The Afro Texan Press 

The Early Years



William Leonard Davis

William Leonard Davis

RACE advances only as far as its individuals. The colored people have been held down by the masses, because of their ignorance and their indifference to all the detail that make for a higher civilization. Very rapidly now this condition of affairs is being changed. This is being done through the schools, the churches and the fraternal organizations as well as through the influence of the better homes. One man who has done his share of this work in all of these lines is William Leonard Davis, of Houston, Texas.

William L. Davis, prominent in Texas as an educator and as a leader in secret orders, conspicuous in a state of conspicuous leaders, was born in Lavaca County, Texas, January 6th., 1873. Receiving his early education in the public schools of LaGrange, Texas, he entered Paul Quinn College, at Waco, Texas. To finish his training for the profession of school teaching, he enrolled in the Prairie View Normal and Industrial Institute, at Prairie View, Texas.

Completing his studies while still young, Mr. Davis went out as a teacher in the rural schools. Rural school teaching in Texas in those days yield ed very good salaries, better by far than are paid today for the same work in other states. Out there among the country folk Mr. Davis soon became interested and active in the business undertakings of farmers and of all people who were working to invest in land. Soon he was promoted from teacher of rural schools to principal of the Hempstead City School. It was then he became Grand Secretary of the Farmers Improvement Society of Texas. This post he held for twelve years. This post, like the teaching in rural schools, served to place him in more important places. Resigning his position in the Hempstead City School and the Secretaryship of the Farmers Improvement Society, he became Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of the United Brothers of Friendship of Texas, and Assistant Principal of the Emancipation School at Houston.

School work now appears to give way to the thing the man seemed born to; namely .the job of Secretary. For twelve years he served as Secretary of the F. I. S., at Waco. Then in 1915. he left Waco, and became Secretary of the State Grand Lodge United Brothers of Friendship, at Houston, a post which means the keeping track of ten thousand state members. He also accepted the portfolio as secretary of the Baptist Sunday School State Convention

In order to be given the post of Secretary of the State Baptist Sunday School Convention, Mr. Davis had to be a very active member of the church. This he is beyond doubt. He is a member of the Baptist Church and an active member of the local Sunday School. Here he takes a great interest in the religious development of the younger generation, and all the young people love and respect him. To him they go with their questions and doubts and Mr. Davis never fails to give them the aid they seek.

His is a labor for humanity, a labor for the betterment of all his people. As secretary of the United Brothers of Friendship he has many an opportunity to lend aid to the bereaved and to give sympathy and good cheer to the sick. In fact all the activities of Mr. Davis have been of a nature to endear him to people ; for years in the school room, in the lodges and in the Sunday School work.

In changing from place to place, Secretary Davis accumulated some valuable holdings in both towns and country. He owns his residence in Houston, one of the best colored homes in the city. Back in Hempstead, the scene of his earlier activities, he owns city property and a farm, consisting of seventy-five acres of land. He is also a stock holder in an overall factory in Waco, Texas.

In addition to his membership in the F. I. S., and U. B. F., Mr. Davis is a Mason, Odd Fellow and a Knight of Pythias.

Secretary Davis was married to Miss Emma R Sampson, of Carmine, Texas, in 1906. Mr. and Mrs. Davis live in their own home in the city of Houston. Here they help make life pleasant for their many friends. Although there are no children in the Davis family, they take great interest in other people's children and have the pleasure of seeing their young friends in large numbers at least on Sunday.

Sketch from The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race
Published by: National Publishing Company, Inc. (1919)