William H. Dravis


WILLIAM HENRY DRAVIS, a representative business man of Mingo Junction, where he conducts a grocery and meat market, has been a resident of Jefferson County, Ohio, since 1880. He was born on his grandfather's old farm in Ohio County, W. Va., May 6, 1861, and is a son of Frederick and Mary (Pumphrey) Dravis.

Frederick Dravis was born in Germany and when he reached manhood immigrated to America, settling in Ohio County, West Virginia. There he married Mary Pumphrey, a daughter of Zachariah and Madelina (Snyder) Pumphrey. Zachariah Pumphrey was born in Ireland. He was a tanner and butcher and was the first to establish a meat market in East Wheeling, and he owned the land on which it was built. Ever since then the family has had butchers and stock buyers among its business men. After marriage, Frederick and Mary Pumphrey Dravis settled on the Pumphrey farm in Ohio County, from which they later moved to Jefferson County, Ohio, where both died, the latter in 1899, aged sixty-four years, and the former in 1900, when he had reached his seventy-second year. They were the parents of five children: William Henry; Elizabeth, now deceased. who was the wife of John West; Anna, who is the wife of Fred Milligan; Zachariah, who is a retired officer of the U. S. Army, entering the service when aged eighteen years; and Mary, who married Lieut. Phillips.

Where William H. Dravis spent his boyhood there was little opportunity to attend school and when he was eleven years old he was working at gardening and earning $2.50 per month. Later he found work in a brickyard and after that returned to farming and evidently proved very capable in this industry as his employer paid him the highest wages paid to any farm employee in the county, $23.50 a month. When he first realized that without some means he could never hope to advance very far in business, he was seventeen years of age and between then and his twenty-third birthday, he saved the sum of $600. He was thus able to invest in a butcher and huckster enterprise and followed this occupation from 1883 until 1889. He then embarked in the mercantile business, buying a large grocery, bakery and livery at Startle, or old Log Run, in Jefferson County. His plans had been well laid but he had not allowed for a possible industrial disturbance, and during a strike that followed he lost $10,000. He sold his effects at public sale and then went to Grand Island, Nebraska. There he started a butcher shop, with a capital of $100, and within four months time his daily sales amounted to $400. In this enterprise he had George Veeder as a partner and the business was conducted under the firm style of Veeder & Dravis. Three years later he saw a still better opportunity for turning his capital over and went to Houston, Texas, where he bought twenty-two town lots and again embarked in the butchering business and during the six years that he remained there he carried on a prosperous business.

The death of a son caused the family to return north and Mr. Dravis followed farming in Ohio for two years and then secured the meat contract for the Wabash Railroad, and within twenty-eight months had sold meat and groceries to this corporation to amount to $75,000. He then resumed farming and continued for two years, then was engaged in butchering for sixteen months in West Virginia, supplying meat during the building of the Christiansburg Railroad, after which he located on a farm near Brilliant, Ohio. Shortly after this, in 1908, in partnership with Adolph Swartz, he opened a butcher shop at Mingo Junction. This partnership was dissolved and on March 17, 1909, Mr. Dravis took possession of his commodious storeroom on Commercial Street, putting in a large stock of first class groceries. Mr. Dravis is prosperous. He possesses the commercial instinct and his long experience has taught him how to please customers of every quality. Mr. Dravis is indebted to no one but himself for his success, and takes a justifiable pride in the fact. He has reared a large family and has afforded them more than the usual amount of comfort and provided a fine home which is situated at Highland View, Mingo. In addition to his residence property he owns a farm of sixty acres near Brilliant, in Wells Township, Jefferson County, other land at Brilliant and additional holdings in Texas and Nebraska and at Mingo Junction.

On Sept. 10, 1883, Mr. Dravis was married to Miss Elizabeth Luella Milhoan, a daughter of John and Albina Milhoan, old residents of Jefferson County. To them the following children have been born: Walter, who was accidently killed at Mt. Pleasant, when aged fourteen years; Grace, who married George Weeks of West Virginia, and has two children--Henry and Gertrude; and Blanche, Nellie, John, Olive, George Dewey, Joseph, William and Kenneth. Mr. Dravis and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is identified with the order of Maccabees at Steubenville and belongs to the Mingo Board of Trade. In politics he is a Democrat.

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