Aerial Historic Davenport
Davenport Citrus Growers Gathering
Davenport City Pool
Davenport Garage

History of Davenport

The settlement in the area now known as Davenport was established in 1838 when the U.S. military set up Fort Davenport during the Second Seminole War, about 12 miles north of the present site of Davenport. The fort was one of a number built at 20 mile intervals along a trail from Fort Brooke to Fort Mellon. The fort only lasted a few years.

The fort was named for Colonel William Davenport, who served as the local U.S. commander in the war. There is no known documentary evidence to support an alternative claim that the city was named for a railroad conductor. The modern city of Davenport had its start in the 1880s when the South Florida Railroad was extended to that point.

The settlement was first known as Horse Creek, for the creek first recorded on a U.S. Army survey of 1849 which flows past the site to enter Snell Creek and eventually Lake Hatchineha in the Kissimmee River system.] A post office was established at Horse Creek in 1884, and the name of the post office was changed to Davenport in 1886. Davenport was incorporated in 1915.[1]

The South Florida Railroad opened a station half a mile north of the present site of the city. In 1926 it was replaced by a new station in the downtown area. It was closed in the 1970s. From 1958 to 1986 there was a second station, the Vertagreen Railroad Station, opened only for the transportation of fertilizer and not for public use.

The Town Council was established in 1915.

Mable Pendergrass was the first woman elected to the Council. She served from 1965 through 1967.

Lillie Judy served as the first female Mayor of Davenport in 1973. 


The Davenport Story

An excerpt from "The Davenport Story" by Clarence C. Meyer and Phyllis A. McGill reads, in part, as follows:


"The citizens of Davenport decided it was time for their town to become incorporated. Spearheaded by Judge H.C. Sands, the first Town Meeting was held on March 11, 1915. Twenty-six registered voters were in attendance...

Two days later, the new officers held their first Town Council meeting. Sworn into office at that time were Mayor E. Hutchinson, and Councilmen D.S. Coddington, H.E. Swarts and H.W. Whoolery, City Clerk and Treasurer Irwin C. Trumble, and City Marshall T.J. McKnight. Councilmen Loyd Neil and C.C. Beatty were not present.

It is interesting to note that, at this meeting, the officers raised, among themselves, the funds to purchase the official Town Seal, which cost them $3.30.

Ten years were to pass before the Town Council received its first Town Charter, granted by the State of Florida on April 29, 1925.

By 1920, Davenport's population had grown to 140, and the citizens enjoyed such modern conveniences as the automobile, electricity, and even the telephone.

The pine forests were gone. The stills had closed down and the trees felled for lumber. But the citrus trees were growing and a new industry was in its infancy."


Inaugural Minutes for the Town of Davenport, March 11, 1915

The original minutes of the first meeting of the Town of Davenport read, in part, as follows:


Meeting called for purpose of incorporating, March 11, 1915. Called to order at 8:00 P.M. by H.C. Sands who nominated Mr. E. Hutchinson, chairman of the meeting. Mr. E.T. Hitchcock was nominated as Secretary, but declined to act. Mr. C.C. Beatty was then nominated and elected as Secretary of this meeting. Chairman spoke for roll call. Mr. W.D. Brotchie raised the question as to who were legal voters. Chairman read the statutes concerning this point and Mr. Chas. A. Parrish read an affidavit from Mr. F.M. Lanier, giving a list of registered voters in this precinct, also another affidavit from Daniels showing who had paid their poll taxes and were entitled to vote upon this issue.

Mr. Brotchie raised the question of W.W. Lemmacks voting here. Mr. Parrish wished to explain that Mr. Lemmacks still retained his residence here and was only temporarily residing out of town. 

Chairman decided the question should be decided by Mr. Lemmacks himself, as or no he had changed his residence. Judge H.C. Sands remarked that this was the proper procedure.

The roll was then called and the following responded as present: H.C. Sands, E. Hutchinson, C.A. Parrish, H.W. Whoolery, W.C. MacAfee, A.H. Leonard, Lloyd Neil, W.C. Jordan, T.J. McKnight, D.A. Tyler, F.B. Hitchcock, A.W. Kimler, D. Delson, E.T. Hitchcock, Irwin C. Trumble, M.M. Monohan, W.H. Bevins, A. Harrington, W.I. Zellers, D.S. Coddington, C.C. Beatty, H.E. Swarts, P.B. Peterson, W.H. Lemmacks, A.A. Maultsby, S.H. Nance. A total of 26 registered voters.

Chairman then read provision of the statute regarding this meeting, found in Sec. 1002 General Statute of Florida. Judge H.C. Sands then offered the following resolution:


That the Corporate name of the municipality now proposed to be formed shall be Town of Davenport, that its seal shall contain in the upper half, the words, "Town of Davenport", in the lower half the words "Polk Co. Florida" and in the center, the word "Seal" and that the mete and bounds of the territorial limits shall be as follows:

Beginning at the N.E. Corner of the S.E. Quarter of Section three (3) in Township twenty-seven (27) Range twenty-seven (27) in Polk Co., Florida, and running thence South on Section line two hundred and forty rods (240 rods) to the S.E. corner of the N.E. Quarter of the N.E. Quarter of Section ten (10) thence West four hundred and eighty rods (480 rods) to the S.W. corner of the N.W. Quarters of the N.E. Quarter of section nine (9) thence north two hundred and forty rods (240 rods) to the N.W. corner of the S.E. Quarter of Section four (4) and thence East four hundred and eighty (480) to the place of beginning.

Moved and seconded that the above resolution be adopted. The chair then explained the boundaries more plainly and distinctly, Mr. H.C. Sands then made a few earnest remarks in favor of incorporating the Town. He said our progress and development would be much more rapids under such government. He stated that our growth had been hindered by the absence of proper municipal government. His remarks were greeted with hearty applause.

Among others to respond to their names being called were: Mr. D.S. Coddington, Mr. E.G. Howell, and Mr. J.E. Bush. Responding to roll call vote, all voted "aye" with exception of M.M. Monohan and Mr. A. Harrington, 24 in favor, two opposed.

Election of Mayor: Judge E. Hutchinson    Unanimous

Motion made to elect five Aldermen, this was promptly seconded and the following were elected: Lloyd Neil, D.S. Coddington, H.E. Swarts, H.W. Whoolery, C.C. Beatty.

City Clerk and Treasurer: Irwin C. Trumble was duly elected by ballot.

City Marshall: T.J. McKnight was duly elected.

The Chair then read the statute concerning the taking of oath and a time appointed for this: Saturday P.M. March 13, 1915.

Motion made and carried to adjourn.

Signed: C.C. Beatty, Temp. Clerk