Saturday, April 20, 2019

Willard A. "Podunk" Davis, recipient of the Medal of Bravery for saving the life of Nurse Warburton

Eight years ago, while rummaging through the North Vancouver Archives' newspaper "division" we came across this article:

The Review - North Vancouver - 1927

 Royal BC Museum:  Medal of Bravery recipient

Willard A. 'Podunk' Davis

BC Archives

The editor of The Summerland Review has asked for a little information in respect to "Podunk" Davis.  His first query is on behalf of a lady admirer of "Podunk's" heroism, residing in Port Alberni, and concerns his financial rating.  She thinks that while the medal for bravery may be alright, his circumstances may be such that a more tangible expression of appreciation might not be out of place, and generously offers to contribute if steps should be taken to raise a fund in his behalf.  The second question is prompted by the editor's own curiosity and has to do with how Mr. Davis came by the nickname "Podunk."


.... the sheriff gave all the credit to the boy (ten or eleven), referring to him as "Podunk" Davis.  The allusion was to "Deadwood Dick," familiarly known to the miners, for whom he had rendered some splendid service in the detective line, as "Podunk."  Sheriff Simdback had been reading of the exploits of "Podunk," hence the soubriquet which he attached to his little accomplice -- one which has stuck for a half century.

Mr. Davis appeared to have a very clear recollection of all the circumstances of the case.  The burglars, whose names were Lindemyer and Stull, received long terms of imprisonment.  Henry Day was the name of the jeweler, whose store had been robbed, and "Podunk" still cherishes a ruby and ring with which he rewarded him for the recovery of the stolen goods.


Vancouver As It Was

Nurse Mary Warburton

Mary Warburton (ca1871-1931) was a Vancouver nurse with a penchant for walking where she needed to go, regardless of distance or season. Two of her trips were reported in the news – one from Hope to Princeton in 1926; the other from Squamish to Princeton in 1931. Both trips were made in autumn.

On August 25, 1926, Warburton, age 56, left Hope for Princeton, a 65-mile journey. On foot. According to the account of Warburton’s trip as related by Michael Kluckner, she had finished a lengthy nursing stint with a terminally-ill patient and was heading to the Okanagan to take a working vacation as a fruit picker. She set out wearing a light khaki hiking outfit and supplied with food which would last four days: “4 packets of RyeCrisp, a half pound each of bacon, butter, and cheese, a pound of raisins, 2 oz. of almonds and some tea. . . . A frying pan, a billy [cooking pot], a spoon and a single-bladed pocket knife, plus a sketch map of the area and a compass, completed her it.”

The Search for Mary Warburton  - Michael Kluckner  
On September 16, three weeks after she'd last been seen, a four-inch snowfall covered the mountains. Eventually, after becoming hopelessly lost in the Paradise Valley area, she stumbled onto the cabin -- "a rough cedar slab shelter"--of a Princeton old timer known as Willard Alfred "Podunk" Davis.  He had left matches inside a piece of paper in a tobacco tin in the cabin. Desperately wet and cold, she lit a fire but managed to set the shack alight. Evidence of the recently burned cabin rekindled the search for her (sorry about the pun), and eventually she was found by Davis and Const. Dougherty of the Provincial Police.

Google Search Criteria:  Podunk Davis

UBC Historical Collections

"...... It (Concord) was driven by Mr. W. A. (Podunk) Davis, who says he is a mere chee-chako who came to the Similkameen in '85.  ......"

Page 23:  1905 Concord built by Henderson & Sons of Stockton, Calif, used only on the Penticton - Hedley route and later through Princeton.

Wheels that won the West
 chee-chako: a person newly arrived in the mining districts of Alaska or northwestern Canada.


E. C. Manning Park ....

Dewdney Trail

Photo of Dewdney trail near Daddy's Pond Edgar Dewdney constructed this heritage trail in 1860 on the request of Governor Douglas. This trail was originally called “Mule Road to the Similkameen” and later known as the “Canyon Trail”.

The left fork or Warburton Trail is a 6km loop trail ending at the Tulameen horse camp. On this portion you will gain some elevation and you will see the last remaining building of the old Evans family cow camp. The family used to run cattle through here in the 1950’s. Warburton horse camp is located 3km from Snass View camp. The cabin was built and donated by Chuck Chesnut around 1980. The camp and prominent peak is named after nurse Warburton who after being lost for 7 days was found by Willard A. Davis aka “Podunk Davis”.  A further 3km brings you to the Tulameen horse camp where Snass Mt. at 2310m can be seen to the south.


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this!
Actually I think it was Willard not William but I could be wrong.
I'm Podunk's great grandson the son of his favourite nephew George Davis.
I grew up with endless stories of Podunk and his larger than life character.
Thanks again for reminding us that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Jon (JD) Davis.

North Van's Grumps said...

Fixed!! Willard not William