Our “Special” visitors for 2013

In 2013, genealogists and history researchers came from all over the country (and the world!) to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, to use our wonderful resources.

They came from far away to fill in the blank branches of their Family Trees. They found copies of birth, marriage and death records of their Scott County, Iowa ancestors. They came to do research on the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home, Colonel George Davenport and Bix Beiderbecke. They looked at newspaper articles on microfilm, online databases we subscribe to and our photograph collection. Their searches were made easier by the many indices that have been prepared by our volunteers from the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society.

Last year we had visitors from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, California and Australia.

Our superlatives were: Fort Myers, Florida in the southeast; Seattle, Washington in the northwest; Greenland, New Hampshire in the northeast; and our furthest traveler, from the southwest, came all the from Australia!

Check out this map with all of our visitors for the year 2013, as recorded in our Guest Book. Pretty cool, huh?

View 2013 Special Collections Visitors in a larger map

We thank our guest for visiting us this past year. We hope to see you again soon! And if you came in to visit but did not sign our guest book, let us know in the comments, so we can add you to our map!

Are you planning to visit us this year? We look forward to helping you!

(posted by Cristina)

Posted in Library | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Very P.S.C. Christmas

Recently, as we were searching for an obituary in the Davenport Democrat  for December 17, 1922, we found an advertisement for the P.S.C Cafeteria at the “top of Brady Street Hill.”

17Dec1922 PSC Cafeteria

Naturally, we were curious.

With a little further searching, we confirmed that “P.S.C.” stood for Palmer School of Chiropractic, which did have a cafeteria that was popular with both students and residents.  Images from the Upper Mississippi Digital Image Archive show it to be large and clean, with clever sayings on the walls, like “Cast your bread upon the workers, and it will return  sandwiches” and “Eat, drink and be merry for each makes life worth while.”

It also made perfect sense that the Cafeteria  would be open on Christmas Day, as so many of their students had come from other areas—and in many cases other countries—and might not have had the opportunity or means to go home for the holidays.

And what was the homesick Palmer student—or anyone else who wanted a generously-portioned holiday meal without have to cook or dress to the nines for it—served for Christmas dinner between Noon and 2pm in 1922?

We found the answer on page 21 of the The Daily Times for December 20th:

20Dec1922 PSC Cafeteria

Sounds good to us—and a good value, too!

In fact, if a diner had opted for the roast goose with mashed potatoes, creamed onions, corn, and spinach, rolls, and coffee, with mince pie for dessert, the whole feast would’ve cost a single dollar. Even adding in ninety-one years of inflation, that’s only a little more than $13.50!

Yet another reason to ask Santa for a time machine this year!



Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Library Holiday Closings!

The Davenport Public Library,
(and therefore our Special Collections Center)
will be closed

December 24th and 25th


December 31st and January 1st

Otherwise, we will be open our regular hours throughout the holiday season.

Posted in Library | Tagged | Leave a comment

Flowers in December: the wedding of Minnie Elliot and James Morgan Reimers

Our Hostetler Studio Photograph Collections, which we are in the process of adding to the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive, include negatives from many local weddings. When we can match these images with the wedding announcements in our local newspaper collections, we can see the “bigger picture” of the happy event!

Reimer wedding2

Miss Minnie Elliot, originally from Peoria, Illinois, moved to Davenport in 1908 to attend St. Luke’s Hospital Training School for Nurses.  While here, she met James Morgan Reimers, who was a vice-president of the Independent Baking Company, a director of the First National Bank, a member of the Scottish Rite Masons, a former commander of the Sons of Veterans, August Reimers Post (which had been named after his late father, Captain August Reimers) and, apparently, a fine baritone.

They were wed by the Very Reverend Marmaduke Hare in a small, intimate ceremony on December 16, 1912, at Trinity Cathedral.

The wedding announcement, published in the Davenport Democrat on December 7, 1912, describes the bride’s outfit in great detail:

Reimer wedding1The bride was dressed in white charmeuse , the dropped skirt—with overdress of deep Chantilly lace—falling away in a train: the bodice was in a surplice effect, draped with Chantilly lace, while yoke and sleeves were also of the lace, trimmed with pearl beading a white satin roses.

The bridesmaid, Miss Mabel Keane of Peoria, was similarly described, with a touch of color not found in the photograph:

Reimer wedding3The bridesmaid was in a gown of pink charmeuse, with trimmings of deep flouncing of Chantilly lace, in over-dress effect, the lace being used in finishing of bodice and sleeves.  She wore a white velvet picture hat trimmed with white plumes and carried a large bouquet of pink Killarney roses.

The wedding breakfast was served at the Hotel Davenport for thirty-one guests, including the best man, George White of Davenport, and the mother of the groom, who was resplendent in a “gown of changeable blue and black velvet with maltese lace” and diamonds.

The décor of the dining room was given a paragraph of its own, describing a bower of pink roses and white hyacinths, carnations and lilies of the valley—the new Mrs. Reimer might not have been a spring bride, but her flowers certainly made that a moot point!

The couple left by train on December 17 for their honeymoon, and were scheduled to be home in early January, when they were to take up residence at 4 Pasadena Flats (1230 Main Street).

Posted in Genealogy, Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mystery of James T. Reeves, Confederate Prisoner


Our November post on the Rock Island Prison Barracks will tell you that on December 3, 1863, the first Confederate prisoners arrived by train to the Rock Island Prison Barracks. Many of these soldiers were captured in Chattanooga, Tennessee during the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, which were fought November 23 – 25, 1863.  Prisoners were incarcerated there until July of 1865.

The last remaining evidence of the Rock Island Prison Barracks sits not far from the current National Cemetery on the Rock Island Arsenal. Nearly 2,000 white headstones mark the graves of Confederate soldiers who never made it home from the war.  It is a quiet place surrounded by trees; maintained still, in honor of those who are buried there.

While writing our post last November, a question arose: Who was the first Confederate soldier to be buried in that cemetery?

It seemed a simple question, yet it turned out to be a complex mystery.

The existing Confederate Cemetery is actually the second cemetery used for Confederate burials. For the first two months the camp was open soldiers were buried south of the barracks. As the death toll rose and Small Pox spread through camp, the cemetery was moved to its current location.  The bodies of the deceased were relocated.

In 1908, the government placed the current headstones on the graves. Each headstone is engraved with a name, company, and number relating to when they died.

Grave #1 is marked as Jos. T. Reeves, Co. C., 34 Tenn. Reg., C.S.A.  But when we looked up the company muster roll for the 34th Tennessee Regiment to get more information, there was no Joseph T. Reeves or Joseph Reeves listed for Company C or in the entire 34th Tennessee Regiment.

Unfortunately, all of our resources in the library listed Grave #1 as that of Jos. T. Reeves of the 34th Tennessee, so we had to search farther afield

Our next step was to review the Unidentified Index of Prisoners’ Names and Barrack Numbers, found on Ancestry.Com,* for the Rock Island Prison Barracks. There is a James T. Reeves, on page 14318, who was the fifth prisoner recorded in the Re index section. He had been placed in Barracks #3.

The Record of Prisoners of War Who Have Died at Rock Island Barracks, Illinois had also been uploaded to Ancestry.Com. Located on page 14120 is James T. Reeves, Grave #1, buried south of Prison Barracks.

In this record, James T. Reeves is listed as a Private in the 34th Mississippi Infantry, Co. C. Captured in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 24, 1863, he died of Pneumonia and Diarrhea on December 9, 1863—seven days after arriving on Rock Island.

In the chaos of those early days, as the camp was filling with thousands of men, could James T. Reeves information have been incorrectly put on a grave marker? The abbreviation for James is Jas. Joseph is abbreviated Jos. That could easily have been mistaken due to poor penmanship or a worn grave marker. It might also have been easy to put Tennessee as his regiment as there was a 34th Tennessee and he was captured in that state. Did the mistake happen in 1863 or 1908?  We may never know.

But what we needed was one more primary source, just to make sure.

We found it on Fold3.Com*. In the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Mississippi, we found James T. Reves/Reeves (spelled both ways) who enlisted with the 34th Mississippi Infantry, Co. C. on September 17, 1863 in Oxford, Lafayette County, Mississippi.

As many of the service records were destroyed during the war, this was a terrific find. The Company Muster Roll indicates that Pvt. Reeves was captured on Lookout Mountain on November 24, 1863. He was transported by the Union to Louisville, Kentucky for a prisoner exchange. He arrived December 1, 1863 at the Military Prison in Louisville. The prisoner exchange did not take place. He was then sent immediately on to Rock Island where he arrived on December 3, 1863.

The second to last page on the Pvt. Reeves Confederate Muster Roll lists him as a having died December 9, 1863, of Diarrhea and Pneumonia at the Rock Island Barracks, Illinois.

So, who was James T. Reeves?

A search of the 1860 U.S. Census brings up six James Reeves in Mississippi. No age is given on his enlistment form, but only one of them lived in Lafayette County where James T. Reeves enlisted. All the others lived several hours away in different Mississippi counties.

The Lafayette County James Reeves was about 16 years old in 1860, and lived on a small rented farm with his father, mother, and several sisters. Too young to join the military in 1861,  he would have been of age by 1863. A search of the 1870 U.S. Census finds his sisters, but no trace of James, his father, or his mother.

Without further research, it is impossible to say if this is the James T. Reeves buried in the Confederate Cemetery on the Rock Island Arsenal. But it is a good lead that should be pursued.

What we did confirm is that a Private James T. Reeves from the 34th Mississippi Infantry, Co. C. is buried in grave # 1 of the Confederate Cemetery on Arsenal Island.

We also know that his military service was short:  He enlisted on September 17th, was captured on November 24th at Lookout Mountain, and died as a prisoner at Rock Island Barracks on December 9th, 1863.

Barely 12 weeks in all.

(posted by Amy D.)


*Ancestry.Com and Fold3.Com are available for use by Davenport Public Library card holder and card holders of the RiverShare system in the library.

Fold3 may be used from home through the Davenport Public Library website for Davenport Public Library card holders only. All that is needed is your library card number.

Posted in Genealogy, Local History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Davenporters of Note: Julie Jensen McDonald

“I’ve set a lot of things in Iowa, and this is home.  I know it, and I think you should always try to write about what you know . . . And also, there are a certain set of values in Iowa that I think are useful to a writer like discipline, working hard, and being fairly open and unafraid of other people and other ideas.”

—Julie Jensen McDonald, Outstanding Iowa Women

Julie Jensen McDonald, author and journalist, was born on June 22, 1929, in Audubon County, Iowa, to Alfred and Myrtle Jensen.  She graduated from Harlan High School in 1947 and earned her journalism degree from the University of Iowa, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.  Her first writing job was the society editorship for the Rockford Morning Star and the Rockford Register – Republic.

But it certainly wouldn’t be her last.

She married Elliot R. ‘Jack” McDonald, Jr., a Davenport native, on May 6, 1952.  They moved to Washington, DC, and began a family.  And Julie Jensen McDonald began to write fiction, selling her first story for the princely sum of $6.50.  Her first novel, Amalie’s Story, was published in 1970.

The family moved to Davenport, and Mrs. McDonald soon became a correspondent for The Davenport Times-Democrat, just before the paper changed its name to The Quad-City Times.  She continued to write articles for local newspapers for almost fifty years, retiring from The Rock Island Argus in 2012.

During those years, she also wrote over thirty books—including historical fiction, biographies, cookbooks, local histories, and collections of personal essays—and several plays, some of which were produced by the Davenport Junior Theater and other local theater troupes.JensenMcDonald

Her work earned her several awards and an honorary degree from St. Ambrose University, where she offered lectures in fiction writing and journalism.  An avid supporter of her fellow writers, she taught at the University of Iowa Summer Writer’s Workshop, and provided seminars to elementary and high school students as part of a Writer-in-the-Schools residency program.  She volunteered at the Midwest Writing Center, and served as director for a time.

Mrs. McDonald’s community involvement didn’t stop at the literary:  she served as Chairperson of the Iowa Arts Council from 1969 to 1973, was a Trustee of the Davenport Art Museum and on the committee for the Figge Art Museum.  She also held memberships in the local chapter the PEO Sisterhood International, the Danish Sisterhood, the Scottish American Society of the Quad Cities, and Clan Donald USA.

Julie Jensen McDonald passed away on November 25, 2013, leaving behind a literary legacy that will be difficult to match.


Many of Mrs. McDonald’s books have been archived in our Special Collections Center, and the articles she wrote for the Davenport newspapers, as well as articles about her are included in our microfilm collections:

Pathways to the Present in 50 Iowa and Illinois Communities (SC 977.7 McD — there is also a circulating copy available)

High-Rise (SC 812.54 McD)

Nils Discovers America: Adventures with Erik (SC FIC McD)

Reaching: a novel (SC FIC McD)

Scandinavian Proverbs (SC 398.939 McD — there is also a circulating copy available)

The Watkins Man (SC FIC McD — there is also a circulating copy available)

Baby Black (SC FIC McD)

Chautauqua Summer (SC FIC McD)

Definitely Danish: Denmark and Danish Americans History, Culture, Recipes (SC 948.9 McD)

Ruth Buxton Sayre, first lady of the farm (SC 301.412 McD)

The Sailing Out (SC FIC MCD)

Young Rakes: a Novel (SC FIC McD)

Amalie’s Story (SC FIC McD)

The Ballad of Bishop Hill (SC FIC MCD — there is also a circulating copy available)

The Heather and The Rose (SC FIC McD — there is also a circulating copy available)

North of the Heart (SC FIC McD)

The Odyssey of a Museum: a short history of the Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science 1867-1992 (SC 708.73 MCD — there is also a circulating copy available)

Petra: “on this rock I will build…” (SC FIC McD)

A Diary of Personal prayer (SC 242.8 McD)

Good Graces: table prayers (SC 242.8 McD)

Danish Proverbs (SC 398.93981 Dan)




Hanft, Ethel W.  Outstanding Iowa Women. [Muscatine, Iowa : River Bend Pub.], 1980.  (SC 301.412 Han)

“Julie McDonald.” Quad-City Times, 25Nov2013.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Library Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday!

The Davenport Public Library
and our Special Collections Center

will be closed

Thursday and Friday, November 28th and 29th

for Thanksgiving.

Turkey Note!

We WILL be open our usual hours on Saturday, November 30th

Enjoy your holiday!

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Turkey Fun Turkey Pun!

Turkey Note!It’s time to start thinking about writing those Turkey Notes again!

Don’t know what Turkey Notes are? Our best explanation for this Davenport tradition of sharing questionable poetry can be found here.

And our best staff efforts this year can be found here:

Turkey Note!3Turkey Always
Turkey Never
[Turkey says
Something clever]

Turkey Muskets
Turkey Rifles
Turkey read
Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles”

Turkey Pink
Turkey Gray
Boy, oh boy—
It’s next Thursday?!

Turkey Red
Turkey White
Turkey says
Please, don’t bite!

Turkey Quack
Turkey Moo
Turkey says
To serve tofu!

Turkey Kinged
Turkey Rooked
How do you like
Your Turkey cooked?

Turkey dull
Turkey bright
Turkey’s full
Thanksgiving night.Turkey Note!2

Turkey warm
Turkey cold
Thankful for these
Hands to hold.

Once again, we invite you to add your own verses in the comments—and to share them with your family and friends, too.


Turkey Silver
Turkey Gold
Turkey says
Turkey Notes never get old!

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the Rock Island Prisoner Barracks

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Rock Island Barracks. We remember this event in conjunction with Veterans’ Day.


“A Depot for Rebel Prisoners – The Government has concluded to make Rock Island a depot for rebel prisoners and will at once proceed to build prison barracks to accommodate twelve to fifteen thousand of the gentry. We are informed by a prominent military gentleman that it is prepared to make this a permanent depot, and that none but first class substantial barracks will be built. The work of erecting the buildings will be commenced at once, and pushed ahead as rapidly as possible.”

The Daily Democrat and News, July 27, 1863.

The news that a Confederate prisoner of war camp was about to be established in the middle of the Mississippi River (“Rock Island” in this case meant the island, not the city) may or may not have come as a surprise to local citizens by July of 1863. Davenport and surrounding towns had seen the designation of the Arsenal in 1862 and the creation of several local Union military training camps since the start of the war.

In addition, one camp, Camp McClellan, had already been divided to create Camp Kearny, which between April 1863 and April 1866 imprisoned just over 300 members of the Minnesota Territories Sioux tribe captured by the United States Army after the attack on the Lower Sioux Indian Agency in 1862.  So the idea of a prison wasn’t new, either.

On July 29th the Daily Democrat and News reported a site had been chosen on the island near the Colonel Davenport property. This put the prison on the north side of the island facing the Mississippi River and Davenport. Soon work was begun by 150 men to clear timber and build barracks.  Wells were also dug with great difficulty as limestone had to be broken through before the water table was reached.

Along with barracks, the newspaper noted that warehouses to store supplies for the camp were also being erected. A slaughter house was constructed and hogs moved onto the island in preparation for the arrival of prisoners and guards.  It was good timing as one hundred and fifty soldiers from the Invalid Corps arrived on November 13, 1863 in preparation for guarding the camp.

It wasn’t until November 1863 that work began on twelve buildings that would house guards, officers, and administrative offices. The Daily Democrat and News reported on November 20, 1863: “It will be several more weeks yet before everything is ready for the accommodation of the rebels.”

On December 1, 1863 the Daily Democrat and News ran a column describing what still needed to be built in the camp. The list included eight guard barracks; 10 officers’ quarters; headquarters for the Post Commandant, Provost Marshal, and clerical force among positions mentioned; another store house; coal house; and two stables. On December 2nd the Democrat published a call for donations of straw for the bedding of the Invalid Corps guards who had been stationed at the camp since November 13th.

The camp was still not prepared on December 3, 1863, when 468 Confederate prisoners arrived at the camp from the battles of Chattanooga, Tennesee. Most of the new prisoners were originally from Mississippi and arrived ill-prepared for the harsh winter of Illinois. By December 31, 1863, five thousand prisoners were in camp with more coming daily.

The Rock Island Barracks held Confederate prisoners from December 1863 until July 1865. Eventually, it sat on 12 acres of land that included prisoner barracks, guard barracks, officers’ quarters, administration buildings, supply buildings, and several hospitals.

Just over twelve thousand Confederate prisoners were held at the camp and nearly two thousand of them died. They are buried in the Confederate Cemetery on  Arsenal Island. One hundred and twenty-five guards also died at the camp, and are buried in what became the Rock Island National Cemetery, which is still active today.

(posted by Amy D.)


*Later called the Veterans Reserve Corps.

Sources Used:

Daily Democrat and News, August 11, 1863

Daily Democrat and News, August 18, 1863

Daily Democrat and News, October 23, 1863

Daily Democrat and News, November 13, 1863

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Brilliant Nuptials of Elise Koehler and Theophilus Brown

Koehler Brown bride 4

On the 28th of November, 1913, Miss Elise Jane Koehler, daughter of Oscar and Mathilde Koehler, married Theophilus Brown at 7 o’clock in the evening at the Davenport Unitarian Church.

The Koehler family was very well known in Davenport, and the Davenport Democrat published a full-length column on the event two days later, adding color and detail to our archived photographs of the bride:

“She was dressed in a gown of white charmeuse made with full court train and trimmed in Carrick ma-Cross hand-made lace.  The long wedding veil of English tulle fell to the hem of the gown from beneath daintily fashioned cap of the tulle, that was wreathed with natural orange blossoms.  She wore as her only ornament a pendant of sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, the gift of the groom, and the bridal bouquet was of lilies of the valley in shower arrangement.  The bride carried her mother’s wedding handkerchief of lace.”

Koehler Brown Bride2

Although we have no images of the full bridal party in our collections, the wedding announcement tells us that the maid of honor was Otillie Koehler, the bride’s sister, and their two younger sisters, Ida and Hildegarde, were the flower girls.  The sister of the groom, Kate Brown, was the bridesmaid.

It also tells us that the attendants wore yellow and white, and carried yellow roses:

“The maid of honor and bridesmaid were both in yellow brocaded charmeuse dresses.  These were made intraine:  That of Miss Koehler being trimmed in yellow lace, and she wore gold ornaments in her hair.  Miss Brown’s dress was trimmed in white lace.”

For those interested in the fashionable details, the article goes on to describe the decorations of the church in great detail, and also the reception, which was at the Koehler home on 104 East Locust Street–even to mentioning the floral table arrangements for the guests who had to be seated in the basement!

For the researcher, there are genealogical gems as well:  the bride was escorted down the aisle by her uncle, as her father had passed away some time before.  The groom’s sister is named, as well as several out of town guests who might be part of the family tree, or at least provide geographical locations to search.  And there’s even mention of the bride’s grandfathers, both prominent men.

We wish all wedding announcements were this informative—and easy to find—but even with half the column inches, these resources can help bring the past to life!

Koehler Brown Bride


Sources Used:

“Brown-Koehler Wedding Brilliant Society Event.” Davenport Democrat, November 30, 1913, p.6.

Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment