Davenporters of Note: “Pete” Macías

Iowa Stories: Mexican-Americans [2006-2007]

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month we are featuring Pete Macías, who died on June 10, 2021, at the age of 102. Mr. Macías was interviewed by students at Smart Intermediate in 2006 for the Iowa Stories oral history project.

His father Manuel and uncle David were the first employees from México to work for the Bettendorf Company in the 1910s. They recruited 150 laborers at the El Paso/Juarez border for the Bettendorf Company during World War I. They were also founding members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Silvis, Illinois along with neighbors from the Silvis barrio, La Yarda.

Leandro “Pete” Martín Macías was born March 4, 1919 in Davenport, Iowa to Manuel Martín Macías and María Guadalupe “Lupe” Pérez.

Pete had 8 younger siblings: Rudolph “Rudy” (b. 1920), Luz “Louise” (b. 1921), Romiro “Rummy” (b. 1922), Lenore (b. 1924), Manuel (b. 1927), Raul “Roy” (b. 1928), Guadalupe “Lupe” (b. 1930), and María “Mary” (b. 1935). The family lived in the barrio known as “Holy City” in Bettendorf during the Great Depression.

Their name is sometimes listed as Macias (1918), Martin (1920), Maciaz (1928), Marzias (1934), or Macia (1939). Their addresses are recorded in the Davenport City Directories as follows:

  • 1918: 713 East 10th Street
  • 1920: 318 West Grant
  • 1937: 1342 Grant
  • 1933: 9 Riverside Addition
  • 1939: Holy City
  • 1940: 1724 East 16th Street

Pete married Margarita Conchola on May 30, 1942, in Kahoka, Missouri. They had a daughter in 1943, a son in 1946, a daughter in 1951. The couple divorced in 1952. He married Betty Louise (Bailey) Hughes in 1958 in Rock Island County. Pete married Beverly Bennett on April 21, 1971, in Chicago. They were married for 50 years.

According to information in his WWI Draft Registration Card, Pete was in Milford, Iowa working for the National Youth Administration project. A youth training center for the mechanical trades opened near Lake Okoboji in September 1940. Pete later worked as a machine operator at International Harvester Farmall for 37 years, retiring in 1981.

Pete played basketball and softball as a teenager, but his favorite sport to practice was archery. He played the stand-up bass in local jazz bands and sang in the choir at the Center for Active Seniors. He was a founding member of the Quad City Mexican-American Organization in the 1970s. He was a member of the Knights of Guadalupe at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Silvis, Illinois.

#2005-02 Iowa Stories: Mexican-Americans [2006-2007]

For more information about the Macías family check out Migration Is Beautiful – a project featuring the Mujeres Latinas collections from the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries.

(posted by Cristina)

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Becoming Iowa: Upper Mississippi: A Wilderness Saga by Walter Havighurst

2021 marks the 175th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood. On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state admitted into the Union. Commemorative publications, programs, and other events are planned by the Iowa Department of Culture Affairs and communities across the state.

In conjunction with the festivities, we will be blogging about different areas of Iowa history and culture through books and novels written about Iowa throughout the year. We will be exploring the book, Upper Mississippi: A Wilderness Saga by Walter Havighurst and illustrated by David and Lolita Granahan. It was published by Farrar & Rinehart Incorporated in New York. Originally published in 1937, the book was later reissued in 1944.

Portrait of Havighurst
Image from https://spec.lib.miamioh.edu/home/havighurst/

Walter Edwin Havighurst was born in Appleton, Wisconsin on November 28, 1901, to Freeman Alfred Havighurst and Winifred Aurelia (Weter) Havighurst. According to the 1910 and 1920 United States Federal Census, his siblings are Robert, Alfred, James, and Miriam. He attained his education from multiple institutions including Ohio Wesleyan University, the University of Denver, Boston University, Kings College at the University of London, and Columbia University.

From an obituary published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on February 6, 1994, he married Marion Boyd in 1930. They were colleagues in the English Department of Miami University in 1928. They visited Europe in 1938. According to the Passenger List of a ship arriving in the port of New York from Oslo, Norway on September 1st, 1938. It states that Marion Margaret Boyd was born in Marietta, Ohio on January 6, 1894, to William Waddell Boyd. According to her obituary published in Xenia Daily Gazette on February 25, 1974, she was a noted author who wrote her first book in 1923.

Walter and Marion Havighurst were active participants in the communities. Above are images of Walter during his career at Miami University from the school’s yearbook.

According to his World War II Registration Card, Walter registered for military service on February 15, 1942. According to his Indiana State Department of Health Certificate of Death, Walter died on February 3, 1994. The newspapers across Ohio published many versions of this illustrious man who inspired many students and colleagues who worked with him and were educated by him. Miami University houses his collections and information about his life and works.

Known through their own skill and prolific artworks, David and Lolita Granahan illustrated the Upper Mississippi: A Wilderness Saga. According to the United States 1910 Federal Census, David Milton Granahan was born to John Granahan and Josephine E. “Josie” Smith in Litchfield, Meeker County, Minnesota on July 31, 1909. His spouse, Lolita Katherine Granahan was born on March 3, 1908, to Erik and Jennie Wadman according to the United States Evangelical Lutheran Church in America specifically the Swedish American Church Records. David and Lolita married on May 27, 1934, in Hennepin County, Minnesota found in the Minnesota Official Marriage System. In 1991, David passed away on March 28th and Lolita passed away on August 3rd according to the Social Security Index.

1928 St. Cloud Technical High School Yearbook fro David Granahan.

David was a well-known artist in the midwest who garnered a number of accolades including a commission to paint a mutual for the St. Cloud Post Office during the depression as well as many other local and national awards. A fun fact from the Minnesota Historical Society is that they are known also for designing and printing their own Christmas cards for 40 years. The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society hold materials relating to this artistic couple.

The Upper Mississippi: An Wilderness Saga was one of the titles that comprised the landmark series of books combining geography, history, and folklore called the Rivers of America Series. From information found in an online exhibit created by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the series was one of the most successful in the 20th century. It was planned, started, and edited by Constance Lindsay Skinner. In his article, “An American Rivers Saga“, published on his website, Nicholas Basbanes states that “what truly distinguished The Rivers of America Series was Skinner’s inspired conviction that the books be written by novelists and poets and illustrated by professional artists.”

From our research, we found a number of book reviews about Walter Havighurst and the Granahans’ addition to this magnificent series. They are from newspaper publication from Iowa and Ohio.

The book uniquely captures the characteristics of the Mississippi and the people who lived along its shores. In addition to the illustrations highlighting different aspects of American life, the text showcases the intertwining subjects that make up the river’s history.

From newspapers in St. Cloud, Minnesota, we see announcements for illustrator signings for David Granahan at Atwood’s Bookstore.

The newspaper clippings below entice potential readers by including illustrations in with their announcements about the book.

Below are digital reproductions of the book from our collection. Explore this book the next time you are in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. The book briefly covers the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities region, but Iowa has over 300 miles of land bordering the majestic river that has its own story to tell.


Basbanes, Nicholas. “An American Rivers Saga.” Nicholas A. Basbanes. 2, no. 7 (July 1997): unpaginated. Accessed October 7, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20061209095750/http://www.nicholasbasbanes.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=53

(posted by Kathryn)

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The Polar Bear Regatta

RSSCC Postcard Collection, PC051 – Boats

Fifty years ago this week, the Lindsay Park Sailing Club was preparing to hold its 12th Polar Bear Regatta on the Mississippi River. The annual sailing race was advertised in the September 26th, 1971 edition of Davenport Times-Democrat with these images:

The “action-packed three day classic event” promised spectators the chance to watch “skilled sailors put their crafts through thrilling bends and spills.” The view could be taken from down at the docks or high above the river in Prospect Park.

The very first Polar Bear Regatta was held in 1960, when the skippers of the Club’s eleven-boat Lightning fleet organized a special fall race for local sailors on Lake Davenport. A similar event was held the following year, the course running from the Club’s dock at Lindsay Park Yacht Club to Campbell’s Island.

It was in 1962, just after the completion of the new clubhouse at the foot of Bridge Avenue (the site of the Boat House, now Bare Bones BBQ, restaurant), that other regional clubs were invited to compete with Davenport: Crab Orchard, Decatur, Alton, and Springfield. Now an “invitational” and growing larger every year, the Polar Bear Regatta soon required an enormous food service operation planned and managed by the women of the Club.

Quad-City Times image of the LDSC Clubhouse reproduced on page 62 of Connie Heckert’s Pictorial History of Lindsay Park Yacht Club*

Barbara Clough Spargo tells amusing stories from the Polar Bear Regattas of the 1960s in The Log of Lake Davenport Sailing Club, 1878-1970, v.1, including that of a 1966 race on a short course requiring six laps to complete. Both participants and judges lost count, so that one Lightning sailor who resumed his laps mid-race after stopping for a beer was mistakenly declared the winner. The 1969 winner of the C-scow race jokingly shouted “I’m dropping out,” as he crossed the finish line far ahead of the other sailors — and the judges did disqualify him!

Both Volume I and II of The Log of Lake Davenport Sailing Club are available at the RSSC Center (SC797.1 Spa) for those interested in more detail about the Club’s history. The drawings of the clubhouse and the Lightning boat, above, are illustrations from the work, also by Spargo.

This year, the 61st Annual Polar Bear Regatta will be held next weekend, October 8-10th.

For more information about boating on the Mississippi from Davenport, check out The First 100 Years: A Pictorial History of Lindsay Park Yacht Club by Connie K. Heckert (SC 797.1 Hec).

(posted by Katie)

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Dear Diary

Dear Diary, on September 22nd each year, we celebrate the way “you” help us document our lives. 

Diaries offer us a glimpse into how we change and remind us of events long forgotten. Diaries also offer a reference for future generations. While many may think of diaries as a place to keep precious secrets, they also provide a look at how life has changed (or remained the same) from one generation to another. They serve as a reminder of ways long forgotten, words no longer in use, or attitudes that were once acceptable.

Most mention the weather, daily activities of work and play, the cast of characters whose lives intersected with the diarist, and the highs and lows of life.

At the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center in the Davenport Public Library our collection contains diaries in various formats. Here is a sampling of items we are preserving for your use.

Lilah Bell was a local force to be reckoned with. She was appointed the first director of the Homemaker Service of Scott County in 1963 to meet a community need. It was a pilot project administered through the Davenport Visiting Nurse Association serving the chronically ill and aged. Bell single handedly set up the physical office space, selected furnishings, hired staff, prepared training materials, and ran the show. She was appointed October 1, 1963 and began keeping a diary that day of her activities. By October 15th  there had already been three calls for service. She began training staff on November 4th  and the team began their first care on November 18th. Her diary is a testament of what can be accomplished in a short span of time by someone with knowledge, skill and desire.

The European Diary of Henry Vollmer Sr. from 1887 is a bound and typed manuscript. It documents his voyage from Davenport to Europe during April to September detailing all he saw and endured. From the first pages, he seems to indicate that adjusting to the voyage was a bit more difficult than anticipated.

The diary of Florence Berrigan spans 1923-1926, an era of freedom, especially for ladies, post-World War I. Her entries are a study in a twenty-something’s life…ice skating, dances, wiener roasts, angst waiting for letters and calls from beaus, innocent flirtations and bold conversations. Florence tallies 99 dates at the end of 1923, 39 of which were with George. She also dated Julius, Art, Rex and Harry while flirting with the barber. Her father bought a radio in December 1926, a highlight for the family. Florence ultimately chose Harry Wingate and was married to him in Chicago in 1927.

P.S. It looks like someone snooped in  her diary and added an entry of their own!

Sometimes it is an interesting exercise to compare two completely different experiences on the same date to underscore our human tendencies to dwell on our own circumstances, perhaps too much at times. Here are the diary entries of Angelina Petskyes, a Davenport housewife, and George Morrissey, a medic on November 19 and 20, 1944 during World War II.  The reflections and concerns could not be more dramatic.

The Diaries of Lettie Barber from 1907-1912 are filled with both the spiritual and the mundane. Lettie attended the Assembly of God church and was a strong believer in her version of Christianity. Born in 1875, Lettie was married in 1897. She never had children and her husband traveled extensively for his business. Her writings share deep personal joys, suffering and conflict, the desire to do the right things, and efforts to help others find salvation.

Do you journal? Do you have journals from ancestors? We hope to some day have journals representing a wider and more diverse population, so think of us if you would be willing to share these fascinating reflections of daily life with our Center.



1990-06 Diary of Nellie Seaman

1998-27 Diary of George Morrissey

2006-03 Diaries of Angelina Petskyes

2011-01 Diary of Lilah Bell

2011-23 Diary of Florence Berrigan Wingate

2014-11 Diary of Henry Vollmer, Sr.

2014-21 Diaries of Lettie Barber

(posted by Karen)

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The Davenport Levee: Come one, come all to the Owl Carnival!

With the creation of the Davenport Levee Commission in 1911 and the building of the seawall starting in 1912, life along the river front changed for Davenport citizens. Instead of a garbage filled area used mainly by boats loading and unloading goods, the river front became a place to visit as businesses and entertainment created an ever changing environment of work and fun.

Fairs, carnivals, sports, and musical entertainment became part of levee life. One well-known annual event became the Owl Carnival held yearly in the beginning of September.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 1, 1912. Pg. 10

This event was put on by the local fraternal chapter of the Order of Owls. Founded in 1904 in Indiana, the Owls motto was “Owls do good, speak kindly, shake hands warmly, and respect and honor their women.” They organized to help each other’s businesses, help people find jobs, assist widows and orphans, assist each other as needed, and gather for entertainment.

The Daily Times, September 2, 1912. Pg. 6

The carnival was promoted as a “clean” event that was suitable for the entire family. Besides the death-defying act of Madame Garcia and her automobile, there were the usual carnival games, shows, and acts put on by Snyder Greater United Shows.

The Daily Times, September 4, 1912. Pg. 9

A picture of the carnival was taken on September 3, 1912 showing the tents, cars, Ferris wheel, and more along the levee near Harrison Street in downtown Davenport.

Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department. dplVM89-000084. Image of the Owl Carnival on the Davenport levee on September 3, 1912.

The image, taken by the Davenport Levee Commission, shows not only the carnival but also the levee wall. Recently completed, the wall was built by building a dirt dike along the harbor line away from the existing river bank. The levee wall was built with stone inside the sealed-off area with large stones hidden behind the rip rap design. Fill of dirt and garbage was also added farther in towards the original river bank. Raised to 15 feet, the new seawall helped expand the riverfront. The new level area being used for businesses to rent from the Levee Commission and entertainments such as the carnival.

Besides Madame Garcia, there was a high diving act, beauty contest that attendees could vote for a winner, a “City Circus”, and the “Texas Dancera”. The local fraternal organizations even hosted groups to attend the carnival. The Moose paid for local newsboys to spend the evening at the event on September 3rd. Much to the delight, we imagine, to the boys.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 3, 1912. Pg. 11

The event seemed to be an overwhelming success. The only issues being a few intoxicated carnival workers, the circus manager’s niece being diagnosed with Typhoid Fever, and one runaway girl from Muscatine being found after she ran away from home to see the carnival. Miss Rozella Carlton received over 10,000 votes to be named Carnival Queen over seventeen other contestants. Her prize, besides the title, was a $150 diamond ring.

The Democrat and Leader, September 8, 1912. Pg. 3

In all, the carnival was deemed a great success. And for many in the community, we are sure they viewed the new and improved levee as an even greater success.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Davenporters of Note: Jasper Eugene Wood

The Daily Times, Thursday, January 7, 1943.

Jasper E. Wood was born July 27, 1901, in Monmouth, Jackson Co., IA to Everett and Elsie Gertrude (Preston) Wood. His parents divorced soon after and his mom remarried and moved to Tipton, Cedar Co., IA. In 1920 he was living with his mom’s brother Benjamin Preston and his family at 1927 College Avenue in Davenport.

Jasper married Helen Dorothy Kirchner on March 25, 1922, in Davenport. The couple had one infant son die in 1927, a daughter named Beverly was born in 1928, and a son Warren was born in 1932.

In the 1920s he worked as an electrician for the Hummel Electric Shop at 104 E 2nd Street. He became business manager of Local No. 145, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Rock Island in June of 1930, a position he kept for 30 years. His career spanned the “Roaring ’20s”, the “Great Depression”, FDR’s New Deal, WWII, and the post-war boom.

Jasper E. Wood died on February 27, 1961, in his home at 2 Cedar Place in Davenport.

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Boards, Commissions, Committees, etc.

J.E. Wood was a well-respected civic leader and volunteered or was elected/appointed to several boards, commissions, committees, and citizens’ advisory groups:

  • Appointed to the Davenport Recreation Commission in May of 1931 as the representative from the Labor unions.
  • Building Trades Council secretary, 1931 and president, 1956
  • FERA Workers Wage Committee, 1934
  • Citizens’ Committee for the Purchase of the Water Works, 1936
  • Appointed secretary of the Scott County Draft Board #2 in 1940 and president in 1945
  • United War and Community Chest Appeal, 1942
  • “Labor for Victory” celebration committee, 1942
  • Quad-City War Transportation Committee, 1942
  • Elected financial secretary of the Tri-City Federation of Labor in 1943
  • Workers Recruitment Committee, 1943
  • Delegate to the Republican State Conclave, 1944
  • V-J Day Community Celebration Committee, 1945
  • Tri-City Labor Review board member, 1945 and president, 1949
  • State of Scott social committee, 1947
  • Labor Building planning committee, 1949
  • Davenport Airport Commission, 1950
  • Davenport Chamber of Commerce housing and traffic control/off-street parking committees, 1951
  • County Courthouse Citizens Advisory Committee, 1951 and dedication committee, 1956
  • Named to the planning committee for new lighting system in Downtown Davenport, 1954
  • Scott County Grand Jury panel, 1958
  • Named to the executive board of the newly merged Quad-City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, 1959
Davenport Democrat, Monday, October 19, 1942.
Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday, March 1, 1961.

Spokesperson for Labor Unions

J.E. Wood was quoted in the local newspapers several times throughout his career.

On the wage controversy between union electricians of the Tri-Cities and electrical contractors in 1936:

Union electricians of the Tri-Cities have cooperated with the contractors and with the public to the fullest extent. Perhaps, the public does not know that several years ago, the hourly wage rate for union electricians of the Tri-Cities was $1.30. During the various stages of the so-called depression the union has voluntarily accepted wage reductions until their scale had been reduced to 90 cents per hour. At no time were these reductions forced upon the union but they were accepted in a a spirit of cooperation in the hope that the sacrifice on the part of the men might, in some manner, assist in stimulating the industry. That the sacrifice was in vain and no appreciable difference was noted, will be testified to by the men employed in the electrical industry and by every unprejudiced contractor. But the action of the men indicated clearly that they have an intense interest in the development of the industry in which they have spent many years perfecting themselves. But let it be understood that with each wage reduction made, there was a clear understanding on the part of the contractors and the union that they were only temporary in nature and would be restored at first indication that the industry was back on a somehere-near normal basis.

The past 18 months have seen a decided change for the better in the electrical business, yet the men have received up to May 1, but 15 cents of the 40 cents per hour they had voluntarily sacrificed from their pay envelopes.

On May 1, 1936, employment conditions in the electrical industry had been restored to such a basis that the union felt justified in asking that they again receive a return of some portion of the pay cuts given. They, at no time, insisted on an immediate restoration of the full amount that they had voluntarily given up but after negotiations with a duly accredited representative, an agreement was made fixing the wage scale at $1.10 per hour from May 1 until Oct 1, 1936 and after Oct 1, 1936, fixing it at $1.15 which left it still 15 cents less per hour than the former wage scale of the union.

Surely no one can say that the electricians have assumed an unreasonable attitude in this matter. The statement of certain contractors that the change in the wage scale will seriously embarrass those contractors who have WPA contracts, in our opinion is without foundation of fact. Every contractor was aware that on May 1, 1936 the union would ask for a restoration of at least a part of the wage reduction. If they failed to make a provision for this, responsibility rests with them, not with the union. However, permit me to say, that when we accepted wage reductions, our members too had made obligations based upon the old wage scale and that was a problem that we, as workes had to solve. There is not now, and never has been, any intention upon the part of the Electrical Workers union to impose upon their employers or the public an unjust or unreasonable wage rate, but our members are expert workmen. They have spent years in acquiring this skill as craftsmen. Their employment is spasmodic. They have long periods of idleness and as result, they must receive at least a living wage.

At the present time, practically every member is working. The industry is enjoying healthy conditions and there is no reason why the electricians, who have sacrificed so much, should not, in a small measure, at least, participate in this prosperity.

J.E. Wood, business agent for the Electrical Workers’ union. The Daily Times, May 28, 1936

On the Davenport Schools bond issue election in 1938:

We are anxious to get the new school program going because it means so much for the general welfare of the community. It will be a big means toward relieving the unemployment situation, which vitally concerns all of us.

The fact that only local labor will be employed should not be overlooked. The money which will accrue to the workers will eventially find an outlet in all channels of trade, it will mean more business and more prosperity for Davenport. Assuredly, the proposed bond issue should be ratified. Davenport will miss a golden opportunity not to take advantage of the offer of federal funds and other favorable conditions for building at this time.

J.E. Wood, Davenport. Business Agent Tri-City Electrical Workers’ Union. Davenport Democrat, September 23, 1938

On the U.S. War Bond selling campaign in 1943:

Labor needs no prodding to do its full share in lending its earnings and savings to the government in this campaign.

Local unions were among the first of our community organizations to pledge their support when Secretary Morgenthau sounded the call for defense funds. We began buying War Bonds. Soon we acted individually and as unions to build the payroll savings army. Now we are ready for even greater service. Our money is in this fight.

There has never been the slightest friction between organized labor and employers on the question of war financing. We have worked together in closest harmony in setting up labor management committees to sign up workers for payroll savings even when we have had differences on occasion on other matters.

The Second War Loan drive becomes a first among our union duties starting today. Members of all our unions are either on the production front or on the battle lines. Many of our members have already felt the sting of enemy fire. We honor the service of union men as soldiers by lending our money to provide the weapons of war.

Labor is being called upon to turn out a record crop of fighting weapons. Labor’s equally important job is to lend every cent possible to the government to prosecute the war until the Axis is smashed.

We all know unions have disappered under Hitlerism. Only in a free world can men and women have the right to band together for self betterment. Starting today local workers who are on the payroll savings plans will reaffirm their answer to Hitlerism by participating in the Second War Loan campaign to the full extent of their abilities.

Every check I have made on the situation shows that we are not in a silk shirt spending spree mood. Our earnings are being put into necessary medical attention, essential home repairs and war bonds.

It is this sober realization of the facts in this war crisis that will influence our workers to tighten their belts and put every penny they can possible spare above the base cost of living into government securities.

While it is a nice feeling to know that these securities pay handsome interest and provice a nestegg for the future, I believe that the prime motive inpiring American workers to respond to the government’s War Loan appeals is patriotism. American workers know they are helping to bring victory nearer when they sign up in the April drive. They know money is a soldier, too. Workers in this community will do their duty.

J.E. Wood, secretary and treasurer of the Tri-City Federation of Labor. The Daily Times, April 12, 1943

On the proposed Davenport Municipal Airport in 1943:

The Daily Times, Friday, January 22, 1943.
The Daily Times, Thursday, April 6, 1950.

(posted by Cristina)

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Davenport in Iowa City and Des Moines

In order to answer questions about the history of Davenport and its people, our reference staff might call upon resources outside the RSSC Center’s own collections and those of other historical organizations in the immediate area.

The State Historical Society of Iowa, based in Des Moines, is one of the repositories to which we most often refer our researchers. Fortunately, the Society has described (and even made available) many of its collection materials online. You can use these tools to discover information about Davenport and Scott County history for yourself.

The Library/Research Center Catalog, listed under History > Research > Online Catalogs on the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs website (iowaculture.gov), is actually a search of the University of Iowa Libraries’ extensive InfoHawk information retrieval system automatically limited to materials held at the SHSI Research Centers in both Des Moines and Iowa City.

A keyword search for “davenport iowa” returns 53 items under the subject “Labor unions,” for example, a topic not as well-represented in the RSSC Center’s own collection.

If you go directly to the University of Iowa’s InfoHawk+ catalog (search.lib.uiowa.edu), you can retrieve many more references to sources on Davenport, including newspaper and journal articles, maps, images, dissertations, government documents, and even some online texts and data sets available through the University’s subscription databases (the general public can see items labeled “open access”). In addition to materials available in the two Historical Libraries, you will find those held by the Law Library, Special Collections, and the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Links to digital issues of The State Historical Society of Iowa’s serial publications The PalimpsestIowa Heritage Illustrated, and The Annals of Iowa can be found under History > Research > Publications. A keyword search of “davenport” in the Annals of Iowa returns articles like these:

Use the Museum Objects Catalog under History > Research > Online Catalogs (click on the “museum collection” link in the brown “Museum” box in the lower left corner) to find material culture items such as this cream pitcher featuring an image of Davenport’s city hall, or

products manufactured in Davenport in the 1920’s: a clothes washer from the Voss Washing Machine Company and

a table radio made by the Tri-City Radio and Electric Supply Company.

On the same page, in the lower right corner, there is a purple “Special Collections” search box. The Society is still adding records to this database, but for now, a search for “Davenport” returns images like this one from the Photograph Collections M2A at the Iowa City Research Center:

And newspaper clippings about Davenport soldiers in WWII:

The blue “Archives” search is still under construction, too, but here you will soon be able to retrieve references to state-produced documents about Davenport. The red “Library” search draws from entries in the Library/Research Center Catalog/InfoHawk+.

What else can you find out about Davenport (try Scott County, too) in the State Historical Society of Iowa catalogs and collection listings? Of course, we are always available here at the RSSC Center to help you navigate these search tools and get you to the local history information you need!

(posted by Katie)

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SPECIAL EVENT!! SPECIAL EVENT!! #Iowa175 Celebration!!

#Iowa175 Celebration at The Library | MAIN this Thursday, August 19th from 4:30-7:30 PM, kicking off the Alternating Currents weekend with a fun event of history, music, and culture celebrating the 175th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood! This free event features Charcuterie Boards designed by area shops showcasing their Iowa specialties for your sampling and purchasing pleasure. Joining us for the evening will be:

Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie
Cookies and Dreams
Fox and Honey
Chill Ice Cream and Eats
Chocolate Manor
MAD Bakery
Out on A Limb Pie Co.
Iron and Grain Coffee
HyVee of Bettendorf

Hy Vee will demonstrate how to create  Charcuterie Boards featuring Iowa specialties at 6 PM.  Music courtesy of QC Beats artists, Soultru and Poor Bill, can be enjoyed 4:30-6 PM.  Our terrific vendors, photo ops, book and historic displays featuring 175 years of Davenport and Iowa, and kids’ crafts make this a must-attend family event! And it is ALL FREE!

Image of a party hat for the event, orgami goldie, stickers, sample of a raft craft, and the event’s charcuterie board.

Register through Eventbrite at bit.ly/dpl-iowa175 or use the QR code:

Come to the event to take part in:



(posted by Karen)

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Ghost Towns of Scott County, Iowa: The town of Bethany

We must admit, our title may be a little bit misleading as the town of Bethany in Scott County, Iowa most likely should fall under the category of the town that never was. But the story of Bethany has inspired us to look into local ghost towns for future blogs.

Thomas McGovern platted the town of Bethany on February 5, 1855 in Scott County, Iowa land records. Located on the west side of Hickory Grove Road in what is now northwest Davenport, it contained five streets running east to west with each block having an alley. In total, there were fourteen lots in Bethany. The town was platted between Hickory Grove Road and the railroad tracks not far from the area known as Five Points. As for the name Bethany? The reason McGovern chose the name seems to have been lost not too long after the town was founded.

1857 Hogane & Lambach Map

By 1921, the town was surrounded by the city of Davenport as it expanded its city limits. Bethany had never been developed, no city government existed, and those in northwest Davenport claimed that the area rarely had more than one house on the property. Sometimes the resident population of Bethany was one or maybe a few more depending on the size of the family on the property at any given time.

Combined Atlases of Scott County, Iowa, 1894.

Even land records varied with how the name was recorded. Sometimes Town of Bethany was used while other times it was recorded as Bethany Addition as when Max A. Giersch and wife sold Mrs. Lizzie Jessen lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 in March 1915 for just over $5,000.

By 1921, Mrs. Jessen and real estate businessman Thomas Agar (who owned the rest of the town lots) had a wish to dissolve the town of Bethany. They petitioned the district court in August of that year to vacate the plat of the town and give Jessen and Agar title to the streets and alleys in addition to the lots they owned.

The story of Bethany spread across the state of Iowa via newspapers. People were fascinated by the story of the state’s smallest town that never really was a town. On September 19, 1921, the petition appeared in district court and was approved.

The land eventually was annexed into the City of Davenport and is today part of the Golden Gate Park Addition which was accepted by Davenport City Council in June 1929. The main road in the subdivision, besides Hickory Grove Road, is Frisco Road.

Plat Map of the City of Davenport, Iowa c. 1940s.

We hope to one day discover the meaning behind the name of Bethany. In the meantime, we will be searching out other ghost towns and lost cities of Scott County to share with you all.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 4, 1915. Pg. 12
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 14, 1921. Pg. 14
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 8, 1921. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, September 24, 1921. Pg. 7
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 25, 1921. Pg. 21
  • Plat Map of the City of Davenport, Iowa. c 1940s. Pg. 10
  • Combined Atlases of Scott County, Iowa, 1882, 1894, 1905, 1915.
  • James T. Hogane & H. Lambach Map, 1857.

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A Pitbull’s Pedigree

“Gosch’s White Pit Battler” The Daily Times, October 20, 1906

Inspired by “Mr. Worldwide” Pitbull’s performance this weekend at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair we set out to find other notable Quad-City “pit bull” terriers. We found a nice photo of a registered pup owned by William Henry Gosch in 1906.

First, a little bit about the owner:

William Henry Gosch was born on June 15, 1879 in Davenport to Henry and Anna (Waspi) Gosch. He was a private in Co. B of the 50th Iowa Infantry during the Spanish-American War. He worked in his father’s meat market at Third and Oak Streets. William married Kathryn Ann LaMar on January 7, 1903 in Davenport and Carolyn Kindle on February 3, 1915. He was the organizer of the Davenport Boat Club and was its first commodore in 1908. He was Alderman-at-Large from 1910 – 1917. He was employed at the Rock Island Arsenal starting in 1917 as a toolmaker, joined the file department in 1934, and finally as a guard. William H. Gosch died January 19, 1935 at his home 1615 Marquette Street.

Butch and his ancestors:

“Butch” was whelped on September 18, 1905 out of “Sadie Mac” by “Robinson’s Pat” in Topeka, Kansas by breeder James F. McCabe. Butch was registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book vol. 23 and assigned the number 96103. Other dogs in his pedigree were “General”, “Bob Tail Bob,” “Nell,” “Turk,” “Old Paddy,” and “Old Turk.”

Butch’s mom “Sadie Mac” was whelped June 9, 1902 out of “Spry Girl” by “Major” in Croton, Ohio by breeder H.R.P. Miller. Other dogs in her pedigree were “Lady Spry,” “Jack the Ripper,” “The Queen,” “Chicago Girl,” “Old Watch,” “Maud,” and “Miss Beauty.”

We made this pedigree chart with the information from the American Kennel Club Stuf Book Register, vols. 22 & 23, 1905-1906.


Butch’s great-grandpa “Bob Tail Bob” was kind of a big deal: Colby’s Bob Tail Bob

(posted by Cristina)

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