BLOOMINGTON — Fourteen parcels of land once owned by Judge David Davis remain for sale after the owners rejected bids made at an auction Wednesday.

The 1,448 acres owned by the descendants of Davis, a friend and campaign manager for Abraham Lincoln, were auctioned off before a crowd of about 350 people at the Parke Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington.

Shortly after the auction ended, however, the four buyers were told that all bids were rejected by the sellers.

“This is an unusual situation for Murray Wise Associates,” said Carl Carter, a spokesman for the company that oversaw the auction. “It does happen from time to time.”

Included in the auction’s information brochure were the terms and conditions. Under the heading “Acceptance of Bid Prices,” it reads, “All final bid prices are subject to acceptance or rejection by the seller.”

Efforts by The Pantagraph to reach the bidders Thursday were unsuccessful. Auctioneer Russell Seneff did not respond to a request for comment.

The land in McLean and DeWitt counties had been divided into 14 tracts, ranging in size from 79 to 161 acres. Final tallies indicated the land would have sold for a total of $15.85 million, or an average of $10,946 per acre.

Following the conclusion of the 90-minute auction, auction officials contacted the sellers and were told to reject the bids.

“All sales are subject to confirmation,” Carter said. “As of right now, that land has not been sold.”

Should anyone, including those who bid on the property, wish to make an offer, Carter said Murray Wise Associates will contact the sellers for approval.

There were 142 people who registered to bid on the property on Wednesday.

Carter said Murray Wise officials were disappointed the sale was not finalized.

“We had a great event with a great crowd,” he said. “We were very impressed with the number of people there and the attention this sale received.”

The land, which has been passed down from generation to generation in Davis' family, included 400 acres about 6 miles southwest of LeRoy, 728 acres south of Gridley and 320 acres in DeWitt County.

Davis moved to Bloomington in 1836 and married Sarah Walker in 1838. He practiced law and later was elected a state legislator and circuit judge. Lincoln appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1862, and he was elected to a single term in the U.S. Senate in 1877.

Along the way, he accumulated one of the largest landholdings in the state. He paid about $8 to $10 per acre for much of it, said William Butler, a great-great-great grandson of Davis.

The Davis home at 1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, is a state historic site.

​Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow.


Staff Writer for The Pantagraph.

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