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.)



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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)

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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.

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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.


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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).

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Enroll in our Summer Book Arts Academy

Summer Book Arts Academy is a hands-on workshop series offering community members an opportunity to learn more about book arts and how to create them. Each workshop will cover a different type of book arts spanning from simple binding techniques to lettering arts. Register today for the workshops that take your fancy!             

Dates and Times: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays in June through August

Wednesday, June 13th at 4:30 Pamphlet Book Binding 
Wednesday, June 27th at 4:30 Introduction to Paper Marbling 
Wednesday, July 11th at 4:30 Japanese Stab Binding 
Wednesday, July 25th at 4:30 Accordion Binding 
Wednesday, August 8th at 4:30 Hand Lettering 101 with presenter, Hannah Eddy from Nourished Lettering  
Wednesday, August 22th at 4:30 Relief Printing: Linocut 

Davenport Public Library | Main 
321 Main Street 
Davenport, IA 52801 

Click here to register online or call 563-326-7902   

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Investigate the Past: Annie Wittenmyer Complex Program

Have you ever been curious about the Annie Wittenmyer Complex (the former Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home) on Eastern Avenue in Davenport?

This coming Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 4:30 p.m., the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Daveport Public Library will present the program “Investigate the Past: the Annie Wittenmyer Complex” at our Main Street location.

Join us as we examine memoirs, newspaper articles, photographs, architectural drawings, and other sources that tell the story of this fascinating local institution.

Over the years, our blog has covered different aspects of the historic Annie Wittenmyer Complex, including these posts:

What’s in a Name? The Annie Wittenmyer Home – November 15, 2012

A New (Old) Look at the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home – January 9, 2014

The Mystery of the Orphans’ Monument – May 22, 2014

Build A Better Davenport: The Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home 1865–1975 – June 23, 2017

40 Years Ago: The Annie Wittenmyer Branch of the Davenport Public Library – April 13, 2018

…but this event will be a rare opportunity to learn the overall history of the property from before it became the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home to after the Annie Wittenmyer facility’s closing in 1974.

This early image of the Complex is among the many interesting items featured in our program:

View at the Orphans’ Home, Davenport, Iowa. Evans’ Western View Collection – Image 135. c. late 1860s

We look forward to sharing them all with you on Tuesday afternoon!

(posted by Amy D.)

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A Memorial Day Remembrance: Private Arthur C. Franz

Memorial Day 1918 was a somber day in Davenport. Not only were local citizens remembering those fallen in wars past, they were also mourning the first soldier from Davenport to be lost (only weeks earlier, in France) in the current conflict.

It was not even known on that Memorial Day where the body of Private Arthur C. Franz was laid to rest, nor where in France he died in battle.

The telegram bearing the sad news was received by Private Franz’s brother-in-law, Mr. Arthur H. Beck, at his place of employment. It simply stated “Deeply regret to inform you that Private Arthur C. Franz, Infantry, is officially reported as killed in action April 20, 1918.” It was sent by Adjutant General McCain, United States Army, in Washington.

The Daily Times, May 2, 1918, 1.

On May 13, 1918, Private Franz’s sister, Mrs. Myrtle Beck, received a letter from Adjutant General Austin A. Parker stating that no details about Private Franz’s death were yet known. He explained that due to emergency conditions, all fallen soldiers were being buried in Europe but that after the war, their remains would be returned to the soldiers’ families at the public’s expense. The letter concluded with directions on the proper departments to contact relating to a soldier’s personal effects, insurance issues, and salary owed.

Private Franz was just a few months short of his 30th birthday.

Arthur Charles Franz was born June 3, 1888 in Muscatine, Iowa to German immigrant Charles Franz and Iowa-born Frances Neff. His only sibling was his older sister Myrtle.

Charles Franz worked in the hotel industry and moved to Davenport when Arthur was very young. Arthur’s mother died June 1901 in Davenport from typhoid fever.

Siblings Arthur and Myrtle both attended Davenport schools. Local newspapers made mention of Arthur playing baseball on a local team in May of 1902 and graduating ninth grade from Davenport School No. 8 in June 1903. Although he also attended Davenport High School, his name is not listed on any of the school’s graduation lists.

Arthur eventually followed his father into the hotel business. He moved from Davenport shortly before the war for a job in Connecticut. Franz enlisted in the United States Army in June 1917 with the 102nd U.S. Infantry and had been overseas in France since September of that year.

The Scott County Council of Defense memorialized Private Franz and Miss Marion Crandell, who died March 20, 1918 in France while working for the Red Cross, on May 7th during a program held at the Turner Grand Opera House.

By chance, just hours after she received the telegram informing her of her brother’s death, Myrtle Beck received a letter from Arthur dated April 12, 1918. It was printed in the local newspapers along with the announcement of his death. It described the body lice and rats found in the trenches and the never-ending rain in France. Just before signing off from his letter, Arthur recommended his sister read [Arthur Guy] Empey’s book Over the Top to learn more about the life of a soldier in the war.

Private Arthur C. Franz is buried at Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in Thiaucourt, France. 

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 11, 1918, 1.


The Daily Times, May 2, 1918, 1.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 2, 1918, 1.

The Daily Times, May 14, 1918, 7.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 18, 1901, 4.

The Daily Times, May 20, 1902, 4.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 3, 1918, 3.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 7, 1918, 13.

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Fun-Size Fire Insurance Maps of Davenport

In anticipation of this coming Tuesday’s program, “Genealogical Perspectives on Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps” (6:30pm on 5/22 at our 321 Main Street location) we are featuring a recent addition to our collection of these sources that consistently prove valuable to our understanding of the development of Davenport’s built environment over time. 

In the 1950s the Sanborn Map Company began to republish earlier editions of its large-scale fire insurance maps (sheets measuring 22″ x 28″) for many U.S cities and towns, touting the new “Reduced Size Sanborn Map” (at 11″ x 13″) as able “to effect an appreciable saving in floor space and to permit more economical utilization…” The map, “[s]tripped of bulkiness and excessive weight” could now be “easily carried from a map cabinet to a conventional desk.” “Female employees can handle this compact product with ease,” the new foreward proclaimed:

The 1910 edition (revised to 1950) of the Insurance Maps of Davenport Iowa was republished by the company in this “fun-size” format in 1956. Sheets were assembled in three “Bar-Loc” brand binders, comprising volumes 1A, 1, and 2.


Key Map









The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center was fortunate enough to acquire this well-kept set from a downtown Davenport insurance company in recent years. Revisions and corrections date to September 1978, making it possible to track changes to the city’s appearance over the three decades after the 1940’s updates to our copy of the 1910 edition.

We were especially delighted to see that our 1968 Edward Durrell Stone-designed Davenport Public Library building is documented in this set of maps! The outline of the original Carnegie building is still visible underneath the paste-down.

The handy Description and Utilization of the Sanborn Map was issued along with the three-volume set. These instructions, complete with the charming fictional city of Sanbornville, NY as an exemplar, offer insight into how the the maps were used not only by fire insurance companies, but also banks, mortgage companies, utility companies, and various government agencies.

A slip of paper from the Sanborn Map Company inserted among the pages of this booklet reads “…it is understood that your copy of the superseded conventional map…will be physically destroyed following transfer of your data to this replacement reduced size map.” Being in the business of helping people research the history of their homes and their ancestors’ residences and businesses in years prior to 1956, we are grateful that the original owner of our 1910 edition of the Insurance Maps of Davenport Iowa did not heed this command!

In addition to the “conventional” and “reduced size” 1910 Sanborn maps of Davenport, the Center’s collection includes print and microfiche copies of the 1886 maps, and both a microfiche and an original bound copy of the 1892 set.  As of a year ago this month, the Library of Congress began publishing digitial copies of the Sanborn fire insurance maps in its collection online, so we can now direct researchers to the 1886 and 1892 editions of the Davenport maps in color. An 1895 map of LeClaire and a 1913 map of Dixon in Scott County are available on the site, as well as maps for many other Iowa cities and towns.

Join us this Tuesday night for Lisa Louise Cook’s advice on conducting genealogical research using Sanborn fire insurance maps, or visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center anytime to view the Davenport maps in our collection!

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Lost but Not Forgotten: A Brief History of the H. H. Andresen Residence, 726 West 6th Street

Although a suspicious fire destroyed the historic home at 726 West 6th Street in Davenport’s Gold Coast neighborhood last Thursday morning, it will not be lost to memory: sources available here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center preserve the story of the Hamburg Historic District property known as the “H. H. Andresen Residence.”

Perhaps the earliest image of the home is that published in the Huebinger brothers’ 1887 viewbook, Das Erste Album der Stadt Davenport, Iowa (=The first album of the city of Davenport, Iowa, SC 917.7769 HUE):

Thanks to the notice of P. C. Harding’s sale of the property to Andresen in the Davenport Daily Gazette of March 3, 1880, we know the site was “covered with choice fruit trees and shrubs” atop the bluff with “as fine a view of the river as there is to be found in this city.” Andressen was “congratulated in securing such a desirable home” in a “pleasant neighborhood” with “convenience to business” in the city; a “bargain” at $6,000 cash.

Andresen built his house on the property six years after the purchase, possibly enlarging a smaller brick structure dating to 1865-1870.  The Davenport Democrat for June 18, 1886 reported that construction was underway and that the owner would be moving in that fall.

Built in the Richarsonian Romanesque style, the three-story structure’s distinguishing features included a Flemish step gable and decorative terra cotta and brick work. [1] According to a 1921 report of the house’s sale, “[t]he entire finishings of the building are imported from Germany, many of the old window lights bearing German inscriptions.” [2]  Perhaps because of the impressive corner tower (shown in plan on the 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Davenport, below [3]) the residence was often referred to in later years as a “castle.”

The grandeur of the home reflected the success of the man. A biographical sketch under the heading “City Builders” appeared in the Davenport Democrat on June 18, 1886 as construction of the home was underway. 

Davenport Illustrated: Saengerfest Souvenir, July 1898. Davenport, Iowa: Saengerbund of the Northwest, 1898.

From the sketch we learn that Andresen and his wife, Marie E. Thomsen, had come to Davenport in 1855 to join the established community of German refugees from the Schleswig-Holstein controversy. He had first fled to the United States in 1851, working in Milwaukee as a school teacher and later in Chicago in land sales.

Upon arriving in Davenport, Andresen opened a general store on the northwest corner of 3rd Street and Western Avenue. He quickly became active in civic life: by 1859 he was elected Second Ward Alderman and the following year he became deputy sheriff under James Thorington. During the Civil War he served as manager of the post at Fort Scott, Kansas, from 1862 through 1864.

After the war, Andresen returned to public service in Davenport. He was again Second Ward Alderman and Chair of the Finance Committee for the city from 1864 until 1868.

In 1865 he started window blind manufacturing company and began investing in other local business concerns, including the Davenport Glucose Works. He was named secretary of the Davenport Fire Insurance Company, the predecessor to the German Savings Bank. Through his management, this institution had become, by 1886, “one of the greatest financial institutions in Iowa– one of the greatest in the entire country in its brand of banking.” He would later become the Bank’s president in 1892.

Almost as soon as it was complete, Andresen’s “handsome new residence on Sixth Street” suffered its first misfortune. On August 15th, 1886, the home was struck by lightning, the following day’s Democrat noting that “[t]he heavenly artillery was aimed at the circular tower and scalped off a patch of slating about four by ten feet.”

A “slight blaze,” at the rear of the Andresen residence, “caused by the explosion of some chemicals in the basement” was reported in the Davenport Morning Star on October 5, 1890.

A third and most tragic accident occurred at the Andresen home in September of 1905.  Fifteen-year-old Herbert Penner, residing at the time with his aunt, uncle, and great-uncle Andresen, turned on a gas water heater as he prepared to take a bath. A ventilator had not yet been installed and the boy, unaware of the need to open the bathroom window, was asphyxiated by gas fumes. [3]

Hans Heinrich Andresen passed away the following year, on May 11, 1906. His daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Klenze, inherited the house on 726 West 6th Street. It stood vacant in the years that followed the couple’s trade of the property for a Silvis, Illinois farm in 1909; by 1912 we find advertisements for a rooming house called “Fredrich’s Retreat” at that address.

The Daily Times, Nov. 4, 1912, 13.

In 1921 the property was sold to Henry Harbeck, president and business agent of the Tri-City Musicians’ Union and former manager of Davenport Turner Hall.  The “Harbeck Apartments” were advertised in the local newspapers through the early 1920s. In 1927, the property became a subject of dispute in his divorce from his wife, Minnie. [4] According to Davenport city directories, the building was known as the “Edwards Apartments” from the 1930s through the late 1980s.

The tragic loss of the H. H. Andresen Residence only strengthens our resolve to bring the stories of other historic Davenport properties to light. Watch this blog or visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at the Davenport Public Library’s Main Street location to discover more about local families and the places they called home.


[1] Architectural/Historical Survey conducted by Wehner, Nowysz, Pattschull and Pfiffner for the Davenport Community Development Department and the Iowa Division of Historic Preservation, [1983?].

[2] Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Davenport, Scott County, Iowa. Sanborn Map Company, 1892. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

[3] Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sept. 7, 1905.

[4] Davenport Democrat and Leader, Apr. 3, 1927.

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