The 2013 summer Willamette Heritage Center History Pub begins June 13, at 5:30 p.m. with “T.W. Davenport: Indian Agent.” 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. The Willamette Heritage Center is located at 1313 Mill Street SE, just east of Willamette University. The History Pub talks take place in the Dye House for five Thursday; June 13 through July 25, 2013.