Henry L. Davis is one of the oldest business men of San Francisco, and is still prominent as the president of the California Optical Company and the California Title Insurance and Trust Company. he has been identified with the varied interests of the Golden state for a period of over half a century, mining having been the lodestone which attracted him out to the coast and the occupation in which he engaged for the first few years, but most of his subsequent career has been occupied in the conduct of large and important commercial and financial enterprises. He has also performed a worthy part in the public life of the state and city, and from every standpoint he has good reason to be well satisfied with the results of his long life of over seventy-five years.

Mr. Davis was born in Rhode Island, in 1827, a descendant of Welsh ancestors who came to America many generations ago. His father, John W. Davis, was a merchant, and his mother belonged to the Coddington family, people well known in Rhode Island and one of whom was a governor of the state.

Mr. Davis was reared and lived in the east until 1851, in which year he arrived in California. He followed mining pursuits for a time, and then embarked in the mercantile business in San Francisco, where he has been connected with commercial affairs ever since. In 1888 he organized the well known California Optical Company, and is still its president, although he has turned the active management of the concern over to his son. He has also been president of the California Title Insurance and Trust Company since its organization.

Mr. Dvis was one of the prominent early officials of San Francisco county. He has always been a Republican, and in 1858, after the vigilantes had made a pretty thorough cleaning out of the rough element of the city, he was made the candidate of the reform party for sheriff of the county, and was elected and held the office for fur years, having held the office of deputy and under sheriff for six years prior to his election. Mr. Davis is one of the leading Masons of the city, having been an active member of the fraternity for fifty years, and is now president of the Masonic Hall Association. He is a charter member of St. Luke's Episcopal church, and has been vestryman for years. He has been married twice, and has five living children.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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