Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: The many owners of Credit Island

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Credit Island, which took place during the War of 1812, on the fourth and fifth of September 1814.

Special Collections will be participating in the city’s commemoration of this event on August 30, on Credit Island, with an interactive booth. We hope to see you there!

In addition, we’ll be dedicating this month’s blog posts to the history of Credit Island, from the Battle to the present day.

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The Mississippi River of the 1800s and early 1900s looked very different from the river we see today. It was once filled with islands of varying acreage. Most of these islands are gone now due to erosion, flooding, and man-made fill connecting them to the main land.

Credit Island was one of the largest of these islands consisting of an estimated 400 acres of timberland and prairie. The size and resources located on the land provided its owners with unique opportunities over the years. Since the early 1800s, Credit Island has been a trading post, then an amusement park, and finally a city-owned recreational area with much in-between.

Following is a brief synopsis of the many owners of Credit Island and the name changes to the land that occurred.

The first recorded private owner of Credit Island was Marmaduke S. Davenport – of no relation to Colonel Davenport of Rock Island Arsenal fame – who was sent by the government to act as a local Indian Agent in Rock Island in 1833.

After making improvements to portions of Credit Island, which at that time served as a trading post between fur traders and Native Americans, the United States government granted Davenport rights to certain lots on the island in 1839.  Mr. Davenport immediately deeded over a portion of his property to his son, Adrian H. Davenport.

In 1840, Adrian H. Davenport was granted several portions of land on the island by the U.S. government as well. Marmaduke and Adrian H. would remain in the area until the early 1850s when they would move with their respective families to LeClaire, Iowa up river from Davenport.

In January 1848, Mr. James McManus was given several lots of land on Credit Island and nearby Pelican Island by the United States government. In February 1848 McManus sold the Credit Island portion to Adrian H. Davenport, but retained the Pelican Island portion.

By the early 1850s the Democratic Banner and other local newspapers began to run placed real estate ads for the sale of Credit Island. It would appear that over the years Adrian H. Davenport had been given or purchased from other owners the entire 400 acres of Credit Island. It was now up for sale.

Democratic Banner February 1853The Democratic Banner, February 1853.

It appears that not everyone was interested in owning a 400 acre island. Even with extensive timberland, prairie land, and 120 acres already prepared for use the ads ran weekly from 1851 to 1853 with no buyer in site.

Finally, a sale is recorded between Adrian H. Davenport and two business men named John M. Burrows and R. M. Prettyman in May 1853.

Burrows and Prettyman eventually sold to Josiah H. Jenney in April 1857. That property was foreclosed on and went to Benjamin Atkinson in 1859 by sheriff’s deed. The property was then sold by Atkinson to James Gilruth on May 1863.

James Gilruth sold the land to John Offerman and wife in December 1864 for $2,000. For the next 40 years, Credit Island would become known as Offerman Island. Mr. and Mrs. Offerman would turn the island into a well-known picnic and recreational area.

In April 1901, the Offermans sold the island to Claus M. Kuehl and George Mengel for $22,000. It would be a quick turn over once again when Kuehl and Mengel sold the island to Grand Island Park Company in July 1903. During this brief time period the island was known as Grand Island.

Then in April 1904 the Grand Island Park Company sold the land to the Davenport and Suburban Railway Co. who were represented by Mengel, Kuehl, and C. G. Hipwell. During this time period the island was called Suburban Island.

Finally, in February 1918 the land was sold to the Davenport Park Commission (City of Davenport, Iowa) who still maintains ownership.

Soon after this purchase the name was once again restored to Credit Island.

Since 1864 the island has been used for entertainment and recreation. The past 150 years have witnessed picnics, amusement rides, rock concerts, golf outings, and more.

Visit our blog again next week to learn more about the amazing history of Credit Island.

(posted by Karen O. and Amy D.)

 

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Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Credit Island, which took place during the War of 1812, on the fourth and fifth of September 1814. 

Special Collections will be participating in the city’s commemoration of this event on August 30, on Credit Island, with an interactive booth.  We hope to see you there!

In addition, we’ll be dedicating this month’s blog posts to the history of Credit Island, from the Battle to the present day.

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The War of 1812 was a short war, only two and a half years long, fought between the United States, which was less than 30 years old, and the British, who were still  annoyed over losing their colonies.

It’s often treated as a simple date in our timeline—if we’re asked about details, the only ones that usual come to mind are the burning of the White House and First Lady Dolley Madison saving George Washington’s portrait just before it went up in flames.

But the 1812 War was more important to Davenport, Iowa, than we might think.

Most of the Native Americans living around present day Rock Island, Illinois—including the Sac-Fox tribe led by Chief Black Hawk—were understandably resentful of American settlers, who were not particularly careful or polite about setting up home in their territories. Various unfair treaties chipped away at trust as well as land rights, and by 1812, Chief Black Hawk was ready to join with the few nearby British outposts that remained, hoping to force the Americans off his people’s land.

Meanwhile, a young Antoine LeClaire, whose mother was Pottawattamie and who had been successfully running a trading post in Milwaukee, nevertheless decided to fight on the side of the Americans in the War. His knowledge of Native American languages proved helpful.

As the War continued, the alliance between the Sac and the British was beginning to worry the American government, and after several skirmishes in July of 1814, a group of 344 Americans under the command of Major Zachary Taylor—the future president—sailed up the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, intending to build a new fort near the Rock River.

1894 Credit & Pelican Islands

1894 Credit & Pelican Islands

The British caught wind of this, and during the month it took Zachary’s men to reach their destination, a force of thirty British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Duncan Graham had been sent with heavy weaponry to convince the Americans to turn back.

There was a big storm the night the American arrived in September of 1814.The eight American boats anchored at Pelican Island to wait out the weather. Unknown to them, Graham’s men, along with a large number of Native Americans organized on nearby Credit Island, so called because of the trading post there.

Early the next morning, the British opened fire across the river with cannon, while the Native Americans harassed them from canoes. The Americans were surprised and outnumbered and although they returned fire when fired upon, they sustained heavy damage. After two days, they were forced to retreat.

The Battle of Credit Island was over.

Three months later, so was the War.

But both proved to the American government that some kind of presence was definitely needed where the Rock River met the Mississippi.  Without the assistance of the British, the Sac were unable to prevent the 1816 establishment of Fort Armstrong on an island that would later be called Arsenal Island, about six miles upriver from the battle site.

Two years after that, war veteran Antoine LeClaire, who had been recruited as a government interpreter, was assigned to Fort Armstrong. There, he became friends with quartermaster George Davenport and was present for both the Black Hawk War and the signing of the Black Hawk Treaty, during which his wife was granted the land on which our city stands—a city Antoine LeClaire named after his friend.

All that, from a short battle fought during a barely-remembered War.

Reason enough, we think, to remember it now.

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Sources:

“Battle of Credit Island,” Ephemera Collections (oversized)

Svendsen, Marlys A. Davenport, a pictorial history 1836-1986. ([S.L.]: G. Bradley Publishing Inc.), 1985.

Wilkie, Franc Bangs. Davenport, past and present. (Davenport: Luce, Lane & Co.), 1858.

 

 

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Davenport Fire Department: 1928 American LeFrance Hook and Ladder

One thing we have learned in Special Collections is to always look for glimpses of history in unusual sources.

We recently caught such a glimpse courtesy of a minor traffic accident that occurred at 15th And Gaines Streets on August 27, 1944 at 4:50 p.m. on an otherwise uneventful afternoon. No one was seriously injured and the cause of the accident was not contested.

Our excitement may seem strange, but our find involves the report and accompanying photographs for the accident—which involved a passenger car and a Davenport fire truck, for which we previously had no images and no information.

The truck was Hook and Ladder Truck No. 2 stationed at 1225 Harrison Street. It was an American LaFrance hook and ladder with 600 gallon-pump and 40-gallon chemical tank placed in service on March 22, 1928.*

Two views of the truck.Fire Truck Right 194.600Note the bell by the driver’s side in the photo above.

Fire Truck Left1944.600It appears to be leaking oil on the bottom. Also note the ladder and hose attached to the side from this view.

The Annual Report for the City of Davenport, Iowa 1944-45 indicates the truck was declared a loss from the damage sustained in the accident. It was replaced by a new Peter Pirsch Jr. 65 foot aerial truck.

We hope you enjoy this peek back at the Davenport Fire Department—and we reassure you, they were not to blame for the accident!

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*Annual Report for the City of Davenport, Iowa 1927-1928, Pg. 60.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Pop Quiz! Can you name these Davenporters?

How many well-known Davenporters can you name?

Most native Quad-Citizens can name a few local celebrities off the tops of their heads—Annie Wittenmyer? Rascal the River Bandit?–and many of us can recognize the names of historical Davenporters of note—Phebe Sudlow? Antoine LeClaire?—when we see them on buildings, streets, and towns.

But can you name these important people by their photographs?

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A.

_____

B.

_____

C.

_____

D.

Kathy Kirschbaum

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E.

_____

F.

_____

G.

________________________________

Need some help? 

Here are a few clues:

a. The son of the man who established the first school of chiropractic, this gentleman later brought the school into the International spotlight.

b. This woman was one of the highest-paid authors in America at a time when Mark Twain, a friend of hers, was still paying to have his stories published.

c.  U. S. Highway No. 6 in Davenport (and Bettendorf) was named after this Iowa State Senator in 1936.

d. The first—and so far, only—woman mayor of Davenport, Iowa.

e. Called Makataimeshekiakiak in his own language, this leader was born in Saukenuk, the main village of the Sac people on the Illinois Rock River, in 1767.

f. This reporter, playwright, and novelist went on—and east—to found the Provincetown Players with her husband (also a writer from Davenport), though she never forgot her Midwestern roots.

g. This young man could play the piano by ear at six years old. He went on to play another instrument, but never did learn to read music.

________________________________

How did you do?

Let us know in the comments!

________________________________

Answers:

ǝʞɔǝqɹǝpıǝq xıq—ƃ ؛llǝdsɐlƃ uɐsns—ɟ ؛ʞʍɐɥ ʞɔɐlq ɟıǝɥɔ—ǝ ؛ɯnɐqɥɔsɹıʞ ʎɥʇɐʞ—p ؛ʎlɹǝqɯıʞ ˙ʍ ˙p—ɔ ؛ɥɔuǝɹɟ ǝɔılɐ—q ؛ɹǝɯlɐd ˙ɾ ˙q—ɐ

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A “Brilliant Home Function”: the Modest Wedding of James Lane and Sophia Shuler

Davenport Democrat, 13July1911, p.10

Davenport Democrat, 13July1911, p.10

Sophia Caroline Shuler was the daughter of Charles Shuler, the president of the First National Bank of Davenport and the owner of several mines. Miss Shuler was a graduate of St. Katherine’s and the National Park Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was active in the social circles of Davenport.

James Reed Lane was the son of respected lawyer Joe R. Lane, a partner in the respected Davenport law firm of Lane and Waterman* who was also a former congressman. Young Mr. Lane attended Exeter and the University of Iowa, before passing the bar and joining his father’s firm.

It’s no wonder that the Davenport Democrat used one and a half columns to describe, in effusive detail, their wedding, which took place on July 12, 1911, at the Prospect Terrace home of the bride’s parents, 1516 East River Drive.

Shuler bride3

This modest event, which was attended by three hundred guests,**  began at 8 o’clock, as the Criterion Orchestra started playing “The Bridal Chorus” from Lohengrin.

“The wedding ceremony was performed in the wide doorway leading from the hall to the library. Garlands of smilax combined with pink roses entwined the pillars to either side, and formed an arch overhead, while potted ferns and palms made an effective setting for the improvised altar in the doorway . . .”

Shuler bride2.jpg

“The bride was dressed in an exquisite creation of chantilly lace, over white satin, made with court train the panel front opening to one side showing the satin underdress. It was made with Dutch neck and short sleeves and the long wedding veil was caught in bando effect with fragrant orange blossoms. The bride’s only ornament was the diamond lavaliere, the gift of the groom, and her flowers with lilies of the valley in a shower bouquet.”

The Dutch Neckline, with barely visible diamond necklace.

The “Dutch neck”, with barely visible diamond necklace.

The couple was married by Reverend Robert Donaldson of the Presbyterian Church of Milwaukee,*** after which a reception was held in the library, presumably on some kind of rotation schedule to accommodate all the well-wishers.

Later, there was dinner and dancing on the lawn, on which a pavilion had been built and electric lights in globes had been installed, just for the occasion.

After a lengthy honeymoon trip to the “northern lakes”, the couple took up residence in the new home James Lane built for his bride at 324 Mississippi Avenue in east Davenport.

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*Lane & Waterman LLP is still, to put it mildly, a respected Davenport law firm.

**It should come as no surprise that the surnames of the attendants and guests read like a Who’s Who of prominent families with local or political ties, notably McClellan, Von Maur, Pease, Norwood, and Ramsey (of the Des Moines Ramseys).

*** Reverend Donaldson’s father was the former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport. Dr. Donaldson also read for the service.

 

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A Flood of Images: July 2014

We may have posted  The Flood of 1870: Bridging the gap between memories and measurements a bit too soon.

Apparently, instead of celebrating no floods in 2014, we should have celebrated no spring floods.

The summer flood of 2014 crested less than a week ago, on July 4th.  Its final measurement was 20.94 feet, making it the new #6 in the Top 10 Recorded Floods of the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 15. The 20.71 crest of April 22, 2011 will drop to #7.

Below are flood photos taken during the crest. We attempted to get pictures in locations near those taken for A Flood of Images: April 2013 to allow for comparison—though, due to the higher flood stage and trees with inconvenient leaves, we occasionally had to move to nearby locations.

Looking west from the Arsenal Bridge, River Drive once again looks like a real river:017.River Drive West from Arsenal

The  Hesco barrier at corner of Iowa St. and River Drive:018.Corner Iowa Street and River Drive

Another view of the Hesco barrier, taken on Iowa Street, facing River Drive near Bechtel Park:038

The Dillon Fountain on the corner of Main Street and River Drive:077

The bench against the Figge Art Museum and a hint of fire hydrant on the corner of Main St. and River Drive:075

The Levee Inn – Locally famous for the flood crest markings recorded on the corners of the building:122

The LeClaire Park and Bandshell—please note that this is our first flood photo that includes the new Ferris Wheel at Modern Woodmen Park. 107

Modern Woodmen Park, walkway in place. Baseball will go on!

149

The corner of Warren and 2nd Streets:

176

Myrtle Street was barricaded at River Drive and the skate park was closed.

242

River Drive looking east from Sturdevant Street at Davenport City Cemetery:

202

This flood even reached several of the headstones at City Cemetery:

215

One last image of our 2014 Fourth of July crest is courtesy of Davenport Public Works:

027.Closeup flag and pipe at 2nd and River Drive

As always, we hope this is the last flood for a while. We love the Mississippi River. We love it best inside its own banks!

(post and photos by Amy D.)

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Mapping Early Churches

Early Davenport had a lot of two things: bars and churches.

It would be difficult to document all the places that might have offered our citizens refreshments of an alcoholic nature prior to 1880; many of them didn’t exist long enough to be listed in city directories—or the owners didn’t want them listed, in case the authorities came around asking about licenses—and drinking establishments weren’t often mentioned in local histories.

But churches and synagogues were listed in city directories—often for free—mentioned at length in local histories, and were likely to appear a variety of other resources.  And they often published histories of their own.

If one were to glean location information about these pre-1880 Davenport churches and synagogues from these sources and plug it into a map, it would look like this:


(click on a name on the list or a pin for information!*)

From a historian’s perspective, this is really cool.

From a genealogist’s perspective, this is really cool and may provide a solution to an-all-too-common problem: finding birth information for ancestors born before 1880.

Iowa first compiled birth records in 1880, so people born in our state before that year—and a little after, as the practice wasn’t enforced for several years—did not have them.  What many of them did have, however, was baptismal records, which include much of the same information, if not all, as government birth records.

Our library doesn’t have the records of all the pre-1880 churches in Davenport, but we do have the early records of a few and if you can identify the denomination of your ancestory, we may be able to help you locate where those records might be kept.

How cool is that?

 

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Sources:

“Some of our almost forgotten churches: a few edifices which have been abandoned.” Davenport Democrat and Leader , 23November1903, p.8

Fleming & Torrey.  Directory of the City of Davenport for 1856-57. [Davenport, Iowa: A. P. Luse and Co.], 1856

Davenport, Rock Island and Moline Directory 1858 & 59. [Davenport, Iowa: 1861 Tanner, Halpin & Co.], 1858

E. Coy & Co.’s Twin Cities Directory and Business Mirror for the year 1860. [Chicago, Ill: Luse, Lane and Co.], 1859

Brigham, A. D. Twin Cities Directory for 1861-’62. [Davenport, Iowa: Luse, Lane and Co.], 1861

Power, John C. and Collins, John W. Davenport City Directory for 1863. [Davenport, Iowa: Luse, Lane and Co.], 1863

Smallfield, A. G. and Bruning, Ludwig. Davenport City Directory for 1866. [Davenport, Iowa: Luse, Griggs], 1866

Root, O. E. Root’s Davenport City Directory. [Davenport, Iowa: Luse and Griggs], December 1866

Montague, A. J. and Curtis, J. F. Montague & Curtis’ Davenport City Directory for 1870-1. [Davenport, Iowa: Griggs, Watson, & Day], 1871

Davenport City Directory. [Davenport, Iowa: Griggs, Watson, & Day], 1873

Hawley’s Davenport City Directory1874-1875. [Davenport, Iowa: D. E. Hawley], 1874

Finger and Schmidt’s Business Directory for the year 1877. [Davenport, Iowa: Day, Egbert & Fidlar], 1877

Owen’s Davenport City Directory 1878. [Davenport, Iowa: F. E. Owen], 1878

1902-03 Stone’s Davenport City Directory. [Davenport, Iowa: H. N. Stone & Co.], March 1903

Polk’s Davenport City Directory 1919. [Davenport, Iowa: R. L. Polk & Co.], 1919

Davenport, Iowa. Council Proceedings 1919. p. 12359-62

Davenport, Iowa. Council Proceedings 1912. p. 9591

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*The map may not appear as intended in Internet Explorer.  You may wish to try another browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.

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Soldiering On: Local Veterans of “The Great War”

June 28, 2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria, heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose death launched a series of political events that culminated in world-wide war.  The date of his murder is officially recognized as the start of World War I.

The United States joined its allies on April 6, 1917, and, as usual, the men of Iowa answered the call of their country.

Of the many Davenport-area men who went to war, a few had their photographs taken in uniform by the Hostetler Photograph Studio:

dplx1534Harry Ward was a Captain in the Iowa National Guard when this photograph was taken.

According to the Davenport Democrat, which published his obituary on September 22, 1957, he was born June 8, 1882 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and came to Davenport in 1907 to work at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Captain Ward had previously served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine War.  In January 1941, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the National Guard of Iowa.

In civilian life, he was an alderman-at-large on the Davenport City Council and the Scott County representative in the state legislature. He was also elected Chief of Police from 1930 to 1934.

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dplx1535dArthur M. Compton was Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st Iowa Field Artillery.

Born in Davenport, he married Gertrude Whitaker in 1913.

According to his obituary, published on March 9, 1965, in the Davenport Times-Democrat, during World War I, he was an instructor in field artillery at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  He was later promoted to colonel, being the youngest one in the Army.

Based on information in a newspaper article published in the Davenport Democrat on January 9, 1919, Colonel Compton was for a time Davenport city engineer, though he later gave up his position to become engineer to the Levee Improvement Commission.

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dplx1536Earl P. McGinley was Captain in the Field Artillery during World War I.

Based on information in his obituary, published in the Davenport Democrat on January 24, 1935, he was born November 19, 1891 in Victor, IA, but moved to Davenport when he was a young man. He married Irma Schreiber on November 18, 1916 in Davenport.

In 1917, he was sent to Beming, New Mexico to be an instructor at the training camp there.

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dplx1512b

The only confirmed information we have on Earl Olsen is from his World War I Draft Registration Cards.

He was born on May 15, 1891 in Chicago, though he was living in Rock Island, Illinois when he joined the Army.  He served, at least initially, as a mechanic at Fort Sheridan, in Lake County, Illinois.

As we did not find an obituary for Mr. Olsen in our newspaper indexes, we searched for him in Soldiers of the Great War (SC 940.4 Sol), which was published by the Soldiers Record Publishing Association in 1920 and provides the names and photographs of the American soldiers who were killed in action or died of disease, wounds, or accident in World War I.

We were relieved that Earl Olsen does not appear among the Illinois soldiers who did not survive the War. If anyone knows any further details of Mr. Olsen’s life, please let us know.

 

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We Mustache This Question: The 1884 Davenport Police Department

As we’ve mentioned before, this year marks the 175th anniversary of the Davenport Police Department.   In previous posts, we’ve shared some of the historical information and resources in our collections about and from the Department, and even cleared up a mystery or two.

But one mystery continues to elude us.

This photograph is of the 1884 Davenport police department, posed in front of the first station, which still stands at 130 West 5th Street.*

1894 Police DeptWhen we studied this beautiful image, we noticed something. All of the police officers have facial hair—most appearing to prefer mustaches of the handlebar variety—except for one.

See the third officer from the left, just past the tree?

1894 Police Dept lineupHis face is bare.

Along with this image, the photography studio—Hastings, White, and Fisher of Davenport—also did individual portraits of the officers.

It was easy to find our man:

1894 Officer 10Unfortunately, none of our resources list the badge numbers of officers, or provide physical descriptions. So we don’t know the name of the officer, nor will we ever know if his shaven state was a personal fashion choice, a physical limitation, or simply the visage of a new hire who hadn’t yet succumbed to peer pressure.

If our curiosity gets the better of us, we may do a brief search of our records for a rule about police officers being required to produce a mustache or beard within six months of employment.  But without a name, we won’t be able to search out city council minutes to see if this officer was given special dispensation.

Regardless, if anyone can help us identify this gentleman, or any of his fellow officers in the group photograph, we would be grateful for the information!

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*This building now houses Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley.

 

(posted by Sarah)

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The Scott County Unusual Sources Index

Back in the days of card catalogs, the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society created a name index to a wide variety of items available in the Special Collections Center.

Dubbed the Scott County Unusual Sources Index (SCUSI for short), it provides names pulled from a range of resources, from census schedules to Atlases, history books to sexton records, newsletters to church records—most of them off the usual research path and none of them particularly easy to search.

This index has proved invaluable to staff and patrons over the years. And now, due to the diligent efforts of volunteer Ellen Korn—who typed up drawers full of index cards—our researchers may now search SCUSI through our Center’s Free Local Database search engine!

Just type in a name and hit the “Search The Database” button”:

Free Local Database Screenshot

If you aren’t sure about middle initials or spellings, try the “Starts With” or “Contains” options to direct or broaden your search.

A list will appear of the number of times that name appears in each of our index databases (SCUSI is at the bottom):

Free Local Database Results Screenshot

SCUSI has 324 listings for “Smith”. Does that seem a little low to you?

Click the number link to pull up the results for a specific database:

SCUSI IMage

The first seven listings of 324 . . .

As you can see, the date,* source, and notes provide good information all by themselves, and the source location will assist you (or assist our staff in assisting you) in finding the source in which the surname appears.

All this, and you can search it from home, too!  Why not give it a try—and discover the kinds of Unusual Sources your ancestors got themselves into?

Thanks, Ellen!
We really appreciate your hard work!

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*Psst:  If you ever see the current date in the third field (see the fourth listing?), don’t worry—that only means that there was no date available, so our system “helped” by filling in the blank. We’re currently trying to convince it to stop and we apologize for any confusion!

 

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