In 1878, a military camp was established near Bear Butte under the command of General Samuel D. Sturgis. The camp was named Camp J.G. Sturgis after the general's son who was among those of the 7th Cavalry who died at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Later that year a permanent fort was established a few miles south of the camp site and was named Fort Meade in honor of Major George G. Meade of Civil War fame.
Recognizing the opportunities of locating near the fort, a number of vendors set up where they could sell their wares to soldiers. The practice of relieving the men of their pay was called "scooping" and the vendor settlement was called Scooptown, a nickname that Sturgis retains today. Scooptown was platted, in August 1878, as Sturgis City and was named for General Samuel Sturgis. The town was incorporated ten years later as Sturgis and it quickly became a center for commerce, agriculture and eventually tourism.
Joseph J. Davenport arrived in Sturgis in June 1884. His first business venture was to organize the Lawrence County Bank with a capital of $25,000 (this bank was located in Sturgis, which at that time was still part of Lawrence County). He served as the cashier until this bank was consolidated with the Box&Stebbins Bank. At that point, Davenport organized the First National Bank of Sturgis where he served as a director and the cashier until selling his banking interests in 1896.