Jacob William “J.W.” Davis

Jacob William “J.W.” Davis

Death 20 Jan 1908 (aged 77)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
Plot Plot A, Section 5, Lot 10, Grave 7
Memorial ID 64433935 · View Source
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Russian-Jewish tailor, American immigrant, and inventor of the riveted work pant now commonly known as blue jeans or Levi's. JW, as he referred to himself and was commonly known, was born in the Russian Empire in an unknown town on the river Dwina outside what is now known as Riga, Latvia. Upon his arrival in the United States, he worked his trade from New York and Maine to San Francisco and Weaverville (1854 - 1858), before heading into the Canadian wilderness to sell general merchandise to miners (1858 - 1865). He worked twice in the brewery business (Canada, 1865 - 1866 and Reno, 1868); ventured into the coal business (San Francisco, 1867); and worked for his brother-in-law in the cigar business (Virginia City, 1867), before resuming tailoring (Virginia City, 1867 - 1868). After his May 1868 arrival in Reno, he returned to tailoring in 1869. In late 1870, he was asked by a customer to make a pair of strong pants for her husband to wear while chopping wood. As he was making the pants in January 1871, he hit upon the idea of reinforcing the weak points at the seams and pockets with metal rivets he normally used for horse blanket straps. With strong sales, in July 1872, he wrote Levi Strauss & Co. offering half of the patent rights in exchange for the Company covering the patent application fee. In that letter, he also wrote, “If the patent is granted I am willing to go either to San Francisco or New York to manufacture or represent a factory." Levi Strauss took him up on his offer and in April 1873, the Davis family moved to San Francisco where Davis assumed a foreman’s position to oversee the manufacturing of riveted work pants. The patent for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” was granted on May 20, 1873 to Jacob W. Davis, of Reno, Nevada, and Levi Strauss & Company, of San Francisco, California. He resided in San Francisco for the remainder of his life.

Bio by: Kathleen Clemence

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kathleen Clemence
  • Added: 19 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64433935
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jacob William “J.W.” Davis (14 Mar 1830–20 Jan 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64433935, citing Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .