A December Thanksgiving in Davenport, 1865

One hundred and fifty years ago this coming week, on December 7, 1865, Davenporters observed a memorable National Day of Thanksgiving. In the words of Iowa Governor William M. Stone’s proclamation, printed in the Davenport Daily Gazette on the 6th, it had so “…pleased the Divine Ruler of Nations, during the year which is drawing to a close, to deliver our Land from the horrors of Civil War and sustain us by the abundance of his mercies…” that Iowans must “assemble together in our accustomed places of public worship and give thanks to Almighty God for all His mercies and goodness so graciously vouchsafed unto us…”

The newspaper’s editor, Edward Russell, boldly asserted that “[i]n no State can the National blessings secured through the overthrow of the rebellion and the annihilation of Slavery be more sincerely appreciated than here in Iowa, ” and he continued to wax lyrical about the state whose

… patriotism throughout the war was unexcelled by that of any other State, and whose citizens have sacrificed most freely of life and treasure to secure and preserve these blessings. In no State will this Thanksgiving day be more generally observed. Nowhere else will there be more devout assemblies in village church and humble school house. From no other assemblies will the ascriptions of praise be more sincerely and earnestly offered. No homes will be more joyous that those of Iowa in which the long absent braves now re-unite around the family board…

Perhaps Iowa was indeed exceptional in celebrating Thanksgiving. A few days later, on December 11th, Russell reported that cold weather had kept many Rock Islanders from assembling on the appointed day. In contrast to Davenport’s  “sister city” in Illinois, he wrote, “[t]he ‘severe cold’ wasn’t discovered on this side of the river, and our churches were very largely attended. Our mills, factories, &c. suspended operations, the stores were closed, fireside circles were well filled, and the day heartily observed.” Early evidence of the practice of defining the cities on the two sides of the Mississippi against each other?

And as is also the case today, holiday shopping was encouraged immediately following Thanksgiving. Advertisements such as these appeared in the Gazette in the early days of December:


Luse and GriggsHere they areGold and Silver



Happy Thanksgiving and happy holiday shopping!

–posted by Katie

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The St. James Thanksgiving Feast: 1891

We have located another wonderful hotel menu printed in a local newspaper highlighting the amazing Thanksgiving feast awaiting hotel patrons at a local establishment.

This year’s selection is from the Davenport Daily Leader, published on November 25, 1891 on page 5. The St. James Hotel not only printed the dinner menu, but also printed selected names of hotel guests who would be dining that day.

We hope you enjoy reading this selection. We are sure the dinner guests at this long ago feast enjoyed this extravagant (at least to us) meal.

St. James Thanksgiving Dinner.*

Little Neck Clams.

Mock Turtle, aux Quenelles.

Consomme de Volaille, a la Brisse.

Boiled California Salmon, Hollandaise Sauce.                    Pomme de Terre a la Parisienne

Fried Smelts, Tartar Sauce.


Leg of Mutton, Caper Sauce.                                    Filet of Beef, a la Durham.

Salmi of Red Head duck, a la Bigarade.                            Supreme of Bear, a la Sicilienne.

Sweet Bread Patties, aux Champignons.                       Cutlets de Foie-Gras, a la Strasburg.

Orange Bavarian Timbale, a la Parisienne.

Champagne Punch.

Prime of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding.

Mashed and Boiled potatoes.                                                                   Sweet Potatoes.

Green Peas.                           Oyster Plant.


Wild Young Turkey Stuffed with Chestnuts.               Saddle of Vension, with Current Jelly.

Lettuce Salad.

Chicken, a la Mayonnaise.                                      Shrimp, a la Russian.

English Plum Pudding. Brandy Sauce.

Cream Meringue Pie.                          Mince Pie.

Banana Ice Cream.

Fruit Cake.                            Cocoanut Cake.                     Assorted Cake.

Grape Jelly.                           Fruits in Season.

Coffee.                  Tea.                        Milk.

American Cheese.

While many of the items we feel we could replicate today, we are a bit stuck on the Supreme of Bear, a la Sicilienne. That one will take a little investigating on our part.

We wish everyone a pleasant Thanksgiving.

*The menu has been copied with original spelling left in place.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Turkey Notes: The 2015 additions

As loyal readers of this blog know, this is the time of the year when we share our favorite Turkey Notes submitted by staff of the Davenport Public Library.

If you are not among our regular readers, our best explanation is here. To find other Turkey treasurers from years past, please enter the phrase “Turkey Notes” into our search box on the right hand side of this page.

This year, our regular Turkey Note wrangler is feeling a bit under the weather, so we compiled some notes we hope she will approve of:

Turkey Chomp
Turkey Bite
Turkey says “You won’t be eating me tonight!”

Turkey outwitted
 Turkey outfoxed
Turkey says ” I am Sher-locked”

Turkey romance
Turkey mystery
Turkey loves to look at her reading history.

Turkey Fix
Turkey Cobble
Turkey says
Only boy turkeys gobble!

Turkey Wink
Turkey Think
Turkey says
I’m high in zinc

Turkey Harold
 Turkey Mable
Turkey says
No electronics at the table!

Turkey juicy,
Turkey yummy,
Turkey better worry,
Turkey taste better than jerky

Turkey Red
Turkey Blue
Turkey says

Turkey Satin
Turkey Lace
Turkey Says
We miss your face!

We hope you enjoyed this year’s addition and we would love to hear your versions. While we always enjoy traditional Turkey Note distribution at the Thanksgiving table, we have found Turkey Notes work just as well (and bring just as many smiles) via text, email, or whatever form of social media you prefer for your family and friends far away.


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A Veteran and a Friend

In honor of Veterans Day we would like to share a portion of an Oral History interview conducted on June 4, 2001.

Interviewer: Susan Carlson, WWII/Korean War Oral History Project

Veteran: Army PFC Kenneth Roy Plumb

Enlisted June 1954. 82nd General Engineer Battalion and 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 24th Infantry Division.

Kenneth R. Plumb was born on April 29, 1936 in Iowa City. He passed away on October 3rd, 2015 in Davenport. Mr. Plumb was a long time member of the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society and was a volunteer in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

Mr. Plumb, along with his wife Shirley, helped to create many of the indexes helpful to our researchers. They also spent countless hours prepping materials to be microfilmed to improve public access to local historic records.


Kenneth Plumb was named SCIGS Volunteer of the year in 2007



We will miss Mr. Plumb’s ever-present smile, sense of humor, and amazing recollections in Special Collections.

(Cristina and Amy D.)

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OMG! NARA AAD Passenger Lists FYI

Last month, staff from the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center listened in to the National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair. One of the things we learned is that NARA’s Access to Archival Databases has indexed passenger lists available to search from home for FREE.

There are currently 4 passenger list databases on AAD:



We looked at the Germans to America database, to see if it had the same info as the book series on our shelves.




Tip: Click on “show more fields” and select what info you would like to view or search for. You can search by name, age, country of origin, sex, occupation, literacy, city/town of last residence, destination city/county, transit and/or travel compartment and manifest identification number. You can chose up to 10 fields to display on the search results.




We thought it would be fun to look under occupations and see if any librarians came from Germany to America during that time.




We entered the code for “Librarian” and got 2 results: Mr. John Fiske and J. H. Gades. We clicked on “View Record” to see more info.



You will notice that the record does not mention the name of the ship or arrival dates. To view that information, you will need to search the “Manifest Header Data File“.



Note the “Manifest Identification Number” from the Full Record and use it to search the “Manifest Header Data File“.


AADManifest1 AADManifest2


The results will show the ship name, port of departure and arrival date. That means you could also search by ship name, if you already have that information and wanted to see who else was on the same ship.



Because Mr. Fiske was an American, he is not listed in the Germans to America book series on our shelves. But that means that the list on AAD is more complete than the books. If you go back to the Passenger Data File and search by the Manifest Identification Number, you will get a list of everyone on the ship, including the 4 Americans that are not listed in the book version of Germans to America.

You will have to try any and all alternate spellings and abbreviations of your ancestors names, since the AAD does not use the same kind of “smart” searching as Ancestry or other genealogy sites you might be used to searching. But we think this will be a useful resource for our genealogy researchers.


(posted by Cristina)

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A Fearful Halloween Frolic

Children involved in Halloween mischief has always been a concern for adults in Davenport. From outhouse tipping to pumpkin smashing or worse; adults have tried to keep children busy on Halloween night and away from trouble.

The Davenport Y.M.C.A. had those thoughts in mind when they invited local boys on a Halloween frolic that would start downtown and end in a field near Mercy Hospital (now Genesis – West Hospital) on October 31, 1922*.

The evening began with a movie being shown outdoors on a curtain near the Y.M.C.A. building (located at Harrison and 4th Streets) before continuing with a bike ride to a pasture near Mercy Hospital.

The pasture near the hospital was chosen for the spooky feeling it provided. It had woods nearby and an old abandoned shack that was rumored to be haunted. A perfect place for a Halloween Frolic.

The evening was led by Mr. Norman Macdonald, who was the Boys’ Secretary at the Y.M.C.A. The frolic continued in the field with games and activities. At about 10:00 p.m. about 200 boys listened as Mr. Macdonald regaled them with ghost stories.

Suddenly, the evening of fun was filled with terror as the boys heard a gunshot come from inside the abandoned shack. Stunned, they watched a man run from the building into the shadows of the nearby woods while his victim stumbled out and collapsed in front of them with blood running down his shirt.

Secretary Macdonald was the first to react as he tried to provide first aid to the man from a nearby First Aid kit. Another Secretary, Robert Vernon, and other men helped take the man into Mercy Hospital after first aid had been administered.

Needless to say, the boys were terrified at what they had witnessed. This was not the fun-filled Halloween event they had imagined. They had been visited by true Halloween terror.

Suddenly, Secretary Macdonald made a surprise announcement. It was all a Halloween Program!

Yes, this program was to remind the boys of good morals. Mr. Macdonald said the shed was the “Den of Bad Companions” that had housed the gunman who was influenced by the devil. The victim represented the attack on “High Ideals” saved by the Y.M.C.A.’s four remedies of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual cares.

After this reminder on making good choices and avoiding the destructive path in life the boys enjoyed more games plus apples and doughnuts before heading into the dark towards their respective homes.

We are sure it was a Halloween frolic that wasn’t soon forgotten.

*The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 1, 1922.

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Genealogy Night is Almost Here!

This Sunday, October 25th from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center will be hosting Genealogy Night.

Come take advantage of our closed library to research genealogy. Our staff will be available for guidance or to help you locate materials in the library or on the computers. Other genealogists will be available to bounce ideas off of and share the journey. And as always, there will be yummy food to help sustain you through your research!

This event is $10/person with registration needed. RSSC is located at the Davenport Public Library – Main Street branch at 321 Main Street, Davenport.

Parking is located on the streets around the library or in the lot on the corner of 4th and Brady Streets. Please use the 4th Street door to enter as the main library building is closed. Staff will be there to greet you!

For more information or to register, please call (563) 326-7902.

Now all you need to do is gather your family genealogy notes, sharpen some pencils, and put a flash drive ready to go. The fun, food, and family history is waiting for you in RSSC!

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TRACES “Bus-eum”: At Home in the Heartland

On Thursday, October 22 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. the Eastern Avenue branch of the Davenport Public Library will be hosting the TRACES “Bus-eum”. This mobile museum is crossing Iowa sharing the history of the state in a retrofitted school bus.

During the visit, the Bus-eum will explore At Home in the Heartland. This eighteen panel exhibit explores how the Midwest developed differently from other regions, Iowa’s unique settlement patterns, and how these factors have both positive and negative influences today.

The exhibit features historic images, text, and videos. There is also a 90-minute workshop called Grindin’ Ol’ Bones: Exploring Together Social Context behind Family History.

The Davenport Public Library – Eastern Avenue Branch is located at 6000 Eastern Avenue, Davenport. This event is free and open to the public. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity!

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Beginning Genealogy Class and Genealogy Night!

In honor of National Family History Month, we’re offering a FREE Beginning Genealogy Class this Saturday October 10th from 9:30-10:30am at the Main Street Library. Learn how to get started researching your family history using the materials (and staff!) at the library.

After you’ve learned the basics, join us for Genealogy Night on Sunday, October 25th from 3:00-8:00pm at the Main Street Library. Come to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to use our resources, ask questions of staff and volunteers from the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society, talk to other researchers, and eat some yummy food. Registration for Genealogy Night is needed. The cost is $10.00. Call us at (563) 326-7902 to reserve your spot!

National Family History Month

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1925 Iowa State Census

This month as the Davenport Public Library celebrates The Big Read with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby we are exploring the 1925 Iowa State Census which you may search for free on Family Search.

Unlike the Federal Censuses which were only 1 page long, this State Census has 3 pages of information on your ancestors.

1925 Census Questions

Are you stuck trying to find your ancestor’s mother’s maiden name? If they lived in Iowa in 1925, then you’re in luck! The second page asks for fathers’ name, mother’s maiden name, their age (if still alive) and where they got married.

If you’ve tried the name search and your ancestor does not show up in the search results but you are sure that they lived in Iowa at the time, we suggest you browse through the digital microfilm. It’s just like browsing through the microfilm here at the Library, but you can do it from home for free!

For more help searching the 1925 Iowa State Census, check out the FamilySearch Wiki or come into the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. We would love to help you in your search.

If you’re curious about what life was like for your ancestors in the 1920’s, come to the special presentation at the Eastern Avenue branch library on Monday, October 26th.

For more Great Gatsby programming please visit www.davenportlibrary.com or visit our Special Collections Calendar on this blog.

Jessica Talk

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