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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Ancestry: Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/85827762/person/34524642502/facts?_phsrc=cbC212&_phstart=successSource

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

DAVENPORT, Ira. (Winfield, KS, Oct. 8, 1887--Dubuque, IA, June 17, 1941). Davenport achieved world-class status as an athlete while a student at the Tonkawa Preparatory School in Oklahoma. He established a world's record for preparatory schools in the l00-yard dash and attracted the attention of the legendary Alonzo Stagg of the University of Chicago.

Davenport enrolled as a student at the University of Chicago in 1909. Stagg recognized Davenport's talents in track and withdrew him from the university's football team. When the Western Conference held its first indoor track and field championship meet, Davenport won the quarter and half mile events. (1) Davenport ran 48.8 for 440 yards in 1910 which was the fastest time recorded in the world that year. (2)

Davenport's athletic career peaked with his selection to the American team for the Stockholm, Sweden OLYMPIC GAMES of 1912. In the 800-meter race, Davenport and two other American runners nearly tied at the end to set a new world's record of 1:51:9. It was said that his world record for the one-quarter mile race with a mid-course turn was never equaled. He also participated for the United States in the exhibition baseball tournament in Stockholm. (3)

Davenport came to Dubuque on January 1, 1915, and served as the construction superintendent of the DUBUQUE BOAT AND BOILER WORKS. In 1916 he was promoted to secretary-treasurer and later general manager of the company. Beginning in 1921, Davenport operated the business independently.

Davenport served as a member of the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT board of education from 1921 to 1925 when WASHINGTON MIDDLE SCHOOL, JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, and DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL were constructed. He was also a trustee of the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.) and county chairman of the Republican Central Committee from 1924 to 1928. In 1932 he became a member of the board of directors of the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce. (4)

Although retired from active sports, Davenport coached football teams of the Dubuque post of the American Legion. He served as head football coach at LORAS COLLEGE in 1920 and 1921.

Gravestone in Linwood Cemetery



1. "Times Have Changed Considerably Since Ira Davenport Wore Spikes," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, Mar. 3, 1929, p. 3

2. "Ira Davenport," SR/Olympic Sports. Online: http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/da/ira-davenport-1.html

3. Ibid.

4. "Davenport is New Chamber Director, " Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, Dec. 22, 1932, p. 10