John William Davenport (1810-1878)
By Kevan E. Davenport
John William Davenport was born in Berkeley County, Virginia 1810. I
received this information from a Mrs. Dreisbach, a Davenport descendant,
in 1968. At that time, she visited my Grandmotherâ€™s home and provided
notes about John Williamâ€™s family that later proved to be remarkably
accurate. The only Davenports living in Berkeley County were the
descendents of Abraham Davenport (1714 Â1789), and the most extensive
information on this family is in a book â€œGenealogy of the Davenport
Family and Connectionsâ€ (1947) by H.B. Davenport of Charlestown. John
William Davenport was unfortunately not listed in this book. What little
information that exists on the early life of John William is
circumstantial and at times contradictory. Having said this, most
evidence indicates that he is the son of William Davenport
(8/22/1788-4/19/1815), who was the 5th child of Abraham Davenport Jr. and
Francis Williams Davenport. William Davenport fought in the War of 1812
and received his commission as an Ensign in the 55th Regiment (Jefferson
County) of the Virginia Militia on April 3, 1814. The Davenports of
Charlestown have his commission. The 55th Regiment served in Baltimore at
Fort Covington (one of a series of smaller forts near Fort McHenry that
protected the Baltimore Harbor) in 1814. The 55th Regiment was
consolidated with a number of other Virginia units to form the 1st
Virginia Regiment on September 5, 1814. This new unit under the command
of Brigadier General Hugh Douglass pursued and expelled the British
marines in what is known as the Battle of North Point, one of their final
defeats of the war. More information on this battle and the role that the
55th Regiment will soon be available in a forthcoming article entitled
â€œFort Covington: Baltimoreâ€™s other star-spangled fort and the Virginia
Militia.â€, by the Fort McHenry historian. William Davenport died April
1815 (3 months after the war ended 1/1815) and is buried in the Davenport
plot of Edgehill Cemetery in Charlestown.
One major source of early nineteenth century information are the US
Census records. Although a good genealogical tool, the early census
records fail in detail. Their purpose was to document general data
including the numbers of persons per household by age groupings and
location of residence in this new land. It did not provide specific names
of people, other than the heads of households until 1850. Listed below
are some of the census records of Berkeley/ Jefferson Counties 1810-1840.
v 1810. The Census of Berkeley County 1810 lists 1 male under the age of
10 to William Davenport, (age 22) and his wife. 2 other males in this age
group are listed, (John and Samuel.), belonging to Benjamin Davenport
(Also known as â€œColonel Benâ€ son of John). He was also noted for having
been in Baltimore with the 55th Militia during the attack on Fort McHenry
and the writing of the â€œStar Spangled Banner.â€
v 1820. John William (age 10) was most likely orphaned early in life, as
the 1820 Census appears to confirm. The Census of 1820 shows no William
or his wife but now an additional male (age 10-16) is living with Abraham
Davenport Jr. who was not listed in 1810. That year an extra male and
female aged 26-44 appear in Benjaminâ€™s household.
v 1830. The Census of 1830 shows a male 20-30 (Wm was 20) living with
Braxton Davenport. Braxton Davenport was the heir of Altoona Estate from
Abraham Jr. Davenport.
v 1840. John William appears in Pennsylvania in 1836 and is no longer
listed in the home of Braxton Davenport in 1840.
It should be noted that one other William Davenport was born in Berkeley
County about the same time. He was listed as a descendent of John
Davenport and Ellenor Harris born in 1785, by HB Davenport. He most
likely died at an early age, as there is no additional information
available on him. Other sources fail to even mention him. Before leaving
Berkeley County, there are two other sources worth exploring. The first
are the Wills in the Berkeley County and Jefferson County courthouses.
Second and more important are a series of letters, previously owned by
H.B. Davenport in the writing of his book. These family letters from the
early 19th century from the Davenports of Charlestown may mention the
death of William Davenport or the birth of John William Davenport.
The first reference to John William Davenport by name appears in Greene
County (Jefferson Township), Pennsylvania. He is listed in the Tax roll
of 1834 as a single male without property, and his occupation was that of
a tenant farmer. He married Priscilla Haver (Daughter of George and
Priscilla Haver) in Jefferson Township, February 15, 1836; (but continues
to be listed in the tax rolls as being single through 1837). In 1838 he
appears in Jefferson Township Tax rolls as being married and owning one
horse for which he was taxed 30 cents. Evan Phillip is also listed as
being taxed for â€œan occupationâ€, one horse and one cowâ€. About 1838 JW
acquired a pocket watch, perhaps as a wedding gift, engraved with his
JW and Pricilla had 5 children:
Â· Catherine D. was born January15, 1838.
3/10/1838 John William was appointed constable of Jefferson Township. A
constable was on par with a deputy sheriff, and given the authority to
Â· William was born March 9, 1840 in Jefferson Township.
The 1840 census of Jefferson Township states that JW Davenport, age 30,
lived with a wife and 2 children. His occupation was farming. He lived
next door to Evan Philip age 50-60 with 4 boys and 2 girls (one of whom
was the age of Ruth Ann Philip). Later that year, based on tax records,
Evan Philip moved to Morgan Township.
Â· George Haver was born May 12, 1842 in Jefferson Township.
Â· Hiram Haver was born July 26, 1844 in Morgan Township
In the tax lists of 1845, John Wm Davenport was noted to have moved to
Morgan Township, listed as having 2 horses and a 1 cow. 1846 was the last
listing that JW could be found in the tax lists. I have in my notes that
John Catlett was born in Center Township and a better search of Center
Township may help to locate John William 1847-1849, as well as the
gravesite of Pricilla Davenport.
Â· John Catlett was born May 30, 1847 in Center Township
Priscilla Davenport died in 6/1847, most likely as the result of
complications of childbirth. Childbirth was a major cause of mortality
among women in early America, primarily due to bleeding and infection.
She is buried somewhere in Greene County. I was unable to find the grave,
even among the many Haver family plots.
By 1850 John William moved out of Pennsylvania to Indiana through Ohio.
John William Davenport married Ruth Ann Phillips 4/11/1850 in Stark
The census of 1850 finds that JW Davenport arrived in Wells county
(Chester Township) Indiana by October of 1850. He is listed with his wife
Ruth Ann and 5 children. Listed next to him is Evan H. Philip (most
likely Ruth Annâ€™s brother) age 29, a carpenter with 4 children.
Having been formed into a county only 13 years earlier, John William
Davenport is listed as one of the original pioneers by a History of
Wells, County, Indiana in the â€œRoll of Honorâ€ for having â€œopened the
way for civilizationâ€. Organized in 1837,Wells County was named in honor
of Indian Agent and son-in-law of Chief Little Turtle Capt. William H
Wells, who died fighting Indians at Fort Dearborn near Detroit. One
report, in 1839, noted that the county was â€œâ€¦infested with wolves and the
commissioners offered a premium of one dollar a head for each scalp
John William was noted to be a Mason listed with the Bluffton lodge #145
Â· Elizabeth was born February 9, 1851 in Chester Township.
Â· Evan Phillip was born May 9, 1852 in Chester Township.
In the Census of 1860 John Wm, age 50, and Ruth Ann, age 38 of Chester
Township, had 5 children. With him was his 2nd child William Davenport,
age 20 (born in Pennsylvania) listed as a Laborer. By this time, his
oldest daughter Catherine D. had married and moved to Bladensburg, Ohio.
Evan H. Phillips, age 39, is also listed as a lawyer in Liberty Township.
He was married to Elizabeth H Phillips and had 8 children. By 1862 John
William had moved to Liberty Township as well, where his last child was
Â· James Henry was born February 8, 1862 in Liberty Township.
By 1869 Samuel Davenport (another son of John Davenport and Ellenor
Harris Davenport of Berkeley County) had also moved to Wells County where
he founded the â€œBluffton Chronicleâ€, a local paper.
See the biography for Samuel Davenport and Louis Coulson Davenport.
Ruth Ann Phillip Davenport died 11/16/1876 at the age of 54. John William
Davenport died 3/28/78, at age 68, and both are buried in the Grove
Cemetery (Harrison Township). His Estate was settled in February 1880.
The administrator of his Will was George Gavin. There is no listed cause
of death, however his son James Henry died at the age of 16 the same
month as JW of what was referred to as â€œlung feverâ€, possibly severe
pneumonia or TB. TB, also known as â€œconsumptionâ€, was another major cause
of mortality in early America.
Biography by Kevan E. Davenport <email@example.com