Davenport, Peter Samuel (1764–1824)

By: Joe E. Ericson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 22, 2019

Peter Samuel Davenport, pioneer merchant and quartermaster to filibustering expeditions, son of William and Ann (Davidson) Davenport, was born on February 4, 1764, at Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1780, after the death of his parents, he left Pennsylvania and traveled to Louisiana; he survived an Indian attack on the way. He settled near Natchitoches where he "engaged in commerce," working for well-known firms and for himself. In 1798 Davenport entered into partnership with William Barr, Luther Smith, and Edward Murphy under the name House of Barr and Davenport, and the firm soon secured a monopoly on trade with all Texas Indians from the Spanish government. Davenport became the local agent for the business and in time established his headquarters in the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches. In 1810, as the sole surviving partner, he continued to operate the enterprise on his own and became independently wealthy.

Davenport went back to Natchitoches Parish in 1802, where he married Marie Louise Gagnon. They had four children. A son, Juan Benigno, married Jane Beall Edwards, daughter of empresario Haden Edwards, on November 12, 1829. When the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition reached Nacogdoches in 1812, Davenport joined forces with the filibusters, furnished them with great quantities of arms and ammunition, assisted Capt. James Gaines in raising a group of volunteers from east of the Trinity River, and marched with them toward San Antonio. Before reaching San Antonio, he became captain of a company of volunteers who participated in the capture of La Bahía, whereupon he returned to Nacogdoches to obtain more supplies.

After the collapse of the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition in 1813, Davenport, now a fugitive from Spanish authorities with a price on his head, fled across the Sabine River into Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. There he established himself on a luxurious plantation called Grand Ecore, where he remained until 1819, when he enlisted in James Long's expedition into Texas. Before the failure of Long's filibustering effort, Davenport furnished supplies to the expedition's forces and served as a member of the governing council of Long's republic. He then returned to Grand Ecore. On a visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for his failing health, Davenport died, on October 19, 1824. His body was returned to Natchitoches Parish and buried in the Russell Cemetery at Grand Ecore. At his death he owned some 50,000 acres of land in eastern Texas and western Louisiana, forty-one slaves, and a great number of cattle, horses, and other livestock. His wife had died on February 27, 1812, in Nacogdoches and was buried there.

J. Villasana Haggard, "The House of Barr and Davenport," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 45 (July 1945).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joe E. Ericson, “Davenport, Peter Samuel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/davenport-peter-samuel.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 22, 2019