JOHN LLOYD DAVIDSON
From Charlestown, NY to Ann Arbor, MI
Contributed by Lisa Slaski
Transcribed by Elaine Scantlebury
JOHN LLOYD DAVIDSON, deceased, was a mason contractor, who aided in the
erection of some of the first buildings in Ann Arbor, becoming a pioneer
settler of this city in 1833. He was of Scotch descent and was a native
Charleston, Montgomery county, New York, born on the 11th of August, 1805.
His parents were John and Rhoda (Mudge) Davidson, both of whom resided at
Sacket Harbor, New York, in early life. Subsequently however, they removed
to Montreal, Canada, where they spent a few years, after which they returned
to the Empire state, locating at Charleston. The father was also a mason and
builder and worked at his trade at Charleston for several years. For a short
time he made his home in Syracuse, New York, and then removed to Grand
Rapids, Michigan. There he followed the same pursuit and assisted in the
erection of some of the fine buildings of that city, devoting his time and
energies to the masons trade at that point until his later years, when he
retired from active business life to enjoy in well earned rest the fruits of
his former toil. Both he and his wife spent their last years in Grand Rapids.
John Lloyd Davidson acquired his education in the public schools of
Charleston, New York, spending his youth in the Empire state. Having arrived
at years of maturity he was married in Syracuse, New York, to Miss Maria
Holcomb, a native of that city, whose parents also resided in the east and
spent their last years there. Mr. and Mrs. Davidson became the parents of
five children: Helen M., the eldest, is now the widow of W. James
Wainwright, of Troy, New York who was a well educated man and during the
latter part of his life was employed in a railroad office in St. Lewis,
Missouri, where he was taken ill. He died, however, in 1873, at the home of
his parents in Clinton, Michigan. Mary Davidson, the second member of the
family, has always resided in Ann Arbor, and now occupies her fathers old
home here. John, who was also a mason by trade, died in Grand Rapids,
October 11, 1902, at the age of sixty years. George Holcomb, who married
Jennie Doty, by whom he has three children, Florence H., Arthur J. and
Howard R., was also a builder by trade and carried on business for a number
of years, after which he removed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was
awarded the contracts for thee construction of some of the finest buildings
of that city, but he is now living retired, having accumulated a handsome
competence which provides him and his family with an excellent home and many
of the comforts of life. Martha Davidson became the wife of Henry L.
Holbrook, and both are now deceased.
In his younger years John Lloyd Davidson worked with his father until he had
mastered the builders trade, after which he went to Syracuse, New York,
where he followed the same pursuit. Subsequent to his marriage he continued
his connection with building operations there until 1833, when he come to
Ann Arbor, finding here but a small and unimproved town. However, he
believed in its future and began working at his trade. He built the first
county jail here, also assisted in the construction of the courthouse and
was employed on many of the other large public buildings. He built the
medical college of the State University, the laboratory and other fine
structures of the city and the importance of the contracts awarded him made
him one of the leading representatives of the builders art in Ann Arbor. He
continued in close connection with the trade until his death and his labors
brought him a gratifying measure of success. At one time he was also engaged
in mercantile pursuits with Hiram Becker, but finding it was taking too much
time from his other business he sold out.
He passed away August 6, 1881, respected and honored by all who knew him. He
had long survived his wife, who died August 31, 1860. In his early days he
was a Whig and cast his first vote in 1827. Upon the dissolution of that
party, however, he joined the ranks of the republican party and continued as
one of its supporters until his demise. He was a member in good standing in
the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Ann Arbor lodge, No. 15, F.A. & A.M.
He was quiet and unostentatious in manner but possessed the individual worth
that brings recognition in unqualified respect. He was well known, being a
pioneer settler of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county, and all who knew him
respected him for his fidelity of principle. His business interests grew in
volume and importance as the years went by and he also advanced in public
regard as his acquaintance widened. His son George H. is likewise well known
in Washtenaw county and is a graduate of the high school here. The family
is now represented in this county by two daughters, Mrs. Wainwright and Miss
Mary Davidson. After the death of her husband the former returned to Ann
Arbor and she and her sister, Miss Davidson, reside at the old family home,
at No. 338 East Kingsley street, where they own a nice residence. They also
have a number of valuable building lots near by, for at one time Mr.
Davidson was the owner of the entire block where the old homestead now stands.
Source: Past and Present of Washtenaw County, Michigan, by Samuel W. Beake. Chicago:The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1906. Pages 84 and 87.
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