School Days: The new schools of 1940

Summer vacation has ended in Davenport as children returned to school this past Monday. We thought to celebrate this occasion by revisiting the Fall of 1940.

Seventy-five years ago, many of Davenport’s students were entering the hallways and classrooms of brand new schools.

Six new elementary schools opened that year. They were Jefferson (W 10th & Marquette), Monroe (4th & Cedar), Madison (Locust & Brady), Lincoln (8th & Pershing), Washington (Locust & Eastern), and McKinley (Kenwood Avenue and Middle Road).

The school building program was made possible by a PWA grant from the US government and a bond issue voted by Davenport Citizens. The total cost for construction was $2,500,000. (That’s $41,643,377.67 in 2014 money)

We hope you enjoy the images below of Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Lincoln, and Washington elementary schools from 1940.

You can almost smell freshly sharpened pencils and the scent of new books coming from the images.

Jefferson school is at 1027 N. Marquette. Monroe School is at 1926 W. 4th St. Madison School is at 116 E. Locust. [c. 1940]

Jefferson school is at 1027 N. Marquette. Monroe School is at 1926 W. 4th St. Madison School is at 116 E. Locust. [c. 1940]

Gymnasium at Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Gymnasium at Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Classroom in Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Classroom in Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Kindergarten classroom in Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Kindergarten classroom in Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Auditorium at Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Auditorium at Madison Elementary School, 116 East Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Library at Lincoln Elementary School, 318 East 7th Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

Library at Lincoln Elementary School, 318 East 7th Street, Davenport, Iowa. [c. 1940]

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Road Construction: Photographic glimpses of past projects

We once again are surrounded by road construction in Davenport. If you are planning on visiting us at Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at the Davenport Public Library – Main Street branch between now and the end of December please remember that Harrison Street is closed and Brady Street is now a two-way until the end of the year.

The great news is you still end up right by the library and driving south down Brady Street is pretty interesting with the skyline view and architecture of the buildings.

Since this road change has put construction on our minds, we decided to share some photos of past construction projects for this week.

Here is hoping we have mild weather for late summer into autumn to keep all the construction projects on their expected timeframes.

Looking east on 12th & Vine St. – CWA [28 Mar 1934]

Looking east on 12th & Vine St. – CWA [28 Mar 1934]

Road construction at River Dr. & Gaines St. [ca. 1956]

Road construction at River Dr. & Gaines St. [ca. 1956]

Repair work on brick street – CWA [ca.1933]

Repair work on brick street – CWA [ca.1933]

1458 & 1460 W. 6th St. – CWA [ca. 1933]

1458 & 1460 W. 6th St. – CWA [ca. 1933]

322 E. Locust St. / 1902 Iowa St. – CWA [ca. 1933]

Relaying brick on Locust St. – CWA [ca. 1933]

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She’s a Real Go-Getter: Wilma Zabel at the 1925 Iowa State Fair

In late August and early September of 1925, Misses Wilma Zabel and Gertrude Koch of the Lincoln Township Go-Getters 4-H Club represented Scott County at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Their demonstration on the making of hooked rugs did very well at the Mississippi Valley Fair on August 19th and secured them a spot at the state competition.

Wilma and Gertrude went on to win first place at the state championship in Des Moines and were sent to the National Farm Bureau gathering in Chicago the first week of December 1925, where they gave the same demonstration before President Coolidge. They also won the championship for the four projects of girls club work: food, clothing, approved footwear, and home furnishings. Because they won that competition, they were sent to represent Iowa at the interstate fair in Sioux City in September 1925.

Wilma Annie Zabel was born on April 2nd, 1907 to Albert and Annie (Kay) Zabel. According to her obituary, published in the Quad-City Times on December 27, 2003, she worked on the family farm for 55 years and was a member of Farm Bureau and active leader of 4-H for many years.

L to R. Annie (Kay) Zabel, Raymond, Elmer, Albert Zabel and Wilma Annie Zabel at their farm on the SW 1/4 of Sec 9 in Lincoln Township, Scott County, Iowa

L to R. Annie (Kay) Zabel, Raymond, Elmer, Albert Zabel and Wilma Annie Zabel at their farm on the SW 1/4 of Sec 9 in Lincoln Township, Scott County, Iowa (24279 200TH AVE)

This image was published in the book Families of Thode, Zabel, Schultz and Moeller: Davenport, Iowa 1830’s to 1970’s compiled by Lyn Middleman Batdorf and it’s part of our Archive & Manuscript Collections.


Works Cited

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “Farm Bureau Demonstrates Work of Girls.” August 19, 1925: p.13.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “Scott County Club Team Off For Des Moines.” August 30, 1925: p.12.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “Scott Co. Farm Bureau Women Receive Honors.” September 6, 1925: p.12.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “State Championship is Awarded to Members Scott County Girls Club.” September 6, 1925: p.3.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “Winning Team of Girls’ Club Goes to Fair.” September 15, 1925: p.12.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. “Will Give Violin Solos, Home Dept. Meeting Monday.” February 14, 1926: p.9.

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The Rock Island Independents – Finding the Davenport Football Connection

This week as football training camps are about to start we thought to look back to one early local Illinois team. We felt sure we would find a Davenport connection.

We found not only a Davenport connection, but a pretty amazing national football history connection as well.

By the early 1900s football was being played across the United States on various levels. Teams were forming for both high school and college level competition.

For those not in high school or college there was an amateur level. The players enjoyed the game and they found fans loved to watch them.

The early amateur teams were usually independently organized or sometimes part of a club. The Quad Cities had several amateur football teams by about 1910. They would arrange games between themselves and the rivalries soon grew.

One team, in particular, began to flourish. The Rock Island Independents started playing in 1907 as an independent club. In 1920, the Independents joined the newly created American Professional Football Association (APFA). This association would change its name to the National Football League (NFL) in 1922.

The Rock Island Independents played in the NFL through 1925. Their home field was historic Douglas Park in Rock Island. In 1926, the American Football League (AFL) was formed and the Independents joined that league. Not every Rock Island player was happy with the move and many left for other NFL teams. By the end of 1926 the AFL ended. The Rock Island Independents did not rejoin the NFL, but became a semi-professional team through 1927 before disbanding shortly after the season.

And now for our Davenport connection. We found one right away in the football players.

Several Davenport men played for the Independents both during its independent club days and the professional years. We have selected a few to mention below.

Elmer Layden was born and raised in Davenport and attended Davenport High School. He later attended the University of Notre Dame where he earned national attention as one of the “Four Horsemen of Notre Dame” in 1924. Layden played very briefly for the Independents during 1926.

Dale Hubert “Herb” Sies went to Davenport High School before starting his professional football career in 1920. He joined the Rock Island Independents not only as a player, but also a coach, for the 1923 season.

George Thompson was a Davenport High School football player who later went on to play for the Independents in 1923, 1924, and 1925.

Ray “Waddy” Kuehl was born and raised in Davenport. Kuehl was also a football player at Davenport High School. He played for the Independents in 1920 and 1923.

We quickly learned through our research that the history of the Rock Island Independents is too extensive to cover in a short blog. As a result we thought we would share a few highlights of Waddy Kuehl’s first year on the team, which also happened to be the first season of the APFA.

The Rock Island Independents would play their first game (at Douglas Park) as a member of the APFA on September 26, 1920. They went on to defeat the St. Paul Ideals 48 to 0. The Ideals were not an APFA team. Waddy Kuehl would score touchdown points near the end of the game.

The next game on October 3, 1920. The Independents played the Muncie Flyers who were also an APFA team. The Independents won with a final score of 45 to 0. Kuehl once again scored a touchdown to help his team. This was the first game played by two official APFA teams at Douglas Park.

The third game of the season was on October 10, 1920 at Douglas Park. In this game Waddy Kuehl made history with the help of teammate Arnold “Pudge” Wyman. Wyman would throw a pass to Kuehl who caught it. This has been credited as the first noted touchdown pass in the APFA/NFL.

Ray Kuehl

Davenport Daily Times – October 11, 1920 Pg. 14

The season went on with a final record of 6-2-2 for the Rock Island Independents in the first APFA season.

We found one last interesting fact about the 1920 season in a post-season game. On January 9, 1921 the Rock Island Independents went to Chicago to play the Chicago Pullman Thorns. Waddy Kuehl was one of the players for the Independents at the game.

What makes this game so interesting was it was played inside at the Dexter Park Pavilion in front of over 3,000 people.

It makes us wonder if this was one of the earliest NFL football games to be played indoors.

If this post has you curious to see what football games were like in the early twentieth century you are in luck. We have learned that there will be a Throwback, or Vintage Game, played by the Rock Island Independents versus the Moline Universal Tractors on Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 at 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. at historic Douglas Park on 18th Avenue in Rock Island , IL. Food and refreshments will be sold.

And yes, vintage style uniforms will be worn and traditional 1920 football rules will be followed.

For more information please visit the Facebook page of Quad Cities Vintage Football at Quad Cities Vintage Football.

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New LibGuide – Bix Beiderbecke

Our latest LibGuide covers all of our available resources on Davenport native jazz musician, Bix Beiderbecke.

The new LibGuide can be accessed through the Suggested Research Topics page on our website.


It lists everything from books, video recordings, audio recordings, sheet music, photographs, posters and other documents relating to Bix, The Beiderbecke family, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival and the Bix 7 Race in the Davenport Public Library collection. It also includes links to our blog posts, newspaper indexes and journal citations.


We are working on scanning and uploading more photographs to the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive and will add them to the LibGuide soon.

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Great Iowa Traditions: Bix 7 Race and RAGBRAI

Two great Iowa traditions, one local and one statewide, meet in Davenport this Saturday, July 25th and we are all very excited.

The local based event is the Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race which will start at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Started in 1975 with a total of 84 runners this race now involves 12,000 plus participants.

If you are not interested in running or walking 7 miles that morning there are other options as well. You may volunteer, join the crowds along the route to cheer on participants, or visit the street fair in downtown Davenport. This amazing tradition is 41 years strong in 2015.

A few years ago we published a bit of information on another foot race up the steep hills of Davenport. It seems our 1858 citizens viewed the hills as a challenge too.

The second event in Davenport this Saturday is the end of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa which is more commonly known as RAGBRAI.

Started in 1973 by the Des Moines Register newspaper, this event starts somewhere in western Iowa along the Missouri or Big Sioux Rivers. This seven day non-competitive bicycle ride takes participants across Iowa via a planned route that ends somewhere along the Mississippi River.

Traditionally participants dip their rear bike wheels in the Missouri River or Big Sioux River before starting out and their front wheels in the Mississippi River upon completion. The dipping spot this year for participants will be Credit Island as Davenport is once again pleased to be the ending spot for this great ride.

One of the RAGBRAI participants has chosen a special recognition for Davenport. A police officer with the Iowa State University Police Department is riding in honor of Davenport Police Officer Michael Farnsworth who died in the line of duty on December 5, 1971. We wish this officer and all RAGBRAI participants a safe journey as they travel to Davenport.

The wonderful part of Saturday is you will be able to join the Bix 7 race (either as a participant, volunteer, or sidelines cheering section) in the morning, stop by Credit Island to welcome RAGBRAI riders in the afternoon (and see the wheel dipping celebration), and still have time for street festivities in downtown Davenport in the evening.

And don’t forget to add to your calendars the Bix Porch Party next Thursday, July 30th from 11:00 – 1:00 outside the Davenport Public Library – Main Street Branch. This event helps kick off the 44th Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival which will run from July 30th – August 2nd in downtown Davenport at the Davenport River Center and other downtown venues.

So come join us in Davenport and be a part of the festivities!


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Myths vs. Facts: The Life and Death of Schuyler Peck

An obituary for Schuyler Peck was published in the Davenport Democrat and Leader on July 14, 1925. Mr. Peck was a well known character in Davenport, but he died alone at the Scott County Poor Farm, with no immediate family to mourn him or provide information about his life.

An article published the next day gives a more complete obituary, with stories told by Fred Kendell, an old friend of Mr. Peck. And on July 20th a “W.H.H.” wrote a letter to the editor, giving some background of Mr. Peck’s family life and his relationship with his mother.

The stories piqued our interest so we did some investigating, using our available sources to try to separate fact from fiction.

The newspaper writers were not sure if that was his real name or just a nickname. We found several sources that list his name as “Schuyler C. Peck”, son of Thomas F. and Elizabeth (Gates) Peck. The 1880 Census lists him as “Charles”, which may have been his middle name.

His friend Fred Kendell said that Schuyler had been born “on Front Street, between Perry and Rock Island Streets”. The Census for 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1885 and an 1890 marriage record all list his birthplace as “Indiana”, same as his mother’s. But the 1915 Census lists his birthplace as “Iowa”. Both parents were living in Davenport at the time of the 1856 Census but the family had moved to Jo Daviess Co. Illinois by the 1860 Census. It is possible that his parents went back to Indiana in the late 1850’s and then moved to Illinois shortly after he was born.

Mr. Kendell then says that Schuyler’s parents moved to Perry Street, above Fourth Street, almost directly across from Burtis Opera House. The Census for 1880 and 1885, and the Davenport City Directory for 1888 all list their address as 420 Perry Street.

The letter to the editor from July 20th talks a lot about Schuyler’s mother, who ran “Peck’s Eating House” on Perry Street. The 1888 Davenport City Directory lists Thomas F. Peck as the proprietor of the R.R. Eating House, located at 418-422 Perry Street.

Mr. Kendell claims that Schuyler lost both parents at age 15. According to Scott County Probate Records, his mother Elizabeth died on April 25, 1891 and his father Thomas died on May 10, 1892, when Schuyler was an adult over 31 years of age.

They claimed that a “distant relative” had died and left him a large inheritance, which he spent on fancy clothes. A check of the Scott County Probate Records shows that his father Thomas died in May of 1892 and Schuyler, his only heir, received $1,333.80 on September 18, 1893.

The newspaper writers list his occupation as “expressman” and hack driver”, and his friend Fred Kendell says Schuyler took a job as a brakeman on the Rock Island Lines. A check of Davenport City Directories and Federal & State Census give his occupation as clerk at W. A. Philips Feed Store (1880), brakeman for the C R I & P (1881), a R. R. employee (1885), baggageman for C R I & P (1888) and laborer for H E Winters Specialty Co. (1920) and Peterson Oil Co. (1921).

His obituary says that he joined Ringling Bros circus as a Hayseed Clown before moving back to Davenport. Schuyler does not appear in the Davenport City Directories in the 1890’s. At the time of his father’s death in 1892 his whereabouts were unknown and it was thought he was residing in Cedar Rapids. There is a marriage record in Council Bluffs between Schuyler C. Peck, son of Thomas & Elizabeth, and Elizabeth A. Axtell, daughter of Alfred and Louisa. He does not appear in the Davenport City Directories again until 1906. We haven’t been able to verify the circus clown story, but if he did join the circus, it was likely sometime in the 1890’s.

Schuyler Peck was known to frequent an area of Davenport known as “Buck Town”, where he spent his leisure and working hours delivering to dance halls, saloons and gambling halls. We found a newspaper article in the Rock Island Argus about an arrest in a barn at the rear of the “old Friendly House on East Second Street”, where he and 12 other had been picked up by police for drinking and charged with being inmates of a disorderly house. The Davenport Police Blotter for August 3, 1913 lists him as being 5’8 with dark complexion and his occupation as a laborer.

Another interesting newspaper notice was published in the Davenport Daily Leader on December 13, 1891. It says that “Mrs. Schuyler Peck” who ran the “den” on Front Street, was arrested shortly before midnight. A check of the Davenport Police Matron Reports for December 1891 lists “Mrs. May Peck”, age 35, charged with “keeping a house of ill fame”. We’re not if May was really married to Schuyler or not. She had a few more run ins with the law, so look for a future blog post from us about Mrs. Peck’s adventures.

We hope this serves as a reminder to not believe everything you read in the newspapers. And that we have primary sources available to help verify or debunk these fantastic tales.


(posted by Cristina)

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SO CUTE!! Vintage Fejervary Petting Zoo Photos

Mother Goose is once again welcoming children at Fejervary Park.

The City of Davenport Parks & Recreation Department will be hosting Family Fun Days at Fejervary Learning Center on the third Saturday of the month. Upcoming dates are July 18, August 15, September 19 and October 17. They feature family activities including a petting zoo, bounce houses and games.

Mother Goose Land at Fejervary Zoo opened in 1953 and closed in 1979.

These adorable photos came from the City of Davenport Leisure Services & Facilities (now called Parks & Recreation) and are part of our Archive & Manuscript Collections.

Even though the Old West town, Monkey Island, and fairy tale exhibits are no longer; Mother Goose still stands in the beautiful park waiting to greet today’s young visitors.


Entrance to children’s zoo at Fejervary Park [ca.1950’s]


Three children and fawn, calico [May 1956]


Four girls and ducks by castle in Fejervary Park [ca.1950’s]


Boy holding raccoon [ca. 1950’s]


People watching ducks by castle in Fejervary Park [ca. 1950’s]


Children petting donkey at Fejervary Park [May 1958]

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A Fine Fourth of July Celebration: 1890

As our thoughts turn to Fourth of July we are sharing an advertisement for a celebration that provided entertainment for the whole family.

Taken from the July 2, 1890 Davenport Daily Times included in the day were a Reunion of Old Soldiers, Sham Battle, Balloon Ascension, and evening Fireworks.

A truly fine event.

4th of July

A Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

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