Waters Davis, lawyer, sportsman, and reformer, was born on March 15, 1862, in Corpus Christi, the son of Anna (Britton) and republican governor Edmund Jackson Davis. He attended Texas public schools and the University of Michigan, where he received his law degree in 1885, the year he returned to Texas and married Mary Agnes Howard in San Antonio. The couple headed for the booming frontier town of El Paso, where Davis began a law firm. He was chosen president of the El Paso Republican Club in 1889 and headed the successful campaign to elect Adolf Krakauer mayor. It transpired, however, that Krakauer had not yet received his citizenship papers and was unqualified to serve. In 1892 Davis helped form the law firm of Davis, Hague, and Falvey.
He was a star of the El Paso Browns, the pioneer baseball team that had many of the town's leading citizens on its roster. He was credited with hitting the longest home run ever witnessed in pioneer El Paso. He helped to introduce golf in the city and was one of the organizers of the first El Paso Country Club. In 1895 Davis built a fine residence in what was then a choice section, at 1280 East San Antonio. Tillie Howard, one of the town's best known madames, had built a luxurious home across the street from Davis, who was already undertaking his first steps to reform the wide-open town. Even though the young city government had come to depend heavily on revenue from gambling and prostitution, Davis and Richard F. Burges established the Citizens Reform League in 1901 and were successful in curtailing gambling and prostitution in El Paso. Davis died on April 14, 1935.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
J. Morgan Broaddus, The Legal Heritage of El Paso (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963). C. L. Sonnichsen, Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande (2 vols., El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968, 1980). W. H. Timmons, El Paso: A Borderlands History (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1990).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Sports and Recreation
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Davis, Waters S.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 13, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
June 22, 2019