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Escambia Co. Biographies

DAVIS, Arthur William

Source: The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.III pg.34-5-6 1923
Author: The History of Florida: Past & Present

Davis, Aarthur William DAVIS, ARTHUR WILLIAM, is one of the prominent members of the bar of
the City of Pensacola, and is now serving as United States court commissioner
for the Northern District of Florida.
In the picturesque hills of Wales Mr. DAVIS was born on the 16th of
August, 1857, and he is of distinguished ancestry. His grandfather on the
paternal side was WILLIAM DAVIS, who was born in England and who there passed
the closing period of his life at Chester, he having been a government revenue
supervisor for a long period of years and having been stationed at various
places in England, including Chester, where his death occurred while he was
still in office. He was a lineal descendant of Lord Lightfoot and Lady
Peacock, members of old and distinguished English families.
BENJAMIN DAVIS, father of him whose name introduces this review, was
born at Bolton, Lancastershire, England, in 1810, and in that county he was
reared to manhood. He was for sixty years engaged in the practice of law at
Chester, England, near the Welsh border, and he served a number of years as a
member of the municipal council of Chester. He was a conservative in
politics, and both he and his wife were earnest communicants of the Church of
England. Mrs. DAVIS, whose maiden name was SUSANNA WILLIAMS, was born in 1820, at Ruthin,
Denbighshire, Wales, and it was at that place, near Chester, England, that she and her husband
passed the closing years of their lives. Their eldest child, Mrs. ANCHORITE MITCHELL, died in
Kent, England; WILLIAM PEACOCK became mate of the sailing vessel “Eliza Bonzell”, and he died
at sea; THOMAS F. is a retired merchant at Galveston, Texas; SUSANNA is the wife of GRIFFITH
JONES, of Pensacola, Florida; Miss ELIZABETH still resides at Ruthin, Wales; BENJAMIN was a
customhouse officer in the City of Liverpool, England, at the time of his death in 1918;
ARTHUR W., of this sketch, was the next in order of birth; JOHN EDWARD a retired railroad
inspector, resides at Ruthin, Wales; and four children died in early childhood.
The schools of Ruthin, Wales, and Chester, England, afforded ARTHUR W. DAVIS his early
education, and his father’s earnest desire that he should become a lawyer led the father to
put the son to the reading of law when he was too young to assimilate the required knowledge
and to develop any enthusiasm for such study. The result of this somewhat untimely discipline
was that ARTHUR W. DAVIS ran away from home when he was a lad of thirteen years and entered
upon a seafaring career, in which connection he eventually visited many of the ports of the
world, including those of South America, where finally he engaged in the hotel business at
Valparaiso. His adventurous career included his service as a soldier in the war between Chile
and Peru, he having been a private in the army of Chile in 1879-80-81. Early in his seafaring
career Mr. DAVIS came to the United States, and thereafter he was in navigation service out
from the ports of New York and Boston, on passenger and mail steamers. In 1881 he left
Valparaiso, Chile, and returned to New York City. He there became steward in a leading hotel,
and later he gave similar service in Boston, at Newport, Rhode Island, and at various places
in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. His connection with the hotel business continued, as manager,
steward or proprietor, until 1896, when he removed to Birmingham, Alabama, and there he entered
the employ of the great Chicago packing concern of Armour & Company. After serving two years
as a traveling salesman he was made manager of the branch house at Bessemer, Alabama, where he
remained until 1900. He was then offered his choice of managerial vacancies at Havana, Cuba,
Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. He selected Pensacola, and from that year until 1912
he here had the management of the branch house of Armour & Company. In the meanwhile the
ancestral or paternal urge seems not to have been obliterated, for he gave as much time as
possible to the study of law, in order to fulfill the promise made to his father. In 1913
Mr. DAVIS was appointed special agent for the Government Department of Justice at Pensacola,
and this office he retained until April, 1920, besides being engaged in the private practice
of law, his admission to the bar having occurred in 1913. When, in 1917, the nation became
involved in the World war, Mr. DAVIS found it imperative to devote his entire time and
attention to his official duties with the Department of Justice, in which he had supervision
of the territory between Pensacola and Tallahassee. When, in 1920, the Government desired to
transfer him to some other jurisdiction, he declined to leave Pensacola, designed his office
with the Department of Justice and in April resumed the practice of his profession in this
city. In January, 1921, however, he was appointed United States commissioner for the
Northern District of Florida, and in this service he now maintains offices on the second
floor of the Federal Building at Pensacola. In January, 1920, the Government sent him to
Philadelphia on special service for the Department of Justice, and while in that city he
assisted in the capture of GROVER CLEVELAND BERGDOLL, the draft evader whose case has been
a matter of international prominence. Mr. DAVIS is aligned staunchly in the ranks of the
democratic party, and he served two years as a member of the Board of County Commissioners
of Escambia County. He is a member of the Florida State Bar Association and of the
Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, and is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, the Woodmen
of the World, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the
United Commercial Travelers. He owns and occupies the fine old colonial mansion erected
by the late Judge A.E. MAXWELL at Oakfield, five mile north of Pensacola.
On the 26th of June, 1884, at Liverpool, England, was solemnized the marriage of
Mr. DAVIS and Miss SARAH EMMA FOULKES, daughter of the late ROBERT and MARGARET (ROBERTS)
FOULKES, the father having been a substantial capitalist and having also attained
distinction as a harpist and a Welsh bard of exceptional talent and artistry. Mr. and Mrs.
DAVIS have five children: SUSIE MARGARET is the wife of JAMES P. ADAMS, of Brent, Escambia
County. ELIZABETH M. is the wife of SCOTT HARTER, of Pensacola. ROBERT ARTHUR remains
at the parental home and is chief clerk for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in its
Pensacola offices. JOHN HARRINGTON likewise is in the employ of the same railroad company,
and remains at the parental home. As a member of the Engineering Corps he was in active
service with the American Expeditionary Forces overseas during two years of the World war
period, he having taken part in several major engagements and having gained the rank of
first sergeant. BENJAMIN L. is in the service of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad
Company at Pensacola, and in the World war he served two and one-half years in the
commissary department of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Mr. DAVIS has
written a number of short stories which have appeared in different magazines, and won the
first prize for short stories, offered by the State Fair, “Uncle Jeff’s Cabin”, which has
appeared in serial form.



Transcribed by Nancy Rayburn

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This page presented August 14, 2010