Biographical Sketch of Dr. Ira Richard Obediah Davis
March 7, 1878 – June 9, 1961
Doctor Ira R. O Davis was born March 7, 1878 to the farming family of Ira and Geneva Davis of Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. He attended medical school at the University of Nashville and began his first practice at Willett, Tennessee. He came by train to Arkansas in 1903. He obtained his medical license that first Arkansas year and immediately began his medical practice.
He made his first calls on horseback and had to go through the river bottoms and ford streams and creeks in all kinds of weather. He and Sallie Robertson Hollis were married on November 13, 1905. Sallie said that many times Doctor Davis came home with his feet frozen to the stirrups and they had to be pried loose. “Often Doctor Davis had to drive his horse or later his buggy to a swollen stream and have to get out and some friends would meet him in a boat and row him across and then take him by foot to the patient’s house deep in the Ouachita river bottoms.” 1
Doctor Davis and Sallie had two sons, Merle, born in 1907, and Oris, born in 1913. Malarial infection was to take the life of Oris after only ten months.
Perhaps his hardest period of medical practice came during the flu epidemic of 1917-18 when he would go 24 hours at a time without rest or sleep. For weeks he was the only doctor to serve his area as the other doctors were down with the flu.
He delivered babies by the hundreds in the span of almost 50 years he practiced in Calhoun and Ouachita counties. All these he delivered in homes and he also performed many operations in homes without benefit of the modern hospitals of today.
Always active in civic affairs, Dr. Davis served as president of the Ouachita REA for several years, headed the Locust Bayou school board and served as director for many years, and he also took an active part in the Calhoun county Democratic party.
On July 18, 1947 Doctor Davis suffered a stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, ending his medical career. He was confined to his bed in 1951. He died in a local hospital on June 9, 1961 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Camden, Ouachita, Arkansas.
1 The Camden News, Camden, Arkansas, March 7, 1958
Thank you to Mr. Danny Harrell, Ouachita County Historical Society Museum Manager, without whose generous help this recognition of Dr. Davis would not have been possible.
John T. Mitchell, BBA
February 19, 2022