Biography of Robert Davidson
Jefferson County, IA Biographies





Robert Davidson is one of those men whose ambition and inherent ability enabled him to rise above his environment, and despite the lack of those advantages usually deemed essential to success in any vocation in life, rose above and dominated conditions as he found them, creating for himself a position that has won the respect of the entire community of which he has been a member for over forty years.

Yorkshire, England, was the scene of his birth, which occurred on the 9th of March, 1840. There his parents, John and Hannah (Lee) Davidson, spent their entire lives the father having been a day laborer. Their family numbered eleven, of whom our subject is the only son now living and the only member of the family to have become an American citizen. A small income that had to supply the wants of a large household precluded the possibility of Robert Davidson acquiring an education. His wage earning career began when he was little more than a child and as a lad he worked for seven years in a brick and tile yard in Yorkshire. He was not of the type to calmly accept conditions as he found them, but constantly chafed at the limitations of his opportunities, feeling convinced that he possessed the qualities to lift himself into a better position under more favorable circumstances than that in which he was born. America seemed to hold forth such opportunities and having acquired the necessary passage money, at the age of nineteen years he sailed from Liverpool for New York city, coming from there directly to Jacksonville, Illinois. He obtained work as a farm hand, continued as such until the summer of 1861, when he offered his services to the nation. On the 2d of September, 1861, he enlisted at Jacksonville as a private in Company K, Twenty Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, joining his regiment at Cairo, Illinois. During the three years he spent at the front he took part in the following engagements: Belmont. Union City, Lavergne, Stone River, Chickamauga, Rocky Face, Resaca, Mud Creek, Kenesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, and the sieges of Island Number Ten, Corinth, Nashville, Atlanta and many minor encounters. During the Battle of Chickamauga under General Pope, Mr. Davidson was severely wounded in the right thigh and left on the field. For six months thereafter he was unable to leave the hospital, but upon his recovery rejoined his regiment on the march from Chattanooga to Atlanta. The tenacity of purpose and determination that distinguished him as a soldier has characterized his entire life. Upon receiving his discharge he returned to Jacksonville, resuming the duties of civil life as a farm hand. His industry and thrift ultimately enabled him to begin an independent career, and for five years he farmed as a renter in Illinois, whence he came to Iowa. He located in Wanello county, buying a farm that he operated for thirty five years, acquiring during that period a competency. on which to retire. In 1905 he sold his farm and removed to Batavia, where he and his wife are now residing. He has withdrawn from all active work, save that now and then he assists his son Marion in the store, and is enjoying the ease and comfort so justly earned by his long years of toil.

Mr. Davidson celebrated Christmas, 1865, by his marriage to Miss Mary Louisa DeSollar, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. W. H. Jordan in the vicinity of Jacksonville, Illinois. Mrs. Davidson, who was born in Akron, Ohio, is the eldest of nine children born to Henry Brown and Christiana (Clemmons) DeSollar. The father was born in London, England, whence he emigrated as a lad of ten years to Bethel, Illinois, where he learned the wagon maker's trade. The mother was a native of Canada but in her early youth she removed to Ohio and there she met and was subsequently married to Mr. DeSollar. She passed away at Bethel sixty four years ago, and he subsequently located at Beardstown, Illinois. where he followed his trade until his death in 1891. Nine children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Davidson: Frank, who is an architect in Chicago. married Mrs. Emily Hardy. Charles, a stenographer in the government service in Colorado, married Miss Emma May Sears of Nebraska, and they have one child, Edith Alberta. John is living in New York city, where he is employed by a large publishing house. George, a manufacturer of the acetylene light plants of Ottumwa, Iowa, married Jennie Kraemer of Locust Grove township, Jefferson county, and they have four children: Verna Maxwell; Letha Mildred, Edith Eleanor and Donavan Dail. Arthur, who is a bookkeeper in Chicago, married Fern Murray, of Oxford, Ohio, and has one son, Murray. Henry Edwin, a farmer of southern Missouri, married Estelle Milligan of Des Moines, Iowa, and had four children: Edna May ; Gerald Edwin; and Robert Willard and Raymond William, twins. The last three are deceased. Thomas William, a photographer of Chicago, married Mabel Almeda Mussenden, of that city. Leroy, the manager of the United States Express Company at Freeport, Illinois, married Mabel Marie Holmes of that city and has one child, Gordon Leroy, Marion Albert, a furniture dealer and undertaker of Batavia, married Nellie Ray Shaw of Ottumwa and has one daughter, Mary Marguerite.

The family always attended the services of the Methodist Episcopal church of which Mr. and Mrs. Davidson are devoted members. He is a republican in his political views and while a resident of Wapello county served for many years as a member of the district school board. Despite his lack of educational advantages, Mr. Davidson has always been a close observer and thinker, his undertakings ever having been distinguished by intelligent judgment and practical ideas.

From:
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement Vol II
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1914


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