Source: Crawfordsville Daily Journal Thursday, 19 May 1892
Judge Thomas F. Davidson died this morning at a quarter before nine o’clock after an illness of over a year. His illness which began with the grip, had been manifested in several complaints, the last of which was erysipelas which attacked him last Sunday. He gradually became worse until this morning when about daylight he became unconscious and sank rapidly until death closed the scene.
The funeral will be held Saturday morning at 10 o’clock, and will be conducted by Dr. R. J. Cunningham. Interment at Oak Hill.
Thomas F. Davidson was born in Covington, February 17, 1939. He was the son of Samuel H. Davidson, an eminent citizen of Fountain County. In his early youth he learned the miller’s trade and worked upon his father’s farm attending school in the winter, and continued to work and study until 1859. He then resolved to become a lawyer, and with this end in view, he borrowed books from Col. S. C. Willson and Gen. Wallace of this city. He studied at night and when he had mastered a book he came to Crawfordsville and would recite its contents to Gen. Wallace and take back to his home another volume. In the winter of 1860-61, he taught school, still continuing the study of law. In the spring of 1861 he settled in Covington and in the office of Recorder Miller he began the study of law. His experience was that of other young lawyers and it took dauntless courage, perseverance, integrity and intellect to win, but finally the practice began to come.
On May 31, 1865 he was married to Miss Eliza E. Tice, who with one daughter, Miss Anna, survives him.
His popularity and practice at the bar continued to grow constantly and in 1870, when only 31 years old, he was nominated by the Democratic Party for the position of judge of the circuit including the counties of Warren, Fountain, Montgomery, Boone and Clinton. He was elected by 400 majorities, overcoming a large Republican majority of 1,000. In 1871 he was called to Boone County to try the famous case of Mrs. Nancy Clem for the murder of Nancy Young, near Indianapolis, and he presided at both trials of Mrs. Clem, his decisions on many of the intricate questions arising causing widespread comment for their clear and forcible nature. His decisions have been quoted in all the leading law journals of the country and he was frequently a contributor to them, especially to the “American Law Register.” He is the author of several and admirable law test books which have proved of great service to the Indiana Bar. “Davidson’s Overruled Cases” being one of the finest works of the kind ever published. In 1882 Judge Davidson was defeated by barely 12 votes in an overwhelmingly Republican circuit. He then resumed the practice of law and in 1886 removed to Crawfordsville with Hon. F. M. Dice and the two entered into a partnership for the practice of law. Later this was dissolved and Judge Davidson formed a partnership with Jere West which he continued until his death.
In 1888 the Democracy of the 8th district wanted Judge Davidson to become a candidate for Congress, but as he had promised Mr. Brookshire to support him, he refused. One the day of the Congressional Convention the delegates swarmed to him and besought him to accept the nomination swearing that he was the only man from Montgomery County that they would tolerate. Judge Davidson flatly refused stating that he was there to support Mr. Brookshire. He learned that he was to be nominated over his protests and going to the leaders he declared that in that event he would promptly decline. Then at last he was listened to and on his recommendation, he was not made a candidate. It was Judge Davidson’s desire to be elected to the Supreme Court of the State but failing health forced him to withdraw his name shortly before the Democratic State convention when the whole district was virtually pledged to his support insuring him the nomination by a large majority.
Judge Davidson’s life was an exceedingly active one, and his reputation as an able jurist was not confined to his own district or State. Exact in all things and scrupulous in his construction of the law, he was, nevertheless one of the most popular judges who ever sat on the bench in Indiana.
The attorneys and the people alike loved him for his justice, his fearlessness and his impartiality at all times and in all things. A successful lawyer and a just judge, he was more—he was a gentleman, in the fullest and happiest sense of the word. Modest and unassuming he had ever a kind word for all and his genial temper and his consideration for others, although it frequently lost him money, nevertheless, won for him the golden opinions of all men. He was a Democrat, but he was not a partisan, and through his useful public life he never did a mean or a partisan act, but considered the claims of all men for what they really were. He left it to others to bespeak his virtues and never urged a claim of his own. He was more than a gentleman; however, he was a Christian, being a consistent member of the Center Presbyterian Church. In his death the community loses not only one of its most distinguished men, but one whose character stands as an example for other men to pattern.
Source: Indianapolis Journal Fri 20 May 1892 p 3
Crawfordsville, Ind May 19 – Judge Thomas F. Davidson died at his home in Crawfordsville yesterday after an illness of almost a year from grip and other causes. Erysipelas set in last Sunday on his face and hope for his recovery was soon abandoned. The funeral will be held Saturday. Judge Davidson was born in Covington, this state, Feb 17, 1839 and was a son of Samuel H. Davidson. He learned the trade of a miller and worked on the farm, attending school in the winter until 1859 when he determined to fit himself for the law. He came to this city and borrowed law books from Gen. Lew Wallace and Col. SC Willson. When he mastered what he had taken away he would return them, pass an informal examination under General Wallace and take away another batch. In 1861 he entered the office of Recorder Miller in Covington to study. May 31, 1865 he married Miss Eliza E. Tice who survives him, with a daughter, Miss Anna. In 1870 he was elected judge of the circuit composed of the counties of Warren, Fountain, Montgomery Boone and Clinton and in 1876 received a majority of 500 for judge of the new circuit of the counties of Warren, Fountain and Vermillion. In 1871 he presided in the famous murder case of Mrs. Nancy Clem for a crime committed at Cold Springs northwest of Indianapolis. He presided during the second trail of Mrs. Clem. He was a regular contributor to the American Law Register and is the author of many law text-books, among these being Davidson’s Overruled Cases. He was defeated for reelection in 1882 and resumed the practice of law. In 1886 he removed to this city and formed a law partnership with Hon. FM Dice. Later he entered the present law firm of Davidson & West and this firm was one among the others to defend W. Fred Pettit, the convicted wife-poisoner. Two of the five attorneys who defended Pettit are now dead. He was related by marriage to US Treasurer Nebeker.
Source: Crawfordsville Star May 27, 1892 p 4
The funeral of Thos. F. Davidson was conducted at the old home on Franklin Street at 10 a.m. Saturday. Judge Harney and the full bar marched up in a body to the residence.
Rev. Dr. RJ Cunningham, pastor of Center Presbyterian Church, conducted the services and read a beutiful tribute to the memory of the dead citizen-jurist. Arthur McCain sang "Just as I am," and after prayer the corege moved its way to Oak Hill. The floral offerings were sweet and yet simple. There was no attempt at display over the jurist such things being distasteful to him.
Among the strangers from Covington were: Col. James L. Allen; John Spence editor of the Friend, T.R. Rinn and wife, HM Clark and wife, Mrs. WC Sewell, Miss Louise McLaughlin, Michael Myer and Hannibal Yount, former law partner of Judge Davidson.
The pall bearers were: TR Rinn; James L.A llen and Hannibal Young, Covington and FM Dice; DC Smith and Jere West of Crawfordsville - typed by kbz