In advance of Poinsettia Day next week (December 12th), we thought we would share some Poinsettia exhibit pictures from the old Conservatory at Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport.
The Conservatory featured in these images was built in 1897 and torn down in 1954 due to age and structural issues. The current Conservatory at Vander Veer opened in November 1955.
The first winter flower exhibit was in 1901 after an expansion to the Conservatory allowed for more display room. A Chrysanthemum exhibit opened in November and while a Cyclamen exhibit was planned for December according to The Davenport Democrat, November 12, 1901, on page 1.
Poinsettias did not become the focus of the December exhibit until 1934 when over 500 Poinsettia were displayed in the Conservatory for the first time according to The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 19, 1934, on page 4. Previously the largest number had been 75 Poinsettia displayed in 1933 while other winter flowers, such as Cyclamen, Persian violets, and begonias, were the main exhibit as in years past.
The ability to increase the number of Poinsettia was based on continued improvements to the greenhouses at Vander Veer including better heating and lighting to help the fragile plants thrive. And they certainly did thrive!
We hope you enjoy taking a look back at these amazing exhibits.
Our first image is a hand-painted/retouched photograph in the old Vander Veer Conservatory showing red, white, and pink Poinsettia.
A water wheel was a central part of the old Conservatory’s exhibits based on photographs in our collection. One can only imagine the number of Poinsettia and other flowers in this Conservatory.
The photo below is similar to the image above, but this display included a small bridge. Note the Santa image along with the Christmas lights near the glass roof. Christmas lights were also put up outside of the Conservatory.
A close up of the poinsettia and greens used in the display. The small bridge in the left of the photo connects it to image 011015.
Another close-up image of the different flowers and greens used to create the displays.
If you enjoyed this glimpse into the past we have wonderful news. Vander Veer Conservatory and Park currently has their magical winter display open to the public.
This festive event is still going strong over one hundred years later with even more beautiful plants and amazing lights to thrill anyone on these dark, cold winter nights.
The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center celebrates 20 years since its dedication on November 26, 1999. It was a culmination of years of effort and dedication come to fruition, ensuring Loren Ted and Alice (Richardson) Sloane’s dream of a “premiere genealogy and local history collection” came true. Partnering with the Davenport Public Library’s Special Collections Center, in existence since 1982, the Sloane’s generously donated their research collection, time, and financial resources to create the beautiful space located in the lower level of the Library now known as the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.
Between the extensive Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society and Library acquisitions, a larger staff was required, jumping from three individuals to five. A half-time Archivist devoted to the City of Davenport’s records also came aboard a few years later. Over the years, the Center’s staffing changed as people left to pursue other opportunities and new people were hired to support the Center’s mission.
Twenty years of growth has occurred thanks to generous donors, the establishment of an endowment fund, a foundation, a number of grants, and a lot of hardworking volunteers and staff. One foundation bolstering our mission is the Lorraine Duncan Foundation which was established to support the preservation of and access to local historic records.
Today the Center can proudly boast of helping researchers from all over the world, assisting the City of Davenport personnel, and providing reference and resource material to Quad Citizens of all ages as they explore the wide variety of primary and secondary sources available within the Center’s always expanding collection.
In addition, programming and outreach activities provided the community an opportunity to learn about the accomplishments and services of the Center and what it has in its collections. One notable community event was the first Quad Cities Archives Crawl that promoted local history and cultural organizations. The activities, the people, and space all experienced alterations and reconfigurations to better serve the public.
On November 18, 2019, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a delightful open house showcasing remarks from the Library Board of Trustees President, the Library Director, the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society President, and a recitation of “The Tally Ho Coach!” by Dale Haake, the current Poet Laureate of the Quad Cities. We displayed hands-on exhibits on local history, genealogy and City Archives collections as well as examples of how we preserve and conserve materials, and materials belonging to the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society held at the Special Collections Center.
We featured the portrait restoration of Anna Price Dillon completed by Audrey Brown, an art conservator. Next to this excellent restoration, we highlighted a future project of restoring Mrs. Dillon’s husband, Judge John Dillon. The Dillons were a local family were members of many organizations in the city. After the restoration is completed both portraits will be hung in the Special Collections Center.
Additionally, we have seen a number of other large scale conservation projects completed at the Center. The conservation of the 1857 Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs, Scott County Iowa, created by James T. Hogane and H. Lambach, was completed in July 2012 as well as the stabilization and conservation of the historical Donatello Frieze donated to the Carnegie Library.
The Center received an impromptu reconfiguration which allowed for more effective use of the space for using our archives and manuscript collections and the chance to highlight some lesser known collections.
We engaged the community with numerous programs, exhibits, and social media posts. We had our first ever summer genealogy night which was a great success. We had local historians speak on Colonel Davenport and Charles A. Ficke, we learned how to create beautiful book arts, and we visited historical and cultural organizations. We had several exhibits that expanded our knowledge on the history of the book, the history of the local chapter of the NAACP, space exploration, and the history of Cook’s Point.
As we reflect on the years past, we are reminded that a new year is awaiting us full of possibilities. We are working toward providing more tools and opportunities to access and learn about the materials we collect and preserve that document our community.
Here are some photos from Celebration of the Center: 20th Anniversary Open House of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.
(posted by the Staff of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center)
The following publications, many of which are available at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, represent differing views of the native peoples who inhabited this region in the early 19th century. With the exception of Black Hawk’s Autobiography (originally published in 1833), all were written from an outside perspective. They are listed according to original publication date:
Blair, Emma Helen, ed. The Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Region of the Great Lakes as Described by … Morrell Marston, American Army officer; and Thomas Forsyth, United States agent at Fort Armstrong … Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1911. SC 970.1 BLA
Please type the words Turkey Notes into the search bar on the right to find past Turkey note blogs.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching so we thought we would try to get in the holiday mood this week. For those individuals with a Davenport connection that may mean thinking about your annual Turkey Notes.
For those new to Davenport, or this blog, a Turkey Note is a three-or-four line poem where the first three lines start with the word “Turkey”. Traditionally, these little poems are handwritten and then rolled in tissue paper or colored paper that extends past the paper the poem is written on. The ends of the rolled Turkey Note are tied with yarn or ribbon. The edges of the tube are then frayed to create a festive atmosphere.
On Thanksgiving Day, the notes are frequently handed out before or during a meal.
When asked by those uninitiated to the tradition for an example, most Turkey Note writers will respond with a well-loved traditional Turkey Note:
Turkey Red, Turkey Blue, Turkey says, “I love you!”
Turkey Note traditionalists say that the second word in the first-and-second lines should be colors, but many Davenporters do not follow that theory:
Turkey Juicy, Turkey Dry, Turkey Says, “Please pass the pie!”
What might you write a Turkey Note about? Some might follow the positive Turkey Note approach and spread compliments and positive thoughts. Others tease about sports rivalries or long-standing family jokes. We’ve even heard rumors of Turkey Notes being used to ask a person out on a date or to propose to them. Turkey Note ideas are endless.
Where did this long standing tradition come from? The truth is no one remembers. We do know that its unique origins come from Davenport and Scott County, Iowa.
We located a two newspaper articles that help us narrow down the beginning of this festive tradition. The Davenport Democrat and Leader reporter Bob Feeney mentioned memories of the Turkey Note tradition from his childhood on page 25 of the November 23, 1939 edition. Born in 1901, this helps us learn the Turkey Note tradition would have existed in the early 1900’s. Mr. Feeney remembered Thanksgiving parties in school where Turkey Notes were passed out into decorated boxes much like Valentine cards in February.
In The Daily Times on November 22, 1940 (page 3), reporter Fred Bills asked Mrs. Harry Downer for memories of Turkey Notes. Born in 1875, the former Alice Rinaldo, had been educated in Davenport schools. She had no memories of Turkey Notes before she moved from the area in 1890, but when she moved back in 1900 she was introduced to the little poems.
The same Daily Times article also asked Miss Anna Mittelbuscher who taught in Davenport schools for 51 years before retiring in 1938. Miss Mittelbuscher did not know who invented the Turkey notes, but supported the idea it was a local school teacher who created them in a classroom.
Invented sometime between 1890 and 1900, these little poems soon became the center of Thanksgiving parties in the classroom and became a tradition on Thanksgiving Day in the children’s homes.
And finally, in a tradition of our own, a few Turkey Notes from our Davenport Public Library staff.
Turkey Baked, Turkey Ground, Turkey’s good all year round.
Turkey Up, Turkey Down, Turkey’s heading out of town!
The observance of Armistice Day began officially on May 13, 1938, through an act of legislation. The holiday was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day'” (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a). It was to be celebrated on November 11th in honor of the ending of World War I by the signing of the armistice, or a temporary cessation of hostilities, that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Under the 83rd Congress on June 1, 1954, Public Law 380 was passed changing the name of this holiday to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars. This change was in part due to the United States having been through two more wars, World War II and the Korean War.
This year to celebrate the service of veterans, we have selected a collection of glass negative portraiture of Lieutenant Edward Rawson Guyer from our Hostetler Studio Collection. The glass negatives were created at the photography studio of J. B. Hostetler which was located on Brady Street.
Edward R. Guyer was born to Edward Hanes and Constance Kimball Guyer on March 21, 1891, in Rock Island, Illinois. He attended Rock Island Public Schools and Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithica, New York in 1915 with a mechanical engineering degree. During three of his college years, he played on Cornell’s football team. In his senior year, the team won the eastern collegiate championship.
Edward, or “Ted”, continued to participate in team athletics after he returned home. He played for the Rock Island Independents football team which was in its “formative years.” He was well known for his prowess on the football field, but he hung up his helmet at the end of the 1916 season.
He began his career as an apprentice at a refinery plant in York, Pennsylvania. He progressed in his career by taking positions at Deere & Company and the Moline Plow Company as an assistant mechanical engineer. Before the United States entry into World War I, he was working on building projects on the Rock Island Arsenal.
He was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and then transferred to the French arsenals. The newspaper articles display the glimpses of news families would receive about the young men and women serving during World War I.
After his return, Edward married Marjorie Fish of Minnesota. The couple had three children, one son and two daughters Edward R Guyer, Jr. born December 12, 1918 in Minnesota passed away at the age of 6 due to bronchial pneumonia on December 9, 1925. Their daughters, Marjorie Rawson and Eden Constance, or “Edwine,” were born after the death of their son.
He became the superintendent of the Rock Island Stove Company. In 1927, he moved on to join the Cribben and Sexton Company in Chicago as their first vice president and director. He was an active member and leader in associations relating to this field.
Edward’s life was cut short by a tragic fell on a marble staircase when leaving a meeting at 10:30 in the evening with friends and business associates. “He pitched head first down five stairsteps and incurred a fracture of the skull” from which he never gained consciousness.
He was a well-respected man who still had close ties to their friends from and to the community of Rock Island.
To most residents in the apartment above the J. M. Glaspell Grocery
Store at 215 East 3rd Street life may have seemed happy and content.
Harry C. Watt was the head of that household. At age 31
years, Harry was a respected Civil War veteran and local cigar manufacturer. He
lived with his wife of seven years, Mary Ann age 24, and five-year-old daughter
Mary Ann’s younger sisters also lived with the Watt family. Louisa Filter, age 20, was a clerk in Petersen & Sons’ Dry Goods store. Amelia Filter, age 16, helped her oldest sister keep house.
An assistant in Harry’s cigar manufacturing business, John Schoening, also resided with them.
Mr. Watt had joined the 25th Regiment Iowa Infantry, Company G in 1862 at the age of 16 as a drummer boy. He remained in the unit through 1865. After the war, he moved to Davenport and became a respected cigar manufacturer and salesman. By 1879, he not only had his own small store, but also traveled around as a cigar salesman. He belonged to the Davenport Lodge 7 of Civil War Veterans and the International Order of Odd Fellows. Harry was, by all accounts, an upstanding citizen of Davenport.
Mary Ann, Louisa, and Amelia Filter were from Maquoketa, Jackson County, Iowa. Their father, Richard, still lived in Maquoketa with their stepmother and half-siblings. Their mother Elizabeth passing away in 1861. All three women were admired for their respectable character and ladylike demeanor.
As with most families, the Watts’ had had their share of sadness as well. In April 1876, Harry and Mary Ann’s three-day old son died. And in October 1878, near tragedy almost befell the family when Harry, who was cleaning his pistol in the kitchen in preparation for a sales trip, accidentally shot Mary Ann in the chest.
Doctors were called and they tried to remove the bullet, but were unable to find it. Though expected to die, Mary Ann went on to make a full recovery; even with the bullet still lodged within her chest.
In January 1879, Henry opened a new cigar business at 103 West Second Street. The local newspaper had kind words at its opening.
It was a typical evening when on April 4, 1879 the Watt and Filter family entertained in their apartment. Everything we know of the events of that evening and after comes from newspaper articles and the Coroner’s Inquest.
Mr. James Rhoades had been visiting the family that April evening. A friend of Harry’s, they had discussed upcoming elections and news events. Mary Ann, Louisa, and Amelia were all present that night as well. Mr. Rhoades reported to the inquest that everyone seemed in a fine mood when he left about 11:15 p.m.
After the departure of Mr. Rhoades, Harry had gone to stand outside. Being a cold, spring night Mary Ann called him to come in. When he delayed, Louisa volunteered to go get him. The two soon returned upstairs. Mary Ann scolded Harry for standing outside so long in the cold. He replied that all was well and he was only teasing she and Louisa by staying outside.
Harry and Mary Ann retired to their bedroom while Louisa went to the room she shared with Amelia.
Amelia changed quickly and got into bed as Louisa stood in front of the dresser. Amelia asked her sister if she was not coming to bed as well. Louisa responded that she would be there when she was ready. Amelia saw her sister take a drink from a glass and soon after Louisa collapsed on the floor.
Rushing to her sister, Amelia called for Mary Ann to come quickly as Amelia feared Louisa was dying.
Mary Ann ran from her bedroom to her sisters’ room. She found Amelia trying to wake Louisa who was breathing in a shallow manner and lying still. In a panic, Mary Ann called for Harry. He quickly entered the bedroom and leaned over Louisa. He turned, left the room, and shouted for his assistant John Schoening to go fetch a doctor. John quickly left the apartment and ran for Dr. W. D. Middleton.
Mary Ann left Amelia cradling their sister and returned to
her room for camphor*. When she entered her bedroom, Mary Ann found Harry
laying still upon the floor.
John Schoening and Dr. Middleton arrived soon after to find Amelia
cradling Louisa on the floor in their room as Mary Ann tried to awaken Harry on
the floor in their bedroom.
At first, no one could figure out what had caused two healthy adults to collapse so quickly. It wasn’t until Mary Ann found a small bottle near Harry that the truth became known. He had ingested poison as had Louisa.
Quickly, the apartment was filled with neighbors responding to the horrified screams of Amelia and Mary Ann. Two new doctors, Dr. Bawden and Dr. French, arrived as well.
Within minutes of the doctors’ arrivals, Harry Watt died. Louisa lingered a little longer before dying. Neither regained consciousness before passing.
The next morning, an investigation into the deaths of Harry Watt and Louisa Filter formally commenced. Perhaps The Davenport Democrat of April 5, 1879 describes the situation best:
Mary Ann was given the suicide note found on the body of Harry Watt. Once it was read, Mary Ann refused to allow an autopsy of either body. The inquest took place on April 5th. Mary Ann, Amelia, John Schoening, James Rhoades, the doctors, and neighbors were all called to testify.
Mrs. Watt refused to allow the suicide note to be made public and it was not copied into the inquest notes. It was said, besides the Coroner, that only two other people were shown the note and they were sworn to silence by Mary Ann Watt.
We searched the Coroner’s Inquest on microfilm at
Richardson-Sloane Special Collections and did find the inquest of Harry Watt,
but no written report on the inquest of Louisa Filter.
The inquest we did find brought to light that Harry Watt had purchased prussic acid (known also as hydrogen cyanide) along with ground cinnamon and hops from druggist Charles Harrison a week before the suicides. Mr. Harrison had warned Mr. Watt about the dangers of the prussic acid. Harry had responded that he was going to be very careful and he had read of a way to treat tobacco leaves with the ingredients to produce different colors on the leaves.
Throughout the inquest, those interviewed stated they never saw anything but familial kindness between the two. Harry was described as a kind husband and father who was a hard worker. Louisa, as a well-respected and congenial young lady who worked hard in her job and was a devoted sister. It wasn’t until the funeral that neighbors began to whisper that they had seen the pair in dark alleys or shadows talking in serious tones in recent weeks.
Richard Filter was summoned to Davenport from Maquoketa, but he did not take Louisa’s body back with him. Instead, Mary Ann Watt purchased half a lot at Oakdale Cemetery for her husband and sister to be buried. Newspapers reported on the rumor that Louisa was pregnant when she died and the assumption was Harry Watt was the father.
On April 6th, the funeral was held. Newspapers reported that three to four hundred persons stood on the street outside the building the Watt family lived in to observe the funeral; which was held in the apartment inside.
Many friends and strangers followed the burial procession to the cemetery. Harry Watt’s coffin was escorted by members of the International Order of Odd Fellows while Louisa Filter’s coffin was escorted by clerks from the Petersen & Sons’ Dry Goods Store.
The procession included the Great Western Band playing dirges. A few days before his death, Harry, a musician, had made a pact with a friend that when the first friend died, the other person would play at his funeral. His friend, being a member of the Great Western Band, fulfilled the promise by bringing the entire band to play the funeral.
At Oakdale Cemetery, Mary Ann Watt was reported to have fainted as her husband and sister were lowered into their graves on opposite ends of the half lot she had purchased for them.
One newspaper reporter asked a family member if they didn’t think releasing the suicide note might help end the gossip that had taken hold in Davenport relating to the joint deaths.
The family member responded, according to the newspaper, that the note was worse than anyone could imagine and it would never be talked of again.
That statement leaves a person to wonder about the accidental shooting in October 1878. Could it possibly have not been an accident after all? Without knowing when the romance between Harry and Louisa began it remains a mystery.
Eventually, the gossip died away. Mary Ann Watt never remarried. She raised her daughter and when she was older she moved in with Edna’s family.
Mary Ann Watt died at age 84 on November 15, 1938 in Davenport. Her obituary celebrated the well-respected long-time Davenport citizen who had been married to a Civil War veteran. Harry, the newspapers’ stated, had preceded her in death many years before. No mention of how he died or of Louisa.
Mary Ann was buried in Oakdale cemetery. She was placed between her sister and husband.
We are left to wonder if the bullet lodged in her chest had ever been removed and was it really an accident that had placed it there on that long-ago October day.
(posted by Amy D.)
*Mary Ann may have sought Camphor to use as a smelling salt due to its strong odor.
Microfilm: 977.769 Scott County, Iowa Clerk of Courts Coroner’s Reports – Unknown Man – Wichmann, Johannis
Institutions including the St. Ambrose University Archives, Palmer College of Chiropractic, the Putnam Museum and Science Center, the Colonel Davenport Historical Foundation, the Rock Island Arsenal Historical Society, the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center (Augustana College), the Butterworth Center and Deer-Wiman House, and more will be showcasing their collections and sharing stories of life in the region in years past. Enjoy talks on Bix Beiderbecke, the German heritage of the Quad Cities, and the challenges of managing records of the U.S. Army.
Visitors can even enter to win historical door prizes! See you there!
We came across an interesting query from The Daily Times this week.
We aren’t sure if this falls into the category of ghost hunting. Unfortunately, we do not know if the Davenport reader received any replies. So far no update to this request has been found. We won’t give up the hunt on our end to find out if the gentleman ever rented or purchased a local haunted house.
We are lucky to have a collection of items relating to local Hispanic history currently on loan and on display at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. The majority of the collection relates to the Cook’s Point neighborhood formerly located in Davenport’s west end. Items include newspaper clippings, a copy fo a report on housing and sanitary conditions at Cook’s Point, and a t-shirt worn and Cook’s Point reunions.
A straw hat, a sock, and a tin cup on the display help tell the history of workers of the onion fields in Bettendorf in the 1960s.
One of the display cases features a copy of a recipe published in the St. Alphonsus Chuch Cookbook in 1980, a medal from the Senior Olympics, a mug from LULAC Council #10, and newspaper clippings relating to the Terronez family.
Stop by to see this exhibit in person before Saturday, October 19th.
Scott County Farmer’s Institute was organized on February 13, 1896, in Eldridge, Iowa by a group of local men interested in supporting and disseminating “practical and Scientific knowledge pretaining [sic] to agriculture in all its various branches” to farmers in Scott County. The Institute was open to any farmer living in Scott County. In keeping with their constitution, the Institute planned at least one two-day institute each year where new farming knowledge and techniques were disseminated in the first months of the year, plus an annual meeting held on the first Saturday of October in Eldridge.
Farmer’s Institutes sprouted up across the agricultural belt to advocate, educate, and guide the efforts of the farmers.
We received this collection of Scott County Farmer’s Institute materials from the Scott County Library System. The collection dates from 1896-1957. It features meeting minutes, programs from their annual meetings, and accounting ledgers. We also have a few newspaper articles about their annual institute and other activities of the group. These materials demonstrate the importance of agricultural work in Scott County.
Throughout the years, the Institute offered many different opportunities to all Scott County residents who were interested in agriculture and its related branches. The topics consisted of dairy farming, stock farming, horses, poultry raising, and fruit and vegetable growing. But as the Institute progressed, the topics evolved to include discussing how to improve country schools and bee husbandry. Women and children were encouraged to take part in the educational and festivities at the institute and throughout the year. Women participated in contests in the culinary arts highlighting butter, bread, and cakes as well as crafts and fine arts such as embroidery and sewing. Children across the county participated in a spelling contest after being selected from the trials that were held in every township.
After many years of successful meetings and institutes, the Scott County Farmer’s Institute decided to dissolve in 1954. The Farmer’s Institute helped to shape the industry of agriculture, organizations like 4-H, and our state and county fairs. The legacy of this organization can be explored through these volumes.