James S. Davenport

Class of
James S. Davenport

James S. Davenport

“I don’t believe there is a precinct in the state in which he doesn’t have some personal friend. I consider his death to be a loss to the state.”
Oklahoma Governor J.B. Phillips, 1940


James Sanford Davenport was born in 1864 in Alabama. One of eleven children, he was educated in the public schools and at the Greenbrier Academy in Arkansas and arrived in Muskogee, Indian Territory, in 1890 to begin his law practice. Two years later he married Gulielma Ross, a great-great granddaughter of Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Tribe and, as a result of the union, was considered a member of the tribe. The couple moved to Vinita, Oklahoma, where he was mayor and alderman and served in the Cherokee Tribal Legislature. Married for only six years, Gulielma died in 1898. He continued to serve in the Cherokee Tribal Legislature and in 1907, married a second time to Byrd Ironside, also of the Cherokee Tribe. One week prior to the marriage, he was elected to the 60th Congress. He was a member of the first House Roads and Highways Committee and was elected to the Criminal Court of Appeals in 1926. Despite all these accomplishments, perhaps the greatest legacy of “Sunny Jim” Davenport was his ability to relate humorous anecdotes, many of them gained from experience as a Congressman, which not only brought him friends, but often votes from fellow congressmen, where long speeches would have failed.

Fun fact

James S. Davenport was the only intermarried white man ever to serve as speaker of the lower house of the Cherokee Tribal Legislature.

Oklahoma connections

Davenport moved to Muskogee, Indian Territory, in 1890 to establish a law practice.









No items found.
No items found.