Captain Charles Davis biography

CAPTAIN CHARLES DAVIS, mayor of El Paso, is fortunate in that he has back of him an ancestry honorable and distinguished and that his lines of life are cast in harmony therewith. A native of Arkansas, he was born in Eldorado, Union county, in 1847, his parents being Judge William and Malvina (Henderson) Davis. In the paternal line he comes of the same ancestry as Jefferson Davis. This branch of the Davis family is an historic one. His uncle, General Reuben Davis, of Aberdeen, Mississippi, was a member of the United States senate, while another uncle, General James Davis, succeeded General Samuel Houston as commander of the Army of Texas.

Judge William Davis, father of Captain Davis, was a native of Georgia and for many years was a very prominent lawyer in his home town, Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he was a partner of Roger Barton, distinguished as one of the greatest criminal lawyers of Mississippi. In 1846 Judge Davis removed to Eldorado, Union county, Arkansas, where he lived for some time, but later he gave up law practice and in 1852 took up his abode near Bryan, in Brazos county, Texas, where he became an extensive planter and successful business man. In fact his plantation was one of the largest in southern Texas. A great deal of his estate is still in possession of the family, and Captain Davis of this review owns several of the old Davis cotton farms in Brazos county. Judge Davis was also one of the promoters of the Houston & Texas Central Railway and other enterprises of great importance to the state as well as to the individual. In 1881 he came with his son Charles to El Paso, where he died at the age of seventy-nine years. Captain Davis speaks of him as the greatest man he ever knew because of his splendid business qualities and his high character and superior attainments. His wife was born in Somerville, Tennessee, a daughter of Colonel Henderson, who represented his district in congress in 1852. In her home city she remained until she gave her hand in marriage to Judge Davis. Their son, the late Judge Bennett H. Davis, who died in El Paso in 1897, was one of the notable members of the Texas bar and is referred to by all as a gentleman of exceptional character and ability, greatly beloved throughout the entire community and held in particularly high esteem by the representatives of the legal profession. He was born and reared at Holly Springs, Mississippi, studied law at Hanover College and came to El Paso in 1881, splendidly equipped for the profession which he made his life work and in which he continued actively until his demise.

Captain Davis of this review was reared at and near Bryan, Texas, where he attended school. He likewise spent some time as a student in Waco, and following the close of the war he spent three years in Washington and Lee University, Virginia, which was then under the presidency of Robert E. Lee. On the expiration of that period he returned to Bryan and spent his life there in active business until 1881, when he came to El Paso, the year in which the city had secured its first railroad and the year which marked the beginning of its rapid and substantial growth. His labors in El Paso have made him prominent and have also made him a capitalist of success and wealth. Moreover he is public spirited and has done much to promote the growth of the city and the surrounding country.

Captain Davis was married to Miss Alice Wilson, a daughter of Colonel T. D. Wilson of this state, but her death occurred in El Paso county early in 1882. There were three children of that marriage: Charles Davis, Jr., James Lamar Davis and Miss Alice Davis. Although prominent in Democratic circles and frequently importuned by his friends to become a candidate for office, he never held an elective position until April, 1905, when he was chosen for the mayoralty of El Paso. He is giving to the city a thoroughly business-like administration, has surrounded himself by competent heads in every department of the city service, and his labors have been most effective in promoting the substantial welfare and improvement here. Previous to this time, during President Cleveland’s administration, Captain Davis was appointed and held the office of collector of customs for the El Paso district. He served as a captain in the Texas state militia on Governor Ross’ staff and was afterward colonel of militia. He is a prominent Mason, being a past grand commander of the Knights Templar for the state of Texas, the highest office in Masonry in the state. He has a wide and important acquaintance among the representative men of Texas in various walks of life and he is today one of the most distinguished residents of El Paso with important business, fraternal and political connections.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 377-378.