Originally called Texowa, the town of Davidson is located at the junction of U.S. Highways 70 and 183 in southwestern Tillman County. This area was opened for homesteading by a lottery held in 1901. That year the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway began construction from Texas north across the Red River into Davidson. Although the city government was not organized until 1916, activity in the town started in 1902. Initially a post office called Olds was established on May 21, 1902. On June 20, 1903, the name was changed to Davidson, honoring A. J. Davidson, a railroad director from St. Louis, Missouri.
A one-room schoolhouse built in 1902 was used until the first brick building was constructed in 1909. The school system continued to grow and in 1936 boasted the first six-man football team in Oklahoma. A building completed in 1956 served students at the turn of the twenty-first century. The First Baptist and the Methodist churches were established in 1902. A few years later the Church of Christ and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints churches were established. The Baptist and Latter Day Saints churches still have congregations.
One of Davidson's notable features was a long, wooden bridge that spanned the Red River. Completed in 1924, the structure was damaged by floodwaters in 1934 and destroyed by fire in 1936. A concrete bridge completed in 1939 served until a new one was constructed in the 1990s.
The town's population peaked at 572 in 1930. Movie theaters, newspapers, and saloons thrived in Davidson's early years. Civic clubs, fraternal organizations, and a chamber of commerce provided civic-minded citizens a social and charitable outlet. Livery stables, blacksmiths, cafes, bakeries, and drug stores provided services to the surrounding agricultural region. At one time five cotton gins and three grain elevators operated. As automobiles made traveling easier, the lure of larger towns became the downfall of many Davidson businesses. The population declined to 490 in 1950, increased slightly for two decades, and then stood at 473 in 1990. Rail service was discontinued in the 1980s.
At the turn of the twenty-first century the business district consisted of a quick-stop gas and grocery store, a beauty shop, and the First State Bank, which had served Davidson for one hundred years. Agriculture continued to provide the area's economic base, and the local cooperative operated the one remaining elevator and a large fuel supply business. Population had declined to 375 in 2000. A mayor-city council form of government continued into the twenty-first century. The 2010 census counted 315 in Davidson.
"Davidson," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
History of Tillman County, Vol. 2 (Frederick, Okla.: Tillman County Historical Society, 1978).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jay Oxford, “Davidson,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=DA014.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.