residents of Shawnee County, Kansas, removing there from Carroll County, Missouri, in November, 1915, and they naturally take much pride in the accomplishments of their son.
When William E. Davis was nine years old, his parents moved to Carroll County, Missouri, and he grew up there on a farm. The limited advantages of the country schools he supplemented by attendance at Avalon College in Livingston County, Missouri. Leaving school at the age of twenty he became clerk in the village postoffice at Tina, Carroll County. In 1896 at the age of twenty-one he came to Kansas to make his fortune. He worked as a solicitor one year at Atchison and another year at Topeka, and then moved to Hutchinson, where he became a traveling salesman for a stationery house selling goods to counties and banks. In 1902 in addition to his work as salesman for the stationery company, he bought and still owned a controlling interest in the Globe-Republican, at Dodge City, now the daily and weekly Globe. This was the pioneer weekly paper of Dodge City, and the Globe is now and had been for several years the leading organ of the republican party in that section of the state. Mr. Davis never gave his personal attention to the paper, trusting its management to an experienced newspaper man.
He continued as a traveling salesman for the Hutchinson firm until January, 1907, when he was appointed to the office of assistant state auditor. He made a commendable record while in that position, and it was this record plus popularity gained by extensive traveling acquaintance over the state that elected him auditor of the State of Kansas on Nevember 8, 1910, on the republican ticket. It was the first office for which he was ever a candidate, and he was only thirty-five years of age at the time of his election. Mr. Davis began his official duties as state anditor January 9, 1911, and is now filling his third successive term. He had realized the ideal which he set before himself of making the office of state auditor a medium of service to the entire people of Kansas. Whether as an official or a friend he had the courtesy, the personal magnetism and the impartiality which are valuable requisites for any official, and at the same time he possesses and exercises a promptness and sureness of decision and a thorough knowledge of details which largely account for the excellence of his administration. While in office he had exercised a careful serutiny of public exponditures, and it is said that he had put in effect rules governing the expenditure of public moneys that have been helpful to the claimant and beneficial to the state. The difficulty pertaining to school lands that had been one of the chief sources of worry to the state auditor’s office had practically disappeared. By co-operation with the county clerks he had straightened out the defects in the sale of lands and had cut through some of the technicalities which interfered with the prompt issue of patents. Another achievement had been his energetic requirement that all moneys collected on school land sales and payments should be brought into the state treasury within the time required under the law.
Mr. Davis still had his legal residence at Dodge City- He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the United Commercial Travelers. On September 23, 1899, he married Miss Ellen Mary Wiley, who at that time was a resident of Meade, Kansas, but was born in Osceola, Iowa, Their one son, William Edward, Jr., was born November 16, 1902.