The Yankee Rebel Tavern was named after the patriot, Ambrose R. Davenport, who arrived on Mackinac Island as a military enlistee and later became a wealthy fur trader. While a prisoner of war during the War of 1812, Davenport refused allegiance to the British crown and simply, but proudly, declared, "I was born in America and am determined at all hazards, to live and die an American citizen."
Having experienced the patriotism of
the American revolution as a child, Ambrose Davenport attended
school in Virginia with William Henry Harrison. Upon
graduation he enlisted with the US Army and was assigned to
Fort Mackinac here on the Island and was present for the American
takeover from the British in 1796.
In the years that followed, Ambrose Davenport left the military and remained on the Island for the lucrative fur trading business. By 1812, the prominent Davenports had six children and faced the British Invasion of Mackinac Island. As the war of 1812 progressed, the Fort, its entire garrison, and many Islanders (including the Davenports) became Prisoners of War. British Captain Charles Roberts demanded all American captives swear allegiance to the crown, but Ambrose Davenport refused. Deported to Detroit, along with other prisoners, Davenport was placed on parole while his wife and family remained on Mackinac Island. Mrs. Davenport was constantly harassed and insulted by the British as they referred to her as "the wife of the Yankee Rebel".
Following the recapture of Mackinac Island, Davenport returned home in 1815 and turned to farming since John Jacob Astor now dominated the fur business. He became a charter member of Mission Church in 1823. A veterans land grant for his farm was finally confirmed by Congress in 1830 and his deed signed by Andrew Jackson. Their farm was located in the area now known as Hubbard's Annex.
Ambrose Davenport and his family weathered the failures and fortunes of farming and his homestead remains standing today as an old small house at the back of the property owned by the Chambers Family. At his death at the age of 87, in 1858, he left a large family that has dispersed throughout the United States.
Today, the Yankee Rebel Tavern carries on the patriotic theme and strives to serve the finest American cuisine on Mackinac Island and in Northern Michigan.