Davenport incorporates as a town of the fourth class on May 24, 1890.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 8/24/2010
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9533
On May 24, 1890, Davenport votes to incorporate as a town of the fourth class. It is the Lincoln County community's second try at incorporating, its first incorporation having been nullified after only a few months.

Davenport's Town

In 1883, John C. Davenport (1830-1919) founded an eponymous town on the bluff above Cottonwood Creek in 1883.  The small community (a home, blacksmith shop, store, saloon, and warehouse) was destroyed by fire in 1884. Businesses from burned-out Davenport relocated down the hill in the small community of Cottonwood Springs, which then took the name Davenport.

The state legislature created Lincoln County on November 1, 1883, naming Davenport as temporary county seat.  (Davenport would be named county seat once and for all in 1896, after several years during which Lincoln County's seat was located in Sprague.)

Davenport's "Supposed" Incorporation

Davenport's first stab at incorporation took place in April 1889, when, after a winter's-worth of talking and planning, local taxpayers signed a petition for incorporation.  This petition was granted by a local judge, and the Board of Trustees of the town of Davenport held their first meeting on May 15, 1889. 

An Illustrated History of the Big Bend Country ... (published in 1904) implied that these first trustees eased, rather than charged, into their duties:

"The new town board did not attempt to create a revolution in municipal affairs by the enactment of drastic or oppressive ordinances. They moved slowly and without immoderate exhibition of authority and it is, perhaps, as well that they did so as subsequent events proved that the entire process of incorporation so far had been illegal.  However, the effects of their work were realized by the citizens and Davenport was greatly benefited by the (supposed) incorporation" (p. 132).

Washington achieved statehood on November 11, 1889. In early 1890, the Washington State Supreme Court handed down a decision holding that incorporation under Washington Territorial laws was void and possessed no legal standing. Along with other towns incorporated during the territorial period, Davenport lost its incorporated status.

The Real Thing

On April 15, 1890, a petition for incorporation signed by 100 citizens was presented to Lincoln County commissioners, who set May 20, 1890, as the date for a special election to vote on the incorporation question.  When the votes were tallied, incorporation passed with 105 votes for, and one vote against.

Albert W. Turner (1861-1919) was elected mayor.  William Finney (1858-1925) was treasurer.  Council members included Robert Tischner (b. 1839), Patrick W. Dillon (b. 1858), David H. Mothorn (1850-1932), John W. Peet (b. 1862), Thomas P. O'Connor (b. 1862), George A. Oswalt (b. 1850), and Joseph A. Hoople (1835-1910).

A certified copy of the Lincoln County commissioners order incorporating section 21, township 25, north range 37, E. W. M., and its inhabitants as the town of Davenport was filed in Olympia on June 9, 1890.  With this incorporation, Davenport was denoted a town of the fourth class. 

On December 8, 1903, Davenport residents voted to advance their classification to that of city of the third class, based on increased population.  On August 15, 1904, Lincoln County's board of commissioners approved a resolution making Davenport a city of the third class, with the community's name to be officially styled "City of Davenport."

Sources: "In the matter of incorporation of the town of Davenport...," and "Town of Davenport to be advanced from a Town of the Fourth Class...," folder "Davenport," Box 5, Municipal Archives of Incorporation, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington; An Illustrated History of the Big Bend Country Embracing Lincoln, Douglas, Adams, and Franklin Counties State of Washington (Spokane: Western Historical Publishers, 1904).

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