STREET SMARTS

Street smarts: School, nearby lane named for early school board member

2013-01-15T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T15:35:42Z Street smarts: School, nearby lane named for early school board memberDavid Leighton Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

William Cross Davis was born in Clintonville, Pa., in 1842 and arrived in Tucson by mule team in 1869.

The year he arrived, he founded a hardware and stove store downtown, on the southwest corner of Main and Congress streets. He later became vice president of the Consolidated Bank of Tucson, serving in this role until his death.

Like many pioneers of his day, Davis was heavily invested in mining, including the Vulture Mine near Wickenburg. He also ranched cattle and sheep.

Davis was chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors and served in the Arizona Territorial Legislature. He was a member of the Tucson school board in 1901 and as a result, Davis Bilingual Elementary School, 500 W. St. Mary's Road, is named in his honor. Davis Street runs near the school.

In 1879, Davis wed M.E. Tenney, a native of Wisconsin. She was involved in the creation of a small public library, believed to be the first in Tucson, in the 1880s. This library was on the second floor of City Hall, which was where the Pima County Courthouse now sits; the east-west walkway through the middle of the building was at one point a street called Library Street.

The Davises had no children together, but Tenney had two children by her first marriage: Herbert B. Tenney, born in 1858, and Mary L. Tenney, born in 1862. Herbert would move to Tucson in 1880.

Also in 1880, a year after their marriage, the Davises moved into Tucson's first two-story brick house, on the southwest corner of Congress Street and Church Avenue, just north of the Pancho Villa statue. The front yard would later be the home of the Legal Tender Saloon. In 1900, they moved to their new house at 215 N. Stone Ave.

Davis died while visiting his stepdaughter in San Jose, Calif., in 1902.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com

Sources: Special thanks to Charlene Bustamante Moyer, of Thomas Reprographics Regina Kelly, "Visions of Barrio Anita," Tucson Pima Arts Council, 1998 James H. McClintock, "Arizona Prehistoric - Aboriginal Pioneer Modern. The Nation's Youngest Commonwealth," SJ Clarke Publishing, 1916. Ida M. Duffy, Pioneer Characters for Whom Some Tucson Public Schools Have Been Named (Arizona Historical Society file) G.W. Barter, "Directory of the City of Tucson for the year 1881," H.S. Crocker & Co., 1881 Jay J. Wagoner, "Arizona Territory, 1863-1912: A Political History," University of Arizona Press, 1970 Albert Buehman, "Arizona Album," Tucson Citizen, July 12, 1954 "The Davis House, Tucson, Arizona 1900-1960." Published by First National Bank of Arizona, October 1973 George Hand Map 1870-1880 Martha J. Tenney, "The Tenney Family: Or, the Descendants of Thomas Tenney of Rowley, Massachusetts, 1638-1904," Nabu Press, 2010 J. George Hilzinger, "Treasure Land 1897: A Handbook to Tucson and Southern Arizona," The Rio Grande Press, 1969 (reprint) Unknown Author, "Death of Wm. C. Davis, Pioneer of Arizona," Tucson Citizen, Aug. 12, 1902

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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