Davis, Mervyn Bathurst (1844–1912)

By: Stanley D. Casto

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Mervyn Bathurst Davis, newspaper correspondent and conservationist, son of J. Lucius and Elizabeth H. Davis, was born in Henrico County, Virginia, on October 14, 1844. He was raised on his father's farm and attended Virginia Military Institute in Richmond. During the Civil War he served in Company G, Tenth Virginia Cavalry, and Company E, Fifty-ninth Virginia Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia.

In 1873 he moved to Waco, Texas, where he worked on the staff of the Waco Daily Reporter. Between September 1877 and March 1878 he served two short periods as a Texas Ranger in the Frontier Battalion. In 1880 he was living in Bexar County and was employed as a journalist. By 1883 he was working in Fort Worth for the Dallas Weekly Herald (see DALLAS HERALD), but moved to Dallas the following year to join the Dallas Morning News. In 1885 he was placed on the staff of the Dallas News and in the following year was transferred to Waco as a correspondent, a position that he retained for the remainder of his life.

Davis was best known for his work in wildlife protection. In 1881, in association with Champe Carter McCulloch (McColluch in some sources) and Herman E. Ambolt of Waco, he formed the first Game Protective Association in Texas. As secretary of this association he conducted a campaign, chiefly through the press, to alert the public to the need for wildlife protection.

A chapter of the Audubon Society was formed in 1899 in Galveston, but most of its members were killed in the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and it was not until 1903 that an attempt was made to reestablish the society in Texas. From 1904 until his death in 1912, Davis was the secretary of the Texas Audubon societies. As such he had the responsibility of coordinating the formation of branch societies, implementing the educational campaign of the society, and reporting to the national organization. About 1906 Davis and state Audubon director Henry Philemon Attwater organized a campaign through which they and other Audubon representatives lectured before local clubs and state organizations. In 1907 Davis, Attwater, and Oscar Charles Guessaz served on the Game Law Committee that recommended not only the reenactment of the 1903 Model Game Law but also the requiring of licenses for both resident and nonresident hunters, with the revenue from licenses and fines to be used solely for game protection and propagation. In May 1910 Davis was elected an honorary life member of the Museum and Scientific Society of Houston in recognition of his work in conservation.

Davis was the author of numerous newspaper articles on the conservation and humane treatment of wildlife. He was instrumental in the formation of the Texas Humane Society in Waco during the early 1900s and for several years served as its secretary. In May 1912 he served on the Constitution and By-laws Committee of the Texas Game and Fish Protective Association, which was formed in Waco. He also collaborated with Attwater in the compilation of information for "Use and Value of Wild Birds to Texas Farmers and Stockmen and Fruit and Truck Growers," published in 1914 as Bulletin Number 37 of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

In 1888 Davis helped organize Pat Cleburne Camp in Waco. He was twice married and had two children, Constance and Mervyn Bathurst, Jr. He died on June 18, 1912, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco.

Dallas Morning News, June 19, 1912. M. B. Davis, "The Audubon Societies: News from Texas," Bird Lore 11 (1909). M. B. Davis, "State Audubon Reports: Texas," Bird Lore 11 (1909). "For Better Protection," Texas Field and National Guardsman, June 1912. Gilbert T. Pearson, "Some Audubon Workers: Captain M. B. Davis," Bird Lore 12 (1910). "Report of the Game Law Committee," Texas Field and Sportsman, February 1907.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters


  • Central Texas
  • Waco

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

Stanley D. Casto, “Davis, Mervyn Bathurst,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/davis-mervyn-bathurst.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994