Davis, George T. M.

Born: 1810-05-24 Malta

Died: 1888-12-19 New York, New York

Son of George Davis, United States Consul-General to the Regency of Tripoli, George T. M. Davis moved away from his parents at the age of seven to attend boarding school in New York. After the death of his father, George T. M.'s uncle, Matthew L. Davis, assumed control over his education. Davis planned initially to follow his father's footsteps and train as a physician, but in 1824, Matthew Davis pulled him out of boarding school and sent him to Syracuse, New York, to clerk in a store owned by Matthew's two sons. In April 1828, he married Susan M. Webb, with whom he had ten children, all but two dying early in life. Shortly after his marriage, Davis decided to seek a career in law, and commenced reading law with a prominent Syracuse attorney. In July 1832, Davis received admittance to the New York bar, and in September, he joined his wife and family in Alton, Illinois, where he opened a law office. An admirer of Henry Clay and supporter of the Whig Party, Davis took a minor interest in local politics. In 1841, he became editor of the Alton Telegraph, transforming it into a Whig organ. From 1844 to 1846, he served as mayor of Alton. When the Mexican War began, Davis helped recruit soldiers to fill Illinois's quota of volunteers, and became aid-de-camp to General James Shields. Davis later became aid-de-camp to General John A. Quitman. After the fall of Mexico City, he became the military and civil secretary for Quitman. In December 1847, he returned to Alton and resumed his legal and journalistic career. Soon after his return, he resigned as editor of the Telegraph, citing his inability to support Zachary Taylor for the presidency in 1848. In 1850, Davis left Alton to become chief clerk in the military bureau of the General Land Office. In July 1850, he became chief clerk at the War Department. In November 1850, Susan Davis died after a short illness. Grief stricken, Davis resigned his post at the War Department and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he became the editor of the Louisville Courier. In 1852, he married Eunice P. Day, and the couple moved to New York City, where Davis left the legal profession for employment in the railroad supply and commission business. In 1860, Davis owned real estate valued at $20,000 and had a personal estate of $10,000.

Autobiography of the Late Col. Geo. T. M. Davis (New York: Jenkins and McCowan, 1891), 26-28, 31, 32, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45-46, 48, 49, 95-96, 216-19, 239, 297-305, 315, 316-18, 336-37, 341, 348; W. T. Norton, ed., Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and Its People 1812 to 1912 (Chicago: Lewis, 1912), 1:113, 471, 2:670-71; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 18, New York, New York County, NY, 4.