John Davey was one of the world's leading experts on trees and tree surgery.
Davey was born on June 6, 1846, in Somersetshire, England. As a child, he assisted his father, who managed a farm. It was not until Davey turned twenty-one years of age that he learned to read and write. At this same age, he became an apprentice, hoping to specialize in horticulture. After spending six years as an apprentice and completing his education, Davey immigrated to the United States of America.
Davey arrived in America at Castle Garden, New York. He soon moved to Warren, Ohio, where he worked as a school janitor. In 1881, he accepted a position as caretaker of the Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent, Ohio. His neighbors quickly came to appreciate Davey's efforts to beautify the cemetery. Increasingly, they hired him to plant and care for trees in their own yards. By 1890, many Kent residents referred to Davey as the "treeman."
In 1901, Davey published his first book, The Tree Doctor. The book cost Davey seven thousand dollars to have printed. In the book, he detailed his suggestions for tree care. The book made Davey an instant celebrity. He traveled extensively, lecturing on the care of trees. In 1906, Davey organized the Davey School of Practical Forestry to educate others in tree care. This institution eventually became known as the Davey Institute of Tree Surgery and, eventually, as the Davey Institute of Tree Science. In addition to these education efforts, Davey, with his sons Wellington and Martin, a future governor of Ohio, established the Davey Tree Expert Company in 1909. In 1911, Davey received permission to treat trees on the grounds of the United States Capitol Building.
Davey died on November 8, 1923.