Born on a farm in Vermont, Davenport started to learn his trade in a button factory in Rutland, then for six years in the tool room and as a scalemaker at Fairbanks Scale Co. in St. Johnsbury. Following a year in Georgia with Rome Scale Works, he joined Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co.
In 12 years there, first as a machinist and later as a designer, he designed the Brown & Sharpe automatic screw machine. Next he went into business for himself designing special machines for clock manufacture which at first he had built for him at Morse Twist Drill & Machine in New Bedford. The first unique five-spindle Davenport automatic screw machine was introduced in 1910. Later he moved to his own shop in Springfield, Mass, and in 1919 he moved to Rochester, NY. Although he built a substantial factory, for the next thirty years there was usually a long list of customers waiting for a Davenport----a wait that sometimes extended to two or three years.