By the time James Wood Davidson arrived to settle on the shores of Lake Worth, he was a recognized author, journalist, Civil War veteran and college professor, and he was to become a Florida state legislator.
Born 9 March 1829 in Newberry County, South Carolina, the son of native Carolinians Alexander and Sarah Davidson, he worked his way through South Carolina College and graduated in 1852. He was a teacher for the next fifteen years or so, except during the Civil War when he served as adjutant of the Thirteenth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. About 1868, he started writing for newspapers, first in Washington, then in New York City.
In 1884, Davidson married Josephine Allen, a widow from England, and they traveled to South Florida, apparently for their honeymoon. Years later, Josephine wrote:
“We left New York City for Florida on 11 April 1884. We reached Jupiter by the usual travel route of that day, thence went by boat and a five mile walk to Lake Worth, and thence by sailboat to the Cocoanut Grove Hotel, where we arrived on Saturday, the 26th of April and were received with cordial hospitality. After Sunday’s rest, I was initiated into the mysteries of washing and cooking, for there were no servants, a state of affairs for which I was wholly unprepared. After three weeks. . . the hotel closed for the summer and with many misgivings we set up... a tent, pending the building of our house. . . The nearest neighbor we had was Mr. I. Henry, who lived on his homestead where West Palm Beach now is. On the other side the Potter brothers kept bachelors’ hall. It was well for us that we had such good neighbors, for during this time they supplied us literally with loaves and fishes, and were most kind and helpful to us in many other ways... In 1885, Mr. Davidson represented the county in the Florida constitutional convention and, two years later, in the Legislature. Since then we have resided in Washington, for literary advantages. Still, we feel that our home is on Lake Worth, and look forward to the day when we shall return to establish ourselves permanently at our place,’Osera’ and we hope to renew the friendship of those brave women who came to Lake Worth filled with a noble ambition and dauntless energy, doing whatsoever their hands found to do and they found much, losing none of their womanliness and charms, yet bearing their full share of the burdens of the day, and causing the wilderness literally to ‘blossom as the rose.”
James Wood Davidson’s books included A School History of South Carolina, Living Writers of the South, The Correspondent, The Poetry of the Future, and Florida of Today. Davidson died in June of 1905.