The Davenport Family Papers largely focus on Sumner and Jessie Burnham, their daughter Margaret (Burnham) Davenport, her husband, Willard E. Davenport, and their son John Brian Davenport.
Sumner Burnham was born June 23, 1882 near Bushberry, Nebraska, to Horace A. Burnham and Lizzie M. Frost. His family moved to a farm near Westerville, Nebraska, in 1883. After the death of his mother in 1888, he went to live with his uncle and aunt, Sumner W. and Sarah Burnham, on their farm in Yankee Hill, near Lincoln, Nebraska. He was employed by his uncle in the First National Bank of Lincoln as head bookkeeper. On July 15, 1905, Sumner Burnham married Jessie Pearl Dixon at Lincoln, Nebraska.
Jessie Pearl Dixon was born in Indiana on March 19, 1883, to William L. Dixon and Rosa Hedge. At the age of six months, she and her family moved to a farm in Wilbur, Nebraska, where she attended school. Following her marriage to Sumner Burnham, the couple moved from Lincoln to a homestead five miles north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where Sumner Burnham worked as assistant cashier in the First National Bank. In 1913, the family moved to York, Nebraska, where Sumner and his brother, Frank Burnham, were associated with the York Brick and Tile Company. In 1918, the family moved back to a ranch in Sioux County, thirty miles northeast of Scottsbluff. In 1920, they moved to the Bayard community, residing first on a farm and later in the town of Bayard.
Sumner Burnham's civic and community interests were numerous. He served on the Sioux County School Board as well as the District 96 school board in Morrill County. He was a director of the Nebraska Beet Growers Association for a number of years. For sixteen years, beginning in 1934, he served on the Agricultural Adjustment Administration County Committee. From 1954 to 1964, he served as crop adjuster and county representative for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. He helped lay the ground work for the formation of the Chimney Rock Public Power District; he served continuously on the district's board of directors from the time of its organization in 1935 through his death in 1964 and for 22 of those years he was the president of the board. Burnham was a member of the Bayard City Council, treasurer of the Bayard Lions Club, charter member and treasurer of the Bayard Chamber of Commerce, member of the board of trustees of the United Presbyterian Church of Bayard, member of Signal Hill Chapter 282, and member of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Jessie Burnham was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Sumner and Jessie Burnham had two daughters: Frances Marie (Hunt) and Margaret Jane (Davenport). Jessie Burnham died September 20, 1961, followed by Sumner on July 30, 1964. Both are buried at Fairview Cemetery in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Margaret Jane (Burnham) Davenport was born September 21, 1912, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She attended public schools in Bayard, Nebraska, and graduated in 1928. She then attended Chadron State College for one year. In 1932, Margaret Burnham married Willard E. Davenport, a teacher in the Bayard High School, where she worked as a secretary. They lived in Denver, Colorado, where Willard finished his graduate work at the University of Colorado in 1936, while she worked at a bank and insurance company. They moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1942. Willard Davenport taught Marketing and Management at the University of North Dakota (UND). In 1943, Willard worked for the Institute of Transit Advertising in Chicago, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945. During his time in the army, Margaret Davenport returned to Bayard and lived with her parents.
After World War II, the Davenports returned to Grand Forks. From 1947 to 1950, Margaret Davenport worked in several offices at UND, including the Registrar's Office. She resigned when her first son, James B. Davenport (March 28, 1950- June 19, 1950), was born. A second son, John Brian Davenport, was born in 1951. Following Willard Davenport's death in 1963, Margaret returned to UND where she held the position of administration assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs until her retirement in 1977.
Margaret Davenport was very active in service and social organizations including the Daughters of the Eastern Star, PEO, Thursday Music Club, Franklin Club, and Roundtable. She was also a loyal member of the First Presbyterian Church of Grand Forks for many years, serving as a deacon, a member of the new organ committee, and the bell choir.
Margaret Davenport died November 11, 1999, in Grand Forks. She is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Grand Forks.
Willard Eugene Davenport was born December 20, 1902, in St. Anthony, Iowa, to Perry Arthur and Sadie Davenport. He received his elementary and high school education at Swea City, Iowa. He graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929. He was awarded a Master's degree from the University of Colorado in 1936, and attended further graduate study at the University of Denver, 1938-1939, and during the summers of 1940 and 1941.
Willard Davenport's early tenure as an educator included teacher, coach, and superintendent in several high schools in Nebraska and Colorado, prior to serving as Head of the Department of Business Administration at Kansas Wesleyan University, 1940-1942. Davenport first came to UND in 1942 as head of the Marketing Department. From 1943 to 1945 he served with the market research staff of the Institute of Transit Advertising in Chicago. He entered the United States Army in 1945. As an acting Lieutenant Colonel, Davenport taught at American Servicemen's Universities in Shrivenham, England, Biarritz, France, and Bremerhaven, Germany. He returned from Europe as the Head of the Department of Marketing at the UND College of Business Administration.
Willard Davenport was active in social, civic, and church organizations. He was an elder of the Presbyterian Church and a member of the Franklin Club, the Masonic Lodge, and the Lions Club, of which he served as president, 1954-1955. He was also involved in the Sons of the American Revolution, the American Marketing Association, Pi Omega Pi, Delta Sigma Pi, the American Association of University Professors, and the YMCA. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Sales Executives Committee, 1953-1955, and First Federal Savings and Loan Association. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association, and for ten years, he was named in the Who's Who in Commerce and Industry in the United States.
Willard Davenport died March 18, 1963, in Grand Forks. He is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Grand Forks.
John Brian Davenport was born in Grand Forks in 1951. He graduated from Grand Forks Central High School in 1969. After attending one year at the University of North Dakota, he transferred to Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated magna cum laude in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Davenport attended the University of Denver and received a Master of Arts degree in Librarianship and Archival Studies in 1974.
John Davenport returned to Grand Forks in 1974, and was employed in the Department of Special Collections at UND’s Chester Fritz Library. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1976 and worked for one year at the University of Minnesota Immigrant History Research Center, while a part-time graduate student. In 1977, he became Head of Special Collections at the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, University of St. Thomas. In 1986, he received a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Minnesota, followed by a Ph.D. in 1994. His dissertation was entitled John Davenport (1597-1670): A Puritan Clerical Archetype. Since 2002, he has been a Professor of History at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Complete Registry of the Davenports in America. By Sharon Taylor. Halbert’s: 1984.
Davenports Across America. Published by Mary Whitney, Ottsville, Pennsylvania: 1987.
The Davenport Family Papers have been divided into six series as follows:
Series 1: Sumner and Jessie Burnham
Series 2: Margaret (Burnham) Davenport
Series 3: Willard E. Davenport
Series 4: John B. Davenport
Series 5: General Family
Series 6: Photographs and Photo Albums
Six reels of microfilm were separated and placed in the microfilm cabinets in the Family History Room, while three audio cassette tapes were added to the Audio Tape Collection.