Indigenous American Voices

This past Wednesday evening at the Eastern Avenue branch of the Davenport Public Library, a direct descendant of the Lakota leader Crazy Horse spoke about recording his family’s oral history. 

Floyd Clown, grandson to Crazy Horse, was on his 146th public presentation to deliver this message: the story of his family and his famous ancestor has long been misrepresented by others; now it must come directly from members of the family itself.  This, he said, was the reason he and two of Crazy Horse’s other grandsons — Doug War Eagle and Don Red Thunder — agreed to tell the truth about their family to author William Matson and take the book Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life and Legacy on a worldwide tour.

The family’s collective first-person voice rings clearly from the book’s beginning pages:

“We do not like the fact that our history has been painted incorrectly by other cultures…This is one of the reasons that we need to tell our own history…We hope that by putting our oral history in print, we will help our children, grand-children, and unborn to know it, and at the same time, help other cultures to see us for who we are.” (p. 10)

A similar desire to speak for one’s own self and people was expressed nearly two centuries ago by a Native American familiar to us here in the Quad Cities: Black Hawk, or Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, leader of the Sacs. In his 1833 autobiography, Black Hawk included these words in his dedication to Brigadier General H. Atkinson:

“…I have determined to give my motives and reasons for my former hostilities to the whites, and to vindicate my character from misrepresentation.” (p. 7)

J.B. Patterson, editor of the autobiography, included a phonetic transcription of the dedication as spoken by Black Hawk in his own language:

Patterson also supported Black Hawk’s wish to tell his own story in his introduction (the “Advertisement”):

“Several accounts of the late war having been published, in which he thinks justice is not done to himself or nation, he determined to make known to the world the injuries his people have received from the whites, the causes which brought on the war on the part of his nation…” (p. 9)

Black Hawk’s interpreter Antoine LeClaire, himself of Pottawottomie descent, was likewise eager to convey how much the Sac leader wanted his voice to be heard:

“…on his return to his people in August last…[Black Hawk] expressed a great desire to have a History of his Life written and published, in order (as he said) ‘that the people of the United States…might know the causes that had impelled him to act as he had done, and the principles by which he was governed.'” (p. 3)

LeClaire also vouched for the authenticity of Black Hawk’s account:

“I was particularly cautious to understand distinctly the narrative of Black Hawk throughout–and have examined the work carefully since its completion, and have no hesitation in pronouncing it strictly corrrect, in all its particulars.” (p. 3)

Just as Matson did for the Crazy Horse family:

[The family members]…supervised and had the final approval on this manuscript and would only allow it to be published if it remained unchanged.” (p. 9)

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center holds two copies each of the 1882 and 1912 editions of Black Hawk’s autobiography, as well as Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life and Legacy. The latter may also be checked out from all three branches.

Explore more personal narratives and family histories at the Davenport Public Library!

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Early Days of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission

The current controversy over the proposed restructuring of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission harkens back to the difficulties it experienced during the earliest days of its existence.  In fact, much argument over the Davenport Human Relations Commission’s purpose and powers preceded its establishment under Mayor Ray O’Brien in July 1962. The first reading of the proposed ordinance in May of that year brought “emotion-packed” protest from several clergymen and other members of the community who felt that the city should model the Commission on the one in Des Moines, which had the ability impose penalties upon employers who discriminated on the basis of race, color, or creed. [1] 

Two years later, in May of 1964, four members of the Human Relations Commission resigned in succession. These were Charles Toney, president of the Catholic Interracial Council, Harry S. Roberts, Henry Vargas, president of the Davenport chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Lawrence Satin,”considered the only remaining member of a minority group on the commission” as a Jewish man. [2]  Toney and Vargas cited the City Council’s failure to strengthen the Commission and accept a fair housing ordinance proposal as reasons for their departure. Vargas said, “…if the council is not going to make use of the commission, I see little reason for its existence.” Harry S. Roberts was “…dissatisfied because the existing commission is virtually powerless, with little more than persuasion at its command.” [3]

The feeling that the city was not supportive of its citizens’ efforts to promote civil rights persisted through a change in administration. In September of 1966, HRC chairman Rev. Jack Wolter delivered a list of eight recommendations to Mayor John Jebens and aldermen for improving race relations in Davenport. One of these was to “hire a full-time professional person” because “…as the commission is organized it has neither the power nor time to act on problems it knows exist.” In response to Jebens’ statement that this would mean “creating a job to give someone a free ride at taxpayers expense,” the members of the HRC said “…the director would take various forms of constructive action, such as education, to better race relations and should not be limited to checking complaints.” [4]

In an interview with the Sunday Times-Democrat on December 24, 1967 commissioner Paul Ives expressed hope for progress if the city could provide more funding and if the HRC “…had a paid executive director who could organize and lead commission programs,” particularly in the area of community education. [5]  A binder of HRC materials from 1966-68 held by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center include a “position analysis,” or job description, for an Executive Director. 

Ives reported another departure from the Commission over the question of a local fair housing ordinance, that of the Rabbi Milton Rosenfeld. In a document included in the RSSCC’s collection, Rosenfeld also expressed frustration that “no action has been taken by the Mayor” to fill the eight vacancies on the Commission, and that the idea of hiring a full-time Director to work with a full Commission “received no encouragement from the Administration…” [6]

A more detailed account of the activities and struggles of the Davenport Human Relations Commission between 1966-68 may be assembled from the ordinance drafts, program proposals, correspondence, agendas, meeting minutes, reports, press releases, newspaper clippings, and other documents included in the Davenport Civil Rights Commission collection, along with reporting in the local newspapers from that period.  Both sources are available to researchers here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Public Library.

(posted by Katie)


[1] Daily Times, May 3, 1969, p. 9.

[2]  Morning Democrat, May 29, 1964, p. 3.

[3] Daily Times, May 13, 1964.

[4] Times-Democrat, Sept. 7, 1966, p. 37.

[5] Sunday Times-Democrat, Dec. 24, 1967, p. 3A.

[6] “Reasons for the resignation of Rabbi Milton D. Rosenfeld from the Davenport Human Relations Commission,” “Committee Reports,”1966-1968 binder, Davenport Civil Rights Commission Historical Materials, RSSCC Acc# 2005-13.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bix in Context: Jazz Music on the Mississippi

We are getting “jazzed” for this weekend’s 47th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, or “Bix Fest,” by taking a closer look the local music scene that nurtured Davenport’s world-renowned cornetist.  In the summertime months, the place to be was a floating one: a steamboat on the Mississippi River.

The Streckfus Steamboat Company led the way in the area of excursion boat entertainment in the teens and twenties. Indeed, Captain Joe Streckfus is said to have been rather particular about the musicians he hired to perform.  Cornetist and fellow Rock Islander Tony Catalano passed scrutiny, playing as early as 1913 on the St. Paul:

Davenport Daily Times, May 13, 1913

Catalano’s employment with the Streckfus line steadily continued.  In the 1923 season, his band “Tony’s Famous Iowans” performed aboard the Capitol.

Davenport Daily Times, July 14, 1923

African-American jazz bands from elsewhere along the Mississippi also hired to perform on the Streckfus boats, most famously the ones led by Fate Marable of Paducah, Kentucky.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 19, 1922

Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 17, 1925

When the riverboats wintered, the white “Tri-Cities” musicians working for dance-band leaders Catalano, Carlisle Evans, and Doc Wixon found work in many local dry-land venues, including the Coliseum, the Danceland Ballroom, and the Turner halls:

Davenport Daily Times, October 9, 1920

Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 18, 1920

Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 23, 1923

Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 14, 1928

Imagine yourself in this rich musical environment, aboard a Mississippi steamer or twirling in a Tri-Cities dance hall, by browsing our collection of newspapers for advertisements and articles about the artists who shaped the jazz age. And other sources on Bix in context are available here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center for you to explore!



Johnson, Rich J. Bix: the Davenport Album. Barnegat, NJ: Razor Edge Press, 2009.

Davenport newspapers, as noted.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A German-American Contribution to Davenport’s History: Turnverein, the Turner Movement

Be sure to check out “Sound Mind Sound Body: Turnverein Traditions,” the latest exhibit presented by our fellow downtown Davenport history and cultural institution, the German American Heritage Center. In support, we offer this brief history of the Turner Movement written by Anna Teggatz, the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center’s 2017 intern from Western Illinois University:

Gymnastics and the Turner Movement

Upon hearing the word “gymnastics,” you may immediately think of balance beams, rings, the splits, and the Olympics. Although gymnastics is now considered a competitive sport, it was once part of a broader cultural movement that encouraged the exercise of the mind and body in concert, with a focus on civic engagement. German immigrants brought the ideas of the Turnverein (an association of gymnastics clubs) to U.S. cities like Davenport in the mid-19th century.

The first gymnastics club was created in 1811 by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Berlin, Germany. Known as the “father of gymnastics,” Jahn invented many pieces of equipment used in gymnastics today, such as parallel bars, rings, balance beams, and horizontal bars. While Jahn strongly stressed the importance of physical exercise in gymnastics, he also emphasized the significance of exercising one’s mental health by fulfilling civic duties and recognizing his/her identity within society.

The first Turner societies established by German immigrants to the United States were in the cities of Louisville and Cincinnati in 1848. Within three years, 22 societies were founded, an official national organization called the “Die Vereinigten Turnvereine Amerikas (the United Turnvereine of America) was established, a national newspaper, the Turnzeitung was created, and several national conventions and competitions were held across the country. The American Turners’ stated purpose was to

”…promote physical education and disseminate rational ideas, in order to advance health, happiness, prosperity, and the progress of mankind. The Turner principles, briefly summarized, are as follows: Liberty, against all oppression; Tolerance, against all fanaticism; Reason, against all superstition; Justice against all exploitation! Free speech, free press, free assembly for the discussion of all questions, so that men and women may think unfettered and order their lives by the dictates of conscience – such is our ideal, which we strive to attain through “a sound mind in a sound body.” [1]

The Davenport Turn-Gemeinde, founded in November 1852, was among the earliest societies to form in the United States. Songs like this, sung from the society’s songbook, would have helped the members spread the Turners’ message as well as cement it in their own minds:

“American Turner Song” (Stanza 1)

We are building for to-morrow,/For a strong and active life,/Not for fame, or gold to borrow,/Not to wage a war of strife./For our home and land we’ll labor,/We will give our best each day;/With this watchword on our banner/“Forward” for America.” [2]

As the movement took root, the Turners soon became involved in America’s politics, primarily those revolving around slavery and immigration during the Civil War. Turners certainly exercised both their physical and mental strengths as Union Army soldiers in the conflict. Following the war, the Turners continued to advocate gymnastics and their principles throughout the nation and, by the end of the century, there were more than 300 societies and 40,000 members across the country.

The Central Turners in Davenport were one of these societies.  Established in 1880, this society was located at the southwest corner of 3rd and Scott Streets. The Turners also continued to play political roles following the war, as they opposed both Prohibition and Sabbath-Day laws due to the threats these laws posed to German customs.

Despite their positive influence throughout the United States in the years during and after the Civil War, the Turners were to experience the anti-German sentiment enmity that arose as the Americans entered the First World War. Some Turner societies were forced to dissolve while others changed their German names to English ones in an attempt to decrease the hostility they were experiencing and to ensure others of their allegiance to the U.S. In the face of these obstacles, however, the Turners continued to expand their movement and added an even greater number of communal activities for those in the German community to engage in. In addition to supporting gymnastic programs, the Turners also serviced libraries, theatrical groups, singing societies, German schools for children, and lecture series. The Turners had even introduced the idea of physical education in schools at a convention in 1880. Throughout the times in which the Turners thrived, there were five Turner halls in Scott County; three of these halls were in Davenport. The only two still standing today are both located in the city.

While neither of the Turner halls standing in Davenport today are still home to Turner societies, the legacy of the Turners themselves lives on both in history and in its influence on descendants. A tangible piece of this legacy includes a memorial stone dedicated at the Schuetzen Park Historic Site in Davenport on Sunday, September 26, 2004. Upon the dedication of this memorial, a former member of the Davenport Northwest Turners recalled memories of his time being a Turner, saying he was “really proud to be a Turner.”

Visit the Davenport Public Library for even more information on the Turners’ history and legacy in the Quad Cities!


[1] American Turners. A century of health, 1848-1948, p.3.  SC 369 AME

[2] Davenport Turn-Gemeinde “150 Jahre,” 1852-2002.  SC 781.62 DAV

Other Sources:

Centennial souvenir book : 100th anniversary, 1871-1971, Northwest Turners, Davenport, Iowa.  SC 796.06 Cen

One hundredth anniversary, 1852-1952: 44th national convention of Central Turners, Davenport, Iowa.  SC 796.06 One

Pumroy, Eric L. and Kalja Rampalmaun. “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.” Humanities, vol. 15, no. 2, Mar/Apr94, pp. 34-38.

Two Turner Halls Remain in Scott County,” Quad-City Times, Jan. 18. 2013.

Willard, John, “Schuetzen Park to dedicate Turners memorial – Stone serves as a reminder of legacy in the Quad Cities,” Quad-City Times, Sept. 21, 2004.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

History and Legacy of the Bix 7 Road Race

What does a jazz cornetist have to do with running? Find out this Monday, July 23rd at 6:30 pm at the Davenport Public Library | Main. Representatives from the Bix 7 will be on hand to talk about the history and legacy of the 43-year-old race.

Here are some quick facts about the inaugural race, published in the Quad-City Times on Sunday, July 27, 1975: 

The first Bix 7-Mile Run took place on Saturday, July 26th, 1975 at 10 am. The starting/finish line was located at 2nd and Main streets. 84 runners paid the $2 entry fee and over 500 spectators cheered them on along the race course. The runners were greeted at the finish line with ragtime music performed by musicians from the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. The first Bix 7 winner was Lucian Rosa, a 31 year old student of the University of Wisconsin at Parkside and Olympic runner from Sri-Lanka. His time was 34 minutes, 33.8 seconds, an average of 4:56 per mile. The race was sponsored and organized by the Quad Cities’ Cornbelt Running Club and the Downtown Davenport Association

Learn more about how the race has changed over the years from the experts and through archival items in our collection. 

Quad-City Times, Tuesday, July 22, 1975 p. 5


(posted by Cristina)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Living Memory History: The Flood of ’93

The last 1.32 inches of rain that fell in two hours on Thursday, July 8, 1993 helped put 1993 into local history record books. It was the year the Mississippi River once again rose to challenge – and then pass – the flood crest of 1965.* The flood of 1965 stood in first place for 28 years when the crest reached 22.48 feet on April 28th of that year.

That record fell on July 9, 1993 when the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 15 crested at 22.63 feet.

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the June/July flood of 1993 (which still stands in first place as of this blog for historic crests at Lock and Dam 15). We thought we would take a moment to look through not only photos of the flood, but the aftermath as well.

We tried to select photos of local landmarks that may be familiar to local readers. We would like to thank the Davenport Police Historic Association for the use of aerial photographs taken by the Davenport Police Department during the flood.

Photo courtesy of the Davenport Police Historic Association. The building in the middle of the aerial photo was The Dock Restaurant (now demolished). The bottom of the photo is the river bed. From The Dock to the upper portion of the photo should be land including railroad tracks and River Drive..

Collection 2008-28 – Box 53 Image 327. The image shows The Dock Restaurant building in the middle of the image. The President Casino to the right and the roller dam between Davenport and the Rock Island Arsenal to the left. River Drive and railroad tracks are covered with water.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 53 Image 353. Flooded streets facing the President Casino landing. TV crews, police cars, and emergency boats were typical vehicles found at flooded intersections.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 53 Image 348. Union Station at Harrison Street and River Drive was protected by sandbags. While it held much of the flood waters back. Some water did get into the first floor causing minor damage.

Photo Courtesy of the Davenport Police Historic Association. Aerial view showing west Davenport. The Centennial Bridge (now the Talbot Memorial Bridge) would be to the right of this photo.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 53 Image 342. Another perspective. Photo taken from Centennial Bridge (now Talbot Memorial Bridge) facing west Davenport. Oscar Mayer factory is in the upper right section of image.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 53 Image 338. Photo taken from Centennial Bridge (now Talbot Memorial Bridge) facing west Davenport. Tree line on right of photo indicates where land starts. River flows normally on the left of the photo.

Photo courtesy of the Davenport Police Historic Association. Aerial view of LeClaire Park, W.D. Petersen Memorial Music Pavilion (also referred to as the LeClaire Bandshell) and the John O’Donnell (now Modern Woodmen Park) baseball stadium. The river flows normally on the left hand of the picture. The tree line indicates where land starts. Water is covering River Drive and railroad tracks. Also the seating in front of the Bandshell is covered.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 54 Image 415. LeClaire Park after the flood. City trucks had snow plows placed on them to push the mud off roads.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 54 Image 41. LeClaire Park levee wall damage from the flood.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 55 Image 511. LeClaire Park after the flood. Mud completely covers sidewalks and grass.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 55 Image 508. Seating in front of the LeClaire Bandshell after the flood. Layers of mud had to be removed.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 55 Image 498. The Davenport Fire Department helped hose down streets to remove mud and debris left by the flood.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 52 Image 357. John O’Donnell Stadium (now Modern Woodmen Park) was the iconic image of the flood. Water inside the ball field reached seven feet.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 54 Image 433. Benches outside the baseball stadium after the flood. Notice one bench is missing a section of seating and bent at an angle.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 54 Image 436. Inside the baseball stadium after flood waters receded. No games were played on the field until the following season.

Collection 2008-28 – Box 54 Image 435. Analyzing the condition of the field. Besides the mud and debris, clean up crews dealt with the stench of river water and rotting fish in the August heat.

As we note the 25th anniversary of the flood of 1993, we hope that we continue to commemorate it for years to come. No one wants to think of a flood that might top it.

Please visit our previous blogs that reference the flood of 1993. 

*The short version of the flood of 1993 is heavy rains in the north filtered into the Mississippi River. Just as the water levels began to rise in the Quad Cities from the northern floods; rain began to fall locally. June of 1993 is still ranked as the wettest June in records kept by the National Weather Service. Every night it seemed to rain and the river level continued to rise until the crest on July 9th.

(posted by Amy D.)



Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brick Wall Strategies: Genealogy Forms & Resource Checklist

While conducting genealogical research, some family members remain elusive and difficult to find. At this month’s Genealogy Perspectives program, we watched Lisa Louise Cooke’s video “Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step By Step Process”. Here are some takeaways we found noteworthy. 

Be Organized

Organization is key to any project, but especially to historical research. One way to do this is by keeping the materials in folders, binders, or other organizational materials. Also keeping the materials well labelled with names of the family members and families along with dates and locations of when and where the items were created. Using pencils and notebooks to document notes about the paper and photographic materials in your collection is essential to long-term care of family heirlooms. 

Another approach to organizing your collection is digitally with Evernote. Evernote is freely available and helps synchronize all your notes between your devices. 

Another step discussed was using a check list and genealogy forms to make sure you’ve looked at every source available. We have created some forms to help you with your research at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center:

Use the Special Collections Resource Checklist to keep track of where you’ve looked for information. 

The City Directory Research form can be used to track your ancestor or property owners through the years. 

The 5 Generation Ancestor Chart and Family Group Sheet are standard forms used by genealogists to organize their information. 

Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to pick up the forms or download & print from here

Be Linear – Create a Timeline

A visual aid may be beneficial to view the information in a new way. Timelines help us to visualize information by organizing it chronologically. Lisa Louise Cooke offers some online timeline tools not offered by the genealogy software you may be currently utilizing: 

Time Glider (free or paid services)

Time Graphics (free or premium paid services)

Timeline by Knight Lab (free)

Timeline Maker (paid service and a 14-day free trial)

Be Inquisitive

Remaining curious about those stubborn family members will yield unexpected result. When researching it is okay to step back and look at family members you do know about, to go over the records you have already collected, and to look for new evidence. New evidence may be found in records and materials you have overlooked. For instance, review marriage applications, voter records, and non-population census schedules. Make lists of various record and material types so you don’t miss them and always take a second look! 

In addition to looking for new evidence, use your intuition and follow a hypothesis that keeps cropping up. A hypothesis may help to refine your search for that relative. If there is no evidence for that hypothesis, then you can make note of it and move onto the next inquiry. 

Be Relentless

Genealogical research leaves a lasting mark on those bitten by the family history bug. Don’t tire and give up! Persevere with your research even when you hit a brick wall or a cold case because you may stumble upon records, materials, and even people who may be able to help you solve the case.


(posted by Kathryn)

Posted in Genealogy, Library | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summertime Fun in Davenport, 1918

In planning this week’s blog we thought of two possibl topics:  the start of summer (June 21st) and what was happening here in Davenport and the Quad Cities a hundred years ago. Both ideas came together when we found some wonderful advertisements in the local newspapers for summertime entertainment in 1918!

The week of June 17, 1918 started of with temperatures hitting 98 degrees and ended with some slightly cooler days. Some of these outdoor events may have looked enticing to local residents:

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 23, 1918. Pg. 4.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 21, 1918. Pg. 8

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 21, 1918. Pg. 11. Forest Park was recently featured in another RSSCC blog. Please read more about it here.

A bicycle ride in the countryside could have been a welcome escape from the muggy city:

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 23, 1918. Pg. 4.

In the cooler summer evenings, carnivals and dances were popular entertainments:

The Daily Times, June 22, 1918. Pg. 6

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 19, 1918. Pg. 2.

Some may have found indoor activities, such as a movie or vaudeville show, to be an attractive entertainment option. While we could find no evidence that local theaters had any kind of air conditioning, the Garden Theatre claimed it was “20 degrees cooler” inside.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 17, 1918. Pg. 5.

The Daily Times, June 17, 1918. Pg. 5.

Then as now, going out for ice cream was a standard summertime activity!

The Daily Times, June 22, 1918. Pg. 4.

Our favorite advertisement is for this relaxing evening at the Riverview Tea Room atop the Putnam Building:

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 23, 1918. Pg. 7.

The Riverview Tea Room opened on September 26, 1914 on the ninth floor of the Putnam Building. The proprietresses were Miss Josephine Perry and Miss Mabel Dunham, recent graduates of the University of Chicago Domestic Services Department. The Tea Room perched on the highest point in the city at that time, offering wonderful views.  Miss Perry left the business in March 1915 to become a teacher in the Domestic Services Department at the University of Chicago. The business, though very successful, closed officially in October of 1918 when the remaining owner, Miss Perry, returned to Chicago to serve the war effort as head of the Cafeteria and Hostess House at the Chicago Great Lakes Training Station. The Tea Room never reopened. However, spectacular views of the city and the Mississippi River may still be had from the ninth floor of the Putnam Building today, at The Current Iowa hotel’s UP Skybar and Lounge.

Now, if you will please excuse us, we are off to find some comfortable steamer chairs to recreate the Riverview Tea Room experience for ourselves!

(posted by Amy D.)


The Davenport Daily Times, September 25, 1914, 6.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 4, 1915, 12.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 17, 1918, 5.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 19, 1918, 2.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 21, 1918, 8, 11.

The Daily Times, June 22, 1918, 4, 6.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 23, 1918, 4, 7.

The Davenport Daily Times, October 7, 1918, 6.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Day In History: Roller coaster crash at Forest (Schuetzen) Park

On Sunday, June 17th, 1923, a near record crowd of 3,640 people attended the annual basket picnic of the Davenport lodge No. 28, Loyal Order of Moose at Forest Park.

Attendees enjoyed a program of games and outdoor sports, including a baseball game between married men and single men, horseshoe pitching, a guessing contest, and athletic contests, with prizes for the winners donated by Davenport businesses. The Moose 36-piece band put on a concert that afternoon. 

At 8:15 pm, a horrifying scene unfolded on the figure eight roller coaster, advertised as “the largest and safest west of Chicago”. The first car made it over the first dip and was almost to the top of the second incline, 45 feet above the ground, when it started slowing down, came to a stop, then slid backwards to the bottom of the dip and partly up the opposite slope. The car slid forward again and up the incline for a short distance and backwards once more, finally coming to a stop in the bottom of the dip. The second car, which had been released a few seconds before, crashed down into the first car, injuring 10 people.

The Daily Times, Monday, June 18, 1923, p.1

The victims and their injuries: 

Mary Taylor, age 16, suffered severe injuries to her head.

Amy Taylor, age 18, was knocked unconscious in the crash, had a bruise on her forehead and a lacerated leg.

Woods Taylor, age 29, had a broken nose and bruises on his arm and leg.

Charles Forgie, age 18, had bruises and cuts on his leg and several teeth knocked out. 

Loretta Thompson, age 16, bruised her jaw.

Robert Montague suffered from shock and was slightly bruised.

Duncan Estes, age 13, was bruised and had a cut on his knee.

Frances Whitaker suffered from shock and bruises.

An unidentified boy, age 10, sprained his ankle after jumping off the second car and falling 15 feet to the ground.

Daniel O’Connor, a heavyset man,  had scratches and slight bruises after jumping from the second car, landing on a trestle which gave way under his weight, then falling 10 feet onto another projection. 

The coaster was inspected the next afternoon by building commissioner Ed McCoy, who found a bent axle on the first car, which would account for it failing to make the grade. Safety clutches were ordered to be installed as well as an automatic device that would indicate to the starter when the first car had passed the second big dip before releasing the second car.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, June 18, 1923, p. 1

This was not the first roller coaster accident at Forest Park. On Sunday, July 31st, 1921 at 8:35 pm, 7 people were injured when the first car failed to make a slight grade on the final rise onto the platform and slid backwards, swaying back and forth on the dip until a second car crashed into the rear of the first. That wasn’t enough to stop the amusements for the evening because two hours later another person was injured in a second accident exactly like the first. A broken brake shoe on one of the cars was to blame for these two incidents. 

The victims and their injuries: 

Fred Sirike, hands bruised.

Andrew Sirike, hands and chest bruised.

Eva Isenhart, sent to Mercy Hospital with serious body bruises.

Laura Kile, sent to Mercy Hospital with serious body bruises.

Fred Fick, injuries to the head and body

Richard Peters, minor bruises

Frances Buttgren, minor bruises.

Bertha Kreneheller, foot injured

The figure eight roller coaster at Forest Park, formerly and currently known as Schuetzen Park, opened on Sunday, June 20th, 1920, during the festivities for the 68th Anniversary of the Davenport Turners. The amusement park was  managed by Tobe Watkins, who still had eight years left on his ten year lease from the Davenport Shooting Association. 

The coaster itself was built and operated by the Davenport Coaster company, which was incorporated on May 4th, 1920 by three men from Rockford, Illinois: Charles O. Breinig, president; H. S. Burpee, vice president; and Paul Stick, secretary and treasurer. The company spent $15,000 on amusement devices at Forest Park.

The amusement park closed after Labor Day in 1923. The grounds had been sold to the Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanitarium Co. on May 1st of that year, and the inn, bar room, bowling alley, and music pavilion had already been converted into living quarters for patients and attendants. Manager Tobe Watkins had been allowed to continue his lease for the summer to give Davenporters one more season at the old amusement park.

The Roller coaster was torn down by the City in October 1926 as it was deemed a menace to public safety. 

The Davenport Democrat And Leader, Monday, August 16, 1920, p. 32

Read more about Schuetzen Park


(posted by Cristina)


Works Cited

3,640 Attended Moose Picnic Here Sunday. (1923, June 18). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, p. 12

7 Injured As Coaster Cars Crash. (1921, August 1). The Daily Times, p. 1.

Anniversary Of Turners To Be Held Sunday. (1920, June 18). The Davenport Democrat And Leader, p. 16.

Broken Brake Show Caused Coaster Crash. (1921, August 4). The Daily Times, p. 18.

Chiro Sanitarium Sues For Cost Of Wrecking Coaster. (1926, October 8). The Daily Times, p. 6.

Eight Hurt, One Badly in Double Accident at Forest ark Figure 8. (1921, August 1). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, p. 11.

Forest Park, 45 Years Amusement Center, to Go Out of Existence. (1923, August 24). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, p. 13.

Forest Park, for Years Davenport’s Playground, OPen Sunday Last Time. (1923, August 24). The Daily Times, p. 2.

Look for the Giant Coaster. (1920, August 16). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, p. 32.

Roller Coaster To Be Equipped With ‘Controls’. (1923, June 19). The Daily Times, p. 6.

Seven Injured in Coaster Accident. (1923, June 18). The Daily Times, pp. 1-2.

Ten Injured in Coaster Crash. (1923, June 18). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, pp. 1-2.

Will Operate Amusements At Forest Park. (1920, May 4). The Davenport Democrat and Leader, p. 12.


Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the Figge Art Museum for Quad Cities Museum Week

Happy Quad Cities Museum Week!

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center celebrates the Figge Museum of Art (the Davenport Public Library’s partner in this year’s Read Wild Summer Reading Program) by sharing these examples of its commitment to local artists and art collectors in the 1940s and ’50s. These exhibition guides and announcements are from our Davenport Municipal Art Gallery/Davenport Museum of Art (predecessors of the Figge) collection, #2004-70.

The First Exhibition of Art and Artist Along the Mississippi took place at at the Davenport Municipal Gallery in April of 1940 and included paintings by twenty Quad City area artists: Norma Anderson, John Bloom, Ed Clark, Dan Enich, Grace French Evans, Evelyn Blunt Ficke, Marjorie W. Godley, Helen Hinrichsen, Irma Rene Koen, Reginald Neal, Paul Norton, Louise Paterson, Ella Preston, Emilie Sass, Mary F. Schroder, Helen Loosly Stone, Ruth Currens Waterman, Frank Weisbrook, and Lou Weisbrook.

The work of some of the individual local artists whose names appear in the above list, such as Reginald Neal and Helen Hinrichsen, were later presented at the Gallery.



Rock Island resident Neal showed “kodachrome slides of many of the interesting places in which he painted and sketched” on his “trip to Old Mexico” in connection with his one-man show in 1945.  Hinrichsen, a Davenport illustrator and painter, was commissioned to create local public art including the Davenport Centennial Mural and the stairway decorations for the Petersen-Harned-Von Maur store. Her solo exhibition at the Gallery was in November, 1955.

Then as now, the Gallery supported art education in Quad Cities area schools. This is the cover of a program for the Secondary Art Exhibit of the Davenport Community Schools held in May, 1959.

The Quad Cities was also home to several serious art collectors. In the spring of 1942, the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery presented A Loan Exhibition of Oil Paintings from Private Art Collections of the Quad Cities for the public’s enjoyment. Collectors included such recognizable names as E. P. Adler, Mrs. William Butterworth, Mrs. C. A. Ficke, Frank Kohrs, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin B. Lindsay, Dorothy Struck, Dr. and Mrs. Karl Vollmer, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Weisbrook.

Works exhibited ranged from Rembrandt and other Dutch Masters to contemporary artists such as Georges Bracque. 19th-century American artists are also well represented.

Individual local collectors were also honored by the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. Helen Loosely Stone, a Moline resident and member of  “a small group of persons possessing a high degree of esthetic awareness [who] met regularly to study and enjoy Japanese and Chinese color-prints,” possessed an impressive collection of works in this genre. After her death, her friends and family arranged to have the prints donated to the Gallery. Her collection was exhibited in October, 1956.

For more information on the history of the Figge Art Museum, visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Library. Other archival collections include the records of the Friends of the Davenport Museum of Art (#2004-68), the Davenport Museum of Art Guild (#2004-68), and the Beaux-Arts organization (#2004-71).

Posted in Local History | Tagged , | Leave a comment