J. Steward Davis
MSA SC 3520-14469
African American Attorney
Born James Steward Davis in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on October 11, 1890. Attended local public schools, and graduated from Dickinson College with a law degree. Admitted to the bar of Baltimore City, December 22, 1915; Court of Appeals, June 19, 1915. Married Blanche Moore, 1920. Two children: Susanne Davis (b. 1921) and Blanche Davis, Jr (b. 1926). Disappeared, April 15, 1929.
Served in U.S. Army during World War I, stationed in Des Moines, Iowa,
and France, 1917-1919; attained rank of lieutenant. During career as lawyer,
practiced in partnership with Norman Bishop, later with George Evans. After
military service, set up practice as prominent and successful African American
lawyer in Baltimore, handling many divorce and criminal defense cases, including
several high-profile cases. Active in politics, coordinated the African
American components of several major campaigns, including Al Smith's 1928
presidential campaign against Herbert Hoover.
Disappeared on morning of April 15, 1929, after leaving for his office. Later found to have stayed at 135th Street Y.M.C.A. in New York City that night. No further information of his whereabouts. Many rumors regarding his abrupt disappearance. Reportedly he left Baltimore in order to avoid penalties after misappropriation of funds relating to a case he was handling. The Monumental Bar Association of Baltimore City said to have settled the matter and swore all involved to secrecy.
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