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Biographies

James Little Davidson


Source: The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.III   pg.213-4  1923
Author: The History of Florida:  Past & Present

DAVIDSON,  JAMES LITTLE.  No member of the Gadsden County bar is generally acknowledged to have a more ready and sound judgment in broad and intricate matters of jurisprudence than JAMES LITTLE DAVIDSON, of Quincy.  An eminent son of a distinguished father, he has not only occupied a leading position among the legists of the county, but has been one of Quincy’s most forcible citizens in the development and advancement of community interests.

    Mr. DAVIDSON was born at Quincy, March 8, 1872, and is a son of Col. ROBERT HAMILTON McWHORTA and LEILA A. (CALLIS) DAVIDSON.  His mother, who was born at Luxemburg, Virginia, in 1834, taught school at Quincy prior to the war between the states.  Her death occurred in 1884.  The paternal great-great-grandfather of JAMES L. DAVIDSON, Maj. JOHN DAVIDSON, was born in the Highlands of Scotland, and at the age of sixteen years came to the American colonies, following the Scottish Rebellion of 1745. He became the owner of much land in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and in 1773 was elected a member of the Colonial General Assembly of North Carolina.  In 1775 he became a major in the militia of his state, with which he took an active part in the Revolutionary war, and in the same year, May 20, was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.  He married VIOLET WILSON, a daughter of Capt. SAMUEL WILSON, of Mecklenburg County, whose sister was the mother of President JAMES K. POLK.  Among the children of Maj. JOHN and VIOLET (WILSON) DAVIDSON was JOHN DAVIDSON, who was born November 12, 1779, contributed much to the establishment of Davidson College, and died April 26, 1873.  He married SALLIE HARPER BREVARD, daughter of Hon. ADAM BREVARD, and she died in 1864, when eighty-four years of age.  Dr. JOHN M. W. DAVIDSON, son of JOHN and SALLIE H.
(BREVARD) DAVIDSON, and grandfather of JAMES L. DAVIDSON, was born in 1801, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and was educated for the medical profession, in which he engaged as a practicing physician in young manhood.  He came to Quincy in 1828, and this continued to be his home and field of practice until his death in 1879.  For forty-six years he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church.  He married MARY SYLVESTER.

    Col. ROBERT HAMILTON McWHORTA DAVIDSON was born in 1832, at Quincy, where he received his early education in a private school, and for a time was a teacher in a school of the same nature.  After studying law for some time he entered the University of Virginia, where he remained for a period of five months, returning home and immediately beginning practice at Quincy.  He was sent to the lower house of the Legislature in 1856, and again in 1858, and to the Senate in 1860, but resigned from the latter body and raised Company A., Sixth Florida Infantry, which entered the Confederate service in March, 1862. The regiment went first to Eastern Tennessee and then to Kentucky with KIRBY SMITH, whence they returned to Eastern Tennessee.  At Chickamauga he was promoted to major, and took part in the Georgia campaign.  On May 28, 1864, he was severely wounded.  In the following month he was promoted lieutenant colonel, but his wounds prevented more active service, although during 1865, while in command of a fort in Florida, he resisted several Federal raids.  On
his return to Quincy he resumed his law practice, which became large and important.  He was a delegate to the state convention in 1865 and a Greeley elector in 1872, and in 1876 had the distinction of being the first democratic congressman elected in Florida after the war.  He was six times reelected to Congress from the First district, serving fourteen years with great ability.  Among his contemporaries in that body were ADLAI STEVENSON of Illinois and JAMES McKENZIE of Kentucky, who, like Colonel DAVIDSON, were direct descendants of ALEXANDER BREVARD, a Revolutionary soldier.  In 1891, when Call was elected United States senator, Governor Fleming claimed there had been no legal election and appointed Colonel DAVIDSON, whom, however, the United States Senate did not recognize.  He served, by appointment, one term as chairman of the State Railroad Commission.  Colonel DAVIDSON was the possessor of large land holdings.  For years he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, where the funeral services were held, at which services were present the
surviving members of D. L. Kenan Camp No. 140, United Confederate Veterans, of which he had been commander.  He died January 18, 1908.  Colonel Davidson was the father of five children, all living:  Mrs. RICHARD MUNROE, of Waco, Texas, whose husband,  RICHARD I. MUNROE, is district judge of McClellan County, Texas; JAMES LITTLE, ROBERT M., Mrs. JOHN ELISE McFARLIN and Mrs. C.S. CURTIS.

    JAMES LITTLE DAVIDSON passed his boyhood at Quincy, and even as a lad expressed it his life’s ambition to become a lawyer.  After some preparatory training he attended Col. R. W. BINHAM’s School at Mebane, North Carolina, for one and one-half years, and then spent one year at Washington and Lee University, where he reorganized the A.T.O. fraternity.  At the age of twenty-one years he was admitted to the bar, and since that time he has been engaged in general practice, largely criminal.  When he was only twenty-two years of
age he was elected mayor of Quincy and for over twenty-four years was connected with the city government, as mayor, councilman and president of the council, although principally as mayor.  He occupied the chief executive’s office when the first improvements were made, and it has always been his chief concern to aid in the community’s development.  Politically he is a democrat and is active in the ranks of his party, in religion is a Presbyterian and fraternally, a Mason.  For several years he was captain of Gadsden County Guards, Company D, Third Brigade, Florida National Guards, and during the World war period served as captain in the Home Guards in addition to being a member of the local draft board and a man who assisted the Government in every way.  He is commander of R.H.M. DAVIDSON Post, sons of Confederate Veterans. 

  In social life he is a man of scholarly tastes and broad general information, arising from his wide acquaintance with men and the best literature of all ages.  A man of fine qualities, he is social, tolerant, generous and genial, and with his rare fund of knowledge and conversational powers is a most agreeable companion.  His knowledge of the law is remarkable both for its comprehensiveness and accuracy, and in its application he is earnest, concise, logical and forceful, which accounts in large measure for the high and substantial nature of his professional standing.  When he can get away from the duties of his profession he is exceptionally fond of fishing as a diversion.

    At Quincy, December 25, 1895, Colonel DAVIDSON married Miss BESSIE M. MUNROE, a member of a family than which there are few better or more favorably known in Gadsden County, where its members were active in early development.  She is a daughter of WILLIAM MUNROE, of Inverness, Scotland, who came to the United States as a youth of sixteen years and soon afterward located in
Florida, where he was a participant in the Indian wars.  Coming to Quincy, he engaged in the mercantile business and as a planter, and was one of the largest land owners in Gadsden County.  He died in 1882 at Quincy, aged sixty-three years, in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  By two marriages he was the father of twenty-two children.  His second wife, the mother of Mrs. DAVIDSON, was JULIA M.E. WELCH, who was born at Norfolk, Virginia.  Colonel and Mrs. DAVIDSON have no children of their own but are rearing the sons of
two relatives:  DeCARR DOWMAN COVINGTON and EDWARD MUNROE COVINGTON.  Mrs. DAVIDSON is very active in religious and charitable work.

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