Now Online! The Index to Scott County, Iowa Cemetery Records!

The Main Street location of the Davenport Public Library will be closed until December 26th for renovations.  That means our Special Collections Center will also be closed.

You will still be able to access all the genealogical and local history information on our website—including our Free Local Database indexes—and our Eastern and Fairmount branches will continue to provide access to all of our online genealogical subscription databases.

But what if you need to find information about a rural Scott County, Iowa Cemetery?

And what if you need to take a look at the two volume set of the Index to Scott County, Iowa Cemetery Records, which was compiled by local  genealogists Scharlott Goettsch Blevins and Lorraine Edgman Duncan?

Fear not!

Thanks to the Scott County Library System, the invaluable resource is available to you online!

The SCLS staff  carefully transcribed and entered information from each entry, exactly as it appears in the index, which makes it possible to search for an individual many different ways in their new Scott County Cemetery Search:

SCLS Search Engine page

The website also includes information about each cemetery, including address and township, range and section info, as well as scanned cemetery maps and other documents from the original publication.

We applaud the Scott County Library staff for undertaking this massive project and making it available just in time!





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The Beginning of Mercy

On December 7, 1869 the first patient entered the new Mercy Hospital situated on the outskirts of Davenport. Started by the Order of the Sisters of Mercy , the hospital and its grounds would play a pivotal role in the physical and mental health of the local community.

Before it became a hospital, the grounds once housed the Academy of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, run by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This private school for young ladies opened in July 1859 in a beautiful brick building on land surrounded by fruit trees.

However lovely the grounds, the effort to transport their children to the edge of the city and back seems to have been a deterrent to parents. By 1861 the Sisters of Charity moved the school to a more central location on Brady Street, where the school flourished.

An advertisement in the Davenport Daily Gazette, March 7, 1865 describes the 10 acres and main building for sale for the “bargain price” of $9,000 (roughly $130,000 in today’s dollars).


It wasn’t until 1869 that the property was given to the Sisters of Mercy to start a hospital.  Ten additional acres were donated by a neighbor and the Scott County Board also provided a loan of $2,000 to remodel and make necessary improvements to the building.

The December 7, 1869 Davenport Daily Gazette described the large brick building and the twenty acre grounds. The Sisters had also created a medical board of local physicians and surgeons to staff the hospital.

Patients were either private, paying for their own rooms, or county patients, who were cared for in a dormitory environment. It was noted in the December 7th article that private and county patients were to be kept separate, but provided equal care. It was estimated 200 patients could be cared for at one time.

At the time, Mercy Hospital was unique. Not only were  patients treated for physical ailments, but the building housed psychiatric patients as well. Later, two dedicated psychiatric buildings would be added to the growing Mercy Hospital complex: St. Joseph’s for men and St. Elizabeth’s for women.

Mercy Hospital

Mercy Hospital grew quickly over the years, providing both physical and psychiatric care. In 1994, Mercy and St. Luke’s Hospital merged to form the Genesis Health System. Mercy Hospital was renamed Genesis West.

145 years later, the land  on which Mercy Hospital began is surrounded by local neighborhoods and schools and it is difficult to imagine it as twenty acres of trees and gardens.

Yet the hospital continues to be a place of healing—a fine legacy for the Sisters who offered Mercy to those in need.


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Turkey Notes of Note!

It’s time to take out our stash of colored paper and puns and write those Turkey Notes!

Luckily, the weather is conspiring to keep us all indoors this week, so you should have plenty of time to lovingly craft a special Turkey-themed poem for each of your loved ones.

If you’re wondering what on earth we’re talking about, our standard explanation for this Davenport tradition is here.

And our annual staff examples are here:

Turkey red
Turkey blue

Turkey Note!2 Turkey said
 I’ll keep an eye out for you!

Turkey brown,
Turkey navy,
Turkey says please pass the gravy!

Turkey black
Turkey gold
Turkey says,
“Eat before it gets cold!

Turkey red
Turkey blue
Turkey said
I need to run fast from you!Turkey Note!3

Turkey brown,
Turkey green,
Turkey wants a giant tv screen

Turkey ground
Turkey sky
Turkey says,
“Where’s my pie?”

Turkey red,
Turkey blue
Turkey says Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Turkey Note!

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Four “Helpful” Thanksgiving Menus – 1900 Style

Are you in the midst of planning your Thanksgiving feast this year? Are you thinking of adding some new dishes to the same-old, same-old holiday fare?

It appears that the urge to freshen up one’s Thanksgiving menu is nothing new—cooks were already looking for new recipes to impress their guests 114 years ago!

Ever helpful, the Davenport Daily Republican printed several suggestions for multi-course feasts on November 25, 1900—the Sunday before the holiday.

For your convenience, we’re reprinting them, in the same order and pattern as they originally appeared in the paper, but just a little earlier to give you time to assemble some of the more . . . exotic . . . ingredients.

And borrow your neighbors’ ovens.

The New England Dinner

Oyster Soup.

Boiled Halibut.                     Egg Sauce.

Chicken Pie.                          Sweet Cider.

Roast Turkey, Stuffed.

Roast Chicken.                    Boiled Chicken.

Mashed White Potatoes.                    Baked White Potatoes.

Yellow Squash.                    White Turnips.

Boiled Onions.                      Cranberry Sauce.

Celery.                   Cider.

Mince Pie.                             Cranberry Pie.

Pumpkin Pie.                        Apple Pie.

Plum Pudding.                      Wine Jelly.

Fruit.                       Assorted Nuts.


Very Inexpensive


Boiled Fish.           Sauce.

Roast Turkey.      Bread Filling.

Cranberry Sauce.

     Celery.           Mashed Potatoes.

String Beans.          Cold Slaw.

Roast Sweet Potatoes.

Tomatoes.             Pumpkin Custard Pie.

Cheese.     Nuts.     Wafers.



 From ‘Way Down South

Oysters on the Half Shell.

Clear Soup.

Custard and Spinach Blocks.

Olives.                    Celery.

Deviled Spaghetti.

Cranberry Jelly.

Sweet Potato Croquettes.

Peas served in Turnip Cups.

Ginger Sherbet.

Lettuce Salad.      Cheese Balls.

Toasted Crackers.

Plum Pudding, Hard Sauce.

Pumpkin Pie.        Coffee.

Bonbons.               Almonds.


 Turkey Stuffed With Oysters

Oysters on the Half Shell.

Cream of Celery Soup.

Roast Turkey with Oyster Stuffing.

Cranberry Sauce.                 Mashed Potatoes.

Baked Sweet Potatoes.

Spinach.                                Celery.

Chicken Salad.     Mayonnaise Dressing.

Cheese.                  Crackers.               Olives.

Pumpkin Pie.        Mince Pie.

Nuts.       Raisins.      Fruit.


No matter which menu you might choose, we have a feeling everyone at your table will leave full and thankful!

(and if you try the deviled spaghetti, let us know . . . we’re curious)

(posted by Amy D.)

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Famous Beards of Davenport

In case you need some inspiration for No-Shave November, here are some fantastic historic beards from our Hostetler Studio Photograph Collection.

The Dumbledore look:

Father Anton Niermann (1909)

Father Anton Niermann (1909)

The circus ringleader/movie villain look:

Thomas Griggs (ca. 1901)

Thomas Griggs (ca. 1901)

The beard-scarf, for the predicted cold temperatures:

John C. Graham (ca. 1913)

John C. Graham (ca. 1913)


The Abe Lincoln muttonchops look:

Charles Edwin Putnam (ca. 1912)

Charles Edwin Putnam (ca. 1912)

The perfect Santa Claus beard:

Col. G. Watson French (ca.1912)

Col. G. Watson French (ca.1912)

And finally, no Quad-City historic beard post would be complete without Dr. B. J. Palmer, who made any style his own:

Dr. Bartlett Joshua Palmer (ca.1910)

Dr. Bartlett Joshua Palmer (ca.1910)

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The Much Photographed Wedding of Anna Streckfus and Edward Manthey

Anna Streckfus married Edward Thomas Manthey on November 12, 1913.

The bride was the daughter of Captain John Streckfus, owner of the extremely successful Streckfus Steamboat line, and the groom was from a wealthy and influential New Orleans family. According to the Davenport Democrat, which offered a double-column description on page 10 of its evening edition, their wedding was one of the most elaborate events of the season.

It was also in Rock Island, Illinois.

Lucky for us, the Hostetler Studios of Davenport agreed to make a house-call. As it was rare to have photographers at weddings—generally, the bridal party went to the studio days or weeks before, or after, the event—this set of wedding photographs is unequalled in our collections.

The wedding took place at 10am and was performed by the Reverend J. F. Lockney at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rock Island. The marriage announcement said that music was provided by the church organist as well as a cello, a violin, and a vocal quartet:


Sometime before or after the ceremony, the wedding party had their photographs taken in the Streckfus house, which is also where the breakfast reception was held.

Since these photographs were taken on-site the day of the wedding, they are among the few in our collections from this time period that show us the wedding flowers as well as the finery!


“The bride was in an elaborate gown on heavy white charmeuse, trimmed in rose point lace and tulle, the neck slightly décolleté, and the skirt entrained ad draped with clusters of orange blossoms; the long wedding veil was in draped effect encircles with a wreath of orange blossoms and the bridal jewels were diamonds in an exquisite lavaliere setting of platinum. The wedding ring was out of the ordinary being a circlet of diamonds set in platinum. The bridal bouquet was of bride’s roses and lilies of the valley with tulle bows.”

The groom’s couture, as usual, was not mentioned. But we think he looked very nice, too!

Joseph Irwin of New Orleans stood up for the groom and the nephew of the bride, young master Streckfus Manning, was the flower bearer. The maid of honor was the bride’s sister, May Streckfus, and Mary Helen Behrman, the daughter of the mayor of New Orleans, was bridesmaid.

Even with the descriptions from the announcement, we had some difficulty determining which bridal attendant was which, from the black and white photographs.

An image of the Streckfus family, which is not shown here, helped us identify May Streckfus, the maid of honor, as the young lady standing to the bride’s left, in the flattened hat decorated with the band of roses. We assume that Joseph Irwin is the gentleman next to her.

Presumably, one of the four ushers—John Streckfus, Jr, Harry Larkin, Andrew Williams, and Oscar Schmidt—is standing with Miss Behrman to the groom’s right.


“The maid of honor, Miss Streckfus, was in Killarney rose-pink charmeuse with over dress of pink chiffon trimmed in shadow lace; she carried a spray of pink Killarney roses, and her hat as pink with white lace.”

“The bridesmaid [Mary Helen Behrman] was in pink brocaded crepe de meteor, with over dress of Chantilly lace and pearl trimmings; she wore a white lace hat and also carried pink roses.”

The wedding breakfast appeared to have crowded the house, though it’s probable that the photographer arranged things to get as many tables as possible in a single shot:


We assume the same applies to the wedding gifts, displayed in the front parlor; in 1910, one did not normally place one’s fine crystal and silver place settings on the floor!

dplx1016kTo round out his visit, the Hostetler photographer threw in an exterior shot of the Streckfus home—another rarity!


After the wedding, the bride and groom left Rock Island for an extended New York honeymoon and from there traveled to New Orleans, where they made their home after the New Year.

We hope that they were as happy as their wedding photographs have made us!

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Still Doing His Rounds: The Haunting of 723 Main Street

Join us tonight at 7pm at the Fairmount Street Branch Library for a spooky talk from Terry Fisk, author of The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations.

UnexplainedMr. Fisk’s book includes two entries for Davenport.  One is on the “Banshee of Brady Street”, an urban legend which we debunked in a previous post.

But there’s another Davenport haunting that our research can’t dismiss so easily.

 In May of 1972, another occult writer, Brad Steiger, visited Palmer College’s Pi Kappa Chi fraternity house at 723 Main Street in Davenport.  With him was Irene Hughes, a well-known medium from Chicago.

They were there to investigate reports that the residents had heard footsteps, typing sounds, and other unexplained phenomena.

After a few minutes talking with the residents, the medium mentioned that she saw a spirit that looked like a doctor wearing surgical clothes.

According to our research, the property on which the home sits was once owned by St. Luke’s Hospital and it is located near their first hospital building.

The residence itself had been the home of Dr. William A. Stoecks who had been associated with the firm of Hageboeck, Stoecks, Maxwell, Kornder & Boss.

Dr. Stoecks died on October 18, 1961 at Mercy Hospital in Davenport and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

But if Ms. Hughes is to be believed, he was still doing his rounds at least a decade later.


Works Cited

Arpy, Jim. “Haunted House.” Times-Democrat 11 April 1972.

Davis, Shirley. “Ghosts In Davenport? Maybe.” Times-Democrat 14 May 1972: p. 6D.

“Saturday Rites Set For Doctor.” Davenport Morning Democrat 19 October 1961: p. 12.

Steiger, Brad. “Psychic Safaris.” Times-Democrat 10 December 1972: p. 6 FOCUS.


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Mark Your Calendars: Plus-60 Club Genealogy Event at the Library!

The Quad-City Times Plus-60 Club
is hosting an
Introduction to Genealogy Research Event
October 30 (this Thursday) from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
in the Film Room of the Main Street Davenport Library.

Following a presentation, given by our our own Jessica Mirasol,
there will be will be tours and time for research in our Special Collections Center.

This Event is free, but registration is required!

Please call Sherry Roberts of the Plus-60 Club
to register!

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The Mysterious Orphaned Limb of Oakdale Memorial Gardens


There are many mysteries to be found and puzzled over in our local cemeteries.

The one that we are asked about most often is a simple headstone found at the end of a very long row in the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans section in Oakdale Memorial Gardens.

Its epitaph is simple: “Limb of Unknown Child”.

We know very little about the limb. It is entered into the interment records of Oakdale as a boy’s leg.  No name or date is given.

Another mystery is the difference between the information in the interment records and the burial location. The limb is located in section T-E of the Orphans lot. But when the internment records were reviewed, the burial location is listed as T-F, or the next row up from T-E.*

The grave number of the leg in both sets of records is #001. The two headstones to the left of the unknown limb belong to Jessie Rodecker (T-E #001), who died in 1883 and Dorothy Birch (T-E #001A), who died in 1949.  Neither appear to be the original owner of the limb.

We have searched the newspaper records for any mention of the amputation of an orphan’s leg (or arm for that matter), but without success. None of the causes of death for the orphans buried in that area of the cemetery appear to be connected to the loss of a limb or other body part.

Many patrons ask us why a limb would be buried in the first place—still another mystery! However, we do know that in the past, the state of Iowa required limbs amputated above a certain area to be buried and not discarded. We also know certain religions require limbs to be buried.

So, what exactly do we know about the Limb of Unknown Child buried in Oakdale?

We have to be honest and say almost nothing—not our usual response!

If we ever learn more about this mystery we will certainly share it. And if any of our readers know about the limb, please share your information with us!

It would be nice to have a name to put with the face leg!


The Limb of Unknown Child headstone is located at the lower left hand of the picture.

To add a spooky layer to this post, we have one final note:

We have blogged before about the rumors of people hearing children crying in the Orphans’ section in the dark of night.

As our staff member stopped by the cemetery on a lovely fall day to take pictures for this blog,  the area was nearly deserted, save for one or two visitors and a few cemetery workers in the next section over, mowing and leaf blowing.

Above all the noise of machinery, our staff member heard the sound of children’s laughter.

No children were seen in the area.

(posted by Amy D.)

*We contacted Oakdale about our question. Upon review they discovered the headstone was in fact in the wrong location. They are working to place the marker back in the correct position.


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Scott County’s Rotten Bridge

If you read this blog, you already know how much we love solving local history mysteries around here. Our latest one, featuring a peculiar epitaph referring to a tragic death, is perfect not only for this chilly month known for its ghosts and spooks, but also for this month of continuing bridge troubles.

In our Accession Collections is a collection of research materials on Scott County Cemeteries, compiled by Scharlott Blevins and Lorraine Duncan.

In one of the files is a photo of a unique gravestone:


The unusual inscription reads:

Dearest brother thou has left us
And thy loss we deeply feel.
But it was Scott Co.’s rotten bridge,
That you had to suffer for,
Oh we shall never forget you
Dear brother Frank

Naturally, we wanted to know a little more about poor Frank—and perhaps something about that “rotten bridge”—but the photograph doesn’t provide his death date or his last name.  We weren’t even sure which cemetery was pictured.

Our only clue was the gravestone in the background, which a sharp-eyed co-worker identified as belonging to Charles Meyer.

According to the Scott County Iowa Cemetery Search, which is maintained by the Scott County Public library System (hi, guys!), Charles Meyer is buried in the Maysville Cemetery in Hickory Grove Township.

Furthermore, a Frank Meyer was buried there, too, in 1897.

A search of Access Newspaper Archive—a subscription database that is available on all public workstations at all of our library locations—soon provided the obituary of Frank Meyer, who fell foul of a very rotten bridge, indeed, as witnessed by his brother, Henry:


The Daily Iowa Capital, Tuesday, August 31, 1897 page 4.

Mystery solved!

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