1378

JOHN DAVENPORT,
deceased, was the pioneer coal operator of Saline county, Illinois, his residence being at Harrisburg, where for many

1379

years he was a prominent factor in financial affairs. Briefly, a review of his life is as follows:

John Davenport was born December 29, 1848, in the coal region of Warwickshire, England. As a boy he worked in the mines of his native locality until he was fourteen. Then he ran away from home and got passage as a stow-away on a vessel which landed him in America. Coining direct to Illinois, he found employment as a miner in the vicinity of Belleville, where he remained until coming to Saline county. Here he worked as a miner in the mine in which he afterwards began operations on his own account, which was as soon as he could raise a little money to start with, which, doubtless, was borrowed. And during the thirty years of his career as a mine operator he accumulated nearly a million dollars.

It was about 1875 that John Davenport began to dig coal in a small mine on the Ingraham farm, a mile and a half south of Harrisburg, he being a resident of Harrisburg at that time. Here he operated on a small scale for a few years. Then he took the Ledford Slope mine, three miles from Harrisburg, on the Big Four Railroad, both being the No. 7 vein of coal, the first vein found profitable to work, and here he operated on a large scale for several years. He worked the first shaft at Black Hawk mines, a mile and a half west of the Big Four Railroad, on the site of the present O'Gara mines, and at the same time operated the Clifton mines. Also during this time he assumed charge of the New Castle mines, ten miles from Harrisburg, on the Big Four, working No. 3 vein of coal sixty feet below the surface. That was about 1890, and up to this time it may be said that his work was experimental. It proved a valuable experiment, however, for Saline county. For several years Mr. Davenport operated under the name of Davenport & Company, but after 1890, with William White and W. H. Alsop, he incorporated, with a capital stock of $25,000, and with larger capital increased operations. They opened up No. 5 vein of coal three miles west on the Big Four Railroad, going one hundred feet deep with a six to a seventy-five foot vein of fine quality of coal—quality and quantity both increased. The output here was nine hundred tons a day, with a railroad trade; two hundred and fifty men were employed, and the operations covered forty or fifty acres. These mines are still in operation, known as the O'Gara mine No. 14. At the termination of his lease Mr. Davenport turned his attention for a while to another mine he had opened in the meantime, which at present is Saline No. 1. This was his until his death. He had organized the Egyptian Coal & Coke Company, with a capital stock of seventy thousand dollars and with T. J. Patterson as president, for the operation of the present O'Gara No. 2 and No. 3. Also he organized the Harrisburg Mining Company, now O'Gara No. 4. While a stockholder of each company he took all the coal of both, and had put both on a paying basis. He continued president of the old Davenport Coal Company until his death. In the meantime the stock of this company had been increased from twenty-five thousand dollars to two hundred thousand dollars. The last mine he started was Saline Company Coal Mine No. 2, five miles south of Harrisburg on the Big Four Railroad, and was superintending the sinking of its shaft at the time of his death, the work having progressed to within ten feet of coal. This is now one of the beat paying mines in Southern Illinois. Mr. Davenport invested in a thousand acres of coal land in this vicinity, and it was his activity and success here that induced outside capital to come in and operate. This land still brings in handsome royalties to his estate. For fourteen years O'Gara No. 14 annually paid dividends of one hundred per cent.

1380

Mr. Davenport was a director of the City National Bank; was director and president from its start until his death of the Eldorado State & Savings Bank at Eldorado, and also was one of the original directors of the State Savings Bank, the first and last named being of Harrisburg.

Mr. Davenport's estate is still undivided and is under the business management of his son, George O. Davenport. Of his immediate family, we record that Mr. Davenport was twice married. By his first wife, who was a Miss Dean, he had one son. His second wife was formerly Miss Laura Sweet, daughter of Enos Sweet, a pioneer farmer of Saline county, whose home was five miles southwest of Harrisburg. Mrs. Davenport was born in this county and was twenty-one years of age at the time of her marriage. The children of this union are as follows: George O., Dick, Lilie (wife of M. D. Nesler), Clair (wife of S. B. Goodage), Earl and Ann.

Bio's Index