Davis, James Francis (1870–1942)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1994

James Francis (J. Frank) Davis, newspaperman and author, was born on December 20, 1870, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of James and Ann E. (Francis) Davis. He attended public schools in New Bedford and Brockton, Massachusetts. He married Clara Franklin Draper on October 7, 1896. From 1886 to 1904 he worked as a newspaperman, salesman, and publicity man. In 1904 Davis began working for the Boston American as dramatic editor and special writer. In 1907 he became managing editor of the Boston Tribune; by 1908 he was a special political writer for the Boston Herald. He was city editor of the Boston Traveler in 1908–09 and associate editor of that paper in 1910, when, because of an injury, he retired to San Antonio, Texas. From 1911 to 1914 he did advertising and publicity work in San Antonio, and about 1915 he began writing fiction. Davis published several books and plays; Gold in the Hills (1930) was one of his better-known plays. He wrote short stories and serials for many of the popular magazines of the day, such as Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, Scribner's, American, and others. The setting of many of his stories was Texas, and he was made an honorary Texas Ranger for his vivid stories of early western life. In 1935 Davis became the state supervisor of the Texas Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration, which published Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State (1940) and guidebooks of San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Houston, all under Davis's direction. He died on April 6, 1942, in San Antonio and was buried in Mission Burial Park in that city.

Sam Hanna Acheson, Herbert P. Gambrell, Mary Carter Toomey, and Alex M. Acheson, Jr., Texian Who's Who, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Texian, 1937). San Antonio Express, April 7, 1942. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 2.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Dramatists and Novelists

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Davis, James Francis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/davis-james-francis.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994