H. Harfield Davis epitomized what it means to be a successful small town businessman. He was born in Gallatin and lived most of his life here. He owned and operated D.H. Davis Drug Company from 1920 until he retired. The drugstore was founded in 1855 by his great-grandfather, Baalis Davis.

Harfield Davis was a Navy veteran of World War I and a member of the American Legion. He was a member of Gallatin Masonic Lodge and of the First Baptist Church of Gallatin. He married Mary Frances Davis, and the couple had one daughter, Susan Ann.

A small man physically, Harfield was successful both professionally and financially because of his dedication and hard work. He worked with his brother, Bob, who was the “public relations man” at the store while Harfield often worked behind the scenes making business decisions and assuring that things ran smoothly. At an early age he learned the benefits of listening and was widely known as a true gentleman, a loving husband and father — besides an uncommon businessman.

For a man whose philosophy never included the waste of time, gardening was his hobby and release from the pressures and stresses of his days.

H. Harfield Davis, 89, died on June 19, 1986, and is buried in Brown Cemetery, Gallatin.

taken from Post Scripts by Joe Snyder, June, 1986

H. Harfield Davis

D. Harfield Davis

In 1855 D. Harfield Davis was accompanying his father, Baalis Davis, on a trip from Virginia to St. Joseph, MO, when he fell severely ill at St. Louis, MO. There, by chance, he was treated by Dr. John Cravens of Gallatin, MO. After his recovery, a strong friendship developed. Dr. Cravens offered his apothecary, in addition to teaching them pharmacy, if Baalis and his 17-year-old son would come to Gallatin. And that’s what happened. The first apothecary shop owned by Baalis Davis at Gallatin was in the back of a two-room log cabin, opened in 1855 (Harfield also taught school in a rustic lean-to against the cabin). The family business thrived for three generations.

In addition to running the drug store, D. Harfield found time to be postmaster, county treasurer and president at the old Farmers Exchange Bank. At one time he owned the Gallatin Torchlight, changing its name to the Gallatin Democrat. During the Civil War, while he was county treasurer, he had more than $40,000 in his possession which belonged to the county. A report reached him that bushwhackers were in the vicinity and might raid Gallatin at any time. Fearing that the money would be lost, D. Harfield hid the potential loot in the county jail until the danger had passed.

D. Harfield Davis married America Osborn, daughter of a pioneer Daviess Countian. She died in 1905, which was 13 years before her husband. Their children were Madora, Frank M. Davis (who later took over the drug store); Virginia and Robert.

The building which housed D.H. Davis Drug Store for three generations of ownership was built in 1871. In the early days the building had a dirt floor in the rear and it was in this section that the whiskey barrel was kept prior to Prohibition.

A glimpse of the interior of D.H. Davis Drug Company at Gallatin, MO, is preserved by this photo. (date unknown)

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Davis Drug Store through the early part of the 20th Century was the pot-bellied stove which stood in the center of the store. The big polished heating unit was kept cherry red in the winter and it was the most popular place in town for farmers who gathered around it after the chilling ride into town. The store, by comparison to later years, was quite bare. Large glass apothecary jars and compounding equipment composed the bulk of the equipment. Since most everything came in bulk, barrels of horehound candy and loaf sugar stood near the counters. D. Harfield usually rewarded prompt payment of a purchase with a hand-out from one of those containers. Stick candy was a most popular item for the kiddies.

Robert T. Davis wed Miss Eldora Feurt and their two sons were H. Harfield and Robert Davis. They were owners of the drug store when the business observed its 100th year in June, 1955. Robert T. passed away when his oldest son was 10 years old, and Bob and Harfield were reared by their mother with financial assistance from their uncle, Frank M. Davis, who remained in charge of the store.

“Uncle Frank” displayed a benevolent heart on many occasions during the Great Depression, supplying needed drugs and baby formulas to those who found themselves hard-pressed by the times. Eventually, he turned the drug store over to Harfield and Bob to continue forward. Frank M. Davis was consulted by thousands on drugs, health problems and other matters until his life ended in 1954.

Frank M. Davis was a stalwart Democrat and participated in local politics. He also served on the city council and was a member of the school board when Gallatin’s elementary school building was constructed. He maintained his interest in the drug store and in civic affairs until he became a bed patient in the home he had built for his bride, the former Josephine A. Bottom of Breckenridge, MO. Their only child was Leora, who married retired Naval physician Capt. W. Dalton Davis to reside in San Francisco, CA.

Gallatin North Missourian, June 9, 1955

D.H. Davis Drug was purchased from the Davis family by Wayne Culver in January, 1983. This marks the first time since 1855 that the drug store was controlled by interests other than the Davis family. Robert and Susan Ann Aulgur, she being the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Harfield Davis, most recently owned and operated the Davis family business.

Mr. Culver had been affiliated with the drug store for more than 10 years, beginning as an intern there in 1971 and later in full time employment after his graduation from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy. Culver first purchased stock in the company in 1977.