George Davidson (1825-1911)
pioneer west coast scientist

George Davidson visited in the Fauntleroy home in New Harmony, Indiana during the years 1846-1849. Later he referred to Robert Henry Fauntleroy as his mentor and named a brig in his honor. Davidson named mountains for members of the Fauntleroy family, married Ellinor Fauntleroy, and maintained a longtime correspondence with Jane Dale Fauntleroy.

There is no record of the first meeting of Davidson and Fauntleroy, but it is noteworthy that Davidson's tenure in the U. S. Coast Survey dates from June 1, 1845, whereas Fauntleroy's appears to have begun in 1846.

Portrait from Biographical Memoir of George Davidson, by
Charles B. Davenport, National Academy of Sciences, v. 38, 1937.
George Davidson was born in Nottingham, England of parents born in Scotland. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1832, where George was graduated from the Central High School in 1845 with highest honors. During his four years there, he was taught by Alexander Dallas Bache, Principal of the school. Bache was also in charge of the Magnetic Observatory at Girard College, of which he had earlier been the President. In 1842, Bache employed Davidson and classmate James S. Lawson at the Observatory. Lawson joined eventually joined Davidson in California, and Lawson's autobiography (accessible below) refers to Davidson often.

In 1843, Bache became the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey, and in this capacity, he employed both Fauntleroy and Davidson. Davidson arrived at San Francisco in June, 1850. Over the next eighteen years his work led to his taking charge of the U. S. Coast Survey on the Pacific Coast, a position which he held until 1895.

Davidson's contributions to science are described in many books and articles. One that includes a list of Davidson's many publications and is partly based on gleanings from the extensive Davidson Papers (Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley) is the following:

Oscar Lewis, George Davidson, Pioneer West Coast Scientist, University of California Press, 1954.

Lewis includes photographs of a traditional Easter service at Mount Davidson (highest hilltop in San Francisco), Davidson Glacier (Alaska), Mount Ellinor (honoring his bride-to-be, Ellinor Fauntleroy of New Harmony), Ellinor and their two sons, and the Old Fauntleroy Home in New Harmony. (For more on sites named by Davidson in honor of members of the Fauntleroy family, select the link, below, to Jane Dale Owen Fauntleroy.)

NOAA Library Biography of George Davidson
The Frontier Coast
Autobiography of James S. Lawson (whom Davidson selected as an Aid in 1850)
Robert Henry Fauntleroy
Jane Dale Owen Fauntleroy
New Harmony Scientists, Educators, Writers & Artists
Clark Kimberling Home Page