Davenport’s first daily newspaper

Volume 1, Number 1 of the Daily Davenport Gazette* was published on Monday, October 16th, 1854. It was the first daily newspaper ever published in Davenport. The Gazette had been published weekly for the previous 13 years, and started out with about one hundred and fifty subscribers. Since 1849, Davenport had grown from “a hamlet of a few houses” to a population of over six thousand, and the people in the community were asking for a daily newspaper.

Davenport Gazette editor Alfred Sanders decided to give the people what they wanted and launched the Daily Gazette, although he wasn’t very optimistic about its chances for success. He had doubts whether the people of Davenport would be willing to pay extra for a daily newspaper, since they barely made enough money from subscriptions to cover the costs of publishing the weekly and Tri-weekly editions.

The subscription cost of the Daily Gazette would be six dollars per year paid in advance, or “twelve and a half cents per week” paid to the carrier. For advertisements, there would be an additional fee of twenty five cents per square, but they claimed that the size of a square (of 12 lines) had increased by twenty percent.  

Front page of the Davenport Daily Gazette

On that first issue, the front and back pages were entirely covered in advertisements and business cards for all kinds of goods and services. Mr. Sanders worried that they didn’t have enough subscribers to sustain a daily newspaper, so the ads were the only way to finance this new venture.

The second page had news stories from around the country, including election results from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. A marriage announcement for Mr. Samuel Hopkins of LeClaire and Miss Harriet Young of Pennsylvania was also published on page 2.

In local news, the first frost of the season occurred the previous Saturday, October 14. And Mr. Cressler of Prairie Spring Farm in Walnut Grove had sweet potatoes that measured over a foot in circumference and length, and could yield seven hundred bushels to the acre!

Fortunately for Mr. Sanders, the people of Davenport responded well to the new format, and The Daily Gazette became one of the primary newspapers in the region. It was published until 1887, when it was purchased by its rival, the Davenport Democrat.

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* Also known as:
1841-1854 Davenport Gazette
1854-1855 Daily Davenport Gazette
1856-1869 The Davenport Daily Gazette
1869-1873 The Daily Gazette
1874-1885 Davenport Daily Gazette
1885-1887 The Davenport Gazette

(posted by Cristina)

The Weekly Outlook: D.N. Richardson and Ads of Interest

THE WEEKLY OUTLOOK  —  DEVOTED TO HOME & OUTING LIFE, LITERATURE, ART, MUSIC & THE DRAMA (Volume 1 — Number 8, August 29, 1896)

NOTABLES  

A fine lithographic portrait of D. N. Richardson graces page one of the Outlook this week, adding him to the cast of NOTABLES deemed worthy of the front page honor. Richardson came to Iowa in the 1850’s and entered the newspaper business, co-owning the Davenport Democrat and Leader with his brother, J.J. and acting as editor.

Guest author Octave Thanet (Alice French) wrote an artistic sketch of David Nelson Richardson for the Outlook calling him “a striking figure, a tall man with iron gray, closely trimmed beard, and air of distinction and a winning and approachable genius. He has the gift of telling a story, and an equal gift of appreciating anyone’s else [sic] good story. For many years Davenport has both loved and been proud of its most cosmopolitan citizen.” Richardson was a longtime regent of the State University [the University of Iowa in Iowa City], an omnivorous reader (per Miss French), and a world traveler.

We would be remiss if we did not mention that Alice Richardson-Sloane, one of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center benefactors, is the great-great granddaughter of Mr. Richardson.

MUSIC AND THE DRAMA

Tennessee’s Pardner will be the opening play of the season at the recently remodeled Burtis Opera House next week. Apparently the interior underwent a delightful change including improving its acoustic properties. Not a bad seat in the house now, they say.

LEADING ADVERTISERS

Below is an image of page 7 of this week’s paper, just to give you a feeling for the advertising section put together by the Outlook team.

The veritable Wild West Show at the Fair and Exposition sounds exciting. Mrs. A. Seymour, Clairvoyant, Business Medium and Psychometrist guarantees your satisfaction. And take note of those cute kids looking through the chocolate box!

Future editions of the Outlook advertise a contest; win a $10 goldpiece and a chance to name the newest candy at Maehr’s. Just come up with a terrific new name. The winning name in April 1897? Farrago!!!

The Weekly Outlook: featuring Miss Susie Glaspell

The July 25, 1896 issue begins to get more titillating as Banks’ POINTS OF VIEW segment berates the condition of the Scott County Jail, calling it an “abomination”, and stating it is “alive with vermin, many of these large enough to kick a stone out of the falling walls when they are irritated.”

A detailed review of a recent Watch Tower Opera Company performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado includes a backhanded compliment to tenor Harry Davis who was described as “a clever actor when he is singing, but his speeches were delivered in a listless way that should be corrected at once”.  Ouch.  So much for MUSIC AND THE DRAMA this week!

WHEEL LIFE includes a poem by Charles Eugene Banks entitled “A Morning Spin” and more talk of a cycling club but concerns regarding keeping men and women separated.  The opinion expressed in the  Outlook appears to lean toward a unisex club;  “The man who is afraid to have a woman peep into his club life must be doing things there that are against morality and good breeding.”

SOCIAL LIFE has now grown to include “Socialettes” about a variety of lovely lawn fetes as well as the Denkmann family entertaining 160 people for lunch and dancing on their steamer last Wednesday and the “In and Out of Town” section which keeps us apprised of who is where and with whom. This segment of the newspaper is the responsibility of Miss Susie Glaspell.

Susan Keating Glaspell  graduated from Davenport High School just two years prior to obtaining her position as society editor of the Weekly Outlook. Her social “news” morphs from somewhat pithy stories regarding prominent locals to Glaspell essays that use the space to stretch her literary wings, sometimes faltering but other times with success. She still included the “Socialettes“ and ”In and Out of Town” sections, but they became less the focus as she began to try tongue-in-cheek approaches to her columns, at one point editorialized that “being in society was all very nice, but it had its penalties, and mighty severe penalties they were”.

No doubt the elite of Davenport relished each issue of this magazine, wondering if they would be included in some manner and how their activities would be related by Miss Glaspell. Would they receive one line? A brief paragraph? Would their Club get a thumbs up or down on their decorations and choice of refreshment?

Glaspell left the Weekly Outlook to enter Drake University in Des Moines in the fall of 1897, quite unusual for a young woman in the 1890’s. Ironically her future husband, George Cram Cook was co-authoring a drama with her Outlook boss, Charles Eugene Banks, called In Hampton Roads at this same point in time. Did Banks ever introduce them? Probably, but their relationship would not become the subject of the society page for some time yet.

(posted by Karen)

The Weekly Outlook: Charles Eugene Banks

The second issue of The Weekly Outlook newspaper, dated Saturday July 18, 1896, highlighted a large bird’s-eye view of Davenport’s Tri-city Packing and Provision Company’s plant and grounds along with information on the company’s growth since its inception in 1893.

POINTS OF VIEW states that a seawall along Front Street from the foot of Iowa to Brown Street would improve the appearance of the city of Davenport one hundred percent.

WHEEL LIFE asks why not organize a local Bicycle Club? Tips regarding proper attire for men and women included wearing cashmere woolen stockings to save feet from blistering and assurance that since skirts reach nearly to the ankle, if properly shaped, lined and finished at the bottom there is no danger of catching said skirt in the bicycle. Folks are encouraged to buy quality – avoid a shoddy wheel!

MUSIC AND THE DRAMA reports the subscription concert series at Schuetzen Park by Strasser’s Second Regiment Band was gaining steadily in popularity and note the music pavilion erected last year “throws music into the park” and the colored lights which illuminate it “quite completes the charm”.

OUTING LIFE highlighted some favorite camp sites including Horse Island and the Rocks. There was also an advertisement for Manhattan Beach – boats leaving the foot of Brady Street at a cost of ten cents round trip.

Unusual in the newspaper were obituaries, but four appear in this issue on page eight:   Helen Clapp Jennings, wife of Samuel; Lillian Zimmerman, wife of William; Louise J. Lawson and Isador Lahman each receive a brief memorial paragraph.

Who were the confident, outspoken literary devotees that began this weekly publication of the late 1890’s?  The Outlook Publishing Company was under the management of Charles Eugene Banks, a native of Clinton County, Iowa. Born in 1852 and raised on a farm, Banks claimed New England pioneer ancestry. He began newspaper work in Wheatland, IA with a small weekly paper, and then was editor and proprietor of the American Commercial Traveler in Chicago 1885-1887. He spent several years as a reporter for the “Herald” in Chicago and was a founding member of the Chicago Press Club. Banks was married in 1892 to Carrie Wyatt Lounsbury and published his first volumes of poetry in 1893 and 1895.

The next two years found him overseeing production of the Weekly Outlook in Davenport and acting as city editor of the Davenport Daily Republican.  His first novel, “In Hampton Roads”, was published in 1898 after debuting as a play at the Burtis Opera House in December of 1897. Advertised in the final issue of the Weekly Outlook  as a new drama by Charles Eugene Banks and George Cram Cook, this “thrilling story of war, love and intrigue” was to have music provided by Professor Ernst Otto. The cast included both Banks and his actress wife, Carrie Wyatt Banks.

Further career opportunities took Banks to Seattle, Washington and ultimately Hawaii where he met his fate at the age of 80. He was struck and killed by an automobile in Honolulu on April 29, 1932; a tragic ending to a long and colorful life.

[submitted by Karen]

The Weekly Outlook: Davenport’s Gilded Newspaper

Once upon a gilded age in Davenport there were so many clubs and such an abundance of cultural activities and interests that a team of optimistic young writers chose to start their own publishing company, creating a twelve page weekly paper “devoted to home and outing life, literature, art, music, and the drama”. For nearly two years beginning in July of 1896, The Weekly Outlook may have been the guilty pleasure of many Davenporters.

The news team was made up of editor and general manager Charles Eugene Banks; his wife Carrie Wyatt Banks acting as associate editor; Miss Susie Glaspell reporting as society editor; and assistant manager William E. Warren. An item in the Davenport Daily Leader prior to the first publication boasted “The Weekly Outlook will chronicle the better side of life in the three cities.”

After their first issue had been released, the Davenport Weekly Leader reported that “an additional ray of sunshine” had entered many a local home, describing the new paper as having “literary merit and pages filled with truths, put in simple, sparkling words that cause the reader to like himself and all the world better.”

Volume 1, Number 1 came out Saturday July 11, 1896 and the front page included a “half-tone cut of Central Park in Davenport” described as giving the issue the “appearance of the great metropolitan weeklies”. The POINTS OF VIEW section offered editorial opinions on the local parks and invited aspiring young bards an opportunity to share their works in the Outlook.

The new subdivision of Henry Wiese is noted as having been recently platted, The Woman’s Shakespeare Society had their last meeting of the season, Scott County teachers were attending an Institute on Civics and Economics at Davenport High School and the oppressive heat was discouraging social activity with the exception of a supper party followed by dancing at Schuetzen Park where the “girls all looked captivatingly dainty and pretty flitting to and fro in their airy garden costumes.”

Rev. Hamilton Schuyler’s installation ceremony as the new Dean of Davenport Cathedral was covered as was Miss Alice French’s return from Clover Bend, Arkansas. Davenport’s young Harriet Grace Mitchell was touted as a “poet of rare taste and excellent judgment”. One of her pieces called “Slumber Song” was printed on page five.

A section called WHEEL LIFE noted some of the preferred bicycle routes and rides available in the area along with some warnings about a “black dog with yellow spots and an ungovernable temper”.

This issue’s MUSIC & DRAMA section listed ten Singing Societies along with their directors and rehearsal sites. The newsy IN AND OUT OF TOWN column reports that the Hills are at Nantasket Beach, Mrs. Cable and children are at Hot Springs, Virginia, the Williams are spending the summer in Tamaqua, PA and Major and Mrs. Marks are enjoying an outing at Lake Okoboji. The Lend-a-Hand Club was charmingly entertained at Hadlai Heights Wednesday afternoon and evening while “Mr. and Mrs. Waldo Becker are spending the summer in a truly ideal manner, flitting from place to place as fancy suggests. They do not expect to return until September or October.”

Advertisers included doctors and dentists, banks, pharmacies and Mrs. Lee B. Grabbe’s Hair Bazaar and Ladies’ Hair Dressing Parlor on West Second Street offering “a complete assortment of wigs, waves, switches, grease paints, tonics, powders, etc.” Meanwhile, Mr. Grabbe was advertising his Parlor Orchestra (with or without piano) furnishing music for receptions, dancing parties, lawn fetes and weddings. His Venetian Mandolin Orchestra was also available as were instrumental lessons on the side.

This newspaper is truly unique and is available for viewing on microfilm in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. Follow the Weekly Outlook in this blog as Davenport’s “gilded age” is revealed along with its dramatic players.

[posted by Karen]