The subject of this sketch, J.M. Davidson, is one of the original settlers of Republic county. He left his home in Belleplain, Marshall county, Illinois, in the autumn of 1870, and wintered in Nebraska. In March of the ensuing year he emigrated to Kansas and homesteaded land on Elk creek, in Richmond township, Republic county. At the age of fourteen years Mr. Davidson was apprenticed for three years to G.W. Derry, of Vermont, Illinois, a blacksmith, at thirty dollars per year.
Our subject was married in 1856 to Miss Mary Hull, of Vermont, Illinois. She died in Cuba, Kansas, in 1888. To this marriage three sons and one daughter were born, viz: Levi, born in 1857, is a resident of Norwalk, Ohio. John A., born in 1858, a liveryman of Cuba, Kansas, is an extremely successful business man. Mary Etta, born in 1860, is the wife of G.W. Warren, of Hastings, Nebraska. Mr. Warren is a railroad conductor now in the employ of the Michigan Central. Robert, born in 1861, is a miner of Leadville, Colorado. Mr. Davidson was married to his present wife in 1891. She was Mary F. Campbell, of St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents died when she was a child, leaving three orphan children. The others are Mrs. VanGordon, wife of Dr. H.N. VanGordon, a veterinary surgeon of Clyde. A brother, William Edward, is a farmer of Phelps county, Missouri. Mr. Davidson built the first dwelling house in the town of Cuba. Republic county, and established the pioneer blacksmith shop there. He owns a business house and a residence property there at this writing.
He did blacksmithing from the founding of Cuba until 1894, when he became associated with John Frederick in a shop in Clyde, succeeding Mr. Frederick's father, Clyde's pioneer smith. The firm has recently dissolved partnership. Mr. Davidson has sold his residence and expects to return to Cuba in the near future. When Mr. Davidson came to Kansas his finances were limited and he witnessed many discouraging days, living on corn bread and corn coffee. There was not much demand for blacksmithing in the early 'seventies and Mr. Davidson secured a job of cutting cord wood. He procured a new ax and about the first time he made use of it almost amputated a foot which practically disabled him, but the wolf stood at the door, and for months he rode ten miles to his work. Mr. Davidson has participated in numbers of buffalo hunts. Would often take his family and go camping. While on one of these trips they were in the midst of a stampede, the buffalo coming in droves down a ravine and almost capsized their wagon. From this herd Mr. Davidson killed three. When on a hunting expedition with a friend, John Garrett, they arose early one morning to find the country east and west of them a perfect sea of buffalo. They killed nine of them before breakfast. By way of expressing their feelings on this occasion, Mr. Davidson archly remarked, "Roosevelt's overcoat would not have made us a vest that morning," as they reported their bounty. When hunting buffalo to secure their hides they have brought down as many as one hundred and fifty in one trip and sold them as low as fifty cents each. Upon one of these hunts they were caught in a snow storm near the Colorado line. When they arose in the morning they found upon the swell of ground where they were camped the "beautiful" had fallen to a depth of about three feet. They were not prepared for such a storm and with their horses came very nearly perishing. Luckily they had plenty of feed for their horses and buffalo meat for themselves, but their clothing was insufficient for such a storm. During this blizzard a herd of thirty or forty buffalo passed near the camp, but with their benumbed and gloveless hands they could not prepare for action and allowed them to pass unmolested. On several occasions they brought home buffalo calves, one of which he raised to be more than a year old.
Mr. Davidson is an old veteran of the Civil war. He volunteered his services to the Union army in the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, Company G, under Captain Harvey D. Cook, with Colonel T. Lisle Dickey in command. He continued in this capacity from September, 1861, until he was discharged and relieved in 1864. He was chosen orderly to General Wallace. For a considerable length of time his regiment was body guard to General Sherman. At the national encampment held in St. Louis a few years ago Mr. Davidson was the means of identifying and bringing together two brothers of his company who had not seen each other since the war.
Mr. Davidson's parents are both living in Mackinaw, Taswell county, Illinois, at the advanced age of eighty-eight and eighty-seven years. His mother was Mary Ann Hill, a daughter of Colonel Ira Hill, who participated as a leader of a regiment in the war of 1812. The Davidson family had a reunion in 1899, after a separation of seventeen years. The eldest and youngest children of the family had not met for twenty-four years. This venerable couple celebrated their golden wedding and upon this occasion about four hundred guests partook of a wedding feast spread on long tables in a grove, that fairly groaned with its weight of good things.
Mr. Davidson is a "dyed-in-the-wool" Republican and the first police judge in the town of Cuba. He is a Mason of prominence and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for seventeen years, and has been associated with the Clyde Grand Army of the Republic since its organization. Since the above data was prepared Mr. Davidson and his family have removed to Cuba, their former home. Mr. Davidson and his wife are good citizens, hence Clyde's loss is Cuba's gain.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project