Got a breakthrough in the hunt for “Lloyd “Ducky” Davenport’s final resting place, albeit a limited one!
I talked to Alvin Davenport of New Orleans over the phone last night, and confirmed that his family had a professional baseball player in its ranks who lived in Chicago. That makes sense given that Lloyd Davenport played several seasons for the Chicago American Giants.
Alvin said he barely knew his Uncle Lloyd personally, given that the latter died when Alvin was only 7 or 8. But Alvin described his Uncle Lloyd as very light skinned with a mole on his face, which again aligns with what we know of Ducky Davenport, at least from pictures of him that still exist.
Alvin Davenport said his Aunt Delores — I’m guessing the current Delores White, the daughter of Walter Davenport Jr. and the former Beatrice Steptoe — is the one in the family who knows the most about the Davenport family tree and who frequently mentioned that the family did have a professional baseball player among its ranks.
“My Aunt Delores always told me something about my relatives,” Alvin told me. “We had an uncle who played baseball. But I was really young.”
However, Alvin said he knew few, if any, details about his Uncle Lloyd the baseball player; he wasn’t even aware that Lloyd’s hardball nickname was Ducky. In fact, it was obvious that I knew much more about Lloyd Davenport than Alvin did. And, that, in many ways, feels unfortunate and depressing.
That, again, isn’t unusual — quite often baseball researchers delve more into the lives and careers of former or even passed away players than relatives of the players. To many family members, their athletic relatives are simply, like in this case, their Uncle Lloyd — or, for example, in the instance of Gentleman Dave Malarcher, who is known among his surviving grand nieces and nephews as simply Uncle Dave.
Alvin Davenport, the one with whom I talked, is actually a Junior — his father was Alvin Davenport Sr., who was the son of Walter Davenport Jr. and Beatrice Steptoe. Walter Davenport Jr. was the brother of Lloyd “Ducky” Davenport, both of whom were the sons of Walter Davenport Sr. and the former Rody Holmes.
Walter Sr. was the son of George M. and Lucy Davenport; George was born in 1855. I haven’t yet been able to trace the family back further than that, although indications are that the family originated somewhere in Mississippi.
But now for the big question, the one I’d been waiting to ask Alvin Davenport for weeks — does he know where his Uncle Lloyd is buried?
When I talked to him last night, he said he had no idea and that he would consult with his Aunt Delores (his father, Alvin Sr.’s, sister, daughter of Walter Jr. and niece of Lloyd), the family genealogist.
Alvin called me back today and left a message saying that, upon doing so, the prevailing thought in the family is that Lloyd is buried in Chicago. (I haven’t yet had a chance to call him back.)
That belief, though, directly contradicts several of the online bios of Ducky Davenport, many of which say he passed away in NOLA. It also goes against this entry on findagrave.com.
However, as my previous post on Ducky Davenport’s whereabouts shows, the info included on that Find A Grave page seemingly comes from the Social Security death information of a man named George Davenport, not Lloyd.
And I haven’t been able to find any obituary at all for Lloyd Davenport, either in Chicago papers or NOLA publications.
So perhaps we need to ask ourselves this — can we find out where Lloyd “Ducky” Davenport spent his retirement years? Where did he live later in life? In fact, where his he claim official residence throughout his life?
But even that has proven to be an extremely difficult question to answer, a veritable jigsaw puzzle of cross-checking documents and matching up residences with names and dates.
The only time I’ve been able to more or less definitively locate Lloyd Davenport in Census records — at least the ones on ancestry.com — is in 1920, when he was roughly 9 and living with his family, headed by Walter and Rody, on Third Street in New Orleans. Walter’s profession is listed as janitor.
From there, we kind of have to go down the rabbit hole …
According to military documents and other records, Walter and Rody eventually moved to 3645 Erato Street in New Orleans.
At the same time, I couldn’t really find any Lloyd Davenports in city directories — or Census records, for that matter — for Chicago or New Orleans on Ancestry. But Ancestry only includes directories up through a certain time period.
(It could be worth noting, though, that I found a Charles Davenport living in Chicago in the 1940 Census. His birth date and place — Louisiana — both match up roughly with those of Lloyd Davenport’s brother, Charles Davenport, also a son of Walter and Rody. So did Charles Davenport follow his sibling to Chicago, where Lloyd spent several seasons playing for the famed American Giants?)
That drove me to go to the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) at Tulane U. here in NOLA, where they have physical copies of New Orleans city directories pretty much up through the present day. That turned out to be quite revealing.
The 1961 City of New Orleans directory lists a Lloyd Davenport living with his wife, Margie K. Davenport, at … 3645 Erato Street, exactly where Lloyd’s parents, Walter and Rody, moved later in life. Lloyd’s occupation is listed as custodian at Charity Hospital.
The same information and entry are listed in the 1962 city directory, except that no job is listed for Lloyd. That seems to indicate that Lloyd “Ducky” Davenport spent at lest some of his post-baseball life in his hometown of New Orleans.
However, the 1962 director is the last one in which a Lloyd Davenport is listed, which muddies the waters again. But Margie/Margaret Davenport continues to be listed for several more years by herself at different addresses, usually with the occupation of computer operator at Boeing.
But that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I couldn’t find any further documentation about Margie Davenport — birth, death or marriage to Lloyd. And why does Lloyd Davenport disappear from directory listings after 1962?
And the bottom line is that all of this — including my conversation with Alvin Davenport, Ducky’s grand nephew, as well as the directory research, brings us only a smidge closer to solving the riddle of where Ducky Davenport is buried.
My best guess still remains Holt Cemetery, a so-called potter’s field in New Orleans near the famed City Park where several of Ducky’s relatives and descendents are buried.
And I definitely want to follow up with Alvin Davenport and, ideally, his Aunt Delores. So there will continue to (hopefully) be more information forthcoming. We shall see, but I remained determined to find the final resting place of great Negro League outfielder Lloyd “Ducky” Davenport!