James Steward Davis was one of the most sought-after black trial lawyers during the early 1920s. Davis was the attorney in 48 cases in 1921.
Davis was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 11, 1890. He attended the local schools and went on to attend Dickinson College where he graduated with a law degree and was later admitted to the bar of Baltimore City, on December 22, 1915.
Soon after beginning to practice law, his career was interrupted by World War I, he enlisted and spent 18 months in the Army. He served as a lieutenant and then became an instructor at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky. After the war, Davis returned to Baltimore where he built his practice as a trial lawyer. He often made an impression in the courtroom with his winning smile and polished appearance.
Davis remained busy throughout the 1920s. One might say, he had everything going for him. He married a public school teacher and they had two children. The community embraced them and held them in high regards. However, the unthinkable happened and no one was prepared for it. In April of 1929, Davis vanished without a trace and was never heard from again.
On April 15, 1929, Davis got ready and normal for work and headed to his office which was located at 217 St. Paul Place. He never arrived. An investigation by the Monumental Bar Association revealed that he had bought a train ticket to New York City that day and that he stayed at the 135th St. Y.M.C.A. that night. After he checked out in the morning, nobody saw him again. Rumors spread of what happened, some say he mishandled money in an administrative case and had to leave to avoid sanction. The Afro-American Newspaper reported that the appropriate steps had been taken and the case settled. Some thought this would allow Davis to return to Baltimore but he never did. Although people reported sightings of him, his friends and family never heard from him again.