We’re opening the box of our recent donation of the Davenport Gyro Club Records. We received this collection this past summer. It contains meeting minutes, membership records, publications, and photographs of its membership and activities. This collection helps us to preserve the history of this local organization that has a very interesting history. One may see what else this collections has by visiting its finding aid in our archival materials catalog: 2023-37: Davenport Gyro Club Records.
The idea for the Davenport Gyro Club was born during World War I during a lecture about the properties of the gyroscope attended by E.T. Heald, general secretary of the Davenport YMCA. Heald was so impressed with the qualities of the gyroscope that he suggested it as the organization name for a group that started with 25 young men, envisioned as a junior Rotary Club with the premise summed up in the word “friendship.” The name Gyro Club was adopted. The organization first was going to limit its membership to 50-75 people, but they had to abandon that idea because they become a popular group who had regular meetings and joined local sports competitions. By September of 1920 the roster was up to 100 names.
The Davenport Gyro Club’s charter members from January 15, 1921 number around 83 individuals!
Unknown to them, other Gyro Clubs existed. In the fall of 1920 and winter of 1921, the Gyro Club of Davenport was contacted by the international organization to either change their name or join the larger organization. They met with the Gyro Club members in Chicago to learn more about the other organization which first formed in Ohio. On April 4, 1921, the Davenporters became the 11th club in Gyro International.
The Davenport Gyro Club was an active organization from its founding. Speakers appearing before them were prominent men of the day. It originally had a glee club and minstrel troupe that toured the county as was much in demand. Members participated in district and international conventions, several of which were held in Davenport. The club’s Twelfth Night celebrations attracted thousands to the Davenport levee to watch the burning of Christmas trees. Numerous dinners and dances were held.
An auxiliary group composed of wives of members, the Gyrettes, was also formed. Much of the organizations history is from the 1971 50th anniversary pamphlet.
Below is a sampling of the collections contents including photographs from a convention, meeting minutes spanning from the 1930s to the 2000s, and publications including The Gyroscope, the international organization’s magazine, and membership directories.
The Gyro Club International is still an active organization who meets monthly. Davenport’s Gyro Club is in District II. Below are views of the Gyro Club International’s websites.
Come down to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to open these boxes for your self!
Fall in the Quad Cities brings the return of many well-loved things. Beautiful fall leaves along the Mississippi River, pumpkin patches and apple orchards, and Friday night football games.
Many of our local high schools have mascots who attend games and events. We thought we would explore some of the earlier versions of these mascots. Before the 1960s, it was common for local high schools to be known by their school colors or nicknames in newspaper articles. It wasn’t until the 1960s that mascots began to appear at pep rallies and games to help create a more festive atmosphere among the student sections. Many of the early mascot costumes were made at home or in school.
High schools in Davenport, Iowa have existed since 1861. The high school building at 1120 Main Street opened in 1907 as Davenport High School and served Davenport and other students throughout Scott County. Originally, the school nicknames included Red and Blue (the school colors), the Blues, the Hill Toppers (as the school was at the top of a hill), and the Moon Men in reference to boys basketball coach, Paul Moon.
In 1935, the Davenport High School Blue Devils came into creation through the efforts of Coach Paul Moon and students Bill Rivikin and Lenvil Simmons. It wasn’t until 1940 that the students were nicknamed the Imps (for small mischievous devils). With the opening of Davenport West High School in 1960, Davenport High School was renamed Davenport Central High School. The Blue Devil mascot and the nickname the Imps continued until the late 1960s when the nickname the Imps disappeared and the Blue Devil became the only mascot.
Davenport West High School opened in 1960. The students chose the colors red and white with a falcon mascot to represent the new school. A naming contest was held with Freddy, Fenwick, and Ferdy the top names suggested by students. Freddie with an -ie on the end won out.
Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa opened in August 1951. The students chose black and gold as their school colors along with a bulldog for the mascot. The first image of a mascot we found was from 1960, and it was more adorable than fierce, in our opinion.
Assumption High School in Davenport is a private Catholic school that opened in August 1958. Originally a co-institutional school before becoming co-educational in 1970. Scarlet red, black, and white were chosen as their school colors along with the knights as their mascot and nickname. The school’s first living person Knight appeared in 1970 during football games.
North Scott High School in Eldridge, Iowa, opened on September 8, 1958. The school chose a Lancer as their mascot and scarlet and silver as the school colors. Now known as the Lancers, the school’s first mascot was not a person in a costume, but a papier-mache six-foot replica of a lancer built in 1968 by student Debbie Reid.
Our final school for this blog shows how much mascot costumes have changed over the years. Davenport North High School opened in August 1985 with the school colors of blue and gold. The wildcat was the mascot and nickname chosen for the school. When the wildcat was introduced at the football games in 1985, it looked very different from the original Freddie the Falcon or the Bettendorf Bulldog from the 1960s.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at our local mascots. We sadly could not find a picture of an early version of the Pleasant Valley High School (which opened in 1961) Spartan mascot to add to this blog. We will be on the lookout though!
The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center is grateful to Leonard Lopez of Moline, Illinois, for donating a set of photographs that document his family’s experiences harvesting onions and other produce for farmers in Pleasant Valley, Iowa.
In fact, we were so fascinated by the stories behind the photographs that we asked him to share them in a public presentation! Please join us this coming Monday evening at 6:00PM in Meeting Room B of The Library| Main Street for “Farm Labor in Pleasant Valley, 1940s-1960s.” The program will also be available via Zoom.
We’ll be showing images like the ones below from the Lopez Photograph Collection (Accession #2023-35), plus others from the Bettendorf Family Museum (by Russell M. Rice), the Schutter family of Pleasant Valley, and the local newspapers. All of these Mr. Lopez has worked hard to locate, identify, and explain.
He has also found other resources for us: more people with memories of working the Pleasant Valley harvests. Mr. José Rafael (“Joe” or “Ralph”) Ramos has graciously agreed to share his experiences in person at the presentation. We’ll include details from interviews with others, too.
Did you top onions or pick tomatoes in Pleasant Valley? Did your family farm there? We’d love to hear from you! Join the discussion on Monday night or contact the Special Collections department of the Davenport Public Library.
Musical collections within the scope of a special collections department may sometimes seem like an afterthought or materials to round out a collection. In Davenport and the Quad Cities region, music was integral to many communities settling in this area. For example, Germans from the Schelwig-Holstein region gathered together to listen and play music in their Turner Halls. As the cities grew, the development of concert halls, theatres, and other performance venues were built. Therefore establishing a thriving community that supported the arts that continues into the present day.
The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center collects books, archival materials, photographs, and more pertaining to Davenport, Scott County, and Quad Cities musical history. In the collections, we have the programs from the Tri-City Symphony Orchestra (now the Quad City Symphony Orchestra), images and posters of musicians and musical acts from and visiting the Quad Cities, and audiovisual materials documenting artists like Bix Beiderbecke to recording studios such as FredLo Recording Studios.
Our musical collections are being added to through collection development efforts such as donations and other means of acquisition. Below are an assortment of images of materials from our collections.
The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center not only preserves materials by collecting them, but we also make them accessible through descriptions in our various catalogs, research for various sites such as our blogs and research guides, and programs for the public.
In the Fall of 2022, Harrison Phillis interned with the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. He is pursuing a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned a history degree from Augustana College. One of his areas of interest was music history. This also complemented his talents as a musician.
As part of his internship, we wanted to provide him the experience of educating through programming. This seemed the perfect opportunity for him to use his research skills to research our collections as well as other local music collections. He is currently working on creating his presentation which he will share on Monday, September 25th at 6:30 PM in the Meeting Room B at the Davenport Public Library | Main.
In preparation for his program, we interviewed him about his internship experience and this project.
Please share about your experiences in Special Collections? What were some of the projects you worked on?
A few of the projects I worked on as an intern at RSSC included assisting with reference requests and desk service as well as digitizing a collection of photos for the Davenport Museum of Art and creating the metadata for them to be available via the CONTENTdm digital collection. I also worked with the Special Collections Librarian, Katie Reinhardt, to gain some hands-on experience with cataloging books, as well as attempting to identify photograph subjects from the Davenport Daily Democrat newspaper’s collection of published and unpublished photographs.
Tell us how you became interested in music and music history. Do you sing or play any musical instruments?
I have been interested in music and history basically all of my life. My love of jazz music started by seeing the Peanuts movies as a child with their iconic soundtracks composed by Vince Guaraldi. My love of history began with a fascination with ancient cultures from various parts of the globe. This was continued during my time as a history major at Augustana where I worked with the history and historiography of the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes of this area. In college, I was also able to pursue my love of jazz by playing drum set in the Augustana College Big Band, as well as the Jazz Combo ensemble all four years of my undergraduate program. I also have been playing piano for many years, although the drums are now my primary instrument.
What made you decide to develop a program about researching local music and musicians?
I wanted to put this program together because I feel that history is made more real for people when they can find ways to connect with the people, places, and events that cultural heritage institutions aim to document. I know from my experience of participating in musical ensembles in school, as well as performing local gigs for fun with my friends that the QC has a very rich musical and artistic culture. I know from anecdotal experience that the QC is one of the best-kept secrets of the Midwest as a place for touring bands of all levels to stop by and play. I wanted to seek out the musical history of this community where I’ve lived my whole life to see what stories are lurking in the archives, and hopefully share my findings with members of the same community.
As a teaser for our readers, what is one interesting story or resource you have discovered while researching local music?
One of the interesting musicians I’ve found while conducting research is drummer Jack Willett who performed with Carlisle Evans and Tony Catalano’s band “Tony & Evans Capital Jazz Band.” Willett continued to be a local band leader over the years, and I also found a few articles discussing Willett’s model circus. Willett spent a great deal of time building a 5-foot diameter big top tent, which reportedly took up and entire room in his home. He would bring the model out to be shown to the public whenever he had the opportunity, complete with painted models of human and animal performers. Jack Willett’s life and work resonated with me because, in my experience, many artists or musicians have multiple avenues of expression, sometimes seemingly unrelated to one another.
I am excited to give this presentation to anyone interested and to share other stories about musicians in the Quad Cities.
Event description: Do you have a family member or ancestor who was a musician? Are you curious to learn more about their involvement in Quad Cities bands or ensembles? Special Collections intern Harrison Phillis will give a presentation featuring a brief history of music in the Quad Cities area as well as the available resources related to local music history and how to utilize them effectively.
This program is scheduled to be held in person and virtually. This program is suitable for both teens and adults.
In celebration of Labor Day 2023, we are posting pictures of the Turnbull Ice Cream Cone Company which operated in Davenport for a short time in the 1920s and 1930s.
Francis W. Turnbull opened the factory in early January 1925. Mr. Turnbull had come from Chattanooga, Tennessee where he learned the ice cream cone-making trade from his father, Werd W. Turnbull. W. W. Turnbull started his ice cream cone factory in 1907 and invented the machines to create these delicious treats he sold throughout the southern part of the United States.
His father encouraged Francis Turnbull to start his own independent ice cream cone factory that was separate from his father’s business. The same year the younger Mr. Turnbull opened his factory in Davenport, his father sold his company to the National Biscuit Company and included all his patents and equipment. There was an agreement that W. W. Turnbull would not operate an ice cream cone factory for seven years so as not to compete with the National Biscuit Company. By starting his own factory, Francis Turnbull was not part of the sale or agreement to stop working in the ice cream cone field.
The Turnbull Ice Cream Cone Company opened at 2116-2118 E. 11th Street in Davenport and moved about 1928 to 1302-1304 W. 4th Street where the factory pictures were taken.
When he opened, Francis Turnbull estimated he would produce about 12 million ice cream cones in his factory to be distributed throughout the Midwest. He planned to operate 24 hours a day for the first year with six employees.
The ice cream cone factory was successful so it may have come as a surprise in January 1932 when newspaper notices appeared listing the factory equipment up for a Sheriff’s sale that was to be held on February 8, 1932.
The seven-year agreement W. W. Turnbull had made with the National Biscuit Company to not compete had come to an end by 1932. Francis left Davenport and his factory behind to rejoin his father in creating a new Turnbull Cone Baking Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With newly designed equipment, the father and son expanded not only throughout the United States but internationally as well.
The Turnbull Cone Baking Company was sold by the fourth generation of the Turnbull family in 2002 and became part of the Bake-Line Group LLC (formerly Atlantic Baking Company). When it was sold, the company was one of the top four producers of ice cream cones in the United States.
In his later years, Francis Turnbull moved to Louisiana where he opened the Turnbull Bakeries in New Orleans that are still in operation. In 1957, Mr. Turnbull created the first Melba Toast machine which the business is still associated with today. Francis W. Turnbull died in November 1981.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 9th, when the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society (SCIGS) and the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center present a talk by Ricki King on “Iowa’s Black Pioneers.”
King, a credentialed genealogist and professional researcher specializing in African Americans in Iowa and the Midwest, will introduce us to some of the state’s earliest Black arrivals. No doubt these will include individuals she has identified uncovering Underground Railroad freedom seekers connected with the Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines and through her work with the City of Dubuque’s Black Heritage Survey.
Find out more about Ricki King’s dedication to Iowa’s Black history by visiting her website, Roots to Branches Genealogy. We have included her page as a resource in our Genealogy Research guide under the “African American Genealogical Research” tab. Here you will find bibliographies, indexes, record collections, and links to online resources, genealogical societies, and researchers.
And you can learn more about Davenport’s many Black pioneers, such as General Houston, Albert Nuckols, Cecile Cooper, Milton Howard, Charles Toney, and others through the blog posts and other resources collected in our African American History in the Quad Cities research guide.
We hope to see you at SCIGS’s Ricki King event or anytime in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at The Library | Main!
In our collections, we preserve the past for present and future users. In some cases, when we receive donations, our donors are unable to share information pertinent to identifying and describing the materials. Thus our efforts to share our history are sometimes has gaps and need more research.
With some material formats like photographs, we are able to identify basic information such as general age of the individual, the time period the photograph was taken by clothing and hair styles, and how the individuals are positioned. This information is vital when sharing information about photographs, but names are able to connect the past to the present in a more meaningful way.
As we make materials like these in our collections available, we call upon our community to solve mysteries.
One such mystery is of fourteen small oval images of different people set in definite rows in this unusual image. There are faint lines which seem to connect some of the photographs. The attire and hairstyles worn in these images appears to be much earlier than 1900. The original negative envelope is labeled Ettie Hirsch, but no definitive information was found on the name Ettie Hirsch nor was any connection to the fourteen images established.
Not only do we encourage you to join the Davenport Public Library’s “QCMade” events for a behind-the-scenes look at the places where local goods are created in present-day Davenport and surroundings, but also to visit us at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center (and watch this blog) to learn about products manufactured here in the past.
Did you know that the F. J. Stahmer Shoe Company was the largest producer of wooden-soled shoes in the country, possibly the world, in the 1920s? The factory at 2351 Boies Avenue is shown in these three images from RSSCC Collection #2015-34:
By 1928, a shop of 20 workers made 360 pairs of shoes per day.  The sole and heel sections of the shoes, seen stacked above, were cut as one by machine from thick pieces of southern soft maple. They were specially designed for workers in “…packing houses, candy and ice cream factories, soft drink breweries, canneries and farms,” providing protection from the heat, cold, wet, and even acid. 
Frank J. Stahmer was involved in the shoe business as early as 1899, when he and Julius Bremer bought out John C. Stahmer & Brothers (no relation determined) at 3rd and Fillmore. 
Over the next few years he had stores on Brady, 127 East 2nd Street, and possibly elsewhere. He joined forces with Lester Vanderslice about 1913, and in late 1917, Vanderslice-Stahmer Shoe Company sold off the “agency end” of their business, retaining only the wooden-sole shoe factory at 213-215 East 2nd Street. 
The factory moved to the new facility on Boies Avenue in 1920.
Frank J. Stahmer died suddenly in 1927 at the age of 49, leaving control of the business to his 23-year-old daughter Ella.
(posted by Katie)
 Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 26, 1928.
 Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 10, 1920.
As the sun rose on the morning of August 3, 1978, local Davenport newspapers predicated an exceptionally mild day in the 70s. A break from the normal blistering heat of an Iowa summer. Many people probably felt it was a good day to go out and run errands or just enjoy the summer at a pool or on the Mississippi River.
90-year-old Clara Schiele was beginning her day at 1416 Main Street. This section of Main Street was filled with older Victorian homes. Many of the homes, like Clara’s, had been converted from single-family residences to apartments or rooms to rent. Clara rented rooms to students attending nearby Palmer Chiropractic College. “Her boys,” as neighbors said she called her roomers, not only helped her afford the upkeep on the large home her family had owned since 1903, but also provided her with a sense of safety and she loved to hear about their lives. Clara had never married or had children and was the last surviving member of her immediate family. Her roomers, neighbors, and nearby church kept her active and social. She was described as very lively, kind, and always one to share a cheerful laugh by those who knew her.
Clara left her house that morning for a women’s Bible study group at the nearby St. Paul Lutheran Church. Afterward, she took a bus downtown to eat a light lunch and stop at the grocery store before heading home. It was about 2:00 p.m. when she walked up her front sidewalk and climbed the porch stairs to her front door. Clara had a grocery bag in her arms along with her purse. Suddenly, a young man appeared and snatched Clara’s purse. The force of his action caused her to fall and hit her head on the cement. The man quickly ran off with the purse which contained about $20.
Clara was able to get inside and call her neighbor, Martha McGinnis, for help. Mrs. McGinnis later told police that at first Clara seemed ok and resisted Martha’s attempts to get her to go to the hospital to be examined. She wanted to wait for her favorite roomer to come home before making any decisions. At about 4:00 pm, Clara started to become nauseous, disoriented, and then began vomiting. Martha called for an ambulance. Clara died shortly after midnight on August 4th from a fractured skull.
Clara was unconscious when she arrived at the hospital. The Davenport Police Department responded to the hospital when called and began an investigation. They interviewed neighbors and anyone working in the neighborhood who might have seen something as they were never able to speak with Clara. It would be a telephone repair man working down the street who reported he saw a young male figure walking in the neighborhood around the time of the purse snatching. He was wearing a jacket that was described as shiny with a wet look to it and jeans or darker-colored pants. Martha said Clara had described a young male in his teens or early twenties with a stocking over his face. He had thin arms, but a stocky chest. It was very little to go on.
Clara’s roomers and neighbors were in shock that this cheerful woman had been mugged at 2:00 in the afternoon. Everyone grieved the loss of this kind and generous woman.
Clara Elizabeth Catherine Schiele was born on January 8, 1888, in Farmington, Cedar County, Iowa. She was the youngest of six children and the only girl born to Charles and Elizabeth (Bernick) Schiele. Her family farmed until about 1903 in Cedar County. Not much is known of her younger years, but the 1940s U.S. Census indicates she had two years of college education.
Upon their retirement, her parents moved into the house at 1416 Main Street. They soon began to rent rooms out to boarders. Clara had moved with them and quickly became involved with walking clubs and service organizations at St. Paul’s English Lutheran Church (now St. Paul Lutheran Church) while assisting her mother at home.
Clara lived at 1416 Main Street until about 1933. After her parents’ deaths, the house was rented to the Fred Martens family. Clara moved by herself to a house at 225 E. 6th Street. She would return to 1416 Main in about 1948. Clara worked as a draftsperson at the Rock Island Arsenal during World War II. It appears in her later life, her main income came from her roomers and by renting the house at 225 E. 6th and renting other properties she owned.
At the time of her death, Clara was a fifty-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, member of the St. Paul Lutheran Church Mae Rohlff Circle, member of the Cedar County Historical Society, and the Blackhawk Hiking Club. She had previously been involved with the St. Paul Lutheran Church Cradle Roll, St. Paul’s Young Ladies’ Home and Foreign Missionary Society, St. Paul Sash Drill, and the Esther Circle of King’s Daughters along with other numerous organizations.
Clara was buried with her parents and several siblings at the Durant Cemetery in Durant, Muscatine County, Iowa after a well-attended funeral at St. Paul Lutheran Church.
No one was ever arrested for the purse snatching and death of Clara Schiele. The Davenport Police Department still investigates any leads that are given to them on this unsolved case.
The Davenport Public Library is pleased to have architectural historian and guide Ellen Shapley back to offer her “The Heart of Downtown Davenport: Architectural Styles and Stories” walking tours. During the kick-off tour, she described some of the “building booms” (periods when many buildings are being built) experienced by the city. One of these was in full swing exactly a century ago. The design firm behind many of the new projects underway in the summer of 1923 was Clausen & Kruse Architects.
By the end of May 1923, the structure of the new Democrat newspaper building at 409-413 Brady Street had begun rise from its freshly-poured concrete foundation; contractors John Soller & Sons predicted construction would be completed by November. The “substantial yet ornamental” building promised to be the “last word in architectural newspaper construction and the “acme of the builder’s art” because Clausen & Kruse had carefully researched the successful and unsuccessful features the of other area newspaper plants before drawing up their plans (Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 20, 1923, page 20).
This image from our J.B. Hostetler Collection shows the Democrat building when it opened in 1924:
The evening of Tuesday, June 5th brought the formal opening of the Lend-A-Hand Club on Front Street, another Clausen & Kruse-designed building. These two images are from Special Collections’ postcard collection:
Later in June, Clausen & Kruse’s addition to the Davenport Public Library opened to the public. This interior view was published on page 12 of the Davenport Democrat and Leader for June 20, 1923:
And this exterior view is available from our image collection (#VM89-000460):
In early July, Clausen & Kruse were awarded the contract to build the two new schools that would come to be named the Hayes and Garfield elementary schools. This photograph was published in the Daily Times on December 31, 1924:
According to the July 2, 1923 edition of the Daily Times (page 4), the Clausen & Kruse-designed Masonic Temple at 7th and Main Streets was nearly complete: just a few interior plaster decorations, some electrial work, and landscaping remained. Another image from our postcard collection:
Our Ephemera Collection includes this informational brochure distributed to the Masons when their building opened in November of 1923:
Said the caption for the above portraits in the Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 19, 1923, page 27, “It is a fact worthy of note that both Mr. Clausen and Mr. Kruse are prominent Masons and took a deep personal pride in making the new Temple the finest exclusively Masonic building in the west.”
Another fraternal society, Davenport Aerie No. 235 Fraternal Order of Eagles, entrusted Clausen & Kruse with its new building at 4th and Scott Streets. The architects were present at an August meeting (Daily Times, August 31, 1923, page 16) to update society members on the project’s progress. Today this building is better known as the home of the Danceland Ballroom. This c. 1980s sale brochure for the property is included in our Ephemera Collection:
The firm of Clausen & Kruse also completed drawings for the Credit Island Lodge in August 1923. See Special Collections’ May 2013 blog post on the Lodge for more information and a look at the blueprints from our Architectural Drawings collection.
The RSSC Center’s Architectural Drawings collection also includes plans for another Clausen & Kruse building under construction in the summer of 1923: a warehouse for the Builders’ Lime and Cement Company at the corner of Front St. (W. River Dr.) and Western Avenue, now home to the Davenport Printing Company.
Please join us for one of the next downtown Davenport walking tours on Monday, August 7th at 6PM, Monday September 11 at 6PM, ore Saturday, October 21st at 10AM to learn more about the work of Clausen & Kruse and other local architects.