Thaddeus Davids (1810 – 1894) of New York, together with his family and servants, wintered at his villa in Green Cove Springs during the 1870s. Many northern residents found the climate of the area conducive to improving their health before the railroad opened up more southerly destinations.
How and when he arrived is yet unknown. But we do know he erected a spectacular residence on St. David’s Walk– the most beautiful location in town. Perhaps the path was named to honor him. The house faced the river with a grand three-story veranda. Apparently it had a detached kitchen in the back. So respected was he, that he was elected Mayor of Green Cove Springs, even though he was only a winter resident — a highly unusual occurrence. Men of means were his neighbors, including the Borden family, of condensed milk fame, who built the first park and helped establish the Village Improvement Association (The VIA).
Also wanting to contribute to the welfare of his community, Davids donated the lot for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.
On the 17th of March, [1878, Bishop John Freeman Young] held services in the only house of worship at Green Cove Springs. “The concourse, gathering from the hotels, including a large deputation from Magnolia, so filled and crowded the house that many went away unable to get in.”
The musical services were rendered by visitors, doubtless attracted by the reputation of the place as a health and winter resort. During the week, the Bishop visited the residents and the guests; and secured a subscription of over a thousand dollars, together with the deed to “the most desirable site that the region affords.”
The lot was donated by Mr. Thaddeus Davids. Before leaving. Bishop Young contracted for the erection of the nave of the church. “This is a most gratifying result of one week’s effort in a place where we have not a single Church-family among the permanent residents.” — from John Freeman Young, Second Bishop of Florida
Davids had amassed his fortune manufacturing printing ink, at one time owning the world’s largest ink factory. His sons, Thaddeus and George took over the business.