Henry Bastian: A serial murderer among us – Part II

Part I of this story may be found here.

Henry Bastian’s suicide did not stem the flow of gossip about Frederick Kuschmann’s death in Rock Island and Davenport. In fact, according to newspaper reports, people began to wonder about several young hired men who had left the Bastian farm without saying goodbye to anyone.

The March 15th edition of the Davenport Daily Republican openly questioned if there was not more to Henry Bastian than met the eye. It reported on area residents’ recollections of two men in particular: Fritz Kreinsen and John Lauderbach.

When neighbors asked Bastian why Fritz Kreinsen no longer worked on the farm, he told them that the young German immigrant had decided to move to Wisconsin to be near friends. No one could remember Kreinsen mentioning a desire to relocate, and it seemed odd that he left so quickly. The next year, in 1895, Bastian said John Lauderbach had left his employ to travel westward, but the relatives who came looking for the young man they had not heard from in a long time knew of no such plan.

Also odd was the fact that Henry Bastian had suddenly appeared near the McLaughlin’s house just after the robber had run off.  He claimed to have been looking for lost horse when he noticed the barn fire and wanted to come help put it out. Over a hundred acres of land separated the Bastian and McLaughlin farmhouses.

Then there were the rumors that the police had found human blood stains at the height of a man’s head on the walls of the Bastian cow shed.

By March 20th, public opinion held that Henry Bastian had killed Frederick Kuschmann and most likely set fire to the McLaughlin barn in an attempt to rob the farmhouse during the commotion. Also, Bastian had no money to pay for groceries on the day Kuschmann was murdered: he had recently sold a horse for $25 and sent $20 of that to his mother in Geneseo, Illinois.

Further investigation revealed that Frederick Kuschmann’s last day of work had originally been set for February 27th (the day of the McLaughlin barn fire) but Henry Bastian asked him to stay until the 29th to make up for some days he had been sick.

On March 24, 1896 the Bastian family sold the household belongings and farm equipment left on the farm. People from all over came to purchase the suspected murder’s items and to have a look around the farm. While the police investigation continued, the farm could not be sold, so the land was rented to H. S. Meyers for four months. Mr. Meyers charged curious people $0.10 a person to walk down the farm lane and explore the property. He hoped curiosity would die down by the time planting season began.

As each day passed, more and more people began to wonder about the fate of Kreinsen and Lauderbach. Could Henry Bastian have murdered them, too? A rumor began to circulate that there was a witness to Bastian’s deadly deeds…

Law enforcement finally found this man, Charles Reiher, in Chicago. Mr. Reiher revealed that when he had worked for Henry Bastian, he had seen his boss burying the body of a man underneath a tree on the farm. He admitted he had been reluctant to speak against the well-respected Mr. Bastian for fear of being branded as crazy — he had once been committed to an insane asylum and did not wish to return.

With this new information, the sheriff obtained permission from the Bastians to begin digging on the family farm.


Milan, Illinois 1894 Plat showing the C. Bastian farm. Christian Bastian was Henry’s father. Henry took over the farm from his elderly parents in the early 1890’s. Atlas of Rock Island County, Illinois SC 917.73393 IOW

On April 1, 1896 Rock Island County Sheriff Hemenway, Deputy Sheriff S. S. Hull, Robert Johnson, Edward Lane, and Thomas Norton went out to the farm to see what could be found. A crowd of newspaper reporters and interested locals followed them onto the property.

They decided to dig near the granary of the farm in a rubbish-filled area that had once been used by hogs. They soon uncovered a human body. It was noted that the skull had suffered some form of trauma on the left side. Henry Bastian was left-handed.

One of the spectators, Mr. Peter Grampp, was able to identify the body as that of his friend John Lauderbach.

Mr. Bastian, it appeared, had an ingenious plan. He hired men to work his farm for a set period of time. Stating he did not have the money to pay them weekly, he would then offer them room and board and a promise to pay a lump sum at the end of the contract. On or near the last day of the man’s employment, Henry Bastian would kill him and bury the body on his farm.

Mr. Lauderbach’s contract with Bastian was to end in February, 1895 when he would be paid $170. He was expected to room at Mr. Grampp’s house until finding a new work arrangement. But Mr. Bastian told Mr. Grampp that John had decided to go to Montana instead, and that he had taken him to the train station himself. Mr. Grampp began to worry when he stopped receiving letters from his friend and when Lauderbach’s mother wrote to ask him why she had not heard from her son.

The next day, a coroner’s inquest into the death of John Lauderbach began. Meanwhile, the sherriff and his crew continued to dig on the farm. A jug of kerosene and a club covered in blood were found in the cow shed; two watches with signs of fire damage were found in the hog pen. The gold watch was identified as John Lauderbach’s and the silver one thought to have been Fritz Kreinsen’s. Also in the hog pen were pieces of men’s clothing and buttons, and the worst discovery of all: a portion of a human skull, likely Fritz Kreinsen’s.

Mr. Kreinsen had been saving money to buy a farm and bring his fiance from Germany. Henry Bastian had kindly offered to bank Kreinsen’s over $1000 in savings. Not surprisingly, no account in Fritz Kreinsen’s name was found in any of the local banks.

The inquest found that John Lauderbach had been murdered, most likely by Henry Bastian. Eventually, Lauderbach’s body was laid to rest in Chippianock Cemetery, the same place Henry Bastian had been buried a few weeks earlier.

The digging continued. In an old cistern well the police found several trunks and human bones. Handles and other metal pieces from trunks were found buried in different locations on the farm. The fact that they appeared to have been burned led authorities to suspect that Bastian had used fire to destroy evidence.

By mid-April 1896, local authorities had received information on a least nine missing persons with a direct connection to Henry Bastian. They also discovered a trunk that had been left in the Milan train depot for three years. The trunk belonged to August Johnson, also originally thought to have traveled west once his work for Bastian was complete. Authorities also found that Johnson’s local bank account had not been touched for three years. Based on the timeline supplied by Mr. Johnson’s family, authorities believed that the body Charles Reiher had seen Henry Bastian bury under a tree was August’s.

In late April, the coroner reopened the case of Frederick Kuschmann. The body was exhumed and re-examined. No evidence of injury was found to the body except the head, which appeared to have been hit with a sharp object on the left side. Eva Bastian and her sister-in-law Carrie Bastian were both called to testify at the inquest along with witnesses from the night Kuschmann’s body was found.

Mrs. Bastian reported that she was visiting her parents on the night Frederick Kuschmann was found dead. She also stated she had been at her parents’ house the day John Lauderbach disappeared as well. Henry Bastian had encouraged her visits on both occasions.

Carrie Bastian’s testimony was confusing. She stated she was in the house bathing and did not see Frederick Kuschmann leave the farm, but she also claimed to have seen her brother pay him. She insisted that Henry was innocent of any crimes.

On April 28, 1896, the inquest closed the case of Frederick Kuschmann. It concluded that he had died at Henry Bastian’s hands. At this time the police investigation could go no further — there was no clear direction on where to continue digging. For many families and friends, the question of what happened to loved ones who had come to work on the Bastian farm remained an open one.

Those known to have been murdered by Henry Bastian were Frederick Kuschmann, Fritz Kriensen, and John Lauderbach. Those likely to have met the same fate were Marshall Lewis, Axel Sternberg, Hugh McCafferty, Ernest Miller, and August Johnson.

H. S. Meyers continued to lease the property for a time, living in the farmhouse with his family.

In January 1897, Eva Bastian went to Rock Island County court to have her and her daughters’ surnames changed to Johnson (her maiden name). The family continued to live with Eva’s parents until she married Frank S. Foote in 1898.

Carrie Bastian never married. She died in New Mexico in 1964.

The Bastian farm continued to yield clues for many more years. In 1899, the remains of Ernest Miller were found on the property and identified. In December 1901, tenant William Hoffman uncovered a skeleton while digging a hole for an ice house post. Authorities concluded that the remains were that of a young man who had been killed in cold weather, as the heavy winter sock on his foot attested. Also, his skull had been crushed by four blows to the left side of the head. Surely a familiar set of clues.

Upon hearing this, Mrs. Hoffman declared the farm and farmhouse haunted and quickly left. According to reports, her husband followed soon after.

Today, the area that was the Bastian farm is now a wooded neighborhood just east of Camden Park in Milan.


Milan, Illinois present day from http://ims.rockislandcounty.org/website/parcels_public/Viewer.asp. The area that once was the Bastian farm is highlighted in yellow.

One final thought on the story of Henry Bastian: At the April 1896 inquest, his sister Carrie was asked if she thought it was strange that so many of her brother’s hired men simply left the farm without a word to anyone.

“No,” she replied, stating that the same thing had happened during her childhood when her father ran the farm.

(posted by Amy D.)


Davenport Daily Leader, April 5, 1896. Pg. 5.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 7, 1896. Pg. 5.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 8, 1896. Pg. 3.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 10, 1896. Pg. 4.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 13, 1896. Pg. 8.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 14, 1896. Pg. 8.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 15, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 16, 1896. Pg. 8.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 21, 1896. Pg. 14.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 28, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Daily Republican, April 29, 1896. Pg. 7

Davenport Daily Leader, April 29, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Daily Leader, April 30, 1896. Pg. 4.

Davenport Weekly Leader, September 1, 1896. Pg. 5.

The Burlington Hawk-Eye, January 29, 1897. Pg. 6.

Davenport Daily Leader, December 6, 1901. Pg. 7.

The Des Moines Leader, December 15, 1901. Pg. 15.

Cedar Rapids Daily Republican, December 17, 1901. Pg. 3.



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Henry Bastian: A serial murderer among us – Part I

When 21-year-old Frederick Kuschmann was found dead on the evening of February 29, 1896, in Black Hawk Township near Milan, Illinois, it appeared to have been a tragic accident. His body was found along a local roadside by his employer, Henry Bastian, after Mr. Kuschmann’s horse had returned to the Bastian farm without a rider late that night.

Mr. Kuschmann had been working as a hired hand on the Bastian farm under a one-year contract. February 29th had been the last day of his employment. When asked by the authorities, Henry Bastian stated that on that day he had paid the young man $79 in wages owed and watched him ride off to visit his family in South Rock Island. Kuschmann was to return the next day with a wagon to collect his belongings at Mr. Bastian’s suggestion (Henry’s sister, Carrie, was in the kitchen bathing at the end of the day, which prevented young Frederick from entering the house). Mr. Bastian also stated that the horse on which Frederick left seemed irritable and hard to control.

Upon finding the body, Mr. Bastian immediately sought assistance. Dr. Eddy of Milan, IL was called upon and later reported there was nothing he could do for Frederick. A Coroner’s Inquest held on March 2nd returned a verdict of accidental death. Poor Frederick Kuschmann was likely thrown from his horse.

Not everyone agreed with the verdict.

On March 3rd, the family of Mr. Kuschmann made it known they did not feel this was an accident. Mr. Bastian had stated Mr. Kuschmann rode off with $79, but only a few silver coins were found at the scene. Also, Frederick’s head was severely bruised and cut with no other signs of trauma to the body. That did not seem to fit with being thrown from a horse.

The family demanded further investigation into the matter. It most certainly was not an accident; they believed Mr. Kuschmann had been the victim of a robbery and assault for his wages.

Authorities began to look into the case again. It probably did not hurt the Kuschmann family that Frederick’s uncle was a former alderman in the city of Rock Island and knew many local officials.

It soon became apparent that the death of Frederick Kuschmann was not an accident. But who would do something so horrific?

It brought to mind a recent event that had left people puzzled. Two nights before Mr. Kuschmann’s death, farmer William McLaughlin’s barn had been set on fire. The elderly Mr. McLaughlin remained in the farmhouse while others went to extinguish the flames.

In the midst of the commotion, an unknown man entered McLaughlin’s house and began to go through the family’s parlor. McLaughlin surprised him and he ran off. The family was rumored to have kept a large amount of money in the house; the man was probably after it. Because the Bastian farm adjoined the McLaughlins’ to the southwest, many people believed the same man had committed both crimes and was now on the loose.

On March 7th, the Rock Island County Board of Supervisors issued a reward of $500 for the capture of Frederick Kuschmann’s murderer. Rumors ran rampant as the police worked to solve the case.

The murder and fire even caught the attention of the much larger Chicago Tribune newspaper. Citizens on both sides of the Mississippi River were on edge, wondering where this fiend would strike next.

By March 13th, rumors were circulating that Mr. Kuschmann had not been murdered on the roadside. Evidence suggested he had been attacked elsewhere, his coat wrapped around his head, and he was then driven to the spot where his body was placed. His bloody but undamaged coat was found a short distance away.

More and more, locals began to wonder if Frederick Kuschmann ever left the Bastian farm alive.

Henry Bastian was a 26-year-old married farmer with one young child and another on the way. He had taken over the family farm from his parents, Christian and Catharina, a few years before. His older sister was also staying with the family at the time, as his wife Eva was expected to soon give birth.

The police began to question the Bastian family about Mr. Kuschmann’s last day at the farm. Eva Bastian had been sent by her husband to visit her parents that afternoon, and was not at home when Mr. Kuschmann was paid and left for the night. Henry’s sister Carrie claimed to have been in the bath and also did not see Mr. Kuschmann leave. As for Mr. Bastian, he never wavered from his original account.

The police soon learned that Henry was in financial trouble. They also began to suspect that he had forged his father and wife’s names to mortgage the farm. And then…

Early on the morning of March 13, 1896, the body of Henry Bastian was found in the granary of the farm. He had committed suicide.

He was buried on March 15th (his 27th birthday) in Chippianock Cemetery. Only a few days later, his wife would give birth to a little girl.

Mrs. Bastian never returned to the farm after her husband’s funeral. Instead, she chose to move in with her parents in nearby Rock Island. Carrie Bastian returned to live with her mother in Geneseo, IL (her father had passed away a few months before), and the old family farm was left empty.

The question had been raised in some community members’ minds: Could financial loss have so overwhelmed Henry Bastian that he killed Frederick Kuschmann instead of paying him the wages he was owed?

When authorities went to the farm after Henry’s death, they quickly discovered the truth. Area residents then learned just how wrong they had been about their well-respected neighbor.

Part II of this blog will be printed on October 31, 2016

(posted by Amy D.)


Davenport Daily Republican, March 3, 1896. Pg. 6.

Davenport Daily Republican, March 6, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Daily Republican, March 7, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Daily Republican, March 13, 1896. Pg. 7.

Davenport Leader, March 13, 1896. Pg. 12.



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Congratulations to the Hickory Garden Restaurant!

While we usually blog about restaurants of the past, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate a local eatery that is part of the recent past and still going strong in the present!

Davenport’s Mayor and City Council Honor Hickory Garden Restaurant Tonight!

Congratulations to Davenport’s latest small business honoree Hickory Garden Family Restaurant. Owner Nick Fazliu established this gem in 1993 according to a Leader newspaper ad in August of 1997. Located at 3311 Hickory Grove Road in Davenport, the family eatery has often been featured in the Quad City Times as consistently having an extensive menu of terrific food, excellent customer service and great prices.

Davenport City Directories record the restaurant consistently employs 20-22 people. Adjectives used to describe the restaurant and banquet room in news clippings include fantastic, pleasant, choice, friendly and tops!

We salute the folks who make this small business one of the best in Davenport!

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100 Years Ago Today at the Davenport Public Library

Join us this evening to celebrate the vibrancy of Downtown Davenport at our special after-hours event Third Thursday@Davenport Public Library. We will be launching a new program in connection with the Downtown Davenport Partnership: DPL Perks! Show your library card to get discounts at participating local businesses.

One hundred years ago today, on October 20th, 1916, the library took part in another type of celebration: Iowa Day, the seventieth anniversary of statehood. This was observed with “an exhibit of pictures of early Davenport, loaned by J. B. Hostetler…” said the Davenport Daily Times:


Hostetler is a well-known name to us here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. We are the fortunate caretakers of  a collection of portrait photography from his studio on 212 West 3rd Street in Davenport, containing images that date from 1895 to 1920.  A Downtown Davenport business, just like our current neighbors here on Main Street.

We are curious to find out which “works of Iowa authors” were also exhibited, though we know for certain what new books were purchased for the library in October, 2016 –they were announced in that very same issue of the Times:



It is unlikely that you’d find any of these titles in the RiverShare catalog today, but it’s fascinating to note the interest in the topics of war and democracy in the midst of the Great War. Explore the RSSC Center’s newspaper collections on microfilm or online to find out more about life in Davenport a century ago.

posted by Katie

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A Snapshot of Cook’s Point

We recently received a donation of pictures purchased at Estate Sales. One of the photographs shows homes in Cook’s Point. Earlier this year, we were also fortunate to receive a donation of items used at former resident’s reunions, including a hand drawn map with key. Together, these items give us a glimpse into the lives of Mexican Immigrants in Davenport .


Cook’s Point 1950


Acc#2016-12 Cook’s Point Collection

We used the 1940 Federal Census and the Davenport City Directories between 1932 – 1945 to verify the names of identified residents.

1 Morales, Salud (620 S Howell St.)
2 Jiminez, Agapito / Hernandez, Bartolo / Martinez, Frank
3 Bishop, Robert  / Torres, Cesario / Almanza, Fred
4 Ruiz, Beatrice / Lopez, John
5 Ramirez, Ysidro / Almanza, Federico “Fred”
6 Holly Rollers / Arguello, Rafael / Chapman, William
7 Juarez, Ignacio “Nacho” / Gomez, Peter
8 Garcia, Albert
9 Reyes, Nick
10 Hidalgo, Lorenzo
11 Hayes, John “Jack”
12 Terronez / Moreno, Antonio
13 Garcia, Porfiro
14 Mares, Aurelio
15 Juarez, Carmen / Hernandez, Bartolo
16 Franco, Manuel
17 School House
18 Terronez, Philip
19 Nache, Socorro
20 Ybarra, Raphael
21 Martinez, Frank / Lopez, Archie
22 Vasques, Micaela / Gutierrez, Trinidad (602 S Howell St.)
23 Chandler, Ray
24 Herrera, Basacelia “Bacha”
25 Hadley, John / Delgado, Pedro
26 Vasquez, Maximo
27 Pruess, Max
28 Herrera, Mariano
29 Herrera, Rosario
30 Serrano, John / Hernandez, Jacinto
31 Peterson or Patterson, John / Reyes, Manuel
32 Vasquez
33 Reyes, Philip
34 Hicks / Ramirez, Pete
35 Reyes, Nick / Mendez, Jesse
36 Gutierrez, Jesse
37 Ramirez, Dionicio “Nicho”
38 Quijas, Mariana / Peña, Eladio “Lyle”
39 Aguilar, Alfonso
40 Norris, George
41 Vargas, Jose (640 S Howell St.)
42 Juarez, Jose (638 S Howell St.)
43 Rangel, Isaac / Bernal, Peter / Dent, Virgil (632 S Howell St.)
44 Juarez, Joe (610 S Howell St.)
45 Gutierrez, Trinidad
46 Herrera, Delfino
47 Vasquez, Bridget / Magana, Maria (637 S Howell St.)
48 Vasquez, Jose / Winfield, Bob (635 S Howell St.)
49 Reyes, Phillip / Solano, Pete
50 Lopez, Fred (631 S Howell St.)
51 Castel, David
52 Bohnhoff, Fred “Fritz”
53 Tutor, Harold
54 Hoffman, Otto
55 Button Factory
56 Aldape, Apolonio
57 Ogden, Frank
58 Solano, Pete
59 Gamble, Edward
60 Puentes, John “Ganzo”
61 Gomez, Peter
62 Garcia, Porfirio / Hubbe, Fred (702 S Howell St.)
63 Rhoades, Delbert / Reyna, Manuel
64 Garcia, Jose
65 Boatman, Charles
66 Quijas, Tirso / Vieth, Helen / Dunklau, Henry
67 Solis, Antonio “Tony”
68 Puentes, John “Ganzo”
69 Valdez, Jose
70 Elias, Selso
71 Ortega, Pedro
72 Johnson, Lucille
73 Wilharber, John / Empke, Fred
74 Peterson, John
75 Rodenberg, Oliver (226 S Howell St.)

For more information about Cook’s Point and other historic Latino neighborhoods in Iowa, visit the fantastic resource, Migration is Beautiful, from the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries.

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Getting Our Feet Wet: The flood of September 2016? *Updated 10/06/2016


The Flood of 1965. We can only imagine the volunteer hours needed to sand bag Davenport during this flood.

The first day of autumn 2016 came with surprising news for those of us who haven’t been focused on the weather. Yes, a Mississippi River flood watch has been issued for the upcoming days at Lock and Dam 15.

September is not locally known to be a flood month, and the month of August this year was hot with little rain in recent weeks. So where is the water coming from?

Unfortunately, our neighbors to the north have been very wet recently. Heavy rains in northern Iowa, Minnesota, and western Wisconsin have caused flooding of  rivers and streams. And since those tributaries feed into the Mississippi River, all that water will be headed our way.

And just in time, rain is expected to fall in the Quad Cities.

Taking a quick look at the twenty-eight recorded Mississippi River floods (1828 – 2015) that reached an estimated 15.1 feet or higher, it’s interesting to note that none crested in the month of September.*

However, there have been two recorded floods in the month of October: the 1881 flood crested on October 25th – 27th at 17.7 feet, making it the latest seasonal flood on record; the 1986 flood crested on October 7th at 19.22 feet. (In case you were wondering, February 22, 1966, is currently the earliest seasonal flood on record, cresting at 19.00 feet.)

Preparations are currently underway by the City of Davenport in anticipation of the predicted crest on September 29, 2016. The National Weather Service currently forecasts an apex of 16.00 feet.

Fortunately for us, it will not be like the floods of 1993 or 1965. It seems it will be just enough to remind us that nature has a way of changing things when you least expect it.

Update October 06, 2016: It appears the “No flood in September” record still stands. The Mississippi River at Rock Island Lock and Dam 15 crested at a pending 16.79 feet on October 3, 2016. Our thoughts go out to Cedar Rapids, our neighbor to the Northeast, as the Cedar River crested at 22 feet which is 6 feet above flood stage on September 27th.

(posted by Amy D.)

*The floods of 1828 and 1859 have been estimated based on primary resources from the time. It wasn’t until the flood of 1866 that a more accurate form of measuring began. The flood of 1859 is estimated between 15.0 and 16.0 feet while the flood of 1828 was reported to be considerably higher.

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The Davenport Cardinals

Football season has started!

The start of professional football yesterday brought to mind a mystery photo in our collection. It was labeled “City Champs 1925” and the players sport a large letter “C” on their uniforms. What football team was this? And what championship? The players look too old to be high school students, and none of the local colleges’ names begin with “C…”

Searching through the sports sections of local newspapers, we found what we believe to be the answer: in September, 1925, three semi-professional Davenport football teams in were merging to become the Davenport Cardinals.

Semi-professional football teams had existed for many years around the country; cities like Davenport were often home to more than one. The players were usually young men in their twenties, and teams were formed based on ethnic group, race, military career, veterans, or area within a city.

The newspapers were sure that football fans would be excited to learn that the Davenport Shamrocks*, the West End Cardinals, and the Davenport Bears were becoming one. Originally the team was reported to be named the Davenport Bears, but that was soon changed to the Davenport Cardinals.

The first practice was held the night of September 27th under Coach Ed McGrath; after this the team began traveling to play its opponents. The team appears to have done very well…so well, in fact, that they were selected to play against the Battery B football team in the semi-professional Davenport City Championship. The Battery B team held the championship title from the previous three years. The match played at the new Davenport High School football stadium was expected to be an exciting one.

The game was scheduled to be played November 8, 1925. The teams were considered by the newspapers to be evenly matched in their 11-man formations. The average weight was even mentioned: Cardinals averaging 170 pounds and the Battery B men averaging 175 pounds. Both were strong on offense with excellent punters taking the field.

The only thing the two teams could not defeat was the weather. October of 1925 was exceptionally cold, with nighttime temperatures dropping down into single digits. By early November, snow was falling! By the morning of the game, several inches covered the field and drifts were reported to be a foot high. The Davenport City Championship was postponed by consent of both teams until November 15th.

When game day finally arrived, a little over 600 fans filled the stadium at 50 cents per person. Thankfully, the snow had melted by the 2:30 kick-off. Newspapers reported there was quite a bit of mud as the game progressed.

After a hard-fought game, the Davenport Cardinals came out the victors by beating the Battery B team 6 – 0. The only touchdown was scored by the Cardinals’ Mickey McDermott in the last three minutes of the game.

It must have been some game!

Perhaps the photograph below was taken directly after this championship game, as the likely coach and manager are wearing winter coats, and many of the players have mud on their uniforms.

City Champs


We encourage you to take a moment and study not only the uniforms of the day, but the determination in the players’ faces!

(posted by Amy D.)


*Interestingly, the Davenport Shamrocks are still mentioned in the 1925 newspapers playing semi-professional football during the 1925 season. Perhaps some players left to join the new team while the Shamrocks continued to play with remaining members and new recruits.


Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 27, 1925. Page 27.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 4, 1925. Page 7.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 6, 1925. Page 25.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 8, 1925. Page 31.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 14, 1925. Page 13.

The Davenport Daily Times, November 16, 1925. Page 19.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 16, 1925. Page 7.

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Davenport’s Transit Workers

With the arrival of Labor Day this Monday, September 5th and Davenport’s CitiBus service in the news of late, we here at DPL’s Richardson Sloane Special Collections Center (the officially-designated archives for the City of Davenport) would like to highlight some of the information we have available on the city’s transit workers.

The image below shows the title page of the first contract between the Davenport’s City Transit Authority and Division No. 312 of the Amalgamated Transit Union:

Bus Union Contract 1974

The contract was signed on September 6th, 1974. A feature of note was that a driver could take his or her birthday as a paid holiday! The Amalgamated Transit Union still represents the Citibus drivers today, one of five public employee unions that work with the City of Davenport.

A few years before this contract was signed, on August 22, 1969, Davenport voters approved the City’s takeover of bus service from Davenport City Lines, a private operator.


A presentation given by the Davenport Department of Transportation in the mid-nineteen-seventies (RSSCC Collection #2008-12) included these photographs of city bus drivers, along with the statement: “We will bend our buses to serve you…and will welcome you with open arms.”

dpl2008-28 Bus3dpl2008-28 Bus2dpl2008-28 Bus1Call, write, or visit us to explore more about the history of the City of Davenport, Iowa!

(posted by Cristina and Katie)

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Back to School: The return of smiling faces

Davenport High School library c. 1920

A school library in Davenport c. 1920

With school back in session after summer break, we thought we would take a look back at the excitement of the first day of school in 1907.

Schools reopened for students on September 3rd that year. The Daily Times noted in the evening edition that all fourteen public school buildings and the high school welcomed back students.

The article continued that 150 new students entered into Davenport High School making the incoming class the largest in school history. Part of the increase in numbers for the new class was thought to be related to the development of the “Commercial Course” which would provide students the chance to graduate with business skills such as bookkeeping, stenography, and business methods in addition to basic study in English, history, and math.

New Davenport High School Principal George E. Marshall, who replaced Principal Frank L. Smart (who had become Superintendent of the Davenport schools), was excited to announce that the number of books in the high school library had been expanded and a private telephone system was to be installed in each classroom. The phone would connect with the principal’s office and have a switchboard to transfer calls to the outside.

As for the other schools, The Daily Times reported many of them had been cleaned over summer break, new teachers filled classrooms where necessary, and the only school without a principal was School No. 3.

All in all, it seemed a pretty good start to the school year!

(posted by Amy D.)

Source: The Daily Times, September 3, 1907. Page 6.


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To Catch a Summer Breeze: The Upper Lagoon at Vander Veer Park

As an antidote to the heat and humidity of August, we share this photograph from our collection that we hope will evoke a cool and tranquil experience of the outdoors:

Upper lagoon at Vander Veer Park c. 1915. Loretta Clayton Donation 2003-43.

Upper lagoon at Vander Veer Park c. 1915. Loretta Clayton Donation 2003-43.

This photograph of the Upper Lagoon in  Vander Veer Botanical Park was taken in about 1915.  A stream connected it to the to the Lower Lagoon, the entire body of water running along the east side of the park. The Lower Lagoon still exists today at the park’s northern entrance.

While the original sepia-toned photograph is beautiful, we found it hard to see many of the finer details of features such as the stone bridge. For a clearer view, staff enhanced the photograph shown below by replacing the sepia tones with black-and-white coloring. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Color altered view of the above photograph to enhance details.

Color altered view of the above photograph to enhance details.

Purchased by the City of Davenport in 1885, the former fairground and horse track was slowly developed by the Parks Department, with its first grand design created in 1890.

Originally named Central Park (later renamed Vander Veer Park in 1911 in honor of A. W. Vander Veer) early unique features included a band shell, restaurant, palm house, conservatory, aviary, fountains, wading pools, and the two lagoons.

All that remains of the Upper Lagoon is the arch of the stone bridge, still a draw for all visitors.

Next time you cross the bridge at Vander Veer Park, close your eyes to feel the cool breezes and hear the sound of trickling water from summer days past.

(posted by Amy D.)

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