William T. Davis


William T. Davis

William Thompson Davis (1862 – 1945) was an American naturalist, entomologist, and historian especially associated with Staten Island in New York City. He was prominent in the borough's affairs throughout his life.

Davis was born in New Brighton. His family history on Staten Island dates back to the 17th century. He was largely self-taught, but nonetheless made huge contributions to the study of Staten Island’s community and natural history. Davis wrote a number of books about the history and natural geography of Staten Island. His 1892 memoir "Days Afield on Staten Island" catalogues the island’s plants and animals, while "Staten Island and Its People", which he coauthored with Charles W. Leng (1859-1941) in 1930, is one of the greatest accounts of Staten Island history. He was also an entomologist enjoying an international reputation as an expert on cicadas. [cite book|last=Lundrigan|first=Margaret|title=Staten Island: Isle of the Bay|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|location=|year=2004|isbn=0-7385-2443-3|pages=p.108]

Civic affairs

In 1881, Davis – along with Nathaniel Britton, Arthur Hollick, Edward Delevan, and Charles W. Leng – founded the Natural Science Association of Staten Island. That organization would later become the still extant Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences. [cite book|last=Lundrigan|first=Margaret|title=Staten Island: Isle of the Bay|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|location=|year=2004|isbn=0-7385-2443-3|pages=p.107]

In the 1930s, Davis and Loring McMillen led volunteer preservationists from the Staten Island Historical Society in transforming the former County Clerk's Office and Surrogate's Office at the former county seat of Richmondtown into a museum. That was the beginning of Historic Richmond Town. [ [http://www.historicrichmondtown.org/about.html The History of Richmond Town, Staten Island, and Development of the Museum] , accessed September 15, 2008]

Wildlife refuge

A bird sanctuary was created in a marshy area of New Springville, Staten Island, in 1933 at the urging of Davis. It was maintained by the National Audubon Society and the New York City Parks Department. Enlarged to 260 acres in 1956, it was renamed the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge in his honor. [cite book|last=Lundrigan|first=Margaret|title=Staten Island: Isle of the Bay|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|location=|year=2004|isbn=0-7385-2443-3|pages=p.120]

Bibliography

*"Days Afield on Staten Island", 1892
*"The Conference or Billopp House", 1927, Staten Island Historical Societycite book|last=Lundrigan|first=Margaret|title=Staten Island: Isle of the Bay|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|location=|year=2004|isbn=0-7385-2443-3|pages=p.155]
*"Staten Island and Its People: A History 1609 – 1929", with Charles W. Leng, five volumes, 1930, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company

"This bibliography is incomplete."

References


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