The origin of his given name is a mystery, for no connection between Presley families and Davenports has been found. However, he was not the first Davenport to be named “Presley.” The 1801 will of William Davenport of Charlotte County, Virginia names his son Presley Davenport as an executor. And the 1798 will of Francis Davenport Jr. in Newberry County, South Carolina named a son Presley Davenport. Our Presley Davenport is thought by some descendants to have had the middle name “George” but I have not found a record of his middle name.
Presley Davenport was born about 1805, probably in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. He married Sarah Ann Credille, daughter of Moses Credille and Abigail Davis, by license returned on 30 September 1831 in Henry County, Georgia. [Note that Presley’s 1872 pension application gives the year incorrectly as 1830.] In 1832, as a resident of Clarke County, Georgia he drew lot #28 in Murray County in the Cherokee Land Lottery. In 1840 he was enumerated in the Pike County census with his wife and their two children.1 In 1850 he was enumerated in the Henry County census with his wife and six children.2
Presley G. Davenport seems to have shared his grandfather’s tendency for being nearly constantly in debt. Neither his father nor his mother-in-law appears to have trusted him with property. On 8 December 1842 his father Martin S. Davenport “for love and affection for my son Presley G. Davenport and his children” gave two slaves “unto my son-in-law Ellington Credille in trust for the use of said Presley, his wife and children.” ((Clarke County Deed Book K, p129.)) Precisely why this gift was not given to Presley outright was left unstated, but the intention was clearly to give him the use of the slaves while withholding actual ownership. Upon Ellington Credille’s death in 1850, responsibility for this trust passed to Presley’s brother Moses N. Davenport. On 6 May 1850, a Henry County record shows that Moses N. Davenport “received from Catherine Davenport, administrator of the estate of Ellington Credille, deceased, one negro girl by the name of Elizabeth being the only surviving negro conveyed to Ellington Credille in trust for Presley G. Davenport and his children...”3
Presley served briefly as a private in the war against the Creek Indians, and later used that service to obtain veteran’s benefits. On 23 October 1850, while a resident of Henry County, Georgia, he applied for a land bounty based on this service.4 He declared that he volunteered in Troup County and served for three months in the Georgia Western Guards mounted militia from 7 June 1836 to 3 September 1836. He also declared that he was 45 years old when he applied. A year later, on 15 December 1851, a land warrant for 40 acres was issued.5 On 30 June 1855, as a resident of Cass County, Texas, he declared he had disposed of the first warrant, applied for additional bounty land, and another warrant for 40 acres was issued.6
The move to Texas
He had moved to Cass County, Texas sometime in late 1854. (His son Sidney Davenport, born about 1854 shows a birthplace of Georgia in the 1860-1880 censuses.) On 30 December 1854 Presley G. Davenport of Cass County purchased 300 acres in exchange for a slave woman and child valued at $1,000.7 The land was part of the J. R. Boyce headright, on the north side of Frazier’s Creek, about six miles northeast of Linden.8 Family legends, repeated by the descendants of his daughter Unica Davenport Witt, seem to agree that he was a cotton farmer who had brought several slaves with him from Georgia. (Several family legends were collected from the Unica Davenport Witt and her Witt children by Vineta Witt Ketner. Several of these are noted in subsequent footnotes as “Vineta Witt Ketner files”. Another of these legends concerned several of Presley’s slaves who took the Davenport name – including Eafus and Moses, who bought their freedom from Presley for $300 each. Moses also bought his wife’s freedom, according to these legends. The money was said to have been earned by selling wicker baskets. Regarding slave ownership, I note that Presley is shown on the 1860 slave schedule with only a single slave, a male aged 10.)
More hard times
He must have fallen on hard times almost immediately after the move to Texas. Three merchants obtained a judgment against him in March 1856 for $180.40. A month later, on 11 April 1856, the sheriff sold 100 acres of his land to satisfy the debt, one of the creditors being the high bidder.9 On 2 August 1856 Presley sold an additional 5 acres to the same creditor for $25.10
Presley was also disposing of both his land warrants at about this time, but was apparently still in debt. On 8 October 1856, his mother-in-law Abigail Credille of Cass County made a deed of gift to “my beloved daughter Sarah Ann Davenport, wife of Presley G. Davenport”, of a slave, a mule, nine cows and a wagon.11 The gift was explicitly exempted from “the debts, contracts, and liabilities of her husband Presley G. Davenport.”
The 1860 census of Cass County shows Presley G. Davenport, age 53, with his wife and the youngest five children in the household.12 Presley, shown as a farmer, is listed with $4,000 in real estate and $1,600 in personal property – both of which are likely overstated. The slave schedule lists him with a single male slave aged 10. Not far away is James G. Credille, his wife’s brother, heading a household that included his mother-in-law Abigail Credille. Presley took the amnesty oath in Cass County on 29 September 1865.
On 25 May 1866 Presley executed a promissory note to a local merchant, having borrowed $100 “for the use of my family and for the purpose of keeping up my farm and making a crop” and promised to deliver 500 pounds of cotton at the end of the year.13
Although the 195 acres he still owned was declared to be worth $4,000 in the 1860 census, on 24 September 1867 Presley and Sarah Davenport sold the entire tract for $200.14 They then moved to neighboring Titus County. The 1870 Titus County census shows Presley (now age 64) and his wife, with George and Sidney still in the household, living next door to his daughter Unica and her husband James Houston Witt.15 Presley’s occupation is shown as a farmer with $320 in real estate and $150 in personal property. Essentially all 19th century records of Titus County were lost in a courthouse fire, but this census record implies that Presley had bought land near Mt. Pleasant.
On 14 November 1872, as a resident of Mt. Pleasant, Titus County, he applied for a pension based on his 1836 militia service. This was apparently an act of desperation. He applied under the act granting pensions to veterans of the War of 1812, so the pension was ultimately rejected. Four months earlier, he had also applied for a third land warrant, which was also rejected. However, the application file includes a few genealogically useful statements.16 One is his declaration that he was married to “Sarah Ann Criddle” in Henry County, Georgia on 30 September 1830 (sic). He also gave his age as 66 in a deposition of July 1872 and as 68 in another deposition in November 1872. On 27 February 1873 he wrote to Washington, saying “I am old, uncrafted, and poverty stricken, and need aid if I am entitled to anything under the law.”
At some point after 1873, he and two of his sons moved to Dallas County where his oldest daughter Matilda Seago was living. His wife is thought to have died about 1874, which might account for the move. The 1880 census of Dallas County shows Tilman Seago (Matilda Davenport’s husband), Sidney Davenport, and George Davenport living adjacent to one another in the community later known as Seago.17 Presley (now age 75) appears in the household of his son George Davenport.
His son Sidney died shortly after the 1880 census and all the Davenports returned to northeast Texas. Presley moved with his son George to Hunt County, where he died in 1890. He is buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Sunny Point, Hopkins County. I was unable to find a probate record.
Presley and Sarah had eight known children. One died in infancy, two during the Civil War, and one drowned in the 1870s.
- James Davenport (c1832 – 15 November 1862) The 1840 household shows no sons, but this is apparently an error, for the 1850 census shows a male named “J.” aged 18 as the eldest child. Family records identify this eldest child as James. He enlisted in Marshall, Texas on 24 February 1862 in Company A of Clarke’s Regiment (the 14th) of Texas Infantry. He died at Camp Nelson, Arkansas, according to his service records, and is buried in the national cemetery there.18 He was unmarried. He may have been the J. W. Davenport listed among Hunt County soldiers in the 1863 indigent families compilation. (Unmarried soldiers were listed on these lists if they had parents dependent on them for support.)
- Lue Davenport (c1835 – c1835) The first daughter died in infancy in Pike County, Georgia according to Unica Abigail Davenport.19
- Matilda Elvira Davenport (26 May 1839 – 19 July 1909) She was apparently the other female in the 1840 household. On 28 January 1855 she married in Cass County to Tillman Kimsey Seago. By 1870 they were in Dallas County, where Seago was listed as a farmer. He built a general store in 1876, around which a community developed which is now called Seagoville.20 The community was first known as Seago, and added the “ville” when a post office was added. T. K. Seago was the first postmaster in 1881, and appears as a merchant and farmer in Seago in the 1881-2 Dallas City Directory. He moved to Comanche County about 1884, although he continued to appear in Dallas County records for several years.21 In 1895 he was elected to a seat in the Texas legislature from Comanche County, and served for two years. Matilda is listed in the 1900 census as the mother on 9 children, 6 of whom were still living. Eight of the nine children are listed in the 1870-1900 census households: Sarah E., Tilman B., Llly E., Polly T., Benjamin Lee, Lydia Virginia (who married James Hardin in 1901), Ada M., and Cynthia Eunice. Both Tilman Seago and Matilda are buried in the Board Church Cemetery in Comanche County.
- Jesse Dawson Davenport (c1842 – 20 June 1862) He was the eldest child in the 1860 household, listed as age 18. He enlisted on 22 February 1862 in the 32nd Texas Infantry, whose muster rolls show that within just a few months he had been left in a hospital in Memphis where he died that summer.22
- Moses Charles Davenport (c1845 – 21 June 1862) He was listed in the 1860 household as age 15. He joined the same unit as his brother, the 32nd Texas, on the same date. And like his brother was left in a hospital in Memphis where records show that he died a day later. ((NARA records.)) (Vineta Witt Kettner’s files indicate a family legend that he worked in a store in Snow Hill, Titus County, and drowned when he was shipping cotton on a freight boat that sank near New Orleans in the late 1870s. This legend evidently applies to someone else in the family.)
- George Washington P. Davenport (13 November 1848 – 27 February 1927) The 1850 census lists him as “G. W. P.”, the only occurrence of the third initial that I’m aware of. He was listed in 1860 as age 12 and in 1870 as age 21. Though too young to serve, he was a mail courier for the Confederates, was a waggoneer after the war, and is said to have supported his parents as a young man.23 He married Mary Georgia Holbert about 1875. George is enumerated in the 1880 Dallas County census next door to his brother Sidney. His father Presley was in the household, as was Ida Holbert, his sister-in-law, and six apparently unrelated railroad laborers. George Davenport and his wife “Georgie” had one daughter, Etta Gray Davenport, age 3. George is said to have bought a farm in Cumby (then known as Black Jack) about 1891 and returned to northeast Texas, where he raised cattle, horses and mules.24 In the 1900 census, they are listed in Hunt County with eight children: Nora A. Davenport, Joe Davenport, Rose Davenport, John R. Davenport, Laura Davenport, Una Davenport, G. Forrest Davenport, and Jesse D. Davenport. In 1910 they were still in Hunt County with the last three children still in the household (and Georgia listed this year as “Mary”.) The 1900 and 1910 censuses shows Georgia as the mother of 12 children, 10 of whom were living. There must therefore have been one additional child not in either the 1800 or 1900 households. Both George and Mary are buried in the Sunny Point Cemetery in Hopkins County, Texas just over the county line with Hunt County. George is buried as George W. Davenport (13 November 1848 – 27 February 1927) and his wife as Mary G. Davenport (27 October 1858 – 10 June 1947). His wife outlived him by twenty years.
- Unica Abigail Davenport (18 Nov 1849 – 16 May 1935) She is listed as “U” in 1860, age 11, and as “Unica” in 1870. Nearly all records of her name thereafter are as “Unica” – the source of that name is unknown to me. She was called “Una” by many. She married James Houston Witt in Titus County on 17 December 1868. Both are buried in the Omaha cemetery in Morris County, Texas. ( See WITT papers for more detail on this couple.)
- Sidney C. Davenport (c1854 – c1880) He was in the 1860 census as age 6, 1870 as age 15, and 1880 as age 26. His birthplace was Georgia in all three censuses, implying that his parents move to Texas must have been in 1854, not long before the deed mentioned above. According to family legend, Sidney’s first wife was Molly Cameron, who died when their two children were quite young.25 The 1880 Dallas census shows Sidney, his wife “Mary E.”, and two children (James, 4, and Ginnie, 2) living next door to George and Presley Davenport. Legend is that, on his death bed, he asked his brother George to take care of his children. The son, James Davenport, died at 21 and the daughter Jennie Davenport married a man named Crunk.26 A descendant named Paul Crunk wrote me in 2000 to say that Jennie (his grandmother) was thought to be named Eunice Jane but was known as “Jennie”, and married William Franklin Crunk, at the Scatter Branch Church in Hunt County on 16 August 1896.
- Pike County 1840 census, p119: Presley G. Davenport 000001-11001-0. [↩]
- Henry County 1850 census, p283: P. Devanport (sic) 45 GA, S. (f) 36 GA, J. (m) 18 GA, M. E. (f) 11 GA, J. D. (m) 8 GA, M. C. (m) 5 GA, G. W. P. (m) 2 GA. The property values columns are blank. [↩]
- Henry County Deed Book M, p317. [↩]
- National Archives, Pension File #28423 [↩]
- Warrant #32786 issued 15 December 1851 for 40 acres. [↩]
- Warrant #72399 issued 13 May 1856 for 40 acres [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book I, p576. [↩]
- The James R. Boyce (or Boice) headright was a roughly square tract of several thousand acres northeast of Linden. Frazier’s Creek bisected the tract. Presley Davenport’s land was roughly in the center of the tract, and was described in the deeds of sale as being six miles northeast of Linden. [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book K, p279. [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book K, p279 [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book L, p62 [↩]
- Cass County 1860 census, p405: P. G. Davenport 53 GA, Sarah 45 GA, Jesse 18 GA, Moses 15 GA, George 12 GA, U. (f) 9 GA, Sid (m) 6 GA. $4000 real estate, $1600 personal property. [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book Q, p263. [Cass County was renamed Davis County from 1861 through 1871.] [↩]
- Cass County Deed Book Q, p569 [↩]
- Titus County 1870 census, p36: Presley G. Davenport 64 GA, Sarah A. 56 GA, George 21 GA, Sidney 15 GA, $320 real estate, $150 personal property. Adjacent to James Houston Witt and his wife Unica Davenport. [↩]
- All of these papers were included within the above-mentioned pension file. [↩]
- Dallas County 1880 census, ED 64, p249. [↩]
- NARA Records. [↩]
- From Vineta Witt Ketner’s files. This story was evidently related by Unica Davenport Witt, who said the first girl of the family died in infancy in Pike County, Georgia. [↩]
- Handbook of Texas entry for “Seagoville”. [↩]
- T. K. Seago continues to appear in issues of the Dallas Times Herald through 1894, mostly as a seller of land in Seagoville. [↩]
- NARA and Vineta Witt Ketner files. [↩]
- Vineta Witt Ketner files. [↩]
- Vineta Witt Ketner files. Vineta apparently knew George Davenport when she was a small child. George Davenport’s son, Raymond, said in the late 1960s that he learned his trade as a horse trader from his father. [↩]
- Vineta Witt Ketner files. [↩]
- Vineta Witt Ketner files. [↩]