Personal Boom about Col. J.H. Davidson


And a Big Invention Combined

Submitted by: Shirley Reed

Ironton Register, August 2, 1888
        The following pleasant personal notice of an old Lawrence county boy, Col. J. H. Davidson, is taken from the St. Paul Herald:

Among the large number may be mentioned Col. James H. Davidson, who owns a large amount of real estate in this city, and who is one of the executors of the estate of the late and widely known Commodore William F. Davidson, and who recently negotiated the sale of about a half a million dollars worth of business property to Mr. William Endicott, Jr. of Boston, for the estate. He came here in 1866 without a dollar and hardly an acquaintance. He immediately entered a law office, studied hard, was admitted to the bar, but, receiving a flattering offer from the Press, he became city editor of that paper in 1867, and held the position till the spring of 1870, when he resigned to devote his whole time to the practice of law. For about 12 years he was busily engaged in the exacting duties of his profession, which had grown to be large and lucrative. He had become the general solicitor of the N. W. U. Pkt. Co., of the Keokuk Northern Pine Packet Co., and of several other large steamboat and financial corporations, developing such an aptitude for business that he was sought for as director and manager in a number of enterprises affording large opportunities for profitable investments. In 1872 he began to buy and sell real estate on his own account, and for friends, who preferred to trust their money to him for investments rather than to trust their own judgment. From that beginning his business and interests have grown to large proportions, and he is doing as much, perhaps, as any other single individual to build up the city and make St. Paul the prosperous metropolis of the Northwest. He holds a perpetual membership in the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and is one of its directors. He is also president of three large business corporations, and a heavy stockholder in each of them and several others. He is always conservative and careful, and, by his good judgment and sound financiering, has made profitable and large investments for a growing circle of clients scattered all over the country, including a large number in Boston and New England. His office building (__st side of Union block) he recently sold, with a view to building a much larger and finer building on 200 feet of frontage which he owns on Broadway, only one square north of the headquarters building of the Northern Pacific railroad. Mr. Davidson is president and one of the directors, and owns one-fourth of the entire capital stock of the Palmyra Manufacturing Company, which is developing the new system for steam invented and by Treat T. Prosser, whereby the exhaust steam is not escaped into the open air, and all noise, smoke and cinders are prevented. The company has built a steam motor for use on street car cable and elevated roads, and for which they claim it is noiseless and smokeless, and is very economical. I may in some future letter give you some further particulars concerning this remarkable improvement in steam machinery, as it is claimed it will work a revolution in all parts of the world where steam is used. The common council of this city has passed an ordinance allowing a thorough test of a street car motor on the tracks of the street car company, and, if the demonstration is satisfactory, it is very probable that motors built on this plan will be adopted for general use in the twin cities, as well as elsewhere.
An article in the Pioneer Press, of last Friday, further notices the invention, in the language below:
The application of the new process invented by Treat T. Prosser of Chicago, has been made a Palmyra, Wis. A small set of boilers and an engine constructed by the inventor was tested last January and immediately put at work, and they have been in continued use ever since in the factory at Palmyra. A locomotive has been built for use on street car lines. It has been running on the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad company at Palmyra, Wis. for over a month, and is pronounced a great success by experts and others who have examined it and ridden upon it. The evidence is so conclusive as to leave no doubt of its entire success. Col. James H. Davidson states that the stopping and starting of the motor is so free from any shock or jar that a glass filled to the brim with water is placed on the platform of the motor and it is started, stopped and reversed, without spilling a drop. Last Saturday, in showing it to some experts, an empty quart bottle was inverted and placed on its neck on the floor and repeated starts and stops were made without jostling it off its narrow base. It has wonderful traction power and recently handled two heavily loaded freight cars containing 120,000 pounds of lumber.
Really, it looks as if the Colonel was going to make a millionaire of himself before many months.