Biography of William Thomas Davidson

William Thomas Davidson, an old soldier, a pioneer in Western Kansas, and an expert abstractor at Abilene, was born in a log house on a farm in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, July 26, 1842.

Several years ago he celebrated the birthday which made him three score and ten years of age. His had been a long and active lifetime, and his experiences for more than forty-six years identify him with Abilene.

On January 1, 1860, Mr. Davidson started to keep a diary, and it illustrates the persistence of his character that he had never missed a day in itemizing some fact connected with his individual history or otherwise, and the record now covers a period of fifty-seven years.

Mr. Davidson is a son of Major John and Mary (Beatty) Davidson. His parents were also natives of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Up to the age of twenty-eight Mr. Davidson spent most of his time on the home farm with his parents, and gained an education both in public and private schools. He also had a commercial course at Pittsburg. He was twenty-two when in August, 1864, he volunteered his services to the Union, enlisting as a private in Company B of the Fifth Pennsylvania Artillery. This regiment was largely engaged in the campaigning and in the defenses around the City of Washington. He saw one year of active service.

In 1870 Mr. Davidson bought a farm in Warren County, Tennessee, and spent one year cultivating his land and also conducted a wood yard.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1871 he arrived in Kansas. From the first he had been identified with the City of Abilene. He knows what Abilene was in its earlier history, when it was the chief shipping point for the cattle brought up over the trails from Texas. He spent one year in the stockyards, helping load Texas cattle, being paid $60 a month and board. Then for several years he was clerk in a general store at Abilene, and in 1876 he opened the second set of abstract books in Dickinson County. He sold these books in 1881, but soon afterward opened a new set and he still owned them and undoubtedly is the best authority on land titles in the county. Mr. Davidson is not only an expert in the general technique of abstracting, but had almost perfect penmanship, acquired by long practice, and every paper that comes from his office bears the stamp of authority and of neatness and accuracy.

He had always been an active republican, served fifteen years as justice of the peace, forty years as a notary public, and thirty years as pension agent. He is a past commander of Abilene Post No. 63, Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Kansas, and is a Knights Templar Mason.

On December 27, 1882, at Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Davidson married Miss May Davidson. Though of the same name they are not related except by marriage. Mrs. Davidson is a daughter of Alexander and Jane (Bates) Davidson, both of whom were natives of Washington County, Pennsylvania, where Mrs. Davidson was born on September 15, 1852. They are the parents of two children: Ralph C., of Abilene, who was born November 1, 1887, at Abilene; and Frank B., of Kansas City, Missouri, was born May 11, 1890, at Abilene.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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