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David William Davis

Gov. David William Davis

  • January 6, 1919 - January 1, 1923
  • Republican
  • April 23, 1873
  • August 5, 1959
  • Other
  • Married twice--Florence Gilliland, Nellie Johnson; three children


DAVID WILLIAM DAVIS was born in Cardiff, Wales, on April 23, 1873. His family immigrated to America in 1875, and settled in Rippey, Iowa. At the age of twelve, Davis went to work in the coal mines to support his widowed mother. He eventually left the mines, finding work as a manager of the Farmer’s Cooperative Association and as a bank cashier. After moving to American Falls, Idaho, Davis founded the First National Bank of American Falls. He entered politics in 1912, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He also served as a member of the Idaho State Senate from 1913 to 1915. Davis ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1916; however, two years later he was victorious, and became Idaho’s twelfth governor. He was reelected to a second term in 1920. During his tenure, funding was sanctioned for the establishment of the bureau of budget and taxation as well as a veterans’ welfare program and a teachers’ pension system. A road building program was initiated, the state’s statutes were reorganized, the state’s administrative agencies were unified, and three constitutional amendments were sanctioned. Davis left office on January 1, 1923. Two months later, he secured an appointment as a special assistant to the secretary of the interior, serving until 1924. He also served as commissioner of reclamation and director of finance for the interior department, and for a short time in 1931 served as a special advisor to former President Hoover. Governor David W. Davis died on August 5, 1959, and was buried at the Cloverdale Cemetery in Boise, Idaho.


Idaho State Historical Society Gubernatorial Manuscript and Archive Collections:

  • Archive Collection of Governor Moses Alexander, AR0002.0011.
  • David William Davis papers, 1919-1923. Manuscript Collection. MS0116.

The Political Graveyard

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Recent Idaho Governors