JAMES DAVID AVIS is connected with a business which has contributed largely to the welfare of the of the state of Texas and he is now a prominent cattleman of Wichita Falls and the owner of four thousand acres of valuable land, much of which lies in Wichita county. While developing important business interests he has also been prominent in city and county affairs, and his influence has been a valued element in promoting general progress and improvement.
Mr. Avis was born in Montague county, Texas, in 1861, his parents being David and Mahala Catherine (Webb) Avis. The father, a native of Maryland, removed with his parents to Missouri in his boyhood days and there resided until he had attained early manhood. In the fifties, he came to the Lone Star state, established his home in Montague and entered upon a mercantile career that brought to him a high and gratifying measure of prosperity. He was one of the pioneer residents of that part of the state and is well remembered by the early settlers. The old homestead, which is still in possession of the family, is just west of the courthouse at Montague and stands upon the site of the little log cabin which was the early home of the family in Texas. This location is also notable from the fact that the homestead was turned into a fort for defensive purposes against the Indians during the time that they threatened the residents of Montague, the fort consisting of a stockade eight or nine feet high built around the place. Mr. Avis departed this life at the old home in 1873, aged about fifty-two years, honored and respected by all who knew him. His widow, who was born in Missouri, is now living in Wichita Falls. She became the wife of David Avis in Montague county and after his death was married to C. C. White, who departed this life in Wichita Falls in September, 1896. Mr. White was one of the wealthiest residents of this city, having extensive mercantile and banking interests. He also made large investments in cattle and as a stock dealer became widely known. He was married to Mrs. Avis in Montague, and, with their family, they removed to Wichita Falls in 1887. Here Mr. White organized what is now the Kemp Wholesale Grocery Company and developed a business which became one of the largest and most prosperous in Northwestern Texas. He was also an officer of the Panhandle National Bank and was proprietor of a dry goods store in Wichita Falls. He was also an officer of the Panhandle National Bank and was proprietor of a dry goods store in Wichita Falls. He was the promoter of many local industries and contributed in large measure to the substantial upbuilding and material improvement of the city, and he was widely known throughout this part of the state as a dealer in cattle. He possessed keen business discernment, marked enterprise and indefatigable industry. He carried forward to successful completion whatever he undertook.
Many of the comforts and most desirable privileges of life were to be enjoyed in the home in which James David Avis was reared, but nevertheless he was instructed in those things which tend to develop a self-reliant spirit and activity in business and upon his own labors he has depended for the splendid prosperity which now crowns his life work. His youth was spent upon the frontier with typical scenes of western life. The boundless prairies stretched away on every hand and, while excellent opportunities were thus afforded to cattlemen and agriculturists, the early settlers also had to endure hardships that came through the depredations of the cowboys and red men from the adjoining Indian Territory and Western Texas. From his early youth, Mr. Avis has been connected with the raising of cattle, which was then one of the most important industries of the state and has always been a source of large revenue to Texas. The land was then unclaimed by individual citizens and the cattle owners had free range where are now seen prosperous citizens and highly developed farms. Mr. Avis has continued uninterruptedly in the business of raising and selling cattle, save that for a period of six years, from 1890 until 1896, he conducted a grocery store in Wichita Falls. In the year in which the town and county were organized, he became a resident of Wichita falls and has since made it his home. He was thus in partnership with his stepfather, C. C. White, and although then in early manhood, his experiences from boyhood had been such that Mr. White entrusted him with the management of his important cattle interests. At the time of his arrival in the fall of 1882 Mr. Avis established a camp on Holiday creek and lived throughout the winter in a tent, a few houses had as yet been built. As his financial resources have increased, he has made judicious investment in land and is today the owner of about four thousand acres. Of this twenty-five hundred acres is on one tract covering the portion of the southeastern portion of Wichita county and extending into Clay county. This is largely devoted to pasturage purposes for the cattle. He also owns two separate sections near Wichita Falls on the south in the irrigated district, and these farms are devoted to general agricultural pursuits, including the raising of wheat and alfalfa.
In public affairs, Mr. Avis has always taken an active and helpful interest and has been the champion of many measures which have fostered public stability and substantial progress. When he was but eighteen years of age he was appointed deputy sheriff of Montague county, occupying that position at a time when the duties of the office were often hazardous. He is now a member of the city council of Wichita Falls and in this capacity has charge of the plans that are now being carried out to grade and improve the streets of the city and establish good sidewalks. He was strongly urged to become a candidate for county commissioner upon the Democratic ticket and is now serving in that position.
At Montague, March 1, 1885, Mr. Avis was united in marriage of Miss Minnie Bush, and they have a family of eight children, four sons, and four daughters. In his fraternal relations, Mr. Avis is a Mason and has attained the Knight Templar degree. Endowed by nature with a strong character, he was so situated in his childhood that his latent powers were developed and strengthened and he became a successful businessman. Today, however, he is not more honored on account of the enviable position which he occupies in business circles than because of the upright course which he has ever followed in his dealings with his fellow men and by reason of his loyalty and progressiveness in citizenship.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 579-580.