Dr. Stebbins was ever the kindliest of men, and his friendliness and consideration were not confined to his social equals. Without condescension, he always had a kind word for the humblest people. He was as gentlemanly and courteous to a hackdriver as he would be to a college president. None ever heard him speak severely or impatiently to a servant. He was considerate by nature, and patient from very largeness. He never harbored an injury, and by his generosity and apparent obliviousness or forgetfulness of the unpleasant past he often put to shame those who had wronged him. He was at times stern, and was always fearless in uttering what he felt to be the truth, whether it was to meet with favor or with disapproval from his hearers.
As a friend he was loyalty itself, and for the slightest service he was deeply appreciative and grateful. He was the most charitable of men, and was not ashamed to admit that he had often been imposed upon.
Of his rank as a thinker and a preacher I am not a qualified judge, but he surely was great of heart and strong of mind. He was a man of profound faith, and deeply religious in a strong, manly way. He inspired others by his trust and his unquestioned belief in the reality of spiritual things. He never did anything for effect; his words fell from his lips in tones of wonderful beauty to express the thought and feeling that glowed within.
Noble man, great preacher, loving friend! thou art not dead, but translated to that higher life of which no doubt ever entered thy trusting mind!
Horace Davis was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1831. His father was John Davis, who served as Governor of Massachusetts and as United States Senator. His mother was the daughter of Rev. Aaron Bancroft, one of the pioneers of the Unitarian ministry.
Horace Davis graduated at Harvard in the class of 1849. He began the study of the law, but his eyes failed, and in 1852 he came to California to seek his fortune. He first tried the mines, starting a store at Shaw’s Flat. When the venture failed he came to San Francisco and sought any employment to be found. He began by piling lumber, but when his cousin, Isaac Davis, found him at it he put him aboard one of his coasting schooners as supercargo. Being faithful and capable, he was sought by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and was for several years a good purser. He and his brother George had loaned their savings to a miller, and were forced to take over the property. Mr. Davis become the accepted authority on wheat and the production of flour, and enjoyed more than forty years of leadership in the business which he accidentally entered.
He was always a public-spirited citizen, and in 1877 was elected to Congress, serving for two terms. He proved too independent and unmanageable for the political leaders of the time and was allowed to return to private life.