GREEN B. DAVENPORT has been a resident of Rush County since 1885. In the passing years he has encountered a great many adversities and hardships. He learned much from experience and has profited both by his own failures and by the failures of his neighbors. It requires courage to turn misfortune into good fortune, and Mr. Davenport has been possessed of a plentiful share of courage and persistence.
He came to Kansas from Whitley County, Kentucky. He was born within twelve miles of the county seat of that county, Williamsburg, on January 24, 1858, and spent his early life on a Kentucky farm. William Davenport, if not a native of Kentucky, was a pioneer settler there, was a farmer and brought up a large family. Among his children were Sampson, Ned, Lewis, Zach, Ireson, Rebecca, who married Peter Sumner, and Betsy, who married Needham Lovitt.
Sampson Davenport, the father of Green B., was also born in Whitley County, Kentucky, spent his life as a farmer, was an active member of the Baptist Church, and gave his allegiance to the democratic party. As a business man he was above the average of his community in success and enterprise. He conducted a large farm, raised grain and potatoes, and also considerable stock. He lived a long and useful life, and at his death on January 20, 1916, was ninety years of age. He married Sarah Bowman, who died in 1883. Her parents were Billy and Jennie (Carroll) Bowman. The children of Sampson Davenport and wife were: William, a resident of Whitley County, Kentucky; Permelia, wife of Jack Rountree, of Ottawa, Kansas; Cumi, wife of Milt Moses; Emma, wife of William Lovitt and a resident of Lott, Kentucky; Green B.; Susie, wife of Crit Moses, of Rush County, Kansas; and Milt, of Whitley County, Kentucky.
As a boy on the farm Green B. Davenport had the advantages of the country schools. He also attended high school for a time at Williamsburg and later at Boston, Kentucky. He has had some experience as an educator himself, having taught a couple of terms. in a country district in Whitley County. He left the school room to become a farmer, and in farming he has found his most congenial and profitable vocation. His parents' home was his home until he reached his majority and married, and he continued to live in Kentucky for five or six years, until he determined that his outlook for the future would be better in Western Kansas.
In 1885 Mr. Davenport came out to Kansas by railroad, leaving the train at Hays City. He freighted his goods overland to Eldon Valley, which was then a small post office, and in which community relatives of his wife had preceded him. His first settlement was a piece of school land in section 36, township 16, range 21. It had been appraised at $3 an acre, but Mr. Davenport failed to bid that much and was subsequently forced to buy it from the county treasurer at an advance of 50 cents an acre.
On arriving in this locality he and his wife and two little sons were set down on the prairie, in what seemed a wide and lonely waste, surrounded only by a trunk and a few household goods. The first shelter was a dugout in the bank, built by Mr. Davenport. He also dug a well and found plenty of water at the shallow depth of eight feet. His dugout was a single room, three sides being formed by the bank in which it was built, while the front end was sodded up and contained two windows. He plastered the room with native magnesia plaster. The only floor was the native dirt, and there was a very limited supply of household goods to fill the room. Later Mr. Davenport built a sod house of one room, and in that he and his family lived until 1892, when he erected his present substantial country residence.
When he arrived he had nothing except his bare hands to work with, and he borrowed money with which to buy a yoke of oxen. Mr. Davenport states that he paid 24 per cent interest on the money he thus borrowed, and that is a striking illustration of some of the heavy burdens borne by the early pioneers. Not only was the soil and climate adverse to their efforts, but those who had money to lend exacted the full pound of flesh for its usury. However, Mr. Davenport made good use of these oxen. He broke land for himself and other settlers, and used his own labor and that of the oxen wherever possible to earn a day's wages. On some low ground he planted potatoes and garden truck. McCracken was then building up, and he found a ready market for his garden produce, and that contributed many a dollar to the support of the family. He usually raised some field crops, either wheat, corn or feed stuff, and began gathering a nucleus of livestock to feed it. Six months after arriving he bought his first cow, and from that time made constant efforts to get into the stock business. His cows proved a very important resource in the early days, and he also bought and traded for calves, and finally drifted into a considerable business as a buyer and shipper. He also engaged in hog raising, and has shipped hogs and cattle by the carload out of McCracken.
Such were some of the conditions of his early beginning in Rush County. Times have been hard and times have been good, and out of the aggregate of his efforts and experiences he has accumulated and now owns, together with his sons, three quarter-sections of land and also an eighty. Three hundred and forty acres are under cultivation, and in certain good seasons he has raised as much as thirty-seven bushels of wheat per acre, though one year his wheat crop was a total failure. He has also done his share of work in the upbuilding of the community. He helped build the first schoolhouse in district No. 45. It was a sod house, and the school was supported by subscriptions, the first teacher being Miss Taylor. Mr. Davenport has served a number of years an the school board. Beyond that he has never participated in public life or in practical politics, and has merely given his vote regularly to the democratic candidates.
On February 2, 1879, a few weeks after his twenty-first birthday, Mr. Davenport married Miss Julia Ryan. She was born July 25, 1859, a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Stephens) Ryan. Elizabeth Stevens was a daughter of Solomon Stevens. Joseph Ryan was born in Whitley County, Kentucky, was a farmer there and a hotel man at Pine Knot, Kentucky, and in 1886 on coming to Kansas, bought land in the same section where Mr. Davenport settled. After remaining five years he sold out and went back east to Jennings County, Indiana, and died at Butlerville. Joseph Ryan and wife had the following children: Jane, who married Lyman Temple and lives in Mountain View, Missouri; Harvey, who died in Jennings County, Indiana; Mrs. Davenport; Henry, whose last known place of residence was at Joplin, Missouri; Lucretia, who died unmarried; Sallie, who married Charles Hole, of Jennings County, Indiana; Andrew Johnson, of Tacoma, Washington; Lewis, of Elkhart, Indiana; Rachel, wife of Bert Huff, of Indiana; Moses, of North Vernon, Indiana; Eben, of Indianapolis; VanBuren, of Saguache, Colorado; Malinda, who married Joseph Hunt, of Oakley, Indiana; and Elbert, of North Vernon, Indiana.
Mr. and Mrs. Davenport have two sons, Orlando and Herbert. Herbert is actively associated with his father in farming and lives at home. Orlando is farming for himself in the same community. He married Fannie Lovitt, and their children are Leon, Lyle, Robert and Albert, twins, and Basil.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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