January 9th was the 123rd anniversary of the death of Bailey Davenport, the second son of Col. George Davenport. And although he didn’t live in Davenport for a good portion of his life, we think the title of this blog post works—if not geographically, at least in regards to his role in the traditional Davenport family pastime of developing and supporting what would become the Quad-Cities.
Bailey Davenport was born on September 16, 1825, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent his childhood on a large Mississippi River island between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois.
And if a large portion of the area on either side of the river could be seen as Col. Davenport’s kingdom, divided between his two sons, Bailey was heir to the Illinois side, spending many of his adult years in, and quite a bit of his genetic ingenuity to the benefit of, Rock Island County, Illinois.
By his father’s death in 1845, Bailey owned a good portion of Rock Island County, and considerable acreage in other Illinois counties. He had a coal mine in Rock Island that produced two thousand tons a year and a park that would later be developed into the Blackhawk’s Watch Tower amusement resort. He was also one of the founders of the Merchants State Bank of Davenport, which did business on both sides of the river.
His was beloved and respected by his fellow citizens, who repeatedly elected him mayor of Rock Island between 1861 to 1865, guiding the city through the trials of the Civil War, and also in 1873 and 1875.
Bailey Davenport is also listed among the prominent businessmen who petitioned Congress to build the proposed Western national arsenal on the site of Fort Armstrong which stood on the river island of his childhood home. The site was eventually accepted—and the Rock Island Arsenal is still going strong on what is now called Arsenal Island.
Bailey Davenport moved to Davenport in his later years, but although he passed away at his Davenport home on January 9, 1890, he is buried in Chippianock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois.
Downer, Harry E. History of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa [Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company], 1910.
Historic Rock Island County [Rock Island, Ill.: Kramer & Company], 1908.
The Past and Present of Rock Ilsand, Illinois [Chicago: H. F. Kent & Co], 1877.