John Burton Davis, newspaperman, war correspondent, and writer, was born in Perryville, Missouri, on October 14, 1893, the son of John Brooks and Laurette (Saunders) Davis. He attended high school in Brownsville, Texas, and Western Military Academy near St Louis. In 1913 he entered the school of journalism at the University of Missouri but withdrew in 1914 due to illness and moved to Brownsville to convalesce. In 1915 he took his first newspaper job with the Brownsville Daily Herald, where he covered such events as the Mexican Revolution and the activities of Francisco (Pancho) Villa. Davis acted as interpreter for Gen. John J. Pershing's punitive forces in their efforts to capture Villa. From 1919 to 1925 he worked on newspapers in Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Dallas. He was drama editor for the New York Morning Telegraph in 1925–26 and drama critic in 1926–27; he also served as general press agent for Gene Buck in 1927 and associate agent for Florenz Ziegfeld in 1928–29. In World War I Davis served with the American forces in France and Germany. In World War II he was assigned by the Treasury Department to publicize war bonds, and he subsequently remained with the department for twenty years before retiring with honors in 1962 to return to Austin.
Davis married Clare Ogden (see DAVIS, CLARE OGDEN) in 1920 in Dallas. He assumed the pen name Lawrence Saunders in the several novels on which they collaborated; most of these were serialized in such popular magazines as Liberty, Collier's, Ladies' Home Journal, and Saturday Evening Post and later published as books. These included The Columnist Murder (1931), The Devil's Den (1933), and Six Weeks (1932). One of his stories, "Snowed Under," was adapted as a screenplay for Warner Brothers in 1935. Davis died in Austin on April 15, 1970.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Davis, John Burton,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 12, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 1, 1994