Archive Adventures: The Davenport City Hospital

Genealogists are always hoping for new discoveries in records and the Davenport City Archives has produced for us again!

Davenport actively maintained a “City Hospital” for a brief period of time in 1858 and 1859 and the City Physician. Dr. A. H. Ames turned in reports to the Davenport City Council listing the names of patients he cared for in hospital or those he visited.  Best of all, there are a lot of other details in these records, some indicating not only the disease suffered, but the length of the patient’s residence in the U.S. and in the city of Davenport.

The hospital patients listed range in age from the youngest at 12 years, Mary England, suffering from croup after living in Davenport for just two months to the oldest, 80-year-old Peter O’Connor, a laborer and resident of the city for the past 6 months having emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. 49 years ago. Although admitted to hospital in June of 1858 Mr. O’Connor’s foot injury had not yet healed by January 1859.

In November [year suspected 1858]  Dr. Ames was charging the City 50 cents for each home visit to patients needing care. The doctor reported visiting an “Irish woman in the Patch” five times, charging the city $2.50. By the time his report was submitted she was “doing well”.

There are also a few bills turned in for the coffins and burials of those who died at City Hospital. Undertaker Israel Hall requested reimbursement for services rendered for Malvin Mitchell and Michael McCarty who died in City Hospital in April 1858 and for Merry Haning in January 1859.

These records provide a snapshot of young Davenport’s population that may not appear in any other local record. The state of Iowa did not require death records to be maintained officially prior to 1880. There is also little available documentation for residents other than the Iowa state census taken in 1856 and the 1860 federal census that might list women or children living in the area during these very early years.

Although the existing reports are few in number because City Hospital was recommended closed in 1859, there’s always the possibility you will find a treasure! The names from reports have been abstracted — so please ask at the SC Staff Desk next time you are at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center!

(posted by Karen)

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