Travel on Georgia Highway 325 (Nottely Dam Road) until you are near the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. There you will find a Georgia historical marker. It reads:
Davenport Mountain in view to the east was named for John Davenport who came to this section in 1838. He built his 40 foot long log house 1.2 mi. to the east, over the peak of the mountain. It survived until removed in 1942 to make way for Nottely Lake.
William Poteet came to this section about the same time and settled near the junction of Camp Creek and Nottely River. William and Hosea Thomas took up homesteads at the west about 7 years later. George Loudermilk built his home on Camp Creek.
Thomas Lance, another pioneer, settled 4 mi. west at the foot of Lance Mountain.
The historical sign honors early settlers John Davenport, William and Hosea Thomas, George Loudermilk and Thomas Lance, families that played an important role in the early history of Union County. This article will focus on the John Davenport line.
The date on the sign, 1838, may be slightly in error. John B. Davenport, the first of the Davenport line in Union County, was not shown on this county's 1840 census. Neither was he listed in Davie County, North Carolina, from where he moved. But tax records show him still registered in Iredell County, NC in the years 1837, 1838 and 1839. It seems the census taker missed listing this Davenport family in 1840. They could have been in the process of moving to Union County, Georgia and no one went out to Davenport Mountain to find his 40-foot long new cabin. Family records, however, show that John B. and Annie Lewis Davenport moved to Union County, Georgia in 1844.
This couple had a large family of eleven children, ten of whom survived to adulthood. When John B. and Annie Lewis Davenport moved from North Carolina six of their eleven children had already been born. The dates and places of birth seem to lend credence to 1838 as the date the family moved to Georgia.
Here are their children's names, dates of birth and whom they married. The first six were born in North Carolina: (1) Debbie, born about 1826, married John Bryan in 1846 in Union County; (2) Lively Elizabeth, born about 1832, married John Loudermilk in Union County; (3) Louisa, born about 1832, (were she and Lively twins?), married Riley Burton Hunter in Union County; (4) John Evrem was born November 30, 1833, married Lively N. Thomas in Union County; (5) Anne was born about 1835 and married Jess Cole in Union County; (6) Mary, called "Polly," was born May 19, 1938, never married; (7) David E. was born April 27, 1836 (?) in Georgia and married Adeline C. Thomas in Union County in 1870; (8) Susie was born March 30, 1839 in Georgia, and never married; (9) Daniel, twin brother to Susie, married Lucinda Hix; (10) Lois Adeline, born November 3, 1842 in Georgia, married A. Judson Wallace in Union County; (11) Washington died young. We do not know his birth date or death date, since this information is no longer on the field stone that marks his grave in the Bethlehem Church Cemetery.
John B. Davenport had three sons, John, David and Daniel, who joined the Confederate Army on July 3, 1862. They enlisted at Fort Nelson near Morganton, Georgia in Fannin County and were placed in Company B of Fain's Regiment, Georgia Infantry.
Guy Davenport, a descendant, who has collected and written much information on the Davenport family line, says the three brothers "did not volunteer, but were heavily recruited." John, the oldest of the three brothers, was already married, having married Lively N. Thomas in 1857. He was recruited July 3, 1862, just six days prior to his daughter, Martha Alice's birth, on July 9. Already John and Lively had John William (1858), Amanda (1860); then Martha (1862). John and Lively had a large family of thirteen, with eleven growing to adulthood. Their other children were Lois Aleatha (1864), Rhoda (called "Radie", 1866), Alcie L. (1868), James David (1870), Dillard Hosea (1872), Minda (1875), Elisha Lonzo (1878), Nora (1882), and sons Tiny (1874) who died as a baby and another son (unnamed) who died at birth.
With political persuasions differing from the Confederate side, John Davenport deserted and went home to Union County in 1863. It is said that when he worked his fields, he wore a bonnet and a dress to keep his identity secret from the conscriptors who tried to hunt down and force deserters to go back into service. However, the secret of his being home could not be kept, and one day two Confederate armed men on horseback captured him near his home. One of his captors rode before him and one after. John was forced to walk in the middle, his hands bound. At an opportune time, John escaped, running through a thicket and evading his captors. A friendly neighbor untied John's hands and got John a gun from home. After this fiasco, John had to hide out in the mountains, and slip into his barn at night to get the food Lively left there for him. That was a long, hard, fearful winter before the war ended in 1865.
John's brothers, David and Daniel, single at the time of their enlistment in the Confederacy, deserted and went to Tennessee where they surrendered to Union forces in August of 1863. They spent time in a prisoner-of-war camp, but enlisted in the Union Army, Company C, 5th Regiment, Tennessee Mounted Infantry on September 12, 1864 at Cleveland, Tennessee. Their main work was in guarding the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta and keeping the tracks in shape for traffic. To have spent time in both Confederate and Union armies was not that unusual during the Civil War, especially for independent, Union-sympathizing mountain people.
Many people still residing in Union County trace their ancestry back to John B. and Annie Lewis Davenport, and the other settlers whose names are listed on the historical roadside marker near Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Nottley Dam Road. John B. (Aug. 10, 1795-Sept. 8, 1886) and Annie Lewis Davenport (May 2, 1801-Sept. 5, 1893) were buried at Bethlehem Cemetery. John Evrem (Nov. 30, 1833 - May 16, 1894) and Lively Thomas Davenport (June 11, 1837 - Nov. 13, 1932) were buried at the Mt. Zion Cemetery. Lively lived to the ripe age of 95. Her obituary told of her good deeds and of her expertise as an herbalist and caregiver for the sick and needy.
(For this article, I am grateful to "Guy Davenport's Notes" online, and for the excellent family articles submitted to "The Heritage of Union County" book by Major Leon Davenport and other descendants of John B. and John E. Davenport.)
c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Apr. 17, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.