Located in Lincoln County, Davenport is situated on U.S. Highway 66 (Route 66), seven miles east of Chandler, the county seat. Lincoln County and the area of the future Davenport townsite were opened to non-Indian settlers during the Sac and Fox Opening on September 22, 1891. Noah and Annie Sutton Davenport staked a claim in that opening. Their daughter Nettie became the first postmistress of the post office established on March 29, 1892. Named for the Davenport family, the community had several cotton gins, a grist mill, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop, and general store during the 1890s. In 1898 the St. Louis and Oklahoma City Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) connected the agricultural trade center with outside markets.
Cleason Robertson had forty acres of his homestead laid out for a townsite and filed a plat in 1900. However, in 1901 the Eastern Oklahoma Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway) surveyed for a line that would intersect the St. Louis and Oklahoma City Railroad, and the town actually developed at this site. Methodist ministers from Kentucky, having formed the Kentucky, Oklahoma, Indian Territory and Adjacent States Land and Townsite Company, came to Davenport and actively promoted its growth. Incorporated in 1906, Davenport's population was 512 at 1907 statehood. During the 1910s town leaders campaigned for the routing of a branch of the Ozark Trail Highway through Davenport. They were successful in their crusade, and the trail was designated in 1916. It became State Highway 7 in 1924 and U.S. Highway 66 in 1926. In 1926, in order to meet the demands of additional traffic through the town, the streets were paved with vitrified bricks supplied by the Davenport Brick and Tile Company. The brick streets are listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 04000518).
An important early-day industry was the Davenport Canning Factory, which employed two shifts of approximately thirty employees. Local farmers sold produce such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, apples, and peaches to the factory. During the 1920s oil was produced near Davenport. The oil boom caused a dramatic increase in the population from 440 in 1920 to a high of 1,072 in 1930. In the 1930s Davenport boasted six gas and oil companies and three cotton gins. After 1930 the population declined but remained fairly steady. The federal census reported 975 inhabitants in 1940, 841 in 1950, 913 in 1960, 831 in 1970, 974 in 1980, and 979 in 1990. Through the years the citizens have been served by several newspapers such as the Davenport Leader, first published by W. H. Bonner on May 5, 1904, and more recently the weekly New Era. At the turn of the twenty-first century Davenport had 881 residents and served as a "bedroom" community, with 97.8 percent of the workers commuting to work.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Davenport," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Lincoln County Oklahoma History (Chandler, Okla.: Lincoln County Historical Society, 1988).
Linda D. Wilson
© Oklahoma Historical Society