The subject of this sketch was born at Sanquhar, Dunfriesshire, Scotland, February 14, 1850, and was the eldest in a family of eight children - three sons and five daughters. He was educated in the mother country, and for a short time after leaving school operated a stationary engine in a brewery in Scotland. He then went to sea, being employed as oiler for about four years. In 1872 Mr. Davidson came to America, landing at Montreal, and his first employment here was a fireman on the old Dominion. After about three weeks in this employ he had the misfortune to injure one of his feet to such an extent that he was laid up in a hospital about eleven weeks. Upon his recovery he went to St. Catharines, Ontario, and shipped as second engineer on the steamer Enterprise for the season of 1873. For the seasons following up to and including the year 1876 he was second engineer respectively of the steamers Monroe, Enterprise and Clinton. In 1877 he was at Quebec as chief engineer of the tug Admiral D. Porter, and in 1878-79 was second on the Celtic. In 1880 Mr. Davidson became chief engineer of the City of St. Catharines, remaining on her until she became a total loss in consequence of a collision with the Marsh, off Sand Beach, Lake Huron. She was loaded with merchandise, bound for Chicago. No lives were lost. He was chief engineer of the California a couple of seasons and of the Prussia for one season, and in 1884 was engineer of the Leavenworth Grape Sugar Works, in Kansas. In 1885 he entered the employ of the Beatty line from Saranac to Duluth, acting two seasons as chief of the Sovereign, and three seasons as chief of the Ontario. In 1890 Mr. Davidson removed to Buffalo, where he obtained the position of second engineer of the Winslow, of the Anchor line, remaining on her for one season, and was chief of the Monteagle for that of 1891. In 1892 he became chief engineer of the whaleback Pillsbury, in which position he remained four seasons, and for the season of 1896 he was chief engineer of the Henry Cort, of the Bessemer Steamship Company.
In 1875 Mr. Davidson was married at St. Catharines, Ont., to Miss Elizabeth E. Kelley, and they have five children, namely: William (oiler of the steamer J. B. Nelson for the season of 1896), Edith M., Robert J., Archibald W. and Norman C. The family residence is at No. 221 Gorton street. Mr. Davidson has been a member of the Marine Engineers Association for about two years, and is quite active in other fraternal orders, having been a Mason twenty-one years, a member of the A. O. U. W. twelve years, of the Sons of Scotland five years, and of the Select Knights thirteen years.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.