Davidson, James W.

Born: 1813-09-16 Barren County, Kentucky

Died: 1889-05-27 Monmouth, Illinois

Flourished: Monmouth, Illinois

James W. Davidson was a teacher, attorney, and Democrat. After working on the family farm and learning his father's trade of mechanics and manufacturing, Davidson attended school. He lived in Mississippi roughly a year, then returned to Kentucky briefly before traveling to Monmouth, Illinois in search of family who had migrated West. Soon after, he relocated to Bowling Green, Kentucky and began studying law. While preparing for the bar exam, he taught school—first in Logan County, Kentucky, then in Simpson County, Kentucky. He completed his law studies in Russellville, Kentucky, and gained admittance to the bar. While living in Kentucky, he married Mary E. Wickware, with whom he had one son before she died in August 1838. In May 1839, he moved to Monmouth and began practicing law. In April 1843, he married Mary E. Coleman. The couple eventually had at least nine children together, although several died in infancy. Davidson was an active member of the Democratic Party. He lost an election for the Illinois House of Representatives in August 1846, and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1856 and 1858. In 1850, Davidson owned $3,000 in real estate. In June 1857, President James Buchanan appointed him U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Illinois. He was removed from this position less than a year later for political reasons. By 1860, Davidson owned $10,000 in real estate and another $1,000 in personal property.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Warren County, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1886), 664-65; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 418; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Warren County, IL, 86; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10-11; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Monmouth, Warren County, IL, 171; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 1 March 1858, 2:1; Gravestone, Monmouth Cemetery, Monmouth, IL.