The Davenports of England and White County


It’s a long road from Davenport, Chester County, England, in 920 A.D. to Davenport, White County, Arkansas, in 1853. But Wayne C. Olmstead traveled it in his Davenport family research and shared his findings with the White County Historical Society while he was a member. His complete genealogical report, “The Davenports of White County,” may be found in the Arkansas Room of the Searcy Public Library.





ohn and Louisa Davenport and their family moved by oxcart from Gibson County, Tennessee, to White County, Arkansas, in about 1853.  The Davenport settlement became Davenport, Arkansas.  The area, which is now known as Hickory Flat, is located just across Little Red River from the old King settlement known as Little Red, Arkansas.   After having established his farm, John Davenport, in the tradition of his father Gould, entered the field of teaching and established Davenport College and Seminary.  It developed into a rather extensive campus for its day, and became the lifeblood of the little community of Davenport, and was admired as an outstanding educational institution for many years.  The college and seminary burned at the turn of the century.  It was never rebuilt, and brought about the death of the village.  John and Louisa Davenport had eight known children:

          Harriett – born in 1831-2 in North Carolina, married Elijah Ellis in White County August 18, 1853, and had one daughter, Martha Ellis, born in 1859.

          Elizabeth – born in 1834 in North Carolina.

          John Howell – born in 1834 in Tennessee and died in the Civil War.  He had married Rebecca A. Neely of Independence County, Arkansas, February 28, 1858.   They are believed to have had two children, Nancy L. born in 1859 and James born in 1862.  His widow married John James in 1867.

          Susan – born in 1838 in Gibson County, Tennessee, and died before 1870.  She married Jasper King April 5, 1866. 

          Louisa Geneva “Jennie” – born in 1840 in Tennessee.  After her sister Susan’s death, Jennie became Jasper King’s second wife.

          Rebecca – born in 1845 in Tennessee.  Records show that Rebecca became Jasper King’s third wife on December 4, 1870.

          Benjamin Franklin – born August 30, 1848, in Tennessee.      

William – born in 1850.

Benjamin reportedly joined the Confederate Army when he was only 15.  His father and older brother John had both died and Benjamin “left a grieving mother” to serve in the Civil War.  He married Tabitha Francis Haywood December 4, 1870.  She was the daughter of Tillham Haywood and Tabitha Haley of Mississippi, who owned much land and many slaves which were lost in the war.  The Haywoods moved to Arkansas and he died in White County in 1876.  Benjamin and Tabitha Frances had four children:  Geneva, William D., Benjamin Booth and Kate.  They also raised a fifth child, Thomas Jefferson King Davenport.   Benjamin Franklin died April 13, 1886, at age 36.  Tabitha Frances, who was known as “Aunt Fannie,” outlived him by 56 years.  She died February 11, 1942, and was buried in Coffey Cemetery near Davenport.

          Geneva was born November 23, 1873, named for her aunt and, like her, was also called “Jennie.”  Although she died at age 18 on May 15, 1901, she married twice – first to George Reaves and then to Pressley Broadwater.  She and George had a daughter Maud Reaves who married Riley Doyle, a Pangburn farmer; she and Pressley had a daughter May who married Goldie Williams, also of Pangburn.

          William D. was born August 3, 1877.  He married Margaret E. Figg (1883 – 1961) and became a respected judge in White County.  He and Margaret had two children, an infant who died young and Elvin Figg, who never married.  Judge Davenport [photo at left] died April 10, 1949.  He and Margaret were buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy.

          Benjamin Booth was born in 1880 and died at age 16 in 1896.

          Kate was born in 1881 and married Walter N. Harshaw, who operated a gin and a farm at Pangburn.  Their children were Arley and Odean Harshaw.  She died March 13, 1968.

          Thomas Jefferson King, the orphaned son of Jasper King and Louisa Geneva “Jennie” Davenport King, took the name of Davenport when he was approximately 15 years of age.  He married Nettie Chilcoat and they had nine children, all of whom bore the Davenport name.   Nettie died about 1911.  Thomas Jefferson married Hattie Mary Fields Clark, then Annie Drake.  He died August 12, 1950.   vvv