Davenport City Cemetery: Preserving and celebrating the past

Davenport City Cemetery est. 1849

In honor of National Cemetery Month and Memorial Day, we are taking a moment to highlight the history of Davenport City Cemetery and this Saturday’s dedication of headstones for veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.

Located on Rockingham Road between South Sturdevant Street and South Division Street, City Cemetery is the oldest existing cemetery in Davenport.

The original five acres of land were purchased from Asa and Electa Green on May 10, 1843 by the City of Davenport. The sale of private burial lots began in September of that year. A section of the cemetery was also designated as Public Burial ground where families could choose to either bury a loved one themselves for a small fee or pay a slightly higher amount for the Sexton to dig the grave.*

Many of the individuals buried in the Public Ground may have only had small handmade markers that have vanished over time due to Midwestern weather, flooding, or vandalism. Today this section (on the east side of the cemetery) looks like an open green space, but is actually the burial ground for hundreds.

In 1849, the descendants of Asa and Electa Green sold an additional 6.48 acres of adjoining land to the City of Davenport to expand the cemetery. In January of 1863, he first lot was sold in the “New,”or west, section of the cemetery.

Over the years, City Cemetery became the final resting place for thousands of local citizens including:

  • Early German immigrants to the area
  • Members of successful families whose last names are still recognized in Davenport today (such as the Beiderbecke family)
  • Some infamous by association (Dr. Michael and Catherine Horony, the father and stepmother of western legend Mary Katherine “Big Nose Kate” Horony)
  • Victims of cholera and other epidemics
  • Veterans who fought for the United States at home or overseas

The last burial in City Cemetery is believed to have taken place around 1986. The cemetery is no longer managed by a Sexton; it is now under the care of the City of Davenport Parks and Recreation Department.

Though the burials have ended, caring and maintaining the cemetery for those who rest there and their families has not.

The Davenport Parks & Recreation Department and a group of dedicated volunteers continue to make improvements to the cemetery. From road and walkway improvements to the replacement of missing or damaged headstones, their work helps preserve the history of Davenport and Scott County.

The newest contribution to the preservation of the cemetery is the unveiling and dedication of 20 headstones for veterans of the Civil War and one headstone for a veteran of the Spanish-American War. The dedication ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend this event, which is being coordinated through the Veterans Recruitment and Services at St. Ambrose University.

The headstones were received for free through the Department of Veterans Affairs program. Volunteers Kory Darnall and Coky Powers spent hours going through burial information to identify veterans, searching for supporting documents, and working with the Davenport Parks & Recreation Department to submit all the requiried materials to the program.

In addition to the dedication at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, there will be volunteers available Saturday through Monday, May 27, 28, and 29 from 12 to 4 p.m. to answer questions and discuss the history of the cemetery.

We hope to see you there!

*A City of Davenport Ordinance passed May 10, 1849 stated graves must be dug 5 feet in depth and length to allow a coffin or rough box to buried. The Sexton was paid by the City Council $2 for the burial of a person 11 years or older, $1.50 for ages 2 – 10, and $1.00 for ages 0 – 2.  An additional dollar was charged for digging a grave at night. Friends or relatives were allowed to dig a grave themselves as long as they stayed within the above-given dimensions. The Sexton received a $ .50 recording fee for those burials.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Now Available: The Port Byron Globe Newspaper

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center is pleased to announce the acquisition of the weekly newspaper the Port Byron Globe (Port Byron, IL, 1884-1992) on microfilm!

Delve into the lives of Port Byron, Illinois residents and their Scott County neighbors across the Mississippi in Le Claire and Princeton, Iowa as far back as 1884!

Print indexes to the Port Byron Globe are also available to researchers at the Center. The Rock Island County Historical Society compiled an obituary index to the March 8, 1884 through August 12, 1971 issues; and two volumes (12 and 16) of local genealogy enthusiast Janet Pease’s Genealogical Abstracts from Rock Island County, Illinois Newspapers contain indexes to “all items which I felt to be of genealogical value – vital records, visits from out-of-town relatives, probate abstracts, marriage licenses…” for 1890 through 1897.

Take home a little Port Byron area history free of charge using our digital microfilm reader-printers and your storage device!

We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. M. Lawrence Shannon for donating this wonderful resource to our collection.

(posted by Karen)

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A Forgotten Oasis: The Pavilion at Central Park

In May 1899, plans were unveiled for a new addition to Central Park (renamed Vander Veer Park in 1912). Architect E. S. Hammatt had been hired by the Davenport Park Commissioners to design an open-air structure to serve as a bandstand and gathering area in the park.

The location for the new building was the northern edge of the park, just south of the greenhouse near the large pond. It was described in the newspapers as being 50 x 70 feet with enough space for large groups to gather. It was a story-and-a-half in height with bathrooms and storage areas in the lower section. The upper open-air section was accessible by large stairways on all four sides. (1)

The Pavilion at Central Park before a portion of the upper level was enclosed. Postcard #Parks VV PC 004.

Soon after the structure was built, the Park Commissioners decided to enclose the central part of the upper section and add a restaurant. (2)

 Large pond in the front and greenhouse to the right of the Pavilion. Postcard #Parks VV PC 036.

Closer postcard view of the Pavilion after changes to the upper level.  Postcard #Parks VV PC 029.

What a delight it must have been to sip a lemonade under the shade of the Pavilion and gaze out over the picturesque pond and greenhouse! 

In the annual report for 1919-1920the Park Commissioners informed the Davenport City Council that the “…decision to take down the pavilion in order to save coal, repairs and painting was carried out; the heating pipes and radiators were stored; the toilet fixtures moved to the basement in the Utility Building; the steel ceiling to the Comfort Station in Fejervary Park; the lumber, frames, doors and windows to Credit Island; the foundation stones to Fejervary Park and will be used for filling in the deer and elk yard.” (3)

We were amazed to find such a complete description of what happened to the building and its materials!

This final look at the Central Park Pavilion comes courtesy of our collection of images from the Hostetler Studio in Davenport:

Central Park Pavilion by Hostetler Studio, Davenport, Iowa. 1902 – 1918. Image hostetler-vanderveer1. DPL Volume 31.

Enjoy a relaxing summer at Vander Veer and other City of Davenport parks!

(posted by Amy D.)

____________________________________________________________

  • (1) Davenport Weekly Leader, May 16, 1899, p. 6.
  • (2) Davenport Daily Leader, July 2, 1899, p. 8.
  • (3) Annual Reports of The City Officers of the City of Davenport 1919 – 1920, p. 96.
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May the Fourth: International Firefighters Day

Geeks everywhere know what day it is. That’s right, it’s International Firefighters Day!

Did you know that Davenport, Iowa is home to the International Fire Museum?

The Museum is located in the old Hose Company No. 4 at 2301 E 11th Street in the Village of East Davenport. 

 Hose Station No. 4 was built in 1931, replacing the previous Hose Company No. 4 headquarters at 15101 E 12th Street. The Italianate style building was designed by Howard S. Muesses, architect and former Davenport city building commissioner. 

The Davenport Fire Antique & Restoration Society, founded in 1984 by members if the Davenport Fire Department, worked with the city to open the Museum in 1986.

The museum is home to artifacts, photographs, and fire-fighting memorabilia from around the world, including a 1951 Mack pumper purchased from the city of Riverdale, Iowa. 

And what’s a Firefighter’s Day without photos of firefighters posed proudly with their engines?

Subjects identified as Erwin “Red” Freese, Charles Garvey- chauffeur, Lt. Charles Hintze, Walter “Tang” Beckmann- chauffeur, Captain Don Johnston, John Ward. Identified by Cliff Beckman, a retired firefighter in 1993.

Be sure to check out the museum this weekend while you are at the 5th annual Village in Bloom Arts Festival!

 

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Jazz Appreciation Month: Freegal Music Service

Ever wish you had more Bix in your music collection? 

Use Freegal Music Service to download 3 free songs per week! 

Click on the link under Online Resources on our website and log in with your Davenport Public Library card to start downloading all that Jazz!

 

(posted by Cristina)

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Look Alike Day: The Putnam & Parker Buildings

April 20th is National Look Alike Day, and we’ve decided to share Davenport twins!

Downtown Davenport has two buildings with similar facades: the Putnam building at 215 Main and the M.L. Parker building at 104 W 2nd. Here are some facts about each building: 

 

Putnam building

  • Year built: 1910
  • Address: 215 Main (2nd & Main)
  • Size: 8 stories high, 60 ft X 140 ft.
  • Use: Retail on 1st floor, the rest was an office building
  • Architect: D.H. Burnham & Company, Chicago
  • Developer: W.C. Putnam Estate
  • Davenport’s first skyscraper
  • Toilets: There were toilets for men on each floor. On the 8th floor there was a “special women’s toilet with a rest room”, which was a “new” feature in office buildings  

 

 

The M.L. Parker building

  • Year built: 1922
  • Address: 104 W 2nd (NW corner of 2nd & Brady St.)
  • Size: 7 stories, 108 ft X 142 ft
  • Use: M.L. Parker department store on 1st floor, the rest was an office building
  • Architect: Modified version of Burnham’s design
  • Developer: W.C. Putnam Estate
  • Built on the site of the LeClaire House Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not exactly alike, but definitely in the same family!

 

Works Cited

About the Putnam Block. (2007, September 25). Quad-City Times, p. A2.

Brown, M. (1981, January 21). Parker Building bounces back. Quad-City Times.

(1983). Profile of the Parker Building. Davenport, Iowa: W.C. Putnam Estate.

Putnam Building. (1910). Davenport, Iowa: W.C. Putnam Estate.

Willard, J. (2003, January 10). Putnam Building has storied history. Quad-City Times, p. A2.

Work of Wreckers Proves Attaction: Many Watch Men Tearing Down Old Putnam Building. (1910, March 08). The Daily Times, p. 4.

 

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In Memoriam: Patricia L. Scott

Staff at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center are saddened by the loss of our friend. Pat Scott passed away on Sunday, April 9th, 2017 at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf, Scott Co. Iowa. 

Patricia Louise (Bracker) Scott was born December 27, 1932 in Davenport, Scott Co., Iowa. Her parents were Harold H. and Charlotte Louise (Lorrain) Bracker. She married Harold Wayne Scott on June 6th, 1953 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Davenport.

Bracker family portrait by Free, Oct 1951 (standing in back row on the left)

She attended Immaculate Conception Academy and Marycrest College, graduating in 1964 with a Bachelor of Elementary Education. Pat taught 3rd grade at Lourdes Memorial School (1960 – 1968) and Grant Elementary School (1968 – 1988).

Mrs. Scott’s 3rd grade class at Grant Elementary School, 1976-77

Pat was a long time volunteer at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center: working the desk, helping patrons with their genealogy questions; compiling indexes for social events published in the Quad-City Times; working with St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Records and Cemetery Records for Pine Hill Cemetery. A retired teacher, she taught beginning genealogy classes at the library for many years. Pat was one of the original charter members and past president of the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society, founded on October 30th, 1973, and was named SCIGS Volunteer of the Year in 1998.

 

National Volunteer Week, April 1996

Pat donated many items from her personal collection to the library. When her health kept her away from the library, she was a frequent caller to the Center. Staff looked forward to her calls and hearing about what she was working on. She will be missed.

(posted by Cristina)

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It’s Opening Day at Modern Woodmen Park Stadium, thanks to the Depression-era Dreams of the Davenport Levee Commission

Opening Day for local baseball is here! Yes, the Quad Cities River Bandits* will battle the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers tonight at the historic Modern Woodmen Park stadium as our minor league baseball season officially begins.

In honor of the 2017 season, we thought we would look back at the early history of Modern Woodmen Park.

Baseball has been a popular sport in Davenport since the mid-1800s. Over time, baseball associations developed to help organize baseball games between local cities. In 1901 a new organization formed when the Davenport River Rats became a charter member in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (also known as the Three-I League).

Davenport played in the Three-I League through the 1916 season. Over the years the team was known as the Davenport River Rats, Davenport Riversides, Davenport Knickerbockers, Davenport Prodigals, and Davenport Blue Sox.

Changes within the Three-I League led the Blue Sox to leave the franchise after the 1916 season. It wasn’t until 1929 that the Davenport Blue Sox reorganized and joined the Mississippi Valley League. With few large baseball fields in Davenport, the Blue Sox used a field at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds for home games.

Fans soon discovered the fairgrounds baseball field was lacking in modern amenities compared to Douglas Park in Rock Island and Browning Field in Moline. Its distance from downtown Davenport was another mark against it, as fans had to spend money on public transportation or extra gas for their vehicles to attend games.

By early 1930, the Davenport Blue Sox’s managers, the Davenport Baseball Club, began to worry that the outdated field would threaten the team’s place in Mississippi Valley League.

With an interest in keeping baseball in the city, the Davenport Levee Commission stepped in to help fill the need for a new modern stadium.

On September 17, 1930 the Davenport Levee Commission authorized the construction of a municipal stadium with a preliminary cost estimate of $60,000. The initial plan was for a baseball park, a football field, practice softball/baseball fields, tennis courts, and playgrounds to be built. The complex would occupy the property between Gaines Street and LeClaire Park, and from the railroad tracks to the riverfront.

Close proximity to downtown Davenport, easy access from Rock Island and Moline, and the potential to create a large parking area were among the benefits touted by the Levee Commission.

With lights for night games, the stadium would allow the Blue Sox to compete with other teams in their franchise whose stadiums had been similarly updated.

In the announcement for what they then called the Municipal Stadium, the Davenport Levee Commission made it clear the stadium was not being built for baseball only. It was intended as a recreation center for the citizens of Davenport to enjoy year-round.

The Levee Commission pushed to start building the facility before plans were even finalized. Mr. Walter Priester, secretary, stated, “One of the paramount reasons for immediate work on the stadium is to give employment to many in Davenport.” With the beginning of the Great Depression, employment opportunities were scarce, and the Levee Commission wanted to put as many local men to work as possible.

Ground was broken on the project in early November of 1930. The Levee Commission quickly decided to increase the budget by $100,000 to provide for a more permanent grandstand and work along the riverfront.**

The dedication of the Davenport Municipal Stadium was held on May 26, 1931, at the start of the first afternoon baseball game. With the increase in cost to build a more substantial grandstand, all other planned recreational areas were put on hold. Also on hold was the idea to build a park area running from the baseball stadium west to Credit Island.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 27, 1931. Pg. 22

That afternoon, the Davenport Blue Sox beat the Dubuque Tigers in a score of 7 to 1.

The first night game was held on June 4, 1931. Over 3,000 spectators came to watch Davenport play against Rock Island under the glare of lights mounted on six 100-foot steel towers. One can imagine that even the Blue Sox’s loss that night did not diminish the excitement of watching an illuminated night game. It was reported that the glow of the lights could be seen from miles around.

Since 1931, the stadium has hosted numerous events including baseball games, football games, boxing matches, local junior Olympics, concerts, circuses, and more.

Municipal Stadium c. 1934 during WPA Project #11 – 02-05-1934.

 

Seawall and Levee. March 30, 1934. Vol. #13 dpl2003-14b1f8d

Expansions over the years added more seating to the stadium and modernized existing features. The name of the structure was also changed over time. In 1971, it became known as the John O’Donnell Stadium, and in 2007, the Modern Woodmen Park.

What may you expect to find at the ballpark in 2017? Grandstand, bleacher, or berm seating, a children’s area, an enormous Ferris wheel, fabulous ballpark food, an amazing river view, and, of course, outstanding baseball.

87 years ago, the Levee Commission dreamed big on baseball and Davenport. We hope you stop by this summer to see the amazing results!

(posted by Amy D.)

*The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A minor league baseball team affiliated with the Houston Astros.

**The official cost from the April 1, 1930 – March 31, 1931 Levee Commission report to the Davenport City Council was $136,385.97.

Resources

  • Burlington Gazette (IA), March 23, 1929. Pg. 12.
  • Davenport Daily Democrat and Leader, September 17, 1930. Front Page.
  • Davenport Daily Times, November 13, 1930. Pg. 12.
  • Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 27, 1931. Pg. 22.
  • Davenport Daily Times, May 26, 1931. Pg. 13.
  • Davenport Daily Times, June 5, 1931. Pg. 24.
  • Annual Reports of the City Officers of the City of Davenport 1930 – 1931 by the City of Davenport, Iowa. Published 1931. SC352.0777 DAV
  • Baseball at Davenport’s John O’Donnell Stadium by Tim Rask. Published 2004. SC796.357 RAS
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Walking Matches: A nineteenth century competitive sport

We have written about the competitive spirit of early residents of Scott County, Iowa in the past. From an early running bet to bike races, the residents of Scott County were always game to try new things. So it’s no surprise a new competitive sport of the past caught our attention this week.

Walking Matches, also known as Pedestrian Matches, became a fad during the 1860s (starting about 1861, but interest only picked up in the United States after the Civil War) through the mid-1880s. Competitive walking was an international obsession with large competitions being held in major cities across Europe. Thousands of onlookers in larger cities paid to watch walkers compete in one of two ways:  a set number of miles in the shortest time or the longest distance in a set amount of time.

Davenport, and Scott County, quickly took up the Walking Match fad. A notice in the Davenport Daily Gazette, from May 5, 1868 proclaimed a Walking Match would be held on May 9th at the Scott County Fairgrounds with the distance set at 10 miles. (Pg. 4) Who won, you ask? As the match was postponed due to rain, we aren’t sure who the winner turned out to be- or if the match was held at all.

Davenport Daily Gazette, May 5, 1868. Pg. 4

By 1876, the Davenport Daily Gazette advertised on the front page on November 4, 1876 that the German Theatre in Davenport would be the site of a great walking match between John J. Geraghty of St. Louis and John Oddy of Philadelphia. The men were competing in a 14-mile walking race. 

Davenport Daily Gazette, November 4, 1876. Pg. 1

Mr. Geraghty and Mr. Oddy were most likely professionals on the Walking Match circuit and traveled from city to city competing. Most professional winners took home money put up by the sponsors and also received part of the gate receipts.

Amateur competitions also abounded in Davenport and other local cities. The Davenport Daily Gazette posted on March 25, 1879 that an amateur walking match was to be held at the German Theatre, starting at midnight the following night, with John Bowlsby, of Tipton, Iowa, and William B. Logan and C. E. Muhl, both of Davenport. (Pg. 4)

According to the follow up story on March 27, 1879, a professional walker, Prof. E. E. Miller, walked with the three amateurs:  Mr. Bowlsby, Mr. Logan, and Mr. Muhl. The three amateur competitors vied for a silver hunting watch, while Prof. Miller earned a portion of the ticket sales if he completed his agreed upon 100 miles in 22 hours. At midnight on March 27th  300 hundred spectators watched the start of the race. (Pg. 4)

Great detail in the news article described Prof. Miller: he was 23 years old, about 5’10” tall, and 150 pounds. He wore a stripped woolen shirt, blue knee breeches, stockings, and light shoes. It was noted he wore no hat.

The length of the sawdust covered indoor track was 176 feet, and one mile equaled 30 times around. The competition continued until 10:00 p.m. the following night. The Davenport Daily Gazette on March 28, 1879 reported that, during the event, lively music was played as attendance grew smaller in the afternoon but picked up again at night.

Prof. Miller walked from midnight until 4:14 a.m. when he rested for one hour, and by 3:43 p.m. he was on his 72nd mile. He finished his 100 miles in 21 hours, 57 minutes, and 30 seconds after resting for only 2 hours and 59 minutes during the entire event. He accomplished the task with 2 minutes and 30 seconds to spare!

As for the amateurs, Mr. Bowlsby walked from midnight until 6:30 p.m, when he left the race. He walked the entire time with only one 15-minute rest and completed 76 miles and two laps. Mr. Muhl retired about 6:15 p.m. having achieved 74 miles. Mr. Logan completed his 50th mile – and the competition- at about 1:30 p.m.. He retired from the event and did not return. Consequently, Mr. Bowlsby received the silver hunting watch in the amateur division. 

After the conclusion of the race, Prof. Miller challenged Madame DuPree, a professional Pedestrienne as the women were called, to a race. She later accepted and the two took part in a four day event held in Rock Island, Illinois in late April 1879. (Pg. 4)

Walking Matches continued into the early 1880s in Davenport and surrounding areas. Slowly, as the international crowd drifted away from the sport, local interest followed suit. But once upon a time, individuals could gain local fame simply by walking – and walking some more.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Irish Resources for your St. Patrick’s Day Perusing Pleasure

Today being St. Patrick’s Day, we thought we would share some Irish resources.

Special limited time offers for FREE access to genealogy websites pertaining to Irish Research:

 

 

AmericanAncestors.org     (all Irish resources FREE March 15-22!)

Irish Genealogy Tool Kit

IrishCentral

Irish Genealogy.ie

 

 

Have you ever wanted to take a closer look at the Book of Kells? Check out the digitized book from Trinity College Dublin. 

 

 

In our Collections: 

Local Ancient Order of Hibernians


 

 

Can you believe the Grand Parade has been going on for 32 years?! The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center has a number of early posters for the parade in our Ephemera collection.

Image courtesy of Our Quad Cities

 

Interested in local Irish-American stories? The 2007-2008 Iowa Stories 2000 topic brought out local individuals with great stories to tell. Their oral histories are archived here as well.

 

 

The Celtic Heritage Trail of the Quad-Cities was an active local organization in the early 2000’s. Their records contain a good deal of Irish history and lore. Available from our Archive & Manuscript Collection. 

 

Come visit us for all of your Irish genealogy and history research needs!

 

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