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Special Collections & Archives

Manuscript Group 85


Papers, 1931-1976
1 l.f.

The descriptive inventory of the papers of Ben W. Davis in the University of Idaho Library was prepared by Judith Nielsen in August 1979.


Benjamin Wesley Davis was born in Kansas on September 4, 1889, one of seven children born to Isaac Newton Davis and his wife. The family lived on a large cattle ranch owned by H.H. Seary of Topeka. He grew up with and loved animals, especially horses. Hunting and fishing were part of his boyhood and continued to be a source of enjoyment and relaxation.

After his third year of high school he interrupted his education to travel with a friend to Colorado. They stopped in Springfield where his friend took a job with a printer and Ben was hired to help repaint, reroof and replaster the court house; in his spare time he learned the printing trade. When he finished the court house work, he went alone to Verdun, Oklahoma where he worked briefly for a printer before moving on to Fort Cobb where he worked on the weekly newspaper. While in Fort Cobb he also lea rned the fundamentals of baseball from former Carlyle University baseball and football star William Haislip.

He returned to Eskridge, Kansas in the fall of 1908 to finish his last year of high school. While there he also played baseball and football. In the fall of 1909 Ben took the train to Lawrence, Kansas to enroll in the university. A short time later, wh en he learned he was failing German and zoology, he decided to quit; but a fellow student encouraged him to go to law school saying "If you can make the football team they'll let you stay, and you don't have to know anything in any case." He followed this advice, and for the first year of law school he boarded with a widow, paying his rent by acting as her business manager. When he graduated from law school he had been so severely injured playing football that, in spite of several offers of football or ba seball jobs, he felt the practice of law was the only course open to him.

He took the bar exam in 1913 and set up his law practice in American Falls, Idaho, where he also coached a semi-professional baseball team, and occasionally acted as a judge for the rodeo. He later moved his family to Pocatello where he worked closely with C. Ben Ross, and was State Chairman of the Democratic party from 1938 to 1940. In his sixty years as a practicing attorney in southeastern Idaho he has acted as the attorney for the Shoshone-Bannock Indian tribes.


The majority of items in the Ben W. Davis papers are his various forms of financial records which include bills and receipts, a savings passbook, checking account statements, and a series of duplicate deposit slips, all for the 1930's or early 40's.

A series of biographical articles which appeared in the Idaho State Journal are also part of the collection.


The items in the "Contracts" folders in series one are arranged in alphabetical order; the contents of all other folders in this series are in chronological order. The fourteen duplicate deposit slip books are in chronological order as are the checking account statements. The newspaper articles are arranged chronologically by date of publication.


I. Bills and Receipts, 1940-1545

II. Financial Records

III. Biographical Articles

IV. Newspapers

V. Davis File


Bills and Receipts, 1940-1945

The items for each year in series one of the B.W. Davis papers are divided into three folders, contracts, personal and office. The contracts refer to the various lawyers lists used by forwarding agents for the purpose of collecting past due bills. The personal bills and receipts include medical expenses, clothing, home repairs, flowers and fishing equipment. Stationery, legal publications, telephone and water bills and rent in the Ross-Davis building are among the items included in the office files.

Financial Records

Series two is comprised of the following personal financial records of Ben W. Davis:

Checking Account Statements (12) First Security Bank of Pocatello. January - December 1937

Deposit Slips (duplicate). First Security Bank of Pocatello. 1931-1944

Savings Account Pass Book. The National Bank of Idaho, Pocatello. April 20, 1928 - February 21, 1933

Biographical Articles

The seven articles in this series are part of the Bicentennial feature published in the Idaho State Journal (Pocatello) between March 8, 1976 and June 30, 1976.


There are two newspapers in this series:

Kansas City Post. Thursday, November 24, 1910. Sports section with individual pictures of the Kansas University football team of which Davis (picture 11) was a member.

Salt Lake Telegram. Monday, November 11, 1948. Headlines declare the end of the war.

Davis File

This folder was maintained by the Idaho Research Foundation during the negotiations for the Davis papers. It contains a 5" x 7" black and white photograph of Davis and correspondence, 1973-1976.

July 1997/ mg85.htm

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