Marker # 1886, “Garrett Davis (1801-1872)”, Link Avenue, Winchester Road, Paris, KY Highway 627, Bourbon County.
Historical Marker #1886 highlights the life of Garrett Davis. A statesman, a patriot, an excellent debater, and an honest and faithful servant of the cause of liberty, Garrett Davis was born on September 10, 1801 at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Educated locally, he had always planned to become a lawyer. He did study law and was a deputy to the circuit until 1823 when he moved to Paris, Kentucky, to pursue the private practice of law. While living in Bourbon County he was also a landowner and farmer. He spent the rest of his life in Paris where he died September 22, 1872 while serving in Congress.
In 1833, Davis was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives where he served for five years. In 1839 he was elected to the US House of Representatives and in 1861 he was elected to the US Senate where he served until his death in 1872. He also served on the Kentucky Constitutional Convention in 1849. He was not pleased with the document finally written and actively, though unsuccessfully, opposed its passing.
Always active in politics as a conservative, first as a Whig and finally as a Democrat, he was a supporter and ally of Henry Clay and Clay’s bids for office in the Senate and for the Presidency. He urged the abolition of slavery and supported the Union, helping keep Kentucky from seceding in 1861. After the Civil War he promoted peaceful reconstruction in Kentucky.
Much sought after as a representative of the people of Bourbon County, he declined to run for office several times, including the nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 1848 and the American Party nomination for Governor in 1866 and for the presidency in 1856. During an 1869 controversy between the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and the Cincinnati Southern Railroad over the right to build a road through central Kentucky to Tennessee, Davis prevented the Southern Railway Bill from passing the Senate, asserting that it was unconstitutional.
Davis was married twice, once to Rebecca, the daughter of Robert Trimble, and second to a Mrs. Eliza J. Elliott. He fathered two sons, Robert and Garrett as well as two daughters, Carrie and Rebecca. He participated in civic and religious activities in Bourbon County.
After his death and a period of ownership by his son, Robert Trimble Davis, his home, Woodhome, came to house a school, first organized as a military academy, but soon becoming a private boys’ school frequented by Bourbon County boys.
Kentucky Encyclopedia,” Garrett Davis”
Historic Architecture of Bourbon County, Kentucky, Walter E. Langsam and William Gus Johnson, Paris:KY, Historic Paris-Bourbon County, 1985, p. 275-6.
History of Bourbon, Harrison, Scott and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, edited by William Henry Perrin, reprint of Southern Historical Press, Inc., Greenville, S.C., originally published 1882.
Will of Garrett Davis, Bourbon County, KY Clerk’s Office, Paris, KY.
U.S. Senator and Congressman; opposed secession and was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. Senate in 1861.
Garrett Davis’ home was called Woodhome. After his death the house was sold to Colonel George M. Edgar. Col Edgar established the Edgar Institute, a military academy, but it soon became a private boys’ school.