John W. Davis

John W. Davis[1]

Male 1826 - 1907  (80 years)

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  • Name John W. Davis 
    Born 7 Mar 1826  Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 25 Jan 1907  Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I22368  Complete
    Last Modified 15 Nov 2015 

    Father John Davis,   b. 28 Jan 1795, Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 May 1861, Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Mother Nancy Davis,   b. 20 Jul 1795, Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Feb 1878, Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 11 Oct 1818 
    Family ID F8527  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 7 Mar 1826 - Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 25 Jan 1907 - Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Histories
    John W. Davis and Davis Family Founders of New England
    John W. Davis and Davis Family Founders of New England

  • Sources 
    1. [S223] Rhode Island Reading Room, Various,, 389 - 392 (Reliability: 3), 1920.
      (VIII) Hon. John W. Davis, son of John and Nancy (Davis) Davis, twice governor of Rhode Island, and for many years a substantial business man of Providence, was during his busy career as merchant and political leader one of the best known men in this State, if not in New England. His name stands high on the roll of those who have given their services to the people without thought of personal gain. As a public man his course was unique. Politics did not appeal to him until the demand of his fellow citizens for a respected leader and a strong guiding hand made his duty apparent. Then he applied himself to public duties with the strength of judgment and high principle which had characterized his business life, and for about fifteen years was a power in the Democratic party. That personal ambition had no part in his activity was clearly shown when he voluntarily withdrew from public life at the height of his fame, at a time when higher honors would have been easily attained.

      John W. Davis was born March 7, 1826, in Rehoboth, and passed his early life there. He was educated in local schools, and afterwards learned the trade of mason. He also studied civil engineering. For several years he was engaged as a journeyman at his trade, working in the cities of the North and South, and in 1850 settled down to business life in Providence, where he became a grain dealer. He was in partnership with his brother, and continued in active business for a period of forty years, until 1890, during the greater part of that time on Dyer street.

      Mr. Davis took no special part in politics or public affairs until the year 1882, when he was elected a member of the Town Council, of which he became president upon its organization. In 1885 he was again elected to the Council and again became its president, during that term rendering special service which his irreproachable character and politic manner made possible. The Town Council was then an important factor in general political affairs as well as in local interests, and Mr. Davis was successful in handling some sharp and trickery in which that body had become involved. In 1885 he was also elected to the State Senate, in which he served a year. In 1886 he was appointed appraiser for Providence by President Cleveland, and in 1887 he became a candidate for governor. The Democrats felt it necessary to nominate a man who was free enough from factional spirit to hold the party together, as they were particularly anxious to prevent the reelection of Governor Wetmore and deal a much needed rebuke to the perpetrators of the 'May deal'. Mr. Davis was entirely familiar with the requisites for a successful candidate, from a personal standpoint, and he fought a winning battle, being elected by a majority of over a thousand votes, though the candidates for lieutenant-governor and secretary of state were chosen by the General Assembly and not by popular vote. In 1888 Mr. Davis was again the nominee of his party, but was defeated by Hon. Royal C. Taft, of Providence. In 1889 he was again nominated and received a plurality, but could not claim the office, and when he ran again, in 1890 he did not receive a majority of the popular vote, but was elected by the General Assembly. Again in 1891 he received the nomination and a plurality, but lost his seat because of the Republican majority in joint convention. In 1892 Mr. Davis was elected State senator from Pawtucket, in 1896 became mayor of the city, his term in that office terminating his political career.

      At the time of his death the Pawtucket 'Gazette' referred to Mr. Davis' public career in the most flattering terms, and closed its editorial article with the following tribute: 'As an official Mr. Davis was always highly respected. He was of exemplary character and his private and political life was entirely consistent. He was not a fluent debater or speaker, but he was possessed of common sense views of his duty and the functions of the State, and he voiced these wherever he was called upon to make himself heard or felt. He was a handsome man, and his State house portrait singles him out in that quality beyond the other governors of his time.'

      After retiring from the mayorality of Pawtucket, Mr. Davis lived retired until his death, which occurred January 25, 1907, and he was laid to rest in River Side Cemetery, the funeral services being marked by many evidences of the high esteem in which the former governor was held, both within and without his own community.

      The Pawtucket 'Chronicle' expressed the general opinion in its editorial:

      'The death of Hon. John W. Davis, a former governor of the State and a former mayor of this city, occurring, as it did, just as the last issue of the 'Chronicle' was put to press, impressed the whole people with the common feeling that one of the best men of the city and State had been called home.

      It is not too much to say that the death of no other citizen of Rhode Island could have more keenly touched the heart strings than has the passing of 'Honest John'. This cognomen was applied to him when in life by those who advanced him for political honors, and never were words more fitly directed. He was the soul of honor, and there was not any exception to his integrity in the acts that he was called to perform duirng the years he was in public life. He was not one of that too common class who affect to believe that all means are fair in politics, for with him political acts were under the same restriction as any other act that has to do with one's fellow man. In all that was upright, noble, good and for the betterment of the people, 'Honest John' was a true exemplar. He was noble, yet humble; a ruler in every sense of the term, yet at no times autocratic in the authority vested in him. As governor and mayor, and in every office he held, as the gift of his constituents he was the faithful, brave-hearted American citizen, true to what was right as the needle is to the pole.

      He was an honored name, and his own acts made it so. He was held in the highest affection and esteem by the people of the State, who never paused to ask as to his politics. In him they recognized one to trust, and to love, one whose words were as good as law, and whenever he advocated any measure it required few additional champions to convince one of its merit. His long and admirable life was one that has told for the good of his State and the community, and it will live as long as the memory of one so noble and praiseworthy as he shall be cherished. As neighbor, friend and public official, John W. Davis met all the requirements of one who lives in accord with the best that a noble nature and honesty of purpose can provide.'

      On September 18, 1855, Mr. Davis married (first) Lydia Wilbur Kenyon, who was born in Hopkinton, R. I., October 20, 1825, daughter of John T. and Sarah S. Kenyon, of North Providence, R. I. Mrs. Davis died in North Providence, April 29, 1859, the mother of a daughter, Annie Elma, who was born in Providence, July 7, 1857, and died in North Providence, September 13, 1857. On December 10, 1862, Mr. Davis married (second) Emily Potter Goff, who was born March 8, 1828, daughter of Sylvanus and Ann (Davis) Goff, of Providence, and died in Pawtucket, July 11, 1885. They were the parents of the following children: Frank Ellsbree, Annie Elizabeth, Mary Emily. Mr. Davis married (third) February 18, 1895, Marietta P. Pearce, who was born July 12, 1844, in New York City, daughter of Alfred W. and Marietta (Williams) Pearce, and died in Charleston, S. C., May 10, 1902.