The Flowery Rhymes of Charles Eugene Banks

It’s National Poetry Month and we can think of no better way to celebrate than to remind everyone that Davenport has been the home of quite a few nationally acclaimed poets in its time.

Charles Eugene Banks (b. 1852 – d. 1932) lived in Davenport from the late 1890s into the early 1900s.

While here, he became a part of the literary-minded Davenport Group.  The talented members of this group included Susan Glaspell, George Cram Cook, Alice French, and Arthur Davison Ficke.

The following selections are from Banks’ book Quiet Music, which was published in 1892:


We heard not a sound of their marshaling feet,

Saw never the gleam of a spear,

Till their tents stood saucily fronting each street,

And the army of blossoms is here.


The Pansy

Three flowers in my garden grew;
A lily, pansy, and a rose.
I questioned Psyche: “Tell me true,
Which is most beautiful of those?”

The lily, hearing, reared its head.
“Behold the charm of grace,” it cried.
“Voluptuous beauty here is bred,”
The blushing rose as quick replied.

The pansy, drooping on its stem,
Concealed its face with modest start.
“Alas!” I said, “pride ruins them”—
I wear the pansy in my heart.

 A happy spring to all!

(posted by Amy D.)

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The Library Will Be Closed April 3rd — Dress Accordingly!

The Davenport Public Library will be closed this Friday and our staff hopes to enjoy the Spring weather . . . whatever that turns out to be.

As those of us who live here know all too well, Calendar Spring in Eastern Iowa has little to do with Meteorological Spring.  This makes it difficult to dress appropriately for all possible fluctuations of temperature, precipitation, and wind velocity.

But we in Special Collections have photographic evidence that some Davenport residents have managed to wear the perfect Spring outfit, even without benefit of air conditioning.

Elva Yeatman Gifford, for one.

In April  of 1915, Miss Yeatman, who would marry Ira L. Gifford in Washington, D.C. in early May, had her photograph taken by the Hostetler Studio.

In the photographs, she is wearing an outfit, which does not match the description of her wedding dress offered by the May 3rd Davenport Democrat but was certainly lovely enough to have done the job:

Elva Gifford2.jpg

The flower motif, the pretty, pinfeathered hat, and the whimsical collar say, “Spring.”

The gathered, insulating ruching at the waistline and the doubled overlay of the bodice, not to mention the kid gloves say, “Not quite yet.”

It’s the perfect combination.

Elva Gifford

Well done, Mrs. Gifford!

It’s too bad this sort of style has gone out of fashion.  But I’m sure our staff will be just as comfortable in our shorts, sweatshirts, galoshes, and woolen socks, our umbrellas in one hand and our snow shovels in the other.

Because around here, Spring tends to make April Fools of us all!

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We’re History(Pin)!

As some of you have already discovered, we’ve recently started adding historical images from our collections to!

Why the excitement? Check out this description from HistoryPin’s FAQ:

HistoryPin was created to help people to come together from across different generations, cultures and places, around the history of their families and neighbourhoods, improving personal relations and building stronger communities.

We like the sound of that! And it’s also a neat way to share images from our collections.

Check out our interactive map!

So far, our profile features images in the following categories or “collections”:

  • Parks
  • Bridges
  • Around Town
  • Aerial Photographs
  • The 1940 National Corn Husking Competition (we gotta be us!)

We plan to add more soon, so check back often!

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New Digital Conversion Station (featuring the Quad Cities U.S.A. song!)

Conversion Station


Do you have home movies on VHS that you can’t watch?  Boxes of audio cassette tapes in your garage leftover from when you traded in your old car? LP records in your hall closet and no turntable?

We have a solution for your nostalgia-sickness:  Digitize your memorabilia and take it home on your flash drive!!

Our new Digital Conversion Station converts Vinyl, audio cassette tapes and video cassette tapes into digital files.

The conversion is done in real time, so it will take 2 hours to digitize a 2 hour movie.

The station is available for the public to use for up to 6 hours per day. Please call ahead at (563) 326-7902 to reserve your time.

There is no charge and you don’t need a library card to use it—all you need is a flash drive and time!

Naturally, we wouldn’t ask you to do anything we wouldn’t, so this morning, we digitized a 7 inch vinyl single of the “Themesong” of the Quad Cities, commissioned for the Quad-Cities USA campaign in 1980, which we blog about in a previous blog post.

Listen to the audio file below and sing along!


Music: Bob Jenkins; Lyrics: Charlie Teague; Arranged & Produced: Bob Jenkins; Vocal: Brent Webster ©1980 by the Quad City Development Group

I know a place
Where there’s work to be done
Where there’s room for me
and who I want to be.
Somewhere I can do the things
I’m good enough to do.
Where I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live with the eagles.
Fly with the eagles and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Lookin’ better every day
Quad Cities, you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.

There’s a river
A stream that works while it plays.
A road through history
Down to the shining sea.
This mighty, rollin’ river,
tells me that I’m home
Where I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live with the river
Flow with the river and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Growin’ stronger every day
Quad Cities you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.

On this good land
The seasons flavor my life.
And it’s good to know
Of things that live and grow.
I can raise my family
Where the good life’s gonna be.
And I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live on the good land
Grow with the good land and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Growing better every day
Quad Cities you’re the place I want to be.

Where I can live with the eagles,
Fly with the eagles and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Lookin’ better every day
Quad Cities, you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.
I want to be.

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Anything You Can Do…

The Library is well aware of the importance of women to the history of Davenport—without them, our library wouldn’t exist—so in honor of this year’s National Women’s History Month, we thought we’d mention some of the Davenport women who were included in the city’s Who’s Who for 1929.

Or, as the Davenport Democrat called them on March 10th of that year:

“[I]ntrepid little slips of femininity “invading”a man-made business and professional world a few years ago.”


But before we take offense at the patronization of the past, the editors of the paper were all in favor of  women doing any work for which they were suited.  They reminded readers of the simple fact that “a woman’s brain can absorb as much “higher education” as a man’s.”

It’s clear from the remainder of the article—not to mention our local histories—that the women of Davenport didn’t need reminding; they’d known that for years.

And most of the “intrepid little slips of femininity” hadn’t waited for everyone else to catch up:

  • By the time the article was published, Lottie Bois Clapp had been a mortician for 17 years.
  • Mrs. Inger Estes had been a Davenport policewoman for seven.
  • Lura Parker had served as deputy clerk for the Federal Court for at least five.
  • Ellanor Parker had been teaching classes in Parliamentary law throughout the country for several years.
  • Hermione C. Schneckloth had been Scott County Superintendent of Schools for eight.
  • Dr. Blanche A. Jones, the city’s only female dentist, had been practicing for thirteen years in her offices on the third floor of the Central building.
  • Dr. Nellie Campbell wasn’t the first woman to practice medicine in Davenport, but at the time of the article, she’d been the only licensed female physician doing so for several years.
  • Mrs. E. H. Dierolf, the city’s first female pharmacist, was one of the four women registered by the state at that time.
  • Davenport also boasted several osteopathic physicians, including Dr. Augusta Tuckers, Dr. Mary Jane Porter, and Dr. Margaret Harrison—and Dr. Mabel H. Palmer was professor of anatomy and the secretary treasurer of the Palmer School of Chiropractic.
  • Maud Streicher had already served her apprenticeship and was a full-fledged carpenter, working on roofs and framing residential expansions.
  • Jacqueline Gasser had already become the first female licensed Real Estate Agent in the city.
  • And Ella Stahmer Bauer had already retired from the CEO position of the F. J. Stahmer Shoe company, the largest manufacturer of wooden shoes in the country, by the time the Democrat’s reporters came calling. The young woman told them that she’d stepped down to the co-manager’s position so she would have more time to start a family.

We can’t deny that the women of this country have come a long way since their “slips of femininity” days.

But it makes us especially proud to know that the women of Davenport were already paving the road.


Sources Used:

Davenport City Directories, 1915-1930.

“Dentist, druggist, parliamentarian, chief! Busy? Decidedly so! These Davenport jills select a diversification of all trades and professions.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, 10March 1929, pp. 23 and 25.

Whos who in Davenport 1929, including whos who in Moline and whos who in Rock Island : biographical sketches of men and women of achievement. (Louisville, Ky. : Robert M. Baldwin Corp.),  c. 1929

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A Look at HeritageQuest Online’s New Interface

One of our subscription databases got a new look and some new content this week! The “improved” HeritageQuest Online (now powered by Ancestry) can be accessed from home using the link on the Online Resources page under Research Tools on our website. Just type in your Davenport Public Library card number to start searching.


They have added more Federal Census records (1790-1940), including Defective, Dependent and Delinquent, Mortality, Slave and Non-Population Schedules, Indian Census Rolls, Veteran Census of 1890 and Census of Deaf Marriages 1888-1895.


Their Family History Books interface has been updated and they have also added US City Directories to that section. Now you can search or browse Davenport City Directories 1861-1960 right from your home!


Another new feature is an interactive map that shows counties in each state for each census year. Your ancestors may have lived in the same place for generations, but the name of that place may have changed over time. This map will help you figure that out.


New research aids contain tips on how to get started, searching the census, immigration, military records and ethnic genealogy. Some of the tips might be helpful if you’re coming up empty or you’re getting too many search results.


There are some “improvements” that we’re not so excited about. If you’re familiar with Ancestry’s intuitive searching, you know how sometimes it’s not very helpful.  We tried entering a location, but got results from a completely different region. If this happens to you, try alternate spellings, restricting to exact, and leaving location fields blank.

Feel free to try this at home!

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Join Our Family Album!

Tuskegee Institute Singers

The Tuskegee Institute Singers were not related to each other, but after so much time on the road, making music, they were family.

It’s no secret that family photographs forge connections to the past. We may never have met Aunt Betsy or Great-Grandpa Milton, but we can see ourselves in their faces and learn something of our family circumstances through their clothes and smiles and settings.

Our Special Collections Center has hundreds of faces and family groups in our photograph collections. Our patrons have not only found their ancestors among these images, but they’ve also made connections to our shared history.

We’re proud to say that our image collections are something of a Community Family Album.

But we’re afraid some of our community has been  left out.

Most of our portrait photographs were taken by only one or two studios—the Hostetler Studio and the Free Studio, in particular—for only a few decades.  These studios were not necessarily affordable to everyone and weren’t necessarily the first choice for many ethnic groups in Davenport.

Some of our patrons have been generous enough to add their families’ images to our collections, either by donating their originals or allowing us to scan them for our digital archives.  But not everyone knows that our Center equipped to archive and preserve donations of local photographs.

We are!  And we need your help to fill in the gaps in our “Album”!

If you have portrait photographs of family members (or people you consider family) and can provide information about them—even if you only know their names and relationship to you—we would love to add them to our Archive to preserve and provide access to them for future generations.

Contact Jessica Mirasol, the Special Collections/Archives Supervising  Librarian: jmirasol[at]davenportlibrary[dot]com

Your family is part of our history—please help us put faces to them!

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The Great February Escape

While most of us want to stay inside on cold, snowy February days, there are those who don’t mind the weather as long as they are able to get out in the fresh air.

That is apparently how six prisoners felt on February 18, 1869, when they broke out of the Scott County Jail in the middle of a blustery winter day.

Turns out, it was not that hard to do.

The six men included Benjamin F. Newell, who was awaiting trial for counterfeiting;  Michael Clancy, who was awaiting trial for murder; Michael McCoy who had pled guilty to assault with intent to rob; John Harvey, who had pled guilty to larceny and burglary; Elisha Buckner, a horse thief; and Pat McCann, who was waiting to be tried for larceny.

The men had watched the jailer and staff and had learned their daily routines. They knew on this particular Thursday, the staff would be especially busy next door at the courthouse, where several trials were going on at once.

Despite the snow and cold, the six men made their move.

A description of the jail can be found in a March 28, 1855, advertisement in the Davenport Daily Gazette for construction bids. The jail was to be built of stone with a size of forty-two by fifty-two feet containing twenty rooms.

Fifteen of those rooms were for the prisoners; the remaining five were for the jailer—generally the Sheriff—who would live at the jail with his family.  The jailer’s wife was expected to cook for the prisoners along with doing their laundry.

Davenport Daily Gazette March 28, 1855

This bid does not mention how many floors the jail had, but we are able to glean that information from Mr. William Ott, who reported the escape. Mr. Ott’s commented in the Davenport Daily Gazette on February 19, 1869, that he thought the men originally were talking to the female prisoners on the second floor of the jail.

The jail was located near the corner of Ripley and Fifth Streets next to the courthouse. The front of the building housed the parlor, or waiting room, for the jail on one side and the jailer’s parlor on the other side. A long hall ran down the middle to the jail area.

A thick stone wall made of rubble stone about twenty-one inches thick separated the jail from the front section. Behind the thick wall was a large room with an indoor privy at one end and jail cells along the back wall.

Sometime in the morning of February 18th the prisoners began to dig into the wall dividing the jail from the jailer’s parlor. Using pieces of metal found in the area, they dug until the afternoon. They took the rubble from the wall and dropped it down the privy at the opposite end of the room.

They finally broke through about 4:00 p.m.

The escape almost failed in the first few minutes when Michael McCoy got stuck trying to get through the hole. It took a great deal of shoving and pulling by his friends to get him through.

The men crawled into the jailer’s parlor and spotted a jug of alcohol. They apparently refreshed themselves and handed the jug through the hole for the eight male prisoners who had decided not to risk daring escape; most had been arrested for petty offenses and did not wish to get in more trouble.

The intrepid criminals crawled out a parlor window and then hopped the back fence to the sidewalk, which is where Mr. Ott spotted them. Once he realized it was an escape he ran to the courthouse to alert the Sheriff.

According to the Davenport Daily Gazette and the Daily Democrat,  the courthouse erupted upon the news and men ran to saddle their horses to find the escapees.

Mr. McCann and Mr. Buckner were caught soon after their escape. They had both headed out to the prairie (now the Locust Street area) in separate directions, but were easy to track in the snow.

Mr. Clancy and Mr. McCoy stuck together and headed to Buffalo, Iowa. They spent the night in a barn there before being caught the next day.

As for Mr. Newell and Mr. Harvey, it was rumored they headed toward the Mississippi River—but as far as our resources tell us,  no trace of them was ever found.

The Daily Democrat  reported on February 19th that “The place where they got out was a very weak spot…”   This seems to be an understatement. Though no further condition reports were made, we can only guess that the wall was strengthened after this incident—or possibly the prisoners were given more supervision, even on busy days!

(posted by Amy D.)

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Lovely Couples of Davenport

Shuey AngelsValentine’s Day is for couples, so what better way to celebrate than by sharing some of the lovely photographs of Davenport couples taken by the Hostetler Studios?


Benadom - William and SadieDr. William A. & Sadie Benadom, [ca. 1905]

 Dr. Benadom owned and managed the Benadom Sanitarium in Davenport.
He’s clearly crazy about his wife!


Moeller -- Hugo and Emelia

Hugo & Emilia (Wulf) Moeller, [ca. 1910]

 Hugo Moeller and Emilia Wulf were married in 1905.
Five years later, their daughter Janetta was born
and they apparently had no spare time for photography studios.


Peterson -- Lavinius and Anetta

Lavinius W. & Anetta (Hoepfner) Petersen, [ca. 1905]

 Lavinius and Anetta Peterson
celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in July of 1908.
The Hostetler Studio also photographed them separately, but they look happier together.


Best -- Louis and Clara

Louis P. & Clara (Krause) Best, [ca. 1910]

Louis Philip Best married Clara Louisa Krause on January 12, 1899.
He might look grumpy, but as President of the Woodruff-Kroy Company and Vice-President of the Robert Krause Company, he was probably just busy.
Mrs. Best, as the wife of a busy man and the mother of two children, was probably extremely patient.


Masters 2

Masters 1Mr. & Mrs. F. A. Masters, [ca. 1910]

 We don’t know much about this stylish couple, except that they had excellent taste in fashion.


Decker-- Charles and Isabel

Charles W. & Isabel (Morgan) Decker, [ca. 1910]

Charles Decker and Isabel Morgan were married in 1872.
They had three sons, and a country house for them to run around in.
Mr. Decker died the year before they would have celebrated their 40th anniversary.


Hayward -- Eugene and Ellen

Major Eugene B. & Ellen (Phelps) Hayward, [ca. 1910]

Eugene Hayward and Ellen Phelps were married in New York in 1864 and came to Davenport in about 1869.
They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary by having their photograph taken.
They may be sitting in separate chairs at the moment, but don’t let that fool you;
by all accounts, they doted on each other.

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Introducing LibGuides!

One of the biggest challenges of doing genealogy and local history research is that there are so many different places to look for records and information.

We have indexes and databases to help, of course, but we have to remember to check each one separately so we don’t miss anything!

Luckily, we have LibGuides to help!

Compiled by your friendly neighborhood librarians (that’s would be us), LibGuides are useful resources that can make our collections more accessible to researchers near and far.

Our first LibGuide is for Genealogy and Local History Links. You can find it on our website under “Tips, Tricks & How-To’s”



So far, the topics include cemetery research, church records, immigration/naturalization, land records, Rock Island Co. IL resources, Iowa resources, and vital records.

We’re also adding LibGuides all over our website!

Do you need to write a paper about a local historical figure or event? Want to know everything we have on a particular subject? You can find our list of Suggested Research Topics  on our website under “Tips, Tricks & How-To’s”.



For each topic, you will find links to free online resources, books from our catalog, links to articles on our blog, photos from our collection, finding aids from our Archive & Manuscript collections, citations for items in our Ephemera files, brochures and lists compiled by Staff.

If you’re a student with a local history research assignment—or you’re helping one—these Topics can save you a lot of time:



Our intention is to have links and citations of all of our available resources for each topic in one place, so we can better assist our patrons with their research needs. These will be helpful for students working on National History Day projects as well as researchers everywhere interested in finding items in our collection.

Check back often, as we will continue to add LibGuides for more topics in the near future!



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