Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thomas Davenport Inventor & Genealogy

I am adding this post compiled from several sources for My Davenport Group 
Thomas Davenport, inventor, was born in Williamstown, Vt., July 9, 1802; son of Daniel and Hannah (Rice) Davenport Collection Papers a descendant in direct line of the Davenport family conspicuous in the early annals of the New Haven Colony and Thomas Davenport of Dorchester, MA  His father died in 1812, and in 1816 Thomas was apprenticed to a blacksmith with whom he continued until 1823. He acquired his education by committing to memory the contents of a few books as he worked at the forge. He began business for himself in Brandon, Vt., in 1823 and in 1827 he was married to Emily Goss, (pic below) a great-granddaughter of Jonathan Carver, the celebrated American traveller.

In 1833 his attention was drawn to the subject of electro-magnetism by witnessing an exhibition of the power of one of Professor Henry's electro-magnets, at the Penfield iron works, Crown Point, N.Y. He purchased the magnet and on his return home began experimenting. With his one magnet as a model he constructed a number of others, and in a few months, by laboriously working out the principle, common to every successful electric-motor, of repeated changes of magnetic poles, he succeeded in moving a wheel about seven inches in diameter at the rate of thirty revolutions per minute. He improved his invention until he produced a much larger machine which ran with great rapidity, and which he exhibited in 1835 at the Rensselaer institute in Troy, and at the Franklin institute in Philadelphia. Soon afterward he built a small circular railway, the first electric railway on record, which he exhibited in several cities.

In 1837 his invention was patented, and a company was formed in New York city for the manufacture of electro-magnetic engines and the prosecution of further experiments. By the dishonesty of an agent the company failed, and from his own slender resources he continued his experiments. In 1840 he began the publication of a paper called The ElectroMagnet, printed on a press propelled by one of his electric machines. The want of pecuniary means compelled him to suspend operations and in 1842 he returned with his family to his home in Brandon, Vt. Up to 1842 he had built over a hundred machines of different styles and construction. His only source of power was the primary battery and he had practically accomplished all that could be done, until the dynamo came into use forty years later.


                                                    Picture  Thomas Davenport Marker 
In the course of the eighteen years of his labors Davenport's experiments covered a wide field. He early discovered that power might be transmitted to a distance by a wire, and he sent telegraphic messages long before he had ever heard of Professor Morse, whose acquaintance he afterward made in New York. He discovered the helix principle, built some engines on that principle, and had it patented in England. After his return to Vermont he removed to a farm in Salisbury, where he began experimenting in sound as affected by the electric current. He applied the current to the strings of a piano, thus prolonging the tones at the will of the player. For this invention he had just filed his caveat in the U.S. patent office when he was stricken with his last illness. His greatest work, however, was the rotary electric motor, of which Franklin L. Pope in the Electrical Engineer (1896) said: "If this [Davenport's] patent, which expired in February, 1851, were in force today, it is not too much to say that upon a fair judicial construction of its claim, every successful motor now running would be embraced within its scope." Mr. Davenport died in Salisbury, Vt., July 6, 1851.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor
From Mr H S Davenport, nephew of Thomas Davenport
"Many of his models never left his shop and were but little known even at the time of their construction. They were only made to show to how many uses the power could be applied, and also to work from on a larger scale, if he could get pecuniary aid to do so. The different models which interested me most, at .the several times I was in his shop, were a trip-hammer, a turning lathe and a machine for doubling, twisting and reeling cotton or silk, all at the same time. A circular frame fitted with two intersecting tracks, on which four miniature cork images glided around, he called his "puppet-show." He was naturally of a retiring disposition, but when waked up was very strong in argument. His two favorite subjects were nature and electro-magnetism. He considered magnetism the most important element in the creation of the universe and thought it would be, in its destruction. Magnetism kept the heavenly bodies in their places, and if that failed everything would be turned to chaos. He could see in every rock of the earth the battery of which it was composed. So also in the animal kingdom, the bones, muscles, and blood constituted a complete battery, which exercised a repulsive or attractive force with respect to another organism of the same kind. He was a great lover of fun and exceedingly fond of a joke. On one occasion he received an order from a party in Chicago for half-a-dozen bottles of electricity. He said he knew by the tenor of the letter that it was intended as a joke, and he accordingly replied that he bottled up his wrath for such would-be ignoramuses as he was, but had no electricity for him."

This image shows about two dozen people at the Thomas Davenport Memorial tablet. There are several buildings in the background of the photograph. See HO189 - HO191 for more photos of the tablet. This a treelined street with a sidewalk. There is a car parked on the street. There is a stack of lumber in the foreground.

                                                       From The Indicator Otis
The Vermont Blacksmith Who Invented the Electric Motor
In the little hamlet of Forestdale, Vermont, sixty years ago, one Thomas Davenport made the green hills ring with the rhythmic blows of his hammer on the anvil as he labored as a blacksmith in the most humble circumstances. Only a few weeks ago several of the foremost electrical men of the day. representing the greatest electrical society in the country, and a large number of New Englanders, gathered at the little mountain village to honor the site of the old blacksmith shop, for it was there that Davenport began his electrical discoveries which brought about the motor as we know it today.

Thomas Davenport was born in Williamstown in 1802 and his untimely death occurred at the age of 49 years. Davenport's father died when the lad was barely ten years old and at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to the blacksmith trade at Forestdale, three miles from Brandon, Vermont. The boy's education was very meager but one day he chanced upon a few scraps from a scientific work treating with the "galvanic magnet" of Henry, and soon after this he secured a magnet and made a battery of his own.
In one corner of the little blacksmith shop Davenport set up a bench for his little laboratory. Here he began his first experiments with electricity which were later to make his name famous throughout the world. From the first his struggles were pathetic and bitter.
Poverty stood as a gigantic barrier between him and success, and upon one occasion it was necessary for his young wife to sacrifice her silk wedding dress to supply insulating material for the new motor. It was a Heavenborn flash of insight which revealed to the young inventor the availability of power from an electro-magnetic source; and, although he had to work entirely with batteries, the generator being still undiscovered, his success in this field was truly wonderful.
When Davenport came upon the scene Faraday and Henry had already done their great work and the principles of the electric generator and the electric motor had been clearly perceived and enunciated. Yet there were no real motors before Davenport's time, and had the dynamo been known his work would have been carried to instant fruition. Davenport and others much later failed because they had no ready source of cheap power, and because the reversibility of the motor was unknown. Energy produced by battery is at least twenty times as costly as that produced by coal through the medium of a steam engine and dynamo. All the electrical parts except telegraphy were held back by the absence of cheap power. When Davenport told the great Joseph Henry that he proposed to build his motors up to one horsepower, the cautious philosopher warned him to "go slow," and hinted that electricity could not compete with steam. 

While a few termed the inventor a crazy crank to try to harness lightning, he was most ably supported by such men as Professor Turner, of Middlebury College; Mr. Ransom Cook, of Saratoga Springs; Mr. Orange A. Smalley, of Forestdale; President Eaton, of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; General Van Rensselaer, of Troy; and Prof. Joseph Henry.It was in the corner of the old blacksmith shop that Davenport produced the first successful electric motor, and even before Vermont had a mile of steam railroad Davenport was successfully operating a model electric road which ran on a circular track, the embryo of the magnificent electric railways of today. 


Davenport's minature electric railway was almost a perfect model of the railway systems now in use. He advocated the central station methods of developing power, using the rails for the return circuit and the motor drive. Ill luck, however, seemed to pursue the inventor to the very day of his death. From Vermont he moved to New York to be nearer the financial centers, for he sorely needed money to carry out his experiments and inventions. Once all his models and apparatus were destroyed by fire and at another time they were lost in a shipwreck. Davenport tried by every known method to raise money for his work. He gave exhibitions and lectured and finally established the first electrical technical journal which was even printed by electricity.
Broken in health and in dire poverty he returned to his native state where he died July 6th, 1851.
Living he struggled against adversity, dying he had not a dollar to his name and for many years his very name was almost forgotten while the entire world was enjoying the fruits of his years of toil and study. Today this modest simple son of Vermont stands forth as one of greatest inventors the world ever saw.—Electric News Service.  Thomas Davenport Grave Pine Hill Cemetery Vermont 


Frances Burchard Wadhams, daughter of William Luman and Emeline Loretta (Cole) Wadhams, was born 2 November, 1838, in Wadhams Mills, N. Y. She was educated at a private school in Essex, N. Y., and at the Smith and Converse Female Seminary in Burlington, Vermont. She married 2 August, 1860, George Daniel Davenport, of Salisbury, Vt. He was born in Brandon, Vt., 22 July, 1832, son of Thomas and Emily (Goss) DavenportPicture of George Daniel Davenport Grave @ Pine Hill Cemetery Vermont

George D. Davenport was prepared for college in Brandon, Vt.. and entered Middlebury College in 1852, graduating in 1856. During his college years he spent his vacations in teaching, and continued in this vocation after graduation. He entered the service of the Government as a volunteer in theFifth Vermont Regiment in 1861, enlisting as Orderly Sergeant of his Company. He was soon promoted to a Lieutenancy, and then to the Captaincy of the same Company. With his regiment, he served in the Army of the Potomac with the Sixth Corps. In the battle of the Wilderness, May 5, 1864, he received a wound from which he died on the 12th of the same month. He was an able officer and a brave soldier. During the Civil War, Mrs. Davenport lived in Washington, D. C., and was frequently with her husband in camp.

GEORGE DANIEL DAVENPORT, son of Thomas and Emily (Goss) Davenport. Born in Brandon, Vt., July 22, 1832. Prepared for College in Brandon Academy. Principal, Academy, Sherbrooke, Canada, 1857-1858. Professor in Church School for Boys, Hamden, Conn., 1859-1860. Private, Company H, Fifth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, Sept. 2, 1861; First Sergeant, Sept. 16, 1861; First Lieutenant, Company G, Nov. 22, 1861; Captain, Company B, Dec. 2, 1862-1864. Married Frances Birchard Wadhams, Aug. 2, 1860. Delta Kappa Epsilon. — A. B.[class of 1856] Died on the field from wounds received in the battle of the Wilderness, May 12, 1864. (from the Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont 1800-1915, compiled by Edgar J. Wiley, pub. by Middlebury College, 1917)

Willard Goss Davenport (pic below) born May 9, 1843 died Oct. 14, 1919 in Detroit, Michigan married Mary C. Backus Davenport (1849 - 1931) daughter of Charles Backus and Mary Palmer Mansfield Davenport



The Rector of Emmanuel Parish, Rev. Willard G. Davenport, fought in the Fifth Regiment of Vermont
From Vermont Historical Society
At the close of Dr. Buckham's address, the President of the Society introduced Rev. Willard G. Davenport, as follows:
We are now to listen to a sketch of the life of a Vermonter too little known to fame, though as we shall see, he is entitled to a place in the list of the World's great inventors. I am glad that this Society may have a part in the endeavor to rescue his name from the comparative obscurity which outside of a limited circle has rested upon it. He had two sons who marched to the front in 1861, when the best young life and blood of our State was hurrying to the front to form the living wall which guarded the Union from disruption. One of these, Captain George Davenport of the 5th Vermont, was killed in the bloody battle of the Wilderness. The other, Lieut. W. G. Davenport, was wounded once at Fredericksburg and again in the battle of the Wilderness. After the close of the war he took orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church, and is now the worthy rector of the Church of that denomination in Anacostia, D. C. I have the honor to introduce to you Rev. Mr. Davenport. After Mr. Davenport had finished the reading of his paper, the following resolutions were offered:
By Hon. B. F. Fifield:
Resolved, That the Vermont Historical Society express to Matthew H. Buckham, President of our University, its sincere appreciation of his able, scholarly and discriminating address on the character and work of the late Edward J. Phelps and request him to supply a copy of his address for the purpose of its publication in the Proceedings of the Society.
By F. W. Baldwin Esq.:
Resolved, That the thanks of the Society be and hereby are given to the Rev. Willard G. Davenport for his original and valuable contribution, not only to our local history but also to the history of invention and of science ; and that he be requested, with a view to its publication in the Proceedings, to supply the Society with a copy of his paper on the work of Thomas Davenport of Brandon.
By Mr. J. C. Houghton:
Resolved: That the President appoint a Committee of two members to secure the necessary resolution from the Legislature, now sitting, for the publication of the Proceedings of the Society, including the Address by President Buckham on Edward J. Phelps and the paper by the Rev. Willard G. Davenport on Thomas Davenport of Brandon.


George William Davenport, clergyman; b. Brandon, Vt., Aug. 14, 1870; s. Willard Goss and Mary Converse (Backus) Davenport: ed. Washington (D.C.) High Sch., St. Paul's High Sch., Baltimore, Md.; Hobart Coll.. Geneva, N.Y.; Gen. Theol. Sem., New York: m. Brandon, Vt.. Sept. 24, 1897, Jennie Piatt Briggs. Deacon, 1893, priest, 1896, Episcopal Ch.; in charge St. John the Baptist Ch., Baltimore, 1896; curate St. Matthew's Ch., New York, 1896-7; rector Ch. of the Resurrection, Richmond Hill. N.Y., 1897-1900, Ch. of the Redeemer, Astoria, N.Y., 1900-3, St. James Ch., Danbury, Conn., since 1903; chaplain Coast Arty., C.N.G.: mem. Sch. Bd., Danbury. Republican. Mason. Home: Fairview Av., Danbury, Conn. From Who's who in New England: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men and Women of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut 

Photos from Vermont Historical Society
From William B. Davenport -- Kit # 7181 Thomas of Dorchester Line

Thomas Davenport (abt. 1615 England - 1665 MA) & Mary (abt. 1620 - 1691 MA)

Charles Davenport (1652 MA - 1720 MA) & Waitstill Smith (1658 MA - 1747 MA)
Thomas Davenport (1695 MA - ?) & Mary Woodward (1695 MA - ?)
Lemuel Davenport (1739 CT - 1818 VT) & Deborah Barrows (1739 MA - ?)
Daniel Davenport  (1764 MA - 1812 VT) & Hannah Rice (1767 VT - 1844 VT)
Amos Davenport (1793 VT - 1863 VT) & Lauretta Stockwell (1797 VT - 1885 VT)
George Davenport (1822 VT - 1912 VT) & Eleanor Smith (1830 VT - 1907 VT)

Birge Walter Davenport (1861 VT - 1939 MN) & Wilhelmina G. Swanson (1869 Norway - 1924 MN

5 comments:

  1. Really interesting. Thanks for posting!

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  2. Really interesting. Thanks for posting!

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  3. Really interesting. I love learning something new everyday!

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  4. I really enjoyed this and what a raw deal he got! The hours of work and the determination put into his work! The photos were great!

    Thanks
    Steve Roy

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  5. Excellent, well-written and interesting article. My grandmother used to tell me about a woman driver in DC who drove an electric car which was steered by a stick. She said that the car made no noise!

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