Luda P. Davenport


Hon. Luda P. Davenport. In having filled the office of county judge at Antlers since statehood, Judge Davenport probably has the distinction of having been in that office longer than any other mail filling a county judgeship in Oklahoma. He was elected first in 1907, then re-elected in 1908, 1910, 1912 aud 1914, and each time in the general election he led the democratic ticket.
“Run it to suit yourself,” was the laconic and characteristic remark of Col. J. J. MeAlester to Luda P. Davenport, made twenty years ago when MeAlester, the United States Marshal of Indian Territory, appointed Davenport deputy in charge of the office at Antlers. And during the two and a half years which Davenport was in the office Colonel MeAlester but twice visited it. That was at a time when the office of United States Marshal was conducted principally that white men without Indian affiliations by marriage might be made to obey the laws of the Federal Government within the Indian country or suffer the consequences. In the Antlers office no cases of wide importance developed, although its records contain memoranda of many interesting matters involving issues to determine whether causes came under jurisdiction of the Federal Court or the Choctaw Tribal Court.
Mr. Davenport had settled in Antlers live years previous to his appointment as office deputy. That was in 1890. He was the second lawyer to hang out his shingle in this region of the Choctaw country. White settlers were far fewer than deer and turkey and on the highway between Antlers and the old Village of Doaksville there were only two houses. It was at a time when there was strife between the Locke and Jones factions in politics and killings were numerous. Mr. Davenport recalls standing on the railroad track one day and witnessing a fight between about ten Locke men, who were barricaded in the Locke mansion on a hill, and over 100 Jones men, who made an attack running up the hill. This war was ended by the dispatching to Antlers of troops.
Mr. Davenport was admitted to practice in the Federal Court by Judge J. M. Shackelford, who presided over sessions of his court at Muskogee, McAlester and Ardmore, then the only Federal Court towns in Indian Territory. He practiced also before Judge John C. Gibbons, United States commissioner at Antlers, whose jurisdiction was over a territory now embraced in several counties in Southeastern Oklahoma.
Before statehood Judge Davenport took an active part in democratic politics, having been n delegate to the now famous Ardmore convention in which the Wolverton and Markham factions contested for supremacy in a fight for the place of national committeeman. He was also a delegate to the Indian Territory Democratic Convention in Durant that elected Robert L. Williams national committeeman. He was committeeman of the Twenty-Fourth Recording District of Indian Territory before statehood, and has been a delegate to every democratic state convention save one. As county judge he has handled many cases involving Indian probate matters and has made it a rule to get for the Indian in case of a land sale all the property was worth. He has been especially careful in handling matters relating to dead Indian claims in protecting the interests of the heirs. As mayor of Antlers in 1905-06 Mr. Davenport initiated the first movement for improving the streets. An ordinance was passed on his motion creating a revenue out of which this could be done.
Thus in many important ways has Judge Davenport figured in the life of Southeastern Oklahoma during the last quarter of a century. He is a Louisiana man by birth, born in 1861, though six years later his parents moved to Scott County, Arkansas, where he spent most of his childhood and youth. His father was Hr. Thomas Davenport, a graduate of the Kentucky School of Medicine, who served as surgeon in a Confederate regiment during the Civil war. Judge Davenport’s mother, whose maiden name was Miss Louise Fuller, was descended from the well known Pickens family which gave two governors to South Carolina and included also Gen. Andrew Pickens of Revolutionary war fame. Judge Davenport has two brothers and a sister: Dr. C. P. Davenport, a physician at Hartford, Arkansas; J. B. Davenport, who until recently was engaged in business in Shawnee; and Mrs. J. T. Davis, wile of a business man in Kansas City.
School facilities were poor when Judge Davenport was a boy and he attended a regular school but a few months. In the university of hard knocks he was well trained for practical affairs and acquired a liberal law education by reading and practice and observation. he began the practice of law in Sebastian County, Arkansas, in 1887, and from there in 1890 came to Indian Territory and located at Antlers. Judge Davenport was married in Arkansas in 1885 to Miss Rena McAlister. They have one daughter, Mrs. T. Boland, whose husband is agent for the Ingram Lumber Company at Antlers. Judge Davenport is a member of the Baptist Church, is affiliated with the Masonic Order, the Woodmen of the World and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is an honored member in the County and State Bar associations.