Who the Heck was Homer?

sfpl01On August 2, 2014 during SIlverton’s annual Homer Davenport Community Festival, The Davenport Project heads over to the Silver Falls Public Library for our next free presentation, staring at 2:00, sponsored by the Silver Falls Public Library. On tap will be a lively and visually entertaining presentation, on the life and times of political cartoonist Homer C. Davenport, late of Silverton.

Homer C. Davenport

In the decade of the 1890s, just before the dawn of a new century, American society was going through a transition; from horses and trains to automobiles and airplanes. Change was everywhere. Through it all, Oregon-born cartoonist Homer Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene.

Homer Davenport (1867-1912) was Oregon’s first media super-star. Born in Silverton, Oregon, into the pioneer Davenport and Geer families, he became a world traveler and developed a second career of breeding Arabian horses. His life is a story of fame, political influence, family connections, artistic creativity, and discovery. Yet, few outside his hometown are even aware of the impact this self-described “country boy” had on society.

His unique rural Oregon upbringing, along with a supportive and nurturing home life, equipped Davenport with the intellectual tools and the artistic skills needed to hit the ground running, in spite ofsome would say because ofa lack of formal training. He arrived on the scene during a perfect storm of technology and public sentiment. One New York State Senator even sponsored a bill to outlaw political cartoons, because of the influence of Davenport’s work.

For this presentation, Davenport historian and Oregon Cartoon Institute fellow Gus Frederick will present a visual overview of Davenport’s art, life and times. With emphasis on the enabling reprographics technology of the era, as well as a snap-shot of Davenport’s contemporaries, Frederick will show graphically how the turn of the Twentieth Century was the golden age of the cartoonist and graphic illustrator. And how a small-town Oregonian occupied a major role. Also included will be an update on the eight recently acquired original Davenport cartoons, the return of the Davenport Cartoon Contest and of course, the City of Silverton’s annual Homage to its favorite son, the Homer Davenport Community Festival.

Frederick is the creator of The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport, an annotated edition of Davenport’s 1898 collection of cartoons, as well as Silverton from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. He is currently putting the final touches on The Collected Works of T.W. Davenport, comprising Homer’s Oregon pioneer politician father’s writings from the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Additionally, he is continuing work on a video documentary of Davenport’s life and times.

The Silver Falls Public Library is located at 410 South Water Street, in Silverton. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. with the presentation starting at 2:00 p.m. and repeating at 3:00 p.m. Free and all ages are welcome!

 


T.W. Davenport; Indian Agent

twd_mug01On January 28, 2014, The Davenport Project heads over the Cascades again to present a talk entitled “T.W. Davenport: Experiences of a NE Oregon Indian Agent” at the History Pub. The free presentation will be held in the Father Luke’s Room at the McMenamin’s St. Francis School in Bend. It focuses on Silverton pioneer Dr. Timothy Woodbridge Davenport (right), father of the famous political cartoonist and his experiences serving as a temporary Indian Agent at the Umatilla Agency during the Civil War, as well as other encounters with Native Americans he had over the years. Taken from his own extensive four-part series first published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly in 1907, Dr. Davenport’s recollections are an incredible glimpse into an often unknown era.

An abolitionist and charter member of the Oregon Republican party, Dr. Davenport, was a very remarkable person. He was a medical doctor, pioneer farmer, surveyor, Indian agent, store owner, state legislator and state land agent. He was born on July 30, 1826, in Columbia, New York. The Davenport family left New York and settled in Ohio for several years. In 1851, the family headed out to Oregon Territory by wagon train. They arrived in the Silverton Country, in the fall of 1851, and established a donation land claim in the Waldo Hills South of Silverton.

Dr. Davenport gave up his medical practice to concentrated on surveying, a skill much in demand in the pioneer Willamette Valley. In his later years, he took to writing. He was a distinguished member of Silverton’s community leaders, earning the nickname, “The Sage of Silverton” for his incredible intellect and humanity. Over a period of several years in the early part of the 20th Century, he contributed over a half dozen papers to the then-new Oregon Historical Society.

“Recollections of an Indian Agent” of which this talk is based, as well as the two-part “Slavery Question in Oregon” are long-lost gems of historical perspective from Civil War era-Oregon, eloquently written by someone who was there. And Dr. Davenport  found time to raise a family, that just happened to include William Randolph Hearst’s leading political cartoonist, Homer Davenport. A collection of Dr. Davenport’s writings converted to Adobe Acrobat files are available from “The Homer Page.” As you will soon discover, the Davenport family story is both wide and deep.

Presented by The Davenport Project’s Gus Frederick, this highly visual presentation will take you back to the Oregon of the Civil War era. Doors open around 6:00 with the talk starting at 7:00. The Old St. Francis School is located at 700 N.W. Bond Street in downtown Bend, Oregon, and is sponsored by the Des Chutes Historical Museum, Oregon Historical Society, and the Oregon Encyclopedia.


The Colonel Visits Oregon

He's Good Enough for MeOf all the famous personages that Homer Davenport knew and called friend during his brief years in the limelight, perhaps none was more influential than the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Davenport’s respect and enthusiasm for “The Colonel,” as he preferred to be called, supposedly was the reason Davenport left Hearst in 1904. This year he also created one of his more famous cartoons, the influential He’s Good Enough for Me (left), with Uncle Sam’s arm resting on T.R.’s shoulder.

Many have said that this single cartoon elected a President. Whether or not that’s true, the facts are that two years later at Davenport’s request, President Roosevelt directed the State Department to initiate contact with the Ottoman Empire, for the purpose of importing Arabian horse breeding stock. This acquisition expedition was a success, and today the Davenport Arabian Horse is the offspring of that one cartoon.

Colonel Roosevelt has remained a household word over the years, and even boasts a head on Mt. Rushmore. So much so, that in mid-May of 2013, the Oregon Historical Society with sponsorship by Wells Fargo Bank hosted a week-long “Roosevelt Roadshow” featuring Theodore Roosevelt re-enactor Joe Wiegand. They visited numerous Oregon communities, culminating with his last performance at the OHS Annual Membership Meeting in Portland.

I figured it might be a good gesture for The Davenport Project to present the Colonel with a framed reproduction of the He’s Good Enough for Me cartoon. I assumed that I could walk up after his talk and present the cartoon and maybe get a picture. That was the plan anyway. As it turned out, I arrived too early for the festivities, so I killed some time exploring the Museum.

The Colonel plugs Davenport

The Colonel plugs Davenport

While in the USS Oregon/Spanish American War room door stairs, I encountered a familiar character who immediately struck up a conversation with me, introducing himself as Theodore Roosevelt. I shook hands and said “A pleasure to meet you, Colonel.” to which he exclaimed that “My friends call me Colonel! I detest Mr. President.” He asked where I was from and if anyone of note was from there. I answered that I was from Silverton, Hometown of one of his old friends. I then gave the “Homer Davenport” elevator speech and mentioned the famous cartoon.

I then presented him with the framed copy I was carrying. The Colonel was obviously impressed. He was quite well acquainted with this particular cartoon, but was apparently unaware of Davenport’s Oregon roots. He said it was the best gift he had yet received during this trip. I included a letter with a brief bio of Davenport and his T.R. connection. He then asked me if he could incorporate the picture into his talk, and the rest was a delightful presentation of history, complete with a rather robust tribute to Davenport and Silverton! And as Homer could attest, even this “T.R.” put on a great show!

“Theodore Roosevelt is a humorist. In the multitude of his strenuousness this, the most human of his accomplishments, has apparently been overlooked. There is a similarity between his humor and Mark Twain’s. If Colonel Roosevelt were on the vaudeville stage he would be a competitor of Harry Lauder. At Denver, at the stock-growers’ banquet during his recent Western trip, Colonel Roosevelt was at his best. He made three speeches that day and was eating his sixth meal, yet he was in the best of fettle. You couldn’t pick a hallful that could sit with faces straight through his story of the blue roan cow. He can make a joke as fascinating as he can the story of a sunset on the plains of Egypt.”

—Homer Davenport. Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 23, 1910


Kickstarting Davenport

Annotated Cartoons by DavenportUpdate: With Homer Days here, the Annotated Cartoons is finally a reality! The Kickstarter premiums are being assembled, and will be available for pick-up this weekend in Silverton. For our out-of-state backers, your packets will be mailed out at the same time. The author will be on hand to sell and sign copies. Noon to 2:00 on the loading dock of the Historical Society’s Depot Annex, and out at GeerCrest Farm on Sunday.

A little after 7:00 am on July 1, the Kickstarter Fund Raising Project for The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport successfully wrapped up. Over the course of 30 days, dozens of folks from around the country, contributed varying amounts of money, to help get 200 copies of the second revised edition produced.

The main action that put us over the top occurred 24 hours earlier, when Dr. Michael Kim, DDS, of Silverton, pledged the balance of the amount needed in the name of Dr. Kim’s No Cavity Kids Club. The amount was just shy of $1,300, and insures publication. Thanks Doc!!!

In 1898, Homer Davenport published Cartoons By Davenport, a collection of over 80 cartoons which originally appeared in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal. It was a large format work, with hardbound cover and an introduction by Senator John J. Ingalls, (R-Kansas).

In 2006, Davenport historian Gus Frederick researched, compiled and reprinted a fully annotated edition of this historic work. The faces and the issues behind Davenport’s witty, satiric caricatures were teased out in a cartoon-by-cartoon commentary. However, due to the costs associated with the production, this edition was limited to just 100 strip-bound copies.

We are coming to Kickstarter to raise funds to make possible an updated, revised edition of the 2006 reprint.

Using state-of-the-art print-on-demand technology, this soft-cover perfect bound annotated edition will provide commentary which add historical context to these amazing images. Funds are needed to purchase and register our ISBN number, get it plugged into Amazon, and facilitate the printing of an initial run of 200 copies of the final book.

This revised, expanded edition will number just under 200 pages, and measure slightly over 8 by 10 inches. “Annotated Cartoons by Davenport” will be the first publication of The Liberal University Press, based out of Silverton, Oregon. Additionally, in recognition of many more works of merit now forgotten, the Liberal University Press will serve as a conduit. Using the best technologies of today to reproduce for a new generation the thoughts, ideas and art of our ancestors.

Future titles include the collected works of Timothy W. Davenport, (1827-1911). The Cartoonist’s father was a prolific social commentator. His writing reflects a very unique view of different aspects of society from the 19th Century. Davenport’s second book, “The Dollar or the Man?” is slated for a similar treatment as this current edition. As well as a collection of fifty cartoons from the 1920s created by Portland Oregonian cartoonist Edward S. “Tige” Reynolds, (1877-1931).

Why a 2012 re-issue of a 1898 book?

During the three-year sliver of time captured by Davenport’s newspaper cartoons, the Republicans regained control of the White House in what many pundits have identified as the first modern political campaign. This was also a time of great economic debate, concern about special interests influencing the government, jobs, and of course the immigration issue. On the global scene, the United States was beginning to flex its military muscles, a conflict with Spain was starting to simmer, and a border dispute in Venezuela threatened war with Great Britain.

Through it all, Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene. Davenport went on to author three more books; A second collection of cartoons in 1899 entitled The Dollar or the Man? The Question of To-Day; a travel book on his 1906 acquisition expedition to to Syria to purchase Arabian horses, My Quest of the Arabian Horse; and his autobiography, The Country Boy, written towards the end of his life in 1910.

Support our re-publication of this lost work by one of America’s most influential political cartoonists. Check out our rewards!


Davenport in Stumptown

In April, The Davenport Project heads over to the Jack London Bar, the basement “speakeasy” for the Rialto Pool Room at 529 SW 4th Avenue in Portland. Each week they host the “Stumptown Stories” history lecture series. We’re set for action at 7:30 on Tuesday evening, April 24th. Come on down to hear about Homer Davenport, Late of Silverton!

Joining TDP Lecturer Gus Frederick, will be noted Silverton storyteller, Gordon Munro. Gordon has build a local cottage industry around his dynamic recreations from the stories of Silverton’s famous Country Boy.

Gordon will recount an early newspaper gig of Davenport’s for the Sunday Mercury, as it was called 1891. Known then as a “Sporting Weekly,” he pitched them the notion of sending him to New Orleans to cover the landmark middleweight boxing match on January 14, 1891 between Portlander Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey and Bob Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons pummeled Dempsey. And he went on to become the heavyweight champ as well. He and Davenport later became close friends.

Two days later on Thursday, April 26, the Jack London Bar will be hosting an event with Stumptown Comics and the Portland Mercury. The following weekend is the 9th Annual Stumptown Comics Fest, taking the Oregon Convention Center by storm. TDP will be hosting a panel discussion at that event on Saturday, April 28. Times TBA.

More details as they develop!


Homer on the Bus!

TDP and The Bus ProjectFor a week this April, Oregon’s premier progressive grassroots activist organization, The Bus Project features Rebooting Democracy, a week-long democracy festival, in Portland. Rebooting Democracy will draw hundreds of young leaders from around the state for a series of workshops, presentations, scavenger hunts, film screenings and more in order to create a more engaged and educated generation, with the action taking place April 16 through 22, at various venues throughout Portland.

The Davenport Project is pleased and honored to join The Bus Project from 2:35 to 3:45 on Saturday, April 21, at The Backspace Cafe for a panel discussion titled: “Drawing Attention: Politics & Comics.”

The speakers include Jason Leivian, owner of Floating World Comics; Gus Frederick, lecturer for The Davenport Project; Tyler Chin-Tanner, local comics author/artist (“American Terrorist”) and Breena Wiederhoeft, local comics author/artist (“The Picket Line” & “Easel Ain’t Easy”). The panel will be moderated by Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mercury. A mini-exhibit entitled “Occupy Davenport” will feature a sampling of Davenport’s work for folks to check out.

Update: A successful panel! Quite a fun and varied line-up! The biggest success was when I nabbed the gnarly dude attempting to walk out the door with The Davenport Project’s DSLR. He offered no resistance, which would have been futile anyway, and quickly slithered out the door. Would have put a real crimp in the Davenport project if he had been successful…

After the drama, the panel continued. Tyler gave me a copy of his book, in exchange for a copy of the upcoming second edition of “Cartoons by Davenport.” An advance pre-release “Authors Proof” is in production and should be ready for show & tell at the Jack London Bar this coming Tuesday.


Davenport at GeerCrest

The Davenport Project EventThe GeerCrest Farm family invites you to join us at GeerCrest Farm on April 7 at 6:00 pm, for our Spring Farm Dinner. Guests will experience a seasonal, 4-course feast made from farm fresh fare, skillfully paired with regional organic wines, and prepared with love by the GeerCrest Farm family. This evening is an occasion to taste the local flavors of the growing season, while supporting GeerCrest Farm in the company of your friends and neighbors.

For this dinner program, we will be featuring a talk by GeerCrest Board member and Davenport Project lecturer Gus Frederick, on the life and times of Oregon Cartoonist Homer Davenport, as well as the contributions to pioneer Oregon by his Geer and Davenport relatives.

GeerCrest Farm began as a homestead in 1848 by Mary and Ralph Geer. Through the last Century and a half, the land has remained a working farm and has been handed down through successive generations of the Geer Family. Recognizing the tremendous legacy the land and historic farmhouse hold, including sanctuary to Homer Davenport, the W.R. Hearst Political Cartoonist, a group of volunteers formed to preserve the farm and way of life.

Today, GeerCrest Farm & Historical Society’s mission is to live and teach agrarian culture, encouraging people to rely on each other and cooperate with nature to provide a livelihood for themselves. GeerCrest invites students of every age to visit the farm and learn farming skills including caring for goats, sheep, pigs, horses and chickens as well vegetable and fruit culture, cheese-making, canning, and much more. Students stay for the day on field trips, the week as part of school curriculum and summer farm stays, or a weekend up to several months as a farm family member.

Help support GeerCrest’s Legacy of Education, Preservation and Agrarian Culture today by reserving your tickets. The dinner is $60 per plate, and includes local libations. The event is limited to 30 folks, so reserve your seat at the table today by registering Online at the GeerCrest site, or by calling GeerCrest Farm at 503-873-3406.


Casey in the Dark

 

TDP Event - Seven Brides TaproomFor the next “Dining in the Dark” Forth Sunday Candle lit Dinner at the Seven Brides Taproom in Silverton, The Davenport Project’s chief lecturer will give a recitation of the classic American poem, “Casey at the Bat.” If time and the audience permits, we may offer up the Garrison Keillor “Road Game” version as well.

Davenport, a longtime baseball aficionado since his teen years in Silverton, was a close personal friend to Albert Spalding, the sporting goods magnate. He hired Davenport to illustrate his 1911 baseball history book, “America’s Favorite Game” with 17 cartoons, including an homage to “Casey” and the orator that first made it famous, De Wolf Hopper.

The poem was made famous by the late 19th century comedian De Wolf Hopper, who made “Casey” his signature piece. Like Davenport, Hopper is relatively unknown today. His son Bill Hopper on the other hand, is fondly remembered on re-runs of Perry Mason, as the private detective Paul Drake. Below is the back story of Casey, from the Baseball Almanac Website.

Casey at the Bat - illustration by Davenport

"Casey at the Bat" illustration by Homer Davenport for A.G. Spalding's book, "America's Favorite Game."

Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer

It all started in 1885 when George Hearst decided to run for state senator in California. To self-promote his brand of politics, Hearst purchased the San Francisco Examiner. At the completion of the election, Hearst gave the newspaper to his son, William Randolph Hearst.

William, who had experience editing the Harvard Lampoon while at Harvard College, took to California three Lampoon staff members. One of those three was Ernest L. Thayer who signed his humorous Lampoon articles with the pen name Phin.

De Wolf HopperIn the June 3, 1888 issue of The Examiner, Phin appeared as the author of the poem we all know as Casey at the Bat. The poem received very little attention and a few weeks later it was partially republished in the New York Sun, though the author was now known as Anon.

A New Yorker named Archibald Gunter clipped out the poem and saved it as a reference item for a future novel. Weeks later Gunter found another interesting article describing an upcoming performance at the Wallack Theatre by comedian De Wolf Hopper – who was also his personal friend, (illustration right, by Davenport). The August 1888 show, exact date is unknown, had members from the New York and Chicago ball clubs in the audience and the clipping now had a clear and obvious use.

Gunter shared Casey at the Bat with Hopper and the perfomance was nothing short of legendary. Baseball Almanac is pleased to present the single most famous baseball poem ever written.

“Love has its sonnets galore. War has its epics in heroic verse. Tragedy its sombre story in measured lines. Baseball has Casey at the Bat.”
– Albert Spalding

Click to hear De Wolf Hopper recite Casey at the Bat.


First TDP Event a Success!

Seven Brides BrewingSilverton, OR: The Seven Brides Taproom in Silverton, Oregon hosted the first official event of The Davenport Project. On Sunday evening, January 29, The Taproom presented it’s first “Dining in the Dark” special evening.

“Several months back, Silverton experienced a power outage that lasted several hours;” explained Seven Brides owner Jeff DeSantis. “We had candles and a gas grill, so we made the best of the situation, and folks loved it! So we decided to make a monthly special out of it!” he added.

During the evening, the electric lights were turned off in favor of candles, oil lamps and lanterns, imparting a sense of “Homer days” from the 1800s onto this heritage dining experience.

Photo by Fred ParkinsonInto this mix, Gus Frederick from The Davenport Project presented a dynamic reading of “Homer Davenport – By his Father.” Written in 1899 for the magazine, “Oregon Native Son,” by Timothy W. Davenport, Homer’s father, it offered an interesting glimpse into the minds of both Davenports, the younger and the elder.

1899 was midway through Homer’s all too short career, which spanned just two decades. T.W. recounts Homer’s early years with recollections of growing up in Silverton, his mother’s influence as well as the cult of myth that had already started to grow up around Homer’s meteoric rise to fame. This was a year after the publication of Homer Davenport’s first book, “Cartoons by Davenport” and a year before his next, “The Dollar or the Man?”

Photo by Fred Parkinson

Frederick reads T.W. Davenport

Frederick paced his presentation with a musical interlude prior to and midway through the reading, provided by period music originally released on shellac analog audio disks, (78rpm records), played back on Frederick’s Orthophonic Victrola acoustic gramophone.

For the first quarter century of recorded music, gramophones and phonographs used spring-wound motors and a hollow “tonearm,” that reproduced the music mechanically without electricity.

Analog audio disks for the evening included “Moving Pictures at Pumpkin Center” by Cal Stewart (COL 78466/A1797); “Palestina” by the Original Dixieland Jass Band (VIC 18717-B); “Stars & Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa (VIC 35709-A) and more! Special thanks to the Wolverine Antique Music Society, (WAMS) for use of the Hardware and Software for the evening…

Stay tuned for additional events, coming up in the months to come. We will be taking The Davenport Project on the road to the Jack London Pub in Portland as part of they’re growing history lecture series. And coming early April, will be our “Davenport Dinner on the Farm” to be held at Homer’s Grandparent’s donation land claim and Marion County heritage center, GeerCrest Farm and Historical Society. Seating will be limited! Details to follow…