The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan

Original Highland Township Landowner

Phineas Davis, Jr.

W 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 2         N pt of NE F. 1/4 of Section 3        SE pt of NE F. 1/4 of Section 3         E 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 3
SE pt of NE F. 1/4 of Section 3         E 1/2 of NE 14 of Section 10        E 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 10        E 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 10
NW 1/4 of Section 11         W 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 11

Phineas Davis, Jr. was born in 1801 at Northboro, Massachusetts, the son of Phineas and Martha (Eager) Davis.  His father ran a successful leather business while his uncle, the Hon. John Davis (1787-1854) served as Massachusetts Governor, Congressman and Senator.  Phineas Davis, Jr. married Abigail F. Thayer in 1822 and soon after settled in Detroit, where he quickly became involved in a variety of business ventures.  He was a partner in "The Hydraulic Company" which, in 1829, was granted a 20-year franchise (soon revoked) to supply water to the City of Detroit.   A major land speculator, he bought numerous parcels in Oakland, Genesee, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and St. Clair counties, either individually or as part of various land companies.  Friend Palmer, Early Days In Detroit, Hunt & June, Detroit (1906), pp. 960-961, says of him:

"Phineas was a stout man of medium hight and blond complexion, magnetic and pushing, and somewhat eccentric in his ways.  He was engaged in many enterprises, notably the Gibraltar and Flat Rock canal.  He induced Daniel Webster to invest, he buying stock to the amount of $2,500, giving his note for it.  The note was discounted by the Bank of Michigan, but it never realized a cent from it.  A bank was established at Gibraltar under the wildcat banking law of 1837, with a capital of $100,000.  Its directors were Joshua Howard, Enoch Jones, Benjamin Porter, Alanson Sheeley, Theo. Romeyn, H. B. Lothrop, N. T. Ludden, Eldridge Morse and Griffith H. Jones.   Joshua Howard was president and J. C. Ringwalter cashier.  The bank went down like the rest of the brood of wildcat banks, as did the Flat Rock Canal Co., and Phin Davis was a ruined man...  Davis was finally forced to make an assignment for the benefit of his creditors, to Alanson Sheeley and N. T. Ludden, and directly after removed to Pontiac, where he kept a general store for many years.  He died in Pontiac in 1850, in his fiftieth year."

The last sentence in Palmer's account contradicts the claim made by Durant, History of Oakland County, p. 201, that "Phineas Davis... was drowned while returning from the Sandwich Islands (i.e., Hawaii)."


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