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  1. The first woman to be buried in the little Randsburg cemetery was Mrs. Emily A. Davidson, and under the most tragic of circumstances. On May 19th, 1897, David Davidson, husband of Emily, arrived in Randsburg on the stage from Los Angeles. Davidson was attempting to convince his wife to return to Los Angeles. Upon her refusal Davidson pulled out a gun and shot Emily dead in front of the restaurant she operated on Butte Avenue. David I. Davidson had owned a restaurant in Minneapolis, MN from 1885 to 1890, located at 209 Hennepin Ave. and 208 Nicolette Ave., which was called Davidson’s European Restaurant and Hotel. At Denver, CO in 1892, he operated another restaurant, located at 1727 Larimer, with his residence being listed at 1720 Larimer. Sometime around 1896 David and Emily arrived in Los Angeles where he operated another restaurant. As a sideline he engaged in criminal activity, of which he supposedly forced Emily to take part in. Both had bad reputations in Colorado, and continued their disreputable behavior in Los Angeles, with a tragic ending at Randsburg. This story was reported in the May 20th, 1897 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper. SENSATIONAL TRAGEDY AT RANDSBURG David Davidson Commits a Brutal and Cowardly Murder. Kills His Divorced Wife Because She Would Not Live With Him. The Murderer Taken to Mojave to Prevent His Being Lynched by the Enraged Citizens of the Southern Mining Camp. RANDSBURG (Cal.). May 10. “The most sensational tragedy ever enacted at Randsburg took place this morning when David Davidson arrived on the Kramer stage. Davidson met his divorced wife on Butte avenue at about twenty minutes past 11 o'clock. The two walked to a restaurant that had been kept by the Woman and became involved in a quarrel. Davidson grabbed the woman by the arm with his left hand, drew his revolver with his right hand and shot her. The ball from the pistol entered Mrs. Davidson's left side just below the ribs. As she fell he held her firmly by the arm and shot her twice more in the back as she was falling. Davidson was immediately arrested and put in jail, but shortly thereafter he was taken out by the officers and started for Mojave as a lynching was feared. Excitement is running high here, as the woman was highly respected. If Davidson is overtaken by a mob, as appears to be very likely, he will be summarily dealt with. Both parties to the horrible affair were originally from St. Louis, and recently kept a restaurant in Los Angeles. Davidson sent a number of telegrams to his divorced wife during the last few days imploring and commanding her to return to him, to which she did not reply. When he arrived here on the morning stage from Kramer he said he had come to kill her, and she asked protection of the officers, but little attention was given the threat until the deed was committed. Davidson and his wife have been divorced twice. They formerly lived in Minneapolis, Minn., and Denver, Col. It is reported that she left him because of his criminal inclinations, he having at one time knocked out her front teeth and broke her nose because she would not consent to be used as a cats-paw in his blackmailing schemes. Another story is that she refused to divide about $2,500 which the pair had succeeded in swindling from an Easterner. Both have relatives in Minneapolis, who are said to be wealthy and respected people.” The May 20th, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times fills us in with more details about the character of both the victim and her killer: “David I. Davidson, well known in Los Angeles, yesterday murdered his wife in cold blood at Randsburg.” “Later advices from Randsburg state that Davidson went there with the avowed intention of killing his wife, who, it is represented, left him some time ago rather than submit longer to his brutal and criminal conduct in not only beating her, but forcing her to take part in blackmailing schemes.” “Davidson told the officers that the killing had grown out of his wife’s refusal to divide $2500 which they had together secured from some easterner on a swindling scheme.” “The Davidsons, man and wife – if, indeed, they were actually so – are better known in Los Angeles than in any other part of the West. They were a disreputable pair, though there is reason to believe that the woman had long sought to escape the domineering influence exercised over her by Davidson. There is the very best of evidence – the evidence of the truth-telling camera itself – to show that she was, not so very long ago, a creature of utter depravity.” “Davidson, too, has shown himself to be a wretch ready to stoop to the lowest depths” “There was little to attract public attention to the Davidsons until in October of last year when a damage suit for $20,000 was brought by Davidson against Henry Wormington, an old capitalist from Denver whom he has formerly known. It may be added in passing that the Davidsons left bad records in Denver.” In a nutshell, David and Emily Davidson set the old guy up so that he would be caught in a compromising position with Emily, when she had entered his room uninvited, locked the door, stripped off her clothes, and when he husband came looking for her and knocked on the door she let him and two detectives in. A photo was snapped of the scene as “evidence.” This set in motion a fraudulent suit against Wormington in which he was accused of alienating Emily’s affections from Davidson. In other words, blackmail, pure and simple. Davidson divorced Emily as part of the scam, which meant little as they were never legally married any way. A few more quotes from the newspaper state: “After the settlement of these legal matters, Davidson went back to his First-street restaurant and his “wife” acted as his cashier. They got along swimmingly except at such times as the woman was caught running around with other men. Then he became furiously jealous, and, it is said, abused and beat her.” “Among certain women of the town she was known as Cora, and, at one time, it is said, was mistress of a disgraceful “crib” at No. 12, Bauer’s Alley. This is supposed to have been without the knowledge of Davidson.” From the December 3rd, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times, a deposition is read from the defendant’s father: “The killing was not denied by the defendant’s attorneys. The defense opened by reading the deposition of the defendant’s father, a physician of St. Louis. He said the defendant’s mother was insane at the time of his birth and had been so for times for some months before, and was so subsequently. He also said the defendant, when 10 years of age, fell and injured his head and frequently thereafter complained of pains in the head.” From the December 12th, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times: “After being out seven hours the jury in the case of David Davidson the Randsburg wife-murderer, brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree, and fixed the penalty at life imprisonment. All the jurymen were for murder from the first, and until the last ballot ten were for the penalty of death. The defense rested wholly upon the insanity of the defendant, and all through the trial the defendant sat in court apparently oblivious to all that was going on. Experts said, however, that he was shamming. Defendant’s counsel waived time and today Judge Malone passed sentence. It is not believed that an appeal will be taken. The defendant is the son of a wealthy St. Louis physician.” The San Francisco Call states that Davidson’s father was a millionaire living in Santa Cruz County and that he also had family in San Francisco. Davidson was sent to San Quentin prison, where he is listed in the 1900 census as being born in March 1858 in Missouri, and states that his father was from Ireland and his mother from Virginia. Other records state mother was from Missouri. Census records show him as being born between 1854 and 1858. In 1902 it was mentioned in the news that Davidson was seeking a pardon. Davidson was paroled or pardoned at some point and died in Los Angeles, the article of which follows later in this story. It can be safely assumed that Emily was not a legitimate wife of Davidson, and was herself of a questionable nature. Her family were probably not overly shocked over the end she met. Earlier background information sheds some light on the brutal nature of David Davidson, as well as his propensity for being involved in dysfunctional relationships. Davidson did indeed have a legitimate wife back in Minneapolis, Caroline Miller Davidson as evidenced by this news clip from the Saint Paul Daily Globe, May 18th, 1889: “David I. Davidson is the plaintiff in divorce proceedings against Caroline, his wife. He charges her with having committed adultery with one Edward Gore, in the boarding house at 208 Nicollet avenue last March. He also claims cruelty, alleging that she attacked him with a butcher knife at one time and at another with a lamp. He asks for the custody of the five children.” From the Saint Paul Daily Globe, June 2nd, 1889: “Mrs. Caroline Davidson has filed an answer to the complaint of her husband, asking for divorce on the ground of adultery, and so the case was stricken from the special term calendar.” Also from the Saint Paul Daily Globe, August 22nd, 1889: “Carrie E. Davidson, wife of David I. Davidson, the restaurant man, had her husband arrested yesterday on a charge of threatening to kill her. She told a pitiful story to the clerk of the court, and exhibited a black eye and a swollen face, which she said were due to the chastisement she had received at the hands of her husband. Davidson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. He gave $200 bonds for his appearance today. Mrs. Davidson says her spouse destroyed her clothing, failed to provide for her and her children, spent his money and time with another woman, and threatened to kill her.” Could the other woman have been the infamous Emily? From the Saint Paul Daily Globe, August 22nd, 1889: “Minneapolis Woman Seeks A Divorce In Denver Caroline Davidson began suit against her husband, David L. Davidson, for divorce and alimony. The complaint of Mrs. Davidson says that she and her husband were married in 1878, and shortly afterward secured a home in Minneapolis. The husband sued the wife for a divorce in the district court of Minneapolis, alleging that she was too friendly with Henry Hurd. Davidson failed to secure a divorce from his wife, and the court made an order directing him to pay alimony. Afterward, his wife says, he fled and arrived in Denver sometime between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, 1892. In March of the same year he began suit against her in the county court, and alleged that he did not know her whereabouts. Mrs. Davidson was surprised long afterward to learn that her husband had obtained a divorce from her by default. She hastened to Denver and filed her present suit. She accuses her husband of ill treatment, and besides asking for a divorce, she wants alimony and the custody of her five living children.” It is quite obvious from Davidson’s earlier history with his wife, and then later with Emily, that he had a violent temper and was not a very pleasant man. The following account of his death makes one wonder why he refused service to this customer and what caused such an angry reaction that he died from a heart attack. From the Los Angeles Times, dated April 7th, 1935: “EXCITEMENT OF ARGUMENT FATAL FOR CAFÉ OWNER Excitement caused by an argument with a would-be customer yesterday proved fatal for David I. Davidson, 77 year old restaurant proprietor, according to police. He died of a heart attack a few minutes after the debate. The argument took place in Davidson’s restaurant at 232 East Seventh Street when a man entered and asked for service. Davidson refused to serve him, witnesses said, and ordered him out. No blows were struck but a few minutes later Davidson collapsed and was dead when an ambulance arrived. According to Detective Lieutenants Sanderson and Glese, Davidson had been a chef many years on Mississippi River floating palaces. When the river traffic was absorbed by the railroads, he entered the restaurant business and owned and operated fifty-three different restaurants during his career.” Since he does not appear in the census for 1870 he may well have been working as a chef / cook on a river boat. He was born in St. Louis, MO and later lived in Minneapolis, MN, with the Mississippi River flowing through both locations. This all fits in with our David Davidson, who, in 1880, was working as a chef in Minneapolis before opening his own restaurants. By 1920 he has pardoned or paroled and was found living at 1013 Third Street, Sacramento, working in a restaurant. In 1930 he was living in San Diego, and from there made his way back to his familiar stomping grounds of Los Angeles. I wonder if that unwelcome customer who caused so much anger was his son, David, Jr.? Or maybe someone from his past who remembered his crimes? Murdered Davidson Woman - First buried in Cemetery.pdf
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